Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lie To Me

I’ve been thinking a bit about my main character Danny this week. Mainly because it feels like ages since I paid him any proper attention and, like a neglected pet, he’s making himself known by ripping the couch cushions apart while I’m at work. Hmm, I’m not sure when that veered off into a weird analogy, but you know I don’t mean he literally rips the cushions apart. I understand that Danny’s not real, despite the number of prickly conversations we’ve been having lately.

Huh. Why can I imagine myself trying to explain that to a sympathetic psychologist in the future?

Anyway, Danny is an evasive one. Unfriendly, untrusting, and, as last week showed, unwilling to mingle at social gatherings. He's hard to pin down, and I think it’s because he’s full of lies.

There is the lie he tells his superior officer: It doesn't matter.
There is the lie he tells his friend: I’m good.  
There is the lie he tells the bully: I’m not scared of you.
And there is the lie he tells himself: I can make it home in time to save them.    
Tell me about your main character.
What secrets do they keep?
What lies do they tell?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Love or money?

“Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money.” - Moliere

I’m currently picturing myself wearing a feather boa, a corset, and a hard look on my face. I’ll be the scariest madam in all Dodge, and I can't wait!


Get me a whiskey, straight up.

Do you have a favourite quote about writing?
What about some invaluable writing advice stuck above your workspace?
Or perhaps an ambition to be a madam?

Sharing is fun!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Plotting vs Pantsing - Now With Salty Plums!

You know when they say if you can’t make your mind up about something you should write a list of pros and cons? Yeah, that’s crap advice. It’s right up there with putting money away for a rainy day. Because that way you just end up spending your money on lifejackets and ark-building supplies instead of awesome stuff like Angry Birds stickers and a phone case that looks like a cassette, and salty plums, which you haven’t tried since you were five and oh my god, how did you ever eat them, they should come with some sort of health warning. Like this one: Salty Plums. May induce feelings of nostalgia. Do not eat.

Anyway, apart from my corner shop selling salty plums now, the big news this week is that I have been once again wrestling with the plotter/pantser issue. And I did one of those lists as well. I came up with a heck of a lot of pro-plotting anti-pantsing reasons, and only one anti-plotting pro-pantsing reason. But it’s a doozie.

Warning: Do not eat

Remember my happy place WIP? The one that, if finished, will be dedicated to the good people at Banrock Station? It gave me this:

Anti-plotting pro-pantsing Reason One

On reading back a scene I wrote, I just said “Holy hell, I did not see that coming!”

And I kinda like being surprised.

So as much as I want to be a good plotter, I don’t think it will ever come naturally. Like a half-sucked salty plum it will stick in my craw while I panic about whether or not I can actually stand the taste, and whether or not I can actually force myself to finish.

When it comes to plotting I’ll keep to the barebones of an outline thanks to the corkboard in Scrivener, but that’s as far as I can plan ahead without driving myself insane, and it’s further than I ever used to plan, so that’s progress right?

Meanwhile, I’m going to walk to the corner shop and buy some more salty plums, because I live in a state of denial and I refuse to believe I can’t eat something that I lived on when I was five. Also, I'm stubborn. I will not be defeated by salted fruit.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Are you happy with that?
Salty plums, yay or nay? (This is not a euphemism.)
Salty plum analogies: disturbing, yay or nay?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Come in, come in!

So, you’re the main character in a WIP. How exciting! I do love to meet fictional people.

My main character, Danny, is skulking around here somewhere. By the buffet table, probably. He's going through a difficult phase. You know teenagers. Every day it's You don't understand me, and I didn't ask to be born, and When our nightmares hit the Wall, I hope they kill you first. Well, that last one might just be Danny.
So, tell me a little about yourself!
How would your main character introduce him/herself to new aquaintances? With a smile, a snarl, or something else?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Winner of Shine, and a blog award!

Okay, so I said I'd draw Shine by Lauren Myracle in two weeks. That was three weeks ago. I have the time management skills of, um, let's say a jellyfish. I'm fairly certain jellyfish have no concept of time, right? Just washing back on the forth on the tides, floating in the warm waters of the world's oceans, weird, gelatinous, occasionally distracted by the howling screams of agony from unwary swimmers.

