Do you know Michael J. Elliott?

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.

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Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Yes! In my first collection, Portraits of Dread, I wrote a story called Defective goods. It was a creepy send up of a well known British comedy show. I named all the characters after the actors from the show or their characters. I was hoping clever readers would spot the connection. In my new collection, Choice Cuts-A Bite from The Dark Realm, I have a story called Penance. It’s about an ancient order of nuns. I have named all the Sisters after famous figures from history. Eagle eyed readers will be able to guess the convent’s secret just from the names. I love throwing in those sort of references in my work 🙂
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Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
I’ve read a lot of writer’s craft books which have certainly taught me a lot about the “rules” of writing. That has been a big help in my journey as an author.
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What did you edit out of your latest book?
Two stories didn’t make the grade for this collection. The first was titled, Once A Jolly Swagman. It was a ghost story centered around the famous Australian song and poem. I hadn’t finished it but when I went back and re read it I found it just rambled, way too much padding with nothing really interesting happening until the build up. I’ll keep it and give it a good edit so that you may see it in another collection at some time. The other was entitled, The Snow Globe. I dithered with so many options about how the protagonist finds this globe and what it actually does that I eventually decided to cut the story out completely.
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My final question was, what kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I take a lot of notes and Wilkipedia is my best friend lol. I’m writing Mr Westacott’s Holiday atm. It’s set in two time frames, 1900 and 1970. The setting is Britain. I was born and live in Australia and was a teen during the 70’s so I had no idea of British fashion of the 70’s, the distance between two of the towns in the book etc. I’m very grateful to the British members of #The Awethors for helping me out with these questions.
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Choice Cuts- A Bite From the Dark Realm will be released on Halloween 2016 and is currently available for pre order at Smashwords and Amazon for the special promotion price of 99c (will be $4.99) Also available in paperback for $10.99

Choice Cuts is available worldwide via Amazon on this link http://authl.it/6a0

and from Smashwords here 

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Other books by Micheal J Elliot

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There is always a tomorrow.

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It has been over a month since I last posted on this blog.

That is not because I have been lazy, or that I have had nothing of interest to share, it is simply that I have a full life and priorities are in constant flux.

Take this morning for an instance; I awoke with three tasks on my mind. Three simple little chores that needed attending to. The same three chores I thought of last night when I crawled under the duvet.

I have now, at seven o’clock on an evening accomplished all three of those jobs. They are done and dusted. Finished.

BUT…and this is the point…I have only just completed the last of those three tasks.

You see, life came between the plan I had in mind when I retired last night, the same basic idea which was in my head, as I stumbled from my bed and bounced off the walls on my way to the bathroom, while rubbing the sleepy-man’s dust from my eyes this morning.

Other things swam to the top of the quagmire of the ‘urgent’ lake. Like festering bubbles of noxious gasses, they rose swiftly to the surface of ‘to do now’ forcing other tasks and more pleasant jobs back under the surface of crucial undertakings.

I am not a list man, not any longer anyways. I now, in my years of semi-retirement, prefer the ‘Mañana’ approach to life. I am a firm believer that ‘Irie’ is a far better way to avoid a heart-attack than a daily dose of aspirin.

Therefore, slotting another job into a day, or in fact removing one, causes me no stress or bother. Even the prioritising of these tasks are not really my concern, I allow other people, notably my wife, to dictate the order in which they should be undertaken, if not completed.

I am happy to simply bumble along, plodding my way from errand to errand. Those that are concluded are concluded, those that remain undone, or partial are left as such until the next sunrise.

Simple.

 

This is the way I think it would be best for all of us to live our lives.

As I said at the start of this post, I have a fairly full life which means that all things in my world are constantly and consistently changing, which is the one thing which stays the same!

It is a way of life I have got used to, I have honed the skill of relaxation so that now it looks like I am working. The truth is the same of work, only of course vice-versa.

I consider that to stay de-stressed, calm and collected in this high-speed, terabyte infused, interweb fed technological day and age is a rather rare talent.

But please, consider this…

I have not seen many Rastafarians that look particularly stressed-out if the electricity bill is a day late being settled.

The Spanish Lothario, your amante muy joven, will not be rushed from the bedroom to attend a job interview.

All those things will happen; they will come again in due course. There is no reason to stress about them right now.

Yes, as with my day today, things will alter.

Some things will transcend others, they will, for a short period of time, become prominent in your mind, urgent if you wish to use that term. But they are transitional, they are themselves just another ripple in our flux of life.

Many of these urgencies, the pressures of time and such restraints, are unworthy of true measure. They are false, fake, self-imposed, self-accepted limits.

Take a step back I say. Reassess exactly why it is you are rushing around, why you are stressing out.

Consider this…what is the worst thing that could happen if you do not complete that task within the time limit you have set?

Accept that.

Think. Is it really important enough for you to become so agitated, for your blood-pressure to soar, for your heart to pump so fast?

I think not. Do not allow them, do not allow circumstance to rule your life like that.

Live your own life. Chill out a little.

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There is always a tomorrow.

If there is no tomorrow, there will be no worries either.

Simple.

