This week’s Writer’s Corner artist probably needs no formal introduction. Stephen King is one of the most prolific of contemporary writers, whose books have sold well over 350 million copies world wide. His specific genre (which we mostly know him as) is Horror, but if you thought to dismiss his books, thinking that’s all he writes, you’d be wrong. The themes that run through his stories are suspense, supernatural, science fiction, fantasy and horror. His craft, though I believe, are his well formed characters that run alongside the plot lines, that make him such a well loved modern writer.
He is relentless in his craft, having written under his own name, as well as collaborations with other writers and pseudonyms. He has written under the name Richard Bachman (‘The Running Man’, ‘Thinner’) and his new book, ‘Sleeping Beauties’ is written in collaboration with his son, Owen King.
Many of his books are set in King’s own home state of Maine, and he often refers to characters in other books in his stories. So many of his books have been adapted to the big screen, including : ‘The Green Mile’, ‘The Stand’, ‘Under the Dome’ and ‘Misery’.
He includes many writers as main characters in his novels (who could forget Jack Torrance in ‘The Shining’?). It is worth noting that his short story ‘Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption’ became the movie ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ starring Morgan Freeman, is regarded as one of the greatest films of all time.
Lastly, I have to add ‘It’ in the mix, as my family and I went to see the film version recently and loved it! (My daughter is currently reading the book version).
Finally (I’m going I promise!)…King has written many tips and advice to aspiring writers over the years, and his book ‘On writing’ has become somewhat of a Bible if you are an aspiring writer! (Me included).
Top 5 Writing Tips, Stephen King
Write for yourself. Then worry about your audience.
Don’t use Passive voice! Instead of ” The meeting will be held at 7 o’clock,” say, “The meeting’s at seven.”
Stick to your own writing style. Read voraciously, but always form your own writing style, through the inspiration of other writers.
Avoid adverbs in your writing. They are unnecessary and do not help your story.
Turn off the TV, mobile phone, video games…..all distractions…and just write.
Finally, a cheeky one – the magic is in YOU! Don’t succumb to fear, just write your heart out, and the magic will flow.
For this week’s writer’s corner, I have chosen the children’s literature author Roald Dahl. Dahl was, in his lifetime, a children’s writer, a screenwriter, a short story novelist, a fighter pilot during WW2 and an Intelligence Officer and Diplomat. His fame though, lies in his work, namely his children stories. Think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, and the BFG, and an image forms in your mind of a quick-witted, humorous story teller that is loved by each generation of children around the world.
Roald Dahl was born on the outskirts of Cardiff, Wales, UK, to Norwegian parents. His father died when he was just three years old, and he was sent to boarding school at a young age. It was at boarding school, which he hated, that he drew inspiration from many of his his children’s books (Matilda, springs to mind and the horrible headmistress, Agatha Trunchball).
His children’s books are known for their macabre themes, such as The Witches, but have a darkly comic underlying tone, mixed with humor and a quirky warmheartedness. They always champion the underdog, with a warm sentimentality that has thrilled and delighted people for decades.
My favorite book of his, the BFG, was made into a movie featuring Academy Award winning actor Mark Rylance in the lead role. Other movies (how can we forget?) star Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, and Danny de Vito in Matilda.
Did you know?
the inspiration for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory came from Dahl’s time at Repton School, Derbyshire. The chocolate manufacturer, Cadburys, used to send new samples of chocolate bars for the boys to taste, and test.
The Times placed him 16th in a poll of 2008, as ‘”The 50 greatest British writers since 1945″
Sophie, the little girl in the BFG, is named after his granddaughter Sophie Dahl, whose also and author and a cookbook writer.
His adult works include the Tales of the Unexpected stories, which always had a twist at the end. These short story narratives became a TV show many years ago, and were introduced by Dahl himself (I know, because I used to watch the show!).
Writing Tips from Roald Dahl
Have a lively imagination.
Let your scenes come to life, so that the reader is in the story with you.
Have a lot of stamina – stick to your writing, day after day, hour after hour – persevere!
Be a perfectionist. Never be satisfied with what you have written, always aim for better next time.
Have a lot of self-discipline! You are working alone. There is no boss behind you, sacking you for shirking.
Have a keen sense of humor. For children’s writing, this is vital.
Lastly, gain some humility. The writer who thinks that his work is marvelous, is heading for trouble.
