Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Photo Inspiration for May

I've just noticed that I haven't done this yet. The month is running away with me.These photographs are a mixture of new and old.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Gorgeous Gifts

Just in case, you were looking for a new beautiful bookmark (or two) for yourself or to give as a gift, we've just produced a whole range in our Zazzle Store - Pink Blossom Blue Sky Gifts. They're only 60p each, plus postage and packing.

You can find the entire range here.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Character vs Plot

I've always been a little puzzled when creative writing books or tutors have raised the issue of 'character versus plot'. Is your novel character-led or plot-led?

I've found an explanation of the difference on the Hear Write Now site.

"With character-driven stories, the problem is usually caused by a weakness in the main character that has to be overcome before he can resolve the problem that makes up the story. The pivotal point is when the character understands this and takes the first steps to right his weakness.

"A plot-driven story begins with a problem that is external - in a thriller, this might  be a terrorist attack, in a fantasy it might be an unwelcome summons by the king. The characterisation influences the plot by the reaction of the main character to the problem. At the pivotal point, the character finds the tools, internally or externally, to solve the situation."

This appears to be a very straightforward, reasonable explanation and yet...

Here's my problem. I like to write about flawed characters. I am, myself, a flawed character. I know my weaknesses, my dark side. Those flaws make me the person I am. I'm a bit of a snob (that's my mother in me) but also willing to give people the benefit of the doubt mostly (my father's addition to my gene pool). I sometimes shout at my children but I would also happily die for them. I'm a human being like the majority of the readers of this blog (well, you never know...). Flaws are what make us interesting in life and characters fascinating on the page.

The main character in my novel, Stephen Haven is a disappointed, stubborn man who would rather interact with his computer than a living, breathing person. He thinks that he doesn't like people. He's sure that they don't like him. His habit of cutting himself off from the world creates the perfect opportunity for our villain to steal his identity.

In everything I write, my flawed characters bring down problems on themselves by their own actions but they are also thrown into situations that are at least initially out of their control. Am I therefore writing from a character-led point of view or plot-led? Surely character informs plot and the vice versa applies too.

Maybe I'm missing something here. Perhaps I should return to my shelf of creative writing books. Am I alone in being confused by this? Am I the only person who has difficulty with this concept? Am I?

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Too much creativity - I want to get off!

Not really. Who am I trying to kid? The last six weeks may have formed a glutenous mass of imagination, frustration and end result, but they've been enthralling too. I'll explain.

1. Zazzle

My husband and I have always been all round creative lunatics. If we're not writing, we're discussing plans. If we're not doing that, then we're doodling designs. The list goes on and on in our constant creative endeavours. The result, almost two months ago, was the decision to do something constructive with our humour (well, it makes 'us' laugh) and our designs. Combining the two led us to a website called Zazzle.

Zazzle is an online organisation that creates quality custom products. Put simply, you can upload a design and create a t-shirt, business card, tie or gift, either as an individual or as a store. Although Zazzle is based in the USA, it has bases in many other countries too, including the UK.

We have become what is termed by Zazzle artists as a pair of Zazzlers. We spend far too much time uploading designs and creating products, watching for sales and seeing new designs in places as banal as the ice crusted lid of a pizza box. We're obsessed.

If you're interested, we now have three Zazzle Stores:
Our children have even got in on the act, starting a non profit shop called Fabkidz with their own designs, to raise money to donate to child and animal charities.

2. Murder mystery plays

It's murder mystery season again, or rather the time of year when many am dram groups approach me to discuss their murder mystery needs for the year ahead. The unfortunate downside to this very welcome correspondence is that the progress of writing my two murder mystery plays (deadline - end of May) has been jarringly slow. Still, there has been some progress but I really should stop jumping  between the two plays - 1920s country manor and science fiction don't really mix (unless you're Doctor Who).

3. eBook

Another project for Murdering The Text is to write an eBook to accompany my murder mystery plays, with advice drawn from our many years' experience of performing our plays in addition to assisting our customers to do the same. I'm making better progress on this than the plays with three sections written.

4. The Novel

As always, there's some work on my novel in there too. I've finished another chapter and come to the conclusion that at least one likeable character will have to die at the end of the story.

So there you have it - my creative whirling dervish of a life for the past six weeks. And there were two weeks' school holiday as well. Now, if you'll just excuse me, I need to rest my brain for the night, well, once I've uploaded my latest design (remember the icy pizza box). Then I just need to create about ten items, design a new wedding stationery range and...