Why this Blog?

I hope that this blog will become a place to look after my writing ideas and that, over time, I can use it to archive all my favourite creative sites on the web. Maybe others will enjoy it too.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Book List - Part 3

Ah, the final part. I said 'top three' in my last post and, well, I lied. I implied that I had a 'top' of anything. Again, these are just ten of the books that stayed with me "for some reason" and some of them are for different reasons. So far, most of them have been fiction (and I suspect that will remain so) but I ought to explain this apparent bias.

Factual books I love, I do, but I view them as a means to an end - a way to acquire more knowledge or to think in a new way. As a consequence I am strictly utilitarian, mostly, when reading them. Some, like one in this installment, make me think so much in a new way that they stay with me. Most, I dip in and out of chasing references or sources. I am an historian and I read like that all the time. I said before that I do not prize a clever narrative over facts, and I don't, so 'great literature' to me can rarely be factual - mostly I chase information through labyrinthine corridors left by dry academics, and I like that. See a clever bit of prose and I get suspicious - what angle are they going for and why would they want me to focus on the prose rather than the facts?

However, I do respect the fact that some factual books are simply mind-blowing. Here I must plead the arrogance of youth and of my profession. I have worked so long and so hard to appear unfazed that I usually convince myself that mind-blowing information isn't. Now, I have already cited The Politics of Breastfeeding as one of my books and tonight I shall cite two more factual tomes that did blow my mind. But, hopefully, this explains why fiction has such a lasting hold on me.


Book List - Part 2

The click-bait continues! I was asked about ten books that stayed with me "for some reason" and I have only managed to talk about four of them. Because I often don't take the time to breathe (thank you, +Karen Schumacher, you are correct) I took a break and will likely take another yet. Still, I waffle enough and I still haven't done any original writing, so on with the list!


Saturday, 6 September 2014

Book List - Part 1

This place has lain fallow for a long time. What with moving jobs and moving house and then settling into a brand new place and then attempting (and failing) nano last year, it's been hard for me to write anything of note and so I haven't been posting here. I don't know if I can make a change just yet (work, though lovely, is still very full at the moment) but someone did ask me what my top ten books were recently.

I know, it's a click-bait list article thing, and I can't really rank the books that I like easily. However, I think I can give you ten books that have stayed with me for "some reason" and briefly explain why. I can't promise any order to the list, any rhyme or reason to the inclusion of books or any great themes that I shall be exploring. Equally, there will be books that are missing simply by dint of me having read them too recently for them to have stayed with me yet, like How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran and Kazuo Ishiguro's Remains of the Day, which are both brilliant books in their own rights and will no doubt make me think for a long while yet but, having only been read in the last few weeks, can't really qualify for the list.

Then there's the influential books that shaped who I am today: Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series, Tom Clancy's books, Colin Dann's Animals of Farthing Wood series or pretty much anything by John Wyndham (his short story Consider Her Ways was very much part of making me who I am, as was The Trouble with Lichen and, of course, Chocky). Obviously not all of those can make a list of ten books that have stayed with me, so the list will be culled and will be pretty random. Without any further ado then, the list continues after the line break.


Thursday, 27 March 2014

Agh

So, it's the next installment and I'm getting bored of my own voice here. I think it's because I'm writing chronologically rather than plot-lines. Equally, I'm being stupid and staying up late as well as working and so I'm tired. Knowing that I want to get through the back-story quickly and cover a few introductions at the same time means that I think I'm trying to do too much. Mind you, this is what first drafts are for, right? Right.

Right.

So not my best work. :)


Analysis is provided courtesy of 750words.com as always. They are good, but I am beginning to wonder about their filter for violence because I am certain that there is none in this section!


Rating: PG-13 (Violence)

Feeling mostly Affectionate, and concerned mostly about Eating and Drinking, followed by Leisure

Mindset: Extrovert - Negative - Certain - Feeling

Time: The Past; Primary Sense: Sight (wee-oo, wee-oo); Us and Them: Them

33 minutes at 29 words per minute.


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Geeks and Nerds O My!

