Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Posted: December 12, 2012 by gustafhesse in On Writing
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Another useful post with tips and hints on how to keep your writing short, sharp and pithy.

 

 

 

The Daily Post

About Page 201

Your About page is the perfect opportunity to introduce what you’re doing with your blog — and why it matters — to your audience. In About Page 101: Making Them Care, we looked at getting the basics right in terms of knowing what you’re trying to do, telling a compelling story, keeping things brief, and writing in a style that doesn’t come off as more stilted than your Uncle Joe’s wedding party dance moves. Now we’re going to take all of the hard work you did there, all of the blood, sweat, and tears you poured into making your About page rock, and put them through the meat grinder. Because good enough isn’t good enough for us. Ready? Ready.

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Lee Child signing at Bouchercon 2009 in Indian...

In a recent post in The New York Times, Lee Child writes about the nature of suspense and how he approaches creating the narrative space into which he builds suspense within his writing.

According to Lee Child, the very question: “How do you create suspense?” is inherently a clumsy one – it is unhelpful, misleading and is posed in the interrogatory mode. He goes on to explain:

But it’s really much simpler than that. “How do you bake a cake?” has the wrong structure. It’s too indirect. The right structure and the right question is: “How do you make your family hungry?”

And the answer is: You make them wait four hours for dinner.

As novelists, we should ask or imply a question at the beginning of the story, and then we should delay the answer.

In summary, the tools a writer uses to create suspense are questions posed at the beginning of the narrative: it’s about using the “whats, whos, and hows” effectively. These questions intrigue the reader and makes him/her want to read more, to turn the page and chase down the answers to these questions.

To read more about this, you can visit the article, posted here.

Fifty Shades of Grey

Fifty Shades of Grey (Photo credit: ellebnere)

E. L. James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey, was highly anticipated to be in this year’s most dreaded yet coveted prize have failed to make the shortlist.

The bad sex prize was established “to draw attention to the crude and often perfunctory use of redundant passages of sexual description in the modern novel – and to discourage it”.

The Literary Review‘s senior editor, Jonathan Beckman, who oversees the contest, explains that the Fifty Shades trilogy is not eligible “because the prize’s rubric explicitly excludes pornographic and erotic literature.”

He added: “I don’t think she needs any more publicity, does she?”

The shortlist includes:

Tom Wolf’s Back to Blood

Nicola Barker‘s The Yips

Nicholas Coleridge‘s The Adventuress

Nancy Huston‘s Infrared

Paul Maon’s Rare Earth

Ben Master’s Noughties

Sam MillsThe Quiddity of Will Self . This is a noteworthy nomination, since Self’s own fiction has been shortlisted on three occasions.

Craig Raine‘s The Divine Comedy.

The winner will be announced at a lavish ceremony in London next month. Apparently, among the literati,  it is considered a badge of courage for the authors to attend to receive it in person.

Here are some choice excerpts:

The Quiddity of Wilf Self, by Sam Mills: Down, down, on to the eschatological bed. Pages chafed me; my blood wept onto them. My cheek nestled against the scratch of paper. My cock was barely a ghost, but I did not suffer panic.

Rare Earth by Paul Mason: He began thrusting wildly in the general direction of her chrysanthemum, but missing — his paunchy frame shuddering with the efford of remaining rigid and upside down.

 

 

Useful post for writers who want a synopsis of the different POVs and narrative styles. I highly recommend it!

Typewriter

The Daily Post

“Point of view” or “narrative mode” describes the pronouns used when writing a story. At the most basic level, the points of view can be broken down as follows:

POV Pronouns
First person I, we
Second person you
Third person he, she, it, they

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This was one piece of advice I was given and have, in turn, given:

Should you desire great tranquility,
prepare to sweat white beads.

~ Hakuin

English: Tranquility by the Lake Bohinj

Fifty Shades of Grey Toys Picture Source: hypable.com

Mention E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey and most people would either gasp in delight or groan out loud. Or, if they have been ensconced in an ivory tower or desert island far from any broadsheet, radio programme and the water-cooler chatter, you might receive a quizzical look.

