Things to be included in this weeks blog post:
- A summary of the key theories and/or skills that I have learnt and practiced for the week and how I did so.
- A description of the skills being learned and used.
- Show an example of these being used professionally
- Demonstrate you own example of how you used the skills
- Evaluate your use of the skill with reference to the professional example.
- List any bibliography sources.
This week I looked at and analysed extracts of various texts, articles, poetry and short stories. I also learnt more about the different styles and formats used when writing and when you should use them. This allowed me to develop my own writing skills as now I can be suit my writing to the situation.
The skills I learnt this week
As part of one of the task that my class was assigned to do I had to write about something that I have strong feelings about for five minutes without stopping. This was very helpful as it allowed me to improve my free writing skills as well has helping me to get out my head and instead write what I feel. Being a perfectionist I can often find it difficult to express something in the write words without spending some time thinking about it. This exercise pushed me through and gave me the freedom to write without spending a great deal of time mulling over my ideas to pick the best one.
Another skills I was able to develop/improve upon was being able to quickly write a short story based on a series of writing prompts/questions such as ‘what is the weather like?’ and ‘what can your character see right now?’. I worked with exercises like this in regards to character development and It has helped me a great deal with developing ideas In the past so I was excited to repeat this task in regard to locations and surrounds as that is something I have struggled with in the past when it come to my writing. The quick paced questions and prompts really helped to pushed me to think on the stop instead of mulling it over for hours trying to think of the best idea. Instead I was able to keep a steady pace with what I was writing and the increasingly specific questions allowed me to write about and details I wouldn’t have thought to include before. This way of developing ideas using questions and prompts has helped me improve my writing dramatically as I’m able to include detail that I couldn’t before. I have also found it an excellent way to develop my initial ideas during the planning process of my writing so that I can have a good idea of what I want to write even before I start my first draft.
These skills being used professionally
An extract from “Slaves of the Mastery” by William Nicholson –
`On a clear day the island can be seen from the mainland, the long ridge of its tree-ringed hill breaking the horizon to the south. Fishing fleets sometimes pass its rocky shores, and the fisherman stare at the dark outline of the great ruin that tops the hill, but they don’t stop. The island has nothing for them. Little grows on its bare sides, only tufts of dusty grass, and the circle of ancient olive trees round the roofless hall. Also there are stories about the island, of wizards who can summon storms, of talking animals, of men who can fly. Such matters are best left alone.
The island is called Sirene. Long ago a band of travellers settled here, and built the high stone walls on the top of the hill, and planted the olive trees for shade. The building has no floor, other than the grass and rock that was there before. It has no roof, its tall windows have no glass, its wide doorways no doors. But it’s not a ruin: this is how the people who built it meant it to be. No timbers to rot, no tiles to slip and fall. No glass to break and no doors to close. Just a long, light space swept by wind and rain, a house that is not a house, a place to meet and sing then leave again.
Now after many years the sound of footsteps is heard again on Sirene. A woman is following the long rising path from the shore. No boat lies moored in the cove, and yet she is here. She wears a plain faded woollen robe, and is barefoot. Her grey hair is cut short. Her face is weathered, lined, brown. How old is she? Impossible to say. She has the face of a grandmother, but the clear eyes and agile body of a young woman. She barely pauses for breath as she makes her way up the hillside`.
Tips for making scenery come alive by Madelaine Beauman:
Scenery is perhaps the hardest thing to make interesting on the page. Your characters need to travel, see the world—be it as simple as a room in their house or an exotic place across the globe or maybe another dimension entirely. FTLOW blogger, Raven Clark, did a post on weather openings and how to make them work. I thought I’d follow that up with another, similar topic that authors often use for openings: Scenery.
Now, don’t get me wrong—scenic openings can work, and many famous writers often use them—but there’s a difference to someone who’s been published before and someone who’s just started out. Novice writers often think setting the scene is the very first thing that the reader needs to know before they even meet your hero. They need to know where your character is, yes, but not every excruciating detail about the world.
