Friday, 27 January 2006

Been tagged!

I was tagged by Liz Fielding and Trish Wylie in a game of sevens:

Seven things I cannot do:
Talk without moving my hands.
Stay dry-eyed watching films/TV.
Stay dry-eyed reading books.
Touch a slug.
Resist champagne.
Do anything respectable with fondant icing and a cake.

Seven things to do before I die:
Learn to tango.
See the pyramids.
Write a lot more books.
See my children fulfil their dreams.
Get my husband to finish decorating the bathroom (started 1999).
Visit the Italian Lakes again.
Learn to swan round the kitchen looking effortlessly sexy while producing mouth-watering food a la Nigella Lawson.

Seven things that attract me to men:
Long legs.
A great smile.
A great mind.
Sense of humour.
Being able to put up with yours truly.

Seven things I say most often:
I love you.
That chair has four legs!
It’s driving me nuts!
Where did I put my keys?
“….” i.e. absolutely nothing. This often happens halfway through a sentence as I drift off into Fiona-world. Drives my husband nuts.
“No” (nominated by my oldest daughter).

Seven books or series that I love:
Tender as the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith
Anne of Green Gables Series
Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen (I know it’s on everybody’s list, but I really do love it!)
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (much better than the film.)
High Fidelity – Nick Hornby

Seven movies I can watch over and over:
Strictly Ballroom
Moulin Rouge
The Mummy (don’t ask me why, I just can!)
The Breakfast Club
French Kiss
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Incredibly cheesy teenage dance flick starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt. So bad it’s good).

Now I just have to tag someone else...Let's see - who hasn't already been tagged?

Crumbs! It seems everyone in the world has done it already! Give me a moment or two...

Tuesday, 17 January 2006

I can pin a rainbow

Oh dear, looks like my plot board is going to come in really handy in the next week or so. I need to axe a major thread in my latest story, so there will be lots of un-pinning and re-pinning.

Okay, here’s how the whole thing got started:

I often plan my story by writing the numbers 1 to 20 down a page and assigning an event to each number. It’s a rough way of working out a provisional timeline for any plot ideas I may have had. Normally the first seven or eight spaces fill up quickly, then I try and work out what the major turning points are going to be and put them roughly where I think they are going to occur. Then it’s a case of joining the dots, so to speak. What is going to take me from number 7 to number 10?

So my pink cards are my main plot points, the skeleton of the plot. So I have things like “Gaby arrives” on one and “The party” on another. Since my board isn’t long enough to put them in one column, I have two. There is space to scribble on the card If I feel the urge.

The wide, white strips are my character arcs. It helps me focus on who is feeling what when. I had them on my computer as a little block diagram, so I just printed it out, cut it up and pinned it on. The heroine’s are to the left of the pink cards and the hero’s are to the right.

My little blue cards are extra little details that have sprung to mind at a later date. It may be a plot idea e.g. “Gaby finds a video tape”, or character info “Luke is feeling jealous”, motivation and goals, or images I want to use. If I have a flash of inspiration while I’m working on another scene, I just scribble it on a scrap of card and pin it on the board, that way I don’t have to scour my notebook to find them later.

Yellow cards are to show I already have a bit of writing that will fit that point. It’s normally something I scribbled down when I was thinking ahead. It could be a sentence or two, or it could be a page or two.

The green cards round the edges are things I need to weave throughout the whole book, things that I can’t pin down to a particular scene but I need to keep reminding myself of. E.g. “build up reasons for Luke’s trust issues” or “Gaby’s relationship with her golden-boy brother”.

(Originally all my extra little cards were blue – the colour card I happened upon at the time, but after a while there were too many so I added another few colours in.)

It doesn’t sound very exciting when I write it down like this, but these little phrases are just to jog my memory. When I’m pondering over how the next scene should go, I might remember I need to add heroine POV about her family or to weave in some little details as I go that are going to make the story richer.

As I said, I’m road-testing this idea at the moment, so I will probably tweak it as I go, but it seems to help to have something to stare at and use as a visual memory bank.

Monday, 16 January 2006

Fun with stationery

This is my plot board. A little tool I am test-running to help me keep all my story threads in one place. (Not enough room inside my head - vital information always leaks out).

I’ve tried keeping snippets of dialogue and story ideas in Word documents, but they get scattered all over my computer and sometimes it’s annoying to have to keep switching windows between the wip and my ideas sheet.

So, having discovered a huge cork board in my understairs cupboard before Christmas, I thought I would make use of it. I had recently used a trial copy of a story programme for writers that let me move little squares like index cards around on a time line. I liked the idea, but got fed up with not just being able to scribble something quickly on it.

So I went back to basics. I had some old index cards in a drawer (pink – got daughters’ approval) and as I started to plot out my new story I started pinning them on the board.

I’ll elaborate on how the whole thing works in the next post. I’m always fascinated by how other writers work, so I thought this might be of interest. If you find yourself nodding off, do feel free to do so. I will not be conducting a quiz to see who is paying attention.

Saturday, 7 January 2006

Seeing the wood for the trees

Hooray! I am unstuck on my current book.

Taking the anaology of a a story being a journey for the writer a little further, I feel like I was trying to scale a very steep hill on a push bike. It was a hard slog to get anywhere and all I could see in front of me was the mountainous slope. I find the only way I can get through it is to write, think, write some more, think some more - you get the idea.

Anyway, while I am not freewheeling down the hill yet, I'm on a flat stretch (a wooded area, I think). I can see the next few landmarks up ahead and it's just a case of keeping my feet turning the pedals as I pass each one. In non-Fiona speak, this means I know what's happening in my story for the next chapter or two. I may not know every little detail, but I know the main events and it's a case of joining the dots.

I always love the feeling when I look back at a scene after I've written it and think, "Ah, that's the way it happened." Before I write it, I have an outline in my head, but doing the actual writing adds colour and texture and depth.

So, back in the saddle again now. Praying fervently I don't get a puncture...