Seeing the wood for the trees

I write quickly.  But this is not necessarily A Good Thing.  it would be a good thing if, when I wrote, it was always perfect and finely tuned.  But, no, it always requires major editing.  And that’s just normal and natural.  Right?

I don’t like editing.  I see the necessity for it.  Of course I do.  It would be arrogant to think one produced the perfect piece first time around (if only).   It’s the getting bogged down in it, not being able to see the wood for the trees thing I don’t like.  And the tweaking one bit so you’ve got to find the corresponding other bit halfway down your work and change that too; that is a pain.  And playing around with one sentence until it is right – so it is a clue in a twist story, that doesn’t give the twist away.  Then you realise the version you had three changes ago was probably just right, but you can’t think of the exact wording to save your life.

I’ve just changed a 2000 worder from past to present tense.  That was a challenge for the terminally lazy person that I am happy to admit I am.  Finding every ‘was’ and ‘did’.  How hard was that?  How hard is that, even?

Off to write a story.  The editing can come later.  Unless I get it perfect first time.

Yeah, right, in my present tense dreams.

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What can I write about today?

I’ve been struggling with ‘themes’ lately. Especially avoiding the well-worn variety. So, how do you come up with something new? Something different?

There are only so many stories, aren’t there? But I guess you can approach them in different ways. I’ve tried playing about with form – not in a full on post-modernist way, but just telling a story from different points of view or structuring it like a ‘choose your own adventure’ book (that was, apparently a ‘well-worn theme’). Nothing too radical, but different for me.

And now I’m trying to come at my stories from an entirely different standpoint. I’ve chosen objects to write about – today’s is a handbag, I love a handbag. I’ve chosen jobs to be at the heart of my story. So, I’ve placed a nurse at the heart of a story, and created something happening around her busy day.

And I’m trying to do topical – find those quirky, off-beat news stories, not the biggies, the ones tucked away at the end of the news, or a tiny scrap in the corner of a newspaper, and use it for inspiration.

Off to write about a handbag. Let’s see how I go.

A (thank you) nod to a blog

Yours truly has been mentioned on Phil Rowlands blog kindleauthors.com
Talking about teachers and writing. Check it out.

It did remind me – must sort out a new photo!

Robot reader

Okay, so not so much a robot as free software called Natural Reader. But I like to think that there’s a little robot inside my laptop who tells me things. ;-0

I’d heard of software called Read Please from Linda Lewis’ very good book ‘Why Short Stories get Rejected’.

The programme reads you any writing you have pasted in. Except I didn’t go with that one (discontinued or something). So google presented the option to try Natural Reader.

The name is a bit of misnomer or at least the free version, didn’t exactly sound natural. We’re back to the robot again. The intonation was almost non-existent, though there were moments when it sounded more fluent.

I did find it useful though. Pauses showed me where I had added unnecessary commas. Long, wordy passages became obvious too. Also places where I’d used the same words close together were soon spotted. It’s these things you need to notice at the proofreading stage, after all.

I’d say it was worth downloading, for all of the reasons above. And to have the opportunity to make it say – Exterminate, exterminate!

If anyone knows of another (better or worse) proofreading software please let me know!

A visit from the chunder fairy

I got a shock yesterday when I looked at the calendar and realised November is nearly over, and with it my semi-attempt at NaMoWriMo.
As my header suggests, things haven’t exactly gone to plan. One after the other my children and hubby had a visit from that most indiscriminate of species, the vomit fairy. As a result my time was spent filling and emptying the washing machine; changing bedding; and generally keeping things going.
Writing wasn’t something I had much time for, though it was never very far from my thoughts. While I was cleaning up, awake in the early hours my mind was plotting and scheming about twists and surprises.
So I’m trying to view it as time well spent. Or time well thought.
Except it hasn’t been. Truthfully my brain has been foggy to say the least. And the effort to string together more than one word, well, painful.

At least our little visitor has left the building. I hope. Now to get on with the fun stuff!

National Short Story Week

This week is National Short Story Week in the UK. So I’ve abandoned my vague attempts at NaNoWriMo (though as previous posts show I really wasn’t doing it properly anyway ;-0). For this week I’m aiming to finish several short stories that keep hanging around. I mean, the things just won’t write themselves.

Anyone interested in finding out more can go to www.nationalshortstoryweek.org.uk

I’ve decided to eat cake

Yes I’m eating cake again. Why? Well, what else is there to do when you get stuck?

While munching on said cake (chocolate, in case you’re wondering) I decided what was needed was a different approach.

I found some index cards and started writing a scene on each one. If I stopped to think about how many cards I’d end up with I might have been daunted. But fortunately I’m short sighted like that.

The result was positive for me. I now feel back in the zone and ready to carry on tapping away at my lap top.

I guess that’s shown me the value of pen and paper. And eating cake.