The Last Hurrah

Let's change this into 'winner', eh?

Let’s change this into ‘winner’, eh?

It’s the last week of NaNoWriMo. Well, seeing as this is characteristically late, it’s the last four days.

How many words do you have left? None? 100? 1000? 10000? 50000?!

Never fear. As people have proved it’s possible, you know it’s possible. Perhaps you just need some encouragement.

  • Your characters need you. They will bug you until you finish.
  • Your novel needs you. Do you think you could bear the pain of never writing ‘THE END’ in big bold letters before bragging to your friends that you have, yes, really, written a novel.
  • Related to this: um, hello, bragging rights! I’m going to claim mine when I hit that 50k.
  • You can move on up! Now the revisions start, but, after this, you can venture into the big wide world of published. *gasps*

If you need some more words to be written, why not create a Twitter account and settle over to the NaNoWriMo word sprints page? Another I can recommend is Get Wordies, who are fantastic encouragers too!

If you really dislike Twitter, set a timer and write, write, write! You’ll be amazed at what you can do.

Good luck Wrimos; I believe in you!

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Brokeback Mountain and Other Stories by Annie Proulx

Brokeback Mountain

Contrary to many of the reviews on GoodReads, I didn’t start reading this for the famous Brokeback Mountain. I actually started reading it because I needed a short story for my coursework, and this was what the librarian chose for me. I used one of the short stories (The Blood Bay) and decided that, y’know, I already had it on loan, so I might as well read it.

Bloody hell. Proulx’s writing is brilliant; vivid descriptions, character development, and a characteristic of her stories is that every one of them contains a twist at the end.

Shall I go through all of the stories on this copy? Yes, I shall. Skip to the ones you want, if you would like.

The Half-Skinned Skeer – I’m not going to lie. This story scared me. I went running after finishing it in the dark on the bus, and I was terrified. I remember this one being confusing too, but it was still good.

The Mud Below – aah, Diamond Felts, the rodeo cowboy. This story gives us the nitty and gritty bits of rodeo, the stuff that isn’t emphasised in the films. Trigger warning for this book: it contains rape. But still a good story.

Job History – this story gives us the history of one man’s jobs, all the way through from his first to his last. An interesting story, what I would probably call a descriptive piece. It’s short for a reason, you couldn’t read it forever. I don’t think you could write about that for an entire book! It’s only 10 pages. Interesting, though.

The Blood Bay – another short story that will make you question the moralities of human beings. This is a very short story, only a few pages, so I’m struggling to say stuff that won’t give too much away. It shows the Greek custom of xenia if that is useful to you in any way.

People in Hell Just Want a Drink of Water – this story about a man brain damaged in an accident ends in a sickly twist. Well written, well executed, it leaves you guessing until the very end and with mixed emotions about the characters. There’s no real antagonist – or is there?

The Bunchgrass Edge of the World – marriage, talking tractors, and no real sense of a main plot; there seemed to be many tiny stories happening in this larger one. This was the one I could remember least, but I do remember being distracted whilst reading. Not my favourite.

Pair a Spurs – another trigger warning of rape, this story is about, unsurprisingly, a pair of spurs. The brutal ranch life is shown deeply in this story, and it also offers interesting twists and turns.

A Lonely Coast – harsh friendships, trippy relationships and confusing lives are the main point of this story. Confusing to me, anyway, also didn’t make much of an impression.

The Governors of Wyoming – this story focusses on vegetarian ranches, and a man called ‘Wade Wells’ who has made it his life mission to free cattle from ranches. He meets up with his sisters, Roany and Renti, and tries to…ah, you’ll have to read it to find out.

55 Miles to the Gas Pump – this story can’t be more than 500 words, and it tells the story of a lonely farmer and his wife in the middle of nowhere. The farmer gets up to some slightly disturbing activities amidst the boredom of everyday life.