Now, my own tasks for this day are done, or can wait until ‘later’.

I am going to sit and write some more of my forthcoming novel ‘Floyd’, which I have FLOYD6finalfrntjpgneglected for too long. It will be nice to get re-acquainted with this psychopathic murderer. 

 

I may get one thousand words written tonight, I may get absolutely none down on paper at all.

But then I have tomorrow.

Don’t I?

See you all on the other side, Paul.


To find out more about me, my works and what I am up to right now take a mosey around my website at

 http://paulznewpostbox.wixsite.com/paul-white

HOW TO “WRITER”

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Originally posted on http://coolerbs.com/  (Now updated & re-posted here!)

 JANUARY 17, 2015

 

For everyone who wants to be a writer, I present the honest answers to all of your questions:

What are writers?

People who write words, preferably ones that chain together to mean something.

Can I become a writer?

Yes.

Who can be a writer?

Anyone.

Is (blank) a writer?

Does that person write words? If so, then yes.

How do I become a writer? 

Write.

What do writers do?

Write.

How do I become a professional writer?

Write for free until someone offers to pay you for it. Then, write for them.

Does writing take practice?

Yes. Everything takes practice.

Do writers make a lot of money?

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA… not usually.

Will I become a professional writer?

Statistically? Probably not.

Do I need to write every day?

You don’t need to, but I recommend it.

Do writers need to read books?

Yes, constantly. How do you think we manage to get all of those words into our heads?

What is the worst thing you can do as a writer?

Mass murder.

Can I make a living as a writer?

That really depends on what type of writing you want to do. Fiction writing is really risky and hard. You could crash and burn at any moment, and that’s assuming you manage to get off the ground at all. Ghostwriting or technical writing, on the other hand, is fairly consistent work, and pays decent. Editing, which is sort of like writing in its own way, also pays well. Writing for a website is actually feasible, but the website has to be really successful. It’s entirely possible, but it’s an upward battle.

Will writers exist in one hundred years?

I hope so.

Why are writers important?

Because, without us, all you would have to read are the labels on food packages.

Why do writers not like people?

We like people! We just don’t like being around people.

Does writing give you a God Complex?

Yes.

Why are writers crazy/depressed/weird?

Couple of reasons:

  • We’re isolated all the time, partially by choice.
  • We create and kill fictional people.
  • A combination of crippling self-doubt and an over-inflated ego.
  • We’re constantly told we’re supposed to be crazy.
  • We’re in our heads all the time, and sometimes we forget to come out.
  • We have to wait for things to happen without any guarantees.
  • We have to survive on the money we make writing.
  • Critics.

Why are writers alcoholics/drug-users?

That’s a stereotype.

How do I write a book?

In no particular order:

  • Write thousands of words.
  • Rewrite thousands of words.
  • Overcome writers block.
  • Create a plot.
  • Create characters.
  • Create conflict.
  • Cry a little.
  • Fight carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Learn about yourself.
  • Learn about what it means to be human.
  • Cry heavily.
  • Spend years on it.
  • Spend more years on it.
  • Procrastinate
  • Write an ending.
  • Rewrite nearly everything.
  • Have a party
  • Finish the book.

What is the best genre to write?

If you’re going by sales, then probably Erotica or Young Adult Dystopian Fiction.

Can I write about Werewolves/Vampires?

Yes, but I won’t like you very much.

What should I write about?

Really? You’re asking me? If you don’t already have hundreds of ideas, then I think you are in the wrong line of work my friend.

What is a “Muse”?

A little voice in our heads that tell us what to write about.

What is “Writer’s Block”?

When your “Muse” stops talking to you.

How do I know when I’m done writing a book?

When it’s the exact story you want to tell, and has absolutely no grammar errors, spelling errors, font issues, size issues, formatting mistakes, or plot holes.

Self-Publishing or Traditional?

Both are fine. Choose what you think will work better.

Do I need to get my book professionally edited?

Yes.

Do I need to get it professionally illustrated?

Yes.

Do I need to get my cover professionally made?

Yes.

What’s a first draft?

The first version of a book, before you go back in and tear the whole thing apart, fixing errors as you go.

How many drafts are there of a book?

As many as needed, sometimes more than 10.

Will my first book get published?

Unlikely. Sorry.

Am I going to become famous when I publish my first book?

No.

How do celebrities write books?

They don’t. Usually a ghostwriter does it for them.

How does James Patterson and Stephen King write so many books?

They write all day. Every day. Till their fingers bleed, heal, and then bleed again.

What is NANOWRIMO?

A contest where you have a month to write the first draft of a book.

What is a manuscript?

According to Google:  “A manuscript is any document written by hand, or manually typewritten, as opposed to being mechanically printed or reproduced in some automated way.”

Why does no one like my writing?

I’m sure someone likes your writing.

Am I a good writer?

Possibly.

Am I a great writer?

If you think you’re a great writer, then you’re probably not. The greats are hyper-critical of themselves.

What are the downsides of being a writer?

  • Eye strain.
  • Loneliness.
  • Hand cramps.
  • Back cramps.
  • Self-doubt.
  • Awkward at parties.
  • Madness.

