Category: My Writing.

Please find within this category full short stories or parts of longer stories. All comments are welcome. Note: If said comments turn out to be abusive or anything like that, they’ll be deleted.

My Favourite Film and Its Influence on My Writing.

Favourite Film: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Influence: Well, where do I begin?

I don’t remember the exact time I first watched The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly but I do remember only realising it was over 90 minutes long, which was the time I’d allocated to watch a film before bed. So I had to watch it in two parts. I was loving it but my eyes told me sleep was needed.

When I did watch the rest of it, and then it all at once, I knew I’d found my favourite film. Acting, score, story, direction and all the things in between, in my opinion it is a masterpiece of cinema.

The characters The Good, The Bad and The Ugly all have cool moments and also not so cool moments but throughout you know who they are and what they’re about. None of them steer from Good to Bad to Ugly or any of the variations. Although I like stories where characters grow and change, with this, they are already fully made. You don’t necessarily need to know how they became that way, you accept them for who they are and follow their story.

I am a fan in my own writing of character progression but I am also a fan of supporting characters just being who they are and accompanying the protagonist on their journey. I think when I consider my protagonists I have The Good (Blondie) in mind for his calmness, intelligence, and ruthlessness. I don’t want a cheap knockoff of Blondie in my stories but I think he’s always there in some way, shape, or form.

As for my antagonist(s), The Bad (Angel Eyes) and The Ugly (Tuco) are always floating around in my mind. They both know who they are and don’t apologise for it.

This is one of my starting points when creating a villain for my piece. I consider the villains position and motivation and come to why they are classed as the villain. As I’ve formed their identity I can consider how they go about their day. Usually, this involves a steely determination to get their job/plan/goal complete. Much like Angel Eyes in a sense. He knew how to survive and this gave him determination.

As for Tuco, he got things done in anyway he could. Even sacrificing his own friends and pushing away his family. None of this mattered if it meant him getting what he wanted. I use this within my villains at the start and usually they stay the same. Sometimes they grow but not drastically.

Having analysed my process against my favourite film, I’m pleasantly surprised how much of an influence it has on my writing.

Which leads me to a question and I’d like know your thoughts, Is there a film, favorite or otherwise, that influences your writing?

My Morning Journal and How It Makes Me Feel.

Hello everyone,


I hope you’re well.

If you write a journal, for whatever reason, how has it helped you and/oryour writing?


Since the turn of the year, I’ve been writing at least one page in my journal. I’d heard of the theory that writing down whatever is in your head in the morning can help you focus and prepare for the day ahead. I also heard it can help bring about some ideas and be a kind of therapy.

In practice, I’ve found these two theory’s to be true.

I started by writing whatever it was that was in my head. Sometimes it made sense and sometimes it did not. This then morphed over the course of a few days into making sense. I then used it to get out any frustrations or insecurities I had in my working and personal life.

Once I’ve written some grievance down I then tend to keep writing until working out why I’m annoyed and come to a resolution about the whole thing. Although this can take a few days of writing to do, it has been very helpful indeed.

It has and continues to help me overcome any negativity and anger I have about the particular situation I’m in. This has also allowed me to tackle similar circumstances from a different and more productive angle. I’m much calmer for it as well.

As a writer this has assisted my growth and development. I’ve been writing for years and this is a dimension I didn’t know I needed.

And it makes me realise how bad my handwriting has become. It was never exquisite to say the least but it has gotten worse. I do work on a computer in my day job but hopefully journalling will help sort this out. And build the strength back up in my hand.

If you write a journal, for whatever reason, how has it helped you and your writing as a whole?

Thanks for reading and (maybe) contributing. Have a good day!

To Draw and to Write

How many notepads do you have on the go at any one time? And what do you use them for?

Hello,

I hope you’re well.

I have been trying to get into the routine of carrying two notepads with me around the house for general, WIP related notes and for drawing pictures linked to my WIP and everything else.

My wonderful fiancé bought me a notepad with the Van Gogh picture ‘Starry Night’ on the front and back. As it has a strong link to a famous artist, I decided to use this as my drawing notepad. Although I can’t draw, I’m hoping it will spark more ideas in relation to my writing.

I’d taken a few pictures previously during the second lockdown (in the UK) whilst taking my morning walks. These were of my surroundings and I’ve since written stories linked to them. To take this further, I’ve decided to draw the pictures myself and add to them to enhance my story.

A most recent drawing started out as an attempt to draw a street with houses either side. This was to practice my perspective drawing. But, as I got into it, the picture morphed into the town where a western, which I first drafted in July 2017 and have started to re-write as of November 2020, is set. I drew those buildings I knew were part of the town and it led me to add a small church next to the huge barn where the town’s horses reside from time to time.

