I write about everything and anything that’s influenced me with the same tenacity as a child’s ability to see and believe in the impossible. My novels are in the guise of fantasy because it’s a world far removed from the mundane, ordinary and boring. Rich in the tapestry of life’s experiences, steeped in mystery and wonder.
I moved often as a child. My father was a soldier, so we were reposted every couple of years. I’d always find the local tadpole pond, the best den building spots or creepy forests, where witches lived and the number 3 was a bad omen. In that regards I had an idealistic childhood, out from (I’m not a vampire, honest) dawn till dusk. The outdoors was a safe haven, a magical realm where my imagination was the only limit.
My love of fairy-tales came from my mum. She would point at acorn shells and say that they were faerie cups. Show me an autumn forest floor and declare that the pixies must have had a party before we came. Seed-shells would become hats or shoes and flowers would be their clothes. She decorated my room in faerie ornaments and artwork. She allowed me to choose my own path in life.
As I grew older, moving so often ground me down. My father took a redundancy from the army but the uncertainty increased. We moved four times in that year. It stripped my self-esteem and left me unable or unwilling to leave the house. I faked illnesses or struggled with migraines. My world had become a nightmare, so I clung to my daydreams.
My parents separated (again) and we moved to Wales. A place I could call home. Mums roots run deep in these parts and I knew I’d have a window of opportunity to make friends through my family ties.
I discovered the joys of reading. My cousin lent me her point horror and thriller books, which I devoured. The romances were tantalising and yet unsatisfactory. Their tales of first love seemed to skirt the deeper connections I searched for. They never explored the seduction of heart that I’d envisaged in my reveries.
A world of fantasy was one I’d retreat to in my mind. I guess it was my salvation. If magic and romance existed, perhaps my own existence could be tolerated.
Isn’t that why we read? Too escape and explore the unknown.
My perspective has changed since my depressed, teenage years. I do see magic; it exists in the beauty of life that’s taken for granted. We forget about what’s right in front of us. Until that magical moment when our fleeting joy bubbles up, reminding us of our fortunes.
For some, making dreams a reality is nothing more than fantasy. But i believe in that too. We have the power to change our future and become who we truly desire to be.
And of course, romance and love. Not the destructive, selfish type my parents taught me. The gentle, considerate kind of love that burns slow and steady for eternity.
Thanks for reading. What’s your favourite genre and why? You know I love hearing from you.
photo credit: Rachel.Adams <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/40988970@N05/21506365601″>Once Upon a Time</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>
In the last #Editing blog we looked into Developing characters, if you missed it why not take a look. Next time we’ll be delving into emotional beats.
The first draft of my YA fantasy novel was finished. I’d succeeded in writing the story, working towards The End, scene by scene, until the book was complete.
Yay! It’s a fantastic feeling. An accomplishment of hard work, creativity and a dash of doubt.
If you’re working towards that goal, keep going, you can do it.
So, what happens once you reach the finish line? It’s time to edit, revise, cut, add and alter your first draft. Working it until it’s the master piece it deserves to be.
Today I’m highlighting crutch words. Or in my case, an over use of body parts. How many times did I write heart, lips or eyes in that piece?
I’m talking about particular words that you’ve peppered your page with. You’ll being to notice the words you rely on. With diligence you can begin to remove them from your work.
Edit out crutch words. Jot down a list of your culprits and search your document, preening them out. Try rewriting the sentence using different words? Ask yourself; do the words adding any meaning to the sentence? Will its removal, alter the story? Can the crutch word be replaced with an alternative description? Eliminating the obvious eyes sores before our readers identify them.
#TIP. Word document has a Find tool that searches and highlights them in your manuscript. Making it easy to alter or remove.
Air caution, when using the thesaurus. While its function is invaluable to us authors, it runs the risk of stripping our unique voice from the story. I must admit to replacing a word for a recommended substitute and losing the original meaning by not understanding the definition.
Hey!! I’m a creator of worlds, not a master literary knowledge. (Perhaps one day I’ll be both.)
