Don’t show – don’t tell

One of the best known tips in writing is to show not tell but a challenge to write about the word façade had me thinking; everybody that we know presents to us a façade, like it or not it is the truth.

Think about it, when we meet someone for the first time we weigh them up, we look at their mannerisms, check out their job role, look at how wealthy or poor they appear and from all of that initial information we assess which of our many facades we are going to present to them.

We all do it, even if we might want to deny it. We never open up completely to someone we don’t know. We feed them just the right amount of information to test the waters; can we trust them? Can we relate to them? Can we even understand where they are coming from?

We use a façade but we probably don’t think about the fact that they will be using one too.

I think this is really important when we are writing. We create our characters then we have to reveal them but if we do that totally at the beginning of our story then we are not being real. We do need to show not tell but we also need to keep their real selves safe until our other characters get to know them. We want the reader to relate to the protagonist but shouldn’t we reveal them in a safe and realistic way?



Stein on writing – Review

Sol Stein is a well-known author and editor and his take in this book is all about structure and editing.

He gives clear examples of how to craft your work, review it and edit it. I found it a little dated with references to what is expected in the 20th century but that is when it was written and it doesn’t take away any of the good examples of what not to do or how to redraft your work.

It is very much about editing and restructuring but it is worth having just for that.

Don’t get too bogged down in this before you have your first draft on paper but reading it before writing might help you to avoid common mistakes as you go along so that you have less to do afterwards.


When you start a story but it never gets finished.

When you start a story but it never gets finished.

One of my problems with writing, and life in general, is that I’m a starter rather than a finisher. That’s the problem when you have a creative mind or talent; you focus on something for a short while and then something else grabs your curiosity, so you head off to do that instead.

This happens to me again and again. I never have a problem with finding things to do because I always have something new on the go. This does have its drawbacks though; as can be witnessed by my new studio that was built, eventually, for somewhere to do my oil paintings, but got filled with stuff on a temporary basis until I got it sorted out. It then became my studio for my silk painting, my mosaics, wood carving, wire sculptures, weaving, bee keeping and of course for my writing.

You will probably have guessed that my studio has never actually been used for any of these things because it has become a temporary home for all the stuff that goes with all of them. The writing, thank goodness is the exception; that has been established at a new computer desk inside the house. Well I say it has, but actually I’m currently sitting next to that desk using a laptop on my knee because the chair for the desk is still in the studio under a load of stuff.

That’s why I had to change my style of writing; I like many others had this great notion of writing a book and having it published but actually planning a full novel and structuring it is a lot of effort and of course the chances of me sticking with it to the end are fairly small. I now write short stories, no more than around three thousand words which is something I can complete in one sitting.

There is something about completing a task that is very satisfying and I’m learning from that. Now my challenge is to get the chair out of the studio; it will take a bit of digging as it is under the loom and various other bits of equipment; and to sort out a number of short stories that have the same characters and settings so that I can do the NaNoWriMo challenge of fifty thousand words in a month. After all a novel is simply a book made up of small chunks called chapters and those can all be short stories in themselves.


Should I put my writing out there?

Is it a strange coincidence that a lot of writers have very few Facebook friends?

Of course well known authors will have many likes and followers but I was just scrolling down another writer’s Facebook page and as I passed the cursor over those that had commented (mostly writers or those who want to be from the comments) it tells me how many Facebook friends they have. It appeared that the majority had less than 100 friends.

Is this a symptom of their writing I wondered?

Well, if like me you have started to put your writing blog out there and people have started to read it then of course the consequence may be that you will start to lose friends (or at least acquaintances) because they don’t like your writing. Most people don’t know that you can simply unfollow someone so that you don’t see their every post. So is it worth putting your blog out there?

Of course it is; writing is an art form, you don’t have to be good in other people’s eyes to be a writer or an artist. In fact if everybody thought you were good then there would be something very wrong, either you would be an unknown artistic genius or more likely, everyone would be saying they liked what you wrote even though they hated it.

Get over it! Art is for the artist, if other people like it; all well and good. If other people hate it; that’s fine too; we all have our own tastes, likes and dislikes; so you shouldn’t take it to heart when people don’t like your work. The same of course comes to getting published; some publishers will love your work and others will hate it, but if you never send it to them you will never know.

There is absolutely no need to send what you have written to a publisher and it may be better for you not to do so. If you love writing, enjoy seeing your words in black and white, or any other colours, just write them. Use whatever medium you choose; be it pen and paper, typewriter or computer but just enjoy the delight of letting your mind flow into the world of the scriptorium.