With Christmas and its festivities just a few weeks away and my University studies finished until the New Year (I graduated with a Post Graduate Certificate in Creative and Professional Writing!), I’ve decided to start an inspirational writer’s spot every Wednesday until Christmas week.
So, my posts will run for the next 6 weeks, starting today. My first pick of writers that I have inspired us, made us become writers ourselves, or simply who have enthralled us with they way they choose to live their lives creatively, is Henry Miller.
Henry Miller was an American writer who was also admired and discussed on my writing course, namely for his inspirational works, his literary forms, and his social observations.
“A book lying idle on a shelf is wasted ammunition” – Henry Miller
Henry Miller 1891-1980
American writer, born in New York in 1891
Known for breaking with the contemporary literary forms of his contemporaries, and for developing a semi-autobiographical style of novel, in Tropic of Capricorn
His works superbly capture character study, new literary forms, social observations, philosophical ideologies and reflections on the world he inhabited
Used sexual connotations throughout his works
Literary forms and genres included surrealism, explicit and erotic language and mysticism
Many of Miller’s works were written whilst he lived in Paris.
His books include (but are not limited to) – Tropic of Cancer, The Colossus of Maroussi, The Time of the Assassins, and The Big Sur.
His novel The Tropic of Cancer, led to an obscenity trial in the US in 1961, that tested American laws on pornography. The novel was passed and ruled as a work of Literature.
In order to draw inspiration and motivation for his day, Miller wrote a list of his writing tips to abide by. Take note, budding writers out there!
Work on one thing at a time until finished.
Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is at hand.
Work according to Program, and not according to Mood! Stop at the appointed time.
When you can’t create, you can work.
Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
Discard the Program when you feel like it – but go back to it next day. Narrow down. Exclude.
Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
Write first, and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come after.
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that was created over at The Broke and the Bookish! This weeks topic is about characters who you think would make great leaders. I decided to focus on female characters who I believe have the ability to lead a group of people- whether it is as a president of a country, or in to war.
Emika from Warcross
Emika is very independent, but she grows and develops throughout the novel and learns to work as a team. She is one of those people who draw attention to her, she is brilliant, and she is determined, which has all the makings for a fantastic leader.
Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird
The lessons that Scout learns from her father, Atticus Finch, make her a perfect candidate for being a leader. She learns to not be afraid to be oneself as well as the important…
This is an extract from a book I am currently writing. My story initially involved a witch in 17th century England and a young Preacher’s daughter 200 years later, who is sent to Australia with her family at a time when the colony was still being explored and (should I say?) conquered. I have put down Anna’s thoughts and fears as she embarks on this journey, as so many did, whether through choice, or as convicts.
I’m still debating whether to explore Anna’s character further, as she discovers the alien landscape she now lives in (which is the rugged tropical area of Queensland), and the peoples that live there. Her link to my witch, Hester, is a talisman given to her to ward off evil spirits, but Anna finds less happiness and comfort, and blames her heartache on the gift, soon regretting the day she accepted it. The talisman holds a curse, for good or for evil, that Hester conjured up before facing the hangman’s noose for witchcraft.
I’ve used a diary form of writing to explore Anna’s inner thoughts, which helps the narrative flow and allows me to understand the psyche of people who choose to explore new lands, whatever they find there; fortune or misfortune. In Anna’s case, she has her religious beliefs as her comfort, her salvation.
Anyway, here’s a piece I wrote to start her tale. Themes of my story will include – alienation, fear, magick, landscape, place, colony, native Australians, magical realism, and witchcraft.
Does anyone else have snippets of stories that they’d like to explore further, but are not sure where to take them?
Please share !
Have a great creative week 🙂
Anna’s Story: 1825
The ship that we travel on is called The Sea Witch. Strong of stern, she cuts through the dark foam as a knife cuts butter, until the land behind us falls back into the shadows. The captain, a stout man with a large grey beard, stands on the deck, barely taking his eyes away from the seas ahead. The fish jump and splash alongside the stern as we sail further into the vast grayness. The dolphins follow us, their elegant forms keeping up with the sails with ease. This clipper has a masthead, painted in reds and gold, depicting a face of a wondrous lady with flowing hair. My Sicile is fascinated by her, as she embraces the seas, guiding us ever southward. Papa becomes cross when he sees her glance upwards, towards the bow. He asks us to remain pious, to hold our Bibles in front of us as he preaches his sermons.
