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.
We often talk of how important punctuation and grammar are when writing. I think this is also true of the spoken word, oration and pronunciation should be a foremost concern.
NOT, I hasten to add, for everyday conversation where colloquialisms, dialects and vernaculars colour our conversations and lives, but when the spoken word is transmitted by mainstream media.
I believe, broadcasters have a duty to society to articulate, to use elocution and enunciation to the highest standard and, by doing so, enable our young to learn the wonders of well-versed dialogue, gain the ability for constructive discourse and communication.
How can we expect our young to learn to speak clearly and precisely, to acquire the ability to explain, to communicate effectively, if the denizens of our communications industry cannot do so themselves?
Personally, I do not think ‘dumbing down’ standards to ‘accommodate’ those considered, in correct ‘PC’ terms to be ‘less fortunate’ is the answer. This only has the effect of decreasing the overall standards by suggesting the lowering of general standards are acceptable. Which, of course, they are not.
I fear for the future.
Today I found myself disappointed by such a badly enunciated sentence.
“…blah, blah, blah…27-year-old Emma, a Yoghurt taster from Essex…. blah, blah, blah…”
Now…I have, as many of you do, a ‘writers’ mind. This is a strange and oft uncontrollable beast. One which will pick-up on tid-bits and oddities which would, for the greater part, pass most people by without causing a ripple in their lives.
But for those of us who are cursed, or blessed, with such minds will know once this beast has focused on its intended target, once it has its victim firmly caught, there is little we can do until it has satisfied its hunger, or passions, or whatever desires need stating.
This was my situation earlier today. As soon as that sentence had been spoken my muse went into overdrive.
A quick and personal excuse (Disclaimer!): I was not watching or listening to the programme being broadcast, it was just ‘on’. My wife had switched the TV on earlier and it was playing away in the background.
So, where was I? Oh, yes my muse awakening, giving me a jolt.
Questions started to flood my head, ‘Yoghurt taster’ what kind of a job was that? Was it a flavour tasting position or simply to ensure the product was of a certain quality? Maybe this was a taste panel for R&D, for new products, new lines?
How did one get a job like that? Could I get a job like that? What qualifications, besides liking yoghurt, did one need?
My muse was excited; could this be part of a plot? A Poisoning? Mass poisoning…holding corporations to ransom? Maybe the start of strange happenings in a small town… Zombie like conditions…Mmmm? My mind continued to race.
However, I love that word so I’ll say it again!
However, somewhere beside my overly stimulated muse, I had a nagging doubt such a position, a job as a yoghurt taster, actually existed. Food taster, yes. But I could not believe anyone could be employed solely as a Yoghurt taster.
No, I convinced myself, something was wrong. (Much to the annoyance of my muse!).
Thanks to modern technology, satellite, cable, Digi-boxes etc. we are able to do so many things with ‘live’ and ‘on-air’ television which have previously been impossible. One of these is instant ‘re-wind’.
This is what I used to take the programme back to the point where the ‘voice-over’ presenter stated that Emma was a ‘Yogurt taster’ from Essex.
This time I would actually be watching and listening to the broadcast, rather than having it grumbling away in the background, where only my subconscious was taking note.
Sitting too close and staring at the screen, like a six-year-old child, I pressed ‘play’. The images began to move and the narrator started to speak.
“…blah, blah, blah…27-year-old Emma, a Yoga teacher from Essex…. blah, blah, blah…”
I played this over and again, four times in total, until I was absolutely certain this version was the correct one.
Emma was a yoga teacher and not a yoghurt taster, as I had first thought.
This was not me miss-hearing, it was clearly a case of shameful presentation.
I must say, I was more than a little disappointed.
I am sure, in the world of yoghurt, tasters are required? although I am uncertain of what the progression of seniority may be in such a profession. Perhaps one starts with the ‘own label’ products, progressing to ‘natural’ before moving to thick ‘Greek-style’ yoghurts. Maybe, an alternative route would be to delve into the technical realm of flavours, or the scientific corridor of ‘low-fat’ and ‘healthy’ options.
I guess I shall never know.
A divergent track that leads me, by some circuitous route, back to where I began this post; which is where I stated my belief that major broadcasters and, in many respects, our respective Governments, should take responsibility for the clarity and precision of language when transmitting programmes.
The above is a prime example of bad annunciation and elocution, the equivalent in my book, (note the pun!), of bad grammar and punctuation in writing.
Besides, my restless muse was unnecessarily disturbed.
Now I have to find an excuse NOT to write a novel about a wicked dairy farmer, who decides to get his revenge on the local townsfolk by plying them with infected yoghurt, thus turning them into pliable and malleable zombie-like humanoids who forever more will do the farmers bidding. Of course, as with all good pulp-fiction, there is always one young girl who hates all milk type products, regardless of flavour. Perhaps it is she who can fight back against the forces of evil and bovine product manipulation to save the earth…or at least the local town?
