Thursday, 15 April 2010

I'm leaving the blogosphere

 Due to some issues arising in my family. I have to leave this blog. I will leave it up for awhile but will not be posting anything new. I'm sorry.

To my blog readers:

I was suppose to blog about back-story today but I decided to put that off until tomorrow. I need a mental break. So instead:  I want to start today's blog with an apology.

I don't feel I'm giving my blogging community my all. Why? I'm exhausted.

I'm currently editing a manuscript (for a friend) that needs to go to publication in a few weeks and so I'm focused on that. I have a few deadlines of my own that I'm trying to tackle. I have so many projects and stories that my mind is muddled. I want to take a break but I can't. So, if you've noticed I'm not commenting on your blogs, it's just time constraints. I promise to get back to them soon.

On a happy note: I finally got my copy of Martin Edward's Novel: The Cipher Garden and I can't wait to read and give it a review. I have enough books to keep me reading for quite a while.

Also, I received my copy of the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary. (I know, only geeky writers get so excited over a dictionary.) This dictionary is amazing! It comes with a CD.

 Look at how thick it is...duh, which dictionary is not thick. And it has colored pages in the middle that give the British and American names for items - and there is a big difference between the two. (You can click on the pics to enlarge them.)

The CD ROM that is included is cool. It has the British and American pronunciation of every word! It also has a built in thesaurus. Can I just say, one of my favorite tools on my computer is the lovely 'SNIP' tool.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

You want back-story? I'll give you back-story!

Today, I'm planning to discuss some ways to add back-story.

First, the easiest way: have the narrator tell it. Doing it that way is easy and effective.
From The Bat by Mary Roberts Rinehard and Avery Hopwood
That's it, the writer then moves on. So the back-story did its purpose - it explained why he was called the bat and then continued. She didn't go on about he night hours or why he didn't go out in the day... only what she needed.

The problem with adding back-story this ways is clear. It's not exciting or original - it lacks drama.
Let's look at another way to make it more dramatic and original.

Disclosure through dialog:

Here's an example from Careless in Red by Elizabeth George:

The key is - never let the back-story sound forced in dialog. Don't bring up things in the past if they wouldn't be uttered otherwise. When we're asked questioned about our past, we won't start at birth and explain our lives and what happened until this point... in fact, most won't disclose more than a line or two unless prodded. Do the same with your story.

Tomorrow, I will disclose other techniques.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Let me interrupt the action to tell you about my life...

This week, I want to talk about my biggest peeve as a reader/editor/reviewer...etc. In one word:


I review and edit a lot of unpublished work and one of the common beginner mistakes is what I said above: back-story. 

Here's an example of back-story: A woman is running for her life through the woods, her stalker close behind, she finds a house in the clearing that looks like a cabin where she used to camp as a child. Now, instead of keeping the flow going, the writer decides to stop the action and instead, write about the camp and how her family went to the lake every year.

What!? Why would the reader want to know about that? And then?

Back-story is vital in a novel. We want to know the background of the main character, we want to know why a character drinks a lot or why they chose to be a mortician. But, don't stop action to write paragraphs of unrelated narrative. You WILL lose the reader. 

Here are some things to remember about back-story:
  • Don't bring in back-story until the novel's action is underway. I don't like to add more than two sentences of back-story into the first chapter.
  • Layer in the back-story as it arises but let what happened in the past effect what happens in the story. For example, in the story above, the woman comes across the house in the clearing and instead of running inside for help, she keeps going. Why? Because - as you write in the back-story - her abusive grandfather lived in a cabin similar to that one and she has bad memories there. You don't need to go into all the memories but knowing a bit about her past will explain her current actions.
  • Tell the back-story in a variety of ways.

Over the week, I will discuss how to layer back-story into a novel in a variety of ways.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Jane Eyre and Cirian Hinds

Jane Eyre (A&E, 1997)Genre: Classic Movie

How I watched it: I own it.

What attracted me to the movie: I admit, I snatch up all classic movies when they come along. Especially, British ones and especially ones with Ciaran Hinds. He's one of my favorite actors. Not the handsomest but one of the best.

What it worth the money? Yes.

Who should watch this movie: If you've read Jane Eyre, then watch this version. There are some other versions (also good) but this one, the chemistry is wonderful between Morton and Hinds. IMHO.

Summary (from amazon): The fascinating British actress Samantha Morton stars as the titular heroine in this provocative version of Jane Eyre, based on Charlotte Bronte's oft-filmed, 1847 novel. The familiar contours of Bronte's story are all here: Jane, the unhappy orphan, grows up to become governess at Thornfield, a gloomy estate owned by the imperious and worldly, but curiously desperate, Mr. Rochester (Ciarán Hinds). While the latter's grasping attentions stir the inexperienced young woman, the gothic goings-on at Thornfield suggest layers of unwholesome secrecy in Rochester's life. Most productions of Jane Eyre carefully reflect Bronte's absorbing balance between romance, horror, and Jane's psychological passage to adulthood. But this 1997 television movie is interesting for its near-reckless emphasis on Jane and Rochester's mutual obsession and galloping jealousies. The dramatic strategy throws off the story's overall tone, but such problems are worth it to see Morton and Hinds explore Jane Eyre's darkest possibilities. --Tom Keogh

My thoughts: Have I said I love this movie? I think that nicely sums it up. This is one of the best scenes in the movie, it's the proposal scene. The chemistry is wonderful. I like how they cut some of the boring parts of the book out in the movie.You can watch the bit below.

Bottom Line: Don't watch the movie if you haven't read the book, but if you have, what are you waiting for?


I have received a wonderful gift from Marce at Tea Time With Marce. She was giving away books to some who took her button. She has a wonderful writing blog and so you should check her out. Click her button below.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Shakespeare's Sonnet Sunday - Sonnet 14

Not from the stars do I my judgement pluck;
And yet methinks I have Astronomy,
But not to tell of good or evil luck,
Of plagues, of dearths, or seasons' quality;
Nor can I fortune to brief minutes tell,
Pointing to each his thunder, rain and wind,
Or say with princes if it shall go well
By oft predict that I in heaven find:
But from thine eyes my knowledge I derive,
And, constant stars, in them I read such art
As truth and beauty shall together thrive,
If from thyself, to store thou wouldst convert;
Or else of thee this I prognosticate:
Thy end is truth's and beauty's doom and date.

1. I don't get my knowledge of the future (discernment) from the stars
2. And yet I think I have Astronomy (a way to see into the future),
3. But not to tell of good or evil luck,
4. Of plagues, of food shortages, or how well the crops will do.
5. Nor can I be accurate as to what your fortune will be,
6. Whether you will be hit by bad fortune (rain, wind, thunder),
7. Nor say if princes will have a good life
8. by often predicting the stars.
9. But from your eyes I find my knowledge,
10. And, in your bright shining eyes (constant stars) I can predict
11. that inner truth and outer beauty continue to conquer,
12. if you will turn your mind to (convert) keeping this truth and beauty (through children)
13. Or else I can predict (prognosticate) this:
14. The date of truth and beauty death (doom).