Saturday, 27 June 2009
This is the old pack horse bridge over the Whittle Burn in Ovingham, and has absolutely nothing to do with what follows, but it's pretty, and I like it. It was repaired in 1698, so it is pretty old.
The start of a story is important. It has to grab the reader. So the lead-in, from the first page to the inciting incident should introduce the protagonist, establish the genre and the setting and lead to the inciting incident. And you have to do it in an interesting way. You might want to show your protagonist in his/her normal world, which the inciting incident will disrupt and set the rest in motion. Or you might prefer to begin with an incident that will tip everything normal on its head, and run from there.
And for the rest - keep the conflict coming so that stakes are raised for the protagonist, weave in subplots and give it all highs and lows. Conflict may be many things - external, internal, spiritual, emotional, physical - but you need it. Reaching the goal has to get harder and harder. If the main character has nothing to lose, you have no conflict.
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Sunday, 21 June 2009
Thursday, 18 June 2009
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Bearing in mind that they are focussed on screenwriting, there's a lot that is useful to fiction writers. Every story, they say, needs:
- interesting characters
- intense conflict
- visual opportunity (using imagination instead of eyes)
- emotional power
Every story has a Major Dramatic Question, (MDQ) which becomes the single driving force of the plot. Example - Will Scarlett win Ashley? That is the MDQ for Gone With the Wind. She fails to win him, but it is still the MDQ.
Monday, 15 June 2009
right now so I guess Whittle Dene burn will soon be flowing a good deal faster than it was the other day!
I read my first Jodi Picoult book last week. I've seen her name in the best seller lists for some time now and finally succumbed to curiosity. The Tenth Circle held my interest to the last page but it was one of those stories where the author withholds certain prime facts that alter the whole perception of the work. All the way through it was fairly obvious that something was not quite right about the juvenile lead character - "there's a rabbit off 'ere somewhere," as my dad used to say - and the parents are suspect in more ways than one, but we were not allowed enough clues to work it out for ourselves.
Remember me? on the other hand, is Sophie Kinsella doing very well. I have not read enough of hers to say it is her best, but this one seemed a little more than chick-lit to me. Imagine waking up after an accident, and finding you don't recognise yourself, and can't remember the last three years during which you evidently changed your entire personality. Good premise? I enjoyed it.
The French Gardener (Montefiore) is the story of a love affair. Quiet, reflective, and a pleasure to read. Sometimes sad, sometimes funny, always magical.
Went into Newcastle to day to view the newly opened City Library, and was impressed. The old building closed mid 2006 and the new one opened on 7th June. Click here to check it out. Though I do not live in the city, nor even in the Tyne and Wear district, I was eligible to join and so I did. We tried coffee and a scone in the restaurant that is on a separate floor to the books, and visited the Local History and Interest level where I succeeded in drawing attention to myself by knocking a steel shelf marker onto the floor. Within seconds a member of staff appeared, asking if it had struck my toe. Good job it didn't, as the wretched thing was heavy. I also managed to shove my card into the computer and then look silly when it wouldn't accept it, do anything with it or regurgitate it. All borrowing is automated. With the help of one of the "floating staff" I managed to borrow a book - Writing Movies by Gotham Writers' Workshop.
Sunday, 14 June 2009
Friday, 12 June 2009
Thursday, 11 June 2009
Saturday, 6 June 2009
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
It has been an excellent year for blossom in this part of the world. That's a plain old hawthorn in full bloom and there are hedgerows full of them. The gorse has gone, all dead and brown, but now it is the time for hawthorn. I remember Anne of a Thousand Days - the scene where she was led out from her execution, I think, and she pauses to look at the blossom. "Why, the month is May," she says, reminding me that country people still use the old name for the hawthorn.
I am continually distracted from writing. Tennis goes on, and will for some weeks to come, and I'm an addict for this short season. The weather has finally reverted from temperatures in the mid twenties and gone back to its normal grey 18 degrees for a British summer. While the sunshine was so glorious, I spent a good deal of time out in the garden and walking in the countryside. We're never sure we'll see the sun again, you see, and already we're only three weeks away from the longest day.
It may be that I am bored with the story. Maybe I need to start on something new, and shove this one to the back of a drawer somewhere. Surely my lack of interest is telling me something and I ought to listen?
Monday, 1 June 2009
"He didn't surprise me because I know how he plays and how dangerous he can be. I didn't play my best. I played very short and I couldn't attack. I made it easy for him to play at his level. But I lost. It's not a tragedy, I had to lose one day. I must accept my defeats with the same level of calm that I accept my victories."
Well, I should have more time for writing now. Until Wimbledon, that is. I hope he has a good rest, enjoys his birthday at home for the first time in years.
The picture is courtesy of Reuters.