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Summer, the sun screens and writing

We have two posts on this subject:

Cathy wrote about screens and sunshine Wendy followed up with her thoughts on the same subject.

Off-Screen Editing

I’ve read advice never to start a story by describing the weather, but it’s what I notice first when I get up. Perhaps it’s because of where I live, in the UK: we can’t rely on the sun waiting around till we’re free to enjoy it. Before retirement I mourned for every sunny day when I had to work. The weather was certain to deteriorate for the weekends.

Retired, I have the freedom to spend every sunny day outside, but my laptop isn’t garden-friendly.

It’s the screen that won’t co-operate. Sitting in shade, adjusting screen brightness, giving the cursor a trail and making it bigger… nothing makes computing alfresco easy. My solution this year has been to edit off-screen. There are advantages to taking my red pen outside.

Most notably, I’ve taken more time over it, in order to spend as long as possible in the fresh air without feeling guilty. I’m not rushing through the final scenes because I’m fed up with editing this story for the fourth (fifth, sixth, seventh…) time.

I print on single-sided scrap to save trees, and manage with single spaced printouts, but to save even more paper, you can send your work to your Kindle, if you have one, by emailing the file to your Kindle email address with convert as your email title. It is possible to make editing notes on your Kindle version, but I still prefer editing onto paper.

Nevertheless, reading from the Kindle seems to throw up different errors compared to reading from a printout, or a word processor. I also read aloud sometimes, if there’s no-one within hearing range, to listen how the writing sounds. (When reading my story to the writing group, I’ve found that making notes on the fly tends to interrupt

the flow.)

Typing up my hard-copy edits only seems like half a job – the thinking’s already been done. Sometimes I’ll change my mind again and revert to the original, but that happens anyway, and it’s quicker when ‘reverting’ means ‘not changing’.

I plan to continue the off-screen edits when the sun finally flies south for the winter.

 

How do other writers cope with the lure of the sun in the few weeks Britain calls summer?

Cathy Cade.

Summer and Technology

The incompatibility of summer and technology is an ongoing issue for all us would-be authors.

My solution is to be creative with my pen and paper at this time of year and save the typing for dark, winter nights.

I can wander along the beach, feet cooled by the surf, a notebook in my rucksack. There is always a handy rock where I can sit for a few minutes to jot down odd words that spring to mind or dally for longer if inspiration takes hold.

Come winter, I can stoke up the fire, huddle over the lap top and type from the notes, with the added advantage that I see it all now with fresh eyes. The ideas have had time to mature, making revision much less challenging and the whole experience more rewarding.

Wendy Fletcher

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FROM READING TO WRITING

An inspiring view
An inspiring view

This post is by Val Chapman a member of Whittlesey Wordsmiths.

I enjoy a lot of different subjects to read about, but if I had to choose, my preference is for psychological thrillers or crime novels, often the gorier the better.
Why is it then, that I have never even attempted to write one?
I know “they” say “write about what you know”, but to my knowledge, I’ve never murdered anyone, and wouldn’t know how to get away with it or solve it if I had, so how could I write a “murder mystery”?
My musings are almost exclusively in the ‘light and fluffy’ section.
I tend to write as I speak, so nothing too taxing there then!
Oh, wait, that may be a clue to the answer to my question!
I’ve never been keen on hard work….
I do admire those people who are committed enough to their craft to travel the country, if not the world, researching, checking, and researching again to make sure any writings are as plausible, and as factually correct as possible.
Maybe it’s because I just write for my own amusement, so I don’t need it to be too accurate or truthful. I just like to have a beginning, a middle, and hopefully an end. I tend to prefer my stories to make the reader say “ahh” instead of “huh?” when they’ve finished reading.
And that’s often how I tend to plan.
Start at the end.
If I have an idea where the story will end, I can plot how to get there.
And I like to be given an idea to work on. (See? Get someone else to do the thinking, -hard work-)
Left to my own devices, I’m not sure I would ever have started this very enjoyable hobby I now have.
Which is why I’m very grateful to all of the members of Whittlesey Wordsmiths. With their encouragement, I’ve really had fun exploring my imagination a bit, and have even started writing a little differently at times. Now, I don’t always have to find the ending first. Sometimes I’m even brave enough to just jump in and see where it takes me.
I even occasionally prefer to write rather than read.
Who knows, I might even ramble on enough to write a whole book!
I just need an idea……………..

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The hare that runs through the field of memory

It’s funny how memory and nostalgia work.

Sometimes these memories are the inspitation for writing we all tend to weave our memories and experiences into our work, whether consciously or not.

Normally I am fairly indifferent to entertainment at the U3A open meetings. Having joined the committee and a shortage of people during school holidays I found myself at a meeting I probably wouldn’t have normally attended. The two talented musicians Dave Bailey and Steve Gibbs, The Boatmen, entertained our audience with their own compositions together with covers of more well known numbers. A rendition of The Chain, a Fleetwood Mac number, was one I really enjoyed,  this song started the hare running through my memories.

During the sixties, whilst Peter Green was still with Fleetwood Mac, the band  performed at the Ramsey Gaiety, a dance hall, one Saturday night. Their very last number after several encores was “I Hear You Knocking But You Can’t Come In”. At that time this little Fenland town hosted some of the biggest music names of the sixties. I was able to see, amongst others The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Cliff Bennet and  Zoot Money all at the Gaiety . To my lasting regret I missed Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band, the night they performed.

