Motivating Yourself, Being kind to yourself

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The following are quotes I found in the first draft of the manuscript I’m currently writing.  The draft has been sitting in a folding on my computer for a few years.

 I am going through it for the first time during NaNoWriMo to see if there is anything there I can use.

It is hilarious to see all the funny things I’ve written to myself, and I’m also proud of how kind I have been to myself.

‘There are a lot of things to sort out, but don’t worry Meg, it will get better – It all comes together in the end.’

‘What the fuck is this?’

‘I really don’t think this is working!!”

Ha! Editing is hilarious.

Amazing Babes, Eliza Sarlos & Grace Lee

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AMAZING BABES by Eliza Sarlos and Grace Lee.  This is the book that inspired a traveling writers singing spectacular!

Amazing babes, amazing babes book, emerging writer, emerging writers, reviews, australian books, aussie book reviews I first heard about Amazing Babes at the EMERGING WRITERS FESTIVAL.  At the festival, it was in song form, but I got the drift of it.

So it’s a beautiful book.  It’s well made, lovely to look at and easy to read.

Amazing Babes is a celebration of innovative, brave and world-changing women.  When I first read this book I felt a little tingle run down my spine.  It’s a really inspiring book, for grown-ups as much as little people.

AMAZING BABES was published in 2013 by Scribe in Australia.  It’s a collaboration between writer and illustrator which started as a one of a kind book, written by Eliza Sarlos for her son Arthur.  It was a birthday present for Arthur.  Eliza asked longtime friend Grace Lee to help bring the words to life and the result is gorgeous portraits that introduce new readers to the lives of these strong, powerful and world changing women.

I actually have a copy of this in my library and we have a house without children.  Friends and family love reading it when it’s laying around on the coffee table.

Images from AMAZING BABES

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Can You Run Out of Ideas

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Pinterest teaches us, if nothing else, that there are plenty of ideas to be had and not all of them need to be life changing.

When I first begun writing I clung desperately to any tiny morsels of inspiration that came my way.  I cut out favourite sentences from paragraphs I was going to discard, hoping to save them and use them again in another story.  At best I thought my creativity was a statistical likelihood given how much time I spend trying, at worst a complete fluke.  I thought I would only have a finite number of good ideas so I was diligent not to waste them.

When I first begun writing, I did not believe in my ability to continually generate ideas and was certain it was only a matter of time before I dried up.

Which is why I found it so difficult to let go of my first novel.  I was not sure I would have another idea.  I clung to that crazy monster for too long, wasting hours and days of my writing life trying to hold it together; trying to save the good parts and glue together the worst of it.

I knew I NEEDED A BETTER IDEA but I was not sure one would come to me.

To put it simply, I was very scared.

It wasn’t until I finally set that monster aside (I cannot even bring myself to say it’s name any more) that more ideas started to bloom.  It wasn’t until I made space in my mind more thoughts and inspiration arose.

Donald J. Treffinger wrote these four basic guidelines on PREPARING CREATIVE AND CRITICAL THINKERS.

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POV – The Effect of First Person Writing

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Point of View; First Person

Why do Authors head towards first person?

This is typically a beginners start to writing, using the first person, as it is a more natural progression from though and casual story telling in our every day lives, I did this and then this and so on.

Can focus more on learning as a consistent characters voice is more easily written.  It more easily fleshes a character on the page by allowing the audience to listen to their voice for long periods of time.

A beginning writer often finds it easier to keep consistent tone, style, and prose when writing in first person.  In some ways, a first person narrator can more easily “dump” information on the reader.

The most intimate is first person, where the narration is coming from the head of the character. We get the closest possible connection to the thoughts and feelings of the Lead.

By way of contrast, the omniscient POV is the least intimate.

Their Version

Relate their versions of the plots. Weather that version is true and honest or unreliable.

First person narration gets good when you are dealing with an unreliable narrator – Oh yeah.

Because another version of the story may exist that the narrator would like to debunk – an alternative history – or the Truth, as they see it.

Emotions and character growth

First-person point of view is used for numerous reasons, including creating a sense of emotional directness and drawing readers into the specific voice.

The first-person style also produces more immediate emotional appeal for readers. In third-person narration, with the use of pronouns such as he and she, the distance doesn’t give readers access to a character’s full response to events. Some stories require direct access to the narrator’s thoughts and feelings to be effective. Emma Donoghue’s novel “Room” is narrated by 5-year-old Jack, who has been imprisoned in a backyard shed with his mother since birth. The first-person narration gives a constant, present tense stream of his thoughts and feelings as he gradually learns of the world outside.