Brokeback Mountain – I am so glad this one was at the end, as I think I would have felt far too emotionally drained to then go on and read the others (it also gave me something to look forward to). Is it any surprise that this review is going to be the longest? Brokeback Mountain tells the story of Jack Twist and Ennis del Mar. It’s the gay cowboy story that I am sure almost everyone has heard of. Working on the fictional Brokeback Mountain during the summer, they get up to some ‘adventures’. But this story begins in 1963, and attitudes to homosexuality were far less liberal than today – and we don’t even have the freedom we should. Ennis is engaged, and later gets married, despite Jack loving him. The story takes place over the course of 20 years and ends in a heartbreaking trauma which will rip your heart out and stomp on it. Read it.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. Not all of the stories in it, mind, but if you read one from it, make it Brokeback. And then, if you have time (or aren’t sobbing on your bed) watch the film as well. It literally quotes word for word.

Brilliant author, brilliant book.

Looking Forward

There comes a time, especially during NaNoWriMo, where you dread sitting down to write each night. Your characters are driving you bananas, the plot is going nowhere, and you just can’t be bothered.

Writing isn’t just the act of putting words on a page, or typing them on a screen. Like a film, so much more happens behind the big screen than on it.

When you’re feeling low and you hate your characters so much you want to kill every single one, it’s hard to get back into it. Stop. Right there, stop. Even if you’re enjoying your novel, stop!

Sometimes, you need to slow the pace to avoid this happening as well, whilst other times it’s already begun. Don’t worry; you can reverse this effect and love your book again.

Whilst in NaNo the ideas below aren’t possible most of the time if you’re really busy, you can still try these things if only for a minute or two; and if you’re not doing NaNoWriMo, these can still help. All can be done before, during or after your novel/novella/epic/script are in the works!

  • Draw your characters. Can’t draw? Eh, skip this step. Got a friend who can draw? Oh, look, I just enticed you back! Even if you can’t draw yourself, try asking a buddy if they’ll draw your characters (perhaps they’ll do it for cookies). If you can draw, then yay, you can do it yourself. If you do have a buddy, sit with them as they draw; make sure they’re all right with you telling them exactly how you want it to be. Bonding, and character development!
  • Write back ground stories/AUs/just extra stories. Background stories are something that the reader often doesn’t get to see (such as JKR with Umbridge…although she published that). AU’s stand for Alternate Universes – if you’re writing in the past, set your characters up in the present day and see how they react!
  • Chat to someone about your novel. Look, it doesn’t matter if it’s the dog, but you might be able to find out so much more about your characters, plot and setting. Make sure you have a notebook on hand! It helps if they’re a writer; they might be able to toss ideas back at you.
  • Read. What is more relaxing? …and, of course, it tells you how the pros craft their work. Obviously. (Seriously though, wouldn’t you like to be holding a paperback copy of your own book in your hands?!)
  • Watch a film. Now, this is technically procrastinating, but this time grab a film that you’ve already watched and a notebook. Make a note of any time it changes setting, character, what happens; all ideas for your novel, or if it’s a script you’re writing, equally as helpful!
  • Write a letter to your characters – or even your novel! This can help with understanding your characters needs and wants, and your needs and wants. It might make you feel stupid writing to a book, but it can help you gain confidence, you’re still writing, and you can understand your work better. Besides, you might realise that you don’t, in fact, hate your work; just a strong dislike that will pass over in the near future.

I hope these ideas have given you some fuel for your fire. It’s week three of NaNoWriMo, so if you have a spare moment, jot down some thoughts to your characters, or have a chat whilst with your next door neighbour over the fence. You don’t have to constantly breathe your novel, but thinking about it as you go about your day-to-day business – providing it’s in a positive light! – might help you to look forward to writing when you get home.

Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! :D
PS – How’s NaNoWriMo going for you?

Hi Diddly Ho

Hello everyone!

Me

I am so close to hitting 30k in NaNoWriMo! (Currently, 694 words to be exact.) So, I’m just about to skip off to Explorers (yay!) but I will get it before the day is over…or I’ll get up early and do it tomorrow.

I am still in awe of Becoming Jane and I can’t think of anything else basically. It’s rather distracting.

Congrats to James McAvoy who won a Scottish BAFTA for best actor on the 16th! And to David Tennant who also won an award. :) I really miss Scotland, but friend issues… gah. Maybe I’ll just go and hide in a hut by a loch…actually, that sounds divine. Anyway, this is a writing blog, not a personal blog. Ahem. Sorry.

I’m starting to do a little warm up before each writing session, so I might try to do a bit of an article each time, because at the moment I’m churning out fanfictions like nobody’s business with no idea of what to do with them. Question: do you guys warm up before writing?

