Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Story’ Category

Just had the first of the Autumn’s Coffee & Creativity sessions. Lovely contributions as ever. We have decided one hour is too short so our next session will take place on October 2nd 2014 from 10.30 – 12.30pm when we will further explore the writer’s question ‘what if?’ And its role in characterisation and plot-building. Join us. Cost £18 (and you get a second cup of coffee!)

Read Full Post »

When you’re writing your novel, you may feel compelled to include a prologue. Here are some things to think about before you do!

What is the Purpose of a Prologue?

I would suggest these:

  1. To explore the motivation of characters within theme of novel – choose the POV carefully
  2. To set the stage, introducing the reader to the world of the novel and its theme
  3. To enrich the story – not to be an information dump
  4. To establish the beginning of the time-line and period (if relevant)
  5. To be the hook to capture the reader’s interest.
  6. To demonstrate your style of writing and your ability to keep the reader reading.

Can you think of anything else?

 

Some questions to ask yourself  before writing and some cautions I’d recommend.

  1. Why bother? How would you feel if your reader skipped this to get to the real story? Or didn’t bother to proceed?
  2. Why does your story need a prologue?  What is lacking from your first chapter?  What does the reader need to know before the story begins?

Think very carefully about content before you start to write.

  1. Is the prologue a dramatic event – with a beginning, middle and end – which triggers the story/the quest? Or is the prologue a first scene? Consider structure and length, depending on which.
  2. Which characters could most effectively communicate to the reader what your story is about? What is the effect of including everyone?  Do you need any of your main protagonists – to convey the theme? Could another character convey the theme better in this scene? Avoid having too many Points of View in the Prologue.
  3. Language – this is the key to interesting the reader.  Polish until smooth as silk.
  4. Do you want the tone of your novel/prologue to be humorous? Serious? What impact do you want it to have on reader? Be consistent.

Read Full Post »

Every so often, a writer would do very well to ask themselves why they put themselves through the highs and lows of the writing life? Self-exploration on this point saves time and restores confidence. So – ask yourself:

  1. Do I want to write to set the record straight?
  2. Do I want to take my revenge?
  3. Do I want to make some money?
  4. Do I want to write to show others I can?
  5. Do I want to write my way to fame?
  6. Do I want to make a difference – and I think I can through writing?
  7. Do i want to keep my brain stimulated?
  8. Do I just want a writer’s lifestyle?

Apart from a Yes/No answer, you could also grade your answers on a scale of 1 – 10. And this will indicate your writer’s values.

But another way of discovering your motivation is to ‘Cos it’ back to your fundamental purpose in taking up the pen. Here’s mine taken from my journal just after Christmas 2012.

“I want to be a writer because I am a writer because I think about it all the time because I’ve been obsessed with words and stories since I learned to read because words help me describe to myself what makes people tick. I want to do this because I’m curious about life.”

You can see where ‘Cos it’ as a name for the game comes from. And if it’s of interest, it’s a trick actors use to identify the motivation for their characters.

So what’s yours? Have a go!

Read Full Post »

Structure is one aspect of fiction writing that seems to stump beginners. One of the principal anxieties is what to leave out. Well, less is more. Pare things down to a racing chassis – including nothing unnecessary or gratuitous – and build up from there. Here’s a helpful tip – try using the Story Spine, famously devised by Ken Adams for Improvisation in the Theatre. Condense your observations of an event into:

  1. Scene setting – eg ‘Once upon a time’
  2. Trigger point – eg ‘Then one day’
  3. Development – eg ‘And then . . .
  4. Crisis – eg ‘And then . . .’
  5. Resolution – eg ‘And ever since then . . .’
  6. The Moral of the Story is . . .

And now, write on.

Read Full Post »

It all started when I was climbing the conning tower of the UK’s latest nuclear submarine.  Yes – you’ve guessed it. HMS Astute. My knee not so much gave way as disappeared out of my leg completely.  And that was it – over twenty years of freelance journalism and poor workplace ergonomics (I work from home) were catching up with me. Musculo-skeletal disorders were rearing their pretty ugly heads. Along with a rather peculiar form of adrenaline-aversion which is triggered particularly by deadlines. And deadlines – as we all know – are an essential tool in journalistic productivity.