I wondered ‘Why a church?’

Then, it occurred to me.

At the beginning of my Western, our hero is greeted by a vicar trying to give him a bible. The vicar is enthusiastic but our hero is not religious so he declines the offer. The crestfallen vicar walks away. I’ve decided, all from just a drawing, that the hero, as he becomes more accustomed to the town, starts to go to church to find some calm. He gets to know the vicar as he does so. Through all of this, I have found a more prominent character and one that I will use to delve into the hero’s background and to shine a light on an unsung patron of the town. All this from one drawing. How I love the creative process!

As well as keeping my drawing notepad to hand as often as possible it comes with a friend…the writing notepad!

I began to use this particular notepad to map out my current WIP, which I had partially written on my phone in the mornings, on my way to, from, and during work, as well as at home. I realised I needed to map out the story in its entirety as I was getting confused as to what was going on.

Once I had mapped out what I had already written, I went full steam ahead and mapped out the whole thing. This allowed me to sort out the plot holes I had become aware of as I was writing the story on my phone.

With all of this, I managed to write 500 words. 500! That was more than I had managed towards any of my WIPs in the last six months combined on my laptop.

This has got me back into the groove of writing, which I had not realised I had fallen out of. I’ve been making plenty of notes, drawing, and thinking about it but not actually doing it outside of my short story course. Now to keep it going.

This leads me to (repeat) a question, how many notepads do you have on the go at any one time? And what do you use them for?

Thanks for reading and have a decent day!

Balancing Out Your Cast of Characters – by September Fawkes…

It’s no secret that side characters can be amazing in their own right. Great side characters feel like real people–even if the focus isn’t on them. They have lives that exist beyond the scope of the protagonist. When they seem to exist only to help or exacerbate the protagonist, they lack authenticity. With that said, untamed […]

Balancing Out Your Cast of Characters – by September Fawkes…

Hello everyone,

This is a re-blog of an excellent post from http://www.septembercfawkes.com about supporting characters and their role within a story to balance or potentially unbalance things out.

Click the link above for access to the full thing.

Have a good day!

Where’s my routine gone?

Hello,

Where has my writing routine gone?

I remember a time not so long ago when I used to sit down most days and write something. A few words or a lot of words or somewhere in between. I’d also make time to read in any gaps that were presented to me along the way.

Now, though, that seems to have disappeared. I am still writing but its ad-hoc and my motivation is all over the place. It does feel like its creeping its way back to the forefront of my mind and I think I just need to let it happen. But, that’s easier said than done.

It could be because I’m trying to focus on too many things at once. Writing my WIP, finishing my Short Story Course, reading a number of books at the same time, and drawing pictures to accompany said stories.

I’m thinking I need to bring in an actual, written down, schedule to try and keep to. Maybe I could buy a big wall chart or a computer screen the size of my office wall that I can change when….

Hold on. I’m getting ahead of myself now. Take a step back. I’ll just use one of my notepads. That’ll work just as well. The above would take up most of my house. And be slightly more expensive than a notepad one would assume.

This leads me to ask, how do you keep a writing routine?

Progress Made and a Trilogy finished.

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re all well, and your writing is moving along at whatever pace suits you.

Since my last post, I’ve progressed concerning potential markets that I could target for publication. Just a small amount, but it’s something. I have found a number of different websites that look like possibilities. The two I have looked into are https://moonflowerbooks.co.uk/ and Fantasy Magazine – From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism (http://www.fantasy-magazine.com)

Moonflowerbooks.

Fantasy-Magazine.

I’ve conducted some initial research into the types of stories they publish. Both publish short stories and novels. At present, Fantasy Magazine appears to be a better option. But, even if I don’t use either of them, I have enjoyed the research. I’ve been reading the stories available on their websites and getting to grips with their identity and how to submit to them.

I have found it interesting that they both have a different level of detail within their submission pages. Fantasy Magazine provides a lengthy description of what they want to see. It’s very honest, and I knew what they were after straight away. Moonflower, however, is simple and half the length but gets its message across. I’ll more than likely review both again to make sure they are still possible options.

After doing the research above, I have moved along with a goal of mine for 2022. To edit the stories I have written for my Short Story Course assignments and post them on this here blog for your kind eyes to read and review. I have seven stories in total, with each in a different genre. As they are short, the edits aren’t taking as long, which I’m grateful for. Although I know and embrace the editing part of the writing process, the shorter the story, the happier I am. I have many a novel that needs editing. I’m not looking forward to them. Well, I am just not as much. That’ll change when I actually get round to it. It always does.