Funnily enough I haven’t looked to see how many people are un-liking my Facebook page; I’ve never cared how many I had in the first place. What I do know is that those that like my writing will follow my blog if they want to; and it is nice to see a following of more than just myself. It might even mean that there are others out there who appreciate my ramblings and since I get an email every time I get a new follower, it also means that I can look at their writing too and that has given me a whole plethora of new reading materials.

More important for me is the fact that writing is good for my soul, or at least my mind. I find writing a release from the real world and somewhere that I can relax and let go of all my STUFF. That’s an important tool for keeping my stress levels down, keeping me happy and possibly even sane; or at least slightly less insane.

I enjoy writing for the sake of writing not because I have to do it, not for anyone else’s benefit, but for the sheer pleasure of seeing my mind flow into that scriptorium, and it will be there for others to love or to hate as they will.

Of course if you are sending your work to publishers, and I do send stories to magazines and competitions, you need to keep that somewhere offline until it is published or you may infringe the publisher’s requirements, but you can like me, write some things to send to publishers and others for your blog, you then have two channels to play with.


Review -How to Write a Short Story, Get Published & Make Money by Christopher Fielden

Having sworn never to buy another book or another course on how to write, I saw an advert for this book and it has really changed me into a writer.
Of course this isn’t really true – I have been writing articles for years but I have never had the nerve to write and attempt to get fiction published, I’m not saying that this book hasn’t been transformational – it has, because I decided that rather than try to write a huge novel and have it turned down by the publishers that I would have a go at writing a few short stories and see what might happen with them.
Having made this slightly crazy decision along came this book and it just screamed out “buy me”.
Well, the bottom line is that I did buy the book and it is probably the best book on writing I have ever purchased – it is the first that is not a “get rich quick – I can make you into a best-selling author” load of utter bollocks.
Chris gives great examples of how to get published, how to get writing, and how to become just as poor and yet happy as he is.
No, you may not become a best-selling author through using this book but then again who knows – it is a very brave book with Chris giving examples of his work and of the reviews he got. He shows how he used the reviews to improve his work and the results of that too.
Would I recommend his book – yes if you want to become addicted to writing, want to really enjoy writing and getting honest feedback.
If you want to get rich quick – rob a bank. If you want to start out as a writer – you could do a lot worse than buying this book.
I didn’t enjoy all of the stories Chris has written but I have enjoyed a lot of them and learned a lot from his honest assessment of his stories and the feedback he got.
Chris also has a great website and both that and the book have a massive amount of information that can help a new writer get their stories out there. I now have seven short stories being considered by various publishers and I’m enjoying the sheer fun of writing.
I have to say I would probably never have submitted them if I hadn’t bought this book – it is well worth more than it’s current market price (I can say that now that I’ve already bought it ;0)
I don’t know Chris personally but I’ve had some good advice from him after contacting him through his website but I’m very happy to give his book this review.

Chris Fielden

He Made Me – Honestly

OK this one is meant to be bad – an entry in Chris Fielden’s Writing Challenges –

Adverb Writing Challenge – Many new writers overuse adverbs in their writing. To raise awareness of this, the Adverb Writing Challenge was born. All you have to do is write a story crammed with as many adverbs as you can. 100 words Max.

Here is one of my entries – now published on his site.

He Made Me – Honestly

I was writing inadequately but passionately about an intrinsically difficult topic, that I remarkably and sensationally scripted in lavishly, artistically decorated, beautifully, irrationally coloured script.

I decidedly, overwhelmingly, outdid myself with extraordinarily and ridiculously phrased, insignificantly thought through sentences, that unequivocally proved that I am uninspiringly endowed with a remarkably unexplored ability to uncomfortably waffle, which could undoubtedly send any rationally and sanely motivated person to consider me positively and undoubtedly out of my interestingly unexamined, fractionally endowed tiny insignificantly minuscule little brain.

My only vague attempt to rationally and honestly excuse myself – he told me to do it!

Deliciously and outrageously overwhelmed by a significantly beautiful and glamourous witch.

OK this one is meant to be bad – an entry in Chris Fielden’s Writing Challenges –

Adverb Writing Challenge – Many new writers overuse adverbs in their writing. To raise awareness of this, the Adverb Writing Challenge was born. All you have to do is write a story crammed with as many adverbs as you can. 100 words Max.

Here is one of my entries – now published on his site.

Deliciously and outrageously overwhelmed by a significantly beautiful and glamourous witch.

I quietly and anxiously awaited her, obediently and coyly leaning awkwardly and nervously against the lavishly and ornately decorated fountain. Fortunately she dutifully and quite dramatically arrived astride her elegantly designed and magically powered broomstick.

