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suzannebowditch

Writer of historical fiction, blogger, mum, pet lover :)

Month

February 2019

How to create settings to develop your characters

blank paper with pen and coffee cup on wood table
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Take a look at your environment.

Is it neat and tidy, everything in order, in its proper place? Or are there clothes on the floor, coffee stains on the table, and a layer of dust on the blinds?

Your environment can speak volumes about your personality. So too, with your characters!

(Personally, my writing room is a mixture or the two above descriptions – so I’m a part – neat- slobby writer, who needs to dust!)

All of the above details are important for character development. You as a writer are creating a person who has all the personality traits, quirks and mood swings as the rest of us!

So, the setting is as important as a character’s mood swing, or the plot lines.  Why, do you ask? Because setting helps us understand the character, as an author and as a reader, that enables us to connect fully with the overall story. Readers want to feel that they know that character, and that includes the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!

Details matter!

Just by describing a room, a place, a vehicle, even the contents of a handbag – we are transported to that time, that place, in the story. It helps us understand the actions and events that our character will embark upon in its telling.

Take this paragraph from Stephen King’s Misery:

“She had gone out to do the chores. He heard the dim crunch of her footsteps on the snow. She went past his window wearing a parka with the hood up. Her breath plumed out, then broke apart on her moving face. She didn’t look in at him, intent on her chores in the barn, he supposed. Feeding the animals, cleaning the stalls, maybe casting a few runes – he wouldn’t put it past her. “

The MC, Paul Sheldon is describing the actions and setting outside his trapped bedroom. It aptly conveys his sense of isolation – the feeding of the farm animals – and his mood of despondency as he watches the world go by without him.

*

art business close up decor
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So, make a list of your character traits, quirks, physical descriptions.

Then, put them into a setting – is it an urban city? Or a rural, country setting?

A country setting evokes images of peace, tranquility, relaxation.

A city evokes images that are fast-paced, stressful, hard-edged.

So, mix it up a bit! Put your character into a country environment in which they are stressed, isolated, unable to cope (just like in Misery).

By the same token, place your character in an urban environment where they meet their soul mate and fall in love.

Also, think about horror, sci-fi, historical settings and themes – there are endless possibilities!

Happy writing everyone! 🙂

#writing  #writingtips #characters #settings #stephenking #misery

 

 

 

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Cyclone Oma

The cyclone has swept across the Gold Coast, leaving crashing waves, erosion of the beaches, uprooted trees and destruction everywhere. Now downgraded to a 1 category (in the cyclone table), Oma is still raging outside my house, rattling my blinds and driving my terrier dog Billy to distraction.

Cyclones are known to be unpredictable, and can blow out as quickly as they appear. With this in mind, I ‘ve found an image on my Twitter account by local photographer Dean Johnson, whose inages of the Gold Coast are spectacular.

Here’s a clip of a surfer bravely encountering one of the many high sided waves we’ve encountered. Nature is breathtaking in its beauty, its power, its penchant for destruction that leaves us in awe.

Happy creative week everyone! 🙌

#cycloneoma #deanjohnsonphotography #writer 📚 #queensland

Midweek short story: The Task

blur business coffee commerce
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I went along to a writing workshop over the weekend. The Gold Coast Writers Association (GCWC) has been around for a few years, but I’d never actually taken myself along to it, even though I’d known of its existence for a while now.

Why, you ask?

Isn’t that a place to mix with other like-minded people, to connect and share ideas?

You would think so.

But an inner voice rises up every month and my inner reticence comes to the foreground. Then, I find numerous excuses not to attend any writing workshops. The excuses are numerous, ranging from visitors arriving, or urgent shopping to do. Anything really, that stopped me from having to discuss my favorite subject – that is, writing!

So, last weekend, I had no excuse. I’d already told my husband I was going along to it – and he’s very supportive of my projects – so I went as a visitor. Note here, I didn’t join up!

For a start, I was late. That meant that I hurried up the stairs (it’s above a library), to find the lecture had already started.

The room was packed and hot.

