Lost and forgotten, now found

Last night I was looking though the different posts I have written here over the five or so years I have been writing, and I came across something I had completely forgotten I had written.  I had so completely forgotten it, that I felt as if i was reading something written by someone else!  I found it interesting… and because it was such a long time since I had originally published it, that I shared it again, and if you missed it, here is a link:

https://loiselden.com/2017/10/16/a-pool-in-a-park/

The idea in this piece was that we see things vividly but we don’t always see what is going on beneath the surface –  in actual things such as the weedy pond in my little story, but in many other aspects of life.

As a writer I am doing this all the time – I am presenting scenes and characters, but hiding certain aspects which I later reveal which may inform or explain more about the characters or their actions. Sometimes it is done for dramatic effect, sometimes because that’s the way life is!

In the present story I am writing, there is the main action on the surface; Thomas and his wife and their five children lead a very busy life, as you can imagine. On the surface all is well, and from the outside – from the point of view of other characters in the fiction, and my readers in reality, although busy, they are all successful and happy. As the writer, I can let the reader peep beneath the surface; one of the children, a niece now adopted, had a very troubled past – she seems a happy and  confident child but she has nightmares and disturbed sleep. Thomas himself, exuberant, confident, cheerful, ‘bumptious’ his wife calls him, is still haunted by his own childhood and full of fear that his present happiness might be snatched away. He is secretly anxious most of the time, about his family, about their finances, about aspects of his work, about whether his beautiful wife will become fed up with him…

As I mentioned, I had completely forgotten I had written the story about the pool, covered with duckweed, wavytail weed and watermeal, but here it is, here on my blog; Thomas may have forgotten about his past, but it still lurks within!

here is a link to my paperbacks and e-books:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_6?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+e%2Caps%2C143&crid=2RTE73XNYTYMM

… and to my Thomas stories:

PS duckweed and watermeal can be found on ponds and rivers… I made up wavytail!

A list and a checklist

A fellow blogger and I have been considering the different sorts of blogs you can write, the different subjects you might want to write about, and the different challenges with each…  We found an article which gave a list of seventy-three – 73! – different ideas. We have decided to tackle them all; my friend is doing them at random, I am working my way through and today have come to checklists.

What is the difference between a list and a checklist… well, I guess they do overlap but apparently a list is just… well a list, usually of things (although it can also be a ‘to-do-list’) whereas a checklist is a list of things to do, possibly in a certain order, which can be ticked off as they are done (which can also be a to-do-list)

http://optinmonster.com/73-type-of-blog-posts-that-are-proven-to-work/

The idea is that you apply each of the blog suggestions to your own ‘industry or blog‘; so how would I apply the checklist principle to my writing…

I guess I would have to think of one particular aspect of my writing, so I am going to think about editing a completed piece, and in my case this would be a novel.

You have finished your novel – editing checklist:

  1. put your novel in a drawer (real or metaphorical) for at least a week
  2. if possible don’t do any other writing, if this is not possible make sure it is something which has absolutely no connection with THE NOVEL i.e. a sequel
  3. read it through, preferably in a different form from the way you saw it when you were writing it, e.g. on a Kindle, or as a hard copy; try not to interrupt your reading of it by making corrections – read it as a reader would
  4. when you have finished spend some time thinking about it, maybe make a few jottings of thoughts which occurred to you as you were reading, maybe under headings such as descriptions? locations? relationships? timings?
  5. run a spell-check
  6. spell-check again for consistency in names Sara/Sarah, Gabrielle/Gabriela
  7. weed out repeated words, ‘just’, ‘almost’, ‘even’ – and unusual words which you used once, loved, used again, then repeated – pellucid, lambent, adscititious, for example
  8. cut out all unnecessary words – less is so much, much more! Reducing your novel by a third can do wonders!
  9. start to read it through, correcting as you go – this maybe just small things or it maybe inconsistencies which need to be put right
  10. you may want to do a major re-write – it is sometimes advisable to continue reading through the whole thing to make sure you know exactly what you want to rewrite and what implications it would have on other parts of the novel
  11. work on your novel – it maybe the things you noted when you were reading it on your Kindle, it maybe the inconsistencies you want to tidy up, or it may be the rewrite
  12. If you have rewritten most or a lot of the novel, go back to number 1 on this checklist and start again
  13. think of aspects of your novel in chunks together – think about everything you have written about each character and their profile, each setting, each description
  14. optional – copy and paste into another document the story line for each character so you can read their part of the story sequentially
  15. read your novel again, changing and adjusting as you go
  16. read it again out loud to yourself
  17. read it backwards – not literally word for word, but chapter by chapter – this can throw up a lot of errors in sequencing and chronology
  18. if you have anyone who can read it for you this is a big help – if they are critical in a kindly but firm way. If you agree with their comments great, if you don’t you will have to defend your point of view and that argument will enable you to see whether their criticism might actually have been justified!
  19. run through the story-lines in your head from the different characters’ different points of view
  20. read it one last time…