Ask yourself this: How do we care about the setting and the predicament, if we don’t know who we’re supposed to be rooting for? With openings written by novice writers, I’ve noticed, they seem to separate character and scenery so much when they begin, that when the story begins, the opening lacks tension or is slow.
So, when thinking about scenery and scenic openings, don’t just write about the warm summer day, write about how the summer weather makes the character feel. Set a mood with the character as the mouthpiece. What makes this day, or this moment, different then any other day? Whatever makes this day different then any other, then, is a sense of things changing. This change is often a good source of conflict or tension.
In total, there are about four techniques—similar to weather openings—you need to make a scenic opening, and scenery itself, come alive.
- Make the scenery active.
- Create tension within the prose.
- Make the scenery as much a part of the plot as possible.
- Use the senses to make the scene real for readers.
What do I mean when I say you have make scenic openings and scenery active? I mean, does the scenery appear to be doing anything? Does it appear to have a personality, almost as if it were alive? To give an example, I’ll use a part of the prologue from the first novel, The Eye of the World, of Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series Wheel of Time.
‘The palace still shook occasionally as the earth rumbled in memory, groaned as if it would deny what had happened. Bars of sunlight cast through rents in the walls made motes of dust glitter where they yet hung in the air. Scorch-marks marred the walls, the floors, the ceilings. Broad black smears crossed the blistered paints and gilt of once-bright murals, soot overlaying crumbling friezes of men and animals which seemed to have attempted to walk before the madness grew quiet. The dead lay everywhere, men and women and children, struck down in attempted flight by the lightnings that had flashed down every corridor, or seized by the fires that had stalked them, or sunken into stone of the palace, the stones that had flowed and sought, almost alive, before stillness came again. In odd counterpoint, colourful tapestries and paintings, masterworks all, hung undisturbed, except where bulging walls had pushed them awry. Finely carved furnishings, inlaid with ivory and gold, stood untouched except where rippling floors had toppled them. The mind-twisting had struck at the core, ignoring peripheral things.’
Did you notice how Jordan gave the destroyed castle almost a personality? How “The palace still shook occasionally as the earth rumbled in memory, groaned as if it would deny what had happened…” Or how the fires “seized” and “stalked” the palace occupants, or how the stones of the palace itself “…had flowed and sought, almost alive, before stillness came again.” It’s a building, yet, using similes and metaphors, he is able to give the reader a clear picture of how the scenery ‘reacted’ to the disaster.
Now, this opening is told in omniscient point of view (an all-seeing POV. Almost like a god.) and we are not introduced to a character until the next paragraph. Today, that isn’t a good idea as it seems like you’re head-hopping—jumping between POVs. The opening above could only work for an established author nowadays, as opposed to when this novel was published, back in 1990. The rules have changed regarding pace and tension and openings, so if you try to do this type of slightly slower opening today, you’d have a hard time selling your novel. So it’s better to tell the story through a character’s reactions and have your hero describe the scenery in his/her voice rather then using omniscient POV.
On the second point, creating tension within the prose, is based on a few factors:
- Word choice: Do the words you choose evoke an image? Do they evoke a mood? Does it incorporate the senses? (I’ll explain about that later in this post).
- Situation: What is happening to your character? Where is he or she? What is he/she doing? What is her goal for the scene?
- Stakes: What happens if your character fails? What or who does the character lose if she loses? What about if she succeeds? The higher and riskier the stakes, the more tense and powerful the scene will be.
For an example of tension within the prose, I’ll use a scene from my WIP novel, The Last Wyvern. In this scene (in the 3rd chapter, so it’s not the opening of the novel), my heroine, Calias, has been captured by the main villain, King Sacriel, who is part of a race of bird-like creatures called the Queye. She must escape and is successful, with the help of the novel’s hero, Owen. In their attempt to escape, however, they must leave behind other prisoners of Calias’s order.
