A big thank you!

Just a little note to say a big “thank you” to everyone who’s taken part in, and visited, this blog over the past 20 months (well, almost 20 months… will be on the 1st December (seeing as we don’t have a 31st November)) because one of you was my 100,000th visitor last night. 🙂

A lot has happened…

So plenty to read, and you do, so thank you again for your support and here’s to another 100,000 of you finding me! 🙂

Guest post: Two Word Story Starters by Roxanne Porter

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of inspiration, is brought to you by Roxanne Porter.

Two Word Story Starters

Oftentimes, getting started is the hardest part. You know where you want your story to go. You even have a good grasp of who your characters are. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you just want to start writing and see where the muse takes you. Whatever style of writing you chose, whether planned ahead or just stream of consciousness, you need a start. Some place to begin.

With that in mind, I suggest the following: two word sentences. Just subject and verb and that’s it. Often the simplest starts are the best. Think “Call me Ishmael.” So, for your writing pleasure, here are five prompts to get you started.

Prompts:

1. He shuddered.

2. She froze.

3. They cringed.

4. We laughed.

5. It fell.

Example:

It fell. I watched it fall, frozen. I knew if, when, it hit the ground it would shatter into a million pieces. I knew the sound it would make, the knife-like crash that pierces your eardrums and signals that something has gone horribly wrong. And yet I couldn’t get myself to move; the tall, delicate goblet spinning through the air in slow motion as the marble floor rose up to meet it.

CRASH

Too late, I realized my mistake. That was the third glass I’d knocked over this week. She was waiting.

SWAT

The slap stung and I spun around with a hiss of pain and outrage.

“I can’t keep anything nice around here because of you!” she shrieked, making me wrinkle my nose in distaste. I couldn’t stand her voice.

“It’s not her fault, dear,” he said, picking me up, “She doesn’t know any better. She just likes shiny things.”

I rubbed my cheek against his. I liked him. He always smelled of the outdoors; of grass and trees and nice things. She stank like weeds.

The woman continued to talk but I ignored her, watching as she swept up the shiny shards I’d made. She looked up and glared at me.

I met her eyes, safe in his arms. Then I carelessly lifted a paw and licked it, completely ignoring her.

Maybe now she’d learned who ruled this home.

Thank you, Roxanne!

Roxanne Porter is a freelancer and regular contributor for http://www.nannyjobs.org.  She helps in providing knowledge about nanny services, and jobs to the community, and loves writing on nanny-related articles. You can be in touch with her at r.poter08@gmail.com.

***

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with food writer and private chef Isabel Hood – the five hundred and fourteenth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

My first four eBooks are now available on Smashwords

I’m thrilled to announce that some of my writing is now available via Smashwords. 🙂

eShorts (free)
  • April’s Fool‘ (a competition-winning story about a long-suffering farmer’s wife from forthcoming anthology ‘Calendar Girls’) – story available free of charge from Smashwords (Amazon to follow)
  • Feeding the Father’ (a competition-shortlisted monologue from forthcoming first person anthology ‘It’s All About Me’) – story available free of charge from Smashwords (Amazon to follow)
  • The Dark Side‘ (from forthcoming second-person anthology ‘It’s All About You’) – story available free of charge from Smashwords (Amazon to follow)
Writing guide (initially $1.49 (less than £1))
  • The 365-Day Writer’s Block Workbook‘ (over 1,000 sentence starts split three per day from first, second, third and non-specific points of view and writing-related tips at the end of each week) – from Smashwords (Amazon to follow)
 
TO FOLLOW SHORTLY:
eBooks ($1.49 initally)
  • Story a Day May‘ (31 stories written May 2011 plus background info / hints & tips)

THEREAFTER (in no particular order):
  • a lad-lit novella about a trainee hitman
  • a lad-lit novella about a very personal trainer
  • a general fiction novella about a woman’s death – and her complicated life
  • a first-person anthology (see ‘Feeding the Father’ above)
  • a second-person anthology (see ‘The Dark Side’ above)
  • a third-person anthology about some weird but wonderful men
  • a third-person anthology about some weird but wonderful women (see ‘April’s Fool’ above)

…and anything else that spills out. 🙂

These collections / novellas are all likely to cost $1.49 (less than £1), certainly for the foreseeable future, with any further individual short stories being released for free.

