Help save Rupert DeVille.
Join us in our campaign to publicise Ruperts dilemma.
I am counting on your support. Thank you
on @Daycause | @fluffybunnypj
Help save Rupert DeVille.
Join us in our campaign to publicise Ruperts dilemma.
I am counting on your support. Thank you
on @Daycause | @fluffybunnypj
I first posted this about two years ago, but like many bits & bobs, it became lost in the never ending scroll of past posts. I guess that is a modern phenomenon we all have to come to terms with.
Tonight, I walked home along the same route as always, habitual, predictive.
As I turned the corner onto Star Street, I noticed at the entrance to the multi-story car park, next to the twenty-four-hour parking sign, an illuminated soda machine. My stride faltered, I paused, standing looking with curiosity.
I passed this way a hundred times, a thousand times without noticing the machines existence. How could that be? How could I not notice such a prominent fixture, a glowing block of red and white? The machine was designed to scream out ‘look at me’.
Silhouetted against the glowing structure was a woman’s figure. She was standing still, totally immobile. The hair on each side of her head was like sharp shards radiating outwards. I wondered for a moment if she had been struck by lightning, or shocked by the machine.
I looked on, the woman remained immobile. It was then I noticed how quiet everything had become. Vaguely, in the background was the ever present rumble of city life, a cacophony of indistinguishable sounds, punctuated by the occasional siren.
But that was it.
Here, within the realms of my vision, all was still. No cars, no people, no movement. This is when my seventh sense kicked in, my writer’s sense. My mind started to ask me questions, sparks leapt from one neural pathway to another, reflection, consideration, conjecture meshed and melded into a fast flowing string.
Was this a frozen moment, a rift in the time-space continuum? What choices did I now have and what were the possible outcomes? Was I standing at an intersection of the multiverse? Was this the place where a thousand possibilities lay, invisible threads, a twisting mesh of crossing fortunes, a complex delta of potential and probability?
Would my next actions, or inactions, lay my out future, would they alter my destiny. Wealth, fortune, life, death. Choices. Or was all predestined? Was I merely following a predetermined path towards an inevitable future?
Did she, the silhouette, hold the key, the answers? Was the light surrounding her flooding from the soda fountain or emitting from her very being? Did she hold the secret?
My heart was pounding. I wanted to approach her, ask her. Yet something held me back. I do not think it was fear; apprehension maybe, or something undefinable, something there are no words to describe.
The woman moved. Walking forward towards the machine. I heard three coins drop. Saw a slender finger extended, pushing her selection. A rattle and thump as the can fell. Still not moving I watched as she stooped and retrieved the can.
A click, a hiss. The woman tilted her head back and drank thirstily. Gulping the contents. Lowering her head she drew a cuff across her mouth and casually tossed the empty can into a waste bin before turning and walking away.
Once she had been swallowed by the darkness. I found the ability to move. I sauntered over and looked into the bin. An excess of brown fluid was still dripping from a Dr Peppers can onto the waste below.
My imagination had not finished with me yet. Questions kept springing into my mind. Had she actually brought a can of Dr Peppers? Or did the fact I looked, that I observed, changed the very nature of this reality? Had my presence altered the state of things, transformed the material quality of being? After all, our actions, our existence is subject to the laws and principles of quantum physics, are they not?
A car wound its way down the ramp, headlights blazing as it exited the car park. A group of people wandered around the corner, talking, joking, and laughing. Their voices seemingly activating an ‘on’ switch. Suddenly the city sounds became loud and clear. No longer the muffled white background noise they were a moment ago.
That was it.
The quantum gate had closed. The rift sealed. My chance to alter my destiny whipped away by an ethereal wind, stolen by inexorable march of time. Yet my writers mind still wrestles with the possibilities.
Maybe my thoughts, at least some of them, will find their way into a story, or become the premise of a future novel. Or maybe they shall just haunt me forever more?
Such is the curse of the muse.
© Paul White 2015
Have you read my Tales of Crime & Violence collection yet?
If not grab yourself volume one now at
This year I have only two stories destined for anthologies. One is for a summer anthology, due out soon, another a children’s book scheduled for Christmas.
This is the lowest number of stories I have given for inclusion into collective tomes for several years.
I know some writers stay away from this form of publication. There are many reasons.
Some do not write short fiction, others focus on just one genre, some believe these books a waste of effort, while others only give licence if the book is a charitable or fundraising edition.
I appreciate everyone’s point of view on this matter.
To give a story away, even secured by a simple first serial rights licence, is a big thing. To take time out to write a specific tale for one is a commitment. Then, there is the fact of finding the extra time to write in the first instance.
If someone does not wish to commit to an anthology, so be it.
I, however, am a sucker for these books.
Partly, it is because I am a prolific writer of short stories and flash fiction. I always have some unpublished works on hand which need a good home. Another reason is, I enjoy writing from simple, given prompts. I belong to some writer’s groups, such as ‘500 – Iron writer’s spin-off‘ who regularly exercise their quills by doing just so.
I find scribbling a short tale a fantastic writing exercise, as I do with poetry and blog writing, even this post you are reading now is teaching me something about my trade as a wordsmith.
It is called, gaining experience.
I believe we can and should always strive to become better writers and, like modern athletes and sportsmen, we should ‘cross -train’. That may mean writing poetry and short stories, trying our hand with a genre we have never approached before, writing non-fiction too. Whatever it takes, we should often step outside of our comfort zone, we should do it to improve ourselves.
For me, committing to someone as a guest blogger, or agreeing to contribute a piece to an anthology, encompasses that training; it allows me to be creative, try something ‘new to me’, or come at a subject from an alternative perspective. It also allows me to get my work in front of readers who may not have found me otherwise.
It is not something I do for a direct reward. I have, where there have been shared royalties, had my allocation directed to charity.
Which brings me nicely to this point.
Many collections of short stories are put together as fundraisers, or for creating awareness for worthwhile causes. ‘Looking into the Abyss: Saving the Rhinoceros one story at a time’ an anthology designed to spread the word about the Rhino’s fight for survival, and ‘Sticks & Stones and Words that Hurt Me’ which supports anti-domestic violence, along with ‘Storybook, Individually together, Vo 1‘ (no longer available) are three charitable books I have close association with.
However, not all anthologies have to be for charitable causes.
The ‘Awethors’, a group of likeminded indie authors from across the globe, have created three anthologies crammed with a wealth of wonderful tales. These books, The Awethology Dark, The Awethology Light and the December Awethology Dark & December Awethology Light, were produced for several reasons.
These books are to show what an alliance of indie authors, living in various countries around the world, can achieve when working in unison.
The Awethors collective produced not one, but Four great works, proving such co-operative action can be repeated and maintained.
These anthologies also bring the contributing authors closer together, it strengthens the collective and in some cases, creates new, long lasting, genuine friendships.
If you have never contributed to an anthology before, I ask you to consider doing so. I am certain you will know at least one other writer who has a link with at least one. Do it for yourself, for a literary exercise, for learning, for betterment, but most of all do it for fun.
To finish, I quite fancy contributing to a Sci-Fi collection, (I don’t write Sci-Fi), or something from a female perspective perhaps?
Any offers, contact me.
Thank you once again for reading my Ramblings, Paul.
Looking for something different, a gift with thought? Take a look at the Pussers Cook Book.
This blog, as its sub-title states, is where I write about writing for writers.
When I do so, I want to make it clear what each of my posts are about, so you can choose to indulge in my words, or skip on to something else which blows your frock up in the moment.
The point is ‘CLARITY’.
Allow me to explain where my thoughts are…
I read an awful lot of stuff about writing and being an indie author; articles, blogs, books, newspapers, social media posts, written by other writers, authors and publishers with the intent of giving advice or insight into the ‘black art‘ of a writer’s life.
Generally… and I know one should not generalise by right, but on this occasion, I shall… Generally, all these posts are written with a single perception in mind, that of fiction writer.
It is assumed, by most authors of these posts, articles and essays that ‘writing’ or being a ‘writer’ means you are working on a fictional novel.
Do not simply take my word, browse away all you like, look for yourself.
I can understand why.
Most of these articles are written, with good intent, by authors of fiction, reaching out to help others. Sharing knowledge and accumulated wisdom. Something which is rarely done in other areas where another person could be perceived as being and often is your competition.
This is one matter where the indie writer’s community excels. It is supportive and encouraging to all whom venture within the dark realms of the quill.
Yet the terms writer means so much more and covers a far wider sphere, than fiction alone.
I try to be as inclusive as possible in my own posts.
If I am not writing directly about a particular aspect of fiction, I try to make my posts content as equally applicable to those writing a blog, a historical article, poetry, or a non-fictional account, as I am to the writers of fiction alone.
A writer could be a reporting journalist, a diarist, a playwright, or engaged in composing a technical manuscript as well as engaging in stories of fantasy and fiction.
So, come on all you other bloggers who tap away on your keyboards. Make it clear from the outset of you post if it is about something which affects all forms of writing, such as grammar, or your view on the loneliness a writer may endure.
Please alert people if it is specific to a certain genre or area of writing, like romantic fiction, historical recording, technical manuscripts or horror.
Well, I for one do not want to start reading your post, which I am sure you will have made as interesting and comprehensive as possible, to find, a few paragraphs in, it is covering a subject which I have no connection with and is therefore of absolutely no interest to me.
Being unnecessarily drawn into such, will only make me disregard any future article you post, even if it then covers a subject I am concerned about.
You can still have a ‘catchy’ headline or title if you don’t want a fully descriptive header. Just ensure, for those browsing a subject they want to read, that you clarify, in the first few lines, the subject matter of the post.
It will help the reader find what they want and it will help you gain followers who like your subject matter.
That’s all I have to say for now.
Enjoy the rest of your day, Paul.
I sit back, sighing heavily. The writing is going well, but I need to take a break from this particular work. So I fill a large mug full of hot black coffee...the preferred drug of most writers…and sit back down, allowing my thoughts to scramble over the untidy mound of scrappy ideas which need to be sorted into some cohesive order.
Problem is, as I sip the scalding liquid, my thoughts leave the junkyard of unformulated notes and come here, the rambling parkland of gibberish and spill over this page in an uncontrollable splash of ink. Rather like the drips from the base of my coffee cup.
I know I should be focusing all my attention towards the new novel ‘Floyd’, because you cannot leave a psychopathic murderer running loose, which is precisely what Floyd is doing as you read this. Or maybe I should be writing some more short stories, or editing some old blogs ready to create another book. After all it is what I set aside these current hours to do. It was my sole intent today. So, in some respect I feel guilty I am not writing content for any of those projects.
However, I am also aware that in the shadowy recesses, in those dark corners of my mind where I have little, if any control, the cogs of intuition, of creativity, of inventiveness and imagination are whirling away without any conscious effort on my part.
I know they will, or at least I hope they will, rearrange the untidy pile of random thoughts, those initial ideas and concepts, into an organised and comprehensive inventory of clarified sketches which will then be ready for me to utilise.
This is one of the reasons I write such as this, (and drink copious amounts of coffee late into the night and often into the early hours of the following day)!
A few years ago, I was given a very good piece of advice by a successful writer; “Whatever you do,” he said, “just write. Write anything that comes into your head. Do not think about it too much. You can always re-write it, change it, even scrap it another time. But when you sit down to write do exactly that, write, write anything because what matters is not the first few words you put down, but the creative juices they cause to dribble down your thighs of inventiveness”.
I have followed his advice ever since, which is why I have very wet inventive thighs and write these ramblings. Hence I have found the cure for the condition that afflicts many, the so-called writers block.
Have a good, creative and productive day.
© Paul White 2014
To read more of my work, or find out more about me, why not visit my website?
Because I have worked hard, very hard in making the book a reality.
The uninitiated may feel that is a glib remark, but it is not, if you consider….
I first had to come up with the idea, a notion of a story and ensure it had a start point, a good tale to tell, one which draws to a satisfactory conclusion.
That is, it has a beginning, a middle and an end.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Then try it now, in the next few seconds. Say these words aloud….ready….go…”My story begins when……”
Well, come on. You said it was easy, so what’s keeping you?…… OK. Times up.
Let’s move on.
I shall say ‘we writers’ from now on, have an outline of a story in our head. We know where we want it to start. We may even have a few words which may become the opening lines, when we start writing.
Each writer has their own way of plotting and constructing a novel. So, for generalist purpose I am adopting the supposition this is a writer who plots onto a story line…to a degree.
For the next few days we shall be breaking down the sequence of the story in our mind, transcribing it onto a plot graph, a timeline of planned stages. This is something we shall change numerous times over the next few days. We shall have the characters, particularly the protagonist, face challenges they must overcome. We will build his/her character as realistically and as humanly flawed as suits the plot, and will have our readers empathise, at some stage, with the antagonist. Possibly disbelieving in the actions of the hero….who may yet actually be the real baddy!
This is the type of conflict associated with plotting the story. Already at this stage the story wants to take charge of the author, as later, during the writing of the first draft, so shall the characters. They WILL take on a life of their own. They WILL wake the writer in the early hours of the morning, banging on the door of new concept. The same characters WILL, on another night, keep the writer awake until the sun rises just so they can move forward, continue their journey within the unfolding pages of new manuscript.
Most authors become almost, if not entirely obsessed with writing the tale. Some seem, even become unsociable, withdrawn. Because the story must be told, it must be typewritten onto paper or into computer memory. If the writer stops, or is distracted for too long, the thread begins to fade, the momentum halted, the spirit lost. The new lives, those characters created start to wither, even die.
Writers are, in the worlds they create, Gods among characters, guiders of destiny and givers of fulfilment, destroyers of life, of societies, of cities and planets. The author is omnipotent. It is a role, a responsibility we take seriously. It is a heavy burden we bear.
Come the end of the first draft and an entire year’s supply of coffee beans. I/we, the authors, sit back in our chairs and breathe a sigh of relief.
It is short respite.
Soon our noses are back at the grind stone. We now need to read, edit and re-write the entire work. A first draft, no matter how carefully crafted, is just that. A first draft.
