Why is it good to try writing poetry? Part 5

Courage - Part 3My intention was to prove that with a basic idea for a story, it would be straightforward to start with a simple poem and develop things from there.

I started with a notion of a brave young fighter pilot in World War II, at about the time of the Battle of Britain.

Stage 1.  I wrote three x four line verses.

Stage 2.  I padded the first three verses out with three more, and that was the poetry completed.

Stage 3.  I considered the ingredients of a short story, combined with my idea for a plot.

Stage 4.  I wrote the story in one straight session, and found that it altered slightly from the original idea. I went with the flow, as I knew I should.

Stage 5.  Only on completion of the story, and with it fresh in my mind, I rapidly listed about 20 possible titles. I relaxed with a coffee and reduced my list to three top contenders.

The title had to be relevant, and at the same time capture the imagination. It had to convince prospective readers that there was a good story to follow.

I left the story for a couple of days, and then did my first proper edit. I left it another two days and did another edit. I’ve no doubt I’ll try to improve on what I have now, but for anybody who’d like to see the finished article:

‘A Time for Courage’

Thank you for indulging me and making this journey with me.

 

Why is it good to try writing poetry? Part 3

RT1-Tangmerewing[1]In Part 1, I suggested looking at the idea of writing a simple three verse poem as the basis and precursor to a story.

 

In Part 2, I added three more verses and it gave the story a little more foundation.

In this post, I’ll look at the main ingredients needed to write a short story. The other aspect of this, is of course to use the simple poem as a guide for the story’s plot.

I’ve got the basic story in poetic form, but I know even before writing the prose, the story may well alter from the one I started out with. That’s not an issue to be concerned about, because the main purposes of the poem were: to provide an outlet for an idea, and to form a basic structure.

What else do we need to consider?

1.  A decent title, but that is best left until after the story is written.

2.  A hook in the intro. A good intro will start with dialogue or action. I usually aim to start with action, a point of crisis I create within the first 30 words.

3.  If it’s a short story, we should keep the timescale short. It should be set over hours or days; not weeks or longer.

4. In line with the short timescale we should have a single plot line, no deviation or sub-plots to distract the reader.

5.  We are aiming to place a normal person in extraordinary circumstances and then make them react. We can also consider giving the main character an issue to deal with, which changes them in some way by the end of the story. There should be some progression.

6.  We should aim to keep the character count low; four or less if possible. Keep it intimate.

7.  Just as we should aim to have a ‘hook’ at the start to capture our reader, we should provide some back story to say how the character or characters got in the position they find themselves. Again, not too much information.

8.  As well as a good start with the hook, and back story, we must know how and when to stop. When the tale is told; stop. No extra bits and pieces. On occasion one more line might work, but mainly; reach the end and stop. Make sure the main character has resolved the conflict or crisis.

9. Try to use the senses when writing. Through good imagery, let the reader see, feel, smell, hear, what is going on. No flowery descriptions though; keep it brief.

10. Try to keep dialogue natural. How? Short and sharp exchanges are the most natural.

With all that in mind, and the poem, I’ve already written a few short passages. In my next post, I’ll produce a list of new titles that I’ve come up with to replace the working title.

I’ve imposed a target on myself of no more than 1500 words. That will stop me from waffling on, and it will keep the story tight. If you haven’t been given a word count target – impose one.

Once again, thank you for following. See you next time.

 

 

Y … is for You

Y[1]  is for you. Yes, you if you are a writer!

What can we do?

All the rest of us can offer advice, give constructive criticism, and as much support as we possibly can.

What else can we do?

We can buy into your brand. We can buy the end product; your book, and then we can read. How hard can that be? Well, the response to that particular question rests again with you. Have you done your job properly?

What can you do to affect our response to your writing?

1.  You can come up with a good, preferably original idea for a story, and write it.

 2.  You can take your time and tell it well, remembering to edit, print it, read it aloud and edit again.

3.  You can put it away to let it simmer in your files for a few weeks … yes, I’m serious.

4.  You can get on with other projects for a while, and perhaps start another idea, or simply read up more on the main theme of your masterpiece.

5.  You can go back to your story, and go through it to see where you can improve it. More editing? Yes, and never believe it stops. As an artist, even when I finish a piece of artwork, it may be completed, but I’m never totally satisfied with the result.

Is there any more that you can do?

Yes, if you want us to read it and give it a glowing review, you can keep the effort going right on through the final stages, when you get to the presentation stage.

 1.  Don’t settle for the first title you think of.

2.  Don’t settle for the first cover idea you think of.

3.  Don’t waste all your literary efforts by throwing the manuscript and supporting information together.

4.  Don’t allow somebody else to do the formatting, unless you know they are capable.

 5. Don’t forget to keep a ‘safe’ copy of your completed work before formatting and final stages.

What do you get out of that brief list of do’s and dont’s?

In simple terms, you will end up with a better product to sell to us. You will also be rewarded.

 1.  You will gain financially by seeing the book sell.

2.  You will be looking forward to the reviews and confident they will be mainly positive.

3.  You will have the satisfaction of knowing you did what was expected of you, by the people who paid good money.

4. You will have the confidence to move on with your next project, and you will have learned many lessons.

5.  You will feel so good about the whole experience, you will want to help others as much as you can.

I would like to thank you for dropping by and taking these tips on board, like the good writer that you are.