So, it's still going and I'm moving slowly still. Today I introduce another friend, a love of coffee and reinforce the fact that she's a University student.

Also, today I discovered that Anastasia Steele is the name of the protagonist of Fifty Shades of Grey. This upsets me. I don't really want my rewrite of a shitty novel to call to mind a shitty novel as well. By this point any relation to the source material is more coincidental than deliberate and I'm not out of the first chapter yet so I don't feel so bad about the rewrite. However, a name as unusual as Anastasia is a pretty big punt and people will automatically make that connection, surely.

Having said all of that, I know that this is pretty unpolished. Any suggestions on improvements are gratefully received.


Rating: PG-13 (Swearing [Nope, no clue], and violence [a playful punch?])

Feeling mostly Self-Expressive (with a side order of happy), and concerned mostly about Money - or work

Mindset: Introvert - Negative - Uncertain - Feeling

Time: The Past; Primary Sense: Sight (again); Us and Them: You

37 minutes at 23 words per minute.


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Student-ville

Right, a two-night hiatus means that I find it hard to get back in the saddle. I cheated over at 750words by just analysing sections of the novel from 2012, illuminating but hardly writing.

Now I'm almost finished with the horror of the novel I'm reading it's actually getting harder to read - something about this section just rankles with me. I think it was one of the first bits that were written and it hasn't seen much revision at all. There's a paragraph that actually says that a car was "grey and the sort that you wouldn't look at twice". I mean, apart from the poor use of second person in a limited-third narration style, there's the fact that we are out-and-out told a car is nondescript after being told about all the distinguishing features (plastic sheeting over the upholstery, colour of the car, the fact that four people are in it, one with a freaking staff in the passenger seat!). Gah.

Anyway, today was the attempt to establish that Anastasia has a boyfriend (not anything lasting) and has many, many nicknames. This latter point is my subtle set-up (ha, subtle!) for the fact that she will later be choosing a name for herself but won't stick with it for very long. There are a couple of other things I want to set up here too, but this is just a first draft so I suspect that they're all a tad obvious at present.

Analysis is provided courtesy of 750words.com who remain brilliant.


Rating: PG-13 (Swearing [damn?], Sexual content[?] and violence [no clue])

Feeling mostly Self-Expressive, and concerned mostly about Money - Anastasia buys aspirin?

Mindset: Extrovert - Positive - Certain - Feeling

Time: The Past; Primary Sense: Sight (unusually); Us and Them: You

24 minutes at 36 words per minute.


Saturday, 22 March 2014

Chapter One?

I'd like to start by talking about first drafts. They're never that easy and, when trying to rewrite poor novels, they're actually harder than when I'm free writing.

When free-writing on an idea that I have, even if I have no plot, I can generally get by enough that I can write large amounts. I am nothing if not verbose. I can write fifteen words where a normal person will only manage three. It means I can rack up enormous word counts and feel productive. But I'm trying a new tack with this experiment. I'm trying to get as much done in as few words as possible. This makes characterisation a little more challenging. Trying to communicate setting, atmosphere and character interaction all at once is harder than it looks. Especially when my characters unexpectedly hi-jack conversation.

Take tonight as an example. I wanted to have a conversation to show Anastasia's relationship with her parents (not good) and with her flatmate (cardboard cut-out character necessary to prove that Anastasia is at University). That was it. Then I would skip to a night out where romantic male lead would be introduced and we could focus on that for a while (maintaining a stalker sub-plot for a bit). This would be short.

Then Suzy, she got a name, decided that she and Anastasia would get along rather too well. And that she would be a Christian. And that this would be a thing.

In short, I have characters. But I hate them. I feel like a proper writer and everything.

As usual, I plugged the whole thing into the wonderful 750words.com because they are awesome and why aren't you doing the same?


Rating: PG-13 (Sexual content[?] and violence [no clue])

Feeling mostly Upset, and concerned mostly about Religion[?].

Mindset: Introvert - Negative - Uncertain - Feeling

Time: The Past; Primary Sense: Hearing; Us and Them: You

46 minutes at 31 words per minute.