About Me

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I am an aspiring writer living and working in Hull. I working on a novel, as well as writing short stories to keep my writing skills fresh. I decided to start a writing blog to connect with other writers. So please, take a look around and leave some comments - I'd love to read some of your writing blogs too. Nari X

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Surge

I recently bought some Cranberry scented oil for my burner, and my bedroom smells like a sweet shop. It's lovely. I feel sixteen again. 
I also think the cranberry oil is seeping into my brain. I've been hyperactive up there.
The last two days have been phenomenally productive. Not just in terms of word count either. I've been rewriting some scenes, adding new ones, and filling in the gaps between scenes. 
I've been thinking a lot about character motivations and what brings them to make particular decisions, or gets them to a point in the story. It really is coming together so well, kind of at the detriment to everything else in my life. Well, not everything. 

I started writing this post a week ago. I think that says it well enough. 

I'm currently writing the climax scene. That's right, I have an ending. That's not to say I'm nearly done, by any stretch of the imagination. There are big gaps and chunks of unexplained, half-written scenes in the middle, but I at least know what I'm working towards. It's good, because all the half-thought threads of possible themes, decisions, dialogues and scenes are starting to come together and work towards something. 
No, I will not tell you what happens. 

I've also got a secret weapon, which I kind of stole from Peter Brett. I say kind of. I just got a shiny new phone, a Nokia E5 and it has Word on it. I've managed to get my entire novel onto it, and it hasn't even broken a sweat. This widens my ability to edit and to write. Fantastic for my writing career. Detrimental to my social life. I'm in bed, I write. I'm waiting for a bus, I write. On a bus, waiting for dinner to cook, walking to the shops, in a bank queue...

At the moment, I'm listening to U2 with the other half who is playing Mass Effect, looking forward to the last Single Father - tonight at 9:00 on BBC 1. So excited. 
I'm hooked on 24 at the moment too. Behind the times, I know. But I never got to watching it when it first started, and never had the time to catch up, so just getting into it now. Season 3, it's all very tense. 

Right now, I think I might write some more. Oh and just before I go, nobody has made any comments. I know people are reading, so please - let me know what you think, say hi, tell me I'm an idiot.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Editing Struggle

I managed to get quite a lot done yesterday. I'm being ruthless.
I don't know if I'm being too ruthless. I've chopped another scene (in my novel) and rewritten it in about a quarter of the space. I'm trying to make the beginning sharper and more interesting. I think there's too much of the mundane. The scene I've rewritten is one where they are basically sat around playing playstation and drinking tea, which is all fine and good, as I had managed to slide in some important conversations and exposition. But it just felt really flat and boring. I couldn't help but think there must be a better way to get this information across.

I've replaced about 1000 words of blah blah blah with the simple line 'They spent the afternoon taking turns to challenge Joe at racing on the playstation; he remained unbeaten.'
Well, ok that's not all of it, but it's something like 300 words now, and still gets across the same points. There's actually more description of Lauren's mother in there, and it sets up Toby, Lauren's brother's arrival far better. He has been away for 6 or so months, so Ryan (the protagonist) has not met him yet.

I think this goes to prove a point I read in Writer's Forum a few months back - sometimes the rule 'show, don't tell' doesn't apply. There are times when you just need to move the story along by telling the reader what happened. Otherwise, I find I end up pointlessly describing really ordinary, unhelpful things that just don't really add any kind of pace.

I've noticed, also, that I've broken my own rule, my own pet hate. For the first four pages, maybe more, there is no dialogue. It's all Ryan's inner monologue. I don't really know how to get past that. I'm thinking maybe I should start someplace else. But then that changes the whole structure of everything.

It feels like I'm going at a half-done painting with a large brush and black acrylic paint. It's already taken me years to get the damn story to this point, and yet here I am tearing it completely apart again. I guess it's called refining, prooning. But it's tough. It's one step forwards and 29 back. Remind me why I'm doing this??

Monday, 18 October 2010

Single Father (Possible Spoilers if you haven't seen it)

Ah, what a weekend! Lots of 24, Hull Fair, Single Father, which I'll do a full review on, more 24... what a life I lead. I also managed to spend a whole day on one application form, which I think goes to show how excited I am by the job. Its an Admin job (in a nutshell) at a local special needs school, and I went to visit on Thursday.
What a disaster.
Oh fingers crossed, but with a healthy dose of reality. It's in God's more than capable hands now.

Hull Fair was good fun, though I suspect purely because of the company. Dodgems - most fun I've had in a long time. I even have a bruise on my leg to show for it. And my wonderful better half bought me a chocolate apple and won me a cute little teddy. Thanks Rob :)

Last night was the second episode of BBC One's Single Father, a four part drama about Dave Tyler (David Tennant) and his struggle to look after four children after the death of his wife, Rita (Laura Fraser). Rob and I were on the edge of our seats the whole way through. It's an intense, emotional look at life after loss and the heavy wieght of grief alongside responsibilities, which delves deep into the complexities of human emotion. I think that the writing and production are spectacular. And, of course, flawless acting from David Tennant. 

