Month: January 2018

The Willful Character And The Act of Writing

 

I read comments by writers all the time saying their characters take over and start driving the plot of the story. With my current work in progress, I’ve become quite the plotter, making detailed outlines for each section of the work before I start writing. So imagine my surprise when the pen in my hand started writing a scene that was definitely not in the outline! What’s more, it was an unplanned sex scene.

Once it was written, I had to admit that scene actually worked, but the whole thing got me thinking about the willful character. Maybe it’s a form of “automatic writing,” not in the supernatural sense, but the result of tapping into subconscious impulses while in a state of receptiveness induced by the act of writing. (Hey, that’s not bad, considering I made it up on the spot).

The best fictional characters are like real people, complete with flaws, quirks and contradictory impulses. Some writers develop their characters before they actually start writing the novel. Physical features, musical and food preferences, hobbies, education — a complete curriculum vitae. I’m not that kind of writer. I have a hazy vision of my primary characters, that becomes clearer as I write. There seems to be a department in my brain called Character Development, that trots out details about each major character when needed. Sometimes it throws me a surprise.

One of the best parts of the writing process is when this automatic thing kicks in and the words pour out effortlessly. Sometimes it feels as though I’m just copying stuff dictated to me by a disembodied brain. It’s probably my brain. Or some kind of collective unconscious, a well of ideas available to all who yield themselves to the writing urge. That’s where our characters come from, finding their way in response to tentative images in our writing brains.

Characters manifest their characteristics, prompting a kind of negotiation with the author. “Okay, that’s fine — you can do this, but not that. And definitely not the other thing.” But cut them some slack. Willful characters aren’t a problem, but a sign that the writer’s imagination is engaged beyond the scope of the outline, tapping into a realm of mystery. And that’s good.

Sitting down to write, giving yourself up to whatever you are creating, is like going down an unexplored trail. You just don’t know what you might meet around the corner, even if you have a map. Whether you outline your plot in detail before you start, or write by the seat of your pants, you must be prepared for the unexpected.

SWCF manuscript and notesThe first stage of creating a work of fiction — the first draft — isn’t the place to worry about rules, or getting every detail right. At this stage, the writer’s imagination needs to be cranking out stuff, producing raw material to be refined later. That’s why I still write my first drafts — or maybe they’re better called “proto-drafts” — in longhand. Actually, “longhand” seems too fancy a term for my cursive scribble on the borderline of legibility.

The thing is, at this stage you don’t want to read over what you’ve written and polish it. You want to forge ahead, beating out the rough shape of your story, bumps, holes and all. Don’t look back! For me, stark black words on the bright white screen are just too intimidating. I really doubt I would have written that sudden sex scene if I’d been using my laptop. But I scribbled it down, and when I typed it up a few days later, the critical, analytical part of my brain said, “Well, okaaay, I guess it works.”

As for my work in progress — the first draft is almost done! Another 5,000 words or so, and I can write Finis.

And then, of course, I go back to the beginning. The crazy, creative part of my brain will take a back seat, and the critical, analytical part will get to to do its thing.

Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.

 

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The Disappointed Housewife is LIVE!

The Disappointed Housewife has made the scene and is seeking the quirky and off-beat. Might be you!

WHAT THE HELL

The Disappointed Housewife is alive and well and living in a newly disclosed location: thedisappointedhousewife.com.

First of all, please navigate to the site and immediately follow. We need to build a readership in a hurry so that all the terrific, intrepid writers can get plenty of eyeballs on their work.

While you’re there, poke around, read the Editor’s Note, the mission statement, and the submission guidelines. Then sample some of the pieces I’ve gathered for the launch. There’s already some fiction, a number of poems, a couple of essays, and a graphic piece. I already have more things lined up for later in the week too.

You can browse the site by scrolling down the main page. Everything is there. But you can also use the navigation bar on the right to select one of the categories: Fiction, Essays, Poetry, and Faux Forms & Genres. Later the site will…

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Get Set for THE Adventure Writing Contest

This contest looked exciting back in November, and now that the details have been worked out, it’s even more so! And I seem to remember saying “I’m in” back then, so I’d better fire up the old imagination engine.

Fiction by Rachael Ritchey

Hey, hey, hey!!!

It’s time to prepare for the Adventure Scifi and Fantasy Contest coming at the end of February!

I’ve got all the official rules and stuff for you here today, but we’ll get to that shortly.

Entries for this Short Story Contest don’t actually open until February 26th, 2018, so you’ve got time to prepare…or procrastinate. Whichever style you prefer.

If you missed my query back in November, I put out feelers to see who’d be interested in joining a writing contest using a book cover design I made as inspiration.

