Writing
To be, or not to be, prolific...
Category: Writing

Like everyone subscribing to writing sites or blogs, I get emails galore advising on ways to improve my writing, get my novel planned, started, edited, completed, and so much more.  I look at a title tempting me to believe the article holds the path to productivity.  However, my mind becomes boggled quite easily once I start to read the myriad words that fill the screen. Woe betides if I succumb to opening another missive, which I do of course, before digesting the content of the first. The promise of the titles is endless - How to…/Ridiculously Easy Steps/Make a Good Story Great - the list is endless.

Now I'm not saying there is not good advice in many of the topics but I find searching out the bits that are relative to my needs, a bit of a minefield. So much so I tend to abandon the articles, unable to see the wood for the trees.

Am I alone in this?

Having gone through a sparse writing period, I have printed out a few 'help' topics. My thinking is that if I can read paper copies at my leisure, I may absorb more of the content. In addition, physically marking areas that I feel may help me give my writing a boost and create a structure with which I'm happy, will cement the ideas.

Well, that's the plan!

The Reader’s Brain: How Neuroscience Can Make You a Better Writer (Cambridge University Press, 2015) sounds fascinating and the snippets I have read make a lot of sense. Is it worth me purchasing? Will I be able to practise any of what it preaches? Or will I react to the extensive content with the same trepidation as those articles that multiply daily?

Somewhere in the pages, I may find the answer to that last question. It might explain why I can't focus my mind, establish my own path, and move forward from my current stalemate.

It's All in the Name
Category: Writing
Tags: writers abroad creative writing settting place names inspiration

 

As some of you may know I’m travelling around the coast of Ireland, North and South, on a trip down memory lane with my husband, Simon who grew up near Belfast.

As we’ve been negotiating the beautiful – no, stunning – landscapes I’ve been struck by some of the wonderful place names they have here. In Southern Ireland, the place name signs are written in Gaelic as well as English, which is even more enchanting. A name gives a sense of what we might expect… or not. For writers, these names can be an important part of the whole story, as places and settings, can be as powerful as characters with their own personality, challenges and romantic notions.

Favourite Famous Fictional Place Names

  • Hogsmeade – features in the Harry Potter tales and is the home to Hogwarts, the school of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
  • Castle Rock – appears in many Stephen King stories, a typical town with dark secrets
  • Middlemarch –  the 19th Century fictional town created by George Eliot and features as the title of her novel.
  • Bedrock – a prehistoric city and home to The Flintstones
  • Ambridge –  the fictional village which serves as the centre for the long running series ‘The Archers’ on Radio 4
  • Atlantis – a legendary lost continent supposedly sunk in the Atlantic Ocean

Need help with defining some new settings for your story? Here are some Place Name Generators which may do the trick. (Warning! Many of these will generate all kinds of stuff and you could find yourself still playing around hours later…)

Fantasy Name Generators

Springhole

Name generator

Writing Exercises Name Generator (will even provide descriptions!)

Pseudo Elizabethan Place Name Generator

Or just take a map for some inspiration. Here are some that I’ve come across on our trip thus far (all Southern as we don’t cross the border for another week…

  • Mohill – the Gaelic is Maothail
  • Knockawaddra  - there are a lot of places beginning with Knock, some could be funny, others a little bit more surreal
  • Bunacurry – the Gaelic is Bun an Churraigh, and it used to have a monastery.
  • Inishbofin- a very small island off the coast of County Galway
  • Achill Sound – the Gaelic being Gob an Choire

I’m sure to those familiar with Ireland these names will not be new, but for me having never visited the country (or should I say countries?), or spoken Gaelic before, it will be somewhere I will return for inspiration.

Where do you get your inspiration from for your setting names? Are they based on real places, fictional ones or a mixture of the two?

The Ideas' Shop
Category: Writing
Tags: writing not writing

(The might be part of the problem - its called sun and is a fairly rare occurence where I currently live...)

                                   The Idea’s Shop
 
I’m having a lean week, by which I mean, not that I’m on a diet but I haven’t written much. This is partly because we’ve been busy with other things but sometimes being busy gives me ideas to jot down. This week no ideas have come. 
     I’ve tried the usual tricks — listening to conversations in cafes, looking at news headlines, reading, checking the Writers Abroad muses — but so far, nothing. 
     I do keep an ideas book where I jot down possible story titles and themes but even this hasn’t yielded anything this week. 
     I could just write. Free write. But I like to have a story idea roughed out on my head and know the ending before I begin otherwise I know to my cost, I end up with many, many half written pieces that just end up getting binned. 
     The situation isn’t worrying me yet, but it is niggling. I have time to write but nothing to work on. I know ideas will come back. This has happened before, usually when my routines are disturbed. I need to get back into the groove.
      And I have plenty of reference books and ideas sheets to turn to (a personal favourite is Linda Lewis’s Writer’s Treasury of Ideas), but I should like to get through this myself. Meanwhile I’m trawling through old stories that haven’t got anywhere but are still lurking at the back of my computer. Hopefully I can rework one or two of them and that will jump start my writing again. 
      Or maybe I can pop out to the ideas shop…
      
      Any tricks you use to help with a lean patch?
      Any favourite books which help?
      Do you keep an ideas book to help with motivation?
      And do you have the same problems if you are writing a novel? Or have you done enough planning to get through the blank patches?
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