In last week's episode, we saw a snippet of the family's life before Rita's death, and their immediate reactions to the tragedy, before jumping to 10 weeks later, when the loss is less fresh, but more prevalent than ever. Several sub-plots started to open up, like the developing, perhaps inapropriate closeness of Dave and Rita's best friend, Sarah (Suranne Jones), and the need for Lucy (Natasha Watson), Rita's daughter from a previous relationship, to find her real father.

This week we found out shocking truths about the relationship between Rita and Lucy's dad, and cringed behind the cushions as little Evie (Millie Innes) walks in on something she really does not need to see.

What I love most about the programme so far is the lack of cheesy, obvious exposition. You know, in film and television there's always that odd line you know was selotaped into the actual dialogue to get information to the viewer. Of course, there are fundamental things the viewer needs to know, but Mick Ford (the writer) does this very subtly. 

I think what enables this subtlety is the realism - the fact that we, the viewers, are merely spectating in these people's lives. We pick things up from throw-away comments, how people interact with each other and the simple word 'Dad' from Tanya. At first, you think this girl just works for Dave (the main character), but that one word lets us know that she is in fact his daughter from a previous marriage. 

I'll admit, at points I have been confused as to who's who, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. It means we talk about it, we think about it, we have rapid discussions during the advert breaks. I had my phone in hand, texting my sister most of the way through clarifying tidbits of information one of the three of us missed. I love it. And in all honesty, I think Ford fully intended us to be asking these questions. I get the impression he is completely in control of what we know when and how the full revelations will impact the viewer, and that is a sign of very good writing. If that is not the case, I will be thoroughly disappointed. 

The characters are developing wonderfully; for example, Rita's sister, Anna (Neve McIntosh), we first see as an unsympathetic, angry person who somehow blames Dave, or is hostile towards him. In this second episode, after she has bought the children mobile phones, we finally see her break. Of course, she misses Rita. Dave finally finds common ground with Anna, because they both understand what the other is going through.

Dave’s struggle is growing rather than diminishing, as he not only has to deal with his own grief and the many other feelings which are growing from it, but he has to find ways of dealing with the children’s various responses to their mother’s death. This, of course, adds a strong dynamic to the intensity of the story, because you feel Dave's stress when all of the children are   in shot, all demanding things or wanting some attention. There's no space for him to break down, no time to feel the weight, even though he clearly does.

And the revelations about Lucy's dad are definately not going to help matters. How can you be angry with someone who has passed away? More importantly, how can you make peace with them? How can he ever hope to understand why she kept these things from him for all these years, or piece together the true picture of their life together?

I’m really looking forward to the next episode, and will post another short blog then, and perhaps an overall look after the last episode. The next episode is due to air on Sunday 24th October at 9:00pm on BBC One. I would definitely recommend tuning in, and if you haven;t seen the previous episodes, catch up on iPlayer first. 
Also, check out Mick Ford's blog on how the drama came into being here

As for now, I'm going to have a baked potato and a cuppa. 

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Teen Fiction

I've been reading through my posts, and I realise that I said ages ago that I had something to say about teen fiction, and the market research I've been doing. Evidently, I didn't mention it again, so I suppose I should probably get on it.

When I have been talking about 'Teen Fiction', what I've had in my mind, I feel, is something entirely different to what is actually the case. I think what I am thinking of is more along the lines of 'Young Adult' Fiction. There is a difference of about four years there.
But honestly, I'm starting to lose the plot a bit. The lines between children, teenagers and young adults are starting to blur. I don't know if that means I'm getting old, or if I am simply ignorant.

I think back to when I was in primary school - I used to read the Lucy Daniels books and 'The Naughtiest Girl' stories, though even then I struggled. I have always been a thorough reader, but unfortunately back then I was also impatient. It's strange to think that it wasn't until I was about 11 or 12 that I started getting through whole books. I think I was perhaps 14 when I discovered Jostein Gaarder. There was no going back from there. I used to go to the library every lunch time and read, first I worked through Jostein Gaarder, then I discovered Louise Cooper, who introduced me to the world of fantasy. I lapped it up. Of course, there was Harry Potter, and then I backtracked and read through David Almond. I like David Almond. I would say he is the 'children's author' I related to most. His stories were dark, but relatable and written on the back of child-like fantasies of escaping, secret creatures hiding in the garage, unique sixth senses.
But as far as 'teen fiction' went, I don't know that I really found much in that categorisation that I liked the look of. I remember scanning the 'teen fiction' column in Horsham Library and finding a book called 'The Cool Boffin', which somehow took my fancy. I was trying to be normal. I was trying to fit in. It was a good read, but I preferred Jostein Gaarder. I was beginning to get rather heavily into philosophy.
So I never really found my place in the 'Teen Fiction' shelf.
My point is that I think I am dissilusioned from this market because I never really entered into it. As a teenager, aged 14 - 17, I was looking for books that addressed issues of identity, ethical values, religious philisophy and the forces of Good and Evil.