Here is a link to my book, each of which has been through all of the above!!! The checklist on each has been well and truly checked!!:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_6?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+e%2Caps%2C152&crid=2ALEAZC1KF18A

Writing as an industrial process… maybe… maybe not!

I’ve been writing about blogging, and about a helpful list was published to assist all prospective bloggers who might be running aground for ideas, or if they are just beginning, have few ideas at all!

This is a list of seventy-three blog subjects and I’ve been challenging myself  to have  a go at writing a blog for each of the suggestions. I’ve started this on the Moving Dragon blog I share with to other people and this one is on the list as Latest Industry News  which is obviously aimed at people who have lives other than writing and might want to share news or views on whatever their line is. So slanting it slightly, accepting that writing is part of an industry, here are my thoughts:

2. Latest Industry News 

Is writing an industry? In a wider sense yes it is, and maybe today with the internet it is a greater industry than ever before. As a writer of novels, as a blogger, as a teacher of creative writing and family history writing, as a member of two writing groups, I think I can claim to be part of that industry, even in a very lowly and amateur position!

So my latest news (as an industrial writer, or a writing industrialist)

  1. my novels – having hit a metaphorical wall with the Radwinter genealogical mystery I am working on, circumstances forced me to have a break from it. There are several story-lines and I confess I was getting a little confused with how each was playing out – and if I, the writer am confused, then pity my poor readers! The first in the Radwinter series was written as a stand-alone novel, but although it concluded satisfactorily, it seemed to cry out for a second part; in the first story the paternal line of the Radwinter family had been explored, now the maternal line needed to be followed. Subsequent novels followed, and in this the latest, present day family issues are the background, while the mysteries the Thomas Radwinter is tasked to solve are to the forefront. Two different stalkers, a jealous and possessive ex-husband, the nineteenth century coastal salt industry, an amnesiac, a family history… Thomas has a lot of work to do. I reached a point where I was getting lost in it all – so my enforced breather was a real positive. I am now reading through the whole story so far, making corrections and notes as I go and I’m sure I will be invigorated!
  2. my blog – going very well at the moment; yesterday I wrote three offerings: ‘On the edge of the pond‘ – an excerpt from my novel ‘Farholm; ‘Savouries‘ – looking at a course on a dinner menu which seems to have gone out of fashion; Side-saddle – a short biography of pianist Russ Conway
  3. Moving Dragon blog – also continuing well – you can look back at previous posts to see how well it is doing!
  4. Moving Dragon – very excited at the progress we three dragons are making towards an anthology we are publishing in the autumn/winter. An update will be posted soon!!
  5. writing group (1) – having thoughts about the subject for the next meeting where the subject to write about is ‘Earth’ (following on from water, fire and air)
  6. writing group (2) – early days, but some of us are planning a ‘write-in’, where we meet together and each work solidly and with focus, break for refreshments and then continue (just the thing to get over my struggles as above!)
  7. creative writing group (I lead) – at our recent meeting we shared some great pieces of writing, and welcomed a new member. The task for next time is to write from some stimulus pictures and titles, concentrating in particular on how we start our pieces
  8. family  history writing groups (I lead) – these are new groups, which got off to a faltering start in May; however we have some interesting new people joining us so I’m looking forward to an autumn of great writing from them (and me!) The first meeting will probably be taken up with introductions and with people explaining what they would like to achieve, but I will set an optional task for the next meeting
  9. thoughts for future writing – it is only six weeks away from the on-line writing challenge of The national Novel Writing Month – 50,00 new words in November. I am not quite sure whether to rewrite a couple of old stories, just taking the plot and characters reworking it completely, whether to work on a sequel to a previous novel I have written, or whether to take the bones of what I wrote last year – a sort of biographical memoir sort of a piece, and knock it into a proper, publishable shape… hmmm… a little daunting… of course a completely new inspiration might come!
  10. paperback publishing – prepare my next e-book for republishing as a paperback. It will be Magick, part 2 of the Radwinter stories (I hope to publish them all in paperback, one every six months)

So… that is my writing news…

© Lois Elsden 2017

Here is a link to my books:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_3_10?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+elsde%2Caps%2C143&crid=2LH42U38J5NV0

… and to me fellow blogger’s:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_10?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=richard+kefford&sprefix=richard+ke%2Cdigital-text%2C136&crid=1B15ZAN73TWEG&rh=n%3A341677031%2Ck%3Arichard+kefford

… and to the 73 blog list:

http://optinmonster.com/73-type-of-blog-posts-that-are-proven-to-work/

 

A How-to Guide…

You may know that I also write for another blog; a small collective of three writers, me, the very talented Richard Kefford, and poet John Watts share a blog called ‘The Moving Dragon Writes’. As well as posting our own work and thoughts, we open up the blog to anyone else who would like to post there and we have many fine writers who have been kind enough to share their work.

Some time ago, Richard found a most interesting article about different types of blogs and blogging in general; it listed seventy-three suggested subjects for blogging and  he has begun to tackle the challenge of trying to write on each of these seventy-three… well, good luck to him! … Good luck, and yesterday, feeling that maybe I too should take up that challenge – not in competition, but just to see if I can do it. I started

First of all I had to decide,  should I start with No. 1 on the list and work my way through? Should I choose the easiest and train myself up to the most challenging? Choose a topic I’m familiar with and already often write about or select one at random? In the end starting with the first suggestion seemed the equivalent to starting at random as they were in no particular order!

So, here is the first on the list, and what I wrote yesterday:

  1. Tutorials and How-to Guides

How to edit what you have written (according to Brimdraca, aka Lois Elsden):

Recently I have been thinking about the process of editing stories – in my case it is novels; I am not at the stage of having to think about editing with my current novel, provisionally called Saltpans, but having recently read an interesting article about editing, it has been on my mind. I write fiction, and I write novels, but I think there are aspects of my self-editing processes which apply to any piece of writing. certainly when I do write a shorter piece, or a factual piece or an article about something, the same principles of checking, correcting, improving apply

You have finished your story…

  • congratulate yourself and feel very proud of your achievement – don’t have negative, apologetic or pessimistic thoughts about it. You set yourself a challenge and you have completed it so that is a success!
  • flex your editing muscles because you are going to make your work better than it is in its raw state – don’t think ‘I’ve finished writing, that’s it’ – you want to make it the best it can be, the same as with anything
  • take time away from your work; it might be only a cup of coffee or tea’s worth of time, it might be a day, a week, a month – Stephen King recommends six weeks – but you need to disengage yourself so you can be objective
  • spell-check – run your spellchecker/proof-reader/spelling and grammar checker before you do anything else to get rid of those silly errors and typos, spelling mistakes, careless grammatical inconsistencies, repeated or omitted words, etc
  • first read through – your time away from your work should help you see it with fresh eyes and things should jump out at you straight away which need attention

With the next suggestions there is no particular order, I might work my way through them in a different way from you, I might omit some or add in a few idiosyncratic personal ones of my own – and so might you!