However, editing these stories will give me a decent warm-up for the bigger challenges. Well, in theory anyway.

And with all this going on, I have managed to finish reading my current book and the third in the Embers of Wars Trilogy by Gareth L. Powell, Light of Impossible Stars.

Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed this trilogy and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Sci-Fi and, in particular, Space Opera. My favourite is ‘Fleet of Knives. I always enjoy the second in any trilogy, or film for that matter, because I can get stuck in. No need for introductions. The first book took care of that. I can just get right into the story.

Before I started reading these fine books (Embers of War Trilogy- Books | Gareth L. Powell (garethlpowell.com)), I’d never heard of a space opera. Or knew what one was, really. Following this trilogy, I am definitely a fan. I’m on the lookout for more of the same.

With this in mind, I have a double-barrelled question for you.

If you were to recommend a space opera novel, what would it be and why?

Thanks for your time and happy writing!

A Journal: To Start and Stop. 

Hello,

As you may have guessed, this post is centred around the art of the journal. If you have any tips on how to maintain the habit of completing a journal regularly, I would really like to hear from you.

So, I’ve been looking for a way to keep myself writing and help keep the ideas flowing. I like to think my idea radar is on point, but the more help the better. I’ve been taking regular morning walks before work, which have become a wonderful habit. The walks are helping the ideas come to me and they are mostly linked to my current WIP. Evernote (https://evernote.com/) lets me jot all of them down as I go. No worries there.

However, recently I have struggled to be as creative at home. As I work from home all day and use the same monitor, and work at the same desk as I would for my writing, I am reluctant to sit down in front of it to write in my free time. This blog post is from my laptop unplugged and moved to my kitchen table. And sometimes outside on my garden table. To try and solve this particular issue, I decided to jump into something I have been considering for a few years now;

The noble art of the Journal. (Or Journal-ing. Journal-isation? Jounal-isting?)

I first settled on the notebook I wanted to use for such an endeavour (see above), bought it and then…struggled to find anything to write in it. I’ve tried to write something every day but some days, I just don’t feel like updating it.

From the updates I have managed, they’ve been very therapeutic. I’ve also unearthed a gem of an idea (I’m a bit biased, but I think it’s decent). It’s an idea that allows me to merge the knowledge I’ve gained from my working life in the banking sector with the type of story I want to write. A present-day Sci-Fi and Fantasy type endeavour. This idea has also allowed me to get into another habit, writing every day. Evernote comes to the fore once again for this one. I write in the morning, so my day starts off on a high. I’d fallen into the habit of doom scrolling across the internet when I woke up. Now, I feel more energised. In more control of my writing. I’m focusing on what I can control instead of what is gone and beyond it. However, this stopped my journal updating progress.

I put this Journal related dilemma on Twitter and got a decent response. One response from ‘Marion Cleborne and the (Hopefully) Final Edits – @MarionCleborne’ said to try a one-sentence diary or one paragraph, which is an excellent idea for where to start. As well as this, I was given good advice about making this a habit and taking it one step at a time. Twitter is good sometimes, isn’t it? Thank you to @iamedterry and @reesepateluk as well for their help with this. 

In conclusion, I’m taking this Journal one step at a time and trying to build a new habit. And also had the side bonus of pushing me to write every day in some shape or form. Long may it continue.

If you have any tips on how to maintain the habit of completing a journal regularly, I would really like to hear from you.

Have a nice day.

The Bigger Picture (Part 2)

He woke up as his head flopped down onto his chest. He rubbed his neck as he adjusted in his seat, accidentally kicking the pizza on the floor. The clock said two in the morning, and he checked his phone and multiple messages stared back at him. His phone rang.

‘Hello mate, hey congratulations and all that,’ Robert said as he answered.

‘Thanks, mate. You didn’t answer any of our messages before. You usually respond quickly. I was getting worried. You, okay?’

‘Yeah, mate. Well…’ Robert hesitated as he searched for the right words in the dark. He stood up and walked towards the lines of moonlight that stretched across his carpet before moving closer to the window and staring out through the blinds. ‘That date from Friday didn’t work out.’

‘Ah. No worries, mate. They’ll be more where that came from. What was the reason this time? You know what, who cares—her loss. You’re a good guy. Her loss.’

‘Thanks, mate. And Happy Birthday, by the way. Forgot to tell you last week,’ Robert said, standing up a little straighter.

‘Not a problem. You’ve wished me the best for other years. I don’t think much of turning thirty-five anyway. You did a few months ago, how was it?’

‘Average at best.’

