Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Characters: Introducing Mr and Mrs So and So.

I've been reading, reading, reading since my last post: researching for my novel, that's set in 1969 in Manchester and Crete. I'm so glad I did because it's made me realise that the swinging 60s had all but vanished and the hippy movement and other sub cultures were in full flow.

Society and attitudes were changing greatly for example the legalization of homosexuality; the women's lib movement had started to take off; the tensions felt surrounding immigration and the inflammatory 'Rivers of Blood' speech given by Enoch Powell; the strikes, political unrest and dissatisfaction with the Wilson government. There appeared to be a general feeling that the exuberant times of the sixties were coming to an end, only to be replaced by an uncomfortable thought of what may lie around the corner for the following decade - I don't think it's that dissimilar from today.

In Crete, there was the military Junta by the Colonels, which meant that all of Greece was living under a dictatorship. The use of torture, martial law, and taking of political prisoners was not uncommon, and many European countries were concerned with human rights issues. Yet at the same time Greece actively encouraged tourism to help booster its economy. An example of this was the hippy colony that sprung up in the late 60s around Matala in Southern Crete, which part of my novel will be visiting.

With all this information behind me I've now got some ideas for my characters. I'm a believer that in order to have a plot and to be able to drive it forward you have to know your characters inside out, so that is what I'm going to be focussing on over these next few weeks. Once I know who my characters are, and more importantly how they would react to things, then I can start plotting my novel out. I already have some mental pictures of what they look like, but it's about the back-stories I give them that - I hope - will make them come alive and jump off the page. Quite a few of the 'How to Write' books have a standard character sheet, that you can use to build up a character, for example: what they look like, their occupation, likes/dislikes etc. I'll use these formats initially but will then adopt them to suit my own needs.

Anyway, must dash as real life beckons in the guise of the school run...

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

My writing begins...again!

Well, after several months of not having a clue as to what the hell I was doing with my life - starting a politics degree then transferring to a sociology one; I have come back to that old chestnut in me that will not go away: writing. I've had to withdraw from university as I'm moving house and relocating to Cheshire so I've made the conscious decision to become a writer. It's now or never!

I have an idea for a novel and I've started to research for it. I've also commenced a notebook/file for my novel: so any ideas; observations; snippets of conversation; character ideas; or dialogue that pops into my head, go into my notebook for future reference. My memory is crap so it's important I do this or I'll end up forgetting so much stuff. More importantly, its a place where I can keep all my ideas that flow out of me when I allow myself the time and space for my imagination to wander. Its amazing what your mind can produce if given the freedom to do so. Something I have learned about myself is that I've found I'm more creative when I write with a pen as opposed to sitting looking at a computer screen.

I've decided to use this blog as a space to talk about the process of writing and how I'm getting on with it, a kind of a writers journal or diary.

Finally I've just enrolled on the Open University's 'Starting writing Fiction' course which will be starting in May 2010, I'm hoping that the feedback from the tutor and the other students will be beneficial and constructive for my writing. It should also be an excellent way for getting some of my fiction work to be read by other writers/students on the course's forum.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Politics, Politics, Politics!

I've not blogged for such a long time which is shocking so better catch up.

So angered at the expenses scandal and disenchanted with politics in general that I thought that I should stop moaning about it and actually get involved in the political process, so I joined the Labour Party on the day of the European elections. Have attended a couple of local labour meetings which have been very interesting, just for the fact that they have informed me how the local Labour Party works. They also want me to put my name forward to be a local councilor which I'm considering doing!

I've also been accepted onto the F/T BA Politics degree at Hull Uni, which I cannot wait to start. Just have to see where my life takes me!!

Have had my second assignment from the Writers Bureau back and my tutor thinks it is publishable - just have to see what the editor thinks when I get round to sending it off. Just started working on my third assignment now.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

What have I been up to?

My God! Where have I been for over a month? Can't believe it's been that long since blogging on here! Shocking I know!

