Wednesday 26 February 2014

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

One of the most important things we can do when editing our work, is checking for repetitions.

Repetition in writing is using the same words and phrases over and over again either on the same page, or scattered throughout a manuscript.

My personal favourite is the word 'that' as in, 'She knew that he was coming for her' rather than, 'She knew he was coming for her.' If you check your work you'll find that most instances of this word are totally unnecessary and can be eliminated. (Did anyone notice I sneakily slipped one in there?)

Other common repetitions are use of the words 'he', 'she' and the names of story characters, especially at the beginning of a sentence. 

Once you've got rid of these obvious ones, take a look at some of your own particular pet phrases. I once noticed I had written 'she turned' and 'she nodded' several times on one page of a story until I weeded them out.

Repetitions can also sneak in when writing descriptions - be warned!

It is very easy to check for known repetitions by simply clicking 'Edit' then 'Find' in Word. It's quite scary seeing all those 'he', 'she' or 'that' words highlighted in yellow, but at least now you can change or cut some of them.

What I'd like to know is what your own often repeated words or phrases are... we could make a list.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Jumping and Jiving

I'm jumping because I have a story 'Every Time We Say Goodbye' in this month's People's Friend Special, with a lovely illustration to go with it by Len Thurston. It is a romance set  on the coast of Devon and is about a Murder Mystery party.

I have never actually been to one myself and, if I'm honest, don't particularly want to. The thought of having to act in character, when all I want to do is enjoy my food, is not appealing and also I am hopeless at accents (doesn't everyone have to have one at these things?)

The reason I am jiving is because my husband and I are off to The Isle of Wight for a jive weekend on Friday. It is being held at one of the large hotels on the sea front at Sandown and it should be great fun. Our plan is to go to a few classes in the mornings (I'm looking forward to learning some strolls), walk the coastal path in the afternoons and then dance in the evenings. Saturday night is Grease Night with Joey and the Jivers... so I can wear that dress!

Sunday 16 February 2014

So How Am I Getting On With Scrivener?

As you know, I downloaded the free 30 day Scrivener trial and followed the on-line tutorial, so the question is: What are my thoughts so far and have I actually used it for a project?

I found the tutorial really easy to understand and it is interactive so you can try things out as you learn - the only problem is a memory thing. Scrivener has so many features that it is impossible to remember them all. My view is that the ones that you do remember are the ones that will be of most use to you.

I decided that the only way I was going to test these features out properly, was to actually write something using Scrivener. I thought a short story would work well as a test - as I could write each part before a time break as a separate scene (like a mini novel).

I deliberately chose a story that needed research so that I could move everything I found into the 'Research' folder in the 'Binder' to the left of my word processing part of the screen. I also put web links into the 'Project' part of the 'Inspector' on the right hand side of the screen. I know this will mean nothing to you, if you don't have Scrivener but I'm just saying this to illustrate how easy it was to keep all my research to hand.

While I was writing, I played about with the word processing screen but at the moment, still prefer how it looks on Word - so will probably have to play about with it some more until I am comfortable with it.

Adding all my small scenes together was easy using the 'Scrivenings' button and it was great to move some of the scenes around to see if they worked better in different places (much easier than in Word.)

Unfortunately, I had big problems with the 'Compiling' part and sending it to Word for final editing. Scrivener automatically formats your text into Courier and indents beginning of scenes, which I didn't want. My clever husband had to sort it out for me as I found this part really complicated. I would recommend creating a template to use (once you've worked out how to make the changes). I've now done this (or rather my husband did) and so it compiles and sends to Word in the formatting I want.

What I would say to anyone learning to use this programme is take a look at this site: Everything Scrivener. I found it a couple of weeks ago and if you read through the posts, you'll find masses of useful information. I have found it really useful.

So will I be using Scrivener for the novel? Yes, I will but I know I won't be using it to it's full potential... and before anyone asks, no, I still haven't started it yet!

Wednesday 12 February 2014

Two Stories and an Article

I am pleased to have an article on 'How to Be a Good Blog Host' in Writing Magazine and two stories in this month's Fiction Feast.

As part of my inspiration behind the story series, I thought I'd tell you how my story 'Secrets in the Snow' came about. 

My friends were talking about the skiing holiday they had just booked. I have been skiing three times, each ten years apart and every time I've been, I've thought the same thing - that this year will be the one where I will fall in love with the sport. Invariable though, when the day arrives when I have to slide down something steeper than a nursery slope, my enthusiasm wanes and the fear creeps in. I hate heights and a skiing holiday is full of them - high slopes, high drops, high ski lifts. Without fail, by day three day I am wishing that I had booked a holiday in the sun instead!

It made me think of the first time I ever skied. It was with the school and I was sharing a chalet with a group of girls I didn't know very well. They were all carefree and brave teenagers while I was cautious and careful (on and off the slopes). While my room mates climbed out of the windows at night to meet up with Italian boys, I stayed behind and wrote my diary. As the memory came back, I realised it had the makings of a good story.

'Secrets in the Snow' is about two girls who go on a skiing holiday with a group of student friends. One is cautious and the other is rather reckless. Despite Emma's warnings, Sophie will do anything to impress one of the boys in the group, Tim, and inevitably this leads to disaster.

It was as I read the story again in the magazine, that I remembered why I prefer sand to snow!

Friday 7 February 2014

A Guest at The People's Friend

I am very excited today because I was asked by The People's Friend to write a piece about myself for their blog on The Friend website. I feel very honoured to have been asked and feel just the teeny weeniest bit famous!

The biggest problem wasn't writing the piece, but trying to get a decent photograph (for every decent one, I have to discard about twenty). Luckily my husband enjoyed playing photographer and even my cat Bobbie joined in the fun!

You can read my piece Here

Wednesday 5 February 2014

A Bicycle Made For Two

My story 'Follow My Leader' is in this week's People's Friend. I thought I would share with you the inspiration behind this story.

Some of you may know that I am part of my local ladies choir Cantatrice. We meet every Friday morning, sing a wide range of songs and hold several concerts throughout the year.

Not many people in the choir know that I write but at one of our social events a lovely choir member, Angela, asked me what I did. When I told her I wrote fiction for women's magazines, she was really excited. "What do you write about?" she asked. When I said anything and everything she said, "Why don't you write a story about a tandem?" Apparently she and her husband used to ride one.

It seemed a rather random request but I said, "OK," and went home and wrote the story. It was bought straight away, so thank you Angela! I'm looking forward to showing her the story at choir this week.

If you asked your friends the question, "What shall I write about," you would probably get some interesting answers and ideas.

Maybe I should ask the rest of the choir for more ideas.... there are 100 of them!