What are the upsides of being a writer?

The things you create are immortal.

How hard do writers work?

Harder then you could possibly imagine.

Is it worth it?

Yes.

Rambling from a Writers Mind now gives you the best Amazon deals around.

Check it out 

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Tips on Creating Settings for your Characters and Scenes.

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I was going to call this post something simple, like ‘somewhere’ or ‘place’, but then I thought that it may be a little to oblique, so I ended up with the rather long title above.

Pretty much is the same with content. To make this as comprehensive as possible without (I hope) getting boring, I have had to write far more than I do in many of my other posts. I am sure you will see why as you read through.

Simply put, this post is all about creating a setting, or many settings, for you story. Somewhere your characters can live, somewhere they can go about their business in a way that helps bring them to life, a way that makes them ‘real’ people to your readers. Which is what we all should be seeking to achieve, a sort of Holy Grail for writers!

Let’s take a look at the three basic options we have.

The first is to use a Real Location.

This could be a village, a town, even a city, say Paris or London, or it could be somewhere much humbler like a hotel, a café, your kitchen or maybe a cellar?

Whilst the ‘where’ has to blend into you story while enhancing the readers pleasure, that is not the initial prime concern one should have. If you are using a real setting the most important aspect is to ensure accuracy.

This means research.

Even if you live in the place you intend to feature. Misrepresentation, whether it is a matter of geography, culture, or something in between, will be considered a travesty, it will be a failure in your story.

Make sure, when you include a detail or piece of information, that it is correct, or at least feasible. It must makes sense, be credible and contribute to the image you are portraying.

Go there! If at all possible go to the location, find details, talk to local people. Look about, notice how the buildings stand, what transport is available, what colour is it? Consider the language, do they have a dialect or use slang? What are the most noticeable aspects of the culture?

Now you have acquired this information you have to write it in a way that builds, or recreates that place for the reader. If the reader has never been there you must lead them in, be their guide in introducing them to the place. If they know the place already then your part is to re-create their memories.

To do this you must ‘show’ them, give strong sensory detail, get them involved and interested, especially in places unfamiliar. Make them feel they are getting to know it and you have them feeling you are portraying it accurately.

imagesDon’t be afraid to use dialect. I would not recommend attempting to write a dialect, a least a phonetic representation, as this shouts doom! But be aware of such in dialogue; for instance what do the people in this location call a long sandwich? Is it a Sub…or a Hoagie, a Hero….maybe it a Baguette?

Getting ofay with the vernacular could make or break your story. But be careful, a misplaced slang word can throw you readers sense of place haywire.

Remember, not every story will fit into every setting. As with the characters and the plot the setting should be a living part of the story, it should interact with everything else on the page. If you tale is not working here, try a new location, or place a new section of the plot in this setting. If you have a disconnect you work may just collapse.

Now we move on…

The Fictional Location.

Here, wherever here may be, you are in total control. Nothing can be here, nothing can exist without your consent. This is you world where you can construct anything you like to be part of your story, even if it is a far-fetched creation.

But let’s start a little simpler. If you need to create a school or a restaurant or some regular societal value, you have no worries if somewhere similar exists, because ‘yours’ is purely fictitious.

A simple example could be an underground railway. If you have no idea of how the London Underground operates, so what? You can design and create your own public transportation system, one that fits into your plot, one that works with your characters schedules. It does not have to be an accurate representation of anything from the real world.

Please do not allow these facts to preclude your story from remaining realistic in terms of how certain types of place operate on a general basis. You still have a duty to your readers to portray a believable scenario.

The location may be best suited if, say for a town, it can be placed near somewhere in the real world. Possibly south of Huston, or just over the Tyne river outside of Newcastle. This will aid your story in finding its cultural roots.

Now the third of our three.

A Fictional setting in the Real World.

This is a far from unusual tactic employed by authors. There are many novels set in small fictitious towns which are then placed in a real counties or countries.

If you aim to do this then your town should be, at least in its initial appearance, similar to real towns in that region. This is to create believability. Yet by creating your own town as a setting you have almost as much freedom as you would with one set in a total fantasy.

Another benefit is that the townsfolk and/or your main characters can have specific feelings or views about this setting. Such as ‘it is haunted’ or ‘or it is a dying town’. No one can refute this, because the place does not actually exist.

This format works well when creating locations which do not exist, within one that is real. For example you may need to have your characters meet in a bar. Create a bar rather than using one that is real. This solves and can also absolve you from future problems. vampire1

Of course one area that fake settings placed in the real world are great is in the realm of fantastical realities. Think vampires, ghosts and Harry Potter! Here one uses the real world to disguise something hidden or a secret.

Let us go a little further.

You are writing a romantic novel and in all good tradition and faith you choose Paris as the main setting of the book. It would therefore be wise to assume that, most of your readers will have a strong conception, a healthy mental image of Paris before they read a single word of your novel.

If the words ‘the Eiffel Tower’ are spoken your reader will automatically conjure up a mental image. The same goes for ‘the Statue of Liberty’. All you need to do is paint the picture of how, at that particular moment, the city lights refract from the River Seine. Now your reader can picture your character in that setting.