The Blog

Tuesday, Friday and hopefully Sunday post as per usual!

If you have any post requests, feel free to leave them, because they’re always helpful to someone who has no idea each week of what to write about….and I’ve already written about that so I can’t do it again. Oops.

Have a great week guys! Lots of writing, laughter and love I hope. :) 

have a hug to start your week :)

Becoming Jane [Film Review]

So, I know that Sunday evenings are generally book reviews, but today I watched this brilliant film and I just have to write about it. It’s about Jane Austen, so it’s technically literature.

Becoming Jane is the not-so-fictional story of Jane Austen and her lover, if you like, Thomas Lefroy. It’s a story of love and loss, and how the class systems restrict the true followings of the heart.

Firstly, Jane. Played by Anne Hathaway (who I only discovered today is American), she is the feisty girl I have always imagined her to be. To begin with, I wasn’t sure about her voice, but it grew on me. Hathaway’s acting was great; she was intelligent (even learnt the piano for the part), and helped me to learn about Austen’s life. Furthermore, Hathaway was enthusiastic about the role, which really threaded itself into her acting; you believe in her emotions, the story, it feels like you’re living it yourself.

Second, Tom. Played by the stunningly gorgeous James McAvoy (ahem), Tom is an arrogant sod, basically, who, much like Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudicechanges as he falls in love with a beautiful girl. McAvoy’s acting was brilliant; he stayed in character, during the development of his character too, and his cheeky smile fit in perfectly.

Whilst I am unsure if it sticks to historical events of Austen’s, the plot is a typical romance. Not saying that it’s bad – in fact, it’s become one of my favourite films. It portrays the traditions of the time, the differences in attitudes, and how writers were perceived at the time (see: Mrs. Radcliffe). Rather different from now!

This film is a tear-jerker, especially if you know Jane’s tragically short life beforehand – or, indeed, after. Tom Lefroy was a name I had heard once or twice, in connection with Jane, but I had never thought of it much – she did not marry. But this film gives you historical context, background; it’s essentially a ‘faction’ film (fact and fiction).

Would I recommend this film? Yes, one hundred times yes. You will enjoy it, undoubtedly.

And if you ever have time, come to Hampshire. It’s where I live (hi!); it’s where Jane wrote much of her work, including Pride and Prejudice, and it’s where she, sadly, died, in Winchester; you can see the house in which she passed away and her grave in the Cathedral.

This isn’t a travel blog, but it’s really humbling to go to her house in Chawton, and her grave in Winchester, and is definitely worth the visit (and Hampshire’s great so y’know).

But if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and do some research into this awe-inspiring woman and her lover.

One last thought to end this review on:

Jane Austen is one of the greatest literary figures this world has ever seen and will probably never see again. 

We Could Be So Many People… [Cue Heather Small]

In writing, we can be anyone we want: a Starlord, a dog, a boy from Afghanistan, a girl from America, even an inanimate object. But something that all of these things have in common when you choose your narrator is the point of view it’s coming from.

You can go with first person, which would tell us exactly what’s happening as they go about their day to day business, but only theirs.

You can go with second person, which would let the reader imagine exactly what is happening, as it’s as if it’s instructing you. That sentence was written in second person.

You can go with third person, which could give more information about surrounded scenarios and other characters.

But which one would be best? Well, that depends on what affect you would like to have on the audience.

The differences between the ‘persons’ are the pronouns they use. Other things come into affect, of course (such as other information and how much you give away), but today I’m going to talk about the basics of the different ‘persons’ as well as their pros and cons.

First Person – uses ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘my’, ‘us’ and ‘we’.
Pros

  • Can offer insight into the main character (MC)’s thoughts and feelings.
  • Can help the reader to identify and relate to the MC.
  • Easier to portray the world around them (eg in The Hunger Games) and other character’s personalities – but, this is only from the MC’s point of view, so they could be biased.

Cons

  • If something happens elsewhere, when the MC is not present, then another character will have to narrate it to them, which can become tedious.
  • Along with the tediousness, ‘I’ can become repetitive.
  • If the character is not interesting and varied enough – or without character development – then the reader can get bored.