Now we really start work. No longer are we flying in full creativity mode, now we are in a roll-your-sleeves-up and get stuck in approach to the task.
Generally, this stage takes twice as long as the first. Deleting words, sentences and replacing them…or not. Moving paragraphs or rephrasing entire sections of the manuscript. Rearranging the position and order of entire chapters, even deleting them…or writing new ones. There is no limit to the fettling undertaken at this stage.
Once we are (reasonably) happy with draft number six/seven/ eleven? We congratulate ourselves and add a tot or two of whisky into the large mug of rich black coffee, our drug of choice.
Happily, we tell our copy editor we are ready for them to scan our documents. Oh, she says. (Not a sexist remark, simply the fact I have found most of the best editors are women), you need a line editor before you run it past me!
So, weeks later, with some alterations to plot and structure you eventually pass the manuscript over to your copy editor…..and wait…and wait, which is a good thing. Annoying, frustrating, but good.
You see your editor should be busy…if she is not that could indicate no one wants her services? The second reason you should be happy to wait is you want a thoroughly good job done, don’t you? Therefore proper, good, concise editing with a comprehensive feedback means taking all the time required to do the job right. Right?
Everything is not lost during this time, because you have to have a cover. If you have not yet made any advance towards having one designed, now is a great opportunity, it will take your mind off waiting for your editor.
Unless you are a graphic designer of illustrator I would leave the cover to an expert. Even if you are an artist I would, at the very least, consult with one. You see a book cover is NOT what most people (readers/ writers/authors) think it is.
Comes the day when your book cover, both paperback and kindle versions are ready. You are excited because your manuscript has just arrived back from your editor….the pages listed with notes, amendments and suggestions.
Now, instead of moving forward, instead of getting a step closer to publication you must revisit you story. Once more you sit and work through the entire manuscript, making alterations, altering tense, reading those suggestions and editorial input regarding clarity, flow and all that other stuff.
Three days later, in a foul mood and with a raging headache you stab the send button returning, the now amended manuscript, to your editor.
This is when you wonder where the last year of your life has gone. This is when you look out of the window and wonder why it is snowing…in June…only June has long passed. You missed it.
You were living in your own Neverland, guiding your characters away from disaster and death. Now, all of a sudden life seems so much more….empty.
The story is with your editor. The cover made. Time seems to hang about endlessly, waiting…tick-tock, tick-tock.
After a day or two of doing virtually nothing it all gets too much. You plan a launch date, but not too soon. Then you organise a thunderclap, a blogging chain, advertising, a cover reveal and whatever blows your frock up.
Hay, guess what, your manuscript is back, this time there are only a few notes, easy stuff to sort out. So, you do. It only takes the best part of a day this time.
Now you can busy yourself again. This time you need to format your manuscript into book form. One for each type of book, i.e. paperback and eBook, but also for the platforms you may be using, Createspace, Lulu, Smashwords and so forth. Of course, you can have a professional do this, or you can seek the help of a fellow author…all work well if organised properly.
The next stage is proofreading. Each format needs to be proofread. You can do a first run yourself, pick up on any errors made during formatting, check the margins, headers, page numbering, kern and such. But, I bet you will miss a shed load. So have other eyes, preferably an experienced proof-reader, one with a good track record, even someone recommended.
So, you press the send on your keypad again and hey-ho the formatted manuscript(s) is/are off to your proof-reader, who will pick up on any punctuation, capitalisation, space and…other issues you WILL have missed.
ONLY after you have fixed all those errors will your story, which up to now has just been a manuscript with a working title, become a book.
Upload to print…. congratulations. It has taken you around eighteen months of blood, sweat, tears and toil. Of mood swings and social deprivation, headaches, doubts, pain, fear and uncertainty to turn your dream into your baby.
Well done you.
That is (one reason) I don’t give my books away.
I am often asked, as I am sure many authors are, “Why do I write?”.
This is not a straightforward or easy question to answer comprehensively. In fact, if I were to answer that question in full, it would be an extremely long essay.
Which is the answer I gave a few days ago.
However, that question was followed by one which made me think, a question I was, at the time, unprepared to answer constructively.
“Why do you write in the way you do?”
This question made me think, beyond the basics of ‘style’ and further than ‘narration’ alone.
So, in the regular and rambling way I use in my blog posts, I shall attempt to convey to you my thoughts on this question.
They are as follow……
I do not write a particular genre of fiction.
Romance stories generally demand detailed character descriptions, a slow build-up of intensity to climax. (Excuse the pun).
On the other hand, Horror readers want faster paced, less detailed, more action books which cut right to the core. (Sorry, I can’t help myself).
By not being a genre writer, I have not developed a style limited by the parameters of reasonable expectation of those readers.