At a young age, papa chose to serve our Saviour. He and mama were married young even though his family disapproved of the union. They cut us off without a penny, forcing papa to search for pastures new. So far, my family has lived in seven parishes and mama has borne four children. I am the second oldest still on this earth. Before me, my brother Isaiah had barely lived beyond two years, the fever taking his sickly body within days. Papa grieved so, locking himself in his study, reading the Scriptures day after day. Then, the letter arrived. I remember papa hugging mama as tears streamed down her face. She looked anguished, like nothing I had seen before, even when Isaiah was taken from us. Within a few weeks we were bound to the new colony across the seas.
The journey is fraught with sickness. When I can, I go up on deck and breathe in the briny sea air. Then the smell of the cooking pots leaves me nauseous and I stumble below deck to the comfort of my hammock. My mother, ever anxious, brings me soothing drinks and comfort but nothing can take away the feelings inside of me. The anxiety of the future lies heavy on my chest, growing each day. Sometimes it catches me unawares, and I can feel my heart racing under my new dress, bought especially for the journey. The new land lies far on the other side, so I’m told. It is a frightening enough to live among strange pastures and even stranger peoples. But anything is better than the horrors that we’ve faced behind us. Day turns to night and the seas don’t let up their vastness. I clutch my dolly, my Mary, and pray that we’ll have a better life ahead of us.
It has been over a year since we arrived. In that time, I have lost so much that was dear to me; my beloved Sicile passed, barely six months ago. Even now I still feel the warmth of her body next to mine, the emptiness of my arms are bereft from holding her. Then my beloved blue kelpie Jack became lost in the bushes beyond the paddocks. It was I who saw the black, before Papa or the rest of the community. He stood alone, watching us beyond our small enclosure, as silent as a statue. He had a spear in one hand and was half naked as the savages are wont to be. He disappeared, and I could smell their fires, smoking in the dense bushland that surrounds us. There have been raids across our small community and every day I feel anxious just to walk across our house to the church; afraid to walk alone on the tracks that run into the bush. Papa says they are not to be feared, that he wishes to preach to them the word of God. I am not so sure. Sicile’s death has left me feeling vulnerable and isolated, unsure of my own identity in this strange new world.
I have done much soul searching since Sicile’s passing. Mama has taken to her bed, too wrapped in her own despair to raise herself. The fireplace is my only warmth, my comfort. I have a trestle bed there, where I can find some peace from my daily routine. Only here the memories of my precious Sicile fill my senses. Her soft scent is evident in her blanket, and I breathe her in; her smell, the memory of her soft breath against my cheek. Her shoes are still there, by the fireplace, so small that it makes my heart stop. I place my Mary, my raggedy doll next to her, whom she loved. Her presence is with me always and I must keep them, to protect us from harm. Sometimes, I sense the savages before I see them, out in the yard as I place the clothes on our flimsy washing line. They stand there, in the shadows of the gum trees, silent as statues. They seem to like our fair skin, so different from their own.
Some days, when the air is dank and heavy, reflecting my mood, I hope they will take me, release me from my sorrow. But how I chide myself for my ungodly feelings! I must remain pious, say my prayers, and learn my Scriptures. I must gain knowledge of our new home, a land with birds that chatter from the tree tops and brown beasts that hop along the edges of our enclosure. A land that has trees that bend in the breezes, shedding their leaves unlike any I have seen in England. How I grieve for that time! We were a family, not knowing what the future would hold. Even Jacob my brother has left us, sent to Sydney by Papa to finish his studies. How I wish I could be with him. But it is my duty to stay, to care for mama, to ensure that the savages cannot finish us off. It is my task to ring the bell should they step onto our land. Such responsibilities! I mourn for my old self, for the girl I once was in England.
But wait, I hear mama waking. I must stoke the fire, make her strong tea, as papa has instructed. He is already in his refuge, his church. I heard him rise before dawn. He will be pulling out the Bibles for his flock, as the Lord’s Day is upon us.
pleased to have my name in lights! The QLD writers centre has picked my 8 Word story to display on billboards across Brisbane and the Gold Coast. One of the billboards is just minutes from my house, so I drove there this afternoon to take a look.
The angst and stress of creativity, of sitting alone in front of my computer, of wondering if I should take up knitting instead (never!), feels so sweet when you have some recognition!
My message this evening is …. keep on writing!
Does anyone else feel the same about their writing achievements ?