Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Choice Words for April

Although I'm working on the latest draft of the first novel in a series, I'm aware that I really need to finish the plot for the whole series. I've even bought an A3 pad for this purpose.

Shaunta Grimes of the Writing Co-operative has come up with a different approach - a plot board. Have a look at her article, How to make a plot board, to find out how she did it.

Monday, 3 April 2017

What I'm doing this month - April

Yes, that's the same image that I used for March. April will be much the same as last month.

Murdering The Text

This month, I'm concentrating on finishing my twenty year anniversary murder mystery. It's still as yet untitled but already the characters are sharing their stories. I can tell the writing process is going well when I can picture the characters moving through the play on-stage. Once the script is finished, that isn't the end of it. I then have to put together character histories, motive sheets and a guidebook for the director.


I'm now firmly settled into this career path. I have one main client for now which is fine while I gain valuable experience. I do wonder why I didn't try this out before now.

Apart from that, I'll be enjoying the spring weather and getting the family out and about over the Easter break. There'll be chocolate eggs and dog walking, not a bad combination. See you next month.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Choice words for March

Back in January and February, I returned to an old love of mine - acting. It was a small part in a pantomime, and it's definitely not the most attractive I've ever looked, but I enjoyed it immensely.

It wasn't until after the show had finished that I realised how acting on the stage had sharpened my scriptwriting skills, reminding me how my plays felt to perform and looked to the audience.

Fellow writer Nick Cross came to a similar conclusion recently. His blog post Can Acting Make You A Better Writer? appears on the Notes from the Slushpile site. Have a look.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Resetting my Mindset

I've always had a specific approach to getting writing done. I write. Then I wander around, get a coffee, do some housework, while I think about the next stage in my my writing. Then I write some more. I've always done that, whether working on a play, my novel or these blog posts, and it's been an effective way to get things done in the past.

It doesn't work, however, when you're writing to a time limit. I have 20 minutes to write this email, or I have an hour and a half to turn this bullet list into an informative piece on productivity, all under the remit of a client.

When it's my own time, it's fine to have those 'brainstorm' walks but when I'm writing for a client who doesn't want to pay for any more time than they have to, the wanderings are out of the question.

It's a new puzzle to solve. I need more focus within a tighter time frame. I have to 'parent' myself like I do my children as I drag them through the door each morning for school. No self indulgence, well, not until I've finished my workload.

It's a puzzle and a learning curve that I'm enjoying though. Already I can see that the rest of my writing is seeing a benefit from this fresh mindset. Of course, the extra money is appreciated too.

What about you? Do you change mindset depending on what you're writing?

Friday, 10 March 2017

Photo Inspiration for March

This month's photo inspiration is a snapshot from my family life. I saved this photo on my computer as 'shopping trip' but it could be so much more. What do you think? What clues can you find to a new story?

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

What I'm doing this month - March

After an introductory month to my new role as freelance copywriter in February, I'm now set firmly on the course of this fresh career path. With plenty of work on the way, I'm enjoying the challenge of writing for a different arena. Writing to order isn't new for me. Plenty of my murder mystery plays were commissioned by customers. Being economic with time and wordcount, however, is something that I haven't had to deal with much in the past but it's a new development that I'm relishing.

Murdering The Text

This year, I will have been writing murder mystery plays for twenty years. Twenty years! How did that happen? To celebrate this impressive anniversary, I'm writing a new, as yet untitled murder mystery that relates back to the original script that started this journey. I already have a cast, a setting and a decade (the 1980s). I'll let you know when the script is finished and ready to be performed.


I'm still working on the re-write of my novel, strengthening Steve's voice and role. After an encouraging 'almost' from one literary agent in the past, I'm hoping to forward the redrafted novel to her when it's finished. Fingers crossed.

This year has, so far, been one of new directions and fresh perspectives. I can't wait to see what it has in store for me.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Choice Words for February

One of the downfalls of working on my novel over such a long period of time is that I can lose track of all the changes that have happened over the numerous drafts. More than that, I can forget to add the knock-on changes and repercussions of altering characters and plot lines.

In her article How To Create An Editorial Map, Janice Hardy provides a straightforward and valuable approach to re-drafting and editing your novel. Have a look.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Murdering The Text is 20 years old

20 years! Started with a friend back in 1997 as a way to raise much needed funds for the amateur dramatics group we were part of, I never envisioned that I would still be penning murder mystery plays for an ever increasing number of customers in the UK and beyond by the time we hit 2017.

To celebrate this impressive anniversary, Murdering The Text will release a brand new, murder mystery script later this year, a theatrical nod back to our original play, The Tangled Web.

