Its St David’s day in Wales – that is, March 1st, a day when Welsh people send their children to school in traditional Welsh costume, looking as cute as buttons.
The costumes usually consist of (for the girls) : tweedy shawls, high stove hats with frills, long tweed skirts and pinafores with boots, and either have a daffodil or a leek pinned to their lapels. The boys wear Welsh rugby jerseys and sometimes tweedy flat caps ( which I recall get thrown around the playground by lunchtime!)
Its also a day for traditional Welsh fayre! So, with this in mind, I’ve baked a large batch of Welsh cakes (see pic below and my lovely little Welsh doll ).
Happy St David’s day, wherever you are!
On a creative note, I wrote over a 1,000 words of my thesis (due at the end of the year) that has my MC as a witch. Its toodling along nicely, thanks to heaps of reading material around – Ronald Hutton, Antonio Fraser, Tracy Borman – that have helped me get a sense of 16-17 century Europe.
The weather has cooled down considerably, which is fabulous.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 […]
Charles 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…
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.
I had to share this beautiful book cover that I had for Christmas. Its sat on my bedside table (among the other pile which had overflowed to the floor now), and I’m getting around to reading it finally. I’m always drawn to a pretty cover, but sometimes the story inside is not so good – I’m interested in finding out if this one is the same, or a lovely read.
I’ve decided to take up a book challenge for 2019, to read at least 50 books until the end of the year.
This is book number three. In order to keep a note of the books, I ‘m taking photographs of them and will review the ones that stand out. So far The Lost Man by Jane Harper is in the lead, so a review is due! I’ve also read a collection of ghost stories that Roald Dahl put together called Fear: Tales of Terror and Suspense that had a couple of creepy tales!
The humidity of the heatwave we’re experiencing in Queensland at the moment is turning the skies into all kinds of pinks, peach, yellows and blue at the moment. The high temperatures usually means a storm is imminent, and I couldn’t help thinking about the old shepherd’s saying as we headed back up the coast on the weekend. I believe the saying goes back to Biblical times, when the shepherds would check the skies constantly, the differences in the weather as essential to their crops and their livelihoods.
Times are not so different now. Yes, on the surface things have changed and modern technology makes us feel a world away from our ancestors. Judging from the spate of hurricanes, storms, floods and droughts in recent times, it seems we are as vulnerable to the changing climates as our ancestors were.
That’s why it’s good to stop once in a while and take in the beauty of Mother Nature, before our iphones and ipads, our social media apps and our computers demand our attention once more.
Have a good week and keep writing! 🙌 📚 💚 #writer #writerslife