New books as they are released will be listed on this blog’s books/mine page. If you do wander along to Smashwords and download any of these books, I’d be ever so grateful if you left a review. It’s the reader feedback that especially makes my day. 🙂

Thank you.

Morgen with an ‘e’ 🙂

Podcast: Bailey’s Writing Tips ep 042 – back to basics

Episode 42 of the Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast was released today Monday 31st October 2011.

Having spent episode 41 talking about NaNoWriMo I thought it would be an opportune time to cover the basics of writing and talk about ‘show don’t tell’, repetition (not to do it!), dialogue fundamentals and much more.

The episode concluded with a 314-word first-person short story called ‘Lost’ which I will be posting on my Flash Fiction Fridays page on Friday 18th November.

The podcast is available via iTunesGoogle’s FeedburnerPodbean (when it catches up), Podcasters (which takes even longer) or Podcast Alley (which doesn’t list the episodes but will let you subscribe).

Details of the other episodes (interviews, reviews, red pen sessions etc.) can be found here.

Podcast: Bailey’s Writing Tips – Episode 040 (26 Sept 2011) – auto/biographies

Episode 40 of the Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast was released (early) on Sunday 25th September and, because I hadn’t covered this topic since episode 22, had a focus on biographies and autobiographies culminating in a flash fiction freebie. I started by explaining the difference between auto- and biographies: biographies are books written about people by someone else and autobiographies are written by the ‘celebrity’ themself (often with a ghostwriter – I have a really interesting guest blog coming up in November about ghostwriting by a prolific author of that genre; Andrew Crofts). The websites mentioned in this episode were:

The episode concluded with ideas, sentence starts, feedback (from a listener called Jules – thank you Jules :)), On This Day in History, and a 380-word first-person short story called ‘Feeling like a child again’.

Details of the other episodes can be found at https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/bwt-podcast.

Transcription of BWT podcast episode 31 (Mar 2011) – hints & tips

The thirty-first episode of the Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast was released on 28th March 2011 and the content has never been released other than website links (on my website) so I hope you find this information useful. In the first thirty episodes (see https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/bwt-podcast for details), I covered ‘show not tell’, the five senses, repetition, points of view, tenses, dialogue, characters, crime, poetry, short stories, novels, writing for children, scriptwriting, comedy, romance and chick lit, erotica, ‘writing rules’, historical & the classics, name & characters, Christmas, opportunities, songwriting, reading, auto/biographies, computer tips (parts 1&2), competitions & submissions, romance, hints & tips (parts 1&2), short stories and scriptwriting. This episode had more hints & tips.