Happy birth-year Murdering The Text.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Photo Inspiration for February

With thanks to BADG

Can you see me? I'm in this photo somewhere. I thought I'd have a little fun with this month's photo inspiration and use a moment from the pantomime my daughter and I performed in recently. 

What do you think? The night there was a power cut in the theatre? The pantomime characters escape? What does this inspire you to write?

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

What I'm doing this month - February

Last month was stupidly busy and productive but as the days passed, it all felt like the tag end to 2016. There were strings to tie off, chores to finish and niggles to appease.

This month feels like the real start to the year. My job search has led me to a new path for not only my income but also my writing career. With a new contact in hand, I'm moving into copywriting as another string to my creative bow. Like the door at the end of the alleyway in the image (left), it all looks very promising but until I've stepped over the threshold I won't know exactly where I stand with this new development.

At the end of last month and the beginning of this, my daughter and I were involved in a pantomime with the local amateur dramatics group. We enjoyed it immensely, although we were exhausted by the time we helped pack everything away (scenery, props, even a mobility scooter). We made new friends and I rediscovered the buzz of performing. Returning to the stage has also reminded me of why I started writing plays in the first place and re-tuned my theatrical staging senses. I now have an idea for a pantomime of my own, something a little different to the normal pantomime storylines, and a series of interlinked one act plays.

Work on my novel is still progressing with an aim to strengthen Steve's voice and increase the peril that he and his friends find themselves in.

All in all, February is looking to be a brilliant 'start' to the year.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Photo Inspiration for January

It's all a bit bleak out there at the moment. It seems to have rained every day in January so far where I live. Dog walks are short, pavement-bound and with my eyes downcast.

I took this photo on one of the few dry mornings we've had recently. The towering branches of the oak trees, dotted with crows, painted a picture of black on white. I always enjoy watching the crows which mass in these trees at the end of the road where I live.

What do you think? Depressing? Foreboding? Stark? Or do you find something inspirational and thoughtful in this image?

What does it inspire you to write?

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

My 2017 reading habit

Last year I set myself a reading list of twelve books. I reckoned one book a month was doable  but unfortunately I failed abysmally. I managed three books over the year. Well, that's not totally true. I read three books from my list but also read several ARC books and draft novels for fellow writers. Still, I didn't meet the challenge I set for myself.

This year, I'm doing things differently. Rather than setting a list of books to read and ticking them off as finished, I'm going to add to my 'read' list on the right of this page as I finish each book. I'll review the novels that stand out as special too.

As writers, we need to read. It's the other side to our creativity. 2017 is going to see a lot of change in my life and committing to read as much as possible is one of those changes. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

What I'm doing this month - January

This is the bandstand in the city where I live. It dates from 1913 and is still used as a regular performance space. This image perfectly represents how my life feels at the moment - an empty stage waiting to be filled with music and colour. I'm nervous about stepping out onto that stage but excited too.

You see this year is all about stepping up to new challenges, learning my lines and realising my roles. It isn't a complete change because I'm bringing the best from last year with me but I'm adding some new ideas too.

In January, I will be:
  • looking for a job (although continuing with my script writing business too),
  • revamping my novel, Shadowbinder,
  • rehearsing for and performing in a pantomime (my daughter is taking part too),
  • and cleaning up my business website.
It's going to be a nose-to-the-grindstone kind of month but that's ok. I need the exercise after all the festive indulgences. I foresee the need for lots of coffee.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Life in the New Year

Many people have slammed the door on 2016 as a year of divisiveness, hate and loss. I have to agree that yes, it's been all of that, but for me it's also been a time of growth and realisation. Not all of that was comfortable, for the world or me personally, but no worthwhile change was ever achieved from a place of safety and comfort. Challenging times bring out the best in people.

The beginning of most years have felt like this - a blank page. I'm not a one for making new year resolutions (the spring always seems like a much better time for that) so I've kind of drifted into each new year with a vague sense of needing to make a change.

I've made the usual vows - eat healthier, exercise more, be a better person - but that has often felt like an empty effort. Shouldn't I be doing those things anyway? Perhaps that's the problem. This time of year excels at selling expectations. We should do this and we should get rid of that. I've always been uncomfortable with the word 'should'. It smacks of what other people think and has nothing to do with what truly makes us tick, our loves and passions.

2017 is different. I have a plan, one that excites me because it includes projects that are dear to my heart but also challenges me to step out into new arenas. It's a busy plan that touches every part of my life. 2016 saw me disheartened and doubting myself. In 2017, I'm taking charge. 

Whatever you have planned for 2017, here's to twelve months that stretch you in the best of ways. The future is as bright as we make it. Happy new year.