In Ramsey on a Saturday night, Great Whyte was filled with a long line of double decker buses parked from one end of the road to the other. These buses brought in young people from all over the Fenland Towns and villages. For many of us, in our teens, the sixties were a time of magic. The music and the sense of optimism was something that for many of us has never been repeated. On another occasion I remember hearing Martha and the Vandellas, “Jimmy Mack” for the first time, whilst I watched a line of short skirted, long legged girls on the floor of the Commemoration Hall in Huntingdon, dancing to it.

The news of Aretha Franklin’s death is just another reminder of the sound track that accompanied those best of times. It would be good to see some magic return, just some.

 

Philip

 

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Inspiring Scenes

Inspired by a visit to the coast, I wrote the first few sentences of my novel on the beach. Then I formed characters who would play the major roles and started a file for each, noting details that I might wish to refer to later.

I imagined conversations that would take place throughout the novel and wrote these in some detail. They have formed the skeleton on which the story will hang.

As I create the scenes which lead up to each of these conversations, I feel a sense of freedom to meander teasingly slowly or rush ahead, hopefully carrying my future readers with me.

After spending several years writing an autobiographical account of my childhood, I am savouring this opportunity to enjoy the liberation brought by writing fiction; the chance to just introduce another character,  explore a location that I have just invented, or introduce a twist that neither the characters or I saw coming.

I now have a beginning, an end and a lot of loose bits to tie up in the middle, so onwards to the beach.

Wendy Fletcher, Whittlesey Wordsmith

 

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Preparation and tweaking

Whittlesey Buttercross
The Whittlesey Buttercross

Our book Where the Wild Winds Blow is in the garage having its final bit of tweaking. It is jacked up off the ground. Cathy and Wendy are wandering about underneath, attractively attired in nice white overalls with lead lights in their hands. Cathy pokes out rogue commas and semicolons with a very large screwdriver. Whilst Wendy has a big spanner in her hand tightening up any loose phrases or sentences dangling underneath. Very soon we will have the sleek new cover fitted and be ready for the off.

Stephen Oliver is making progress with his novel and anthologies, Stuart Roberts with his next book. Cathy Cade, Val Chapman and Val Fish have contributed to the 81 word challenge, I suspect other members have too but don’t know yet. Going on past form Val Fish has probably got entries in the limerick competition.

The Whittlesey Word Forge is ringing with the sound of writing being hammered into shape.

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Writing

Bridge Street Cambridge a busy Saturday afternoon
Walking the route a character in my book uses. Bridge Street Cambridge.

Wendy has asked me to write a piece about our writing as a group.

At our last meeting Whittlesey Wordsmiths discussed writing, not just the generalities of it but how we each approached the task. In the past, two of our members explained their different working methods one was able to work while the television was on and manage with the distraction, another needed complete silence. Some members work best at night, others early in the morning.

Personally, I prefer relative quiet, either at home, early or late in the day, during the day at a library or even as yesterday in a pub. Breakfast at a Wetherspoons, a large empty table my small laptop/tablet computer with free coffee top-ups, while my car was at the garage.

We discussed also the acquiring of ideas, the overheard phrase or sentence, an ending to a story then filling in the events leading up to that finale. At least one of our number describes himself as Pantster, “flying by the seat of his pants”, writing down the thoughts as they form in his mind. Judging by his output it works very well for him. Within our group we are fortunate in having a diverse pool of talented writers. Our work in progress; “Where the Wild Winds Blow”, is nearing completion and showcases this talent.

Every one of us works differently. Each has their own way of finding inspiration, a method of working, marshalling thoughts as they are turned into the written word. My own stories are shown to me as a video played out in my mind, whilst I try valiantly to record the unfolding events. Later I return to rewind, stop, pause and touch up the pictures. Adding in the barely seen detail, amplifying the quiet words or thoughts of the actors. As the rough chapters increase to become what will hopefully be my novel, it has become essential to make a chronological plan. The events need to have a semblance of order. Cycle rides and walks help me add flesh to the bones of ideas and concepts. Clarifying and touching up the parts of the pictures that need it.

As my novel is set mainly in Cambridge, trips to the city have been necessary  to clarify memories, to fill in the gaps left unseen in maps and on Google. Walking the route a character takes in the plot, enables it to seen, as it appears to that character, a touching up of the detail in the video.

Philip Cumberland

https://fenlandphil.wordpress.com/

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Review: Unleash your Dreams Going Beyond Goal Setting Stephen Oliver

The key to unlocking the potential to set your goals and work towards reaching them with the help of clear text and helpful diagrams. Stephen shares his experience and encourages the reader throughout this journey to success, a lesson for us all, Stephen.

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Review: All Time Lowe Stuart Roberts

All Time Lowe written by Stuart Roberts Front cover of book
All Time Lowe Written by Stuart Roberts Front cover of book

Today I finished reading this book by group member, Stuart Roberts. I started reading it yesterday which gives you some idea of the ‘couldn’t put it down’ factor. The suspense grows throughout the story, around characters that are realistic and well rounded. An excellent read, Stuart

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Whittlesey Wordsmiths

This is the post excerpt.

We are the Whittlesey Wordsmiths, a group of writers based in the Fenland market town of Whittlesey. The group was set up in February 2017 and now has eleven members. We are currently working on an anthology of short stories and poems, a collection of fact, fiction and fantasy. We are planning to publish the book in time for Christmas 2018. Updates as we progress with this, Wendy

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