Hints & tips

  • Crime writer Mark Billingham (who I met at the Oundle Lit Fest) says: “My advice is to write the kind of book that you’d like to read. Don’t hold on to what you’ve written for too long; get it out there. Don’t fiddle with it too much. James Lee Burke said a book is finished when ‘nothing rattles’. As soon as it’s rattle-free, leave it alone.” Another quote I loved was “Hendricks is a character I’m very fond of and if I came up with a vehicle for him, I would happily climb on board.”
  • Margaret Atwood has ten tips for writers’ block: 1. Go for a walk, do the laundry or some ironing, hammer some nails, go swimming, play a sport – anything that requires some focus and involves repetitious physical activities. At the very least: take a bath or shower; 2. Read the book you’ve been putting off; 3. Write in some other form – even a letter or journal entry. Or a grocery list. Keep those words flowering out through your fingers; 4. Formulate your problem, then go to sleep. The answer may be there in the morning; 5. Eat some chocolate, not too much; must be dark (60% cocoa or more), shade-grown, organic; 6. If fiction, change the tense (past/present or vice versa); 7. Change the person (first, second, third); 8. Change the sex; 9. Think of your book-in-progress as a maze. You’ve hit a wall. Go back to where you made the wrong turn. Start anew from there; 10. Don’t get angry with yourself. Give yourself an encouraging present. If none of this works, put the book in a drawer. You may come back to it later. Start something else.
  • www.ideas4writers.co.uk produces a yearly Date-a-base Book and the 2011 edition “lists over 1,900 historic anniversaries that will occur during 2011, giving you plenty of time to write about them” they say.
  • Gail Sher (author of ‘One continuous mistake’) said that there are ‘four noble truths of writing’: 1. Writers write, 2. Writing is a process, 3. You don’t know what you are writing until the end of the process, and 4. If writing is your practice, the only way to fail is not to write. In other words, just put pen to paper and see what happens. Final drafts are usually very different from first drafts so don’t worry if it doesn’t sound perfect or anywhere near perfect – it rarely does first time round.
  • http://novelopenings.blogspot.com has lists of novel beginnings and some are fantastic. Whilst you won’t be able to steal them, they may show you what works (or perhaps doesn’t work). An article on Suite 101 may also help. www.infoplease.com/ipea/A0934311.html is a top 100 is the 100 Best First Lines of Novels as chosen by the editors of American Book Review. My favourite is no. 49 (Iain M Banks).
  • A writer’s block tip I’ve heard is that if you’re struggling, leave the last sentence you’re at half-done and that’ll inspire you to carry on when you return to it. I found this out during our first workshop when we picked sentence starts as mine was a complete one; I really struggled continuing it but got there.
  • Another tip I’ve heard is to listen to dialogue in a film, fictional TV programme or play. Does it sound realistic? You wouldn’t leave in all the ‘ums’ and ‘erms’ or real dialogue but what works and what doesn’t? It’s often quite common for people to interrupt each other (which would be written with ‘…’ at the end of that last word) and this speeds the dialogue up even further. Without going overboard, give great consideration on how the age of the person would speak; a teenage is very different to a pensioner…in theory anyway, although having your pensioner say “hey dude” could be fun.
  • Another recommendation is to pick a random line of a book, magazine or newspaper and see if any words inspire a title or theme. Or for a more ongoing basis, whenever you buy a newspaper (ideal as they have bigger headings), cut up each word of each heading, put it in any kind of container (I have a white ceramic topless head) and whenever you want inspiration, just dip into the container and pull out a word. At Northampton Literature Group monthly writing night, we have a 4 minute write-a-thon using the same word and it’s amazing how different our stories are. We’ve also started to do a round robin one-sentence-per-person following on from the previous person’s until you get your own piece of paper back, with hopefully a completed mini-story, and it’s great fun (good thinking Alan).
  • Don’t overuse clichés. You can use them (George Lucas said “don’t avoid them – they’re clichés because they work”) but if you can find your own way of saying something and it sounds better, then go for it.
  • To write a good story, you should know the answers to why, when, where, who, what and how. There are a few websites that can help you with this. www.asimplewebsite.co.uk/content-5w1h.htm explains that it is a ‘concept originated from Rudyard Kipling – The Elephant’s Child’ and is shows as follows:
Place Where is it done?
Why is it done there?
Where else might it be done?
Where should it be done?
Person Who does it?
Why does that person do it?
Who else might do it?
Who should do it?
Sequence When is it done?
Why is it done then?
When might it be done?
When should it be done?
Means How is it done?
Why is it done that way?
How else might it be done?
How should it be done?

Ideas

Here I provide a couple of story ideas or ways to get new ideas then list seven sentence starts; each one, if you’d like to use them, for a daily writing project.

  • Take a short story you’ve written and change the male character to a female one (or vice versa) and see how the story develops; and/or
  • Now change the tense; i.e. from present to past or vice versa (assuming you’ve not written it in future tense which has been done but is quite wearing!).

The podcast concluded with Quotes, News & Feedback, On This Day in History and a haiku called ‘Summer’. I picked a haiku because it’s very short, typically being three lines; 5 syllables, 7 syllables then another 5 syllables and so therefore quick to do. Eve Harvey (Radio Litopia’s former femme extraordinaire and now involved with https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Scribatious-Podcast/231638816884890) and I were chatting on Facebook about quantity vs quality and this is definitely quantity over quality, as it took me about a minute to write it but she liked it so I’ve not changed it and if you’ve never heard a, or heard of, haiku before, then it’s an example. There’s a great explanation of haiku at www.dmoz.org/Arts/Literature/Poetry/Forms/Haiku_and_Related_Forms:

  • The clocks go forward / summertime begins today / car boots, dog walks, sun.

That’s it. Thanks for visiting – a list of the other transcripts and summaries can be found at https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/bwt-podcast.