Holiday

Off to Thailand tonight for two weeks. Just finished a ten week term at school and I swear it had reached that point where I thought the only way that term would end was If someone put a stake through it’s heart.

I may post while I’m away but I will definitely post upon my return.

Seeya soon.

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A Quote I Like

If there’s a book you really want to read,

but it hasn’t been written yet,

then you must write it.

TONI MORRISON

moleskineh-1_4If you havent read these 2 articles in the Guardian you are missing out. They each contain a bunch of writers giving simple pieces of advice for writing. The best part is that a lot of the advice contradicts other advice so you can have a pick and mix of the bits that apply to you so by the end of it you walk away content that you’re on the right track.

A piece I like is from Roddy Doyle that reads: Do not search amazon.co.uk for the book you haven’t written yet.

I hadn’t thought about that in a while until I was posting something on my other blog (www.theistanbullletin.com) and WordPress produced the above gem from Toni Morrison.

I spent a lot of my teenage years wanting to be a successful writer (the first part more important than the second) and so everything I wrote at the time was clearly of its time. When The Matrix came out I tried my hand at writing a book set in a dystopian future that involved lots of virtual reality kung fu. It was shite.

I wrote books about vampires because Buffy was popular. I tried to write a horror novel about a marauding shark the morning after I had seen Jaws on tv. In fact this wasn’t confined to my teenage years. For a lot of my life I have tried to write to trends. I have notebooks stashed somewhere that contain the outline for a Da Vinci Code rip-off, a Harry Potter-esque kids books and if I was still working that way I’d probably be halfway through a terrible 50 Shades of Grey imitator.

The big problem with trying to write this way is that it is intensely boring. Nothing worse than writing boring crap because your motivation is simply financial. There’s no love for the characters or setting or plot. I knew a guy in Korea and he was writing a book. It was some kind of Da Vinci Code-esque caper set in New York and when I asked him if he was a fan of those books, he said, ‘No, I hate them but they sell and once I’ve sold this book then I can start writing serious literature.’

I didn’t really the heart to tell him that probably isn’t how it works. If this guy’s book is succesful chances are a publisher’s not going to say, ‘Brilliant work, kid, here’s a big fat contract so why don’t you write me a sprawling fictional memoir about a young man dealing with the after-effects of World War One written from the point of view of his blind son.’

Actually chances are a publisher will say, ‘Good work, kid, more of the same please.’

Which is fine if you’re writing the genre you love. If I get a contract and spend the rest of my life writing alternate historical fiction books then I’ll be a happy man.

But I digress, the point of this article was that quote and the way that it made me realise that whatever you write you have to make sure its something you yourself would read and love and it would inspire you to want to write yourself. I’ve sat at a computer and tried to write populist crap and its crippling. But then I’ve also sat behind a computer and been writing stuff for myself in a genre I love and laughed my ass off at my own jokes and that feels pretty good.

Classroom Jazz Poetry

CaptureI teach 2nd graders English as a foreign language in Turkey. The job, like all jobs and all other things, has its ups and downs. One of the ups comes from my students inability to spell.

A usual writing lesson finds me and my partner teacher splitting duties between who goes table to table helping the kids and who stands at the front writing the words the kids can’t spell on the board.

Inevitably at the end of the lesson the board is covered in random words written in random spots and occasionally I find that reading them out loud makes them sound like surreal poetry.

Today’s lesson ended with:

Mirror rabbit

Strong elephant 

                    Clown swimming

                                                                                      Hugged

Adventure

                                                       Surprise

Flying naughty

                                                       Choose.

Admittedly its gibberish but it always makes me think of one of those jazz poetry slams you see on TV with a dude in a black turtle neck and beret chain smoking unfiltered cigarettes while hipsters snap their fingers at him.

One we had last week was simply:

Skeleton

Flying

Fox

Falling

And I really liked that.

Friday Fictioneers: Wiesenthal’s List

006In 1945, within weeks of being liberated from the camp, Simon Wiesenthal  began to make a list. He lay on a hospital bed in a military hospital in Austria. He weighed 41 kg. The wound on his foot wouldn’t heal. He had asked for paper and pencils and the harried nurse had handed him a photograph and a trio of coloured crayons. He listed guards, commandants, overheard names. Anyone he could think of who had helped create this great devouring of his people. When the list was finished he lay on his bed and healed and hated.