Allows people to see more closely how much a character has changed over the course of the novel.

First person narratives also have a much easier time garnering empathy from your audience, since they end up spending so much time in your character’s brain.

Explain their world,

They are the experts of their own world of the story.

Need to persuade

The reader of the characters point of view, or explain their decision.

If done well, it can give logic and motivations to characters that would seem otherwise evil, immoral, or otherwise not relatable.

Need to tell a tale.

Looking back on the past and recounting a tail, is self aware and can imput where they went right or wrong.  Retrospective recount can help the narrator to de brief and learn from their story – or actions.

Subjective Narration/Interior Monologue

The subjective narrator is an unreliable narrator who spends most of the story trying to convince the reader of something. This narrator has a firm position about a particular event or person and uses the time in the story to argue in favor of her position. Subjective narration is often used by anti-hero main characters to justify their actions or positions and to convince the reader of their values or views.

Interior monologue often avoids complete sentences and aims to present the narrator’s views and experiences as a train of thought. It is also called stream-of-consciousness narration and it can be reliable or unreliable.

So the first question to ask about your plot is how intimate do you want it?

Is the character aspect the most important factor? You might then consider first person. But that’s not always the best choice. There are other alternatives along the way, as we’ll see.

In between First Person and Omniscient is Third person POV, which comes in two forms. Limited and Unlimited. Limited means you stick with one character throughout the book. You don’t stray into the perceptions of any other character. Unlimited means you can switch POV to another character in a another scene.

A variation on the omniscient POV is the cinematic POV, rarely used except in detective fiction. Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon is the prime example of this style. Most literary novels choose the first person these days, for good reason. Since character drive is the motor of literary plots, using first person is a natural choice.

First person does not have to be limited, either. Many writers now use multiple first person narration, alternating voices with each scene or chapter.

Third person is most popular for thrillers and action driven books.

But this does not mean there is any one right answer. The right answer is what best fits your book.

Let’s have a closer look at your alternatives:

First Person

First person is the character telling us what happened.

I went to the store. I saw Frank. “What are you doing here?” I said.

Obviously, this POV requires everything to be seen through the eyes of one character. The lead can only report what she saw, not what Frank saw or felt (unless Frank sees fit to report these items to the lead). No scene can be described that the narrator has not witnessed. But, as we will see, there are some tricks you can use to get around this.

You can use past or present tense with First Person POV. The traditional is past tense, where the narrator looks back and tells his story.

But the narrator can also do it this way: “I am going to the store. I see Frank. ‘What are you doing here?” I say.”

There is an immediacy of tone here that, when handled well (as Steve Martini does in his Paul Mandarini legal thrillers) is quite nice.

But there is something you can’t do in First Person Present POV that you can do with the past tense form: The “If only I’d known” technique:

If only I’d known what was behind that door, I never would have opened it.

Can’t do that in the present. If only I knew what I don’t know now, I might not open the door, as I am doing now.

First Person makes for a very intimate, and potentially memorable, tale. But to do it well you have to:

• create a strong, interesting narrator.

•

 

Now that you understand the different possibilities for Point of View, which one is right for your novel? As you understand the possibilities, you can make a much more informed decision and carry this intentionality into your writing.

 

Disadvantages

  • Many authors discount this, but I think it’s important: the narrator needs to have a clear reason to be telling or documenting the story in the first place.
  • Describing the protagonist clearly (let alone honestly and objectively) is very difficult, and usually requires tacky tricks (like staring into a mirror).
  • Perspective and perceptions are extremely limited.

First person narrators, unless they are telling the story far in the future, are less inclined to understand the gravity of any situation. In general they are more grounded in the immediacy of any given moment and less able to see its place in the grand scope of things.

 