‘A rumble of thunder drowned out his next words as he gripped her wrist. He pulled her towards the door, and slowly eased it open, the cries of the Guild members like the shrill noise of gulls overhead, nearly drowned out by the thrashing waves and rain. Guilt forced its way into her chest, lodged like a stone within. We must make this sacrifice. It’s us he wants. Slipping through the shadows, Owen guided her to the lifeboats she’d seen earlier. As he set one up to be lowered, the possibility of being caught burned in her veins, the awareness of so many Queyen eyes watching the ship’s deck, patrolling it, setting her nerves dangling on a jagged edge. No time. She kept watch as the ship cut through the waves, her heartbeat louder than the storm.
“Climb in.” He hissed.
“Owen, I—” A clap of thunder overwhelmed her words. No time. Escape. She stumbled forward as he hoisted her up into his arms and set her in the lifeboat. “Owen!”
She glimpsed a smile as a flash of lightning cracked the sky. “Don’t worry, I’m coming too.”
“No—” She glanced down, feeling sick. Below, the black waves swelled, like quicksand, threatening to swallow her whole—looming closer and closer—as Owen began to lower the boat. One thought slammed into her, and she gripped the sides of the boat with white-knuckled hands. I can’t swim…
Glancing back up at Owen, the rain soaking through her clothing, blinding her, Calias cried out as guards swarmed upon Owen. Oh, no… Weaving out of the reach of gleaming swords, Owen pulled his own blade from its sheath and combat ensued. Battle cries and shouts of pain echoed through the night as Owen delivered blow after blow, a few lifeless bodies tumbling into the sea. A sword swing caught one of the ropes and Calias gripped the boat as it lurched to one side, hanging a few feet from the waves. Don’t cut the ropes…please don’t cut the ropes! She had a brief image of the boat capsizing, tossing her into the water and a sudden bout of panic threatened to choke her. Lower the boat. Don’t cut the ropes—this storm’s bad enough! As the boat jerked again, she watched—the breath frozen in her lungs—as one rope began to unravel.
Sacriel’s voice rose above the storm, a thunderous roar. “Find her, bring her aboard!” She could imagine the Queye king, his eyes blazing, one hand unconsciously rubbing his throat, as he marched across the deck, ordering his men. “I want that witch skinned alive!”
Owen spun, swinging to cut the second rope, and Calias felt her heart plummet to her stomach as the boat fell. Caught in the violent swell of the sea, its clutch determined to overturn the tiny lifeboat, Calias grabbed the oars and forced the boat through the water, determined to get away. And leave them? The weight of the Guild prisoners’ feeble cries for help echoed in her mind. She grit her teeth and forced herself to focus.
Looking up, watching the distance slowly grow, she saw Owen—his form briefly set aglow by a flash of lightning—as he dove off the ship and disappeared into the dark water. Sacriel’s guards set crossbows and fired, arrows hitting the water, just out of her reach and that strangling terror set in again. Scanning the waves, she couldn’t hear nor see Owen. Where is he? For a few moments, she stared at the water, imaging the pain of arrows stabbing into his back one by one, the dread threatening to make her sick. The oars felt heavy in her hands, dragging like lead weights across the water, the water itself black as liquid night, viscous like honey. Where is he? Pools of crimson splashed across her vision, staining the ocean red. The white caps of waves became fins that cut through the storm like the curve of a sword. She blinked and they were gone. Muttering prayers under her breath, gripping the oars with sore hands, she stared as Sacriel’s boat drifted, the glow of lanterns growing smaller. She hunched her shoulders as the wind cut through her clothing, cold and ruthless as the sea. “I can’t do this alone…” Calias pried numb fingers from the oars, letting them fall limply to her sides. “I can’t.”