Initially appearing on fanfiction.net as a Twilight Fan Fiction Master of the Universe it has since taken on a life in the publishing world when it was published as Fifty Shades of Grey. Love it or loathe it, Fifty Shades of Grey is now regarded as a modern publishing phenomenon and one of the bestselling book in British history. Dubbed “mummy porn”, the erotic book has now sold in excess of 5.3 million copies in ebook and print. The second and third books, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed, are also selling fast. UK sales are in excess of 3.6m and 3.2m respectively and combined UK sales for the trilogy are over 12m copies, with rights to the book sold around the world and published in languages including Polish, Albanian, Chinese, Russian, Serbian and Vietnamese.

E.L. James - Vijftig tinten donkerder

However, critics have not welcomed the book with the same unbridled enthusiasm as E.L. James’ fans. For instance, in his recent article in the London Review of Books, Andre O’Hagen described the “mummy porn” books as a “multi-million-selling contributor to the art of terrible writing about sex”.

He continues: “300-page gala of repetitive sex, most of it – give or take a few smacks on the arse – completely conventional. I suspect the book has taken the world’s mums by storm because there’s no mess on the carpet and there are hot showers afterwards. Everybody is comfortable and everybody is clean: they travel first-class, the rich give presents, the man uses condoms, and everything dark is resolved in a miasma of cuddles.”

Andre O’Hagen added: “It’s not that Fifty Shades of Grey and EL James’s other tie-me-up-tie-me-down spankbusters read as if feminism never happened: they read as if women never even got the vote.”

However, while it may be on the bestselling list, Fifty Shades of Grey is also on another list. It appears that E.L. James’ erotic novel is also the book that Britons are most likely to leave behind in their hotel room.

According to Travelodge, the budget hotel chain, around 7,000 copies of E.L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey have been recovered from its rooms since its release earlier this year.

Apparently, The Help, by Kathryn Stockett; Stephen Fry’s The Fry Chronicles; and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, by John Le Carre, made the top 20 of books left behind in hotel rooms.

Cover of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"

                     Books left behind

1. Fifty Shades of Grey E.L. James
2. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo     Stieg Larsson
3. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest Stieg Larsson
4. Fifty Shades Freed E.L. James
5. The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins
6. The Girl Who Played With Fire Stieg Larsson

7. Fifty Shades Darker E.L. James
8. Catching Fire Suzanne Collins
9. Mockingjay Suzanne Collins
10. The Help Kathryn Stockett
11. One Day David Nicholls
12. A Tiny Bit Marvellous Dawn French
13. Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography Steve Jobs
14. Diary Of A Wimpy Kid Jeff Kinney
15. The Brightest Star In The Sky Marian Keyes
16. The Fry Chronicles Stephen Fry
17. Room Emma Donoghue
18. StrengthsFinder 2.0 Tom Rath
19. The Confession John Grisham
20. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy John Le Carre

Personally, I can’t imagine leaving behind Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy much less The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. However, with Fifty Shades of Grey

Twilight Saga -Breaking Dawn - "End & Beg...

Yesterday, I wrote about fan fiction. While updating the post, I stumbled across a strange and wonderful world of fan art. They range from Twilight and Southern Vampire Mysteries fan fic banners. While I’m familiar with these, I also encountered fan art inspired by Spock and Kirk, most of which were inspired by a scene in Star Trek.

This scene from Star Trek: The Motion Picture ...

The enthusiasm that Star Trek fans  have for a Spock and Kirk pairing is such that a weird and wonderful world exists out there where the Spock/Kirk pairing have inspired ‘slash’ homoerotic fan fiction and assorted fan art.

Cowboy Kirk and Indian Spock

Cowboy Kirk and Indian Spock (Photo credit: joeltelling)

Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries have also inspired thousands of fan fiction on fanfiction.net.  The banners that accompany these stories are some of the most accomplished I have seen. These banners and SVM fan art give professional graphic designers a run for their money.

Eric Northman - beautiful undead

Eric Northman – beautiful undead (Photo credit: katmary)

Eric & Sookie "My Biggest Regret"-Tr...

Eric & Sookie “My Biggest Regret”-True Blood Fan Art Wallpaper (Photo credit: Mystic Soul Fan Art)

Here’s an example of the talented banner maker, Ange de l’aube.