That is my market, I think, at least for CQ. Teenage years are where most of us do our soul-searching, our evaluation of ourselves and the world and the people around us. We work out just where we fit into the grand scheme of things, and what it all means while we go about our lives being educated and fighting amongst ourselves.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


The day was not more productive. It has now been four days since my last post, and I have very little to report.

However, I have just finished reading Ted Dekker's Obsessed, and I have very mixed feelings. For a long time, Ted Dekker has been somewhat of a hero of mine, with a captivating and intelligent writing style, storylines that wrap themselves around your mind and have you on the edge of your seat wishing never to put the book down. But I have to say, I was a tiny bit dissapointed by this book. There were just several things that sprung out at me that I desperately wanted to edit. 

The first is perhaps me being completely pedantic, but it really bothered me. Exclamation marks. I am really not a fan. At all. I would place exclamation marks in the same category as cling film. Horrible stuff. So...clingy. It just should not exist. Unfortunately, it is a necessary evil, on those rare times that a tuppaware box or tin foil won't do the trick. Equally, exclamation marks should only be allowed to be used very sparingly, when the words alone do not convey their meaning. 
Let me explain. I feel that using an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence cheapens the words you use. It suggests that you are not in control of your language use, that the words you have used are flimsy and meaningless on their own. When you are telling a story, this just won't do! See what I mean? 

One of the things I had always loved about Ted Dekker was that he always seemed to be in control of the language he used. In The Circle Trilogy I was drawn his use of single sentence paragraphs to mark the intensity of the words, whether it was a realisation, a revelation to the reader, or a clever play on imagery. 
In Obsessed, don't get me wrong, he keeps this up, but quite often, to my horror, with an ugly looking exclamation mark plonked on the end. It completely over exaggerates a sentence, and weakens its severity.

And the other thing that bugged me about the story was the amount of time that Stephen spends trying to get into the safe.
For those who have not read 'Obsessed', I shall give some context in the form of an outline of the story. Stephen is the protagonist, a realtor who, until recently, had no idea who his mother was. A story in the paper covers her recent death, and reveals that she was a Holocaust survivor. On exploring her house, Stephen finds a safe in the basement which then becomes the object of his obsession. Unfortunately, a German man buys the house before he has got into the safe.
I understand why he spends so much time trying to get into the safe, of course to show just how obsessed he is. That he is losing his mind to this thing. But Paul Auster manages to do this very same thing in a third of the amount of time, perhaps less, in City of Glass. I would much rather have spent more time actually looking for Esther. Or I would have liked more about the present day killings, instead of watching Stephen try in vain to get into the house.

And the final point I'll make this afternoon is about the character of Sylvia. At the beginning of the story, I thought she might be a strong character, integral to the plot. But she dies almost without regard, having no effect on the protagonist whatsoever. Which makes me wonder why she was included in the story at all.

Ok. Criticisms aside, I was pleased with the ending. It was disturbing and full of action, bringing all storylines to a head in the pinnacle moment. I absolutely loved the scenes in Torun, the Nazi labour camp, as they were so full of emotion and character - I really got inside the heads of Ruth and Martha. The sick game of Gerhard Braun was well written and thought out.

I should really be finishing an application form. I fear I have already missed the deadline, but the person who e-mailed me the application form didn't mention anything, so lets hope it doesn't matter.

Friday, 8 October 2010


I've been trying to write tonight, but it's just not happening. So much for 1000 words per day. Everything is just so disjointed, I've no idea anymore what actually needs to stay in. There's scenes which are really long and I'm wondering what they actually add. but I don;t know how to move things on to the next level of plot.
I think maybe I need to do some kind of plot chart, or structural thing to get a clear picture of what needs to happen when and how to move things into the next part.
I keep getting ideas, but they don;t fit in with anything I already have, and I'm trying really hard to mend what I have already instead of creating more and more tangled mess to sort through painstakingly later.
Sort it out now, that's my philosophy at the moment. Inspiration is all very well, but if I live my writing life on it's whimsical nature then I'll never get anywhere or be taken seriously as a writer.
As for right now, I think I need to get out of this (no longer damp thanks to a dehumidifier - hurrah!) room and spend some time with people who actually exist.
Nikki has let the rabbit out and is loading up Don't Tell the Bride as we speak.
Hopefully tomorrow will be more productive.