Neither do I write for a syndicate publisher, such as Mills & Boon, who have strict plot and style guidelines and can drop any contributor in an instant, should their suggestions not be strictly adhered too.
I am a truly free, independent author.
I have written an offbeat tale of abduction and intrigue, which is also a romantic story, a tale of finding oneself and humorous yarn all rolled into one. It is ‘The Abduction of Rupert DeVille’. Available on Amazon, just click the link!
This book alone breaks all the genre specific boundaries it touches upon.
I did not set out to intentionally break any rules, I simply ignored them all and wrote the story I wanted to write.
I have also published two collections of poetry.
The basic premise of each is human emotion. Fear, love, hate, anger, regret and so on. I like the challenges of poetry. The differing forms, such as haiku, present wonderful opportunities to develop wordsmithing skills that can be adapted to storytelling.
That is how I like to think of myself, as a storyteller, a mythmaker; weaving tales into people’s consciousness, making them re-think and to consider life and the world around them in a way they may never have done before.
My book collection, three volumes of short stories called ‘Tales of Crime & Violence’ are designed to do just that, to make the reader reconsider their point of view, to side-swipe their general conceptions, to come at them from left field and leave their minds floundering with a myriad of questions, questions they now find they are asking themselves. (Click the link, or image)
That is what a great story should do. It should stay with you, lingering within your mind a long time after you have closed the final pages of the book, maybe even forever?
I have also written a children’s book and non-fiction stuff. Very different disciplines than writing standard adult fiction of any sort.
I am, at the time of writing this, working on a novel about an escaped psychopath. ‘Floyd’ is out on a bloody revenge spree against those who had him committed. This book must be considered a ‘Slasher’ type of story. It is a crime thriller certainly, a horror…in parts possibly, but not really.
Once again, I am writing what I want to write, in a way I want to write it. The style and narration I am using is unique to this book. It is not one I have adopted previously.
Which, in a long winded and round-about way, brings me back to the original question of “Why do I write in the way I do?”
Taking note of the above (and remembering my independence), has allowed me to indulge in many experimentations with style, narration, pace, plot, POV’s and all the other ‘literary technical stuff’ writers put far too much emphasis on when discussing writing.
Each of my novels are written from a totally different personal perspective. Making each quite distinctive from the last. Even so, my personal mark is to keep an element of humanity, of emotion, of people’s dreams, hopes and fears running through all my fictional stories, even those involved with psychotic killers!
My short stories reflect those same values, the human passion for life, the experience of relationships, of desire and love, of living, of loss and of death.
I like to explore these areas of the human psyche, areas often forgotten or neglected by other writers and authors. I like to reveal them at a certain pace, a pace which suites the individual story being told.
In some I might come at you from the shadows, smashing into your mind like a train wreck. In another it may be an insidious creep, slowly weaving itself between your receptive neurons, until that is the only thing your mind can focus upon.
This is where the poetry and experiments with lexicon come to the fore; they allow me to use words as a basic material, melding and moulding them, twisting and forming them, until they convey to the reader, not only the description and facts, but the feeling of being there, of being within, of being part of the nether world where my story lives and, without doubt, to see, hear and feel the trauma, the worries, the excitement and passions of my characters as they stagger from one conflict to another.
You can read several my short works at https://alittlemorefiction.wordpress.com/ I always have a few stories on this blog, although I do delete and change them at random intervals.
So, in brief, that is my answer to the question – ‘Why do I write the way I do.’
I hope you can pick something useful out of this.
Thank you for reading, Paul.
I have recently been asked if I can help another writer with regards to narration.
(Narration is sometimes referred to as the ‘stories voice’, at term which is frequently used in the USA and is essentially descriptive of its nature.)
The writer in question is not a ‘new’ writer, in fact she has authored several books over as many years.
She has asked for my assistance now, because her works to date have been of the same genre, they have required the same form of narration; one she has developed and honed, one which has also become her ‘style’.
Perfect for what she has accomplished, but a difficult task to abruptly alter, as it brings much self-doubt and worry with it.
Luckily, I am not one who writes in one genre, or in one style. Much of my work ventures into realms unknown and unexplored (from a personal perspective.) I push my wordsmithing skills every opportunity I have.
Whilst helping my author friend, I found having her read a sample of my own work, one with a certain narrative style, helped me explain how I achieved to create that chosen narration.
In this post, I shall try and do the same.
I have three examples to share with you; the first is taken from a humourus tale, the second from somewhere much darker and the third is told by a character where English is not their first language.
Each of the above forms of narration hold certain challenges for the author if they are to allow the story to flow smoothly, while still making each word believable.
Without further ado, here is the first sample, an excerpt for my short story ‘Fixing the thingamabob.’ (It is an exercise of using metasyntactic terminology.)
