A Twist in the Plot

Recently, it has come to my attention that plot twists are not my strong point. This got me thinking about whether a twist is absolutely necessary for a good story. Don’t get me wrong, a twist in the plot can make a good story better but I don’t think it’s strictly necessary. The thriller genre is an exception to this rule, a thriller with no twists would be quite dull, but I am no thriller writer! I almost feel that short stories are too short for a substantial twist as there is not a big enough word count to build up to them. There is of course the surprise ending but that’s a whole different story! Maybe, as I work on my novel I will find that twists naturally emerge when I have more words to play with. Talking of which, I feel as though it’s about time to make a start on my novel. I could always do more planning but planning is a dangerous thing, it would be easy to plan for a year and get no writing at all done. I’ve never been a fan of the plan and have been relieved to read recently that many writers like to start writing with barely any plan at all. I feel that the best plan is one that comes from the writing itself. The characters tend to tell the story themselves if you let them. It is for this reason that I am going to do brief character sketches and then make a start! Very excited about that journey!

Olivia x

A Low Moment

The arrival of my monthly magazine has brought with it the confirmation that I have not been successful with my competition entry. This has left me swamped with bad feelings about EVERYTHING. I know these rejections are just a fact of the writing life but that doesn’t stop me dwelling in the bog of dissatisfaction. Tonight, I feel as though everything I have ever written is of poor and boring quality. Where is my character development? Where is my gripping plot? Nowhere, that’s where. I am unable to judge whether this feeling of failure comes simply from my disappointment or whether there is truth to my worries. I intend to spend the evening reading the winning entries and sulking. On a brighter note, here is a piece I have begun about the end of the world (obviously an overwritten subject but one I felt I should play about with anyway).

When the planets align, the world will end. That is what was predicted and now we know it will happen. I have been sat in the darkness for at least a day now, just waiting for this to be over. My hands are shaking from the hunger and the cold but I dare not move from the mattress that has become my home. I gain comfort in knowing that the whole world is underground with me, even though I can’t see them. I cannot believe this day has come. I remember when we used to talk about this in school, joking about what we would be doing right at our last moments. We never knew then that the gospels were true. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have been laughing. The warning came only yesterday evening. Slipped among the news of petrol shortages and celebrities was the statement that the world was soon to end. I laughed with shock when I heard, staring into the face of the newsreader as she continued as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened. The world has always been full of half-truths and cover-ups but this is one story they couldn’t gloss over.

Olivia x

A Long Time

I feel like my blog has come to a complete standstill and for this I apologise. My writing, like my blog, has also been somewhat neglected in past weeks and I long for my writing classes to start again so I can get back into the swing of things. Life seems to me filled with things i have to do, I am so torn as to which task to get through that I end up doing none at all because it seems easier than choosing. Take at the moment for example; I am in the middle of reading a book, trying to keep up with my blog, trying to keep my writing going, trying to learn guitar, trying to start drawing more often, trying to knit a blanket etc. etc. etc. Not to forget the ever tempting idea of watching television and doing absolutely nothing. Oh and then there’s work. If only there were more hours in the day. Reading, I am ashamed to say, is my most time consuming hobby. I have been feeling for a long while that my love for reading borders on addiction. The idea of a day without reading sends me into a whirlwind of panic. As there are worse things to be addicted to, I have decided to let that one slide. In ‘The Artist’s Way’, there is a challenge to give up reading for a week to see how much creative time is freed up. Quite a lot I imagine but I didn’t even attempt to achieve that goal, it was just too hard for me. I cringe to think of the amount of potential writing time that has been spent curled up in someone else’s imagination.

I feel especially in the last few weeks, that my writing self has taken a back seat to get immersed in my bookcase. I have however begun small steps towards my first novel. I am in the very early planning stages but am already enjoying the idea of being a novelist. Short stories are all well and good but the length and depth of a novel seems very appealing to me at the moment. I am excited to meet my characters and have them show me the way things are going to be. I have a feeling it will be a great relationship! In my quest for deeper characters, I have stumbled upon a gem of a book which I would recommend to anyone, writer or not. ‘Writer’s guide to Character Traits’ by Linda N Edelstein is by far the best book i have come across for writers. The pages are filled with Edelstein’s findings as a psychologist and covers character sketches for just about anybody you can imagine. From toddlers to murderers, it has everything. I warn you, it is very easy to get carried away. I had a quick flick through when it arrived yesterday and was still engrossed four hours later. Not only is the book a very helpful guide for writers, it is also fascinating!