This is rough, and definitely needs improvement, but the tension is there. I’ve tried to use particular words or descriptions, like: “…the cries of the Guild members like the shrill noise of gulls overhead, nearly drowned out by the thrashing waves and rain” Or: “…the black waves swelled, like quicksand, threatening to swallow her whole…” Even using objects to describe the scene: “The oars felt heavy in her hands, dragging like lead weights across the water, the water itself black as liquid night, viscous like honey.”
So the word choice factor is done but the important thing is, I’ve let the character have to make necessary sacrifices in order to escape the villain and the fact she can’t swim only adds to the brutality of the storm and her situation—stakes are up and the situation is dire, which—if done well—should compel readers to continue.
But how do you do that for your writing—especially if your novel isn’t all thrilling action? That’s OK, as long as you have what I like to call “subtle tension”.
Subtle tension in openings and in scenery itself is often used during the rising action moments—when the character thinks everything is fine for now, when both the reader and the character get a chance to breathe.
Subtle tension derives from the word choice, this time using mood and active scenery, rather then dire situations or high stakes (though they aren’t totally left out), to create the tension and bridge conflict to the next huge event. An example of subtle tension with scenery and openings, is the first chapter of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time: The Eye of the World:
The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long passed, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.
Borne below the ever cloud-capped peaks that gave the mountains their name, the wind blew east, out across the Sand Hills, once the shore of a great ocean, before the Breaking of the World. Down it flailed into the Two Rivers, into the tangled forest called the Westwood, and beat at two men walking with a cart and horse down the rock-strewn track called the Quarry Road. For all the spring should have come a good month since, the wind carried an icy chill as if it would rather bear snow.
Not much happens in this paragraph, and this, again, suffers from the use of an omniscient POV, but as an example of subtle tension, it works. The subtle tension is there if you look for it. It’s in the description of the weather itself, how it “…flailed and beat at two men…” And, as if the wind had a mind of its own, “carried an icy chill as if it would rather bear snow.” The weather is made into a personality, one that carries foreboding, as if the wind and chilly weather is an extension of the main villain of this series, a metaphysical being called the Dark One.
Another point with scenery and scenic openings is to make the scenery as much a part of the plot as possible. I’m not talking about how much detail you put in the world but how the scene reflects the tension. It’s perhaps the hardest to do without the scene coming off contrived. With this point, you have to mix active tone and tension, while increasing conflict within the story with the scenery itself. I’ll try and use another rough example from The Last Wyvern:
Owen allowed the question to hang in the air for a few moments and the silence stretched between them—shattered by the snapping of twigs and underbrush, like breaking bones. An impossible darkness shrouded the wood, the tangled branches above them closing them in, eclipsing the sun. Her heartbeat sounded, loud as a war drum in her ears, and she put a hand on her mount’s neck seeking comfort, holding the stone aloft. Owen still hadn’t answered her questions, his expression once again hard. Unyielding. He walked ahead, maneuvering his mount around a fallen tree. She followed him and froze. What is that?
Something dangled from the branches above them, like thick silver umbilical cords. Fear latched onto her heart like the claws of a bear trap and Calias glanced around, peering into the darkness, but saw nothing but the never-ending paths—broken by fallen trees, some spreading into forked labyrinths.
“Owen…?” Her throat clenched around her words and she struggled to breathe, drowning in panic. “Owen!”
Owen spun, holding the torch high, anxiety tensing every muscle. “What is it?” His voice was barely a whisper. Then, he paled. “Calias…”
She looked at the Crystal Iris as it pulsed in her hand, a seizing heartbeat of violet light. Oh, gods. We’re close…
The noises of the forest seemed louder, every step and inhale of breath like the crash of thunder, the hiss of a twister. The trees closed in on them—dark, frail assassins moving in for the kill, to cage them within bark and moss. We can’t back down now. It’s just your imagination playing tricks! Remember what Kydren said: Focus on the mission! She took a deep breath and the trees stilled, the branches no longer looking like reaching hands.