Second person – uses ‘you’, ‘your’ and ‘yours’.
Pros

  • Puts the reader completely in the story.
  • Can make them feel incredibly involved.
  • Can be good for those ‘choose your own destiny’ stories (they are totally not my guilty pleasure… especially the Doctor Who ones…)

Cons

  • Can constantly remind the reader they’re in a story, which is exactly what you don’t want.
  • Can be difficult to write.

Third person – uses ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’ and the plurals, as well as ‘they’.
Pros

  • Gives the writer (you!) the greatest flexibility; any character can be the ‘main’.
  • You can swap between characters more easily than first person.
  • Dramatic Irony. 

Cons

  • Multiple characters POV’s can get confusing, very quickly.
  • It can restrict ‘seeing’ inside the characters’ heads. You’ll have to work really hard so that the reader knows what they’re thinking (unless the affect is that they don’t).
  • Each character must have a different voice, and this can be difficult to do.

Of course, in third person you can stick to one character, like most of the Harry Potter series. Or you can switch persons (difficultly, but it can be done), such as Game of Thrones.

Ultimately, just do whatever you think is right for your novel. A post I read said that most beginning writers write from the third person, but my current novel is in 1st; additionally, another (or the same, I can’t remember) post said that lots of thriller books are in 3rd person, but mine’s in 1st. A great thing about being a writer is that you don’t have to break the rules; they bend to your will.

Have fun, and if it doesn’t work, remember that you can always rewrite it!

Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! :D

PS – sorry this was a day late. I went to Scouts and then had an accident (I’m a Young Leader, I shouldn’t be doing anything anyway!) and had a bit of a headache last night, so I went for the easy thing of writing my novel instead. :)

Remembrance Day

‘They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them.’
-
I saw something on TV today that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. A service took place in Ypres for Remembrance Day, and, of course, there were veterans there. And, during the silence, an elderly man, suit and medals, was desperately trying to salute as he sat in his wheelchair. But he couldn’t. He was crying too heavily to be able to keep his hand to his forehead. Besides him, another veteran, wheelchair and medals, had his hand on his shoulder, comforting the man who cried for all he had lost whilst he himself cried too. I don’t know if they were friends, comrades, brothers; but what I do know, is that we’re all human, in the end.

Remembrance Day isn’t just about refreshed mourning. It’s a day of reflection, remembering the tragically short lives of soldiers, and the knowledge that we’re all working together for a brighter future.
Ghosts can’t change the past; but one small wind, joined by hundreds of others, can create a hurricane.

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Keep The Steam Hot

It’s week two. You’re about 6 or 7 chapters in, and you can feel yourself lagging a bit. It’s getting dull, you’re tired, work’s a nightmare, the weather’s abominable and the thought of sitting down and writing for an hour makes you want to tear your hair out.

When you’re running out of steam, in any project, not just NaNoWriMo (although due to the sheer workload of NaNoWriMo, it’s most likely because of it), it’s hard to keep your chin up, the pot hot and to keep on writing. I’m feeling the same way, don’t worry – the only thing keeping me going is that I’m finally getting into the meaty bit of my book even though I accidentally added in an extra chapter.

Here’s some tips to keep going:

  • Bribe yourself. Hey, it works, it’s not deceitful because you know it’s there, and you get a nice treat at the end of it! One thing could be a nice bath every 20,000 words (which would be three this month, theoretically), or watching a film, or a bar of chocolate. I’m using a square of chocolate for when I hit 19,000 tonight (thanks, Classical Civilisations teacher!).
  • Add in a subplot/new character/kill a character/add in something. Adding in something will keep your water boiling. My next chapter (hopefully) incorporates a new subplot, which I am very excited about. It’s keeping me writing. Besides, adding in something gives you more to write about if you’re just running out of things as opposed to steam.
  • Music. Make a playlist for your novel. I find music really helps me to keep writing.
  • Participate in word wars or just time yourself. Word wars are where you ‘compete’ with other people to find out who can write the most in a set amount of time (eg 5 minutes). NaNoWriMo have their own Twitter feed – @NaNoWordSprints – where that’s all they post! I sometimes just time myself, too, and try to do what I can; it adds on the pressure, as when the timer goes off, you stop.
  • Warm up before you start. Just write 200 words of drabble before you begin your novel – it’ll get your fingers hot and your brain warmed up, just in time for your characters to pop in and say hello.
  • Have an end goal. My personal end goal is a marathon of Agents of SHIELD season 2 if I hit 50,000. If I don’t, I only get to watch one or two a week. Man it’s spurring me on! Create a big goal that you actually really want to hit – maybe a trip to the cinema, or a new dress. If you have a reminder about it around you, as well (better make it your computer background!) then you’ll really want to hit it.
  • Get people to make you write. When all else fails, get someone behind prodding you with a big stick when your fingers stop moving.

