Guardian: Welcome to the writer's brain. I've been waiting for you.
Wherein I endeavour to share writerly advice lightened with humour, pictures and a dollop of 1930s-1940s history.
Monday, November 30, 2009
The Writer's Brain
Guardian: Welcome to the writer's brain. I've been waiting for you.
Friday, November 27, 2009
What Would They Buy?
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Thanksgiving on Television
In honour of today being American Thanksgiving, I thought I would veer away from writing about writing and give you, instead, some of my favourite television episodes with Thanksgiving scenes. All of the shows are no longer on the air; which probably says something about my age that I don't want to think about.
- Friends: The one where Rachel makes the trifle.
- Friends: The one where Brad Pitt guest stars.
- WKRP in Cincinnati: The one with the turkey giveaway.
- The Gilmore Girls: The one where they go to 4 Thanksgiving dinners.
- The West Wing: "Shibboleth".
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
People's moods change from day to day, even from minute to minute. A day that starts out clear and sunny may end with a ferocious thunderstorm; your smile may morph into a grimace. I've noticed my mood leaks into my writing. Is this common?
Monday, November 23, 2009
Not So Quiet Characters
Everyone had that kid in their class who sat quietly in the back of the room. They were friendly, they did their schoolwork, but they were quiet and happily followed the leaders. Sometimes, they would start to speak and an entirely new personality would emerge. You could discover quiet little Sheila studied karote or went to Egypt in the summer and now quiet little Sheila isn't being quiet anymore.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Who's in Charge?
I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about my current WIP; far more time than actually writing it. I think about it as I making dinner, as I'm getting ready for bed, certainly before I go to sleep. I mutter dialogue in the car, which would explain why I am the recipient of the occasional odd look. (actually, that had better be the reason!) I'm happiest when I know where I am in the story so when I actually open up the laptop and start typing I've got a fairly good idea what I'm going to write.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
An Actor Writes
As I spend more and more time focusing on becoming a decent writer, I spend more and more time being grateful for all the years I spent as an actor and a director in the theatre. I had never given it much thought, but upon contemplation I have realized my theatrical history has given me many advantages.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Words, words, words...
Friday, November 13, 2009
Friday the Thirteenth
In honour of today's date, I thought I would share with you a list that I found on the internet of people's top ten fears. I found it rather fascinating. Here we go...
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I admit when they were handing out the gift of patience I must have been hiding behind the door. When I want something I want it now, not tomorrow, not next week or next year; now. Now imagine my frustration when my WIP resolutely refuses to magically finish itself. Fun picture, isn't it?
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Lest We Forget
When I was in school we never had November 11th off. The principal (who had driven ambulances in London during the Blitz) believed this day of all days should be spent working not sleeping in or watching television. We had a service at 11 o'clock and for many years I read the poem printed below as part of it. I recommend you read it out loud.
A soldier's prayer
(This poem by an unknown writer was found in the desert during the battle of El Agheila, December 14th, 1942. It was quoted by Field-Marshall Montgomery in his personal message to the 21st Army Group before the attack on the Rhine, and reproduced in the English Digest.)
Stay with me God. The night is dark,
The night is cold. My little spark
Of courage dies. The night is long,
Be with me God, and make me strong.
I love a game, I love a fight.
I hate the dark, I love the light,
I love my child, I love my wife,
I am no coward. I love life.
Life with its changes of mood and shade,
I want to live. I'm not afraid,
But me and mine are hard to part -
Oh, unknown God, Lift up my heart.
You stilled the waters at Dunkirk
And saved your servants. All your work
Is wonderful, Dear God. You strode
Before us down that dreadful road.
We were alone and hope had fled.
We loved our country and our dead,
And could not shame them, so we stayed
The course, and were not much afraid.
Dear God, that nightmare road! And then
That sea! We got there... We were men,
My eyes were blind, my feet were torn,
My soul sang like a bird at dawn!
I'm but the son my mother bore,
A simple man and nothing more.
But - God of strength and gentleness,
Be pleased to make me nothing less.
Help me, Oh God, when death is near
To mock the haggard face of fear,
That when I fall - if fall I must -
My soul may triumph in the dust.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Alone Again, Naturally
I have been pondering the ironies involved with being a writer. We are exhorted to 'show, don't tell' and to fill our manuscripts with fast-paced plots peopled with interesting, extroverted characters. Yet, we write alone. Each of us sit with his or her pen and paper or computer and write without anyone shouting or dancing around us. I find it amusing that many introverts spend their days (or nights) writing about extroverts with lives crowded with incident.
Monday, November 9, 2009
What's It Like Outside?
One of the first things I do every morning is check the weather; not only by looking out my window but by watching the weather on the morning news. Weather affects everything; what I'm going to wear, whether or not I'm going outside, what I'm making for dinner, to name a few. But, how often do we use weather in our books?
Friday, November 6, 2009
The Little Voice of Judgment
Every writer has it; that little voice in their head saying "Why did you write that?", or "That's an incredibly awkward sentence", or "This is possibly the worst thing ever written". It's not there all the time, but when it starts to shriek it is rather off-putting.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
People not Characters
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
100 Days and Counting
I'm a huge fan of the Olympics, both winter and summer. I spend hours every 2 years in front of my television. Any Olympics are magical, but some of my favourite moments of the winter games are:
- The magic and theatricality of the opening ceremony. Watching the Olympic flag come in, the lighting of the flame and the entrance of the Canadian team always brings a tear to my eye.
- The grace and athleticism of the figure skaters
- The amazing speed of the downhill skiers
- The sound of the cowbells ringing from the Swiss fans as their bobsled teams race down the track.
- The ice hockey (I AM Canadian!)
- The insanity of the luge and the skeleton.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Need to Know
How sharp a picture do readers have of your characters' appearance? How sharp a picture do readers need? I don't decide this question, my characters do.
Monday, November 2, 2009
I have decided writing can be like trying to perform a juggling act while balancing on a wire high up in the tent. There is so much for a writer to try and keep track of: Is the plot moving forward quickly enough? Are the characters compelling? What about the setting? Add to this worries about grammar and vocabulary and I admit (for me) the urge to let loose with a primal scream becomes almost overwhelming.