Tag Archives: creativewriting

Random Writing: The Bells

The start of something, inspired by a peal on a Saturday. It’s still quite rough, and I’m not sure where it’s going yet! I may turn it into a flash piece.

It never fails to surprise me how, two cities and a continent away, the sound of the bells can still wake me from my sleep, bringing me bolt upright and sweating into the musty darkness of my room.

It was another life away, that peal – although it was not one, never one. There were bells for mass and ceremony, liturgy and matins. There were bells for birth, and marriage and joy; bells for death and separation and trouble.

And bells for disaster.

It is always that peal I hear, deep in the night. The slow, solemn thud of the ringer against the largest cloche; the deep, throbbing tone ringing out across the rooftops, shaking the birds out of slumber and the mortar in the walls, shaking the cobbles and the bricks, shaking the air itself as it bestirred all of us out of our lives.

Danger. Danger.


Beta reading: Opinion, problems and causes

I’ve just recently finished a beta read for Adrian’s latest novel, and saw him last week to give feedback on it. Well, I sent him an email with the draft and feedback, gave him a day to weep into his ice-cream bucket, and then met him for cake to discuss.

One of the things he and I both agree on with feedback is that it hurts. That never gets easier – no matter how many things you’ve submitted, I think it will always feel like a personal blow to get someone telling you that they hate your novel, and it’s the worst thing they’ve ever read – or in this case, I didn’t like the first half, and thought it needed rewriting. You need a day wallowing with ice cream.

And then you pull yourself together, get some perspective, and get to work.

The interesting thing with beta reads – and the trick to it, really – is to learn to separate your personal opinion and the problem. You need both – when I edit or beta, I make a point to add what I like as well as what I don’t like, because the author needs to know what’s working as well as what isn’t. But for the bits that I don’t like, it’s then a case of doing some analysis.

Do I dislike it simply because I don’t like that sort of thing? Adrian had gone quite Reservoir Dogs, and for me, the strength of the books in many ways is the heroism…and so having some nasty scenes is a jarring moment. Is it because it’s the wrong time in the book, or the wrong character? Is it because it just doesn’t fit?

So we sat and chatted, and spent some time working through what he was going for, what effects he’s using, why the scenes are there in the plot and themes, what works and what doesn’t…and I think we did eventually boil it down to a root cause (which was wrong character POV). But if we hadn’t done that analysis, all that would have come out was “rewrite the first half” – and it could have ended up as bad. I could highlight a problem, but then Adrian can counter with reasons those scenes need to be in there…it’s really interesting to try to get to the bottom of problems, and to understand why the reader is having the issue – particularly as this stage in a book, when the plot and characters are still fairly in flux.

And this is why people say that everything can be fixed in editing, and that you’re writing the first draft simply to find out what the story is. You get it all on a page, and then you tear it to pieces again – and rebuild. One of the other things to come out was that I felt one of the secondary characters didn’t get enough of a showing, despite having a few key scenes – and so the rewrite hopefully means that she can get wound further into the plot, and it will make her contribution better. So the changes potentially solve another problem that might have come up on the next round of edits.

It’s really interesting, and while it is hard work, I’m loving doing it.


*apologies for any spelling mistakes in this; I’ve got a cold and my fingers aren’t typing what my brain wants them to!

Dresden Files fanfic – gettin’ it out there!

Ok. So. Having had several lovely comments on a Dresden-Files-ish short story (Winter’s Loan), a kick from both PandaFries and Thalamas, and a good day, I took my courage in both hands and jumped.

While I have previously posted some of my Dresden Files fanfic around the RPG I played up until last year, I’ve never had the courage to post more than snippets. But, since this weekend, the first few complete parts of my Dresden Files fanfic is up on Wattpad, and I’m going to be trying to post another bit each week – probably Saturdays.

And holy f*** does this take more courage than I thought I had. It’s ridiculously exciting – I was on top of the world on Saturday and didn’t shut up thanks to overflowing happy energy (sorry, Swindon FreeWriters) but it’s also terrifying.

I loved these characters. I lived them for over two years. I had them in my head and in my life. I wrote so many words of game write-up or extra story…this is a bit of my heart and my soul, and I’m terrified of putting it out there because I feel so small, and so completely and absolutely judged. I’m scared of what people reading are going to think of me. I’m scared of what it says about me (apart from the fact I have a knack for putting my characters in mean situations). I’m scared of what anyone who reads is going to think. It was fiction, yes, but it was choices that I made for my characters – and having almost lived the situations, I can’t stay as removed from it as I can with my other writing. I was there, having those arguments, laughing at the antics. With the game, at least, it’s not just in my head – and while most of these pieces are just character extrapolations from that (certainly the romance and sex scenes would be a bit of a different roleplay style from the one we played, and probably require less clothing) it’s still got that heart-string tug.

But…I love it. Re-reading, I can’t stop smiling. I love it. And I want to share it.

It will only be the Dresden Files Swindon game that will get shared, and I’m still taking that one story at a time, so there may end up being pieces I don’t put up. I won’t ever be sharing any of the wolfpack games; while I wish with all my heart that I could share Ryan’s writing with you, I can’t get his permission, and I don’t think he’d want it shared. I absolutely adore it – but it’s his, not mine. And so that will stay locked.

But as for everything else… *deep breath* I can do this. I can. So, keep an eye out on Wattpad for new stories, and absolutely please, honestly, tell me what you think!

Random musings on “no new stories” and writing new stories

I’ve been plotting a series of cozy murder mysteries (which may or may not have resulted in me wandering around the house muttering to myself, occasionally absently chatting to my mother about the best way to sneakily kill someone, and maniacally laughing) but I’m struggling to write them, and I still can’t get the damn voice for Necromancer’s Charm right. I’ve been feeling grey and annoyed; writer’s block at its finest, when there doesn’t seem to be anything stopping me writing, but I just can’t get it right.

So I trundled over to see Adrian last night for a kick up the butt and some advice (and a few board games).

“Well, it’s yer ego.” (He’s actually insufferable if you ever meet him in person. Half of my job is a beta reader and half is his ego-flattener, because he needs both :-D). “You’re trying to write something popular, not what you want to write. You’re a good writer but you aren’t writing something you’ll enjoy.”

I promptly argued back that No Man’s Land was what I wanted to write, and that’s not what anyone wants right now. I do need to at least have one eye on what agents/publishers/readers want…so we had a discussion, and I threw some ideas at him. And then he threw one back at me.

Now, there’s no new ideas. Every story boils down to a few things, and as Desire says in Gaiman’s Sandman, every story boils down to the same thing; someone wants something. Sometimes they get it, sometimes they don’t.

But one of the problems of being a writer is that you have far more ideas than you could ever write. I have a folder stuffed with them! But because I can’t ever write them all, I’m happy to give them away: after all, if someone can write that story, then best of luck to them! And I’m lucky that Adrian thinks the same.

Besides, as I spotted the other day someplace on Twitter; every story has already been told. It just hasn’t been told by you.

So I have a base idea from Adrian, fitting in with the general time period and theme that I wanted to use. How I tell it is going to be my story; I’ll add twists, tell it in my own way, give it my own spin. It doesn’t stop him using it; if he ever did want to, he’d put enough of his own spin on it that it wouldn’t be the same story, even though it might have come from the same root. Maybe we could start a new genre…

Anyway. I’m not going to tell you anything about it, beyond that it’s a cross between Moist Von Lipwig, Agatha Christie and Only Fools And Horses – and may involve a parrot. Watch this space and we’ll see if this works!