Sunday, December 4, 2011

What Bert Hinkler taught me about writing.

Who is Bert Hinkler, you may ask? He's this guy: 

Bert Hinkler was the first person to fly solo from England to Australia and he came from a town called Bundaberg on the Queensland coast. I lived in Bundaberg for a few years as a kid, and Bert Hinkler is their most famous export. Apart from the rum, I suppose, and they must have figured it was more edifying for school children to visit Bert Hinkler's house than the rum distillery. Shame. 

Anyway, going through a stack of old primary school stuff, I found a Bert Hinkler-related writing exercise. It could be Grade Six or Seven. I'm not sure, because the cover has fallen off and, frankly, my handwriting was always that bad. But I'd like to thank whichever teacher it was who set this exercise, because this is good stuff. 

Although I obviously didn't get into it at the time. My map of Queensland isn't even coloured in properly, Hinkler's house appears to be in the ocean, and there is no way in hell that plane would get off the ground. 

Do you run through what your character sees, hears, feels, fears or enjoys in each scene? 
How much makes it into the scene? 
Do you ever wish you could illustrate your own stories? 
Are you jealous of my plane drawing skills? 


  1. I love looking through old stuff like that.

    And funny, I thought you wrote that he would've seen "trees which looked like screamers waving about."

    "Airplane! Run away!"

  2. CUTE!

    I do sketch my characters from time to time (usually when I should be doing something else) :P But you've reminded me to make sure I need to make sure every scene and setting feels real.

  3. @ MC: "A flying contraption! The End Times are nigh!

    I'm embarrassed I likened trees to streamers, though. Streamers, really? Maybe I thought Bert Hinkler was flying over a Dr Seuss landscape. I sort of wish he had.

    @ Thanks, Miss Cole! Obviously I missed my true calling as a graphic artist, but it is a handy little reeminder to get inside your character's POV every time!

  4. Good questions.

    I'm visually focused, so my scenes tend to be rich in what the character sees. I spend ages visualizing the setting. Some sounds, scents, and touch make their way in where they would stand out.

    My critters keep reminding me I need to get more into the emotional reactions, which is a fair comment.

  5. Yes, yes I am jealous of your plane drawing skills. I am in awe. :P

    My WIP is in first person and so I try to imagine everything the character is seeing, hearing, feeling, but to put it all in would FEEL like overload. I usually just go with the most shocking bits and hope for the best. :)

  6. Totally jealous of the plane drawing skills!

    And yes, I always try to imagine how a character would feel in a certain situation, otherwise I'm afraid they'll seem too wooden and unrealistic.

  7. Awesome plane! Lol! I have issues with description so I should totally use this.

  8. Your drawing skills (the house AND plane) are both superior to mine. Curse you and your double threat ways (so fancy with ability to draw and write!!)

  9. @ Botanist: I am definitely more emotionally focussed, so I need to strike a balance.

    @ LG, I know, truly, I'm gifted! Agreed that you can't get everything in, which would be awful for a reader, and I love the idea of just putting in the most shocking bits!

    @ Gina, thank you! I am a plane drawing legend. When it comes to writing, I always get a character's emotional state across - I hope! - but I tend to paint landscape and surroundings with a few broad strokes and leave it at that. Something to work on!

  10. Thanks, JA! I'm the same with description.

    @ Steph, I know, graphic novels here I come! I'll be famous!

  11. Aloha Jen,

    I had to turn this one over for a piece of expert advice, and when my four-year-old saw this, the first thing he said when I asked him what he looking at.... was "IT"

    (I told him it was an airplane landing on a strip of grass, he just looked at me, his face full of pity and said, "Papa, it's a green 'I' and a white 'T'... that spells 'IT'"

    Kids, huh :)

  12. G'day, Mark!
    Wow, your son has some great reading skills! That's fantastic!



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