16 January 2016

Those Resolutions - Update

Mid-month is about the time all those New Year's Resolutions start to wobble. Have mine?

Surprisingly enough, no. I say this because I am truly surprised they are working as well as they are. The key has been to turn my work-day life around, so I shall be sticking with the change: mornings are exercise, housework, decluttering (believe me, it's needed), and social media; afternoons are dedicated to writing; evenings to reading & relaxation with a quick drop in to social media.

The concerted exercise is definitely having an effect on my endurance. As to the writing, after delivering a short-short for an anthology, and putting to bed a longer short story, I am back on with the work-in-progress Pilgrims of the Pool. And about time, too.

12 January 2016

Cutting to the Bone - #Editing

How do you write your fiction? I currently write detailed, building tone and atmosphere in pastel layers to create a vibrant depth in which to seed information and incidents that echo other parts of the story as it builds to a series of harvest points.  

This doesn’t happen over a single page, or even a couple; it needs space. But what if there is only the single page? For an anthology submission I’ve been cutting a Horror short story – 2,750 words – down to 666. Trying to write “up” to 666 words I found beyond me. When I was teaching, my mantra was... if a story is to be cut by more than 25%, then it needs to be rewritten not edited

Did I follow my own advice? No. I excised, I trimmed, I amalgamated. It took seven passes to get within ten words of the target. Only on the eighth pass did I start rewriting, replacing word for word, to ensure that the atmosphere, the tension, the building dread necessary to the genre, was present in the quantities that would elicit the targeted reader reaction. 

Did it work? I’m told so, and I certainly feel that I’ve brought the story to fruition. But it was my third story, so I still believe that not every concept can be cut to the bone and survive intact. Would I like to take such a knife to my current detailed writing? Emphatically no. However, it’s a great exercise for opening a writer’s eyes and showing what is possible. Give it a go.

1 January 2016

Those Resolutions

Yes, it's the New Year and, although we really don’t believe we’ll keep any resolutions we make, we feel that we should at least show willing.

Followers of these posts know that I started what amounts to my New Year’s resolutions way back in early December, under the thought umbrella of there has to be a better way than this... The marketing & promotion side of that will continue.

I also have the regaining of my health to consider, in fact prioritise, because without health none of us can work to our potential, and sitting at a keyboard for hours on end is not exactly conducive. So this festive season has been a time to take stock.

I’ve always thought of myself as a morning person – not a 5am morning person; that’s the middle of the night – but a morning was when I used to be at my freshest. Now it’s when I’m my creakiest, when I’m most interrupted, and distracted. So I’m turning my working day around, and I’ll try it for a month to see how it goes.

And that’s my advice. If it hasn’t worked well in the previous year why continue down the same path in the coming year? To turn our lives around we often have to... turn our lives around.

Best of luck with keeping your own resolutions. And a Happy New Year!
How about you? Has a New Year’s Resolution blossomed into a life-changing event?