“Easy, easy.” Owen yanked at the reins as his horse began to panic, its neck shining with perspiration, the whites of its eyes showing.
Her stomach twisted as a distant rumbling reached her ears. Too soft and consistent to be thunder, she looked at the shining, sticky film that coated the trunks of trees, dripping from the branches and cold sweat dampened her brow. Her ears strained to hear the sound, trying to judge where it came from, the rumbling echoing around them, coming from every direction. The shadows swam before her, lost amid Choketree Wood, and Calias suddenly felt very small. Insignificant.
Another point to make scenery and scenic openings, come alive is to use the senses. The basic senses: Sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch should paint a picture in the readers mind of what your scene looks like, what sort of mood the readers should feel. But there are four other senses that are often ignored: Temperature, kinetic sense (position of the body), pain, and the body’s sense of balance and gravity.
However you write your scenes and open your novels, the techniques above still apply regardless of genre, point of view, or setting. If you can make scenery engaging as an opening, try it but if not, it might be best to introduce the hero first and have him interact with the world, and create tension, compelling readers to continue.
Tips for writing by Stephen King:
1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”
2. Don’t use passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”
3. Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend.”
4. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.”
5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.”
6. The magic is in you. “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”
7. Read, read, read. ”If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”
8. Don’t worry about making other people happy. “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.”
9. Turn off the TV. “TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs.”
10. You have three months. “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”
11. There are two secrets to success. “I stayed physical healthy, and I stayed married.”
12. Write one word at a time. “Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy like ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ the work is always accomplished one word at a time.”
13. Eliminate distraction. “There’s should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with.”
14. Stick to your own style. “One cannot imitate a writer’s approach to a particular genre, no matter how simple what that writer is doing may seem.”
15. Dig. “Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer’s job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground intact as possible.”
16. Take a break. “You’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience.”
17. Leave out the boring parts and kill your darlings. “(kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.)”
18. The research shouldn’t overshadow the story. “Remember that word back. That’s where the research belongs: as far in the background and the back story as you can get it.”
19. You become a writer simply by reading and writing. “You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”
20. Writing is about getting happy. “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”
Tips to writing a successful short story by Huffington Post:
- Identify The Heart Of Your Story. Explore your motivations, determine what you want your story to do, then stick to your core message. Considering that the most marketable short stories tend to be 3,500 words or less, you’ll need to make every sentence count. If you over-stuff your plot by including too many distractions, your story will feel overloaded and underdeveloped.
- See Things Differently. Experiment with your short story’s POV. A unique, unexpected voice can provide the most compelling, focused experience of the central story. Just be careful that you don’t inadvertently give the story to a nonessential character. Narrating the story line through a character who’s not central to the action is a common mistake many new authors make, often with confusing or convoluted results.
- Opposites Attract. Elements that work against your character’s central desire will keep the reader intrigued and prevent your story from getting stuck. You can also try approaching your core idea from an unusual direction. Dialogue, setting, and characterization are all areas that will benefit from an unexpected twist.
- Craft A Strong Title. This can be one of the most difficult—but one of the most important—parts of writing your story. How do you find inspiration for a great title? Have friends read your story and note which words or phrases strike them or stand out. These excerpts from your text just might hold the perfect title. Try to stay away from one- or two-word titles, which can seem to editors as taking the easy way out.
- Shorter Is Sweeter. Resist the urge to go on and on. With a shorter short story, you will have more markets available to you and thus a better chance of getting published. Here at Writer’s Relief, our submission strategists and clients have noticed that editors consistently prefer short stories that are under 3,500 words over longer ones.
My examples of how I utilised the skills I learnt
writing about setting:
To help us develop our skills in describing setting we were takes with first writing about a place that we hold dear and also a place that brings us a sense of unease or distain.