Which is your favourite fandom? Your favourite pairing? Your favourite banners and banner artist? Let me know!

Here comes the bride: fan art of Edward and Bella
Picture source: twitarded

Lately, Fan Fiction is in the spotlight because EL James, author of Fifty Shades of Grey, admitted that she learned her writing chops writing Twilight fan fiction before she converted the names Bella and Edward to Anastasia and Christian Grey. What happened next is a publishing phenomenon which has taken trade publishers and Twilight fans by surprise. Judging from the number of fan fiction authors who have been published recently, for example, Tara Sue Me who is the latest example, publishers appear to believe they have found in fan fiction a new route to increasing their profit margins and are now no doubt scouring the slush piles in sites such as fanfiction.net for the next big thing.

But we should not forget that fan fiction is a craze that’s almost as old as writing itself. Just think The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, for instance.

One does wonder how those readers who still read books regard fan fiction. Are they sneery about these sites?

However, it is undoubted that  fan fiction – particularly its erotic-heavy along with its slash fiction strands – is a self-publishing phenomenon where amateur and aspiring authors write stories about the characters they are obsessed with. Just looking at the numbers of Twilight fan fics that are and have been published and the plethora of slash fan fiction that are written, for example, in homage of Spock/Captain Picard, it’s a phenomenon. If trade publishing is the tip of the iceberg, then fan fiction must be the vast unexplored world of a self-publishing phenomenon.

Desert Heat – Spock and Kirk by Gayle Feyrer Picture source: guardian.co.uk

It is a dark genre where Eric Northman and Sookie is depicted in bdsm Southern Vampire Fiction fics  and where Spock and Draco are ‘shipped’ in Alternate Universe slash fics.

Despite the successes of EL James and others who are following in her footsteps, a misconception remains that fan fiction is just silly girls’ fantasies scrawled on the underbelly of the internet. I suspect Fifty Shades of Grey has done little to rescue the reputation of the genre.

But here’s the counter-argument: most fan fiction is a rejection of the normative version of sexuality. Fan fiction offers a more honest way, if sometimes radical and wayward platforms to engage with and negotiate relationships, sex and gendered power relations.

Perhaps, another way of viewing fan fiction is that it offers a test bed to cut one’s teeth in writing. It offers anonymity and help aspiring writers to become better writers, and allowing them to explore sexuality in a ways which depart from the norms dictated by the Hollywood industrial complex, light entertainment industry and dominant forms of popular culture.

What do you think of fan fiction? Let me hear your thoughts!

Picture source for Twilight fan art : twitarded 

Picture source for Spock/Picard fan art: guardian.co.uk

 

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Glimpses by shahula

Review by: mephis1

Anne Sexton’s poem All My Pretty Ones has always intrigued me. Much of Sexton’s poetry is autobiographical and concentrates on deeply personal emotions, especially anguish and loss and her life-long battle with a variety of emotional states. Yet, it would do a great disservice to her poems if one were to reductively describe them as ‘confessional poetry’. To be blunt, it’s a category critics often invent so as not to talk about poetry as poetry. Instead, it would be more accurate to suggest that Sexton’s poems capture the sense of personal urgency; they are positively full of extraordinary observations of people and places remembered, of familiar patterns of emotional states and people recalled in stanzas of captivating lyricism.  In short, Sexton’s poems are not, to use that ludicrous term, ‘confessional poetry’. Rather, they depict recurrent symbolic themes using poetic techniques and colourful imagery. They capture universal themes which make them so readily accessible to readers.

All the above was a prelude to saying that Sexton captures both the reader’s and writer’s imagination; her poems provide the threshold to the human imagination, allowing re-imaginations of her poetry within one’s own terms. Glimpses by shahula is an example of a writer who takes an extract (‘These are the snapshots of marriage, stopped in places’) from Anne Sexton’s All My Pretty Ones and re-envisions it within the context of a Twilight fanfiction oneshot.

Glimpses was a Fanfiction Quote Me Contest submission. It won the 1st Place Judge’s Choice and I have the great pleasure to review it. An AH E&B oneshot, Glimpses re-interprets the Twilight canon and spans the lives of Edward and Bella as they meet, fall in love, marry, start a family and grow old together. It’s a story of love told in sentences constructed with confidence, culminating in scenes rendered with such lyrical grace.

