Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Tuesday Choice Words

I am a very happy writerly person. Yesterday, I received my September copy of Writing Magazine (my husband bought a subscription for me for my birthday - lovely man). If you turn to page 42, Under The Microscope, you will find me, or rather the beginning of the novel I'm working on. The author James McCreet critiqued the first 300 words of my novel very constructively. If you get a chance to buy the magazine, do tell me what you think of my extract and James' comments.

Roz Morris from Nail Your Novel has written an interesting article on her blog - How to stop back story slowing your novel. It's well worth a read.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Book Review: Curtain by Agatha Christie

I have an old, battered copy of this novel that belonged to my mother. She loved a good murder mystery, in a book, on stage or on TV. Maybe that's part of the reason I write murder mystery plays for a living.

I have always found Agatha Christie's writing to be very readable: entertaining, clever and involving. She doesn't force feed you her detective work (as I've seen some murder mystery writers do) but instead draws you in paragraph by paragraph.

In Curtain, Poirot's last case, we find ourselves at the scene of his first case, a  country house called Styles, and his companion, as it was then, is his old friend Hastings. Poirot is elderly, his familiar black hair and moustache augmented by a wig and dye. He is seeing out his final days doing what he has always done, investigating a murder. The inside cover description reads,

'Styles is now a guest-house, and Poirot one of the guests. He invites his old friend Hastings to join him there, and confides the professional reason for this ultimate reunion. Among those at Styles is someone responsible for several murders, yet someone the law cannot touch. Poirot is reluctant to name his suspect.

'But soon there is another death at Styles - and this time, with Hasting's daughter among the guests and suspects, even he contemplates murder!'

The book is narrated by Hastings and as such is told in a sympathetic and warm manner. Hastings is a widower and feels lost without his wife. Alongside this, he feels that he is a nuisance to his daughter whom he loves dearly. Poirot refuses to tell him who the murderer is so Hastings spends most of the book trying to figure the mystery out for himself, coming to many wrong conclusions. The mystery is finally solved after Poirot's death, in a letter from the departed detective to his friend.

Maybe it's my devious mind but I predicted the murderers in many of Christie's novels. Curtain, however, fooled me which is another reason why I love this book so much.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Tuesday Choice Words

So we've a new royal baby on our hands (and in all the newspapers), a little, so far un-named prince. The best thing of all (beyond the gleeful smiles on his parents' faces as they presented him to the press for the first time) is the way this new arrival seems to have stopped the world for a short time and brought people together. I wonder what he'll see in his lifetime.

Do you use beta readers to try out your writing? I found a wonderful article on just that subject in the Compose literary journal. Written by Jennie Nash, it's titled The Book Club Beta Test.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Pinning Inspiration

I'm a very visual person. What I mean by this is that what I see affects me the greatest out of all my senses - colours, the way things move, the contrasts between light and darkness. All of these capture my attention. I'm a big kid for rainbows and flowers. It's therefore not a surprise that Pinterest appealed to me as soon as I came across it.

This summer, I'm taking up the challenge set by Christina Katz to set up colour boards on Pinterest, collections of images that excite and inspire me. Click on the images and have a look.

Red succulentColor Naranja - Orange!!!  OrangeyellowSpring light through green leaves.
Bluepurple mazeturquoise rose

You can also find the board for my novel 'Haven Falling' on there too.

Orb of light

If you're a visual person like me, Pinterest can be a wonderful place to source inspiration for your writing.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Tuesday Choice Words

After a weekend away in the city where I grew up and meeting up with friends I haven't seen for decades, I'm full of life stories and realisations. I'm also hobbling around with an injured leg. It feels like I'm being told to slow down and reassess - not a bad thing to have to do in this heat. Is it too early for a white wine spritzer?

In the opening issue of the new literary journal, Compose, I found this post by Barbara Abercrombie. It's an excerpt from her book, A Year of Writing Dangerously - well worth a read.

Donovan Building by Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre
This wonderful image is taken from a selection of photos titled 'The Ruins of Detroit. They're well worth a look merely for their own sake but these atmospheric shots of civilisation halted and abandoned could well prove an inspiration for your writing. I've already chosen two or three as scenes for future novels.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

July Photo Inspiration

This month's photo inspiration is of the beautiful summer blossom in my garden.

As you can see, the blossom only features in a corner of the image. Most of what you can see is blue sky and white cloud.

What words would you put in that space? An inspirational phrase or quote? A poem? A small stone? I'd love to know what they would be.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Tuesday Choice Words

Blue skies, washing on the line, ice in my drink - it must be summer. I love my autumn walks and the freshness of the spring colours but the summer heat does relax me. It's a shame that I have to work.

Nicola Morgan raises a valid question on her blog - Are you starting in the right place?

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Does your character have something to lose?

I recently watched Iron Man 3. I was all lined up with my popcorn for the usual show of heroism, excitement and a large helping of Tony Stark's ego. I wasn't disappointed but this time round, things were a little different. I take it back. Things were entirely different. Where Tony Stark had always appeared invincible before, this film showed a new vulnerability and for once he was defeated. Of course, he turned it  round, beat the bad guy and rescued those who needed to be rescued. All was well in the end.

When I thought about it later, what struck me about the difference between this film and the past ones was that this time Tony Stark truly believed he had something to lose, something that mattered more to him than his own life. It also cast him in a new light, less bravado, more kindness. The possibility of loss made him into a better person.

I decided to put my own lead character to the test. Did he have something to lose if he didn't rectify the situation he found himself in? Firstly, he had his old life to lose. He thought that mattered to him. Secondly, he had his new friends to lose, their respect and possibly their lives. It surprised him how much that mattered to him. This new concern, this new possible loss, laid him bare. It made him vulnerable but it also pushed him on to try. Having something to lose turned him into a hero.

What about your characters? Do they have something to lose and are they better for it?

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Tuesday Choice Words

Today I spent the morning and early afternoon on my daughter's school trip. I hadn't realised quite how much noise 60 ten year olds could make in the enclosed space of a coach. Still, it left me to day dream while watching the rain drench the Welsh countryside.

Many of us dream about attending a writing retreat but the expense involved can mean that it stays just that, a dream. This article from Bookbaby offers an alternative - 6 Essential Tips For Your Own Stay-at-Home Writing Retreat.