Now consider that your novel is in a fictional city.

Firstly you will need describe the city in far more detail, including the landmark ‘tower’ your character is to propose on. This will take a lot more writing, which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you need the word count!

Also it is not always to your benefit if the readers are familiar with the setting. After all many readers perception may be based on, or limited to, the ‘picture-postcard’ vision of a city and it is possible that you wish to portray a very different side of that metropolis.

So your descriptions will have to be vivid enough to dispel false perception while constructing a new mental image to bring the reader closer to the one in your own mind.

While in a totally fictitious location the reader can bring no preconceptions with them. You will, therefore, have a blank canvas on which to paint your words.

To wind all this up…

images (1)If you are to set your location in an actual place, a real setting, then detailed knowledge or meticulous research will be demanded. The payback for this is that a romantic novel set in Paris has far stronger ‘shelf-appeal’ than one set in a fake city. A place no one has heard or knows of.

The same is true if your novel is set in New York, New Deli or cruising along the Nile. Choose a place lesser known and the majority of your readers would not have heard of it anyway!

In writing, particularly in the case of a full length novel, it is evocation of place and atmosphere. It is almost impossible to deal with these as separate elements. Place can and does determine atmosphere. For example where else could Stephen Kings ‘The Shining’ have been set? It had to be that isolated, snow-bound hotel on a mountain.

Some writers have the tenacity and patience to craft meticulous settings, they build amazing and entire worlds. Others approach by the minimalistic route, sprinkling few, but highly suggestive details into the narrative.

It matters not what genre, or what style you use your story will take place somewhere. A small room, a foreign country, another planet. Your setting can be a backdrop or a character itself.

But take a while, take a look. If most of the novels in your genre are set in a particular kind of location, say a shed, a farmstead kitchen or a city tower, that is a good indication that is what readers of that genre expect, possibly demand.

It does not mean that you have to stick with tradition or stay with the norm. That is your decision, to go with the run of the mill or similar, or do you strive for something new? Maybe you will compromise, add that slight twist?

Whatever you are writing consider the scope you have for creating the right setting. You may want to have a small room or you might want your novel to spread across galaxies, even the entire universe.

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Whatever you choose I hope that in some small way this has given you an insight to possibilities not before considered.

Oh, just before you leave I would like to say you can check the setting and locations I have used in my books by visiting my website at

http://paulznewpostbox.wix.com/paul-white

Thank you for reading yet another of my Ramblings, Paul.

How do your characters move?

Three men wearing masks,and holding guns while running(blurred motion)

It has been far too long since I have written a new post for this blog. The reason is that I have been busy writing my own stories for future publication.

During this time, as I reviewed and edited, I noticed how often I fell into the same trap as many others writers.

You see, as we writers scribble down our words our poor little fingers cannot keep up with the flow of information coming from our minds, so we tend, at least in the first draft, to use words, or a set of words which are the easiest, it is not a matter of laziness, because we know that we shall have to come back and make adjustments and corrections. It is simply a way of getting our thoughts on paper (or the computer screen).

But how dull, how boring and undescriptive that leaves our work, and how darned repetitive is ‘she said, he said’ or ‘he walked to the door, she walked to the door’. Yet it is often the way one must scribe their initial thoughts before they flit from our minds and disappear forever into the gloom of the forgotten.

My pet hate, the one I shall address here, is about movement, the descriptive movement of the characters which inhabit the fictitious worlds of our stories.

When I read that someone has ‘suddenly stood up’ or ‘started to walk to the door’ I cannot help but cringe.

No one ‘suddenly’ stands, they either stand or they do not.

No one ‘starts’ to walk, they either walk or they do not.

So my friends I have a little, sorry, a rather long list of possible alternatives which are far more descriptive. This is not, in any way, a definitive list, but merely an Aide-mémoire to help when we have a ‘mind-block’.

(For simplicity you will see they are all ‘he’-‘she’, but you will get the gist!)

I do however hope you find it useful, or in the least suggestive. Feel free to cut/paste/copy/bookmark or whatever you will. I have, after all, written this to help us all.

THE LIST!

