Sunday, 23 February 2014

Getting unstuck

Photograph Creative Commons (f/4)

Hi Folks,

I've stalled a bit in the novel writing process. I've hit the proverbial wall. I could see it was mostly anxiety about how to craft a sub-plot and make it 'real' and 'believable'. And I was nervous about the character with traits unfolding that I wasn't ready to tackle.

The Write Practice  once again comes to the rescue. 
A prompt to dialogue with a character
and see what he/she really wants. 

The outcome of that conversation follows.


"Hey Gwen, I'm stuck. I can't work out how this next plot twist can happen. I'm not even sure I want it to."

"Well about time you got back to me. It's dark here, as you well know. I need to move. Maybe now's not the right time. Maybe for now all I need is to know he's there. I'm feeling excited but confident enough in my cause to be patient. It is unfolding like clockwork. My old friend delivering the goods yet again. Perhaps we can focus on her. Deepen her love. Entrench her further into the misery of love. I can be patient. Confirm my target; observe my prey."

"I feel like I'm giving up. Like I'm too scared to go there."

Gwen smiled and shuddered. Her lips curled toward the blackness in her eyes.

"I can be very patient. I can calculate from afar. I want to deepen my connection with Shaz; slowly let her in. There is no hurry."

She glanced back toward the busy street where the three of them stood huddled in conversation as if she had never left.

"I have to go back now. Lead me back. Trust me. Let the lovers love. This dark lantern needs only a brief flicker of hope to keep black it's burning flame. Come, come, we must move on."

Gwen tugged my writing hand.

"Write me in the longer way. I want to visit her home. See more of her life. She will assist; bear witness to my final strike."

"But Gwen I feel like I'm putting off the inevitable. 
I'm avoiding the dark
You're scaring me."

Gwen twitched, irritation lit the embers in her eyes.

"Don't you leave me too. Wasn't once enough? You owe me. I know you." She pushed me toward the door.

"You're in too deep. This is your story and you need me. 
Write me back in. Write me in the long way. 
I'll be stronger. I'll be waiting."

She opened the creaky door and slipped back out onto the busy street. Through the tinted glass I could see her laughing, pointing back at the door, sweeping her co-characters into her shadowy net. Saving them all for another day. If only they knew how close to the end they had been.

I shrunk back into the shadows; reluctant, unconvinced and shaking.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Afraid of spoons

Another 15 minute practice from The Write Practice

Photograph Creative Commons (Pearlzenith)

The prompt: For as long as he could remember, he had been afraid of spoons.

Their continuous lip sneering 360 degrees of sharpened steel. The threat of their pennywise concave reflection, promising horror and nightmares. Steven turned away from the table. Nausea tickled the back of his throat. 

"Eat your soup," she said, "it's delicious."

He smiled and wiped his clammy hands across his trousers.
"I'm not that hungry," he lied.

The soup spoon glinted in the light. Tracey scooped  a full spoon of bean soup and lifted it slowly  to her mouth. She sipped then slurped then wrapped her mouth around the  full belly of stainless cutlery.
Steven gagged. The knot in his stomach ground against his ribs. He looked to the door.

"I need to go," he said " I have things to do."
"Here try this it's delicious," Tracey leaned across the table, smiling, holding out a full spoon of steaming soup.

"No for goodness sake. Get it away from me." Steven swiped the leering lip of steel from Tracey's grip. Mixed beans slopped across the white linen and hot soupy stock sprayed across the floor.

"Keep that spoon a way from me. Keep it away," he hissed pushing away from the table. His chair fell backwards, Tracey shrieked and dropped the steel implement. The spoon landed on Stevens  cutlery, flicked the silver stem of his own soup spoon and pushed the concave steely head wobbling toward the edge of the table.

 "They're dangerous," he cried " you just can't trust them."
"The spoons, the spoons."
"What? Are you for real?" Tracey laughed and shook her blonde hair back over her shoulders. "You're crazy."

"I'm crazy? You're the one using a spoon." Steven's voice was almost a whisper.
"Get away from the table. Get away now."

Afraid of Needles

More practice, just felt to share.
 Ten minutes of total, made up on the spot, make believe.....

The Prompt: Billy is going backpacking through Asia and needs to get vaccination shots.

Therese slumped onto the couch.
"Come on Billy; be a man."
"I hate needles; they hurt. I've always hated them. Why do you have to have so many? Surely they can put it all into one super shot."
"Oh for goodness sake, toughen up you pussy."