And made plans.

Some Friday Fictioneers for you with the prompt coming from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

If you enjoy the writing here head on over to TheIstanbulletin.com – The blog I co-write about living and working in Turkey (It’s mostly about eating though)

A bit of a change of pace for my Friday story this week. My fiancee is currently teaching Anne Frank to her 8th graders and its caused her to have to do some research into the Holocaust. In England World War 2 is a big part of our  school curriculum so when I was at school studying history whole years were devoted to different parts of the war meaning that my final year in high school meant a year of studying the Holocaust so I’ve been one of her sources of information.

The thing with studying the Holocaust is that you would assume after a few months it would stop being shocking and would become something more academic to be studied and dissected from a distance.

Nope.

Every lesson was a new batch of horrible stories. Every bit of research led down a rabbit hole of villainy and depravity and humiliation.  Every time a new historical figure got introduced it was only a matter of time before they did something reprehensible. You also think that maybe all the facts and stories will vanish like all that arithmetic I learnt and then instantly forgot but no, it lingers and as soon as me and Fi (short for Fiona, not fiancee) started talking about it the floodgates opened and I was just a machine for telling just awful stories. 

A character that fascinated me was Simon Wiesenthal, the Nazi hunter. There was something about Wiesenthal and his fellow Nazi hunters that appealed to me. It was the idea that the war ends and these people go home to what’s left of their lives after the war and decide that, no, this will not stand. Every single villain must be made to account for what they did. And then they dedicate their life to finding these people and getting them on trial so that no one gets away with what they’ve done.

Yeah, I like that.

I read recently that Wiesenthal was in a camp when a rock fell on his foot meaning that his toe needed to be amputated. A few months later the Russians were advancing so the camp was evacuated and Wiesenthal walked the march using a broom handle as a walking stick. When they arrived at their destination Wiesenthal was placed in a ‘death block’ for the mortally ill were he survived on 200 calories a day until the Americans liberated the camp.

Simon Wiesenthal retired from Nazi hunting when he was 90 years old. He said ‘I have survived them all. If there were any left, they’d be too old and weak to stand trial today. My work is done’.  

The 100 Word Novel – Thirty-One: Peg Talks

Capture‘How was your day, counsellor  Mine wasn’t great. I condemned a child to death and then watched the woman I love walk away from me. Run away from me, I should say. Then I performed emergency surgery on a little girl using no anaesthetic and glowsticks. I worked so hard to save one life and Bea’s shouldn’t be any different.  I’m gonna go see Butler in the morning and tell him I changed my vote. Get him to delay until we’ve exhausted our options.’

Peg stared at the empty sleeping bag and sighed, ‘I wish you were here, my love.’

Previously on The 100 Word Novel:

Introduction to the 100 WORD NOVEL. Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Chapter Ten Chapter Eleven Chapter Twelve Chapter Thirteen Interlude Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen Chapter Sixteen Chapter Seventeen Chapter Eighteen Chapter Nineteen Chapter Twenty Chapter Twenty-One Chapter Twenty-Two Chapter Twenty-Three Chapter Twenty-Four Chapter Twenty-Five Chapter Twenty-Six Chapter Twenty-Seven Chapter Twenty-Eight Chapter Twenty-Nine Chapter Thirty

The Rocky Saga – 6/Balboa

rocky-balboa-(2006)Nostalgia’s a hell of a thing. When it comes to movies we see the nostalgia trend rearing its head all the time with the constant stream of remakes and sequels. Especially sequels to old franchises that were seemingly already over.

Familiarity gets people into cinemas. People like what they already know. This even applies to original movies when they’re usually described in terms of movies that already exist e.g. its Inception meets The Bourne Identity = The Adjustment Bureau according to the posters. Now I haven’t seen The Adjustment Bureau but from what I hear that is not true. It’s apparently more like one shit film meets another shit film.

Nostalgia is the driving force behind Rocky Balboa. It’s a brave movie in the sense that Stallone basically remakes Rocky I thirty years later with the same cast. And it works. I went into this film with mixed feelings after the end of Rocky V. I was disappointed in the ending of Rocky V so needed something better to leave the Rocky saga with but at the same time knew from the trailers that this was a remake of Rocky I and there was that nagging feeling that Stallone’s age/ego was going to be a factor that ruined it.

I couldn’t imagine they were going to have sixty year old Balboa go into the ring with a young champion and beat him but then what would be the point of it if he fights the kid and the kid ruins him. Would Rocky die in the ring like Apollo? Would that be a fitting ending? Maybe. I wasn’t sure and I also worried if this was going to be one of those late sequels that blew it.

There’s a lot of these sequels that have been decades in the making that have started coming out. Stallone made two very close to each other with Rocky Balboa and John Rambo. I haven’t seen John Rambo but I heard good things.

I am a Kingdom of the Crystal Skull fan. I can see its flaws and after reading the original Darabont script I know that it could have been great but for me I was just happy to see Indy on the big screen again (it helped that I watched Raiders and Last Crusade right before seeing it, ‘What about Temple of Doom?’ I hear you cry. Fuck Temple of Doom.)

Die Hard 4.0 was alright but it seemed like they had forgotten the appeal of John McClane was that he was a loner who, with meager resources, managed to beat Alan Rickman and a group of Eurotrash terrorists with no shoes and a vest. By Die Hard 4.0 he was superhero being chased by fighter jets that were somehow controlled by computer hackers. Weird.

Let’s not talk about the Star Wars prequels.

I skipped Terminator Salvation after an interview with McG where he was boasting about the fact that you would see the origin of Kyle Reece’s shoes from The Terminator. I don’t go to films to see the origin stories of clothes and I don’t watch films made by people who are just trying to prove to the audience that they have also seen the original movie.

Prometheus looked badass but was terrible. A lot of characters performing actions that lacked meaning or consequence and a stupid ending.

Right, with that off my chest, back to Rocky Balboa.

The film begins with Rocky waking up and going to see Adrian’s grave. I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the killing off of Adrian but I liked it. I missed Talia Shire but at the same time the theme of this movie was people being stuck living in the past and having Adrian dead and Rocky not being able to let her go was good and really rooted him in his past glories. He takes Paulie on a tour of their neighborhood basically recapping Rocky and Adrian’s courtship from Rocky I but Paulie doesn’t care and gives Rocky some guff for living in the past.

So Rocky goes to work at a restaurant called Adrian’s. The restaurant was cool. All pictures from the previous films on the wall and Rocky going table to table telling boxing tales. I could get on board with that.

Now at the same time we see that Rocky’s stuck in the past we meet the future in the form of new champion Mason Dixon. But Dixon has a problem. It’s a very Rocky-ish problem. He doesn’t have Heart. He fights like an animal and has no class. The fans don’t like him. The sports TV dudes don’t like him. He’s rich as shit but he gets no respect.

Now this all culminates in a show on ESPN where they pit fighters who could never meet against each other via computer program and see who would win. So we a CG fight between at-his-peak Balboa and Dixon and Rocky wins.

This stirs something up in Rocky and he applies for his boxing license, gets rejected, gives a rousing speech, gets approved. News of this filters back to Dixon’s people and against his will they set up a fight with Balboa, saying that it shows respect and nostalgia is a big money-maker.

At the same time Rocky reconnects with his son who worries about living in his father’s shadow. Rocky gives him a big speech essentially calling him a pussy.

Rocky gets back into training and they was awesome because as I’ve said before I’m a sucker for the Rocky training montages and having Gonna Fly Now back as he runs through Philly was all kinds of satisfying. And I was watching the film I was starting to be filled with a sense of dread. I had given quite a lot of time to watching these films. There had been highs and lows but basically now as I watching Balboa run through the seats with that music pumping in my ears I was actually feeling a bit sad that the journey was coming to an end.