he lowered his head

she hung her head

he ducked

she bowed her head

he covered his eyes with a hand

she pressed her hands to her cheeks

she raised her chin

he lifted his chin

her hands squeezed into fists

his hands tightened into fists

she clenched her fists

she balled her fists

he unclenched his fists

her arms remained at her sides

he shrugged

she gave a half shrug

he lifted his shoulder in a half shrug

she gave a dismissive wave of her hand

she raised a hand in greeting

he waved

she held up her hands

he lifted his hands

she held up her palms

he threw his hands in the air

she brushed her palms together

he rubbed his hands together

she made a steeple of her fingers

he spread his hands

she gesticulated

he waved his hands

she clapped her hands

he snapped his fingers

she held up a finger

he pointed

she gestured with a thumb

he jerked his thumb toward…

she extended her middle finger toward him

he gave her the finger

she gave him the thumbs up

she put her hands on her hips

she shoved her hands in her pockets

he jammed his hands in his front pockets

she rested a hand on her hip

she jutted out her hip

she folded her arms

he crossed his arms over his chest

she hugged herself

he wrapped his arms around himself

she rocked back and forth

she spread her arms wide

he held out his arms

she held out her hand

he extended a hand

he shook his head

she nodded

he bobbed his head

she tilted her head

he cocked his head

she inclined her head

he jerked her head in the direction of…

she turned her face away

he looked away

his breaths quickened

she panted

she was breathing hard

his chest rose and fell with rapid breaths

she took in a deep breath

he drew in a long breath

she took in a sharp breath

he gasped

she held her breath

he let out a harsh breath

she exhaled

he blew out his cheeks

she huffed

he sighed

she snorted

she laughed

he giggled

she guffawed

he chuckled

she gave a bitter laugh

he gave mirthless laugh

she tittered

he cackled

she rubbed her shoulder

he kneaded his shoulder

he rolled his shoulders

she tensed her shoulders

he massaged the back of his neck

she rubbed her temples

she rubbed her hands on her thighs

she ran her hand through her hair

he threaded a hand through his hair

he raked his fingers through his hair

he shoved his hair back away from his face

she toyed with a lock of hair

she played with her hair

she twirled her hair

she wrapped a curl around her finger

she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear

she undid her ponytail and shook out her hair

she tossed her hair

he buried his hands in his hair

he stroked his beard

he scratched his beard

she tugged at her earlobe

he bit a nail

she chewed on a cuticle

she picked at her nails

she inspected her fingernails

he plucked at the cuff of his shirt

she picked a piece of lint from her sleeve

he adjusted the lapels of his jacket

she fiddled with her earring / bracelet

he twisted the wedding ring on his finger

she played with her cell phone

he tugged at his shirt collar

he adjusted his tie

she smoothed down her skirt

she scratched her nose

he scratched his head

he rubbed his forehead

she rubbed her eyes

she pinched the bridge of her nose

he held his nose

she slapped her forehead

he smacked his forehead

he facepalmed

he slapped a hand over her mouth

she covered her mouth with her hand

she pressed her fingers to her lips

he held his finger up to his lips

he rubbed his chin

she pressed a hand to her throat

he clutched his chest

he leaned against the wall

she bounced on her toes

she jumped up and down

he tapped his foot

she stomped her foot

she folded her hands in her lap

she drummed her fingers on the table

he tapped his fingers on the table

he slammed his hand on the table

she pounded her fist on the table

she set her palms down flat on the table

he rested his hands on the table

she set her hands on the table, palms up

he leaned back in his chair

she hooked her feet around the chair legs

he gripped the arm of the chair

she put her hands behind her head

he put his feet on the desk

he fidgeted

she jiggled her foot

he swung his leg

she crossed her legs

he uncrossed his legs

she crossed her ankles in front of her

she stretched out her legs in front of her

he sprawled out

he put his feet on the desk

she cringed

he shuddered

she flinched

he shivered

she trembled

his body shook

she cowered

he shrank from…

she huddled in the corner

he pulled away

she jerked away

he turned away

she jolted upright

he stiffened

she straightened

he tensed

he jumped

she jumped to her feet

he stood up

she rose from her seat

she relaxed

he hunched

she slouched

her shoulders sagged

his shoulders slumped

she wilted

he went limp

he rolled his shoulders

she squared her shoulders

she clasped her hands behind her back

he puffed out his chest

she thrust out her chest

he propped his chin on his hand

she rested her chin on her palm

he yawned

she stretched

he turned around

she whirled around

he pivoted

she reeled

she stepped away

she drew nearer

he leaned closer

she inched forward

he loomed closer

he paced

she shifted from one foot to the other

he swayed on his feet

she dragged her feet

she pumped a fist

he thrust his fists in the air

she punched the air

Railways, nostalgia, memories and time travel.

I am sure I am not alone when I say stations and trains hold countless evocative memories for me. Many of these recollections are from my childhood, others from my adolescence and beyond. But most are essentially pure nostalgic longing.

I say nostalgic longing rather than reminiscent memory because most of the evocative scenes which play within my mind, when I contemplate railway carriages and station platforms, are false recollections. They are simply wistful yearnings for a time and place I have never been privy to.

Those of you who do not have a creative bent, those who are not writers, poets or lyricists may not, as yet, comprehend my words. So I shall, in my usual arbitrary, chaotic and irregular manner, begin to ramble away and hopefully elucidate you all too where my thoughts have wandered regarding this subject.

If you will humour me, I shall ask you to close your eyes for a moment or two and imagine you are on a station platform in the nineteen forties or fifties.

casablanca04Hear the sounds of the locomotive hissing steam as it waits for the passengers to disembark. See the porters wheel loaded wooden carts to the goods wagon, while others push handcarts laden with passenger’s luggage to the coach doorway where they assist the people to alight.

In the waiting room a small coal fire burns filling the air with a sooty but homely scent, a scent of warmth and comfort. From a small kiosk a man wearing a scarf and flat cap sells newspapers to the passengers waiting on the platform.