Therese smiled at Billy but he could feel her patience waning. She pushed herself up and grabbed her car keys off the coffee table.
"Come on let's go." She pulled her raincoat off of the spindly Ikea stand and turned toward the front door.
"Where  are we going?"
"We're meeting Mum for lunch remember."
Billy grunted, picked up his mobile from the small stand in the hallway and followed Therese out into the
sleet and foreboding grey winter day.

"This weather is depressing," he said.
"Exactly. That's why we're going to the exotic tropics. Temples, and beaches and palms and disease. Ya hear me; disease."

Therese gripped the steering wheel; turned left on Grayson. She swung a sharp late turn in to White Drive. The back wheels screeched as they slid around the corner.
"What are you doing? Where are you going?"
"To the clinic." Therese smiled a little, checked the rear vision mirror and accelerated into the middle lane.
"What? No way. Turn back. You can't make me do it."

Therese indicated left then sharp right and swung wide into the back corner of the clinic car park.

"There's some Rescue Remedy in the glove box. Have a swig. That'll calm ya nerves."

Billy fumbled around in the dark and pulled out a small flask of whiskey.
"That'll do" Therese said opening the drivers door and pulling the keys out of the ignition.
"A man's drink." She winked, climbed out and slammed the door.

Billy was smiling. That's why he loved her so. She'd had it all planned right down to the calming amber tonic that prickled feisty and hot down his throat.

"Where would I be without you?" He said through the misty window to Therese standing at the front of the car with her hands on her hips; all nonchalant warrior and insistent. She couldn't hear him. He didn't want her to.

Billy smiled, took another deep swig, as any real man would. And with whiskey smile he joined his commanding Aztec princess for a walk through the sleet into the chamber of needles and pain.

Deliberate Practice

Hi y'all

Just thought I'd post a couple of my little 10 - 15 minute practices.

These are daily practice pieces in response to The Write Practice deliberate practice sessions posted 6 days a week. Worth checking out if you're in need for
a little inspiration to get the inky bits jiggling. :-)

Prompt - Bring your Setting to Life - a 10 minute practice

The shock ripped through her; the floorboards reached up; grabbed her calves. His voice echoed down the greasy black passage way. Its eternal dark tunnel swallowing the acid bite of old man words.

She stood alone. Solitary in the middle of the swirling room as it spun a tangled web of taunts from yester–years, and spat from its darkened corners and unpolished recesses, three generations of unspoken shame.

“I’ve known for a long time,” she called into quivering walls, where peeling paint hissed and sneered at her claims. “I’m not going to pretend anymore,” she added bravely.

The front door whipped open wide; its creaking rusted hinges rasped an invitation to leave; to walk away from the smear of past mistakes and lies. She obliged; lifted her skirt to her knees and took flight into the crisp silver promise of the moonlit night.

      Saturday, 8 February 2014

      A Gripping Tale

      So I've started getting the daily prompts from The Write Practice.
      Today's prompt was to tempt us to go out and be a little adventurous.
      I've figured I'm not an adventure writer.


      I'm stumped. Adventure has slunk from reach. The possibility of a lurching, spine tingling tale has retreated in to a dark corner to suck its thumb and hang its pathetic scared tail between its legs.

      I’ll push on though. Fuck  you tale. I’ve got spirit. I'm going to let these fingers find their way. I'm going to let them climb keys and space bar, seek new horizons, feel their way through the darkness and discolourations of an uninspired mind.

      You’ll see tale. You’ll wish you’d decided to come. Taken a chance. Stepped out of your own shadow in to the sometimes shimmering, yet more  often flickering  light of risk.

      I'm unsteady on this line. It’s a shakey ridge without clear direction. It crumbles as my padded tips step carefully among its worn out keys and dusty valleys. A whir in the distance spirals up through the metallic vista. I pause. Breathe deep. Consider its meaning. Is it telling me to retreat? Return to the tired and murky yawn of the uninspired mind? Retract my steps back across the qwerty desert into no-hand land?

      My heart thumps. Ventricle fists pounding the thoracic cage like a crazed on fire literati might stampede much this same landscape.  It’s aching to be free, to soar into the danger zone, to  grip a tale.

      “Alas my friend, my heart,” I quietly say “There is no gripping tale this night.”

      Friday, 7 February 2014

      Happy New 2014

      Happy New Year.
      Yes I know it's February. I've been so busy enjoying summer weather and beachey times that I've successful procrastinated two months of writing practise out in to the ether.

      I'm back now though.

      UPDATE: my first ever attempt at writing a novel is sitting waiting for the last two chapters to pour forth. I aim to complete them in the next fortnight. And my first DRaFT will be complete.
      Woo hoo.
      Then what? No idea! I'll talk to a writerly friend of mine and get a plan together.

      Also I've been playing with the writing prompts and curiosities on The Write Practice site.