Random fact: Oceans confused me as a child. I thought they were a rort invented by cartographers. How can they have borders and different names? Water doesn't respect geographic boundries. IT'S ALL THE SAME OCEAN!

My random fact was entered way too late to win Shine. Miss Cole's wasn't.

Congratulations, Miss Cole, you've won a copy of Shine!

Also, today Magpie at Magpie Writes gave me the One Lovely Blog Award. Thanks, Magpie!

I am passing it on to:
Shannon from The Warrior Muse
And if you guys don't know Shelley from Dark Writes, you should head over there!

In other news, I am completely obsessed by this song at the moment:

Completely obsessed.

What songs are stuck in your brain this week?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Uniqueness of Place

I’m guilty of neglecting place when it comes to writing. A couple of broad brush strokes, and I’m straight to the action. But place is important. We are all products of our environment, after all, and that includes our characters.

It doesn’t matter if your novel is set inside a cardboard box. You have to make me feel like I’m seeing a cardboard box for the first time. You have to own your setting. You have to make it unique by showing it to me in a new way.

I’ve been working on developing place lately. For me, this is using what I know: humidity, saltwater, the dry rip of a heavy palm leaf tearing from the tree, the scream of a bat, the heart-stopping crash of a mango on a tin roof in the middle of the night, and the smell of a hot road the minute before the rain hits.

I’ve been getting out more, and taking notes, because this is my cardboard box and I want to show you guys what it’s like.

I said to my sister (and co-author for my current WIP) Kath the other day: “I’ve got a great idea.”

I laid out the bare bones, and she agreed it had potential.

“The only thing is,” I said, “we need to do a field trip.”

I tried to explain about place. It would be very important for this story, which so far is made up of these as yet unconnected elements: A Picnic at Hanging Rock; paranormal; a ghost -- probably; an unhappy ending -- almost certainly; and (inspired by last month’s Monsterfest) a very scary and, as far as I know, uniquely Australian phenomenon called the Min Min Light.

“A field trip?” Kath asked. “To Boulia?

Actually, the old Min Min Hotel is 73 kilometres west of Boulia.

The old Min Min Hotel. It burned down in 1912 or 1918, depending on which source you believe.

And Boulia is 961 kilometres away from Townsville.


My maths skills are hopeless, but however you add it up that comes out to a very long, very boring drive. I have a feeling I might be on my own.

Having said that, I’ve got a few months to convince her, because there is no way I’m heading west in the wet season. Research is one thing -- getting stranded on the side of the road for days, possibly weeks, waiting for the rivers go back down, no thanks.

How far have you gone to research place?

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Wet Season Retrospective

It's that time of year again: the wet season. The days are humid, and the clouds are rolling in. They're bringing a sense of unease with them this time, because we've been once bitten. This time last year the wet season began with Cyclone Tasha. Then, the floods that devastated central and southern Queensland. Then here in the north, Cyclone Anthony. Four days later, the big one: Cyclone Yasi. Yasi made landfall almost exactly between Townsville and Cairns, the two most populous cities in north Queensland. Lucky for us. Not so lucky for the many smaller towns in between: 

Cardwell post-Yasi. Picture from The Brisbane Times

Port Hinchinbrook. Picture from The Brisbane Times

Tully.  Picture from The Guardian

There are more photos here: 

So this year, please Nature, we'd like less wind with our wet season. And less water. 

Here is southern Queensland in January: 

Sometimes we forget how precarious our dull, everyday lives can be. We forget that not everything goes according to the plans we make. When we're reminded, we're shaken to the core. But we keep going, because that's what people do. 

What is the weather like in your corner of the world?

I blogged about the Queensland Floods back in January, here.
I blogged about Yasi here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

That Time of the Year Again...

It's NaNoWriMo season!

I'm not doing NaNo this year, for various reasons that include, but aren't limited to:

1. The day job. Some stuff going on here that needs my attention.

2. Editing. My pseudonym is working on her Second Book That Cannot Be Named, and getting into final content edits and line edits.

3. Private life. Oh yeah, I'm trying to have one of those.

But to everyone doing NaNoWriMo, this is for you:


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