How’s NaNoWriMo going for you? Or, if you’re not doing it this year, how’s life in general? Good, I hope.

Keep going guys, I believe you can do it!

Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! :D 

Keep that kettle steamin’ and you can have TEA! Who doesn’t love tea? Even the Daleks do, guys.

Happy Monday

Hello!

Me

NaNoWriMo is currently going swimmingly (touch wood). As it stands, I’m at 17,799 words, and finally getting into the juicy bits of my novel. :D

Did anyone watch the Doctor Who finale? Opinions? I thought it could have been better, although the Brigadier was so cute. <3

It took 3 months and 6 days, but I finally finished Pride and Prejudice! Go me.

AND I finished season 1 of Agents of SHIELD, so I’m finally onto Season 2! :D No spoilers.

Finally, I watched Mulan for the first time, so I’m now a happy bunny.

The Blog

Did you see what I did on Sunday? Yes, I posted a book review for the first time in weeks! Hopefully, there’ll be another one soon.

Probably no WWC. How about an extract from my NaNoWriMo novel?

And that’s about it… Toodles!

Have a nice week, guys! 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

Although when you look on my GoodReads, and it tells you that this book took me 3 months and 6 days to read, do not think that that is because it is terrible. On the contrary, I adore this book. To put it simply, it took me that long because I could not be arsed in the mornings to read complicated language. Ahem.

Pride and Prejudice follows, mainly, the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, after the arrival of Bingley and Darcy at Netherfield, near where the clever, charming and attractive Elizabeth lives. With a nightmare mother and 4 other sisters, all in need of financial security, there’s trouble brewing at Longbourn. The novel also follows many other romances: Mr Collins’, Lydia’s, Jane’s included. (I’m trying not to give too much away.)

If you’re look at the 1800s, this is a perfect contemporary novel. It shows exactly how women were meant to behave (or, in some cases, not meant to). It shows the art of letter writing, something which isn’t used much this days (although I always get a thrill of seeing an envelope with my name, hand written, on the front). And Austen has done a fantastic job with a romantic comedy novel.

My favourite part was towards the end, with Elizabeth and Darcy communicating (yay! Finally!), and, obviously, the eventual engagement (I’m guessing here that every single person knows they get together…). The comedy aspects of it did make me laugh out loud, especially at the sarcasm involved (I’m looking at you, Mr Bennet).

Now, to the language part (aka, the one thing that annoyed me that I still wouldn’t change). It’s long-winded, has big words (many of which I didn’t understand and therefore ignored) and, if it were written in the colloquialism of today, would have been about 100 pages less. The language is what took me so long to get through it, probably. My mind couldn’t take it on the bus rides in the morning to college, when everyone was asleep, and then I didn’t read it on the way back because everyone was awake! Moreover, it is difficult to read just a page; you have figure out where it begins, and then by the time it gets to the end, you’re too involved to stop.

The character development is great. Elizabeth’s change of heart, Mr Darcy’s complete change of character; in fact, I think the only ones who remained the same were Mary, Mrs Bennet and the Gardiners. The character’s are very 3D, and they are all different between each other – Mr Bennet and Elizabeth, Elizabeth and Jane, Bingley and Darcy, Wickham and the Colonel. I wish that all characters were like Austen’s.

Finally, the plot: the plot is a typical romance, admittedly, but it has scandals and subplots, and some parts of it are revealed slowly, so the reader remains guessing along with the characters. I never felt cheated on a plot, and felt that they all added to the atmosphere the book created, as well as the ideas it needed to show.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, definitely. Make sure you’ll be able to handle the language, but other than that it’s an incredible read and I love it to pieces.

#StillWaitingForMyMrDarcy