Before the final fight the two fighters square off and it seems as though Dixon wants to go easy on the old man, informing him to just give up because it’s over and Rocky says, ‘It ain’t over till it’s over.’

Masons says, ‘What is that from? The eighties?’

And Rocky replies, ‘More like the seventies.’

And that put a giddy little smile on my face.

The final fight was filmed in an interesting way. It seemed like the rest of the film was filmed on film but the final fight was digital HD like when you watch a pay-per-view fight. It was also sort of filmed like you were watching a televised boxing match, which was awesome.

The fight starts with Rocky getting his ass handed to him but through the use of Heart and the fact that his opponent breaks his hand on Rocky’s hip (fake hip?) Rocky manages to give a good account for himself and it’s a good fight.

For me the best two parts of the fight were when Rocky’s son says something along the lines of ‘Everyone thought this was a joke, including me, but no one’s laughing now’ and Rocky goes out and continues raining punishment on the champ and then just before the last round of the fight Paulie’s in the corner with Rocky and says to him:

Here it is, Rock, last round of your life.

Which I thought was a great little line.

But Rocky loses on points, which is fine, and the champ proves that he’s got Heart by fighting with a broken hand, which is fine, and the movie ends with Rocky at the graveside of his wife and he says, ‘Hey Adrian we did it.’

Which corrects a line that annoyed me in Rocky II when Rocky is screaming, ‘Hey Adrian, I did it.’ I feel like if you’re going to name check your wife, include her in the glory. Keep in mind for those of you at home keeping score, Adrian nearly had a miscarriage worrying about Rocky getting killed in the ring in Rocky II. And it was from her support that he managed to get his ass whipped into shape to beat seven kinds of shite out of Apollo Creed (I miss Apollo Creed) but at least once she was dead he could acknowledge her part in his victory.

Now earlier I talked about the idea of the many trilogies of Rocky films. If I was to tell people to watch these films I would probably say, yeah, stop watching at Rocky III. You get a nice sense of the films from that. You get an underdog story, you get rocky becoming the champ, you get Mr. T, you get Apollo Creed’s arc from villain to hero, and you get to see some redemption. However if you wanted someone to watch the films and that person wanted three films to watch late at night with beer, friends and pizza then I would suggest starting with III and finishing with V. Those films are the crazy ones and that way you get Mr. T again, Paulie’s sex robot, the Apollo Creed/Rocky homoerotic montage, Russians!, Ivan Drago, street fighting, MC Hammer on the soundtrack and all manner of crazy eighties montages.

For me however I think the best way to do it, and this is really for people who have seen the films previously or have someone who can fill in the blanks for them, is to watch Rocky then Rocky III and then Rocky Balboa. You get the grittiness of Rocky with the pantomime of Rocky III (which is subdued pantomime in comparison to IV and V) and then the ending of the saga in the excellent Rocky Balboa.

So that’s it for the Rocky films. This post was super, super late because I had written the first five Rocky films up and got no response from readers so moved onto writing challenges and such and it was only today I saw on my flash drive that I had some unfinished projects that I wanted to clear from my computer and lo and behold I had this half finished (I need to edit the Prometheus because it had been written before I had seen the film and it reflected my misguided hope that it would be good and not the cinematic insult it turned out to be).

They says it ain’t over till its over.

And now it’s over. And I went the distance. I wouldn’t say I have Heart just yet but I’m still not 100% what having Heart means.

The End.

Previously on The Rocky Saga:

Rocky

Rocky II

Rocky III

Rocky IV

Rocky V

The 100 Word Novel – Thirty: Candlelight

CapturePeg finally arrived at her tent. Joe sat outside staring off into the sky, snowflakes hanging from his eyelashes. He ignored her as she opened the flap and went inside.

It was a spacious military tent built to hold a command centre so the twenty people living there fit nicely inside with enough space for some privacy.

The tent was dimly illuminated with candles kept in mason jars and Peg made her way through the flickering light to the patch of space that was her and Kat’s home.

Peg sat down next to Kat’s sleeping bag and began to talk.

Previously on The 100 Word Novel:

Introduction to the 100 WORD NOVEL. Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Chapter Ten Chapter Eleven Chapter Twelve Chapter Thirteen Interlude Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen Chapter Sixteen Chapter Seventeen Chapter Eighteen Chapter Nineteen Chapter Twenty Chapter Twenty-One Chapter Twenty-Two Chapter Twenty-Three Chapter Twenty-Four Chapter Twenty-Five Chapter Twenty-Six Chapter Twenty-Seven Chapter Twenty-Eight Chapter Twenty-Nine

The 100 Word Novel – Twenty-Nine: Blood-Soaked Wraith

CapturePeg trudged through the snow. The other denizens of Fort Wednesday sat around on stools or stood by fires and watched this blood-soaked wraith move through the camp.

Peg ignored them. Her destination was her tent and her bed and her wife. Her earlier argument strategies fell away from her as she walked and were replaced by apologies both achingly raw and lovingly poetic.

Her steps crunched in the snow. She smelt like sweat, blood and vomit. She was lucky that everyone in the camp knew her and her occupation.

Otherwise the sight of her might have caused a riot.

——————————————————————————————————–

Previously on The 100 Word Novel:

Introduction to the 100 WORD NOVEL. Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Chapter Ten Chapter Eleven Chapter Twelve Chapter Thirteen Interlude Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen Chapter Sixteen Chapter Seventeen Chapter Eighteen Chapter Nineteen Chapter Twenty Chapter Twenty-One Chapter Twenty-Two Chapter Twenty-Three Chapter Twenty-Four Chapter Twenty-Five Chapter Twenty-Six Chapter Twenty-Seven Chapter Twenty-Eight

Friday Fictioneers: 7 Minuets in Heaven

copyright-roger-cohen7 Minuets in Heaven

The end of year parties at band camp were always crazy.

The flutes were behind the bar serving champagne while the French horn tried to chat up as many girls as he could.

The tam-tams flirted with the tom-toms while the euphoniums got caught talking to the snare drum.

The bassoons were acting like buffoons while the glockenspiels told dirty, German jokes.

The bass drum spent the whole night making sure the cymbals didn’t clash while the trumpets played Miles and smoked cigarettes and looked cool.

Everyone clapped when the tambourines arrived.

And the cellos just smooched in the closet.

———————————————————————————————————

Some Friday Fictioneers for you with the prompt coming from Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

If you enjoy the writing here head on over to TheIstanbulletin.com – The blog I co-write about living and working in Turkey (It’s mostly about eating though)

Snow and Spirit Animals

It’s snowing loads here in Istanbul at the moment so we’ve been given the day off school. Using my day off for some school work, book work and also sitting with my spirit animal (a Luke Skywalker bobble head) and a mug of tea watching the snow.

ImageProxyWhat’s that you say? You don’t have a spirit animal…Weird. It’s a must for any aspiring writer. Someone to bounce ideas off that can only agree with you? What’s not to like? Ideally I’d get a dog (though my old dog Rocko would often regard my terrible ideas with doggy disgust) but since I cannot do that I have acquired my bobble head. I ask him if he thinks a joke’s funny and he just nods away. Perfect.

IMG_5046He’s also completely awesome and its Luke at my favourite point in the trilogy (there was only one Star Wars trilogy) when he says, “I’ll never turn to the Dark Side. You’ve failed, your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me,” and I always get a lump in my throat at that.

Right well I’ve delayed my school work long enough talking about the awesome toy that adorns my desk…Back to work methinks.

Finally…

moleskineh-1_4So on page 271 (double spaced on a Word doc so I don’t know how many book pages that would be) of my book about the ’68 Kennedy Campaign I finally introduced Robert F Kennedy into the story.

Here’s the exact scene as a taster for when the book is finished, re-drafted many, many times and published and I’ve signed the movie deal and won an oscar for best adapted screenplay and so on and so on:

Hal cleared his throat, eager to get in on some Nixon bashing, ‘It’s unbelievable, he wants to be president but I wouldn’t trust him to sell me a used car.’

Samson laughed, ‘I wouldn’t trust him to sell me a new car.’

