Point of View

I never had any doubt, for years I have written (on and off) my fantasy novel in third person. Then, suddenly, doubt barged in. I began The Shifter by Janice Hary and she writes first person so well I instantly wondered, “Is this how I can best tell my story?”

So, I went to a worldwide fantasy forum for their advice. I received excellent advice and one member taught me a neat trick. Write in first person to get in the head of my character then turn that into third person. The result? I feel more emerged in what’s happening to my character. This was exactly what I needed. Stellar advice.

P.S. The West Wing taught me another speech beat this week – trochee, so DUM dee 🙂

10 Minute Challenge

This week’s writing challenge required a stolen ring, a sinister stranger and a fear of spiders. Instantly, I thought Lord of the Rings. Go figure! This is my effort:

On her way home from high school, a few doors from home, Gail paused on the footpath and shuddered. A few spider webs were baseball-plate size Christmas lights between the two storey trees ahead. The silhouette of palm-sized spiders were a bullseye in each web. She dreaded this part of her daily walk. In fact, she hated living on this street. Oh, how she hated her life.

A van pulled up beside her. A hooded guy got out and approached her. This was the worst day of her life. Seriously. Are you kidding me? First, she had to go home and confess to her mother someone stole her Grandmother’s ring. The one she borrowed on the weekend. Must’ve been during her sport period. Second, she faced these spiders. Third, this guy looked dodgy. Super dodgy. Could her day get worse?

She screamed.

A shrill scream. A blood-curdling scream.

Not looking back, she bolted for home.

Despite her fear of spiders.

Before she reached the first spider, the man raised his voice, “Don’t be scared! I just wanted directions to a petrol station.”

West wing

I’m bingeing on The West Wing for the purpose of paying particular attention to the dialogue they used (which is brilliant, even third time around) and, dammit, the story draws me in every time and I forget why I’m watching! Shoot, I have a purpose!

Emily Procter was commented (in the show) as speaking in iambic pentameter. Now, I’ve heard of iambic pentameter but I’ve never actually looked into it. So this comment on The West Wing lead me down a magical hole and into exploring iambic pentameter. I learned it is a particular rhythm to speech and has 8 beats. Da Dum Da Dum Da Dum Da Dum. There is a wave of lows followed by highs. The most famous person who wrote iambic pentameter was Shakespeare, although he’s not alone by far

“What light through yonder window breaks?” Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2

A beat of the drum falls on each syllable. Truly fascinating. Love it. Watching West Wing for dialogue has taught me something about the rhythm of speech.

They also had an episode based on the Don Henley song New York Minute. What a song. Check it out on YouTube here. Beautiful chilling lyrics, don’t I know it!

GRATITUDE

Please read

BROKEN BUT NOT BEATEN

When we think of gratitude, many of us think of it as simply ‘being thankful’. Thankful to someone for what they have done for us. But gratitude is so much more complex than that. Gratitude is about feeling and expressing appreciation for everything we’ve been given and all that we have (big or small).

It’s important to realise that nearly all experiences have both “positive” and “negative” components. The more painful the experience, the harder it can be to find the positives. But there are always positives; you just need to look for them.

An attitude of gratitude means making it a habit to express thankfulness and appreciation on a regular basis. For some people it is a personality trait, meaning that it comes naturally. For others it takes work but with practice everyone can develop an attitude of gratitude. Living with an attitude of gratitude will help you have…

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The Secret in the Garden

Sorry, been short on inspiration and time but recently managed this:

 

The handball bounced high toward the tangled, draped fingers of ivy covering the dark green bushes near the fence-line of Bruce’s long backyard.

“I’ll get it!” cried eleven-year-old Matt, shoving his mate out of the way as he bolted after the ball.

Bruce, the same age, sprung after the ball and yelled, “No, you won’t, I will!” On the run, he practised a jumping side kick that sent Matt into the concrete near the house. Their very own makeshift “court”.

Matt leapt to his feet and ignored blooming red grazes on his leg as he tore after Bruce. “You cheater!”

Bruce stopped at the bushes to see the ball under them. He crouched low. His arm stretched through sticky cobwebs for the red ball but it lay a good yard away – just out of reach. With one hand-sweep, he pushed the cobwebs aside. With the other, he tried to reach in again. A growl stopped him mid-reach. His spine shuddered. He yanked his outstretched hand to his lap. Matt arrived him in time to hear the bushes rumble. The ball rolled out of sight.

“What’s that noise?” Matt asked in a small voice. He pushed his black-frame glasses over the bump of his once-broken nose.

“We need our ball. I’m going in,” said Bruce.

“Don’t. You don’t know what’s there,” countered Matt.

“You’re just saying that because I’m beating you,” said Bruce. “I want to win.” He reefed the vines aside. Then he got on all fours and crawled over the damp earth under the bushes by the back fence.

A distorted shadow slid in the space between Bruce and the ball. Bruce froze. His eyes remained planted on the shadow but he glimpsed a blur in his peripheral vision as Matt scooted for the back door, shoulders before his feet.

The darkness launched for Bruce and, in a split second, he contemplated running or staying to fight.

Bruce raised his arms ready to attack but the shadow had no respect for any civilized rules of engagement, something Bruce discovered the hard way. Bruce panicked. The shadow slipped through his guard and funneled up his nostrils while he gagged. A year of training had never prepared Bruce how to fight for possession of his body. Confusion engulfed him. After the evil gained control of his body, it turned to his soul.

With ease his consciousness was pushed aside, as though this thing was practiced at stealing body and soul, and inside Bruce’s mind he shrank from the invading evil. Terror filled Bruce in the portion of his mind he was cornered. The evil sought dominion of his mind until only a teeny portion of Bruce survived and the evil engorged him. A triumphant leech.

By the time possession of his body and soul was complete, the back fly screen burst open and Matt raced toward him with Bruce’s mum close behind.

Bit-by-bit a smile filled his face and the new-Bruce flexed his hands and ran them through his flaxen hair while blue eyes turned black with a pleasurable, evil twinkle. He picked up the ball, left the garden and yelled, “I have it!”

Sustenance, come to me.

 

Nasty habits

I’ve discovered one nasty habit in my current draft. I find I write things like: he “started to” walk, he “started to” jog, or he “began to” stroll. Thankfully, I find it easy with Scrivener to search these phrases and change the phrase to “he walked”, “he jogged” or “he strolled”. Not bad – around 20 times in 80000 words! Still, 20 times too much.

Another habit is using hear/heard too much. Often I find if I reevaluate the sentence where the hear/heard appears I realize the situation calls for “listen” instead.

I also use cliches without even realising it. Did you know “hands on” is a cliche? Without prowritingaid.com I wouldn’t even know I wrote with these nasty flaws but with it, I am able to see and eliminate these faults.

Hopefully, eliminating these faults will tighten my writing and help my voice shine. Obviously, with all faults, I make a judgement call whether eliminating the faults improves my story before I make changes.