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This Week on Writers Abroad 2nd January 2017
Category: Site News
Tags: Writers Abroad writing news

I hope you enjoyed the holiday season. Itís the first week of the New Year now and I expect most of us are full of plans for it. In Writing Goals for 2017 Sue and Dianne have posted their goals for the coming year. This week is a good time for the rest of us to take a few minutes to take stock of our achievements last year and hopes for this year, and commit them to print in a thread on the forum.

Blog: Lesley has given us some advice in todayís blog post, The Perils of Procrastination, to help us accomplish our goals this year.

Monday Muse: The Muse is a good place to start in order to get inspiration for your writing. Check the diverse prompts, from nursery rhymes to picture prompts, that Alyson has given us to get us started writing. She has also included recording your goals for the coming year as one of her prompts.

Bragging Stool: After a quiet week in the run-up to Christmas, three of our members have had success this week. Sue has another 150 word piece, Homecoming, included in an issue of Ad Hoc magazine. Angelaís blog post about the Boxing Day hunt in Ross was noticed by the Ross Gazette and the newspaper has picked it up to print in the next edition of the newspaper. †And Dianneís new Short Read, The Christmas Cure, has been in Amazon US Hot New Releases Top 10 for Irish Historical Fiction for the past 2 weeks.

Even after the lazy days of the holiday season it seems that our members are full of enthusiasm for the coming year. So harness that enthusiasm and jump into another great writing year, everyone.

Just A Memory
Category: Writing
Tags: writing devices memory flashbacks writing technique

On Saturday I attended a writing workshop tutored by Anthony J. Quinn, a Northern Irish crime writer. We spent considerable time discussing how to develop three dimensional characters. One of the interesting suggestions he offered was to give your characters memories.

Memories make a character seem more real and can also be used to explain what they think, believe, feel and do. Like real people, characters should have thoughts, feelings and issues from their past that make them who they now are.

The writer needs to weave the memories they create for their characters seamlessly into scenes. When an event happens in the plot, the character may have a one or two sentence thought about the past that relates to the event, or a short flashback to a memory that will give the reader an insight into how the character feels or will react in the present. But itís important not to let the memory dominate the narrative. Long flashbacks should be avoided as they will slow the pace of the plot.

A characterís memories can be triggered in various ways. A conversation with another character or an event in the plot may make the character remember something from the past. Or seeing a particular object may trigger it. Using an object as the trigger can be particularly useful if it is an item the character sees regularly or possibly one that he owns. This provides the opportunity for the character to be constantly reminded of a particular memory. If it is an unpleasant one this can be used to create anxiety, fear or sadness in the character and add to the tension in the story. If he owns the object that is tied to a powerful memory, this also may say something about him. Why he has kept the object and what it means to him may be important to explore in the story.

Something that triggers a memory doesnít have to be physical either. In a story that Iím currently working on, one of the main characters has very vivid memories evoked when she hears a particular song. This could work with a film clip or television ad as well. In my story, the memories evoked are good ones but remembering earlier, happy times makes the character sad because she now lives hundreds of miles from the people she cares about and misses them. This illustrates that even a characterís happy memories can be used to create tension and internal conflict in a story.

One of the interesting points the tutor raised yesterday was that the landscape and the weather can both be used to evoke memories for a character. Selectively using items in the landscape, such as perhaps a dead tree or dark hills, can set the character off on a frightening or sad memory, whereas the sight of a field filled with meadow flowers on a summerís day will likely trigger happier memories for the character. †

Another interesting point to consider when creating memories for characters is that the memory doesnít have to be accurate or reliable. The character doesnít necessarily have to remember the past as it actually happened. This can highlight the characterís concerns, fears, desires and pre-occupations. An inaccurate memory may cause the character to feel aggrieved about something in his past and give him Ďan axe to grindí in the present. Or it may give him unrealistic hopes and expectations about how his present should be. This could also be used as the trigger for the conflict in the plot. If the character eventually realises the inaccuracy of his memory this might provoke changes to his actions and thoughts and resolve a conflict. Or he may never realise his error and this could set him on a path to his own destruction. It depends on the type of story you wish to write.

So, when you are writing a story, allow your character to think and remember. This will draw him off the page and make him seem more real and believable to the reader.†

This Week On Writers Abroad
Category: Site News

Several of our members spent an enjoyable Saturday evening together last weekend (as well as meeting on Sunday too). Of course, it ended too soon and we have all returned to our own places now. Thereís just the photos in Members Meet to remind us of the weekend. So I guess we better get back to our writing.

Monday Muse: Bieke has supplied 5 diverse sentences to stimulate our imaginations as well as an intriguing image. Why are the items in the image lying there? I think the sentences could be used as first sentences or jumping off points into plots.

Blog: Laura examines the pitfalls of multi-tasking in our hectic society and asks whether it is the best way to write productively.

Bragging Stool: Congratulations to Lesley on being longlisted in Chris Fielderís ďTo Hull and BackĒ contest. Vanessa has received a different but no less impressive accolade this week. Her story, The Beekeeper, is being studied by students in Denmark as part of a project they are doing on Corsica. †

Itís almost halfway through the month and things are very quiet so far in the September Challenge. There is more activity in Works in Progress though. Eight stories and poems have been receiving comments during the week.

Just a reminder: The deadline for submissions to the next issue of our magazine is 30th September but we are encouraged to submit material earlier if possible.

Our next formal chat is on Sunday, 25th September, 11am CET.†

Have a good writing week.


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Losing Control
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Break Out
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Deadly Pursuit
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The Calling
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Big Book of New Short Horror
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Tiger of Talmare
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