From Hook to Book

Archive for the category “Creativity for Writers”

Month of Writing Wrap

My Month of Writing is over. Yay! I achieved my goal of adding 25,000-words to my manuscript and met my deadline last Friday 31st August at 7.29pm. (Then I collapsed with exhaustion! And wine!)

I only exceeded my goal by a miniscule 93 words but I’m really pleased with the new scenes and chapters I’ve written and the considerable development of the storyline. It’s not all sparkling prose that’s for sure, but the bones are there. (Though, I’m not sure that the final 1000-words written on Friday will stay or go. I haven’t been back yet to read them over and fear they may have turned into waffly exposition in order to hit the 55,000 mark by my self-imposed deadline.)

So was it a good approach or a positive way to write for me?

Yes and no! Yes: it worked on lots of levels: achieved word count, added scenes, developed storyline. No, it’s not a way I’d want to write all the time. I really missed taking time to go back and edit and rework scenes as I went, but I realised early-on that if I wanted to hit my word count goal, I had to just write and worry if it was all working later.

The real positive is that the new scenes capture the essence of what I want to say and where I want the story to go. And now they’re written I have something to work on. Another bonus is that these latest 25,000-words have really progressed the plot and inspired an important sub-plot in the story.

I don’t think that I could ever do NaNoWriMo with its word count goal of 50,000 words. I started my month of writing with a strong plan for the different scenes that I wanted to write in the belief that I should be able to just sit down first thing each morning and crack on with the writing. I can actually write quite quickly when I’m in scene but, regardless of all my planning and good intentions, it still took me half the day to get started – as is usual for me. Turns out I still need to dream, think, imagine my way into the writing. The great thing though is that by having my Month of Writing goal and deadline, I did just crack on with the writing before the end of the day and it was incredibly satisfying to watch that story/word count grow daily. (Or almost daily.)

So, the stats:

Achieved:

  • 13 new scenes
  • 25,093 words
  • 1 new subplot
  • belief and confidence this story is worth writing

Pros:

  • inspiration to get words down
  • permission to write regardless of quality (equally a con)
  • inspired serious plotting
  • enforced the writing of some ‘skipped’ scenes
  • enabled strong character development through intense writing
  • proved the idea has legs (even if still a spindly, wobbly first draft)

Cons:

  • permission to write regardless of quality (equally a pro)
  • gave licence to waffle
  • limited scope for editing of completed scenes (as I prefer to do as I go)

So now to review the 55,000-words to date, give in to the urge to edit and then reset my writing goal. It just won’t be quite so intense next time!

 

 

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My New Favourite Thing

Move over notebooks. I think I’ve just found my new favourite thing – for a writer.

Apple pencil:pro I feel a bit odd gushing about a gadget in this terribly material age, but my new favourite thing is a fantastic tool of trade – a shiny new iPad Pro (the small 9.7 inch version). It’s a big step up from my poor, struggling, constantly crashing, five-year-old iPad 2. Though I remember being as excited as a kid with a new toy at Christmas the year I got it too. But the new one has features I didn’t even dream of back then, but have been longing for now for quite awhile. Top of my list – an actual pen-like stylus. So for me the best part of my new iPad is actually the optional extra – and most brilliant tool – the Apple pencil. (Is it wrong to gush over a pencil?!)

Now I know how illustrators must feel with a brand new tablet to add to their toolbox.

I’ve long edited manuscripts on-the-go, on trains, in cafes, waiting in waiting-rooms, using an ordinary stylus in the Goodnotes app. I’m still using Goodnotes (though I’m sure there are heaps of other equally great editing/note software apps out there too). The difference now is that using the Apple pencil with the iPad Pro is that I can rest my palm on the screen without making unwanted marks or erasing edits accidentally.

Apple pencilAll I have to do is PDF the manuscript on the desktop first and email it to myself on the iPad. When I receive the email, I just transfer the doc to Goodnotes and away I go. Of course, I can still type edits into the document too, or use an alternative stylus or even my fingertip. But I love that Apple pencil replicates a pen with the same feel and the same fine point that, so far, other styli don’t provide. Now I end up with a far more legible document that I don’t have to waste time trying to decipher. The program highlighter is great for marking up words, paras to rejig later too.

Sadly, neither the pencil nor the new technology improves my scrawly handwriting at all, but at least it’s more readable. And I seem to have room on the page now to write heaps more.

IMG_5305I love too how, in the ordinary Apple Notes app, I can handwrite, draw, highlight, use colour for emphasis (or fun). It even has a ruler. (See the elegant straight line in my pic.) I can also print, copy, text, email, save images etc from Notes. (Could you do that before?)

And in the middle of the night, when I think of an idea, brilliant new title or must-do tomorrow, I love how I can now write it down using the backlight and even my fingertip to write if I don’t want to bother with the pencil. It doesn’t improve the quality of those ‘gems’ of the wee hours, but it’s much easier to capture them at least – just in case.

Even though noone will ever see them, I’m also having a lot of fun playing with the pencil in ‘Paint’ too, creating images and playing with shapes and colours. More disappear than are saved, but it’s lots of fun and non-threatening for a non-drawer like me.

I do think the pencil is the real joy and new favourite thing for me, as much as the iPad, because it’s not only great for print-free editing, but it’s inspiring my creativity in other ways too.

Story Sparks!

A first kiss in a park, so many years ago…

Memories are infinite and some we don’t share. Others may be transient or we think gone. Until a prompt restores them and they return vividly – kindly, harshly, surprisingly, horrifyingly, romantically. Not necessarily for real or true – after all they were so long ago.

P1020554 Simmone Howell Workshop Chris BellCreativity of thought can come spasmodically or constantly to creatives. Often a whiff, a sniff, a song, a colour, a hint of weather and we’re off – into imagination. Other times we fear the launchpad of those smells, sounds, vivid recalls will never return.

P1020564 Simmone HowellUnless… inspired by a gathering of like minds at SCBWI Vic’s Creativity Workshop and author/facilitator Simmone Howell. Simmone opened a floodgate of memories for me. Particularly in our final session on childhood memory. Not an illustrator, by any stretch, I created a visual map of my childhood – the Saturday afternoon Mr Whippy treats, the make-believe of two sisters creating older personas and the long forgotten Jenny Bigger. An epic James Bond drive-in fest accompanying a dad who had no son as yet to share such masculine movies. (Loved them!) An illicit ciggie in the park, playing truant from Sunday Mass. Sandy sandwiches and a back sticking to the sweaty seat of a station wagon, counting the colours of cars on the way to Chelsea beach. There seemed more colours back then.

P1020558 Simmone Howell ParticipantsMost importantly I found a way into an upcoming scene and tricky turning point in my new YA novel, as well as an enjoyable and inspiring gathering of like-minds and creators in SCBWI. Who said writing/illustrating is a solitary occupation? It can be positively inspirational in a room crowded with like-minds and scintillating story sparks.

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