Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Connection to the Writing Community Around the World

March 26, 2020
mandyevebarnett


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Without the planned author interview blog post for today, I was curious to look at some of my past posts and came across this one from March 2014. It is quite eerie how relevant it is for today.

We are fortunate to have the ability to connect with people from all over the world with the click of a button. Barring time differences we can speak face to face with them as well as converse via various technologies unimagined in quite recent history. Technology can be a burden but also a gift. Personally, I have met other writers from as far away as America and Warsaw, to name just two. People I would never have met any other way. The American writer posted on a non-writing site and our responses to a topic were so familiar we began emailing each other. After several months, we found out our lives were mirrors of each other’s life experiences. This culminated in us visiting each others ‘homes and becoming firm friends. We call each Soul Sister.

The young woman from Warsaw, blogged how she felt alone in her writing, this was a call I could not ignore, so responded with a paid membership to my writers group as we have virtual as well as local members. www.wfscsherwoodpark.com  She has since managed to publish her work and enjoys the connection with other writers. This is the positive side of the internet, as well as research possibilities for anything under the sun we care to find out about. Our curiosity for knowledge can be satisfied with almost no effort at all.

However, not all connections can become physical ones and that is the shame of the internet. We cannot jump on a ‘plane at the drop of a hat in order to travel to far away countries to visit these contacts, for the most part. Our ‘relationships’ are limited to short conversations and ‘funny’ Facebook posts. In short it is not a’ true’ friendship with shared experiences but that being said, still important connections for a host of reasons.

How many of you open a conversation in a coffee shop, on a train or bus, even in the food store? People around us are as interesting as those on the computer screen. Has technology taken this ability away? I remember watching my Mother striking up conversations with complete strangers all the time. As a shy child I found this alarming but as I grew up I realized without human contact, we become isolated in a crowd.

We should not be afraid to connect with people – everyone has an interesting story to share after all. Who knows it might be a story idea.

What has been your experience with internet contacts? Has it changed now?

plug

Today’s writing tip

Set your writing goals for every writing session

Outline your aims for a writing session in order to keep yourself focused. It may help to write down what you want to achieve in the next chapter or scene. However, remember,  to give yourself elbow room. It is okay to depart from your scene summary if you feel the story should go (or wants to go) in a new direction. Personally, I let the story flow but some writers find writing a pre-scene enables them to maintain a clear sense of direction for each scene in relation to their story arc.

Do you set goals for your writing sessions?

#AuthorToolboxBlogHop – Author/Writer Space Essentials

March 18, 2020
mandyevebarnett


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What do you consider essential for your writing zone? It may not be the same as everyone else, so firstly let’s take a look at my desk (the one above).

Firstly, I have a laptop and second screen – this enables me to utilize two screens for editing purposes with beta-reader and publisher suggestions and edits. It is easier than splitting one screen to read two full pages.

Secondly, there are numerous note books and folders/binders of relevant information, event details, contact sheets, and freelance clients contracts. Yes, I am rather obsessed with organization – I put my hands up to that! As you can see I have several desk organizers for said items all labeled, storage is key to having information at your finger tips.

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Next is ‘fuel’ – water and tea! What do you favour for hydration? 

You may have noticed the propensity for purple – yes it is my favorite colour. Purple wall, crystals and water bottle to name a few. It is interesting that when I looked up the meaning of the colour purple there were key words relevant to my writing. Maybe there is a deeper force at work than we know, when it comes to our colour choices.

Color Meaning: Meaning of The Color Purple. … The color purple is often associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, power, and ambition. Purple also represents meanings of wealth, extravagance, creativity, wisdom, dignity, grandeur, devotion, peace, pride, mystery, independence, and magic. 

Light sources are also an important choice – I have the normal ceiling light and natural light from the window but a spotlight disperses shadows so I have a clean and clear view of my screens.

Storage is key and yes I have several spaces just for it. The storage tower holds business cards, promotional items, paper, filing supplies, and more.