If you should decide to come back to read my final post on the A to Z Challenge 2014, you might be in for a surprise.

I’ll be seeing you tomorrow, for ‘Z’ … .

S … is for Synopsis

S[1] is for synopsis. In terms of writing, it is also for sex, suspense, style, senses, strength, support, spelling and of course story. In this post I’ll concentrate on synopsis, because I think it would be easy to write a post on each of the others too.

What is a synopsis?

It’s a brief summary, usually of a novel.

Are there any guidelines for writing a synopsis?

Yes, there are several, and I’ll list them here as best I can, but as I suggested in my post on resources, double-check out the topic elsewhere. What I aim to do here is give the novice, or unsuspecting novel writer an insight into a word that strikes terror into the heart of many writers.

1. It should be written in a similar style to your book: humorous, serious, or whatever.

2. It should be written in the third person point of view. i.e.: he, she, they. Not; I.

3. It should be written in the present tense.

i.e. ‘Karen is embarking on a voyage of sexual discovery.’

   Not, ‘Karen was embarking on a voyage of sexual discovery’,

   Not, ‘Karen will embark on a voyage of sexual discovery’.

4. It should introduce your main characters and their conflicts, but should not be a cast list.

5. It should give a clear idea of the plot: serial killer, kidnapper, sexual predator, etc.

6. It should flow logically so is easily understood by the recipient, (publisher, agent, editor).

7. It must show the conclusion to the story. No secrets, and no cliff-hangers. You cannot be ‘precious’ about the ending – it must be clear.

Is there a format for a synopsis?

Yes, wouldn’t you just know it. Unless advised to do it differently, a basic layout is formed in the top left corner of the first page. Single or double-spacing depends on the requirements of your recipient, and the length of the synopsis.

Synopsis of: Beyond The Law

Genre: Thriller

Word Count: 150,000

By: Tom Benson

Once again, I’ve tried to give a taste of what is a deep and detailed topic. The list I’ve given is not all-encompassing, but I hope for some of you guys at least, it has dispelled one of the myths surrounding the synopsis – like it is easy to write. lol

Thank you for reading, and I’ll be back tomorrow with ‘T’.

 

 

Q … is for Question

Q[1] is for question. No, this is not a single question we’re looking at here, but for me, it is the single most important aspect of our writing. We must question everything we do.

To put this into some sort of perspective, I will once again use my own experience. This does not mean I’m so vain that I believe my methods are the way forward, but I will give some background information as we go along.

Why do I believe I know anything about this?

For the benefit of any who have not read my bio, I’ll simply use my main figures here. Since 2008, I’ve written 700+ poems, 30+ short stories, and 2 novels. I’m presently working on my third novel. Those figures are modest, rather than astounding, but they will help to make my point.

What do we question?

Poetry: The topic, our knowledge of topic, our research, the form, the length, the title, the level of editing, the number of drafts.

Short Stories: The topic, our knowledge of topic, our research, the style, the length, the title, the level of editing, the number of drafts.

Novels: The topic, our knowledge of topic, our research, the style, the length, the title, the market, the level of editing, the number of drafts.

It wouldn’t take much to see that there is something of a pattern in those three very different disciplines. There is also a lot of repetition, and there is good reason. It doesn’t matter which type of writing we create; if it’s for public consumption, we must produce our best.

What do I question the most?

Title, title, title, title … . You may now be getting the impression that the title is quite important to me. Whether writing poetry, short stories, or a novel, I agonise over the title. It is the simplest, shortest component of a piece of writing, but it is such a key element; it must work. Instead of dealing with poetry or short stories I’ll use novels to demonstrate my point.

In the next 48 hours I will be commencing what I hope to be the final draft of ‘Amsterdam Calling’, my third novel. I’m happy with the title, and how I chose it. The selection process allowed me to concentrate on my writing and editing. It was a distraction with my first novel.

How do I deal with title?

I make a very short list of perhaps three working titles. One of these is chosen quickly to let me get on with the writing. In a notebook, and on my clipboard pad I keep a page, purely for title ideas for that piece of work. Immediately an idea comes to me; I add it to the list. That system works continually, but is not a distraction.

At the point where I have the story written, I have a better idea of the entire concept and it might then affect the title choice. I take time to relax with a coffee, and I think of the whole story, allowing the various scenes to play on my memory. As this goes on, I write down everything that could be an intriguing title.

Why must the title be intriguing?

I’ll respond to that with another question. Apart from the cover, what prompts your interest in a book? The cover and title are your first sales pitches, and their job is to draw your prospective reader to the jacket blurb (see ‘J’). The blurb captures the interest and is the big pitch.

Before arriving at ‘Ten Days in Panama’, I had a list of seven possible titles. When I reached the end of ‘Beyond The Law’, I had actually changed the working title twice. I had five hot contenders waiting in the wings to be the title of that one. For ‘Amsterdam Calling’, I had a list of seven which never grew as I wrote the early drafts. As soon as I considered ‘Amsterdam Calling’, I knew it was the one.

I know I’ve chosen title as my one aspect to ‘question’, but we do owe it to ourselves, and our readers; to question everything we write.

Thank you once again for sticking with me to the end of this piece. I hope that somewhere, somebody has had a moment of enlightenment. LOL.

Today, apart from doing my blog patrol, I’ll be working on my anthology of short stories. I’ll see you guys on Monday when I’ll be dealing with ‘R’.