I found a stack of chairs and sat down on the corner of a table at the back of a small community hall. The lecturer, a well regarded local author, gave a very encouraging lecture on dealing with – The Idea (behind your novel), The Character (and how fully to write them), and The Plot (where to get inspiration). Also, tips on narration – with 1st or 2nd narration and how each helps with the flow of your novel.

All well and good. That is until we had a writing exercise to do (I will post my story in a sec), and various people stood up to read out their stories! 

Phew, how brave are they!

Anyhow, I will likely go back next month and pluck up the courage to mingle – just a tad more…..!

Here’s the story – the writing prompt is in italics, the rest is mine.

flock of birds
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The Task

William Smith knew that what he was about to do was wrong. But the more he thought of the task ahead, the more sickening urge to see it through overwhelmed him.

The gun was loaded. Pressed to his shoulder. Cocked. William’s finger’s hovered over the trigger, his eyes scrunched up and focused, peering into the darkening landscape.

He paused. Thoughts running through his mind like quicksilver. So many thoughts.

His wife. His kids. They were his immediate concern. His family. But then, his father’s voice, loud and clear in his head. Strong and fast, making his knees tremble, his mind unfocused.

William’s fingers shook over the gun barrel.

I can do this, he said, to himself. He will be proud.

Aim! Target! Get it in sight, you fool! The voice of his father, like a gunshot, whirling around him.

The tail end of the animal came into focus. Beyond the trees. Nose up, sniffing the air.

A clean shot. Ready.

The deer crumpled then fell.

Inside his head, his father clapped.

Suzanne Bowditch, 2019

#gcwa #shortstory #fiction #thetask

‘The Red Dress’ by Suzanne Bowditch — Tulpa Magazine

The Red Dress – published on Tulpa magazine 🙂

The woman in the dress shop told her mother, Janelle, it fitted perfectly. ‘This is so now you know,’ she’d said, standing next to Rosie in front of the ornate mirror. ‘Red is the colour. Haven’t you seen it on the best catwalks?’ Janelle shrugged, pulling the dress down over Rosie’s knees. A whisper of […]

via ‘The Red Dress’ by Suzanne Bowditch — Tulpa Magazine

Fabulous Opening Lines #amwriting #CharlesDickens

Great post by Alison Williams Writing, on Dickens himself, and good first lines 🙂

Alison Williams Writing

dl-portrait-charles-dickensCharles Dickens was born on this day in 1812. One of my favourite writers, he has a lot to teach us today (and some of his compassion and philanthropy wouldn’t go amiss either).

I wrote this post about opening lines a few years ago, but Dickens was the master of them, so in celebration of his birthday, here it is again.

The opening line for your novel must draw your reader in. They should read that first line and think: I need to read this book. I want to know what happens.

So how do you create a great first line? That’s a difficult thing to try and explain. The best thing to do, as with most things, is to read. And when you read, think about your reaction to that opening line. Do you want to read on? If so, why? And if not, why not? I can do…

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Children’s short story fiction: The day I met a Monster

alone child children close up
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A short story, inspired by a chat I had recently with a friend’s little girl!

The day I met a Monster

Monsters are real. As real as you and I. They don’t just exist in fairy tales, or in the silly children’s books that mum reads to my baby sister. Mum should know better than to fill her head with goblins and fairies or tell her that monsters only come with bright yellow eyes, and are kind really. They’re not.

Monsters are much cleverer than that. They are not huge lumpy things, like in the cartoons or in my favorite film, Monsters Inc. Those monsters are tame by comparison.

Monsters live around us, in the nooks and crannies of our old house, lying dormant underneath the creaking old floorboards. They are in the park that we go to, in broad sunshine. They stand under the shade of the oak tree outside our shops, the acorns bouncing on their heads. But they don’t move, they wait.

Grown-ups chose not to see them. They hurry past the oak trees, look away when we’re on the swings, talk to each other when the monsters walk past. I know this, have figured it out a long time ago.

They just want a moment to sneak into the sunshine.

Grown-ups won’t give them an inch.

So they stand in the shadows, creep around the park, the house, the sidewalk.

But I know they’re there.

I’ve seen them with my own two eyes.

And I’m going to tell you my story. It’s about

The day I met a Monster.

Suzanne Bowditch, 2019

#shortstory #fiction #monsters #thedayimetamonster #writer #creative

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