‘No work’ was not an option and ‘Less desk-bound work’ and ‘using my expertise’ were imperatives.  And – with unusual foresight as opposed to journalistic crisis management – I just happened some time ago to have taken a coaching course. So now, I was able to re-jig my career – for the fourth time if you include motherhood.

I still do occasional medical journalism assignments and I’m working on a series of short stories and a novel.  But, since 2005, when I founded the Lonely Furrow Company, a new world has opened up. Trained in co-active coaching, NLP and transactional analysis, I am now a writing coach.

As a result, clients ask for my help with projects ranging from novels to academic theses. And tricky but common writing coaching problems  include writers’ block, time management and work life balance, where to find ideas, how to handle feedback and how to write a book proposal.

But, it doesn’t stop there. I improve people’s communication skills – personal and professional – by drawing on my eclectic knowledge of literature and my Masters in Sociolinguistics. Communication impacts on human relationships and the simple equation is: better communication skills = better relationships. Of course, other aspects such as shared values and a GSH help. But communication contributes here too.

Within the Lonely Furrow Company stable, there is also the workshop facilitation service, Out of the Box Workshops. Some workshops on offer embrace creative writing for personal development – such as memoir writing and journaling – writing coaching, creativity and opportunities for peer review. Others deal with media coaching issues such as how to write a winning press release or how to give a good account of yourself, your work and your organisation when interviewed by the media. Other presentations deal with corporate interests such as the role of communication in leadership and team building and yet more, deal with the highly-charged areas of family breakdown and healthcare.

And I am a storyteller. I use story to help people reflect on their personal and professional lives. And I train others in the use of story. Clients for these workshops range from healthcare workers to family lawyers to organisational leaders.

In fact, put simply, I tell stories for a living and help others to do the same. And this – in the brave new world of the economic downturn – is what retirement means.

Read Full Post »

In July, three Out of the Box Writing Workshops are due to run  – led by published writer Elizabeth Gates MA.

July 2nd               Finding your voice

This is the holy grail of the writer’s art and craft. And, in this workshop, we’ll look at the elements of word and phrase, content and theme. You will then be able to tell the stories that matter to you in your own way.

July 9th                Memoir and Journaling

Have you or members of your family kept journals? Do you want to start?  This workshop will teach you: how to write, how to organise your materials, and how to do justice to the materials others have left you.

These Creative Writing workshops will take place at The Conservatory, 28 Park West, Heswall, Wirral CH60 9JF (10am – 12.30pm). Cost is £20 per participant. For further information, please contact Elizabeth on 0151 342 3877 or email elizabeth@lonelyfurrowcompany.com

July 20th               Style – academic, blogging and journalism. You’re an expert. You want to reach a wider audience but how do you do this? Articles on the Internet or in print could be the answer. But you must adapt your academic style to these other media. And this workshop will teach you how.

Unless otherwise stated, all professional development and communication Out of the Box workshops will take place at The Conservatory, 28 Park West, Heswall, Wirral CH60 9JF (1pm – 3.30pm). Cost is £25 per participant. For further information or to book an in-house workshop for your organisation, please contact Elizabeth on 0151 342 3877 or email elizabeth@lonelyfurrowcompany.com

Read Full Post »

We all love stories. And story-telling is a uniquely human skill. It’s unlikely that a flock of birds, for example, would spend their time telling ‘sad stories of the death of kings’, as Shakespeare, a master story-teller, put it.  Unless of course, these birds are descendants of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull. But then, that would be another story. You see how it goes.

 

Stories allow readers to understand other viewpoints in other worlds – ranging from other people’s minds to other people’s cultures.  There has been a growth, for example, in novels which explain a Muslim viewpoint – Sebastian Faulks’ A week in December or A Thousand Splendid Suns by Afghan author Khaled Hosseini. These novels are best sellers because people want to understand the Muslim point of view and these novels seem to help.

 

Readers achieve this understanding because they engage with the novel’s story.  Put simply, we as readers enter the dream world of the novel and we learn what that world and those people are all about. And, as writers, to engage them – to take them by the hand and across the threshold – we use plot and structure.

 

Writing game:

  1. Choose one of your favourite books
  2. Which character do you like best and why?
  3. What is the problem or conflict your hero/heroine has to deal with?
  4. What is the most important moment in the story for you?
  5. Are you happy or unhappy about the way the story ends?

 

If you repeat this with several novels, you’ll begin to understand why these are your favourites.

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: