Showing posts from April, 2009

Character Focus

So I've written the life histories of my characters. I have a good idea of what they look like. I've even thought of actors who could play them in a film. Sometimes though, even after carrying out these useful exercises, my characters still lack a focus. They're this and that but none of it really knits together to make a whole.

A couple of weeks ago, while working on Split, I came up with an exercise that, so far, has worked for me with each of my characters. It may not be new and my memory is possibly dredging up this method from past reading but it's an idea that has helped me immensely whenever I am struggling with one of my characters.

Sit your character down and, examining him/her/it from all angles, decide on a word, one word, that describes the essence of that individual. What is it that drives/scares/inspires them most? I'll give you some examples from Split.


Here's a description from the first chapter.

'At a richly coloured, sturdy desk to one …

In the beginning...

The first few paragraphs, if not the first sentence, of a novel have to grab the reader instantly if they are to continue reading. If they're not hooked immediately, then the book they've picked out will go back on the shelf with its competition. And let's face it - there is one hell of a lot of competition to run against.

So do you go for a quirky opening, drama, or perhaps a philosophical comment? Here are two of my favourite openers.

A headless corpse was floating on the ornamental pond. It troubled the view and it troubled the ducks and it troubled the two park rangers.

taken from 'The Da-Da De-Da-Da Code' by Robert Rankin

What a killer (if you'll excuse the pun) of a start - brilliant! It grabs your attention and hints at the humour and quirkiness that is to follow and a mystery to be solved.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

taken from 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Aus…

Panto Progress

So we had Windoleen and Zoflora. Windoleen is the outspoken (mind not in gear before mouth is operative) sister. Zoflora is the sarcastic and morose one. Those are the ugly sisters. Or rather they 'were' the ugly sisters until the PTFA asked me to add another facially disfunctional sibling to the mix.

Meet Vileda. She's the silly one - daft as the proverbial household implement. She also fancies Buttons. Methinks there might be a happy ending to his unrequited love for Cinderella. Awwww...


I took this photo on my mobile phone whilst on holiday over the Easter break. We'd gone away for a long weekend and while my husband reclined and my children splashed around in the waves, I took a few moments to look around.

As not only an avid writer but also a keen blogger, I am constantly on the look out for photos that I can use, either to post online or simply to have on my computer for inspiration.

As writers, we find inspiration in many ways - the newspapers we read, the conversations we overhear, a thought of 'what if' when in certain circumstances. I take much of my inspiration from my photos.

So I thought I'd share a couple with you. See if they inspire you too.

Too many buses

So you know the saying that men are like buses. None come along for ages, then three turn up at the same time. That's how it is with my writing at the moment.

For the first few months of the year, my writing career was extremely thin on the ground (can you hear the rustling of the scrub bushes blowing through the ghost town that was my creativity). My muse had not only gone on holiday. She'd taken a sabbatical to Outer Mongolia.

Now I find myself with not only sufficient writing assignments to fill my evenings but indeed a glut of creative activity. There is the ongoing development of my novel, Split. I've been commissioned to write a pantomime for the PTFA at my children's school. Finally, I've found two short story competitions to enter.

Am I a sucker for creative punishment? Of course! I'm just praying that procrastination doesn't set in. Fingers crossed.


One of the main incentives for starting this blog was to use it as a companion to my novel writing - a way to discuss thoughts and ideas as they arise through the creation of my novel, talk through progress and think up answers to any problems that I may come across.

'Split' is the first of a series of fantasy novels. The world of Split is a version of our future when society still doffs a cap to religion but the main culture is based around technology. Magic also exists in this world but after a supposed terrorist attack is outlawed.

The idea for 'Split' started out as a Tolkien-esque fantasy story that featured wizards, angels, elves and monsters. I toyed with the idea for many years, even completing the novel in this form. I still have the original typed manuscript. Still, it never felt right or complete.

A couple of years ago I got the idea to set my novel in a future world and what had been titled 'The Crystal Prince' became 'Split'. Suddenly the stor…

My list of creativity

It's the Easter break at the moment, two weeks holiday - no school, lots of children time, not so much me time, even less housework time, but plenty of trips out. Today, unfortunately for the kids, we had to do the boring stuff - supermarket, laundry, paying bills -but neither the queue at the till nor the lack of mummy time ("not now, I'll play with you later, Mummy has work to do") dampened my children's ability to find magic and fun in their surroundings.

It got me thinking about creativity and how we all fit it into our day, even if we don't notice. Here's mine:
Before I had even got out of bed, I had a conversation with my four year old son about the merits of Pokemon over Power Rangers. I persuaded said son to leave Mummy to have a shower by selling him the idea of building a Pokemon from Lego with the negotiated proviso that he brought assorted limbs in while I showered to ask my opinion.Breakfast (Weetabix) was provided for my two children with stra…

Murdering The Text

Although I am a hopeful novelist and currently working on a novel for publication, I also earn money writing murder mystery plays for amateur theatre groups and general fundraisers.

Back in 1997, the am dram group that I was part of faced a dilemma that most amateur theatre groups come up against on a regular basis. How do we raise extra money to keep our group going? Although our shows were usually profitable, we wanted to try some newer playwrights who didn't attract our usual audience but that would obviously have a knock on effect on future productions.

The profusion of table top sales, tombolas and quiz nights rarely brought in much money over the cost of venue hire. Even a dinner dance with three course menu had attracted only a limited audience. So what else was there?

Knowing I was a writer, another member of the group approached me with an idea. We could write a murder mystery play of our own that would incur limited costs to perform and which would provide a chance for audi…

Oh no, you didn't...

I've been writing murder mystery plays for 12 years now but a recent conversation at the school gate has added a new arrow to my bow.

The PTFA (parents and teachers association) at my children's school have asked me to write a pantomime for them to be performed by the teachers and parents. I've acted in several pantomimes during my years of am dram (see if you can spot me in the photo - I was blonde then) but putting the words into the actors' mouths is a fresh challenge.

They've asked for Cinderella and have recruited almost the entire school staff. The headmistress has been targeted as the wicked Stepmother. I've put together the song list already. I hope the head won't hold it against me that she has to sing Diamonds are a girl's best friend. I have my scene plan. Just need to write it now. I have two weeks to get the first two scenes to them so rehearsals can begin.

Wish me luck.

Getting to know me

So what's it about, I hear you ask? Fi? Magic? Writing? Well, to be honest, all of the above. I already run two blogs for my home businesses, Haven Crystal Gifts and Murdering The Text but I wanted something that was a little more about just me and my life. I started this blog as an outlet for my writing, thoughts and inspirations.

For the past twelve years, I have been writing murder mystery plays for amateur dramatics groups and general fundraisers, but I've also been living with an idea for a novel, in fact several ideas. Last year I put pen to paper (ok, fingers to keys) and started my novel 'Split', a fantasy novel set in a future world. I aim to use this blog to discuss my writing progress, along with any other writing news I may have.

I'd also like to use this space to discuss other writerly topics - subjects connected with my novel, operating as a writing mum, links and contacts that other writers may find useful.

So here we go. Welcome to the Haven. Enjoy!