  • Immersion – First person is the most immersive of perspectives, even more so than the rare, “elusive” second person (which is specifically aimed at maximizing immersion). You live the adventures of the protagonist through his own eyes. Second-person narration is still someone telling me to do something or see something. First person is me doing or seeing something. I know what I know, I see what I see, no deus-ex knowledge, if I have shortcomings, they affect the way I see the world. No immersion-breaking superpowers of a 3rd person narrator. This will be a disadvantage if you want to detach the reader from the protagonist – all parables are 3rd person and giving very simple descriptions, so that we concentrate on events, not on people.
  • Lack of reflection – while for “colorful” protagonists this is a disadvantage – it takes jumping through hoops to describe them for the reader, if your protagonist is more generic, you can freely skimp on details. Leave the protagonist nameless, faceless, maybe even in extreme cases genderless – and let the reader fill in the blanks with their own face and name. This does wonders to immersion. Instead of making your own, cherry-picked protagonist, you put your generic reader in the centre of events in person. They don’t follow – they live these events! Of course this leaves you without your own cherry-picked protagonist.
  • Surprising perspective – Do cherry-pick the protagonist. Take a story that would be generic at best but tell it from perspective of a dog. Or the villain. Take a common trope: time traveller stuck with cave people. Yawn? Not if told by a caveman! Humans discovered an alien civilization? Tell that from perspective of the alien tasked with organizing their welcome! You’ll never get this done so thoroughly with 3rd person.
  • Unreliable narrator – There is simply no way to excuse the 3rd person narrator skipping/skimping/falsifying details. It will always feel cheap or wrong – or may cause reasonable doubt in case it’s merely reported as told by others. Only first-person will let you lie to the reader with impunity and then make them jump with surprise at “The protagonist is schizophrenic!” – OTOH, you’ll have a hard time to ascertain things are true that way. Also, hiding things behind scenes is easier. You Were Elsewhere Then. But then, you can’t be everywhere!

Natural – This is the fundamental way people tell their own stories. It’s the classic of centuries. A war veteran will usually tell in first person!

Examples

The Catcher in the Rye,

The Great Gatsby

A Clockwork Orange

Lolita –

5 Things I Learnt from Fiona McIntosh

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When I was at Art School, every one of our teachers told us to get out and go to exhibitions.  They told us to find out where the openings where, get into galleries and meet as many artists as we could.  Now that I am writing full time, I am taking that same approach writing – Get to book readings, find where the parties are and meet as many writers as I can.

Book readings are never just about the book.  Book readings, launches and events are about the book, the author, the venue, the publisher, the crowd and the market it is being released into.  So what can you learn from a book readings  Basically…everything.

The French Promise, Fiona McIntosh, australian authors, young authors, female writer, female writer australian A while ago I went to a book reading by Fiona McIntosh, for her new novel, The French Promise. The event took place in a small book store on the south coast, as part of her regional tour of Australia.  As it turned out, there were not many of us who had read the first book The Lavender Keeper, so she spoke about them both.

What did she speak about

After Fiona McIntosh introduced herself, she started to talk about her decision to become a writer.  She spoke about choosing to write.  She spoke about attending a writing workshop held by Bryce Courtenay, about her family and how stories have fallen out of her ever since.  this was a writer how had made a decision, who knew she could be a writer if she worked hard enough.

What Did I Learn

1. Finding ideas quickly and making them work

Listening to Fiona talk about where her ideas came from, helped me to understand where I found my ideas.  Fiona spoke about how she mapping out the story on a plane, while flying from Australia to Europe.  What was obvious to me was that she was able to do this, because she understood how stories worked, how characters operated and how to tease out more ideas.  Listening to Fiona speak out writing, it’s very clear that she understands the craft behind it.  She credited her skill with a great foundation of education combined with a huge amount of practice. Continue reading

Ira Glass, on Creativity

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Is the work you’re making as good as your ambitions?

A few days ago I was talking to my sister about the trials of creativity.  We were discussing the difference between what we wanted to do, and what we were capable of making.  It is so frustrating – in the beginning of a creative career – when you are not quite as good as you want to be.

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Naming Characters

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Do you struggle when it comes to naming your characters.  I do.  Well, to be more correct, I did.

This is just a quick post to share my new favourite Scrivener tool.

 The Name Generator

Check it  out.  You can select gender, country of origin, obscurity levels and even ask for a double barrelled last name.  You can select one name, or it can generate 500!  So great.

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Click image to play demo…

I used to use baby name websites – but the problem with that is the names coming up now are not the names used 40 years ago when my characters were born – Tricky – So I would search, ‘Popular boys names in 1973‘ and I only get the top ten!  What can I do with ten?

Where did all the good time go?

by Jacob Henwood.

I’m not going to talk about how to write well. I don’t think I am the person to come to for that sort of thing. Not on account of my inability to string words together in a pleasing fashion, but because I’m yet  to present much evidence that it is something that I can do. If it’s what you’re looking for, there are lots of books on the subject by a great many people whose opinions on the matter are backed by the weight of this evidence.

Before quality though comes productivity. This is the first step. A blank page may hold infinite possibilities, but a full page holds the first step to not wasting them. I can talk about productivity. I have productively written for a number of years now. I can sit down and write a 2,000 to 5,000 word story outline in an hour. I do a lot of different types of writing, and I do it with both stealth and ease. If you’re looking for stealth, then you are going to need to invest in a quiet keyboard, or a pen. Pens are quiet. If you’re interested in ease, then keep reading.

