Thursday, 18 March 2010

I've Got My Mojo Back

For a long time now I have been dabbling with short stories in between my attempts to write a novel.

I do enjoy writing short stories as they give you a more instant buzz of satisfaction than the lengthy novel – and when it comes to editing the task is a lot less daunting!

In the past I have entered numerous short story competitions (mainly in Writing Magazine and Writers News) but sadly have not as yet even been shortlisted. I’ve also sent my short stories to magazines, mostly to be rejected. But if nothing else I’m persistent and I refuse to let this lack of success daunt me and will carry on writing my short stories regardless; mainly because I enjoy writing them even if I am their only reader.

However, of late I’ve been finding it very difficult to get into the swing of things. I’ve discovered that the way I work out my plot is by writing the story and seeing where it goes. I know this is not an ideal way to write as I tend to go off on all sorts of targets that I don’t really want to but it seems to be the way I work. I’ve tried sitting down to block out the plot but I just end up staring at a blank page so even if my stories don’t always work out least I have something down on paper.

For a long time though it hasn’t been working. I start with an idea and then it doesn’t go anywhere and I dry up. I’ve endied up with so many incomplete stories that I was beginning to wonder if I’d lost the knack.

And then I started the Writer’s Bureau short story and novel writing course. One of my first assignments was to study the markets, identify one in particular and then write a story aimed at that market.

So I started reading, new copies and my old copies of Woman’s Weekly. At first I felt guilty. I was spending all of my time reading and none of it writing. But the story I eventually wrote is so much the better because of that which just goes to show that reading time isn’t being lazy time. I adapted one of the stories I had discarded a little way in, took the characters and the setting but completely changed the dilemma and the outcome. And lo and behold I had a finished story for the first time in months.

And would you believe my tutor thought it good enough to send off so I have. And now I’m keeping my fingers and my toes crossed.

Not only that but my reading sparked off lots of other ideas. So it’s on to the next assignment – another story and a big thanks to the Writer’s Bureau for giving me my mojo back.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Inspiration Strikes

I’d not long posted my last blog when I opened my March copy of Writers’ Forum and saw Sue Moorcroft’s article called “Research Secrets”.

Last year I was an avid follower of her Target Practice series and even sent in a short story for The Weekly News competition.

I was practically jumping for joy when I received Sue’s very positive feedback on my story and was even more delighted to learn that it had been forwarded to Jill Finlay for consideration to the final stages of the competition .
My story didn’t win but it did come highly commended and was published in The Weekly News.
Apart from readers’ letters this was my first (and to date only) published short story which had me practically dancing for joy.
So now whenever I hear or read the name Sue Moorcroft I am on instant alert. Again, she didn’t disappoint. She too referred to research as the chicken and the egg situation. She describes her process as initial research to find enough about the subject followed by the writing of the first draft and then more research to plug the gaps in the editing stage.
Over the last few weeks I have identified areas in my plot which need significant research and with the help of this article I can see clearly now that I need to hit the books again to resolve my plot before I can get back to the writing.
So thanks Sue, again your advice has been invaluable and now its time to hit the archives, internet and whatever other sources I can find.
On a final note for today, the article also plugs Sue’s latest book: Love Writing - Romantic or Erotic Fiction; that’s definitely one I’ll be adding to my “To Be Read File”.