Tag Archives: outlines

The Witches of Fife, Research and Other Nonsense

As you may or may not be aware, Fife was rampant with witches in the Days of Yore.  In this attempt to write my Kelpies Prize entry I’d been looking for something I can research inherent to Fife, which I can rely on to give me the credibility I lack from not being natively Scottish (and yet trying to write Scottish children’s literature).  And from a half-remembered lecture given back in my student days with the Pagan Society of St. Andrews I recalled this particular bit of information.

I’ve been looking for inspiration with hints of the supernatural, and this might be perfect.  My favourite children’s stories are the ones that escape the bubblegum-pink prose where everything is well-meaning and the danger isn’t really all that dangerous, like bumbling pirates and laughable ogres.  I like slightly Grimmer stuff (as in stuff more like Grimm’s Fairy Tales and less like a Disney film) with shades of grey.

So, witches it is.

I’m not sure if I want to pursue the supernatural angle, or the historic-political angle, but to be honest I bet I’ll end up doing both.  I’m also not sure what time period to set this in, mainly debating whether to set it historically or contemporaneously.

Luckily, there seems to be a wide range of local-interest library books I’ve found in the subject.  For example, The Witches of Fife: Witch-hunting in a Scottish Shire and The Weem Witch.  So hopefully through research I can work out a lot of the details and find inspiration for a plot.

Look at me go, actually researching things before writing them!  Before you know it I’ll be outlining and everything!!!

I’ve also been rereading Harry Potter books, partly as research for what’s expected writing-style-wise for the age group, but also just because why not.  For all that I whinged about J.K. Rowling and her oh-too-perfect ending, I do like reading them.

And I secretly wish I had my own Hedwig!

Not that J.K. Rowling actually knows the first thing about owl behaviour, as I’ve come to realise.  Hedwig was “fast asleep with her head under her wing”??  Pah!  Owls don’t sleep like that!  But hey, maybe magic owls are a whole other shebang, who am I to know??

Thank You, Adventures in Advance Planning and Ode to a Bunch of Grapes I Bought Today

Thank you all for your support of yesterday’s whine!!  I feel a lot better just having said it all, and actually woke up this morning with renewed determination to write Cobault.  I’ve now re-read all that I had written and re-written previously, editing and notating as I went.

Now I’m trying to do at least a little bit of advance planning for the rest of the action, since I realise that one of the harder things to do as an amateur writer is to handle the passage of time.  In an effort to not write an endless litany of every character’s movements in tedious minutia, I’m outlining the essential events and I can fill in more detail later if need be.

To address the main part of my whine, however, I’ve decided to do some research.  There’s an important central event I still need to rewrite so I’m trying to find some literature, particularly of the time of Wollstonecraft to tie into the feminist ideas I’ve already used, that deal with similar themes.  This way I can trick my subconscious into making some interesting parallels that my conscious mind wouldn’t have thought of!

So all this bodes well, generally.  I’m sure I’ll continue to have periodic wobbles of Blah from time to time, but that’s just how it is.  You can’t be creative, and thus exposing your most private thoughts, hopes and dreams to all and sundry, without a bit of self-doubt from time to time.

And thank you in advance to anyone who talks me down in any of these future moments of doubt and woe!  You’re the best!!

I think I will intersperse different kinds of posts from time to time, however, to break up what kind of writing I do.  Maybe this way I can keep myself from getting too bogged down and depressed about feeling like a current project is getting stalled.  I can have breaks and come back to it refreshed.  I’ll take your advice to heart, Ali, and perhaps do some some literary reviews and Odes to Inanimate Objects.

I’m starting right now, with:

 

Ode to the Bunch of Grapes I Bought Today


Juicy Orbs, your skin conceals

Spherical refreshment

To burst forth with succulence.

 

Why then, I ask, do you seek

To hurt me so? Hiding demon

Seeds which choke and anger me.

 

Devil’s own fruit! I love you so,

Except for those vile attributes.

Why must you possess them?

 

When I purchased you from

the store your packaging proclaimed:

Seedless! What lies!

A Return to Cobault, More Blah and Extreme Writing

*

Far in the wild North, in the mining village of Lanrik, a young boy was born into unusual circumstances. He was naïve in all things, save for a singular gift his naivete led him to believe was commonplace.

*

Those are the very first sentences of Cobault.  I’ve come to realise that I need to get stuck into writing it again, otherwise I’ll never finish its second draft.  As I’ve mentioned previously I’ve been stuck in the middle of some fairly major rewriting, but I’m still feeling more confident in this novel than any of my others at the moment.

Yes, I still have my Writer’s Blah, but I need to get over that and just write – easier said than done!  I say that having just opened the document, scrolled to the last written page, read the last sentence… and then promptly minimized the screen to write this post instead.

Oh well!

Anyways, I’m hoping to get myself back into enjoying it again.  Writing my last novel I found a trick to keep myself interested in what I was writing (because if even I, the writer, can’t be bothered continuing, why on earth would any prospective reader?!) which was mainly to think, “Well what could happen NOW to spice things up?”

The only problem with doing that to Cobault is that, since I’m in the middle of a rewriting and not having my first go at the plot, I need to make sure all the plot lines can lead back to the end I’ve decided I still like.  It’s just this pesky middle bit, you know that silly bit in the middle of a novel with all the action and drama and suspense, that was needing a major overhaul.

You hear that noise coming through your computer screen?  That is me, screaming.

Anyway.

Ok, so here’s my plan:  1) Read the whole goddamned thing again, so I can get back into the swing of things and not forget important bits.  2) Make an actual OUTLINE (gaspshockhorror) of what I need to write in said middle bit, and how to tie it back to the end again.  And, 3) WRITE IT.

Sounds simple, yes?  If only it were so.

I’ll let you into a little secret of mine:  I never plan ANYTHING I write ahead of time.  It just happens as it happens.  And it’s exciting that way, because ever you don’t know what’s happening next.  Plot-twists can be as much of a surprise to you as they would be to anyone else.

It’s like Extreme Writing – look, Ma, no outlines!

But now I’m thinking there’s a time and a place for Extreme Writing.  Mainly, in the first exhilaration of a New Thing, when you’re giddy and lightheaded with the joy of new places to explore and new people to meet.  You get this Eureka! moment when things just naturally come together, or when you realise something that your characters knew all along.

It’s fabulous.

But then, perhaps in this second run of editing you need to be a little more circumspect.  You’ve had your wild run, and now it’s time to tame the Beast.  Of course, the wilder your first run was, the harder it is to rein it all in.  And if whole sections need to be excised, well then you need the delicacy of a surgeon to replace them with something new and connect it all up again.

And I’m about as delicate as a brick through a window.  I’m working on it, honestly.

So I know what I have to do.  But it’s so much harder to actually do it.  I’ve realised that my biggest hurdle in becoming a Real Life Published Novelist isn’t to do with my creativity or the actual talent I have for writing – it’s all about disciplining myself and teaching myself how to write a novel to the best of my abilities.  Getting through all the stages, not just the first initial, wild splurge of ideas that becomes a first draft.

So wish me luck – I’ll need it!