Month: February 2015

Write on – why I love writing challenges

Tips on writing and quotes from famous writers are everywhere. I think most advice boils down to “sit there and write. Every day.”

But that’s easier than it sounds, it’s like “eat less, move more.” Easy in theory, but a different story when it’s chocolate o’clock. Writing challenges help me with discipline and build my daily writing habit.

I started with Nanowrimo – write a 50,000 word novel in November. This initially helped me to get into the habit of “vomit drafting”, just blurting it all out, writing without the inner critic and getting those words and thoughts down on the page. But a target of 1,667 per day is not sustainable in the long term for me. Nowadays Nanowrimo is not just for November, there are regular challenges throughout the year and for other forms. I’ve written four novels in Nanowrimos.

My current favourite is Monthly Writing Twitter Challenge with a target of 500 words per day or 1 hour editing. This is an achievable target without feeling overwhelming. And over the month, even with the minimum 500 words, I can amass at least 15,000 words. It’s a simple challenge with a great supportive community on Twitter and it was originally inspired by Dr Who! Join us and sign up for March!

The challenges keep me accountable, motivated and give me a sense of achievement.

What are your tips for building writing discipline?

www.iamerinbrown.com

How 70s Dr Who still inspires me – Leela

I’m a child of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker era Dr Who. I had the whole “hide behind the couch” childhood experience and the stories still resonate with me today. I see past the low production values and my imagination still runs wild inside the stories.

Now when it comes to my current writing, one of my characters is inspired by my 70s Dr Who experiences. I have an indigenous character, who is “wild” and “savage”. Who else to inspire this character but Leela….

www.kooltvblog.blogspot.com

Leela is a hunter, a warrior, a survivor, she acts on her instincts and she has a big cool knife. She is a “fish out of water” in the modern space world with the Doctor, willing to use violence in worlds where violence is not the first response. Her costume also inspired the clothing for my “savage” character, although my character is only in her mid-teens, so there’s a bit more fabric in her dresses. She’s not quite the “dad’s wet dream” that Leela is, but my character is clad similarly in leather and boots.

It’s no coincidence that Leela also appears in my all time favourite Dr Who episode; Talons of Weng Chiang.

Any Leela love out there?

Recent Reads – The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman

I’m on a real historical fiction jaunt and my most recently finished novel is The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman. Originally published in 1982, this was re-released in 2013 with additional author notes.

This is the re-telling of the story of Richard III, a large monstrous figure, who Penman feels was wrongly treated by history and this is her version of the events. I’m no history buff (which makes my sudden penchant for historical event even stranger, more on that later) and had little more than a passing knowledge of Richard III and his story – his caricature as a deformed Machiavellian king. I came to this story with an open mind and went along for the ride. And it was a rollicking ride over 1,200 pages, keeping my interest along the whole way. Others with pre-conceived ideas about the “real” Richard III may not have as much fun as I did. With her excellent storytelling, I could suspend my disbelief and go along with Penman’s tale of a man betrayed by his friends and history.

The novel starts in 1459 and is split into four books; Edward, Anne, Lord of the North, Richard by the Grace of God.

I was surprised how two-thirds of the novel was devoted to the reign of his brother, Edward. Perhaps this build-up was what kept my interest, I was waiting to find out what happened when Richard actually became King. The battle scenes are lively and colourful, providing great insight into the battle strategy and the bloodiness of medieval wars. The politics and alliances are wild and tempestuous, outstripping any of the political shenanigans in modern day.

I struggled occasionally with the names of the characters but this is where the facts constrain the author. There were far too many Edwards, Georges, Johns and Richards. Then titles were awarded, then stripped. Who is Earl of Warwick now? Those medieval people needed more variety in their names.

The female characters were strong, from the equally evil Marguerite d’Anjou to Elizabeth Woodville and Richard’s own mother, Cecily Neville. The book highlighting the influence of strong women in the shadows and mainly left out of history. My interest waned a little with the love stories, but I do have a heart of stone.

The book concludes with Penman’s author notes and a 2013 update following the discovery of Richard’s remains under a carpark in Leicester.

I highly recommend this book for great storytelling, pace and character. But I will leave the believability of Penman’s version of events up to you.

www.amazon.com

Now, why am I obsessed with historical fiction at the moment? My current theory is I enjoy exploring how well formed and believable characters respond to great moments in history. Seeing from a personal perspective makes the bigger historical events more real. As a reader, I have the benefit of dramatic irony and knowledge of what’s to come, I am better informed than the characters and I’m curious to see the effect on their lives and how they’ll react. In some part relating back to my own life and wondering how would I have responded if my husband was killed in battle and I had to seek sanctuary in a church, or if the Russians came into my town after WW2. I also learn a bit of history along the way.

Do you like historical fiction? Why does it resonate with you?

An apocalypse? But I’ve got nothing to wear?

Last weekend I visited the Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. The exhibition itself was fun and exciting but also inspiring. JPG knows how to kit you out for the apocalypse.

Of course, he designed the costumes for the Fifth Element and the bandage look for Mila Jovovich.

www.theguardian.com

I found inspiration in his Ukrainian collection. My current writing takes place in a cold Nordic type world, where the native people continue with their ancient customs. I can now see them in heavily decorated folk art dresses, knitted cables or sheepskin hats and boots.

www.newyork.com

Now I know what I want to wear when the apocalypse comes…

www.telegraph.co.uk

Or perhaps this is more practical

www.fashionone.com

Now this is no fashionista blog, so what do I do with this inspiration? Well, I have Pinterest boards for character clothes (as well as locations). I pin images of clothing for my characters, this helps with better detailed descriptions of their clothing, and continuity.

For example, here’s a picture of a futuristic power suit, inspiring the outfits of one of my characters in my work-in-progress Intervention.

Balmain – not sure of photo source

For the writers out there, how do you dress your characters?

How to find your way home without breadcrumbs or GPS

Another world building inspiration post today, but quite different to my last post on city living. This week, I’m intrigued by natural navigation, how to read the landscape, whether using trees or animals or the more obvious sun and stars, to find your way home without maps or GPS or breadcrumbs (if you’re Hansel and Gretel).

This is information we’ve (city dwellers) lost and the people who’ve retained this ancient wisdom are now shrouded in mystery and awe – Aboriginal trackers from my side of the globe or Inuits reading ice formations or Bedouins understanding the direction of the wind from dune shapes. An interesting side note, the last official Aboriginal police tracker retired from the Queensland police force in 2014. The skills, whilst rare, are still vitally important when people go missing in the “wild”.

I stumbled across Tristan Gooley‘s work on a podcast. Gooley teaches natural navigation in his native UK but his website covers small tips even for the city dweller. For examples birds sitting on a rooftop will face away from the wind, trees grow thicker on the sunny side and spider webs are woven out of the wind.

www.wallpaperhi.comHe even has tips on navigating in a city – if it’s 8.30am and you’re looking for a train station, go against the flow of people and you’ll most likely find a station. Common sense, yes?

I’m currently writing about a fictitious native people who live closely associated with the land. This information inspires me when developing how they read their landscape and navigate through thick forests. But in my real life, I’m now watching the clouds whenever I walk outside, trying to understand where weather fronts are coming from, especially if I’ve forgotten my umbrella.

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