Once again, it was a warm and lively gathering of the BLPG at Mattie’s, and we welcomed two new writers to the group—Gill and Jyoti, who are both writing fiction.
We discussed returning to writing after setting it aside or stepping away from a project for a lengthy period. Most of us seemed familiar with this as family and work often intrude on writing time. Suggestions on how to return to our work-in-progress included:
1. Printing the draft-to-date, and reading it to refresh our memory and hopefully revive our enthusiasm for the project. Also, sometimes after setting work aside for a period, glaring plot holes jump out.
2. Summarising the novel, chapter-by-chapter, which not only reintroduces the story, but highlights details that might be missing or unexplained.
3. Planning the novel in advance might alleviate some of these issues, as you can see where you left off and always know where the story is heading.
Please feel free to add to these suggestions in the comments.
I have two major killers of my enthusiasm for a project: when I don’t like what my characters are doing, and when I don’t know what should happen next. When I don’t like what they’re doing, it’s often because their behaviour isn’t in keeping with their character, or they’re doing boring things that just aren’t interesting. When I don’t know what should happen next, it means I’ve written myself into a corner! Sometimes, a bit of time away from the work is helpful, and the remedy usually comes—often as I’m driving and can’t write it down, and it often involves deleting and backtracking!
We also talked about how hard it is to avoid clichés when writing. They’re the first words that come to mind, and it’s sometimes hard to think of something new and original. It can be especially difficult when describing things that have been written about since time immemorial, like skies and sunrises and sunsets, for example. Yet, these descriptive details take the reader into the scene, and are evocative and create mood. The most helpful solution to this, I’ve found, is simply to start describing the scene using sensory details—visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, and tactile.
Sometimes, I re-read a passage in a novel that described the particular object or scene in a way I liked. I don’t copy it, of course, but I use it for inspiration. Sometimes, too, I visit the website Descriptionari. Many of the descriptions here aren’t unique or particularly well-written, but they give me ideas from which I can generate my own description.
Another useful website is the ‘Reverse Dictionary‘ , for when you have the description, but not the the word. The ‘Flip Dictionary‘ by Barbara Ann Kipfer is another reverse dictionary which can be purchased from Amazon.
I’ll also let people know about a writing group, The Writing Connection, run by Rosemary Stevens and is held in Fremantle. Each Tuesday fortnight, Rosemary gives us a prompt and we write for about half-an-hour. Afterwards, people share their writing. It’s a very safe and encouraging group in which to write. If anyone would like to know more, please email me and I can forward Rosemary’s contact details.
Also, Barbara Turner-Vasselago is running her Freefall Writing Workshop in Perth from November 9-14. I did this workshop about two years’ ago, and it really helped my writing. You can read more about what I thought here, and more about Barbara and Freefall here.
Lastly, tomorrow (Sunday, 6th September) at 3pm, FAWWA is hosting another of their Creative Conversations at Mattie’s House. The writer is Andrew Burke, in conversation with Dennis Haskell, and the topic is ‘Imagination, Inspiration and Intellect’. You can read more details about the conversation on the FAWWA website.
That’s all. Our next meeting will be Sunday, 20th September, 10am. Until then, happy writing.