Welcome to the blog formerly known as The Life Of Writing

Monday, 30 August 2010

Are Webinars Worth It?

I mentioned in a previous post that I was thinking about doing some webinars.

Well today I did one on story structure. It wasn't live as it was an American webinar, so when it was live it was getting on for late at night here in the UK so I decided to wait until it went on to the download option.

The webinars are set up by the Writer's Digest, and American publisher who produce, amongst other things, books giving advice on writing and a monthly magazine on writing. I already receive regular emails from them which include advice, details on new books and forthcoming webinars.

Like I mentioned, the webinars are live but can later be downloaded via the Writer's Digest Shop website and their On Demand Webinar section. You can set up an account with them or purchase items as a 'guest'.

The webinar I purchased today was called 'Write Great Fiction: Build Solid Story Structure' and was aimed at novel writers, screenwriters and creative writing instructors. The webinar was given by James Scott Bell who has written a number of books including both fictional and writing advice books. So he's fairly qualified to give lecture on story structure.

Now I won't go in to too much detail, as otherwise you might as well just read what I've written and then I'll be in bother with the Writer's Digest. But they do have a full description on their website which the above link takes you to.

Personally I thought that this webinar and James Scott Bell's advice was quite useful. He used quite a few films as examples of story structure, which did help get his points across There were some points that he made that, although obvious when you thought about it, you realised that you hadn't really contemplated it before.

Does that make sense to you? Well it makes sense to me...just.

I saw that some parts of my novel coincided with points he was making without me realising it. I think I got some good advice from this webinar because I already have an idea for my novel. I'm not saying that you wouldn't get plenty of advice from this webinar without having an idea of what you want to write, but I thought it helped me.

It lasted approximately 75 minutes and I made quite a few notes.

Now the important bit...the price.

It cost $49.00, which I worked out as being about £26 to £27, depending on the exchange rate. Now that might seem a lot to some, or very reasonable to someone else. This was the price for this particular webinar and they have webinars with a range of prices, some of which are quite a bit higher than this one.

Now I personally think that this particular webinar was worth it, but I am not sure I would be prepared to pay for one of the higher priced webinars. It would greatly depend on what the webinar was about, maybe who the lecturer was and whether or not I'd be able to watch it live, as you can send in questions if watching live.

There are a couple of other webinars I am interested in purchasing that are roughly the same price as the one I bought today, however they will have to wait until next payday.

Fan Fiction, Dynamic Duos and a Sacrifice

So this morning I got the flash fiction piece that I mentioned written. I realised that it is actually more of a fan fiction piece.

Now I don't want to give too much away but the story is basically about a certain fictitious dynamic duo - however it is not the Dynamic Duo [aka Batman and Robin].

Anyway in this story they actually exist within the same person as a split personality. One half is there all the time and occasionally the other half comes out to play.

I managed to get just under 1000 words for this so I don't know if that means it is classed as flash fiction or a short story.

I got so focused this morning that I ended up sacrificing a cup of tea, as when I had finished writing I turned to see that I had not only not touched the tea...but it was also stone cold!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Feeling Ill, Webinars and More Research

I had such high hopes to get a lot of work done this weekend.

After posting yesterday about writing I felt ill yesterday afternoon, and it lasted in to the evening.

I felt better today and so I watched another episode of Victorian Pharmacy and made some more notes.

I think the short story idea I mentioned yesterday might actually suit a piece of flash fiction. It might be possible to stretch it out in to a short story, but to be honest I think it might begin to bore the reader. I think flash fiction would be best as it will get to the conclusion faster.

I have also seen some webinars to do with writing fiction that I fancy doing. I will hopefully do one tomorrow and make lots of notes. If I think that one is any good I will consider doing another couple...but only when payday has rolled around again.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Flash Fiction...And Sorry For The Slight Absence

I realised that I haven't actually posted on here for a while...which also means I haven't really done anything writing wise either. Oops!

Well I have recently got some more books to help me with my research...and the other day I scribbled down an idea for a short story...but other than that I haven't really done much since my field trip on the 18th!

Anyway this morning I had an idea for a flash fiction/short story piece. I have just finished it. OK so it may be a little rough around the edges but it is done. Just under 350 words.

And I hope to make a start on that short story idea this weekend - which is made even better with the Bank Holiday Monday tagged on the end!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Field Trip!

Today I had the day off work and so I headed off to the local 18th century stately home.

The historical mystery novel I am working on is set in and around a country estate in Victorian England, so this was the perfect place to visit.

I was accompanied by my sister who had nothing else to do while the college she attends is closed for summer.

So today I have researched, photographed, taken notes, drawn rough plans, gathered leaflets...and seen a group of OAPs in the education room drawing pictures with crayons. That last sight was slightly surreal I must say.