The bedroom opened in front of them revealing a man with messy hair and bare feet wearing slacks and an unbuttoned shirt. Robert Kennedy stepped into the room, ‘So Richard Nixon is selling cars now? How long was I asleep?’ 

Its one of those funny things really, when I first conceived of the idea of this book a few years ago actually it was more of a hard-hitting political book about the dream campaign that died before it could soar and then within a few minutes of thinking that I realised that my particular writing skills and joy of surreal comedy and fish out of water stories wouldn’t really lend itself to a West Wing knock off set in the 60s.

Robert-Kennedy-9363052-1-402Then the book was going to be this story of an English journalist sent over to cover the election for the English news and gradually being corrupted by the likes of Hunter S Thompson into seeing the true face of the American Dream. I pitched it to people as Almost Famous but with 60s politics instead of music.

And then it changed again because at the time I was getting the original idea together I was deep into my Shakespeare book so I wanted the Kennedy book outline to be down and ready for the future before I forgot about it to work on Shakespeare (it’s still a work in progress but it’s currently 80,000 words long and I think I’m about a third of the way through, probably not something an agent will take from a first-timer like myself). While I was getting this outline together I was living in Australia and to alleviate my boredom I was helping my fiancée’s dad out at his butcher’s shop making sausages and listening to oldies radio stations. It was while I was doing this that the idea that my main character wouldn’t be a journalist at all. He would be a butcher (later baker and finally an abattoir worker) who ends up in America because he has a rich uncle who has just bought a magazine and wants to give James a chance at a better life. So I wrote a semi-detailed outline and forgot about it.

With the sausages I made when I was in Australia.

With the sausages I made when I was in Australia.

And then I moved to Turkey and had my epiphany that The Seven Shakespeares was going to be too unwieldy to drop on an agent’s desk and I needed something else to write to get my foot in the door. Re-enter Kennedy. So I started writing it and stumbled a few times and couldn’t get my teeth into it. I had ideas out the wazoo. I had done tons of research. I had a twist that I can’t reveal here but it’s awesome. But I couldn’t begin. Until I was in work filing a load of student’s work. It’s a mindless chore that I tend to do with my MP3 player on just thinking about nothing.

Now as a sidenote if you have a problem that you can’t solve, even if you stop thinking about the answer, your subconscious will try to solve it. For me this means that I tend to have great ideas when I go running (a lot of my Friday Fictioneers have been written like that) or in Uni when I was doing my dissertation I used to dream really good points that my sleep deprived brain couldn’t make during the day when I was trying to force them out. For writers this means it’s a good idea to get up early in the morning and make a list of places your book needs to go. You can give it some thought then and there but then forget about it and let your brain take over. Maybe something random will simply pop into your brain when you least expect it, answering the problem there and then. Maybe it won’t but then c’est vie. Do whatever writing you’re gonna do for the day and then before bed read back on your most recent pages before you go to sleep. Maybe you’ll dream a way for your good guy to escape an unescapable death trap or the best way to separate your star-crossed lovers. Who knows.

Anyway while I was doing my mind-numbing task the whole idea of the book clicked into my head. It was like my brain had been doing a rubik’s cube for ages and I didn’t know and then it was solved and the book opened itself up to me like a love letter (Dear Sean, I love you, love from your unwritten novel xoxox). Unfortunately what I realised that day has to be kept secret as well as that’s part of the double twist I spoke of before. 

My little piece of accidental meditation had rendered up the hook for my story, the thing that would single it out from the pack and then I returned to the computer and started writing again and its taking me a while to finish but, as I’ve said before, sometimes life has an annoying tendency to get in the way. Which is fine when it’s getting in the way for holidays and nights out and shopping with the missus and wedding planning etc.

It is a weird feeling though when you realise that this will be the year you finish your book. It may not be the year it gets publish and that may never happen but after so many years of talking about writing and writing about talking and writing and talking about both it will be nice to say,

‘Finally…finished.’

The 100 Word Novel – Twenty-Eight: Out of Surgery

CaptureJen started screaming when Peg made the first cut. From all around the Fort people could hear the girl yelling and crying and whimpering until abruptly there was a silence.