My simple dream for this contest goes something like this:

A bunch of talented, inspired writers take a stab at this FREE contest to win some prizes and have their short stories included in an anthology where the proceeds from sales will be donated to a charity. In this case, I’ve chosen Compassion International.

The Basics

Write…

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Electric Eclectic

Guest Post: An Alternative to Free Ebooks

Just before Christmas, I read this post on Paul White’s blog. As you can see, it sparked some fairly diverse comments. In fact, I was so busy formulating my comment, I didn’t read the end of the post as thoroughly as it warranted.

Paul’s solution to the give-books-away-for-free marketing strategy deplored by the rest of his post is called Electric Eclectic Novelettes.

At this point, I’ll turn it over to Paul…

*~*~*

To quote that wonderful philosopher, Winnie the Pooh, “The beginning is a very good place to start.”

I was looking for a great book to read.

I finished reading the last book by my favourite author. It would be another year, maybe two, before his next book became available. This meant I needed to search for another book to read. I was even willing to stray from my usual genre to find an excellent read.

Easier said than done.

You would think, with over 45 million books on Amazon alone, finding a story to enjoy, a book you can immerse yourself in totally, would be a pretty easy thing.

But no, it is not.

You could look through the thousands of free books on offer. But… much of the time there are reasons books are offered for free, or heavily discounted, by their authors… and not all those reasons are good.

There is the uncertain quality and content of many of the full priced eBooks. Anyway, do you really want to commit spending your hard-earned cash to buy something you do not enjoy reading, or find the writer’s style is not to your taste?

It all makes choosing a ‘new to me’ author or selecting a book from a different genre a bit of a lottery.

That’s when I thought there must be a better way.

I asked myself, “HOW CAN YOU MAKE CERTAIN A BOOK YOU BUY WILL BE ONE YOU ENJOY?”

Electric EclecticThat’s when I had my eureka moment.

The result is Electric Eclectic Novelettes.

‘Electric’ because they are ebooks– digital, electric.

‘Eclectic’ for the various styles, genres and authors who write them.

And ‘Novelettes‘ to tell readers they are short, sample books, introducing readers to new authors and new genres.

Electric Eclectic (EE) books are written by various authors under the EE brand as introductory, sample works of each author’s writing style and narrative forms.

Each EE book is a short work of between 6k and 20k words.

A standardised price of just 1.00 (dollar/pound/euro) for each novelette, allows people searching for new reads to get to know our EE authors’ styles and narrative types before committing to purchase their full-length books and novels.

Offering these short works also lets people read examples of genres they may not have previously considered.

Electric Eclectic books are written by some of the best indie authors in the world. Each Electric Eclectic Novelette delivers wonderful and entertaining storytelling to a high standard.

All Electric Eclectic Novelettes undergo stringent assessment, ensuring the storytelling is of high quality, dismissing concerns generally associated with low cost or free eBooks. People searching for their ‘next favourite read’ can rest assured in the knowledge that Electric Eclectic Novelettes have undergone a rigorous selection process, ensuring the stories meet exacting standards.

This means you do not need to read through a bunch of substandard books, or spend money on a random book hoping you will enjoy its content. Say goodbye to ‘dodgy’, inferior writes.

Once you have found the right style of stories, the ones you love, you will have found your next favourite author and can start to work your way through their full-length books and novels knowing you thoroughly enjoy their writing.

Download a handful of Electric Eclectic Novelettes and give yourself a literary treat!

Electric Eclectic Novelettes are easy to find.

The first way is to visit the Electric Eclectic website where all the Novelettes are shown, along with author insights and links to their personal books and pages.

The second is to go to Amazon books and type ‘Electric Eclectic books’ into the search bar. (In the USA you will need the Amazon.com Kindle search page.)

Alternatively, if you are on Amazon.co.uk you can follow this link: http://amzn.to/2BnYe7u

Website link: https://goo.gl/q2zwTS  (This site is available to view, but not fully functional or edited. Estimated date of completion Mid-January 2018)

Email: EEbookbranding@mail.com

Coming soon!

Here is a new outlet for creative impulses of the quirky kind. Have a look at Kevin’s suggestions to get inspired.

WHAT THE HELL

The Disappointed Housewife is approaching!

I’ve received a number of fun pieces the last few weeks, and though I’m still keeping the pre-launch submission window open, the big day will be January 15. Mark your calendars.

I hope all my readers here at What The Hell will quickly follow the new lit mag and start spreading the word. But I’m also eager to see new submissions coming in so I can build up a nice catalog of material for readers. I’ll be posting open submission calls at a variety of places, hoping to find a lot of writers willing to try new things. Of course, I’ll always give readers of this blog a fair shot at publication because loyalty deserves reward. If you have something you think would fit in at TDH, send it on over. Or read the pieces that I’ve already assembled to get a feel for…

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Book Review: My Old Clock I Wind and Other Poems by K. Morris

mociw-for-acx-cover-2-small

The first poem in this collection of 74 contains the theme that pervades the entire work – the relentless passage of time.