In other news, i have still not heard back from a single competition. This is heartbreaking and I have resorted to checking my e-mails about three times a day just to double check. My new development is to check the junk mail section just in case. This obsessive behaviour is disheartening but I long so badly for that e-mail telling of my success. I will not be put off by this lack of news however; having only entered four competitions, I feel that I have a lot more failure to come before success. Failure, after all, is the best way to improvement. I also feel it’s difficult with competitions, because no matter how good a story may be, there’s no guaranteeing that the other’s entries aren’t a whole lot better. Not to worry, perseverance is key after all.

Olivia x

My Stationary Obsessions

I have adored stationary since a young age. The look of a stationary shop has filled me with glee ever since I can remember. As with all obsessions, this comes with it’s difficulties. I cannot walk past without purchasing something. Imagine my glee then when I found a valid reason to buy endless notebooks. My excuse soon became, I need it for my writing, and people would leave it at that. This worked for a while but then the problem grew as my notebook collection soared to uncontrollable levels. I couldn’t be satisfied with just the one notebook, I needed them all and I needed to be using them all. Once a new notepad was purchased, I didn’t feel like writing in the old one any more, the new crisp whiteness was so much more appealing. This resulted in a variety of half filled pads lying around the place which created a feeling of unease in me because I hate to leave things incomplete! This is not a problem I have stumbled across for a while because, although my list of empty pads now stands at 6, I have found I am not using them as much. To be honest this saddens me greatly because there is nothing more fulfilling than flicking through their pages and seeing the words flash past your eyes. Now I find that all my work is stored in a file, on the computer. The main reason for this is that, to write a short story long handed would take over double the time. On top of the fact that I don’t like rough pieces in my pads. They hold the creme de la creme of my writing! I cringe at the idea of somebody picking one up to have a read and seeing scribbles and rubbish all over the place. Needless to say, the pads are for my eyes only but you never know! If I were to die, I wouldn’t want my name soiled when people came across my notepads and wondered what on earth they were all about. It’s also for my well being, if my pads are in a state of disarray, then so is my mind. It is for these reasons that the computer has become a favourable choice but I have vowed to myself from today to begin using my old friends again. The gems in my pads (ranging back from the grand age of thirteen,) have gotten me through many a hard time and it’s a tradition I intend to stick with. My dad recently told me to install and app. on my phone that would allow me to take notes wherever I am. I was dismayed! They really do have apps. for everything nowadays. A sticky on the screen of my phone could not compare to the joys my beautiful scribblings can afford me! Anyway, having now resolved to reinstate my notepads, I have come to a cross roads. To continue with my barely dented notepad, or start fresh on a shiny new one. Old habits die hard…

Olivia x

Limbo

My writing course ended two weeks ago and doesn’t begin again for a month. I have found that this makes inspiration very hard to come by. With my weekly writing class came a weekly activity to be read out loud in the following class. I found the definite deadline a real plus when I was working. Every week, I knew what I was writing and why I was writing it. Since classes have stopped, I have felt that I am writing into oblivion. It’s not that inspiration has come to a complete standstill as I do have a number of ideas on the go but I’m finding it so much harder to kickstart myself. When I do manage to get started, I am still haunted by the lingering feeling that all my hard work is pointless. I can’t see where I’m going anymore. I suppose that is to be expected when one is starting out but I do miss feeling as though there was a reason for what I was doing. For example, I finish work early on Wednesdays and would normally write a first draft of my piece on Wednesday afternoon/evening in preparation for the next class. I still attempt to nominate Wednesday’s as my main writing day but it is so much harder to avoid distraction without that sense of urgency. All I can say is bring on May and the promise a new term of classes brings for my productivity!

Olivia x