A place That I hold dear:
It may seem a little simple to some, but one of my favourite places to be is sat on the steps that lead to ‘front’ door. I am blessed to live where I do, surrounded by the beautiful countryside, with exquisite views that stretch as far as the eye can see. From my spot on the steps I can see it all, smell it all, feel it all. I find that the world is so different depending on when I visit my steps. In the early hours of the morning during the colder months, while the air is still crisp and the grass is coated in a thin layer of frost, I can watch the pastel sunrise come to life over the hills of the orchard, accompanied by the whimsical birdsong as the world awakens. When I’m sat there in the morning it’s as if everything is new, like the world is just beginning. I find that people take for granted the joys that nature can bring, but when I’m sat there on my steps I feel calm and at peace. Another time I love to visit my steps is in the evenings in the summers, when the air is warm and the nights are often clear enough to see the stars. I love listening to the owls and watching the summer sun set, bringing the stars out to shine on through the darkness. Autumnal afternoons are also a wonderful time to visit my steps, with a cosy jumper and a hot drink; I can marvel at all the colours of the world. The surrounding trees that are visible from my step are alive with the toasty colours of Autumn. Leaves of forest green, gold, burgundy, orange and maroon litter the floor, and I can crumple them under my feet. My thoughts are filled with images of pumpkins and scarves and hot chocolate and I breath in the crisp Autumn air. I can see the world full of new life from my step during a spring day. The plants and trees that where bare during the winter months are now regaining new life and new colours. Baby animals dance throughout the fields, and the bird song is alive with an orchestra of new voices.
A place that brings me a sense of unease or distain:
A place in which I am constantly in a state of unease is Rochester. Despite the beautiful town itself, a place I once loved, a traumatic series of events lead me to loathe the town and I have been unable to go back to it historical streets ever since. In fonder times I would regularly visit a cafe in Rochester called the ‘Deaf Cat’, which gets its name from Dickens beloved pet. But now I find those memories soured but the events that followed during that year. Even as I arrive at the train station every morning, to come to college I find myself feeling that sense of dread when I look at the trains heading to London that pass through the historic town, trains I used to catch to go there. It is my hope that one day I will be able to return there and make new, more pleasant memories, but for now I accept my unease and continue on with my daily life.
For the next exercise we were given a series of location based writing prompts, and once we had answered all of the prompts we were tasked with writing a short story focused on the discription of locations and surroundings based on these answers.
Short story surrounding and/ or focused on setting:
It was cold. The wind held a bitter chill and the air stung my lungs as I took in a breathe past my blue, chapped lips. The freshly fallen snow crunched under my boots and I turned to find my footprints disappearing into the white abyss. If one didn’t know this place well, they’d soon find it their grave. I gripped the edges of my cloak and hugged it tighter to my chest, pulling the hood down further over my face as I pushed on through the forest.
The trees I navigated to reach my destination held an unfamiliar eerie feel. Despite the trees barring leaves they held no life, no animals nor people dared walk here, not anymore, this place is dead now. It was tainted, after all that had happened, it was painfully quite, there was no birdsong, no laughter, and no happiness. Deaf to the sound of the wind and the snow, I found my footsteps falling into pace with my heartbeat. With each beat I drove on. I could see a dull light bleed starting to bleed through the trees, I was nearing my destination.
Leaving the trees behind me I walked into the clearing, stopping for a moment I took in the scene before me. In another time, the sight before me might have been a pleasant one; the overcast skies allowed dull beams of light to shine down on this snow-covered enclave. It was like something from a fairy tale. A magical place that gleamed and glistened like diamonds reflecting the dim lights so that the entire area was lit with a natural spot light. But I didn’t care for such things, not anymore. My heart had grown cold, and I was bitter, bitter about what had happened.