Morris’s verses are products of reflection and mature thought, expressing both resignation and a zest for life. This poet is not fighting advancing age and eventual death, but lives with an intense awareness of the temporary nature of human lives and preoccupations. “Passing By,” for example, sums this up perfectly in only three lines. The fleetingness of beauty and attraction are pictured in “Chiffon” and “Dark and Light.” As sadness frequently follows delight / Mourn not, for there can be no dark without the light.

The poet’s mixed feelings about his relationships with others are exemplified by “Shall I Sit Out This Dance?” whose last five lines are especially poignant. “What Is A Double Bed?” further explores love, joy, and pain.

Humour is not absent from the collection. “Howling At the Moon,” “Count Dracula Went Out To Dine,” and “It’s Raining Out There,” along with a group of limericks, celebrate the absurdities and quirky angles of life.

A certain amount of social commentary appears in “Crack” and “Girls in Unsuitable Shoes,” which has a touch of wry brilliance. Climate change is acknowledged by the short poem “Melting Ice.” Of the poems that question progress and technology, perhaps the finest is “Man’s Destiny,” which contrasts the poet’s enjoyment of life’s small pleasures with grandiose aspirations and predictions.

Most of the poems feature pairs of rhyming lines – not rhyming couplets, exactly, because the lines often differ in length and metre. The effect is one of ticking, bringing to mind the clock of the title. In densely packed sequences of short lines, this rhyme pattern can become a bit tedious. “Understanding,” which features a more complex rhyme scheme, is a notable departure.

Morris’s poems are distillations of thoughtful life experience, and thus best savoured slowly, like good wine. Readers will find something here to match any mood, to celebrate life or commiserate with sorrow.

I received a copy of this book with a request for a review.

open books, grass

My Best Reads of 2017

I just looked over my Goodreads books of the past year and quickly identified the ones I found most memorable. This doesn’t necessarily mean flawlessly written or expertly edited. It means books with interesting premises, characters, or writing styles. Some are by indie authors, others trad pubbed. Some are print, some “e.” A few were free (take note, those who say no one ever reads, much less likes, free ebooks).

Sorry, no cover images or links. This is just a list, in order of date I finished reading.

Hunter’s Daughter by Nowick Gray. A gritty novel of culture conflict and change in Canada’s Arctic.

The Egyptian Book of the Dead compiled and translated by E. A. Wallis Budge. A fascinating classic, full of remarkable words and images.

The Girl and the Crocodile (Crocodile Spirit Dreaming #1-5) by Graham Wilson. A long, complicated, rather messy but compelling saga of adventure, sex, murder and love, set mostly in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Shadow Unit 1 by Emma Bull et al. A TV series in ebook form. Binge read it!

Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell. True tales of old New York. Almost as good as time travel.

In No Particular Order by Kevin Brennan. A beautifully written “memoir-in-vignettes” by a fellow WordPress blogger (What The Hell).

The Man Who Found Birds Among the Stars by Lorinda J. Taylor. Science fiction and a compelling future biography in three parts. I’m happily reading Part 3 right now.

Baiting & Fishing by Meredith Rae Morgan. Mystery, romance, deception and lots of fishing.

Dreaming In a Digital World by Blanche Howard. Weird but strangely interesting tale of business and romance at the dawn of the computer age.

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle. Start with mysterious footage on VHS cassettes. Follow the hints and clues over decades in the Iowa countryside. Ask questions. Be disturbed and enlightened.

The Crown Crescent Chronicles by Guy Bullock. Goofy goings-on among the residents of an unnamed community. Domestic ructions, feuding business partners, small-time criminals, monkeys, bananas. You get the picture.

Tallis Steelyard, Shower Me With Gold and Other Stories by Jim Webster. This collection of short tales and poems “by” the estimable Tallis Steelyard is one of many books about life in Port Naain and environs. The jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard may be found on the WordPress blog of that title, along with lovely and aptly chosen illustrations for each tale.

Of Patchwork Warriors (Being Vol. 1 of the Precipice Dominions) by R.  J. Llewellyn. An engaging, action-packed, and yet thoughtful fantasy adventure, featuring three really strong female characters. The author is also a WordPress blogger (heroicallybadwriter).

The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley. A delightful confection of steampunk and clockwork, history, romance and mystery set in Victorian London with side trips to Japan.

Transhumance by Andrew Shilcock. “A short collection of some even shorter stories where the familiar meets the unfamiliar for a half hearted wrestle.” That is an accurate description of this book of speculative fiction that will make you think and wonder.

That’s it for ’17! Happy reading in 2018, everyone!