All around a cacophony of sound melds into this concert of life, whistles blow, milk churns clank, You can hear the ‘thunk’ as reams of newspapers are plonked on the platform ready for collection. Passenger’s voices are a constant murmur, a backdrop to the stationmaster’s call of “All aboard”. Doors slam shut, the train huffs and puffs as it pulls away. A metallic squeal pierces the air as the wheels begin to turn.

Those remaining on the platform wave off their loved ones who, leaning out of the windows, blow kisses back.

The pervading smell is of coal, steam, hot metal, wood, newspaper and soot.bacio in treno grande

That is how I remember railway stations. Or at least that is how my selective and partially false memories cause my mind to create this evocative picture in my head.

I am not old enough to have had such an experience. I was not born into that era. Perhaps I do have just enough knowledge, enough memory to blend the truth into this fantasy.

As a young child, maybe six or seven years old, I regularly watched the last few operational steam trains as the rattled over the railway bridge in Penge.

I remember ‘platform tickets’, tickets which allowed non-passengers access onto the platforms to say goodbye and wave off their loved ones, or to meet them on their return. I have sat in the comforting warmth of a British Rail waiting room which was heated by an open coal fire, the smell of which I shall never forget. I also recall when the green liveried trains had first, second and third class carriages, as well as a goods wagon and guards van at the rear.

Some may say that these were the ‘good old day’s’ and in many ways I agree. But historical conclusion is not the topic of today’s rambling.

I was not born early enough to have encountered life in the forties, not early enough to truly know the scents, sounds and feel of traveling by train in ‘those days’. Yet I do have the ability to create with my pen an acceptable and, this is the important bit, believable account of ‘being there’.

This is where ‘false memory’ becomes a friend and not the enemy.

downloadMixed with those few true memories I have are the perceptions of what life was like during such times. I have absorbed and pooled many of these ideas by reading books and watching films from that era, such as Brief Encounter (1945), or The Lady Eve (1941) and many other such scenes from plays and television programmes.

If, as a writer, I do my job well I can utilise both the true, the false and the acquired to create a world that will captivate the consciousness of the reader, draw them into my fantasy world as their eyes traverse the page. I want to fascinate and enthral the reader, not only with my characters and their antics but also by lending to them an illusory world where they can escape the mundane and humdrum of life, at least for the moment.

This is where nostalgia, or at least nostalgic imagery features. I believe it is something we all have a longing for. Who, for instance would not wish to travel back, to at least one certain point in time, if they were able?

I know that is something I would do if it were at all possible.

So why, I hear you ask, have I focused on railways as a topic to discuss the past. The answer is simple. Trains were ‘the’ mode of transport for the majority of people ‘way back when’ when few owned a car, less could afford to board a ship and air travel was just an aviators dream. Most places were too far away to cycle and horses were all but history.

How many have not said goodbye, waved off a loved one or shed a tear on a railway platform. Who has not been be45a6b16e065833331925e08c5acb93bursting with excitement and anticipation while awaiting the arrival of a train returning a family member, a friend or a lover home?

It is a fact that stations are a place we all hold dear, because this is where we have experienced numerous emotions countless times.

The station, the train, the railway is a place indelibly ingrained, permanently embedded and entwined with both our memory and emotion, however true or however false those evocative recollections might be will still hold them close, we still cherish them.

We all carry within that simple wistful yearning for a time and place that we have never been.

Thank you for reading this rambling. I hope that these few randomly scribbled words have given you food for thought, stimulated your muse or even simply entertained you for a short while, Paul.

 


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I wish these were my words

(Compiled & Reproduced) by Paul White

There are many great quotations and notations floating out there in the fast lane of the internet highway, below are just a few of those which connect with me. You will note they have all been written by great writers. I hope you enjoy them as much as I.

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Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers.

Charles W. Elio

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Andre Maurios
André Maurois

The art of reading is in great part that of acquiring a better understanding of life from one’s encounter with it in a book.

André Maurois    

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In the twenty-first century, everyone writes, to some degree.  The ability to sequence words on a page is a requirement for success in a data-based world. Writing is communication, identity, power, profit.  It’s the means by which we conduct all kinds of transactions, whether we’re bringing a lawsuit or flirting via text message.  Writing is social, commercial and cerebral flow.

Karina Wilson

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I have made it appear as though my motives in writing were wholly public-spirited. I don’t want to leave that as the final impression. All writers are vain, selfish, and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

George Orwell

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Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

C.S. Lewis

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edith warton
Edith Wharton

A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness.

Edith Wharton

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The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.

Edwin Schlossberg

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isaac-asimov-300x264
Isaac Asimov

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.

Isaac Asimov

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I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.

Oscar Wilde

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The most difficult part of writing a book is not devising a plot which will captivate the reader. It’s not developing characters the reader will have strong feelings for or against. It is not finding a setting which will take the reader to a place he or she as never been. It is not the research, whether in fiction or non-fiction. The most difficult task facing a writer is to find the voice in which to tell the story.

Randy Pausch

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I shall leave you now with this last quote, just as you are ready to submit your work !

    Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good.