‘See? Anyway, I’m off to bed. I’ve only had one drink mate but, I love you. I’ll speak to you later.’

‘You too, mate. See you later,’ Robert said, putting the phone down. He looked at the dark screen in his hand before looking back out at the moon. He glanced around his front room before throwing his phone onto the settee, closing the blinds, and going to bed. (282 Words – Part 2)

*

The next day he came downstairs and frowned at his phone on the settee. He pocketed it and went into the kitchen.

Later that day, he was working on his laptop when a ringing tone came out of it. He flinched before realising it was a video call. He answered and adjusted his laptop and the camera as he did so.

‘Hello son, how’s Sunday treating you?’

‘I’m good, Dad. Since when did you learn how to use video calling?’

‘Since your brother taught me a few weeks ago. Can you hear me, okay?’

‘I can, Dad. Coming through loud and clear.’

Robert chatted with his father, struggling to know where he should look (at my face? at his face? somewhere in between?) before his Mum joined in. Closely followed by his brother. The conversation settled into a rhythm that brought a small smile to Robert’s face.

‘We should do this every week. What do you think, Rob?’ his brother said.

Robert stuttered. ‘Why? I’m only a few miles away from you all?’

‘So? We don’t get to see you that often anymore.’

‘Sure. Weekly video calls sound good. Or even just conversations via massager would be fine. What do you think, Mum and Dad?’

‘Sounds great. I…,’ said Dad.

‘No. I can never get those things to work,’ interrupted his Mum. Thus began a long conversation about how she thought video calls work against how everyone else knew they did. At times Robert just sat back and smiled. (546 words)

The rest of Robert’s day moved along at a smooth pace. Leaving his phone in his bedroom to charge, he cleaned his flat from top to bottom and did all his washing and ironing to cover the coming week.

Later that evening, he sat down at his dinner table to eat his reheated takeaway. As he got halfway through, he remembered his phone was upstairs. After retrieving it and sitting back down at his table, it buzzed and buzzed for around ten seconds. Several messages greeted him, all referencing a night out from his friends. Robert hovered his thumb over the keyboard and began to type.

“Just us five. Not been on a night out like that in ages,” one message read. Robert hesitated and then continued typing.

“No other halves then?” He sent the message and then quickly started to type a second message, “Because I’m not that bothered if” but did not have time to send it as more messages came through.

“Just us five. Like it was in the beginning?” read another message.

“Really? Okay. Great. I’m looking forward to it. I mean, I look forward to our usual nights out with other halves included,” Robert sent. He smiled as they ignored it, and the buzzing kept on going as a plan began to form.

“Cool. Meet at seven o’clock in the pub on Friday,”

“Looking forward to it,” Robert responded. He went back to his food before his phone buzzed again, and he glanced down mid-bite. Caroline’s name flashed up. He scanned her message, which was made up of several excuses and half compliments, before deleting it and messaging another friend to see if he was free for a call. As his friend replied, he rang him and smiled as he answered. 

The Bigger Picture (Part 1)

Robert just managed to get the last train home, and once he reached his stop, he jumped off and ran the mile to his house to get out of the rain. After throwing his sopping wet coat on the comfy chair opposite, he planted himself on his settee. He took a deep breath and looked at his phone. His thumb hovered over the send button. Is it too soon? Did I come across too desperate or needy? She seemed to enjoy the date, didn’t she? He thought. Before he could send anything, his phone buzzed in his hand. Two messages flashed up; one from a friend and the other from his date, Caroline.


‘Sorry, mate. I’ll look later,’ Robert said. He opened Caroline’s message, and almost as soon as he did, he sat back with a thud and let out a sigh.

‘You’ve met someone else? We just went out? Did you meet someone on the tram home?!’ he said. He messaged back and threw his phone onto the floor before putting his head in his hands. His phone buzzed again, and he almost flew out of his seat to pick it up.

‘Congratulations,’ he said, with an empty feeling hitting his stomach as he sat on the floor. He looked blankly at the picture he had been sent of his friends’ engagement. He flopped his head back against the settee and stared at the ceiling.

*

The following day, he woke up early but left his bed late. As he eventually rose for the day, the clothes from the previous night had dried where they lay on the edge of the bed. As he put the now dry clothes back on, wondered what the stale scent was before realising it was him, or rather, his clothes. He shrugged at that and the pile of work shirts on the floor before cleaning his teeth. He opened his front door and squinted at the sun light as he stepped outside to go for a walk.

The heat was light and calming on the back of his neck as he approached a small park and found a bench. He settled in and took out his phone and called his mother.

‘Sorry, Mum. I meant to call you a few days ago,’ he said. She accepted his reason, and they chatted for the next ten minutes.

