A faint singing, half heard

1 11 2015

It wasn’t clear. High pitched, likely children. Girls perhaps? More than one, maybe three. Voices raised hesitantly. Learning a new song, practising?

He walked towards the noise, hoping for clarity but he knew clarity in this tiny mystery would bring no peace, no resolution. 

It was children. He could see them through the bay window, through the gap in the curtains struggling to keep out the darkness, to hold in the warmth of family. He would twitch them if his hand could but pass through the glass. Twitch them  as if a secret watcher standing guard on a lonely residential street. But he was the interloper here and onwards he must go

The piano they’d been standing about in their innocence had triggered a memory. A conversation so long ago. Where she’d gone as a child to find peace. 

Perhaps, just perhaps? 

He turned his face from the warmth and let the cold moonlight caress him. It was as he deserved. 

He searched the rooftop silhouette for God and set his course to his house.  





The socks! Why the socks?

30 10 2015

the black wool-mix of the base colour was nearly obscured by the colours. Vibrant discs of orange, yellow and red marched around each ankle in regimented bands which presumably paraded from toe to hidden calf. 

The rest was business. Blue trousers – not salesman shiny. White shirt – crisp, cuffed, woven. Tie- half Windsor knotted, blue, slight pattern. Watch – gold but understated. 

But the socks…

Characterisation is about giving your people reality, clear places in their world where they live. They may live uncomfortable lives but they. Do. Live. 

Socks tell us nothing. Should they? 

I’ve been guilty myself on putting a comedy tie on a man to make the reader associate him (falsely in that case) with the office joker, possibly sad and lonely on the inside and overcompensating but that would not be unexpected. 
But what about socks?

What do you think when you see a businessman in non-“standard” socks? Do we have any common cultural references to build on? 

Run out of clean socks? Does he live alone, work away?

Christmas present? Living family? Children? Mad aunt? Work secret Santa?

But why put them on if given a choice? What do you want the world to know, to see, to guess?

I’m open to ideas on this one. Comments welcome
Comedy socks – why?





The Empty Cellar

21 10 2015

My ideas are generated in the cellar. Each room a generator of a different idea, a different view. A story viewed from one room can look completely different if I take a look from the creative sitting locked in the cellar cell next door. A stalled story arc can be resurrected or rechanneled by seeing the whole at 90•. 
Travelling has left my cellar rooms empty. Clean sheets, fresh clothes, pleasantly scented. But empty. Now is the time to think about the minds, the creatives I want to put in each one. Do I want a boho free spirit, a constrained and uptight bookworm, a journo with tight style and logical bent? Or go for random. Try a few and keep what I like the feel of and to the furnace with the dross? Time will tell what minds will work on the next Penny B mystery but she will return from the cellar (of my mind?)
Image care of Stuart miles and free digital images. Net





Ebbs and flows in writing output

28 07 2014

You’ll have noticed the clever name of my blog site. “Writer’s Blog”. It’s a pun you see, a play on words. Writer’s Blog = Writer’s Block. (I know you know this but in case one or two people missed it thought I would spell it out – it’s not a great pun, not a classic)

It’s funny though. (not the pun, obviously!). It’s funny that since I started blogging last year I have mentioned writer’s block only once. In passing. In a blog about something else.

Why?

I do believe in it. Can’t deny it. Sometimes a story just doesn’t want to come, a character seems to suddenly not have the capability, the capacity, to escape from the situation they have got themselves into. How do they get out of the locked cellar, get away from the man with the big chopper and black balaclava? They don’t have the skills and suddenly giving them a Houdini backstory without at least a couple of signposts earlier on will stretch reader credibility. More importantly, it will stretch the picture you carry in your head of your hero/heroine.

They have to be real.

But that’s for another blog. For now I give you my solution to writer’s block. It’s not advice, self help, guidance counselling. It’s just what I do.

I open my mouth and speak aloud and tell, just TELL, my subconscious to get on with it and find a solution. I tell it three times. Think about it hard for a minute or two to reinforce the need.
Then
Forget
All
About
It

And so a write something else, read a paper, cut the grass. Anything!

If it is only a minor problem I might carry on with other aspects of the story but if it’s a biggie I’ll just let my mind get on with it and eventually I will stop chewing mid-muffin and know the solution.

I suppose this isn’t pure writer’s block when nothing will come out but that has only happened once and that REALLY is “a HH Coventry revelation” for another day.