Samuel Johnson

Thank you for reading. I hope you have enjoyed these quotes as much as I, Paul.

In the Darkness of Illusion

 

writers-block

It is two thirty in the morning.

I should be sleeping.

But like many writers, it is in these ‘wee hours’ that our minds race, that our thoughts begin to gel into some recognisable form of understanding. Thoughts that we must ‘get down on paper’ NOW.

Not later. Later is no good.

By later the concepts, the feelings, the ideas will have shrivelled like the skin of a rotting fruit. No longer will these ideas have the shiny skin of freshness. No longer will each sentence be sweet with the flowing fructose of conception. So now is the time to allow our words to freely spill onto those blank pages, pages of lingering anticipation.

By sunrise, sleep has yet again passed us by. Another coffee and a cool shower invigorates, just enough to face the daylight hours which queue before us, clambering for our attention, calling us to deal with the mundane tasks of reality, the chores of daily living.

Distracted our thoughts, our fantasies and whimsies sink into the subconscious. Some hide in the darker shadows, others play truant, while many are lost forever. Those dark hours, the late nights and early mornings are the vampiric lairs of the writer.

Sunrise brings only loss of procession, a stilling of conscious reasoning, a slowing of creativity. Staggering along throughout the day we long for the sun to set, look towards the dusk with wistful eyes, longing for the darkness to envelop once us once more, to fold us in its soft cloak of imagination.

Because here in the quiet, in the still of the night, is where the bats of illusion flit freely in the caverns of our minds. All that is witnessed, touched, seen, tasted and heard during the day is fired in the cauldron of concept and fantastical prophecy. This is the time when mystical worlds are created from a scattering of magical runes and symbols we call letters.

Twenty Six7f3f9ede89ac78685ce79af4fbeffb18 tiny marks which have the power to enter the mind and take control of whoever is reading, whisking reality away and replacing it with netherworld where all is possible and perception an illusion.

Yet it takes a mighty wizard of the quill to cast such formidable spells from so few tiny symbols. The craft of wordsmithing is often a lonely and long journey through the forests of despair and foreboding.

Yet when the daylight of publication looms bright, the rewards of satisfaction bring the cost of toiling through those darkest of late nights, the journey of self-doubt and inner loathing, well worth the pain and agony’s suffered.

The price can be high, but the rewards glorious.

Thank you for walking through the forests with me tonight, Paul.

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DarkV3

 

 

Telekinetic creative cognitive imagery

Ramblings from a writers mind

   Those of you who have read my irregular scribbling’s which I post under this title will know that each post focuses on a particular, although random topic.

   Each post is written without any formal structure, hence my use of the word ‘ramblings’.

   These posts are not intended to be or give a definitive, they are just my own personal view regarding the subject of choice.

However I do hope that these posts stimulate your mind and create discussion, even debate.

   Bearing that in mind please feel free to add your own observations, views and opinions to each and any of my ‘Rambling’s’ posts.

Today’s subject is a little more direct than most of my previous posts, it is about the writer’s ability (or inability) to create the right form of imagery in their reader’s minds.

643f06825c1612420c562b4d20764eea

Making you see it

[Telekinetic creative cognitive imagery]

One of the major tasks for a writer is to capture the mind of the reader right at the beginning of the book and to keep that attention throughout, right to the very last word on the final page and even beyond, so that the feeling that the story created remains embedded in the readers mind for ever.

This is what every author seeks, to deliver a memorable, unforgettable story that will be the next global blockbuster, and by doing so win new readers who will seek out the authors other works and be eager for the next new novel to be published.

So here you are, sat at your computer, or typewriter, or poised over your desk with quill in hand ready to start writing the first words of your story….what now?  You know what you want to say, but somehow everything you write seems either poor or overly complicated, and neither deliver your thoughts the way you imagine them yourself.

This is where I find it best to ‘live’ the part, become the scene or character; drive that car, get shot, stabbed, or have a screaming argument with the wife, mistress, boss, or coked-up street junkie. Then use the feelings, the images that you felt and saw while ‘living’ that scene, in short ‘takes’, like each edit in a film clip, to slowly build that small part of your story.

Using this method will allow you to ‘transfer’ much more of your own visual imagery to the reader, remembering that you will only be suggesting and guiding the reader to ‘see’ what you are writing, you will never be able to transfer the precise imagery you have in your mind to another, and even if that were possible it would destroy the very basic reasons for reading in the first instance.

At this point I think I should explain what I refer to as mental imagery.

A mental image is the representation in a person’s mind of the physical world outside of that person. It is an experience that, on most occasions, significantly resembles the experience of perceiving some object, event, or scene, but occurs when the relevant object, event, or scene is not actually present to the senses.

Common examples of mental images include daydreaming and the mental visualization that occurs while reading a book.

According to psychologists and cognitive scientists our experiences of the world are represented in our minds as mental images. These mental images can then be associated and compared with others, and can be used to synthesize completely new images.

Now that is clear, how much detail you add will depend, in part, on whether you are writing a short story or a novel, also much will depend on just how important this particular ‘scene’ is in the chapter or to the entire plot.

