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A Few Amazing Moments

Creative Writing: Middle

By Creativity, ThinkingNo Comments
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Inkwell & Quill. (Image Copyright: Sye Watts/Antony Simpson.)

This is the second part in a blog post series, where I’ll be sharing some of what I’ve learned about creative writing over the last few years. The first blog post in the series was Creative Writing: Beginning.

1. Remember Your Aim
You should be writing something that entertains and is enjoyable to you and others. That’s all your creative work needs to do. It doesn’t need to be a work of literacy genius.

2. Your Writers Voice
Your writers voice is part of the art of creative writing. It will be influenced by Perspective, which I have wrote about here. It may change dramatically in different works.

Some writers try to emulate the voice of writers that they admire. This can be an interesting exercise and way to explore how those writers show their distinctive voice. To get the most out of this exercise, rather than passively read, you need to analyse how they crafted their voice.

Author Elizabeth Gilbert whom has written of many books, developed her writers voice by writing each of her books to friend or family member. Her writers voice in Big Magic, a book about living creatively, is warm, caring, passionate, engaging and captivating throughout.

Your unique writers voice will generally develop over time, with regular writing practice. The key point here is: practice.

Simple Writing – Writer’s Voice: What it is and how to develop yours is a good article to read, where the author writes about phrasing, tone, attitude and gives some tips on how to develop your writers voice. But nothing really beats writing lots.

3. Keep Going
Don’t let fear hold you back from starting, continuing or finishing a piece of creative writing. Even if, as your writing, you think it’s the worst thing ever written, keep going.

As author Anne Rice says in this video, ‘Just kick out the pages:’

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So keep writing, everyday if possible. Don’t be hard on yourself if you can’t manage everyday. Just write when you can. Whatever time you are managing to write, it’s better than not writing at all. Remember that if you keep going, eventually you’re going to finish. You’ll be bringing a new story into the world, which is wonderful.

4. Dialogue
Some rules generally apply:

  • Less is more.
  • Most people don’t talk to themselves. So don’t have characters do it.
  • It should be a conversation, not a monologue or full of large longwinded statements.
  • Don’t have a character explain to another character what happened in the last scene you wrote. It feels repetitive and tedious to the reader. One character can summarise to another character if absolutely necessary. But if the other character needs to know the details, then maybe he/she should have been in the last scene as a witness to events.
  • Only on rare occasions should you cut the end of dialogue, like this: . If you do it all the time, the dialogue isn’t moving the story along and the reader will get frustrated that no character ever finishes a sentence. Plus regularly cutting the end of sentences will lose its value and significance.
  • Dialogue tags such as he said and she replied are useful to identify who is talking and how they are saying what they are saying. But the overall tone of the conversation should be clear from the words in the dialogue.

To improve your dialogue listen to the conversations of strangers in every public place that you visit. The dialogue you write should sound like that. It should have hooks. During the editing process, which I will write about in the next blog post in the series, it is useful to read it aloud to yourself or someone else.

5. Tense
Generally past or present tense is used. Future tense is rarely used. Once you’ve decided which tense to use, be consistent and use it throughout your creative work. Here’s an article that explains tense simply: Creative Writing – Tense.

6. Description
General fiction set in the real world needs less description than creative works set in other worlds. If your creative work is set in the past, future or another world consider: societal structures, culture, religion/belief systems, etc. Only tell the reader what they need to know.

Avoid writing cliché opportunities to describe a character or settings. One such example of a cliché opportunity is the main character standing in front of a mirror observing and describing themselves to the reader. It’s been done so many times, that it has become a cliché.

A good tip, when it comes to description is to make references. So for example, rather than writing: Jean drove off in her red car. Write: Jean drove off in her red Nissan Micra. Be aware that over time these descriptive references might date your creative work. Some descriptive references are so embedded into society that they could never date your creative work.

In my short story A Few Amazing Moments I deliberately used descriptive references to set the time in recent history that the various scenes were set in.

Perspective alters how you describe things. You can read more about perspective here. Pacing alters the amount of description a scene has. You can read more about pacing here. But the rule is: in slower scenes more description is allowed. In action or fast-paced scenes there should be less description. To much description or to little can significantly impact on your overall pacing.

7. Back-up Your Creative Work – Regularly
We’ve all heard nightmare stories about writers whom have lots their entire work because of a computer crash or computer dying on them. They either didn’t hit the save button or didn’t back-up their computer or both. I’ve lost large chunks of scenes in the past because I didn’t hit the save button often enought. I’ve also lost entire creative projects because a computer decided to die on me. So here’s the advice:

  • Hit the save button at the end of every paragraph.
  • Back-Up your work regularly. Some people use the cloud. I personally use Time Machine and then do a manual copy/paste back-up on an external hard drive once a week.

8. Done Is Better Than Good
This advice comes from Author Elizabeth Gilbert. In her book Big Magic, which have reviewed here, she writes about the danger of perfectionism.

