Becoming a Writer

How to be a writerWhether a book can actually help you become a writer is a much argued topic.  In my mind you have to be able to get that first draft down on paper.  The one that’s all you, the jumbled mess that rolled out of your head and straight onto the pages.  Once you have that then yes I do think there are books out there that can improve that draft by making you consider sentence structure, vocabulary, the voices of your characters, how best to use your protagonists and recognising and avoiding cliche’s.  Until today though I did not believe a book could help you before that point.  I considered them and still do to an extent another form of procrastination designed to delay the writing process out of fear of exposing oneself so completely.  Then I read ‘Becoming a Writer’ by Dorothea Brande and it was this area that she addressed.  Acknowledging the fear and neuroses that prevent you from sitting down and putting that story onto paper so that it’s out there in the world.  She addresses how to get into the writing mind-set, the importance of writing every day and having a notebook on you to record those things which pop into your head but later forget no matter how fabulous they seem and how sure you are that you cannot possibly forget them.  I recognised a lot about myself when reading this book and maybe I started it with a view to procrastinating further but I’ve come away from it with so much more.

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Halifax man sentenced to only five years in prison after years of rape and abuse of young girl

Absolutely appalling.

The Belle Jar

TW for rape, child abuse, victim-blaming

There is a story in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald today about a woman who was sexually abused by her mother and her mother’s common-law boyfriend from the age of eleven. It started with the man coming into the girl’s bedroom at night and reaching up under her nightie to fondle her; she screamed for her mother, but her mother was too drunk to respond. When the girl was twelve, her mother – her own mother – coached her on giving blow jobs to this man. The abuse continued until the girl was fifteen, often taking the form of, in her words, a “sick threesome” with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend.

When the girl was fifteen she told her mother’s boyfriend that she would report him to the police. He told her that she couldn’t, because her mother was too deeply implicated. “How could you do this to your own…

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Mephisto’s Child

Let me see you my son
Don’t turn away
Rest in my arms now
I’ll watch while you lay
Learn from my stories
Let me tell you a tale
Of angels on horseback
And a rider on the pale

Let me see you my son
A child of clay
Delighting in mischief
And the games that we play
I reach out my arms
To swing you up high
But you run right through them
Reaching for the sky.

Let me see you my son
A child on the cusp
Full of ideals
Though born of my lust.
A father’s frustration
As his child breaks free
But I’ll be your stalwart
‘til you come back to me.

Let me see you my son
Now that you’re grown
The choices are yours
The seeds have been sown.
I’m proud of you son
Our moments so few
Make the right choice now
I’m waiting for you.

Let me see you my son
Many years have been spent
Your family have grown now
Much you repent.
Endlessly waiting
I’ve watched as you roamed
Grieved as you’ve struggled
And helped you find home.

Let me see you my son
Don’t hide your face
Shame has no place here
Wizened with grace
Alone and unchanging
I watch as you go
My tears turn to ice now
As the morning star glows.

Killing off Characters and Magical Revivals

I’ve read a couple of books recently where characters were killed off only to then magically be brought back to life and I can’t decide how I feel about it.  My overwhelming feeling is that it’s a cop-out but I can’t deny a sense of relief if it happens to one of my favourite characters.  Thinking about whether there’s a right or wrong way to revive a character I began to consider the following questions?

What was the reason for killing them versus the reason for their revival?

The death of a main character has to be carefully dealt with and even more so if you plan on bringing them back.  If the story can’t continue without them, then why kill them in the first place?  Shock value alone is not sufficient.  Their death should mean something, change the world around them and the people within it.  Does bringing them back nullify that change making the previous chapters pointless or does the resurrection continue the anguish and change within the main and other central characters.

Does how they’re brought back matter?

There has to be some kind of foreshadowing, a believable reason for their resurrection. Yes you may have had a few random conversations with a goddess throughout your book but is she really going to step in and bring 6 people back to life just so you can wrap everything up in a nice happy ending.  Is cloning preferable to bringing back the original character?  The resurrection has to mean something more than the author just didn’t want them dead yet.  Coming back changed in some way opens up other plot lines.  what about time travel versus an alternate dimensional version of the character.  Where they really dead in the first place or was it all just a dream?  Dreams simply used to shock do not work.  They need to be used as a device to further the story.  How is the character affected by the dreams? Do they portend to a future event?

Is it more acceptable in certain genres?

Obviously fantasy is the place for magical revivals but is revival in general preferable in certain genres.  Is medical revival acceptable after taking the reader through the torment of death.  Is medical revival acceptable in a fantasy book or does the reader expect something more fantastic?

Does it affect how you engage with other characters in the novel?

Once you know they can be brought back to life the fear is no longer there.  What is the point in routing for a protagonist and experiencing the highs and lows and ultimately death if it doesn’t mean anything?

It only works if there is a clear story arc arising from the death and subsequent revival.  It must have purpose, it must be believable and the character must be changed in some key way.

 

 

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