Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Bea-ing Educated

My father left school at the age of just 14. It seems unbelievable now that his official education finished when he was so young. I say ‘official education’ for the good reason that he found other ways to continue learning. 

My father bought The Wizard and The Hotspur every week. These were not cartoon comics, but rather short story magazines filled with tales of fictional heroes. In fact, he continued to subscribe to these comics until they ceased circulation, so as a child I too got to read the stories of ‘Wilson, the wonder athlete’.

Throughout his life he continued to read voraciously. I grew up in a house full of books, from cheap paperbacks to travel guides to encyclopaedias, and every other genre imaginable. In those pre-internet days, they provided a wealth of written information to aid my school work.

My father was also a collector, of anything and everything. This included stamps, coins, records, model cars and with each collection came reference books and guides, all conscientiously studied. He was definitely the man to have as your ‘phone a friend’ companion!

It is thanks to my father’s collection of postcards that I have an article published today in The People’s Friend Special, issue 111. My piece references just some of the many cards he owned.

Selection of postcards from my father's collection

There is a happy co-incidence that it is DC Thomson who have published my writing, for it is that company who were the publishers of my father’s early favourites, The Wizard and The Hotspur.

It is to my father’s memory I dedicate the article, ‘Send Me a Postcard!’

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Bea-ing Dramatic

I enjoy going to the theatre, although it has been a while since I was last at a live performance. (Note to self: print off copy of this blog and leave where hubby can find it.)
Me, being dramatic
Script writing is different to writing short stories. The audience doesn’t need to be told what is happening: they can see the stage set; look at the actors; assess their age and social standing from what they wear; witness their tears; hear their laughter. Conversation on stage or screen has no need for descriptive prose.

In writing stories, it is for the author to create the scene with words, to describe and identify the characters, to give each one a distinctive voice. Show not tell, is the maxim often repeated to student writers. Through the skill of words alone, we must show the emotions being experienced by the character, rather than simply to relate what they are feeling. 

The aim of both script and prose writing is to enable the watchers / readers to immerse themselves in the story being portrayed. Without the intervention of an actor, dialogue in prose has to work harder. If we keep it realistic and allow emotions to show through, the reader will forge a direct link to the character. 

When it is done well, the reader will not notice the words or the page upon which they are written. They will become the character, see what they witness, experience what they feel. But overdramatise a scene and it can descend into farce. 

Well written dialogue, whether on stage or in a novel, is a thing of beauty. I no longer take it for granted.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Bea-ing Critical

My Mum is my greatest fan. If I give her a new story to read her comment is invariably, “That’s lovely, dear”. Perhaps my story is indeed perfect. More likely it means that she’s too nice to say it isn’t, or she genuinely thinks that whatever I do is brilliant.

My greatest fan
Seeing the errors in your own writing is difficult. Generally I have a feel for whether or not a story is working. The proof is of course in the eating, whether it gets snapped up instantly or is returned several weeks later with a standard rejection email or letter.
I am fortunate to be part of an online group of writers who provide a mutual critiquing service. If I’m not sure whether one of my stories is right, or which market it will best suit, I email it to the group. It is never wise to be precious about your writing. If you can’t take criticism, don’t ask for comments. If you can’t cope with rejection, then do not submit your work. Ever.
Recently the group’s facilitator asked that we let her know if we were ever offended by the feedback received. My response was echoed by the other group members. I need to know what is working and what is not. Robust but fair criticism is better than polite niceties which don’t help me improve my writing skills. So bring it on!
Otherwise the first inkling I have that a story has not worked is when the rejection letter drops on the doormat.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Bea-ing Baffled

I have already admitted to technophobia in an earlier blog here.

Actually it’s not so much fear of technology that afflicts me, it is a lack of understanding.

They say that we accept without question anything which exists or is discovered in our youth. In our middle years new inventions are met with the attitude of ‘that’s interesting, let me find out more’. But in our later years innovations are considered the work of the devil and to be shunned at all cost.

I hope I am still in those middle years, interested in learning and applying new discoveries.

Things I would like to do through my blog include:

·         Attach photographs such as this carrot, the shape of which is somewhat baffling. (Woo hoo! I think I've done it!)

·         I would love to follow the blogs of many of my fellow writers but at times I find the link does not work.

·         Include guest postings

·         Attract new followers

What I need is a Fairy Techno-mother (or Techno-father, it’s not a gender specific rĂ´le) to appear at my request to help me with the trickier tasks. Oh for that magic wand! In the meantime I shall carry on with my fumbling attempts until I work it out for myself.

Please bear with me while I carry on experimenting.