Words aren’t always in the habit of being there when we want them. This isn’t really about the words though. It isn’t about writers block either. That’s just a name that we use. Despite all appearances, writing is like drawing, playing the cello, or anything else we need to train ourselves to do with ease. For the most part we tend to assume that however many years of school and university have prepared us for this, but think about the time we would put aside for 2,000 words, or 1,500. Where do we now find the time in our lives for 85,000 words? In reality you are more likely to need to find the time for whatever the actual number of words it is going to take you to write 85,000 good words. Words that carry with them everything that you need of them.

This isn’t something that I figured out. It is something I researched. It is something the authors that I respect discovered through necessity, because for them it was part of the trade. A skill that needed mastering in order that bills be paid. Tom Wolfe, Philip K. Dick, Agatha Christie, Edmond Hamilton, Ray Bradbury, Steven Moffet, and so many others relied on their ability to continue to write whenever it was needed of them.

My first step in understanding this process was the work of Philip K. Dick, whose prolific output and commitment to the concepts behind each of his works is, to my mind, without peer. Dick wrote when he was sleep deprived, discontent, depressed, detached, and, most importantly, when he made the time. Dick wrote a lot of material that he was not happy with (the majority of which was not published), but if you were to say that only 1 in 5 of Dick’s published stories is worth reading, that would still be 10 novels and 20 short stories.

Read more at United By Glue – Where did all the time go… 

Failing NaNoWriMo

Writing for NaNo, Emerging Writer, Meghan Brewster,

Writing for NaNo, Emerging Writer, Meghan Brewster,

Failing NaNoWriMo, Meghan Brewster, emerging writer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I failed the challenge of the National Novel Writing Month – There is no other way to put it.  I fell short of the word target by about 15 000 words. That is a bit less than a third of the challenge.  But I have to tell you though that I was not idle during the month of November, and I am still quite proud of what I achieved.

NaNo reminded me of how easy it is to write once you get out of your own way and sit down to do the work

In the month of November I have finished writing my first Ebook, have a designer working on the jacket, have hired my first editor to work on the project and have updated and expanded the website.  All of this was achieved while organising a wedding, backpacking through Southern Thailand and writing 35 ooo words for NaNo.  (I am smiling right now)

I am not trying to make up excuses for not doing the writing, I am simply saying that regardless of my failure I have had a fantastic month and if it weren’t for NaNo I would not have a great half-draft for my next project – ready to go.

I am so glad I was a part of it.  NaNo reminded me of how easy it is to write once you get out of your own way and just sit down to do the work.  I thought I would spend a month writing garbled nonsense but I didn’t.  I managed to really lay down a strong foundation for my next novella.  I found a few great characters in Thailand and was completely inspired by the location and history.

As well as writing a half-draft of a novella about Thailand, I found that my mind was so receptive to new ideas that I had to start another folder just to keep track of all my new ideas.  Once I was relaxed into the writing I found that I was like a little beacon on the beach in Thailand attracting ideas straight out of the sky.

I just have to try again next year.

Day 10 of NaNoWriMo and I Finally Caught Up

NaNoWriMo, Meghan Brewster, the emerging writers diarySo it is the 10th of November, 2013.  I am participating in National Novel Writing Month (It is called National even though it has become very much an international event).  I have set aside all my worries about my novel, all my deadlines for my websites and all my other commitments to get a little crazy.

The people at NaNo encourage you to start something new for November.  It is not recommended that you try to write something you have been working on for the last year, or a work that you have been waiting your whole life to write.  NaNo is about writing freely for the month and seeing where it takes you.  The pressure to write so many words a day means that you leave behind a lot of your inhibitions on the first day.

I fell behind in the first few days but I have finally caught up to the daily word count.

thailand - a novella

Working title…

I am in Thailand at the moment, traveling around for a while before we return to Australia to look after another house and beautiful little dog.  I decided what better inspiration than the islands and culture that I find myself immersed in.

I am writing a novel set in Thailand.  It is about a reluctant traveller, forced to leave Australia on the eve of her 30th birthday to play the part of the dutiful sister.  Jina is obliged to take a trip to Thailand that she cannot afford to be present at her sisters surprise elopement to a man no one has met.

I guess I am trying to write a comedy – but no one actually says that – just in case it isn’t funny.

If you are participating in NaNoWriMo this month and are looking for a writing partner, you can find me in the NaNo website as MegBrew from Sydney.

If you want to read more about NaNoWriMo follow this link – What is NaNoWriMo 2013??