  • write out the plot and subplots – this helps with continuity and sequencing,, it also helps you rearrange episodes if you need to. If you are a person who meticulously plans your work before you even start then you will probably have done this already – ditto a lot of the other suggestions below!!
  • write character profiles and descriptions – you may even write family trees, family histories, back-stories which never appear in your piece (you can always use them later for something else!) Doing this ensures consistencies, that your character’s eyes don’t change colour for example or her ex-husband’s name doesn’t change
  • scenery and setting – if your story is in a real place then you might need to check out the location again, you might also want to enhance your story with more details and descriptions. If your setting is fictional make sure your reader can ‘see’ it. You may need to write a little private ‘history’ of the place with notes.
  • read your whole story/article out loud – when I say ‘out loud’ I mean ‘out loud’; I don’t mean mumbling or whispering it to yourself, I mean reading it as if to someone else – if you have someone else to read it to, even better – and if that someone else will read it out loud to you, then even better still! This will throw up things you want to change large and small and will highlight those errors which escaped your spell-check/proof reading from above. This will also highlight boring bits, parts which are too abrupt or not properly explained, repetitive parts, and worst of all – those precious, beautifully crafted, lovingly polished episodes which are actually ludicrous or embarrassing or make the reader burst out laughing (or if it’s supposed to be funny sit there with a pained expression because it’s so dire) On the positive side – reading it out loud will really highlight the great bits, the lyrical bits, the hilarious pits, the tear-jerking bits – you will be impressed by yourself in a way you can’t be reading it in your head!
  • winnow, slash, cut, delete, reduce – like all of us, carrying a little extra weight (or in some cases a lot of extra weight) isn’t good. As with extra calories, it can be the little things which make a story flabby and unfocused. I think all of us have words which we use more than we should – ‘just’, ‘about’, ‘very’, ‘almost’ etc… each of us might have a favourite word which we trot out – it can be something unusual like ‘pellucid’ or ‘lambent’ which will seem poetic and original the first time, but annoying, distracting and laughable after seven or eight or more times. I found myself using ‘virtually’ too many times, then it was ‘actually’ and ‘actual’, and then utterly…
    it isn’t just single words – it can be whole chunks which are just plain boring; it can be a detailed description of a simple act ‘he stretched out his cold hand, his long, brown fingers tentatively touched, then more confidently slid over and firmly grasped the smooth, shiny  brass door handle…’ Once might be effective, but if the whole thing is padded out with this minutiae it is just plain boring.
    back stories are important but the reader doesn’t want to be wading through a whole lot of stuff which actually has no bearing on the main story – for the most part, saying someone was married before is enough, we don’t need to know what they wore on their wedding day, had to eat at the reception, went on their honeymoon etc!
  • repeats – as above; telling us a character has piercing blue yes is fine, repeating it next time we meet her might help us remember her eyes, but we don’t need to be told every-time she comes into the story – unless of course there is a very specific reason
  • reread the whole thing – yes again – if possible, read it in a different medium, on paper on an e-reader, in bed on a laptop or tablet… this will help you be objective and stand back from your creation.
  • find a reader – if you have a friend whose judgement you respect, ask them to read it (you can bribe them with beer, wine, chocolate, a trip to the theatre) and ask them for their honest opinion. They may be complimentary, but if they are a true friend they will also point out things which don’t work, don’t make sense, seem silly or boring or soppy. You will have to think about what they say because after all, you have already decided you respect their judgement; however you don’t have to agree with it! Your augments for whatever it will make you more sure of yourself… but you might actually think there is some point to what they are saying, and you might find their advice helpful! I’m not suggesting you compromise, but in justifying what you have done you might want to tweak something!
  • read it backwards – this advice is mainly for longer stories or novels; obviously I don’t literally mean you read it backwards, but read the last chapter, then the penultimate, then antepenultimate and so on. This is a brilliant way to check plot lines are consistent, make sense and nothing is missed out
  • … and finally… begin to think about what should happen next to your story; is it for your writing group, a competition, something for a friend or family member, submit to an agent/publisher, self-publish – possibly on Lulu or Amazon KDP or in paperback form… these days there are so many possibilities!