And of course we had to visit the tea room. :-D

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Steampunk, QWERTY Keyboards and Talkback

I am an avid member of Writer's Talkback which for those that are unaware is the Writing Magazine/Writers' News forum, where large numbers of writers congregate to bounce ideas off each other, get feedback...and generally give off an air of insanity! If you've read any of my random thoughts you'll understand why I am a member. ;-D

On one of the discussions that had been started we were discussing how many 'projects' people have on the go at the same time.

The following is what I put:

"I have my main project - historical mystery - that is always going along in the background no matter what else I am doing. I have a steampunk short story, possibly novel, idea which I am working on. Then somewhere deep in the dungeons of my mind there are at least 3 other novel ideas lurking - in 3 different genres. 
Then I have various short stories on the go - including any competitions I want to have a stab at. I have 2 blogs"

Now for the steampunk idea I mentioned I should have put 'short story series, possibly novel'. Now I may explain steampunk as a genre in more detail in another post but I am just mentioning it now as I have done some research on it recently.

I had begun by looking up when a couple of everyday objects were invented - the fountain pen and the typewriter. I looked these facts up a couple of days ago.

Today whilst browsing I wandered on to the BBC website where I happened across an article called 'Why do we all use QWERTY keyboards?'

This article talks about the invention of the typewriter and the development of the QWERTY keyboard. This was the subject of the first episode of the third series of BBC Radio 4 programme Fry's English Delight which is presented by Stephen Fry. I have listened to this in the past so today I listened to this episode on the BBC iPlayer.

I found this interesting and have some notes now to help me in developing a bit of background to my steampunk story...and I'll explain that particular genre another day.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Retraining My Brain and More on NaNoWriMo.

I have found that I have a tendency to start writing short stories and then stopping about a 500 words in. I then find it so many months later lurking in a forgotten folder on my computer and I can't remember where I was going with it.

I think the problem is that I will know how it starts and how it ends, but without the middle I feel as though I can't write the story.

I tried writing either end first. A couple of months ago I was 'rewriting' a story and I wrote the beginning and the end...but it is still like that now.

However I may have hit a break through.

The first draft of the competition entry I mentioned in a previous post was written in one sitting. The finished story has had bits added and taken away.

So I am now trying to tell myself that it doesn't matter if you don't know how it ends, or if I do how it gets to the end, just so long as I write it. Even if the middle of it is complete drivel. I can change it.

Now I know some of the more seasoned writers out there...or even some of the less experienced, will be thinking that what I have just said is kind of obvious. But the problem is getting my brain to actually take it on board...which is easier said than done.

The big challenge or the ultimate outcome will be when I take part in NaNoWriMo, which again is something I mentioned in a previous post.

I think it is highly likely that a large chunk of that first draft that hopefully results from NaNoWriMo, will be complete rubbish. But then I can tinker with it...that is why it will be called a 'first draft'.

I have also been doing some calculations for NaNoWriMo. In order to 'win' I have to have written at least 50,000 words and have it verified by the NaNoWriMo word counter by midnight on 30th November. With that in mind, and not including 30th November as that is when I'll be verifying, so I don't really want to be still typing then, I need to write about 1,750 words a day. Which I think is completely doable. Granted it will vary as I will have more time at the weekends to type. That is essentially writing a Writing Magazine short story competition entry every day for 29 days. Only they will all have the same characters in and the story should follow on from the previous one.

Will I end up writing 1,750 words a day throughout November? Hopefully...but we will have to wait and see.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Another TV episode

Just watched another episode of Victorian Pharmacy. Again it took me longer than an hour to watch it with the constant stopping and starting to make notes.

I intend to take part in NaNoWriMo this year. That's the National Novel Writing Month competition.

And because of that I can't really start writing my novel. I can just research, get my characters and plot sorted...and research some more until November.

Now when I say I can't write it I could but one of the 'rules' of NaNoWriMo is that you don't use anything you've previously written, you can research and write character profiles etc. And I feel that if I did start writing it before November and I do succeed in completing NaNoWriMo I will feel that I have cheated...so I'm going to wait.

And that will help me accomplish one of my writing goals for 2010 - get a first draft done

Sunday, 1 August 2010

3 posts in one day!

Just done a bit of research - watched an episode of Victorian Pharmacy and made notes on it. That may sound like entertainment to you...but it was research for my novel with is set in the Victorian era...and every bit of research helps.

Took me two hours to watch a one hour programme as I had to keep stopping to write notes and go back for things I missed.

Good thing I recorded it!

Finally finished editing that story!

Today I finally finished editing a short story for a competition entry. I wrote it about a month ago and have been tinkering with it ever since.

The closing date is in just over two weeks so it is all printed out and ready to be posted tomorrow.

Word count: 1,612

And for once I actually feel like I'm in with a chance of winning...or  being short listed at least.

Dear Diary...

Well here we are, I have a new blog on the 1st of August, just like I said I would. It is a lot quieter in here than it is down the corridor in The Random Thoughts of Chippy blog isn't it?

Not quite as much purple, no fish and no talk of shopping.

This blog will be like a journal, where I keep track of how much I am actually writing and researching.

And you can follow my progress...if you want to that is!