In short, this is what drew me to this story: the gentle, lyrical cadence of this story is one I don’t often encounter in fanfiction. One could even suggest that this stately gentility is what makes this oneshot special as we move along with Edward and Bella as they meet and fall in love, eventually marrying. But life isn’t a bed of roses for Edward and Bella. And I think this is what makes Glimpses all the more human and believable because we see that Edward and Bella are oh so fallible. They are capable of mistakes but it is their undying love and devotion to each other that they are able to forgive, understand and move past these hurdles that often bring down couples with less sturdy relationships. In their marriage, we catch a glimpse of this fallibility in the following scene:

“Bella. You know how important being a doctor to me is. I can’t help it if your work programs conflict with that. It’s not as if writing is-” his stops himself before he can get too far.

He can’t say what he wants to. Even if it is just in the heat of the moment, it will hurt her. And he knows it.

He may be angry at her reaction but he wouldn’t hurt her on purpose like that.

“Oh! You’ve got to be kidding me!” She is screaming now. “Go ahead, Edward. Say it. Say what you’re thinking. My writing isn’t what? Not as important as YOUR WORK?”

His thinly held control snaps.

“Goddamn it!” Edward booms into the space between them, throwing a glass across the room. It breaks against the far wall, pieces cascade down in splintered rain. She has pushed him too far.

“I save lives, Bella. Every. Fucking. Day. And I can’t help it if that interferes with your work! It’s not like I planned a five car pileup on the freeway just so I wouldn’t have to attend the fucking gala!”

His is towering over her now. Her back pressed firmly into the cabinets and counter top behind her.

She isn’t frightened he will hurt her.

She knows he never would. He may be outraged but he would never harm her.

His face, while still beyond beautiful even in all his fury, is inches from her own. Green eyes blazing into the deep cinnamon of hers. She glares back.

She hates that he is right.

She hate nights like the one before when he should have been with her. He should have been dancing with her across a twinkling white lit floor.

They should have laughed and teased

Reading moments like these in Glimpses captivated me; they demonstrate a writer who is not afraid to tackle anguish. She doesn’t shy away from writing difficult emotional states. Moreover, when she does write moments of devotion, love and forgiveness, those scenes also come to live. Her writings bring a level of emotional realism which is also not often encountered in fanfiction. The above extract also demonstrates a writer who is capable of writing a difficult emotional scene without resorting to melodramatic hyperbole or gesturing to the usual stereotypes that one so frequently encounters in fanfiction. She writes that scene confidently and uses it to great effect to show and not tell, a mantra that writers are often told to repeat to themselves as they write.

This Edward and Bella love story is depicted with such moving poetic lyricism that it makes it a joy to read and re-read. Their journey through life which takes us to inevitable heartaches, joys, loss, forgiveness bereavements is written with such emotional credibility and heartfelt sentences that is makes it a joy to read. And it was indeed my pleasure to read this oneshot.

Review by mephis1

Banner by Ro Nordman

To read the other entries in the contest, please click on this link: Quote Me Contest

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Glimpses by shahula

Review by: Rose Masen Cullen

There are stories that make you laugh.

There are stories that make you cry.

There are stories that you read, like, forget and move on to the next one.

There are stories that you may have read months ago, but one fine day you stumble on it again, and it makes you smile.

Then, once in a long, long time…along comes a story like ‘Glimpses’.

It makes you smile. It makes you cry. It sticks with you till it becomes a part of you. And five months later when you read it again, you will be just as moved.

“These are the snapshots of marriage, stopped in places.” ~ Anne Sexton

That was the prompt on which this one shot was based. But you know what makes this story so special?

The fact that it’s not only about the snapshots of marriage…but about life itself.

It’s not only about the magic of falling in love. It’s also about feeling.

It’s not only about the complications that two people face when they enter matrimony. It’s also about the simplicity with which human relations can touch your heart.

It’s about feeling love, anger, sadness, forgiveness…all at once. It’s about seeing Edward and Bella’s relation grow, blossom, prosper…among the conflicts, hurt and even loss.