© Lois Elsden 2017

Here is a link to my books:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_3_10?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+elsde%2Caps%2C143&crid=2LH42U38J5NV0

… and Richard’s:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_10?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=richard+kefford&sprefix=richard+ke%2Cdigital-text%2C136&crid=1B15ZAN73TWEG&rh=n%3A341677031%2Ck%3Arichard+kefford

… and the 73 blog list:

http://optinmonster.com/73-type-of-blog-posts-that-are-proven-to-work/

…and to our Dragon blog:

https://somersetwriters.wordpress.com

 

Seventy-three?

A little while ago a friend shared something with me about blogging, a list of seventy-three (73) different sorts of blog. My first reaction was amazement, my second was to glance through and see how many I could tick off as having done or often do…

So, glancing through I picked out sixteen different subjects or types of blog I have done, occasionally do, often do. When I first started blogging I was totally new to it and had not even read that many different blogs. As with any writing it took me a while to find my voice, and I looked at and read what other people did and had a go at emulating them, picking up on their ideas and trying to do something similar. For example, at first I had a few gallery posts – a  selection of images from places I had been, or themed such as doors, pools, seaweed… However, I soon realised that my amateur photos were maybe not of much interest to anyone else, and also I am a writer! I do illustrate what I write with my own photos, but the photos are just an illustration!

I guess all bloggers sometimes sit down with an empty mind and have to struggle to think of what to write – when that happens I look at news stories, look at other blogs (not to copy but to trigger an idea) and yes, on the ’73 list’ there is ‘search Twitter for inspiration’. Search sounds very determined and focused, with me it is more wandering through the tweets, my mind open to something which might set me off writing – and what I end up posting maybe very far from the original post I spotted!

Similarly, I might pick up on what someone else is writing about – anywhere, newspaper, blog, letter to the editor, and from that follow my own ideas; I always share a link to what set me off, but on the ’73 list’ it says ‘share what others are saying’ and I don’t do that… Profiles – I might add some biographical notes to something I’m writing but I wouldn’t say it is a profile! Then there is the curious word ‘listicles’ – I had to look it up to check it’s a thing, and yes it is… well, very occasionally I might include a list – let me rewrite that, occasionally… well, actually quite frequently I include a short bullet-pointed list of something, but I don’t think it counts as a listicle really.

Thankful posts – I do mention how lucky I feel I am, how fortunate but I wouldn’t say I write thankful posts, especially as the author of the ’73 list’ means a post thanking readers, contributes and sponsors… I don’t have contributors or sponsors, but I do have readers, and I am very thankful to them for reading and responding – so maybe I should write a thankful post, because I am thankful!

From the ’73 list’, I have pulled out the top ten which I might fit (is this a listicle?)

  1. auto-biographical post
  2. think out loud posts
  3. share recipes
  4. share recent travel experiences
  5. holidays
  6. quizzes
  7. reviews
  8. current events
  9. rants
  10. criticisms and open letters

However if I were to write my own top ten as I see it of things I write about:

  1. my books
  2. writing
  3. other books and writing
  4. autobiographical/family history/memoir
  5. food and drink, recipes
  6. pub life
  7. names/naming/words, people and places and things
  8. travel, places, holidays
  9. ponderings
  10. news, events, history

… and mentioning my books, here is a link to them:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_2_6?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+e%2Caps%2C137&crid=6NHAWMNC5D8Z

and here is a link to the ’73 list’:

http://optinmonster.com/73-type-of-blog-posts-that-are-proven-to-work/

What to write today

I write here every day and most of the time I just write, but every so often I admit, I do get stuck and my mind seems empty, all inspiration fled… what I usually do then is look around me and get ideas from the ordinary things I see – ‘oh, the carpet needs hoovering, I know, I’ll write about cleaning carpets and how my granny used to do it’ or I’ll look out the window – ‘that lady has a funny hat… I’ll write about funny hats, that’s an unusual bird – I’ll write about birds, that chimney is smoking, I’ll write about coal fires…’ I also have my pile of old and very old cookery books beside me so there is always inspiration there!