As an example I will take the ‘drive that car’ from the above paragraph. In a short story like a flash fiction you will not have time to describe too much detail, (unless the car is the main character or a very pertinent feature). So something along this line would most probably suffice…..

   ‘The car came around the corner at high speed and pulled up next to me. The door opened and he called out my name’.

That short sentence creates just enough imagery for you to transfer your thoughts to the reader as a visual image. That is enough for a very short piece where the writer has to ‘edit’ the work to the length of the story.

However, unless the writer wishes to be vague in this instance, I do not believe that this sentence would be suitable when writing a full length novel where the detail is not only requisite but also allows the writer greater scope for creativity. Therefore I would suggest that the same scene would be written along these lines……

   ‘The black limousine’s tyres squealed as it sped around the corner of Liberty Avenue onto Main Street and headed directly towards the fire hydrant where I was sitting. I knew it would be him, it always was. As the car lurched to a sudden stop next to me the door opened and he called to me.

‘Get in the car now, Sally’ he commanded.

Here I have added just enough detail to transfer a lot more of my own mental imagery to the reader. The reader now knows that the car is a black limo and the speed it was travelling was fast enough to make the tyres squeal. The place (setting) is urban, the street names and the use of the words ‘fire hydrant’ suggest an American city.

In this version the reader is also aware that the character on the sidewalk is female, this was not revealed in the first version.

black-limo-night-out

The real skill of the writer is to know how much detail is required, to what proportion and in which instances. Many new writers either give far too much detail on irrelevant or less important items, which then detracts from the gist of the work, or not nearly enough which in turn leaves the reader at a loss as to the actual meaning, or content of the work.

The above method works well for ‘scenes’ and ‘action’ sequences. For character description I use a number of various methods to deliver my cast members to my reader’s cognitive conscience.

In my shortest works, like flash fiction, I find that it is not always necessary for any description whatsoever, I often leave the reader to create the characters physical image themselves. In short stories I give just enough detail to outline a characters physical attributes and, or their personality traits, once again leaving a good deal for the readers to create themselves.

In a piece of full length writing I tend to use one of two methods to reveal my characters, the first is what I call the ‘Biographical introduction’, something Stephen King excels at. This is where the character is brought into the story through a lengthy introduction starting at some point in the past and ending when they (the character in question) becomes part of the books plot.

This method allows great detail to be given about any particular character so when they enter the plot the reader is already familiar with their characteristics.

The second, and the method I use most, because most of my stories are character driven, is introduction by ‘drip feed’. This is giving a little of each characters traits a little at a time through a large, if not all of the novel.

I find this method has the effect of the reader ‘getting to know’ the person much as one would do in real life.

Of course a little of both of these methods also works quite well.

At the end of the day it is up to you, the writer and creator of your fantasy world, a world where you are the puppeteer of those characters and the situations they encounter, who has the choice of how you transfer your mindful images into the heads of your readers.

I do hope however, that this rather odd rambling has stimulated you to try to write something in a format that you have not previously done, or at the very least you enjoyed reading my drivel!

Enjoy your day

Paul.

© Paul White 2014

http://paulznewpostbox.wix.com/paul-white-writer

Do not cry for us

writers-block

It is another late night.

I have taken myself off to bed once, but to no avail; sleep evades me, scurrying away into the darkness the moment my eyelids become heavy.

So, I return to the keyboard and start tapping away, to see what devils play within my mind tonight. Only it is no longer night, it is two-thirty in the morning.

Sometimes, this is when all the indiscriminate arbitrary concepts and vague notions I have considered during the days previous, formulate themselves into a cohesive interrelated and reasonably logical order, thus forming a coherent chain of words, which when read back, actually convey my original inspiration and intention to the reader.

This period, at least for myself, generally occurs at arbitrary times. It is haphazard, irregular and unselective. Although these late nights, these solitary, unsocial and introverted hours are those that commonly prove the most creatively productive.

In the morning, (read later today), after and eventually, I have achieved some sleep, I shall present myself to the world in a fashion that shall cause the casual observer to regard me as introverted and unsociable.

Although this would not be my elected preference, I cannot chastise those who would consider me as such, because I know I shall be ruminating and deliberating over the words I have written tonight and, as such, my demeanour shall convey my meditation as distant and antisocial.

This is a burden carried upon the shoulders of many, if not all, creative writers.

The creativity and ingenuity required to conjure fictional lives from the rawness of neural pathways, to weave nether worlds from mere suggestion, or pen flowing poetry which stirs passions of the heart and excites emotion, thrives best when it is born from the isolated world of the solitary writer.

Distraction is a temporary remedy, a partial relief of this symptomatic characteristic trait. However, there is no cure. This is the writer’s curse.

Do not cry for us.

This is our choice, our drug of life which brings its own highs, begets its rewards in other forms of alternate kinds.

Satisfaction and stimulation of your mind, your heart and your soul is our reward.

To tease and toy with your emotions until you lose, for those moments, your sense of the world around you and escape into ours, into our fictitious realm, our domain of narrative legend.

That is our reward, our incentive and our recompense.

Thank you for reading, Paul White.


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