Watling Street Writers

Friday, September 30

Is your writing flabby or fit?

In a previous post I shared the link for editminion a site that will give you instant feedback on a section of work.

The writers waistline test does a similar thing and gives you a report of wether your writing is fit and lean or if it needs to visit a zumba class for a tone up!

(Its worth noting that you get better results for chunk of writing, say 500 words, than for 1000 words.)

Have a go - the results may suprise you...

Thursday, September 29

Scriptwriting Fades

If you are enjoying the slightly scary and occasionally gory teen frightfest that is The Fades on BBC3 (BBC2) at the moment you might be interested in this blog post from the writer Jack Thorne.

In it he shares some of the pain of his creative process and also the number of drafts he went through before he got the first episode right (36 versions  - there is hope for us all!)

For those of you interested in scriptwriting you can also read copy of the episode1 script. (In pdf). A useful insight on formatting etc, especially if you have been following the show and can relate it back to the finished product.

Wednesday, September 28

Next Meeting - Thursday 29th September - Cancelled!!

Just think, this time last year we took our meeting to the St Albans Beer Festival. My liver is thankful that this year we are having a normal manuscript review instead!

As the White Hart is booked up we will be relocating to the Black Lion.  Usual time 7:30 and usual format  - gossip and manuscript review.

If the Black Lion is suprisingly busy then watch the twitter feed for updates...(will probably go to the backup location of the Rose and Crown.)

Hope to see you then!

Tuesday, September 27

Feeling Tense about your Writing?

Do your readers sometimes struggle with the tense in your story? Do you have difficulty understanding the difference between your past participle and your past perfect tense? 

(Were you having difficulty or did you have difficulty?! Confused? I know I am.)

However there are a few web-wise resources to get you back on track.

Danyelle Leafty has some introductory thoughts here which is worth a look if you don't have a lot of time to spare.

If you want to really get stuck in check out Corey J. Popp. He has more to say on the subject, along with some diagrams that make my head hurt!

Finally there is a good summary over at Fantasy Faction. Lots of examples to review in their arcticle Relax, its only Tense.

Do you have any other tips on tense?

Tuesday, September 20

Next Meeting - Thursday 22nd September

Hey all - our next meeting is this thursday, 22nd September from 7.30 p.m.  We have the upstairs room booked at the White Hart Hotel and it is the normal manuscript format.

I hope this week there are no double bookings (or gazumping by Phsychic fairs!) but just as a precaution keep an eye on the twitter feed for any last minute venue changes. In any case if it is there is an issue with the room we normally relocate downstairs to the bar.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 16

Looking for lots of writing tips?

You could do worse than to surf over to write it sideways..

As well as lots of useful articles the folks there have put together a list of the 101 best writing tips from the blogosphere.

Something to keep you busy for the weekend!

Wednesday, September 14

Next Meeting - Thursday 15th September

Hi All - hope is well in your writing worlds.

This week we will be meeting at the White Hart Hotel. Usual time of 7.30 in the upstairs meeting room.

Occasionally we get gazumped from that room and in that case we will be found loitering in the bar downstairs.

The format the is the normal one of nmanuscript review and general catchup.

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 13

What's In A Name?

Those of you that have listened to me read out pieces of my work in progress have probably realised that I have had problems naming my main characters. So much so that I have renamed them and experimented with different names several times.

On that note I found this article on Caro Clarke's site: Problems With Names and How to Avoid Them

Caro gives some great examples of what not to do with character names and several tips onhow to fix those problems. There are also lots of other useful articles on the site so I recommend you have a look around!

Wednesday, September 7

No Meeting This Week - 8th September

Hey All - due to holidays (you lucky people you!) we will not be meeting up this week.

Therefore the next meeting will be on the 15th September. Enjoy the time off and hope  you get some writing done in the meantime!

Tuesday, September 6

Get Your Geek On: Worksheets for Fantasy Characters

In the last post I put a few links up about using various character questionnaires and sites that you might find useful to visit for hints and tips on creating characters.

I have had a go and found them useful, in one case finding a plot idea hidden in the answers to some of the character questions. One downside is that the questionnaires I linked to were mostly aimed at contemporary fiction (mostly romantic) and therefore some of the sections were not that useful for my current project; a fantasy novel.

With that in mind I snooped around a little to see if there were any specific resources for sci-fi/fantasy character creation. Of course many character traits are the same for protagonists based in Middle Earth or Middlesex.  However, there will undoubtedly be a few areas that will be different; magic, class, race, species, technological level, special abilities. (I could go on but I am in danger of nerding myself out!)

 A fantasy slant on the character questionnaire can be found here at creative-writing-now.

Another approach can be found at superhero nation (a site full of content about writing generally across all genres but specialising in superhero fiction. There is a huge amount of great content there -I recommend you take the time to look around.)

So check out these links, get your geek on and make your fantasy characters stand out. Good Luck!

Friday, September 2

My Main Character needs...some character

Revising my first novel first draft has highlighted something fairly major. My protagonist is a little two dimensional and is in dire need of an injection of...well...character.

By that I mean I need to give him more depth, more back story. I need to know everything about him; from his motivation and goals to how many sugars he takes in his tea. Whether or not he likes marmite. The colour of his lucky underpants. Anything else that is relevant or even irrelevant.

This last idea is something I had not really considered up until now. Many writers feel it is important to know the every detail imaginable about a character. Even if 80% of these details don't feature explicitly in a story, they may help determine how a character responds in a given situation. They may even provide some plot ideas....

So I am going to spend a little time working through some character building using tips and tools to be found out there on the wonderful interweb.

If you want to join me and have a go at the in depth approach there are plenty of character checksheets out there for you to borrow ideas from. Here are two of the longer ones:  http://www.eclectics.com/articles/character.html and http://www.charlottedillon.com/CharacterChart.html both of which have rafts of questions to help you get to know your characters better. (Also both authors are happy for you to reuse their lists.)

A much shorter approach for getting a quick summary of your characters' key attributes can be found Connie Flynn's blog. Handy if you are short of time.

Not too sure about the whole idea? Natalie Whipple discusses the pros and cons on her blog post here. Reading it might help you decide when (or if) you want to have a go.

Finally for more in depth advice about your character you could hop onto the virtual couch of the Character Therapist. There are vast numbers of character creation examples there - you can even make an appointment!

On that note I'm off to discover the psyche of my characters. I may be some time.

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