I had a job to do which needed more than a screwdriver and a pair of pliers.
So, I wandered down the garden to my shed to find the whatchamacallit, which I knew was in the wooden box under the shelf between the screw box and the other thing.
My wife had been nagging me for eons regarding fixing the thingamabob, which had started to rattle and shake several months ago.
As it happened today was sunny, bright and warm. Just the type of day I liked to attend to the pesky little jobs that stack up over time. Plus…I was in the mood for tinkering, which was actually a big plus!
Once I had the whatchamacallit in my hand I wandered back to the house, placed the thingamabob on the kitchen table and started to dismantle it.
Personally, I would have ditched this one years ago and replaced it with a new, up-to-date, all singing, all dancing, micro chipped, high tech whatchamacallit. But because this old rusting one had some sort of sentimental attachment my wife was certain I could fix it and all would be well for another thirty years.
I was not so sure; especially now that I had umpteen bits and bobs scattered on sheets of newspaper spread over the table top.
I was not even sure if they all belonged to the whatchamacallit, or if some pieces had tumbled from the small jars of screws, washers and odd bits I had kept for repairing such items.
Besides the springs there were a few plastic doodahs of indiscriminate origin, a strange angular thingummy with various sized holes and a host of………bits…..loose sort-of-screw(ish) pieces.
I was still quietly confident that I would not have to fork out a fistful of klebies to purchase a new whatchamacallit, because despite the number of random odd and sods before me, I had all the key parts in separate saucers. The rest I could figure out during re-assembly.
Having got thus far, I decided a fresh brew was in order and proceeded to stand from the kitchen stool. That was when my knee came in painful contact with the underside of the table top, sending all the random and the carefully separated odds and ends flying into the air, most of which came crashing down onto the stone tiled floor.
As I have said, being an organised sort of bloke I was using several saucers to keep the whatsits from rolling all over the place, thus avoiding the chance of mixing them up with other doodahs or losing them altogether.
Now, not only were all these jumbled-up with the rest of the bits and bobs which I had previously spread out ready for use, but my wife’s best saucers were in splintered shards on the kitchen floor, mixed among the plastic and metal thingamajigs…..
End of Sample
In this excerpt the reader automatically senses the light-hearted pace of the story. The ‘nonsense’ words liberally sprinkled through the character’s speech seems to confirm the cheerful tones of, if we could hear it, the character’s voice; and that is the clue here, the character’s voice…his narration…his is telling this story and you, the reader, are sitting comfortably and listening with a half-grin already plastered on your face.
To achieve such a form for this stories voice I found myself ‘playing’ the character. During the moments of writing I was that ‘doddery, old, half- henpecked, half-happy-go-lucky, uncaring/caring, semi-foolish husband’!
I became that ‘chap’ and wrote this in a manner I felt was akin to which I would have done if I were sitting in a bar and relating the tale to half a dozen of my cronies.
Now read this next example of my narrative form. This is from the story called ‘Deep Waters’.
When they came to remove the last of the medical equipment from the house they found me laying on the kitchen floor in a pool of my own vomit.
The nurse said it was ‘lucky’.
Lucky I was found when I was, or I would have certainly died.
I did not consider myself lucky.
After that incident?
Two years of psychiatric help is enough to send any man insane, which is why I have come to the island. To get away from the hospitals, the clinics, the doctors and shrinks.
To get away from that house.
A house which held too many precious memories; cupboards in which her scent still lingered, rooms where her voice echoed at night and doorways where I always caught a glimpse of her figure.
I needed to clear my mind, to find out what I was supposed to do now.
To do that I did not need white coated, bearded psychoanalyst prying into my life, or friends constantly nattering in my ear, however good their intentions. I did not need a shoulder to cry on, or soft breasts on which to rest my head. I did not need friends with benefits.
Although I appreciated their efforts and the offers, all I needed was some peace and quiet. I needed isolation and tranquillity.
I needed time.
That is why I came here, why I came to the island.
Now I am here I realise how integral to life boats are. As I have said, I am no master of the sea, but I do fancy a small pleasure boat in which I can sail out to the centre of the lake. Maybe even take up fishing, something else I have never had the opportunity to try before.
But I think I shall deal with the boat first.
One thing at a time.
I think I know what I am to do.
But I am not in any rush.
The small craft I eventually chose was a twenty-five-foot cabin cruiser. Cabin cruiser sounds a grand title for a small fiberglass and wood boat with a slightly extended wheelhouse. I think the wheelhouse was considered the cabin, or was that the tiny compartment just below?
This compartment housed a toilet, which was half the size of a broom cupboard and a ‘main galley’. The main galley was a miniature sink & a two ring gas burner, opposite was a seat large enough for two people to sit on, providing they were in an intimate relationship.