That is all I am going to say on the matter!
So, until next time, enjoy your writing, even if your inspiration has been stimulated by a miss-print or badly spoken presenter. But please, please take care with your grammar. You never know when someone may read your work live on air, they may even be an ex yoghurt taster venturing into a new career!
Thank you for reading, Paul.
You may like to visit my website and see what else I am writing? http://paulznewpostbox.wixsite.com/paul-white
© Paul White 2016 RTWM310716/975
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 was silently musing, as is my bent, when a certain thought kept returning. No matter how many times I dismissed the notion it would not leave me alone; eventually waking me in the early hours with its persistent nagging.
I guess all writers, at least those of us who are serious about our craft, have such occasions?
Personally, I find the only way to rid such daemons is to submit to their will, writing about whatever it is which plagues the mind.
When I say write, I mean exactly and precisely that. I mean scribble the thoughts down in any way, shape, or form possible. Be it in a note book, a journal, incorporate the idea into your current novel, or do as I am now doing, write it as a blog post.
As one writes the thoughts begin to unravel, they start to form strings of coherent meanings and possibilities. Unlike the tangled mass of haphazard notions previously running amok in the brain.
As now, many threads appear, each one a possible tale or the premise of another book. This post is but one of those threads, others will follow.
I already have a new short story to tell from these very words and shall write a draft as soon as I can, as soon as I finish this.
I think of it, each idea, each notion, much like a kettle on the hob. The kettle is full, the gas burning brightly beneath. Slowly, as the water heats it begins to move, agitations growing as the temperature increases, until inevitably, the water comes to a galloping boil.
This is the moment the lid starts to rattle, the whistle screams, steam escapes to fill the kitchen and condense on the windowpanes causing rivulets of water to run down and form puddles on the sills.
That is how the muse builds up inside of us, the writers and authors. The note pads and keyboards are our lids and whistles. Our editors and proof-readers the rivulets and window panes.
It is not until we have wafted away the steam, opened the said windows, letting fresh air circulate, can we finally put everything together and make that nice pot of tea.
Of course, that is all a writer’s metaphorical whimsy. But I guess you get my gist?
Now I sit at the kitchen table, drinking such tea and reading a book. Possibly your book, the one which you wrote as when your conceptual kettle boiled.
Now all I need is a sweet biscuit to dunk…but that really is another story altogether!
Happy daze, Paul.
Why not read some of my short stories at https://alittlemorefiction.wordpress.com/
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
It is, however, the way to announce to world that you are an amateur writer, that you have not honed your skills, that you are not a master of your craft.
It is something, I suggest, you would want to do and yet, I have an inkling, that it maybe something you are doing right now.
WHAT IS? I hear you ask!
Simple. It is to use the most useless word in the English dictionary in your writing.
That word is ‘very’.
Honestly, if you are using this word in your novels, your stories or essays you are making a rather large error.
Mark twain once said “Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
Florence King is quoted as saying that “’Very’ is the most useless word in the English language (see, I told you so!) and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen.”
“Avoid using the word ‘very’ because it is lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavour, laziness will not do. It also won’t do in your essays.” Or so say’s N.H. Kleinbaum.
Which brings me to confess, I have, among many other bad habits, deleted so many ‘very’s’ in my work I lost count long ago. Read through’s, edits, re-writes; somehow those pesky little ‘very’s’ sneak themselves into sentences.
When I read some of my older works I could cringe, even those I have re-edited, even re-written in the past; but I guess that is how we all earn.
I am not as bad as I used to be. In fact, I am learning to write without using a single one, or at least that’s the aim. But it is not very easy!
The object of this post is to highlight the mistakes I have made, in an attempt to save you from making those very same errors!
Look back over your current Work in Progress, read through and find all those ‘very’s’ lurking amongst the other words.
Now, you have three options, the first is to simply delete them because you do not need them, they serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever, except to confirm your status as an amateur writer.
The second choice, is to follow Mark Twain’s advice as above!
The third and my preferred choice, is to change them totally. Delete the words associated and replace them with ones that are far more descriptive, evocative or eloquent.
In some, but very few circumstances ‘very’ can be permitted. BUT these occasions are rare. One such time ‘very’ may be used is in a characters ‘speech’. The word can be used to indicate a character of lower education, or a young person, a child who has not accrued a wider vocabulary.
Below is a crib sheet I have cobbled together as an aid. I hope that you find it useful in your quest to extradite those ‘very’ words from your authors lexicon.
The first column is word you have pe-fixed with ‘very’, the second, a suggested alternative…you get the idea!
Since I originally posted this, I have been inundated with more words NOT to use and further suggestions for alternatives. I am not adding this image as I think it is the most comprehensive. Its from Proofreading Services.com
Thank you for reading ‘Ramblings from a Writers Mind‘, maybe you will also like my short story blog ‘A Little more Fiction‘ Go take a peek now 🙂