Let’s play “spot the writer”

30 05 2014

I was on a train the other day. Commuters, students, travellers. All crammed together. Sweating. Swearing internally. Feeling their lives being stolen away by the thief who never stops ticking away.
I was on a train in a seat so I was a bit better off that some of the others. In a seat with a window so even more fortunate in that, even if I had so desired, I couldn’t have got up to offer my seat to anyone with greater need. The moral question of when you should make that offer is one to be pursued another day.

The lady squeezed besides me was a wriggler. A squirmer. A jiggly itch I felt myself wanting not just to scratch but get a wire brush onto. However my view changed when I glanced at her tablet.
Her wriggles had been caused by typing, pausing, silent muttering and shrugging, deleting and typing again. She was a writer!

It wasn’t a boring presentation for some dull bank or insurance company and it wasn’t a glossy PR campaign. It was a book. Chick-lit from what I could make out in peripheral vision through the privacy block of a modern front-facing screen. Chick-lit – just my bag! If the train had been less busy I would have introduced myself and we’d have been more than collaborating before you could say “Next stop Clapham Junction”

However, it was busy and she was obviously at a difficult connecting juncture of getting her heroine linked up with the love interest.

I have written on a train, many times. Busier than this as well when on a long one via Cairo. How many are there I wondered? As I stood to edge past bags and feet and pools of melted pensioner I looked around. How many busy fingers were creating their own world? How many closed eyes hid characterisations, storylines and synopsis?

I found myself composing a battle cry. If my struggle to reach the exit had not been so onerous then those morning commuters would have seen an occasionally familiar face shouting, “Get writing my little beauties! Get writing and your next stop will be success!”

Next time!





Product placement in books as well as films

10 10 2013

“Marcia just loved the feeling as the ice cold Coke slipped down her dry throat, lubricating, satisfying, cooling…”

That will be £1,000 please Mr Cola. Please pay by return. Cash preferred! Oh, you’d prefer a pay per book deal, would you? OK. Should we start at 10p per hardback and negotiate from there?

It works for film makers so there must be an argument for it to work for books as well. Should JKR get a slice of the coffee profits next to the Platform 9¾ at Kings Cross? Should Brown get a piece of the tourist pounds spent at the Louvre or Florence? Jodhpur in India is getting a mention in one of my upcoming stories so perhaps if I mention which airline I intend my heroine to travel by could mean a ticket or two wings its way to me.

I do wonder how prevalent it is both in the rarefied heights of the global author meeting global consumer brand but also down at the grass-roots. Local authors are writing by the thousand all the guidebooks, the walking trail maps, the home-town set novellas – do they get the free coffee for mentioning Kiara’s Koffee shop or a pint a day from the “best little pub in Lower Froyle” which a fictional detective likes to frequent?

Alternatively should writers never reference real things, real places, real people? I do it. All the time. I love that I can base my books on real locations, love that readers may come and see where my imagination placed a character. What does it hurt?

Did I mention how much I like Bentleys and Jaguars – fine automobiles all!





Homophobe or Racist – which do you prefer?

18 09 2013

As a writer you have to live inside other people’s heads for much of your life. I’m a bloke, have been all my life, but I find myself inside the minds of my heroines. The creative mind sits inside someone I will never be – but women (obviously) face many of the same issues as men and I can empathise with many of the others!
In much the same way I sometimes find myself inside a bigot, a rapist, a killer – trying to understand them, trying to make their voices plausible, their actions consistent. And I don’t always know if I am doing it right!
If a bigot hates gays does it follow that he/she also has to have a problem with black people or Jews or the Welsh? If they don’t ‘have to’ be universally bigoted is there somewhere I can go to find out the correlation. Do 90% of KKK members regularly protest against vegans or is it only 5% or not correlated at all? Does the national census track this? Do Which? produce a report? Who knows these things?
I’m being deliberately flippant about this because it is all in my head. If I want to make my baddie even worse I will throw some casual racism into their dialogue because I see that as a bad thing in a person. But if I make them racist can they also be gay – do people with one unjustified subjectively dodgy bias automatically have to have more? Does a homosexual racist criminal have to hate straight people?
Sometimes I think it is better to steer away from such questions but sometimes a writer just can’t. Characters develop with a story and sometimes they aren’t consistent and sometimes, to be blunt, they turn out to be complete b**tards!