It’s about Edward finding Bella just as flawless years after marriage, as he found her the day he met her.

It’s about reading a story that is not bound in the constraints of fanfiction, but that is universal in its wonder.

When I read this story as part of the Quote Me Contest (I was a judge), I already had my winner. I was so in love with this story that I read it multiple times, and knew in my heart that no other entry would be able to top it.

I’m glad to say I was right. This story, to me, was a standout. Be it the whole journey through different stages of life, or the poetic language, or the emotions that it evoked within me…I found it perfect then, and I will continue to find it just as perfect even if I read it years from now.

Some writings are just that – Immortal.

I don’t know what else to say to convince you how brilliant and quietly beautiful this story is, so I’ll just leave you with a glimpse into the world of ‘Glimpses’.

 

Lying there, moonlight bathing the floor, the bed and their bodies, she knows it’s true. The stars can see it, the moon can feel it and the ocean outside reaches for it.

His voice breaks the stillness of the air. A gentle whisper floats between his softly parted, cherry blossom lips to caress her soul.

It’s his night song. The one he sings each night.

With her snuggled tightly against him, he sings his song. Just for her. Only for her. Always.

It’s her name.

Knowing his heart beats beneath her ear gives her peace. She is comforted by the heat of their skin as it touches. His arms pulling her closer, even as he slumbers, fills her with contentment. His breath exhaled is the only oxygen she needs to sustain her own life.

Her eyes close. She can rest.

She can sing her night song now. To him. For him. Always him.

Their song is the same.

It is their heart, their life.

Their love.

It is everything they will ever need. Ever want.

She is his Bella.

He is her Edward.

Please go read, and leave the author much deserved love.

To read the other entries in this contest, please click on this link: Quote Me contest

 

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Snapshots of Marriage by wmr1601

Review by mephis1

Snapshots of Marriage was placed first by Public Choice. Using the Anne Sexton’s quote ‘These are the snapshots of marriage, stopped in places’, wmr1601 weaves an Edward and Bella tale of love, romance, courtship and marriage.

Similarly to the canon tale, Snapshots of Marriage starts with Bella leaving sunny Arizona to move to small town Forks, located in rural Washington. Needless to say, Bella is not looking forward to the move. All she can envisage is cold, wet weather filled with endless grey, drizzly days.

Despite her initial fears, Bella settles down in Forks. It helps, of course, that she catches the eyes of a certain green-eyed bronze haired boy in her class. The attraction between them is mutual and instant:

 

When a bronze-haired boy catches my eye, I’m stunned. I’ve never been boy-crazy, but I can tell just by looking at this boy that there’s something about him; it goes deeper than his obvious good looks, too. He holds my gaze like no one ever has before. I feel like I’m trapped, and I can’t look away. Honestly, I don’t want to. His eyes are green and intense, and his face, though not more than a year older than mine, is already showing signs of maturity: a rugged jaw line and even a smattering of facial hair. I swallow noisily. It feels noisy, anyway; I hope no one has actually heard my gulp.

 

The boy is, needless to say, Edward Cullen. What follows are teenage years, which will no doubt trigger our own memories of those times, of friendship and budding feelings of the romantic sort, feelings which they initially keep quiet about until Edward is on the cusp of leaving for Dartmouth upon which Bella blurts out, “I love you.”

What follows this confessional is the start of the next phase, that of Edward and Bella romance. Snapshots of Marriage is a tender series of vignettes which charts the youthful first love between a boy and a girl. It is the story of Edward and Bella discovering the meaning of friendship and affection only to discover that it blossoms into youthful love. We can all remember those days of our first love, our first kiss, our first date, right? Well, Snapshots captures those moments beautifully and with such tenderness.

Snapshots of Marriage is a heart-warming portrait of two people in love. It provides us a glimpse of Edward and Bella’s lives as they embark on their lives together. We watch how their youthful love blossoms into adult romance and courtship. It provides snapshots of their struggles through college, their navigation through adult lives, their subsequent marriage and the birth of their child along with their twilight years together. It is a moving story of two soul mates meeting and falling in love and what it means to love truly, madly and deeply.  

Banner by Ro Nordman

To read the other entries in the contest, please click on this link: Quote Me Contest