It took Peg two hours to perform the surgery. When she was done the offending appendix lay in an ashtray on the counter in the gift shop.

‘Can you finish up?’ She said to Max who nodded and began stitching Jen back up.

Jen’s mother (Pam) took her hands, thanking her profusely for saving her daughter’s life.

Peg excused herself to go outside so she could throw up in peace.

——————————————————————————————————–

Introduction to the 100 WORD NOVEL.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten 

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Interlude

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Plot Without Conflict

moleskineh-1_4One thing I love about reading quotes or essays from famous writers are the points where they discuss problems they’ve had and you think “I’m having the same problem, thank God, it’s not just me”.

Well for me one of my big problems with my writing (looking at it as an insider who has seen how the cogs are put together because I put them together) is that a lot of the time its all plot without conflict. Huge reams of text of two people talking or walking around or eating without anyone getting kidnapped or murdered or turning into a werewolf. And I worry, “Is it boring? I’m not bored writing it and I’m not bored reading it but then I created these people so of course I like hanging around them but people who are just meeting them? Are they gonna like hanging around with them? Shit, I better kill someone off.” And yet when I give my work to people to read they say they like it, they like chilling with these characters and getting to know them because later in the story when the twists come its hard for the reader because they know these characters so well because they’ve shared interactions with them that they can relate to rather than watching them perform magic or rob a train. And yet still I have this nagging feeling that it’s not right, it’s not how books are written.

Well it turns out that purely by accident I’ve been practising the Japanese art of kishōtenketsu in which the story is broken into four acts: Introduction, development, twist, reconciliation. For example my current project follows this structure closely (which is fortuitous as I’ve been writing for a while and only read about kishōtenketsu this morning) as it begins with the introduction of my main character and details his developing friendship with the other characters which leads to a double twist and then the rest of the story will be the reconciliation of the twist with the first two acts of the story leading to a finale that pulls it all together.

Reading this this morning over cornflakes and stupidly strong tea I had a big smile on my face because finally my style started making sense to me and I could stop worrying about following plot rules because it turns out the Japanese had my back all along and they’ve fitted me out with a new set of rules to follow.

So, doumo arigatou gozaimasu.

You can read more about kishōtenketsu here.

Couldn't think of a picture to put to this article so here's a picture of me in Istanbul.

Couldn’t think of a picture to put to this article so here’s a picture of me in Istanbul.

P.S.

I’ve noticed a lot of my posts on this blog about writing seem to be about how time I spend doubting myself and worrying. I paint writing out as some incredibly stressful task that I need constant reassurance to struggle through and that it’s eating me alive when in fact I love writing. I love building worlds and the satisfaction of feedback and discussion that comes from something plucked from my mind. Sometimes though a bit of reassurance goes a long way and simply having a forum to voice my panics and concerns with others who may or may not be able to help or emphasise is also great (Thanks guys).

In other words don’t worry about me. I got that covered.

The 100 Word Novel – Twenty-Seven: Flashback I

CaptureThey had first met at a murder trial.

Kat was the prosecutor and Peg was the expert witness for the defence. Kat had cross-examined the doctor thoroughly and viciously. She had broken down all of Peg’s assertions about the victims and the killer and made Peg seem like she had received her medical degree from a cereal box.

Peg had fallen for her instantly.

When the trial was over they bumped into each other in the hallway and shared a cab back to Kat’s apartment where they stayed in bed for a whole weekend before Peg proposed on Sunday night.

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Introduction to the 100 WORD NOVEL.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten 

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Interlude

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

 

The 100 Word Novel – Twenty-Six: Restraints

CaptureOli entered the gift shop panting for breath. In between gasps she told them that the soldiers had nothing to give them.

Peg closed her eyes for a long time. She took a deep breath, ‘Right get rope, belts, cords, anything that we can use to tie her down.’

Oli nodded and got to work.

Peg went into the gift shop kitchen. Max had prepared a bowl of hot water next to her gloves and a plastic rain smock that would serve as scrubs. Peg slowly and methodically washed her hands and thought about how she had first met Kat.

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Introduction to the 100 WORD NOVEL.

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten 

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Interlude

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five