Anyway I've finally handed in my 2nd assignment for my writing course; have started on my 3rd assignment; I'm up to my eyeballs in revision for my exam; I'm trying to decide whether or not I should go F/T at university; I already have a degree so wondering if I can get on the Masters degree or whether I still have to do another degree first; sorting out both my son's and my daughter's birthdays; keep swapping and changing my ideas for which novel I should do first; becoming too consumed in the politics of politics at the moment; absolutely shocked and horrifed that the BNP won two seats in the European Parliamentary elections and to make matters worse, one of those seats - Yorkshire and Humberside - is in my region!

Not been very creative lately, I guess I've let life take over a bit. I think I need to concentrate on my exams and then crack on with my creative work over summer.

I'm very tired so I'm off to bed!

Thursday, 7 May 2009

A Letter to myself

I recently read in The Guardian, that Stephen Fry wrote a letter to his 16 year old self, so I think I'll give it a go myself.

To Melanie (aged 16)
You have had a great life up until now and it will just get better. There will be times when you'll want to just hide away under a duvet cover, and never come out. But do not worry; these times will pass and will only make you appreciate all the happy and fun times to come, which will always, always, outnumber the sad times.

That boy you recently met at the nightclub 'Shades', and have fallen madly in love with...well lets just say that in 22 years you will still be hopelessly in love with; and that goosebump-feeling you get, whenever he enters the room, will never leave you.

You will be a great mum to two beautiful children, although the journey to motherhood will be harrowing and very sad on a couple of occasions. But trust me, it will be worth it.

Be strong enough to always follow your own intuition and never do things that you think are not right. There will be several times that you won't heed this advice, but you will know it immediately. In particular, your choice of career. So just enjoy your nursing and midwifery careers and just accept them as a journey to who you are.

When you see that pamphlet coming through your door, for a part time social science degree at the University of Hull, jump at the chance at getting on the course and never look back. You will be truly inspired by a lecturer there, who will reawaken in you, a fascination of the society you live in.

It will probably take you about 22 years to finally gain the courage and confidence to do something about your yearning to be a writer.

I'm really hoping that in 22 years from now I will recive a letter, similar to this one, giving me guidance and words of wisdom.


Melanie (aged 37)

p.s. You might want to stop eating all that chocolate now, because it's going to end up right on your hips!

Productively productive

Well I've spent the past few days just reading, reading, reading!

Unforetunately not a novel, but things that I'm sure will be of vital importance to me in my quest for my literary career. I've finished the Writers Bureau book 2, and have been reading certain pages of the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook. This is an amazing book, with so many useful nuggets of information. Any aspiring writers or even 'old hands' at the writing game, should have one, as it is crammed full with articles on how to publish, lists of publishing houses, and magazine and newspaper listings. However I do think there is a new one coming out in June/July time.

I've been trawling through numerous magazines to get a feel for the way the articles are written and also to determine what they publish. I think I'm now ready to give assignment 2 of WB course a go. I have to write an analysis of a magazine, how they present their features and articles, and then write an article myself for that publication.

I've never written an article before so it should be a great learning curve for me. I'm sure it will be worth all the hard work that I'll be putting into my writing over these next few months, and assignments, to eventually get to see my name in print. I'm looking forward to the challenge!

Will let you know how I get on

Melanie x

Monday, 4 May 2009

Feedback, feedback, feedback!

I finally got my feedback from my first Writers Bureau assignment last week, and it was worth the wait! It was very positive and there was nothing significant to be changed. It was such a relief, as I am constantly wondering: am I up to this?

I'm continuing to read the 2nd book of the course and I'm finding it very interesting. I'd never have thought of studying a magazine's contents before; analysing and understanding how articles are written for specific magazines. I would probably have just written something and then sent it off to a magazine, expecting them to just accept it. I'm so glad that it's made me analyse the market first, think about what articles I want to write about, and then write the article in line with the way the magazines want.

I do feel a little apprehensive about contacting editors though. Why is this? Is it because of my idea of what an editor looks like - working in a big publishing building, standing behind a desk screaming, 'Get this...ditch that...I woudn't publish this crap....I want more of this...but definitely not that...deadlines, deadlines, deadlines', whilst smoking a big fat cigar, and stroking their beards...and that's just the women!

Anyway I've now got a few ideas for some articles, but think I really need to look very closely at the market so will have to update my blog as I'm going on! x