Tag Archives: writing exercises

Open your mind, crush your dreams… Reading and Writing Expo

On Saturday I was lucky enough to have a Reading and Writing Expo on my doorstep. It was in Rockingham 5 minutes up the road. It was held in the recently built Gary Holland Community Centre, (worth a lofty 11million, quite literally, the main hall ceiling was 3 storeys high).

We heard from Meg McKinlay, a great poet and children’s author, Alisa Krasnostein, editor and publisher at Twelfth Planet Press, Georgia Richter, publisher at Fremantle Press and Glenda Larke, a highly travelled West Australian author of several books, and 3 more on the way! (Yeah…  I felt pretty low after meeting these four.)

Meg opened our eyes to the small moments in life that can spark ideas, and helped unpack images creating background and meaning.

 

Some nice things she suggested to try:

– Kids have certain ideas of the world, take one and counter it. See where the idea takes you.

– Grab moments in life that seem odd or different, store them, and use them later

– Using a painting or image to practice on, write what JUST happened and whats GOING to happen

 

I found myself motivated and ready to go, until Alisa and Georgia quickly brought us back down to earth in the second session. Not their intention I’m sure, (well, actually I think it was Alisa’s intention), they outlined the speed at which they go through their pile of new manuscripts, and where exactly they chuck them after they’ve rejected them (yours, after two years of hard work!) Sometimes it could be too similar to another and bore them to death, Georgia knew if she liked it after the first chapter, Alisa knew after the first paragraph!! In some respects they were probably quite helpful, telling us what not to do when trying to get published.

A few points:

– READ the submission guidelines. Any manuscript that does not adhere to the guidelines is chucked even quicker. Each publishers guidelines might be different.

– Go into a book store and try to place your novel on the shelf, where would you put it? Helps you find your genre, and thus what publisher to approach. Don’t submit your manuscript to anyone, check who publishes what.

– If writing a children’s book, you usually only send in your text. The publisher will find the illustrator.

– Send your manuscript to writing agents as well as publishers, if you want an agent, saves time. You don’t need one though. Tell the publisher on your cover letter if you have submitted your manuscript elsewhere too. “Because its the right thing to do”. Just to give them a heads up I suppose.

 

The third session with Glenda Larke focussed on writing mechanics. Admittedly my weakest area this was a very tough and intense two hours for me. Some members of the audience found this also, some were seen to nod off. Luckily for me four hour lectures at uni had me trained in attending to long tedious blasts of technical stuff.

Ummm… where do I start with this. I won’t I’ll just tell you what she covered. Skip this section if you like.

– Imagine a semester of writing mechanics squished into 9 A4 pages. It looked at tone, the HOOK (biggy), conflict, pacing (something I’d never truly thought about but which I have had trouble with before – bewilderingly (adverb)), adverbs, point of view (shortened in her notes to PoV, took me a while to figure this out), developing characters, dialogue mistakes (this is where my attention was wearing thin – the woman across from me was asleep), underwriting, overwriting, and a whole bunch of other stuff at the end that I have to google the meaning of.

 

After a short break I returned for the Rockingham Short Fiction Awards. All winners had been previously notified so I knew I was out of the running but I thought I’d look in anyway. The three winners of the main prizes were in the Eastern States sadly, so I didn’t hear any excerpts from their winning stories! I really wanted to know what I was up against.

I enjoyed the day. It was free and local, despite many being horrified that there was no tea, coffee or lunch provided. I wasn’t bothered, I drink too much anyway, of tea and coffee that is.

I ended the day with my kids watching the sunset over Lion Island. There’s about 30 seals on the island out there!

Seals on Lion Island

Sunset over Lion Island

 


First short story completed after 10 years

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(We went down to the beach at sunset to enjoy a family evening out. I enjoyed it so much more knowing my little project was complete.)

 

Yes, I’ve finally done it. I’ve completed story.

This is something I have not been able to achieve since high school. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post there are various stories and novels that I’ve worked on but nothing I have actually finished.

There were several factors that helped me complete my first written story in 10 years, these may help anyone else struggling with procrastination.

  • start small – in this case I needed to only complete a short story
  • find one item (in this case it was an artwork) that you will look to for ideas and inspiration
  • have a deadline – this was easy because I was entering a local competition, and therefore had no choice but to complete the story on time

When I first thought of the idea for the short story I was very excited about it. I went to bed that night and couldn’t sleep for all the plot points swirling around the bedroom. However, on completion of the piece, I have to admit that my love for writing had definitely been tested.  After writing numerous drafts, critical reviews by friends and partner, I was extremely bored with the whole thing. I felt like I was back at university again, tweaking an essay that had driven me crazy for weeks.

I had to remind myself that readers have new eyes, and they may be just as excited about the idea as you first were. Once edited, friends who were read the story for the first time provided positive feedback. That’s when I knew I was close to finishing.

When you complete the final edit, and print it out for the last time its a great feeling!

(On a side note: getting friends and family to read it was the best thing I could have done. They found obvious flaws I had missed and helped me improve it greatly. If you are thinking about getting people to proof and critique your work, let them. Its better that they read the less quality version instead of a publisher!!)

I know that some of you who read this may have already published novels and completed many stories and might have great advice for me. Well, please share your thoughts, I am happy to receive feedback.


Great way to brush up on your writing skills

If you have found my blog, no doubt you have already discovered WordPress’s Weekly Writing Challenge. Check it out here:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/30/writing-challenge-dna/

I plan on giving one a go. Between nappies, bottles and tantrums I plan on trying to put a little piece together on this weeks topic.

Here is an excerpt from this weeks challenge:

“When I glance in the mirror, I see that I need a haircut and might be getting a zit on my chin me. When I take time to look a little more, I see lots of people: my dad’s chin cleft, my mom’s hazel eyes and weak jawline, my nonna’s widow’s peak hairline, my grandfather’s strong brows, my sister’s apple cheeks.

This week, let’s get a little introspective: who do you see in your face? In your personality?”

Being given a topic is a wonderful way to help inspire those with writers block. If you have a go at this weeks challenge an idea for your next novel may flourish.

Good luck!