The seat lifted and pulled-out to become a three-quarter size bed. I am not certain to what the ‘three quarter’ referred too?
However, the boat suited me perfectly, because I had no intentions of sharing it with anyone. This was the perfect vessel in which I could detach myself from the rest of humanity. Floating out there in silence in the centre of the lake sipping a hot coffee, or maybe a hot whiskey, would be absolutely perfect while I looked introspectively at my life.
While I considered my options.
End of Sample
This is an emotionally haunting tale, one which guarantees to bring a tear to the eyes of everyone who reads it. The reason is the soulful nature of the stories telling. It is spoken with an intimacy.
This is not like the first example, you could not relay this in a crowded bar. The narration is designed to ‘almost’ be a secret; a secret solely shared between the character and the reader. It is the reader finding a personal diary, reading that person’s own thoughts and secrets and fears and doubts.
Once again, the writer, the author must have their mindset ‘set’ into that mode and write as they would themselves, should they ever find themselves in such a position.
As the writer sits at their desk or in the café they should feel everything the character would feel if this were true. The author must become the moment, feel the air temperature, hear the ripples lapping the shore, smell the ozone and the scent of pine trees on the breeze.
My third and (for now) final excerpt is from ‘Estell’s Tattoo’ (A story which raises awareness of the rape of women in Africa.)
When I wrote this, I wanted (and still do) to show that fiction can also be used to spread the word about important social issues.
Grace and Estelle and I once more walked along the dusty path that wound its way from our village, down the steep hill and on towards the river. The river was wide and twisted, like a glistening giant brown snake that wound its way through the lush green vegetation of the forests.
As we became closer to this river the path changed from dust to crushed grasses. Many feet had trodden this path and in their passing had squashed the plants along the way, so that now only the toughest grass and the most persistent of weeds grew along the narrow footpath.
Grace, Estelle and I spoke of many things during our journey to the river this day and when we were not talking of our village or family matters we sang our songs. I am sure that on this morning many birds came close to us to hear our sweet tunes, or at least that is how I remember it.
I do not remember before that day seeing so many birds along the edges of this footpath. On any other day to see such colourful birds you would have to stray deep into the forest and sit very still for a long time. But that morning they came to us.
It took us about one and a half hours before we reached the river. On arriving we put down the large bundles of clothing we had brought to the river to wash. All through our journey along the footpath we had balanced these bundles upon our heads. It is the way we women carry heavy loads over such long distances.
Once we placed the laundry on the bankside we sat and drank water and rested our legs for a short while. In fact, it was a long short while because today was also a very hot day. The winds were not blowing at all and the sun shone fiercely down upon the earth, baking the soil into a hard crust which began to crack open and crumble.
But here, in the shade by the river it was much cooler. So, we sat and spoke between ourselves for a long time during our short rest.
Finally, we began to wash the clothing we had carried all this way, which was after all the reason for our journey to this place today. Using stones and a lot of effort we washed the dirt and grime from the materials. After which we hung the garments upon the branches of the nearby bushes to dry in the sun. The sun would soon dry the clothes today as it was a very hot sun, much hotter than on most days, something I have told to you already.
We had also brought with us a little food. So as the sun beat down from the sky we sat near our drying clothes and ate. After that we decided to go into the river to cool our bodies and to cleanse our own skins from the dirt and the dust….
End of Sample
Before I wrote this story I read several books and listened to audio readings of books, written by people whose first language was not English, but of African origin.
I wanted to create an authenticity of ‘voice’ in this story. By using long descriptions, yet using simple words and repeating some of them far more than one would ‘normally’ do, I found I could capture ‘Estell’s’ voice.
Once I was happy with some short draft pieces, I became Estell and, looking through her eyes, began to write this story in earnest.
I have received many compliments for this story because of its narration.
Please note: as a way of comparing the three examples above, you will note I have chosen stories which are all written in first person singular.
I shall leave you to consider the above and how one can alter each story’s narrative by some simple, and some not so simple, adjustments!
The prime factor is to try. Write some shorter pieces, use them as a literary exercise to flex your wordsmithing muscles. If you are uncertain, try poetry or prose to create those first few lines of text which take you away from your standard form.
I for one love to try something new whenever I get a chance.
I love to flex my literary fingers and fumble about in places I have never been before. It is often surprising, frequently exciting and, more often than not, extremely rewarding.
Read more of my short stories: A Little more Fiction
Okay, so it’s a long title…but don’t shoot the messenger!
This is not my own writing, but that of Elmore Leonard, author of ‘Get Shorty‘, the television series ‘Justified‘ and over 40 novels.
By most appraisals, Elmore has long dethroned Raymond Chandler as the greatest of American crime writers. Many critics argued that, if anything, the reference to genre slighted his contributions. Martin Amis described him as “a literary genius,” and “the nearest America has to a national writer.”