My tired eyes came to rest up the reason I was there; the two graves situated in the centered of the clearing. I trod towards them biting back whatever feelings I still had left and came to rest in front of them. I took out the flowers I had attempted to keep safe from the intrusive weather by hiding them under my cloak and I placed them in front on the grave on the right. My eyes began to sting as freezing tears silently fell down my cheeks, and I felt my breath hitch in my throat as emotions I had been suppressing came to the surface. I didn’t even realise I had fallen to my knees in the snow, digging my fingers into the snow me dragging my nails through the dirt beneath, instead I found myself slipping into chaos as my world fell apart. This should never have happened.
I enjoyed the tasks I had to complete this week at they allowed me to develop my skills when it comes to describing settings and locations in my writing, something I have been having trouble with for some time now. Although I haven’t perfected this skills I think I have been able to make some much needed improvements. I will definitely be using the ‘word prompts’ exercise in the future as it helped me a great deal with not only coming up with ideas but also developing them so that I could write a more detailed first draft.
After conducting my own research I was able to find numerous sources that reflected the skills that I had learnt this week. Huffington Post’s tips to writing a successful short story was both useful and relevant as in class I have been writing numerous short stories or short writing exercises. The writing tips were useful to me as I often struggle with coming up with ideas on the spot as being a perfectionist I like to have everything worked out before I put pen to paper and the tips in the article will help me to structure my short stories better in the future. The writing tips from Stephen King was one of my sources that I found most interesting as he is an author that I have greatly admired for many years, so it was fascinating to read his perspective on how aspiring writers can improve upon their work. Any tips he has for how I can improve my writing will be very useful with not only my short stories and fiction writing but also when writing things like news articles, because all writing is about telling a storing and portraying a certain narrative to the reader.
The extract of William Nicholson’s Slaves of Mastery is a excellent example of what scenery and location being described in literature should look like. He was able to portray the world beautifully, as the description of the scenery starts off subtly but then delves into slightly more detail in the second paragraph. I enjoyed the way Nicholson was able to paint a clear picture of the island without going on for too long and boring me as a reader before he got to the punch line. Instead I felt like in was well paced and included just the right amount of description instead of drowning the reader in it and also it brought in character at just the right time. This extract was able to give me a good idea of how I should structure my short story. I was concerned that I had rambled to much when it came to describing the location that I had lost my point along the way. however for a first attempt I don’t think I did to badly, although describing locations is remains something that I need to develop.
The article by Madelaine Beauman detailing her tips for making scenery come to life was incredibly insightful. I was pleased to have found such a detailed source when conducting my research as the article include numerous sources and examples of its own. Like my other sources this article gave me some useful tips for describing scenery in my writing. But it was interesting to read someone else’s analysis of various literary extracts while also providing insight and ideas that I may not have thought of had I read them myself. I fully intend to use Madelaine as a source in the future if not for class work but for my own personal writing.
Overall I am pleased with the work I did this week and I received lots of positive feedback from both my classmates and the teachers whom I showed the work to. It was a new experience writing about thing so personal to me during the exercise in which we had to write about a place we like and a place we don’t. It was on the spot so I found myself writing from my heart instead of my head, something I don’t tend to do. But I was pleasantly surprised with the positive feedback especially when it came to my piece on ‘a place that brings me a sense of unease or distain’ which received the most positive feedback’. I welcomed the criticism I received in regards to work as it will only help to improve my writing in the future.
Bibliography and Harvard References
Nicholson, W. (2001). Slaves of the Mastery. Independent Publishers Group, 352.
The Huffington Post. (2016). 5 Secrets To Writing A Successful Short Story. [online] Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/18/short-story-tips-_n_3947152.html [Accessed 24 Sep. 2016].
Reesloveofwriting.blogspot.co.uk. (2016). Making Scenery Come Alive. [online] Available at: http://reesloveofwriting.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/making-scenery-come-alive.html [Accessed 24 Sep. 2016].
Open Culture. (2016). Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers. [online] Available at: http://www.openculture.com/2014/03/stephen-kings-top-20-rules-for-writers.html [Accessed 24 Sep. 2016].