A fellow-blogger sent me a site which has seventy-three suggestions for blogs and topics!! Yes, seventy-three! I looked down the list and there were quite a few which were not appropriate or useful to me, business and commercial ones and suggestions for professional bloggers for example.

However I extracted a dozen which I actually do use:

  1. Listicles – I have never heard an article about lists called ‘listicles’ before, but I guess it works. I admit I do use lists – I might be writing about something, a flower, a type of food, an unusual name, and in my research come across items which I then list – and I confess, I do like a bullet-pointed list!
  2. Reviews – yes, I review things I have read, heard watched, been to
  3. A glance “behind the curtain” – I don’t write what I think the article intends which is to do with big business and successful commercial practices – this is behind my curtain and the way I write and think about writing
  4. Quizzes – occasionally I include a quiz – but frequently I write about the quizzes I attend!
  5. Think out loud posts – yup, that’s me! Every other day I ramble on about something!
  6. Rants – not so often, but occasionally I jump onto my high horse and gallop about a bit
  7. Criticisms and open letters – just recently I wrote a couple of ‘To whom it may concern’ letters about bad drivers!
  8. Share recent travel experiences – yes, I often write about places I have been to – day trips, holidays and longer visits
  9. Auto-biographical post – yes, all the time!
  10. Share recipes – almost every other day!! I love food and everything to do with it, buying, preparing, eating, talking about it, reading about it… everything!
  11. Holidays – yes, as with travel above
  12. Recycle old posts – I confess I do – but I don’t just repost them, I always add something extra, otherwise what is the point?

If you want to look at the whole list, here is a link:

http://optinmonster.com/73-type-of-blog-posts-that-are-proven-to-work/

… and if you want to look at what I write and publish, here’s a link to my e-books and my recently published paperbacks, ‘So You Want To Write?’ and ‘Radwinter’:

 

The fun of a forum

It’s not that long ago that the word forum had mainly Roman connotations, the open public space where people could meet, discuss and debate; originally it was an open area where markets could be held, and other events. Its modern use as a place for debate arose in the seventeenth century, in the 1680’s. Now it’s used everywhere in every sort of way, from an actual physical place as it originally was, but now shopping complexes or sports arenas, but also as a discussion group separate from a place.  There are actually places with the name of Forum –

  • Forum, Arkansas, USA
  • Blandford Forum, Dorset, England
  • Forum Fulvii, a lost Roman village in Italy
  • Forum Peak and Forum Lake, in Canada,

However, these days, many people think of forums (or fora I guess) as an on-line places where people can ‘meet’ to discuss every sort of thing imaginable.

I became involved in a forum when I was doing a couple of MOOCs (massive open on-line courses) All sorts of discussions arose from various topics, and quite often people became ‘friends’ and either continued in the forum long after the course had finished, or got in contact independently.  The next time for me was doing the November novel-writing challenge – 50,000 words of a new book in thirty days, organised by the National Novel Writing Month.

As you may know, I also have another blog, a writing blog; we are the Moving Dragon Writes, and appear here on WordPress as the Somerset Writers – however, I assure you, Somerset has the most elastic boundaries! The idea of our blog is to share other people’s writing as well as our own. We know quite a lot of people who are great writers but don’t want to have their own blog, but really want to put their stuff out into the world – stories, poems, comical tales, polemics… you name it, we share it! As we have found forums interesting and helpful, we started one of our own… but somehow we didn’t manage to publicise it properly, and sadly we haven’t had many members.

Not wishing to be defeated, I’ve started again – and the Moving Dragon now has a new forum –

http://movingdragonwrites.freeforums.net/

If you want to have a look at our blog, here is a link to that:

https://somersetwriters.wordpress.com

… and if you haven’t yet read any of my novels, here is a link to my e-books and my recently published paperback, Radwinter:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_9?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+elsd%2Caps%2C142&crid=N3YI6E70NJLD