‘So, how did your date go last night?’ his Mum said. Robert shifted in place as he contemplated the question.

‘Oh…it didn’t go so well. I don’t know what happened,’ he replied. He then went through what had happened the previous night. He took a deep breath partway through to stop his bottom lip from quivering. ‘That was my tenth date in three months, Mum. The reasons are getting numerous and off-putting.’

‘Never mind. I’m sure you’ll meet a nice girl one of these days. You’re a lovely boy.’

‘Thanks, Mother.’

They chatted for ten more minutes before she had to go. Robert could hear a door opening and a few voices in the background before the phone went dead. He slowly put his phone away and sat back on the bench. Over the next few hours, he rested his hand on his pocket over his phone. Several times he went to take it out but resisted. He people-watched and observed different couples out of the corner of his eye as they walked by. He smiled and turned away each time. The clouds over head started to darken and he stood up to head home.

‘Six o’clock? So be it,’ he said. He ordered a takeaway not long after getting home. He settled onto the settee and his eyes widened as he realised the data on his phone was not switched on. He smiled as he turned it back on, but the smile faded as his phone became quieter with each passing second.

He idly scrolled through his phone’s gallery until he frowned at a picture of a couple with one pushing their hand towards the camera. He gasped as he remembered. He sent a response to his friend, saying he was happy for him and them both. A few separate conversations started up across the messaging group, and his thumb hovered over the keyboard to respond. He glanced at it and could see his name in some of the messages, but he did not answer.

‘What am I watching? Where is the remote?’ he said. The doorbell rang, and he retrieved his pizza. He settled back down again and devoured one slice before putting the box of food on the floor.

Possible Perfectionist

I think I’m very close to being a perfectionist. About 100% as per the graph below:

I’ve known this for a while, but I don’t always apply the 100% to everything I do. Just the essential things in my life like my fiancé, family, and friends. And my writing

Anyway, I’m currently in the middle of an Assignment as part of the Short Story Writing Course I’m completing. This was purchased via The Writing Magazine (https://www.writers-online.co.uk/writing-courses). So far, I’ve worked my way through five sections of the eight that make up the course. Those are First Principles, Shaping Your Characters, Characters and Plotting, Narration and Dialogue, and Writing Style. Each has its own assignment, and you’ve got as much time as you need to complete them. Well, not all the time, but they are pretty casual about the timescales but recommend getting into a routine while doing the course to help you gain the most from it. 

The latest section, Writing Style, has set an assignment to write in 1,000 words a story that builds a strong sense of atmosphere and/or place. When I was given this assignment, I’ll admit it seemed a bit daunting to me and a little bit scary. I had a rough idea of how I would do it, but I wasn’t sure if I’d ever done it before. But I must’ve done. Right?

I’ve finished First Drafts for Novels and Short Stories so far in my Writing Career and created the atmosphere I needed to tell my story correctly. So, why am I scared now?

Not sure, really. I think it’s because I’ve never sat down and just written a piece that only focuses on creating a sense of anything. Let alone atmosphere and/or place. I knew that I had to come up with some ideas, but what to use?

In my previous assignments, I’ve used such scenarios as manager-team member conflict (Conflicting Characters – Characters and Plotting) Friends living together (Narration and Dialogue – Three-Way Conversation). Still, I didn’t want to just revisit these as that seemed too easy.

Then, it hit me. I really enjoy writing fight and battle scenes, so why not use this? The sense of atmosphere within a battle (I imagine) is strong and can change (again, I imagine) quickly. I settled on my scenario for my assignment, now to write it.

That went quite well. I crafted a piece about a soldier fighting demons as part of an army. Looking like they are on top, only to have the demons retreat as a bigger foe, one they are even petrified of, came into the picture. This allowed me to change the atmosphere from happy and carefree (Winning the battle) to fear and dread (Probably going to lose the battle) midday through the story.

I considered rewriting the story and focusing all 1,000 words on one sense of atmosphere. But I preferred the challenge of conveying the shift in atmosphere partway through—about halfway to be exact. Then I considered changing it. I always edit my assignments, even though I’m looking for feedback, so if I didn’t, it would be fine.

But, I’m a writer. I’m not wired like that at all.

And thus, began weeks and weeks of edits that have become never-ending. Now, I’m aware this is part of my writing life, and that’s fine but, how far should I go with an edit for a Writing Course Assignment? Or should I just send it off and see what happens?

This leads me to a question.

Whilst completing a short piece of writing for submission (1,000 to 2,000 words) to be submitted, would you send the first draft of your assignment or edit it before submission?