If you aim for your creative work to be perfect you will drive yourself insane. No matter how much time, energy, effort and work you put into a creative work it will never be perfect. So rather than striving for perfection, aim for completing your creative work to the best of your current ability.

So many creative people, leave work in their desk draws, unfinished, because they don’t feel it’s good enough. Because they are aiming for perfection. Just take a second to imagine the number of superb stories that never see the light of day, let alone get read, because the writer is aiming for perfection.

9. First Draft
Congratulations on completion of the first draft of your creative work. But for a good writer, it’s not even half finished yet. The manuscript now needs to be edited, which may include some re-writing.

In my next blog post of the series, I’ll be writing about editing (including an editing checklist), feedback and publishing options.

Write soon,

Antony



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My Yearly Review

By Friends & Family, Gigs & Shows, Happiness & Joy, Life, Thinking, TV, Online Streaming & FilmsNo Comments

Welcome to my yearly review. 2013 has been a great year; both for me and my creative writing. There’s so much to tell you about my writing that I’ve given My Awesome Year in Words it’s own post on my Writer Website. Here I shall focus on my personal life.

Alex Memorial 1 - Chinese Lanterns In January I did Something Uncomfortable, which was attending Alex’s Chinese lantern memorial. It was something I had always avoided, and became part of my New Experiences for 2013.

In February I went to a friend’s 50th birthday party and one of my nephew’s 18th birthday party. I undertook my February Photo Challenge.

free-speech-06.03.13-E March came along and I was on TV – Live To The Nation! Although an exciting, uncomfortable and anxiety ridden experience, it was also one of great learning. Educating me in the world of the media. And unbeknown to me at the time, it wasn’t going to be my last excursion into the media world this year. Oh and I got an iPhone 5.
My Birthday Presents - Happy Birthday Cake

My Birthday Presents – Happy Birthday Cake

I did so much in May. I had a great Bank Holiday Weekend. I celebrated my twenty seventh birthday by seeing friends and family; they got me some fab Birthday Presents. I got an extra special birthday present off the wonderful Writer Mel Bossa. I had a Cumbria Adventure. I enjoyed this Get Lucky Cover, as well as the original song by Daft Punk.
Rocky Horror Show 2013 In June, Steve came to live with me. We went watching The Rocky Horror Show. It’s a night out that I’ll remember for a very long time. I remembered Something I Forgot Along The Way.
Outside Rivington Castle - Covered In Greenery

Outside Rivington Castle – Covered In Greenery

July was filled with good times. I bought A Flashy New Car – Olly, The Citroen DS3. I attended Pagan Con for the first time and discovered Posh Coffee: The Flavour Collection from Douwe Egberts. I had some time off work and had an adventure in Rivington (see Rivington Adventure: Lever Castle and Rivington Adventure: Ruins & The Picni). I even witnessed A Sensational Sunset.
up4ameet3 In August my iMac Hard drive failed and I took it to the Apple Store for repair. Steve and I went watching Up4aMeet? – An Evening of Naked, Gay, Laugh-Out-Loud Comedy. I started reading the Gone Series.
More Minions!

More Minions!

In September I watched Despicable Me 2 and Percy Jackson – Sea of Monsters at the cinemas. I started Reading for Pleasure.
Me Wicked Outside Manchester In October Steve and I went watching Wicked at Manchester Palace Theatre. I had a bug, got offered a job which I initially accepted and then later declined. My contract at work got made permanent. I got interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live.

I started regular Reiki treatments at Halsa Healing. Jayne and I went to Castlerigg Stone Circle for Samhain.

Stephen Lynch LIVE My cousin and I saw Stephen Lynch in Manchester in November. I donated to two Homelessness charities.
My Christmas Presents

Presents People Bought Me

In December I bought an iPad, went to Manchester Christmas Market and spent Christmas with family and friends.

Blog soon,

Antony

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Bravely Sharing My Short Stories

By CreativityNo Comments

Hi all,

Just a quick post to let you know that I’ve released my two short stories: Stuck Between A Rock… and A Few Amazing Moments online for FREE Download. Here is what they are about:

Stuck Between A Rock… – Gina and Tom have just got engaged. But she’s got a secret and worries about his reaction when he discovers the truth. She’s also got an interview for the Director of Sales job, but she has some unexpected competition. How will Tom react when he discovers her secret? And will she win the Director of Sales job or is fate leading her in a different direction?

A Few Amazing Moments – In A Few Amazing Moments Shaun shares his journey to find love through the decades. From his teen experience of rejection; to living by the philosophy of grabbing a few amazing moments of love where he can. The moments always coming to an end as he expects. But with Nathan his best friend and lover, will it be a happily ever after or is it another one of those relationships with a shelf life?

As well as releasing the stories themselves, I’ve also shared what I learnt through the process of writing and afterwards. I have already said how the thought of sharing these stories makes me slightly nauseous; but I’m still bravely choosing to share. Hope you enjoy.

Write creatively soon,

Antony

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