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Category Archives: writing
Well, it’s been an exciting few months. What do you want first? The good news or the bad news?
Bad news? Well, since January, my mum broke her hip, I’ve had a skin cancer cut out of my ankle and it is taking a long time to heal (it is still a scab and hurts), and my computer back-ups died and I thought I’d lost ALL MY WRITING. I’ve been crying a bit more than usual.
Good News! The company Computer Fixperts were able to recover 99% of my writing. The skin cancer was completely removed and I don’t need radiation treatment or chemotherapy. My mum had a clean break, they pinned it, and she is back at home and recovering well.
More good news: I have had FIVE acceptances since January. And a publisher is interested in my turning a short story into a book. Below is a link to one of my newly published stories!
Greetings and Felicitations. I’ll bet your wondering where I’ve been?
I’ve been spending more time out in the garden, exercising, and writing. Yes. Writing. Writing short stories and sending them off to market, writing articles, writing job applications (still no luck), volunteering for the Queensland Writers Centre, and getting ready to write my new novel – nicknamed the Train Book. I started writing it this week, now that I have enough reseach under my belt, and I have written my timeline and outline.
But what about my Steampunk novel, you ask?
It is ‘resting’. There is a point in the editing process when need to stop. I could edit forever. The Steampunk novel still needs work, but at the moment I need to step away from it and gain some perspective again. I was ‘fussing’ rather than editing. I keep wanting to add in new stuff. I need to look at the story, write a new outline, and STICK TO IT!
I hope to have the Train Novel’s first draft written by Christmas. I’m aiming at 120,000 words. (And no, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo, even though I could). I’m looking writing at 10,000 words a week for twelve weeks. That is approximately 1500 words a day, which is doable. I’m on a writing high at the moment.
However, I know I have severely neglected this blog. And I can’t promise that things are going to change too soon. However, I will TRY to update you all once ot twice a week.
In other news … my hair is now green-blue. I am losing weight, but I still have no neck and no waist.
Good dialogue comes down to six factors:
1. First and foremost, it advances the plot. Indeed … I know this goes without saying, but if I didn’t mention it I would be letting the team down.
2. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. However, when it comes to characterization, dialogue is one of the best methods for adding depth to a character. How they say what they mean is just as important as what they are saying.
3. It should seem natural, without actually being natural. Real conversation is full of ums, ers, and broken sentences. Unless you are writing ‘slice of life’, written dialoque should skip ninety percent of this ‘filler’ waffle.
4. Make it snappy and witty. Memorable. Channel Oscar Wilde or Terry Pratchett. Don’t bore your readers.
5. Dialogue should do more than just be about talking heads. It should also be adding to the underlying theme of your narrative. What are the underlying implications of your dialogue?
6. Alice might think a book without conversations is dull, but remember that your narrative should be more than just dialogue. If you want to have a masterclass, read Isaac Asimov to see how a dialogue can move a story along, and still be full of action.
I have been working on the end to my Steampunk Work-in-Progress (yep, I’m WiP-ped). In the past week, some serious thinking and research helped me come up with the logical progression for constructing the ending. This will mean more re-writes, but not huge structural edits.
I see research as part of the process of feeding the muse. My main problem is that I can never predict what is going to inspire a good (or even great) idea. So, I do a lot of research. I read news stories, science articles, textbooks, anything and everything gets fed into the files for the muse to sort through. Sometimes I wish I could just click my fingers and the best idea would swim to the front of the pile, but that isn’t how it work.
Sorry, but feeding the muse takes effort, just like anything else. This is why I am a little cynical when I hear a writer claim that he/she doesn’t do any reading.
The muse is unforgiving. It just ins’t a case of ‘Garbage in, garbage out’. No fuel, and the flame splutters out entirely.
Currently, I am reading up on Victorian-era model villages. These were both a great concept and a really bad idea, depending on who was in charge. On one hand, these were developed to create ideal living conditions for a planned community. creating comfort for families and a guaranteed population base for businesses. On the dark side, these were nearly gulags for imprisoning a workforce to labour under unpleasant and dangerous conditions. What a perfect setting for both a hero or a villain!