She was alluringly dressed in a sharply and bravely cut, elegantly styled dress. She dismounted gracefully and gleefully; silently and deftly crossed to my side, unexpectedly took my limply dangling hand and vivaciously pulled me wantonly into her embrace. Innocently I warmly and excitedly kissed her perfectly formed and beautifully full lips and she obnoxiously and somewhat irritatingly turned me into a grotesquely malformed frog.

Creative Chaos

A flash fiction story written for Theatre Cloud’s Tell a tale in 500 words – just a bit of fun

The creators were having a good day, they; since ‘the creator’ exists in a multitude of parallel dimensions and therefore were one and many at the same time; were having fun.

Well, I say they exist in parallel dimensions, but today the creators felt very creative indeed and decided to take up platting. What had previously been possible and impossible at the same time, depending upon which particular parallel dimension you might be visiting; had suddenly become probable, actual and inconceivable all at the same time.

The creators took the strands of newly formed chaos, and from them invented a small god, whom they named Sod; they released him into the platted strands of his own space-time dis-continuum and gave the little chap a bit of creative ability of his own, just for fun.

Sod quickly developed a rather mischievous spirit and was not, as many people may expect the origin of the ‘law of Sod,’ but at the same time he was, and again he only probably could have been, but the evidence is circumstantial.

Sod went about the intricate web of the multiverse; sprinkling small showers of awareness here and there and small showers of total unawareness there and here.

Awareness is generally thought of as affecting sentient beings, but since the possible and impossible had now become entwined with the probable; awareness now had a whole new range of impossibilities to play with.

Money for example, became aware of the rich and the poor, and decided to make some changes; this became apparent when wallets emptied themselves of their contents as rich people walked through poor areas of town. People, who had previously had nothing, could suddenly buy food for themselves and their families; whilst those who used to keep their money in their wallets until the moths had died; took up a new hobby of accusing the poor of theft, whilst being totally unable to prove anything.

Supermarkets found their huge profits dwindling, although they didn’t collapse completely; whilst small corner shops suddenly thrived. Everyone found that they were paying their taxes, both the workers and the multinational companies. There was increasingly enough money available for new, affordable housing for the homeless, and medical care for everybody; even the nature reserves and sanctuaries got enough funding to make things sustainable for wildlife.

The creators looked in the mirror and saw there a puzzled look staring back at them.

“What on earth have we done” they asked themselves.

“You appear to have twisted fate as well as reality” Sod answered “and I will get the blame for it.

Well it doesn’t seem to have worked out too badly, the creators thought; perhaps we should do more creative things; “Anyone fancy knitting, or crochet?”

Sod put his head in his hands in desperation, knowing that what was to come would give him a reputation beyond anyone’s comprehension. He looked at the world through the cracks between his fingers and quietly chuckled to himself, grinning mischievously.


Love the dark

A flash fiction story written for the writers forum Sept 16 competition inspired by a photograph.

They hurried to get home, turn on the light; banish the darkness. They were people of the light; darkness held no comfort for them. They eradicated darkness; producing artificial brightness in their homes, entertaining themselves with visions created through light producing technology. Light was mesmerising, addictive, essential to what they thought of as happiness.

They feared darkness, imagining it to be filled with evil creatures and death; they did not study the dark as they did with light. They knew all about light waves and even soundwaves but no-one understood dark-waves and their power. So it was that darkness grew in strength; for in every attempt to produce more light, they simply created more dark. It was a natural balance, wherever light was, there were shadows; the brighter the light, the deeper and darker the shadows became.

Darkness was waiting; in time it would get its people back. A time would come when all the cleverness used to dispel it; all the energy needed to produce the light, would be ever more quickly consumed, until darkness would return in gently rippling waves to lap again over the minds of its people. Only then would they understand; only when they had no choice but to accept the darkness, would they realise that they had needed it all along.

Every wave of the ocean rippling with starlight was only evident because it was surrounded by the darkness; every colour of the rainbow was defragmented by equal spectrums of darkness that lay behind. Once upon a time everything had been dark; until light was created no-one even noticed. Until light was created everyone found happiness in their sleeping dreams, and in their waking hours they thrilled in the sensations of touch, and fragrance and whispered sound.

Some were beginning to understand, some were seeking solitude and nature; going out into the wild places where light was limited and they could lie in the grass and look up into the heavens. Of course they were mesmerised by the stars; those pinpricks of light that were only visible because of the pure darkness that surrounded them in its great vastness.

The time was coming, it would be soon.

“Why did you do that to them?” The darkness asked.

“To teach them the difference between good and evil” a voice replied. “It is better to light a candle…”

“It would be better to love the dark.”