Elmore died over three years ago, on August 20, 2013, but it was his wish to be buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Birmingham, Michigan, a little over a mile from his house in Bloomfield Township. It took three years, but Greenwood finally opened up new plots, allowing Elmore to have his wish and be buried there.
Elmore’s ashes were interred at 10:30 AM this morning, in a brief ceremony lead in prayer by Monsignor John P. Zenz, Pastor of Holy Name Church in Birmingham. In attendance, under a red canopy, were several members of Elmore’s family.
Elmore grave marker gives his name and the years of his birth and death. At the bottom, is the inscription, “The Dickens of Detroit,” a phrase used to describe Elmore over the years that he actually found a bit puzzling. In a 1997 article in the San Jose Mercury News, he said about the tag: “That has more to do with alliteration than truth, … I wonder what they would have called me if I was from Buffalo?”
For those of you planning a visit, Elmore is buried in Section G, Lot R, Grave 2.
So lets get back to this post and its long title!
Why there is no such thing as the general public
Do you ever have conversations internally about who it is you’re trying to reach with key messaging, only for someone to say that your target audience is “the public?”
How do you respond to this?
There is no such thing as the general public. The information wants of young parents are different to those of retirees, just what a healthcare professional needs to know is different to that of the person they are caring for.
Effective communications means understanding who your niche audience is. Only then will you be able to speak with them in a way that is appropriate, relevant and useful.
Questions you might ask to allow you to define who that audience is include:
– What is it you want your audience to do?
– Are they young or old, male or female, rich or poor?
– Where do they live and what do they do for a living?
– How knowledgeable are they about your cause?
– Are they looking for power and status, excitement and adventure, or an opportunity to enhance their skills and expertise? Are they time poor?
It may seem easier not to bother establishing defined target audiences, but this is a false economy. It is impossible to speak to everyone equally and in the same manner. Failure to define target audiences will result in wasted time, energy and resources, and a diluting of messages that will ultimately not resonate with anyone.
For example, if you are only concerned with raising the profile of your charity among ministers or industry leaders then you needn’t bother targeting women’s lifestyle magazines. Equally, if you only operate within a particular region of the country then your priority is likely to be on building relationships with your local media rather than focusing on the national press.
Once you have defined your target audience, you then need to know as much about them as possible. What they think, what motivates them, which websites they visit, which newspapers they read and how active they are in social media, etc. At its most basic level, this means using common sense and some desk-based research. More thorough and therefore more accurate audience research would involve polls and surveys, focus groups and paid-for data from research companies such as YouGov, Ipsos Mori, Kantar and others.
We think a really good example of knowing your audience comes from Macmillan Cancer Research whose fundraising for World’s Biggest Coffee Morning went through the roof after it changed its communications to focus not on what women over 45 could do for it, but what the charity could do for them.
Or another example would be Cancer Research UK. When it wanted to target young people with messages about skin cancer, it did so via a beauty campaign rather than a health campaign. By teaming up with models and skin clinics “R UV Ugly?” highlighted how sun bathing can damage your skin and speed up the ageing process – the intention being to target younger people who were concerned with their appearance and unlikely to pay attention to messages purely focusing on the health impacts of sunbathing.
We’d love to know about more great examples of really excellent audience profiling and the impact it has had on your communications, as well as ideas for sharing information about the nuances of your audience with colleagues.
Clearly we all have our own views and personal beliefs about how best to go about promoting and marketing our books. But I cannot ignor this form of advice from a writer who has, to a certain degree, been successful (by anyones measure)
I hope you have a great day.
A simple question…”Do you know?“…but one which can make you double think, one that can make you question your own logic and knowledge.
You start asking yourself “is that the Michael I know?” or “Does he spell his surname with two t’s?“.
Little doubts, little nags, little uncertainties start to creep into you mind.
The same things happen when your read the work of this particular Michael J. Elliott. When you think you have the tale ‘sussed’ along comes a little twist and throws you all to kilter.
Oh, don’t try and predict the ending; even if you are close, you will be wrong, it will be scarier, or harder, or the character will suffer more…or less…before they die…or live happily ever after. That is of course if it has anything to do with that character at all.
This is why I love reading Michael’s stories…this is the Michael J. Elliott I do know, the one who does spells his name with two t’s!
I wanted to take a peek into Michael’s psyche, I wanted to know how a man of his undoubted talent conjures up such spellbinding tales so, I asked him a few leading questions.
You could say that these questions are Choice Cuts!
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Micheal said: No, I really think you need to LOVE books and writing. It’s an art form like anything else and artists simply wouldn’t create if they didn’t have the drive and the passion.
and from Smashwords here
Other books by Micheal J Elliot