This is the last piece I need for the puzzle that is my book. It is almost a frightening thought. I’ve worked with these characters for so long, that I will miss them once the book is complete. However, I’ve been through this ‘breaking up’ period a few times now, when you have to distance yourself from your creations. The best solution is have a new project in the wings, a shiny new toy for the muse to play with.
This blog is an assessment of the main character and narrator, Stevens, in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day. This book could be classified as a romance, as one of the central plots revolves around the unsuccessful relationship of Stevens to the housekeeper, Miss Kenton. Kazuo Ishiguro dictates this tale from the point of view of Stevens, an anal retentive who need to do the ‘proper’ thing, rather than the right thing, in emotional situations. He is the naïve, internal narrator, an emotional outsider by choice; he is unreliable because of his single point of view and limited experience. He alienates both the reader and his love interest, Miss Kenton.
There is a good definition of Narrative Point of View at http://www.brocku.ca/english/courses/2F55/pt_of_view.html : “The ‘meaning’ of a story is determined by a number of factors. One of the main factors is the matter of who is telling the story, and how. There are many ‘positions’ or ‘perspectives’ or ‘points of view’ from which a story can be told. By ‘point of view’ we generally mean two somewhat different things:
1) the relation of the narrator to the action of the story — whether the narrator is, for instance, a character in the story, or a voice outside of the story;
2) the relation of the narrator to the issues and the characters that the story involves — whether the narrator is sympathetic, whether she agrees supports of opposes a particular cultural practice or doctrine, that sort of question.”
Using this definition as a starting point, we can examine the careful construction of Stevens’ narrative point of view. The narration in Remains of the Day becomes part of the characterisation of Stevens.
Distance: Stevens, as the first person narrator, was very close to the story he was telling. It might have sounded like he wanted to be emotionally distant, but he wasn’t the omniscient voice that he hoped to be. I thought this was a magnificent piece of characterisation, making a cold person so likable. Steven’s vocabulary was very British and Proper, as suited his position as a butler of an upper-crust establishment. His culture provided the emotional distancing from his personal events…but the author has still managed to keep Stevens’ involvement in events immediate and personal.
Interest: Of course, as Stevens is telling his own story, his interest wasn’t impartial, just reserved. The reserve was part of his characterisation. There were times when his reserve was obviously just a veneer, such as when his father died.
Sympathy: As Stevens was telling his own history, he was very sympathetic to his own decisions and actions. He was more judgemental of the other characters, as they are all seen through his own eyes and from his own POV.
Voice: The voice for this novel was vitally important, as it played a major role in the storytelling. It was the reserved ‘voice’ of a very proper and correct Englishman. It was a prim, emotionally repressed voice, loyal to his employer and aware of the dignity of his profession above anything else. It was his role as butler that affected his attitude to all the other characters in the novel.
Orientation: The main theme of the novel was Steven’s pride in his career as a butler, to the point he became a mannequin and stopped being a human being.
Sense of Audience: The author was implying that Stevens’ audience was himself. He was trying to justify his actions, and convince himself that he had always done the right thing, and kept his dignity even if he was unhappy. He wasn’t addressing the reader or an audience as such.
The narrative point of view is a vital element in the construction of a novel, giving the text its style and contributing to the perception of the characters’ personalities. Stevens’ narration, in Remains of the Day, creates conflict by asking himself rhetorical questions and answering them himself, and this highlights how an interior narrator can still incorporate a responses and counter-arguments, without contradicting the character’s personality construct. By the end of the story, Stevens’ persona has gone from confident and phlegmatic to regretful, nostalgic and melancholic, and the narrative point of view has paralleled this character change. This way, Kazuo Ishiguro leads both the reader and the novel though to its pensive conclusion.
It can’t be a romance…there is no happy ending got Stevens and Miss Kenton.