Sunday, 20 May 2012

An apology, ear wigging and Plan B

Morning world – I’m still on a high from watching the football yesterday, yay Chelsea won! I could hardly watch the penalties, though peeking through my fingers helped – not quite sure why that makes me feel better during a drama. Which goes some way to explaining why my blog up-date is a day late.

Sorry, but yesterday I was busy from the moment I opened my eyes till I dropped into bed. I spent four hours in the morning at school – yes, you read that correctly; Saturday morning helping with a GCSE revision class in preparation for the pupils’ exam on Tuesday.  See you don’t hear about those extra details from parents or press, do you? No, but hey, that’s what my school do to support our pupils.

Of course, this put my entire day out of routine. I then had to complete all the other tasks, dog trekking, washing, cleaning and such like. I know don’t have to explain, but it makes me feel less guilty, if I’m honest. Which then all ran into the football excitement and so, it’s Sunday morning and I finally have time to up-date my followers.

Last Monday, saw me attend the short story debate where 12 entries were needed so the final judges could select competition winners. The evening started with an amalgamation of our results ‘yes, ‘no’ and ‘maybe’ created whilst reading each story. There were five stories that we’d awarded 3 ‘yes’, then came 2 ‘yes’ and 1 ‘maybe’ of which there were four – so nine out of the twelve were automatically selected. Then the difficulties began, we had to select another three from a group of 14 that had gained 1 ‘yes’ 1 ‘maybe and 1 ‘no’. Phase one had taken half an hour, but now phase two was going to be long and drawn out as we discussed each stories merits. After two hours we arrived at our final decision, and were able to hand over twelve stories for final judging. It has been a tough process and a huge time commitment but I am glad that I volunteered, and will do so again next year. I have seen for myself the quality of work submitted to competitions, the wide range of subjects and characters that are created and in some cases, a complete disregard for the rules.

On Wednesday evening, the Mad Hatters gathered to read our ‘monkey puzzle’ exercise, set by myself about a month or so ago. There were four offerings – as always each very different, though in a couple of case they shared a common theme. One member organised their work as a monologue from the tree’s point of view, the others all 3rd person narratives – each very different in their approach to why such a tree came to be growing from a grave. After the readings there was a lengthy discussion regards dialogue and how to write convincing conversations. My story was highlighted as having convincing dialogue, but then I’ve never experienced a problem writing dialogue. I ear wig on everyone’s conversation, always have done, probably always will. So, I suppose that has helped me to craft characters’ speech. The Mad Hatters discussed how to make dialogue convincing, but I feel that it comes from within, if you know your character inside and out you know if they’d swear, have favourite sayings or repeat inaccuracies with specific words. I compare it to real life, if I saw a line of speech I think I could name which of my friends had said it. Humans speak in a defined pattern, we each have our own mannerisms when talking, so I don’t expect my characters to be any different.

Whilst on the ear wigging situation – do it, try it. I have heard all sorts of conversations from strangers – some of which ignite a story. At the cinema a few weeks ago, I overheard one woman tell her friend how she was starting IVF tomorrow, a son tapping his father for a large loan where he didn’t even broach the subject of paying it back, and a young woman who was ‘following’ a guy she fancied, the only thing he said to her was ‘here hold my pint’ while he danced with another girl, arrrrrh. All could be the basis of a short story or a plot line within a novel. So much material passing by our ears, note it down, fictionalize it and use it.

Friday evening, I went to the hairdressers, and even that ignited creative ideas. I sat looking about at the various women seated beneath flowing gowns, the only difference was the shape of the draped gown and the face on top. I came straight home and jotted down a few ideas – which will germinate in my mind over the next few days.

O.K. down to novel talk – In ‘Her’ I introduced a group of characters which readers will one day get to know. I have taken the decision to link my subsequent books to a couple of minor characters. I know from experience that I enjoyed reading Marian Keyes’ books when she wrote about a family of sisters. My decision meant that I’ve had to change my planning and, of course, a couple of names in project two, ‘To honour…’ It became a little tricky at one point, as a couple of surnames had to change, but now that I’ve edited and drafted a section I am very happy. So, full steam ahead …..

For those that have followed from the very beginning and so, have read every post – (wow, thank you) you’ll know that for the past six years there has been ‘Plan A’ and ‘Plan B’. I have just two weeks before ‘Plan B’ becomes reality on 1st June 2012. I can’t quite believe that I will have secured one goal, enabling me to focus my time to pursue the other. I’m encouraged and motivated that having secured one career, my only aim is to secure another by getting my novel published. Boy, oh boy exciting times.

I now have to leave you and attend dog training class with the pup. He’s coming along a treat, the list of commands and tricks that he can perform grows each session. Each week, I attend for his training needs but also for an insight into the very different world of dog lovers – I’m convinced I have a short story germinating.

Remember you can follow me on Twitter odwyer_author to receive random updates throughout the week. Enjoy!

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