Sunday, 29 March 2015

Grrrr . . . grrr . . . grinding to a halt !!

Otherwise known, in my case anyway, as the Chapter Five Crunch.  Why Chapter Five?  It always seems to happen at this point, in every single book.  Creating two characters, bringing them together, getting to know them, giving them  'a believable and sustainable conflict' and then . . . bang, the brick wall.

Why???  Partly, I think, because around Chapter Five is the 'getting to know you' time, and for two characters with deep internal (and a couple of external) conflicts, getting to know each other means talking, spending time together, opening up, beginning to trust, letting emotions out.   It's hard and often painful for them, and it's even more painful for the author!  Usually, I can keep going, push through writer's block, but with this particular Chapter Five - nope, nada, no way !

I read a great tip on somebody's blog a while back - unfortunately I can't remember whose - but the author's advice was to do something for your writing every day.  During those times when you just can't write, do something to keep your work alive during the slump -  re-read what you've written already, check out other writing blogs, write your own blog, or simply mull things over, anything, just so long as it is about and for your work in progress. Hence this particular (frustrated!)  blog today.

Sometimes, however, the only solution is to step away for a day or so, or for as long as it takes (as long as it's not too long!) to see the way through the woods again. So that's what I'm doing this week - Taking Five!!  Back soon - I hope!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Another Weekend Away

Marie Francis and Sarah Snowdon
On a writing retreat, of course, what else?  I joined up with several regular writing writing friends at Weetwood Hall in Leeds last weekend for another Malaga workshop.  Unlike my February course at Fishguard, this was largely time spent on our own, writing and focussing on feedback given by the course tutor, Kate Walker, on work submitted beforehand.

As per usual, there were several 'lightbulb' moments and it was wonderful to be able to share the process with others, bounce ideas around, and benefit from the excitement and enthusiasm.  

One of the most helpful things for me this time round was a character questionnaire shared with the group by Claire.  It really was like a door opening, as getting to know my characters is always a sticking point for me.

Sally-Ann, Claire and Kate Walker
Claire had done a lot of character work by putting her current hero and heroine through an interview with a society interviewer who asked them the sort of questions they didn't want to be asked, questions that made them uncomfortable, and questions that had both the fictional interviewer and us really seeing deep inside the character.

I gave it a go with my hero and, yes you've guessed it, another lightbulb went on! Thanks so much for sharing that, Claire.

I do have to confess, however, that after the lightbulb moment, I spent a couple of hours soaking in a bath with a glass of wine - who said writing retreats were all about writing anyway?

Actually, the weekend was very intense, with lots of discussion in between the writing bouts, and sometimes a little bit of  time out is not a bad thing.   As you can see from the photos, there were many coffee breaks too but even those were full of talk about writing - and a bit of web surfing looking for the perfect hero - or in this case a combination of several different heroes!


Put him down, woman!  
Nerys and Kim doing  spot of oggling.