My last tip is to read your work aloud. We’re often too close to our work to see fault. But by sounding out the writing, our brains have the ability to process the information, thus picking up on the crutch words. I find that reading out to my critique group gives me extra awareness. I’m guaranteed to find at least one more, even after a thorough edit.
An editor will spot these for you. Unfortunately, they won’t do the revision for you.
Yes, it’s tedious and hard work but with persistence your writing will improve.
What is your main crutch word? Don’t be shy. I love it when you share your thoughts and opinions.
As a child, my sister and I would spend the holidays with my Nan and grandad. We’d eat too many Mr Kipling cakes and always come home with a new toy.
Each morning my granddad would rise early and nip to the shops for a paper. He’d often visit the library for a novel or two. At home, he’d disappear into a world of fiction, armed with a strong mug of tea. Much to the annoyance of my Nan, who just didn’t and still doesn’t understand the appeal of printed word on paper.
The Lord of the rings cartoon would be on TV. That or Watership down. The movies went over my head, merely a background distraction. They held a sinister tone, that I didn’t understand or appreciate.
As time went by, the world changed, relationships altered and my family split in many different ways. My granddad chose a different life. He decided to spend his retirement in the Chelsea pensioner’s home. Not only did he leave his wife of 40 years but also vanished from our lives too. He retreated to a regimented, redcoat existence, far away from family obligations.
He did however pass down a hardback copy of the Lord of the rings by #J.R.R.Tolkien. With the message that he knew I’d appreciate the book.
I’d brush the glossy cover, feasting my eyes upon the unusual imagery. I’d open the thick, cream pages and luxuriate in the quality. My books were few and far between. And even though I lacked in education and didn’t identify the importance of literature, I treasured my books.
I just couldn’t bring myself to read it.
I kept that book in an old trunk in the attic, along with my dead mother’s jewellery. Until anger and grief hounded me, driving me to discard the book as I had so easily been.
The truth is, my granddad was right, I adore fantasy. I’m a daydreamer and a dweller of lost worlds. Places that only the imagination and creativity can reach.
Forgive me Tolkien, for I have never travelled your planes.
Forgive me grandad, for rejecting your final gift to me away.
I’m going to buy that #novel and add it my bookshelves.
What book holds strong emotions for you? Don’t be shy, share with me.
Thanks for reading.
Let me introduce you to Judith Barrow. She’s a good friend and honest, critique partner. She has to be, she teaches me creative writing. Enjoy! 😊
When I embarked on my writing journey I thought reaching The End of my novel would be the hardest hurdle to jump. Like my protagonist, Princess Alicia, I was naive. Blood, sweat and story arcs were merely the beginning.
I tried editing and revising my MS as I went along. Inevitably by the time I’d completed the novel, my knowledge had grown, my skill set sharpened and my craft had been honed. Meaning my early work needed an overhaul.
How to create believable, well rounded characters? Try asking your characters some key questions helps to identify them. What are there likes, dislikes, what do they fear, what’s there hobby or passion, who’s there family?
I like to use Pinterest to develop my characters looks, fashion and settings. It’s an ideal playground for formulating the initial ideas to grow a character. With the added bonus of visual stimuli to remembering eye and hair colour, sense of style and interests. It may seem like I’m pratting about on the internet but its research. I’m a fantasy writer; where else would I get images of otherworldly figures?
You’ll be able to distinguish there negative and positive character trails. Add a backstory that fills out the characters life and combine them together. Most of the information won’t make it into the novel but it will guide there choices as they move through the story.
One of my grey areas was my protagonist Alicia. Her internal voice was spot on but her dialogue came across as mousy and boring. The truth was; until the book had been completed I wasn’t sure of her journey, of how she’d grow and develop. Let alone where I wanted her to start. In hind sight drafting a plot would have overcome this problem.
Another tip is to imagine speaking to your character. Or at least imagine it’s the character answering the dialogue. When you know your characters like they’re your best friend, you’ll know how they’d react in a situation and what they’d say; in some cases what they wouldn’t say. Sometimes the tension from silence speaks volumes in a scene.
Got any other tips, ideas or techniques to share with me? Please add them to my comments. I’d love to hear from you. 🙂