Friday, 19 September 2014

Researching | tips from Writers’ Week

I wanted to share a few interesting tips I collected from Writers’ Week earlier this year about researching. Researching is still something I’m super unfamiliar with and isn’t something I’ve tried to do a lot.

The amount of research you do probably depends on what kind of work you’re writing. A short story won’t need as much research as a novel, and different genres have different needs.
I mostly write short stories, either set in present day or my own world, so I world-build rather than research.

But I’m always keen to hear about researching and how others do it because I’d love to work on some historical Fantasies one day. So, here are a few small notes I made from Writers’ Week 2014.

You need to know twenty-times more about you’re subject than you’ll actually end up showing.
Do all your research and then just trust what you remember. You can fact-check after you draft, but, once you’ve done your research, just let yourself write. What you remember without your notes is likely to be the most useful to your story.
When you don’t need your notes anymore, you know enough. Relates to the above advice. This was in answer to how do you know when to actually start writing.
{Epic Journeys – Elizabeth Gilbert & Hannah Kent}

Think about what you actually need to describe in order to create the feeling of the period you’ve set your story in.
{Mortal Fire – Elizabeth Knox}

Use old memories instead of new ones (when writing about a place you’ve been); what stands out to you after a period of time gives you a good idea of what’s most important to the feel.
{Alexander McCall Smith} 

**you can listen to all the 2014 podcasts here

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

SWF | on war & fantasy

Tales from the bunker with John Marsden, Allayne Webster and Ruth Starke {at Salisbury Writers’ Festival} was a much more interesting talk than I expected.
They addressed various questions about war in stories. Lots of things learnt.

What I found especially interesting was how war in stories is similar to Fantasy, emotions are heightened and stakes are greater. Basically, everything was more extreme in wartime because there wasn’t a feeling of safety or certainty.

Those things are true of Fantasy was well. You’re introducing an element that changes everything in stories where magic is a hidden part of our world, or you’re in a totally different world where there is, quite likely, some kind of war or world threatening thing.

The advice was to try and focus on the smaller story in order to reflect the larger one, because readers are more likely to connect emotionally to it. So tell one groups’ story rather than trying to tell the reader everything that happens.

The panel seemed to agree that how to write about something you’ve never experienced was to look at the basic emotions involved. Emotions in wartime might be heightened like the stakes but they are just more extreme versions of things we’ve felt ourselves. Even if there are some emotions you’ve never really felt or experiences you’ve never had, as writers we are able to...well, as John Marsden put it, ‘we have that extraordinary power to put ourselves in other people’s lives.’ You don’t have to have lived something to be able to imagine it.

And on that note I’ll end, it was a really good talk and I got a lot out of it.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Fourteen Fiction | Pink Flamingos

This month I didn’t have much of a set idea when I started writing, it kind of just happened as I was going.

I was a little concerned about the calendar prompt for this month; I didn’t really know what to do with it. I didn’t want something too sappy, not that sappy is bad, I just wanted to try harder than going with the first thing that came to me. First, I worked on using it in a sentence I was happy with, and then went from there.

Her heart was like a butterfly {calendar prompt}
Abundance {Vickie}
Industrious {Mum}

Her heart fluttered at the sight, like a dying butterfly. She ducked back behind the mound and tried to calm down. Pink flamingos, she did as he uncle taught her. Pink flamingos, pink flamingos, pink flamingos, she focused only on her mental image of the bird until her heartbeat returned to normal.

They obviously hadn’t been at all interrupted by her little display up North; they were as industrious as ever. With a steadying breath, she popped back up and surveyed the yard. At least two hundred perfectly useable androids waited in front of the factory doors; no doubt there was an abundance of gold for them inside.

She slid down the hill, feeling more than a little stupid. Of course they would have everything split between sites.

Brushing herself off, she resigned herself to the situation. Time for plan B.

Friday, 12 September 2014

SWF | Apply, apply, apply

The most inspiring and motivating talk at Salisbury Writers’ Festival was by Heather Taylor Johnson. She was bright, bubbly and positive. Her message was simple, apply for all the residences and grants you can, because, well, why not?

It was interesting to hear about Heather’s journey and how applying and gaining a residence helped her into publication. It was really a story about how you have to be in it to win it. Heather didn’t make it into that fateful residence at first, but one of the publishers weren’t happy with the shortlist they were given and asked the residence for more. Heather was then offered a place.

She really sold me on how the space and time to just write and do nothing more is so beneficial for your manuscript.

I never used to quite understand residences. They basically offer a quiet environment for you to dedicate a block of time to just writing or working on your writing. I can only imagine the work you’d get done in such a concentrated environment.

Some residences (like the one that helped Heather) offer mentorship along with the time you stay there. The reason for mentioning grants is that residences aren’t the cheapest exercise, but with some assistance they’re worthwhile.

Heather said she applied and still applies to lots of grants and residences because, as she would say, why wouldn’t you?

It’s really got me thinking about residences and trying to apply for more grants and such. Especially now, as I do have a project to use in the applications. I think what Heather wanted to get across is that the trick is to just keep applying for as many things as you can and I might just be ready to do that.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

365 | one hundred and seventy seven

Last time I mentioned finding a longer 365 to share next, and then I realised there aren’t really any super longer 365’s (there’s not a lot of space on the page). But here’s a slighter longer daily writing.

The 26th of June’s daily writing {I wasn’t thinking anything in particular this day, or at least I didn’t make any side notes.}

It had never occurred to him that she would lie to them.
He could feel Maggie’s eyes on him, intense and unwavering. Once her mouth was free, she’d be on him about it.

He tried to move his head to look around to his team and offer some sort of encouraging expression, but the fine web that kept them bound stopped his head from moving an inch.

Setting aside his betrayal, he turned his mind to the more useful and trickier task of how to get out of this mess.

Monday, 8 September 2014

A few things...

1. Holly turned one! Her birthday was on the 23rd. I can’t believe we’ve had her for five months already!

2. Enjoyed taking photos for August Break

3. Finished my scarf! And on the very last day of winter, so I accomplished my goal.

4. Working on the shop website, again. I’m really excited about it and had a lot of fun pulling together inspiration images.

Friday, 5 September 2014

2014 | Salisbury Writers’ Festival

sorry for the slightly blurry photo, I'm obviously not good with camera phones!
I went to Salisbury Writers’ Festival a couple of weeks back and had a great time! I’ve been trying to get there for the last couple of years, but always being at the beginning of a semester meant I was too busy to want to take the time to travel down to the city. But this year I made it and I’m happy I did.

Salisbury Writers’ Festival is much more focused on writers than reader, like most other festivals are {not that I mind, I’m both after all!}, so the talks I attended were much more focused on the craft.

After attending the opening night, I went to the day long Writers’ Forum which featured seven talks on various subjects. All were interesting and I have a few posts relating to what I learnt planned for the next few months.

My favourite talks were Heather Taylor Johnson’s upbeat journey to getting published, which got me inspired to seek out residences, and Spontaneous Creation, a mad exercise in forming an idea and shaping it into a story with Sean Williams, Amanda Blair and Dan McGuiness.

SWF was a great experience and I hope I can make it back next year!