Tag: amwriting

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?

Advertisement

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?

Crafting Rich Characters (Part 1)

Originally posted on Story Empire: Greetings to all the storytellers out there. Let me start out by first wishing you a peaceful Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Then by sharing how delighted I am to be part of the Story Empire crew. I never tire of chatting about the craft of writing and hope to…

Crafting Rich Characters (Part 1)

Hello everyone,

Interesting article about character creation. Some good points and things to consider.

Originally posted by storyempirecom.wordpress.com. This is via Chris the Story Reading Ape fine website.

Hope you enjoy it.

The Next Step in 2022

Hello everyone,

Happy New Year!

As I move into another year, I wonder what my next step will be in my writing career.

It’s tricky trying to decide what to do next with your writing, isn’t it?

I’m coming to the end of my short story writing course, with the last area of study being In The Market, which focuses on how to approach becoming published. This, like the rest of the course, has provided me with a wealth of knowledge and tips going forward.

Now, it’s just a case of trying to putting my learnings into action.

That was easy enough to write. But planning and doing this is another thing.

I’ve read plenty of tweets and blog posts dedicated to the subject, and they have all helped me in some shape or form.

I’ll be honest, it’s nice to know others are going through the same thing I am, and for those who have already done this, their practical tips have been helpful. Such as providing a list of agents looking for submissions or how to write a query letter/email. It’s all information I’ve taken in, but I will go over it all again and again (and again) to prepare myself as much as possible.

My short story course has provided me with a questionnaire to use when researching potential markets for publication (with questions such as ‘what is the word count for the stories they publish?’, ‘what type of characters are in these stories?’, ‘who is the target audience?’ and so on.) This has helped me break down the subjects I’m looking into and shows if the subject is a viable option.

My research so far has found a lot of different competitions and online short story magazines. In particular, Neon Magazine, a small but long-running slipstream fiction, poetry, and word art online publication based in Edinburgh.

I’ve enjoyed researching and look forward to finding more magazines like this. Hopefully, closer to home (I’m based in Greater Manchester. Edinburgh is lovely, by the way)

This research has also shown me that it takes a lot of work, but I find it enjoyable. I did find it daunting initially, but I’m happy with it. Long may it continue.

So, this leads me to a question for you. How did you approach your research regarding potential markets you think you could get published in?

Thanks for reading and speak to you soon.

Lies, Secrets, and Scars Create Better Characters

A simple character profile is flat. But his lies, secrets and scars create an emotional journey that turns your story into a book readers can’t put down.

Lies, Secrets, and Scars Create Better Characters

Hello,

This is a post I found interesting in relation to the morals, values, or other belief systems of characters that can make a story more of a gripping read.

This also discusses how to detail these areas within a story and how this can help drive the story along.

Hope you enjoy it and find it useful.

Where to next?

Hope you’re all well.

I am coming to the end of a very productive Short Story Course (https://www.writers-online.co.uk/writing-courses/courses/short-story-course-first-edition/). The course covers various areas, including ‘Shaping Your Characters’, ‘Narration and Dialogue’, ‘Writing Style’ and more. I’ve been paired with a tutor, Lesley Eames (https://lesleyeames.com/), who has been helpful and provided some very useful feedback. Several things she has advised will stay with me for as long as I write.

Amongst those things was something that makes so much sense but has never been advised to me before. That is:

The tag for dialogue is part of the sentence.

More than likely, that sounds standard to most, but it’s new to me. After the dialogue, you put a comma before the ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ part. I’ve never been told that or come across it before in feedback or otherwise. It makes sense, but I find it strange it’s never crossed my path. One of the many benefits I’ve seen from doing a course on the craft of writing. I never want to stop learning things like this.

I’ve made plenty of notes and devoured all the feedback that Lesley has provided me. But she commented just before I started my current and penultimate course unit, ‘The Writer at Work’, which covers the writer actually doing the work. She said:

This will be the penultimate assignment in the current course, but it’s possible to book some extension assignments if you feel it would be helpful to continue to receive feedback on your writing. Alternatively, you might consider the challenge of a new course such as Fiction, which deals with longer stories, or Crime Writing. Another possibility is to submit work under the critiquing scheme.

             This got me thinking, where to next?

             I’ve always wanted to write a story or two using all the experience I’ve gained from working in the banking sector, which is around 18 years now. The ideas have always been there. But, as I enjoy writing Fantasy and Sci-Fi related stories, I didn’t know how to mesh the two together. And I preferred to write Fantasy and Sci-Fi that in no way involved my working life and to keep things separate. I’m not sure why, but I think it may have been a way of keeping my two worlds apart.

But then, an idea emerged.

This came about when I started to write my journal. The idea revolves around the banking industry and magic. I’m still working it out, but I’m enjoying it, and I’ve started to write it each day on my writing note app Evernote. Well, it’s now almost every day, but it’s moving along nicely.

I am making notes on the story as I go, which isn’t the usual way I like to work, but I’ll stick with it now. If you’d like to know more, see my previous post for more details(https://johnrsermon.com/2021/09/25/a-journal-to-start-and-stop/).

             This idea got me thinking about all the other ideas I’ve had and more so the ones I’ve turned into stories of varying lengths. And what to do with those stories in particular. The one part of Writing Life that alludes to me is being published. I won’t lie; seeing my name on a book I’ve created being published on any scale would be a dream come true. But, how do I accomplish this?

             This thought pushed me to sign up for another course, ‘How to Make Money from your Writing’. I’m hoping to learn a lot from this and take a big step in my writing life. 

             With this in mind, what further writing education have you done? Can you recommend any writing courses?  Please comment below. I’m interested to hear from you.  

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.