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The cupboard has books, more promotional material, such as an event banner, card holders, table coverings and larger promotion items as well as books.
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Yes, I am lucky to have this space but bear in mind I started using the dining room table as my writing space. It took me nearly seven years to get to this. Maybe you don’t need this kind of writing area – anywhere can be a creative zone after all. When I go on writing retreats I use a folding table and write on the hotel bed or desk. (And even at home). As long as there is room for a laptop or notebook we can write anywhere.

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What are your writing zone essentials?

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – Learning a New Writing Skill – Screenwriting

March 12, 2020
mandyevebarnett


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I attended an event on 7th March by GIFT (Girls in Film & Television) in conjunction with the EPL Library WIR Susie Moloney. This is an avenue of writing I want to explore, learn and master. After all every fiction author wants to see their story on the big screen.

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The workshop focused on secrets of the golden rules of screenwriting, and the short film format. The presentation gave us information on how to write full and dynamic characters, how to structure a story, and how to format a script like a pro. Our host was Jana O’Connor, who instructs within Alberta schools for GIFT, 5 day workshops to teach young girls/women the world for film.

The intricacies of the production of a movie (or play) are a world away from the writing of a novel. There are 5 Golden Rules:

  1. Theme
  2. Character
  3. Plot
  4. Dialogue
  5. Rule of Three

It may seem similar to the construct of a novel, however, the differences are in the format of the script. Although, it details such things as location and character name, it also includes parenthesis (a word, clause, or sentence inserted as an explanation or afterthought into a passage that is grammatically complete without it, in writing usually marked off by curved brackets, dashes, or commas.) These are clues to what day of day the scene takes place, any significant objects, if the actor needs to use a specific emphasis on how they say the line, such as sarcastically or frightened etc.

For example: 

Intro:    Interior of a log cabin, night time

Name:  Character’s name in capitals – Malcolm

Parenthetical:  fearful

Dialogue:  

Each page represents 60 seconds of film so the scene and dialogue has to be concise – remember the viewer is seeing a lot of the things as a novelist we have to explain and include. 

Take a scene from your novel and rewrite it as a movie scene – how much did you delete?

Resources given at the workshop were:

GIFT  (Girls in Film & Television)

WIFTA (Women in Film & Television, Alberta)

No Film School https://nofilmschool.com/

YEG Film on Facebook

Celtx Script Writing  https://www.celtx.com/index.html

And there are a lot of screen writing podcasts and videos on the web!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday -Writing Workshops Aid Creativity

March 5, 2020
mandyevebarnett


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As writers we are always honing our skill and learning new styles and types of writing aid our creativity. I attended two workshops on 29th February, both gave me the opportunity to improve my writing.

As an author, we welcome constructive critique of our work, it is how we grow. So a group of local authors and I spend the first few months of each new year working on our current work in progress. Some are the result of our NaNoWriMo participation, while others are whatever story/novel/project we are working on currently. The premise of these monthly workshops is to read a certain number of chapters each month of each others work, then using track changes edit, suggest and comment on the plot arc, continuity, premise etc. Having a number of different reader’s feedback allows us to identify any inconsistencies and correct them. Obviously, we do not have to take every suggestion, it is after all our work but if there is a consensus of opinion throughout on a specific part, then we can revise and improve them. This allows us to create the best story possible prior to publication. 

My project is my steampunk novel, The Commodore’s Gift. Currently 75,102 words, 201 pages, 39 chapters and epilogue. Publishing date September 2020.

my steam hat

The second workshop, I attended was a poetry workshop held by The Writers Foundation of Strathcona County in anticipation of Poetry Month in April. I have to admit that poetry is not my forte, so it did stretch my creativity a bit! We covered several types of poetry: monorhyme, enclosed rhyme, simple 4-line rhyme, coupled rhyme, chain rhyme and alternative rhyme. After an explanation of each style, we then had five minutes to create a rhyme in that style using randomly selected words. The words chosen for the chain rhyme were: after, banana, crafter, panorama, would, bandanna, could, dessert, should. Yes rather a mixed bag and it had everyone struggling, but that’s the point – we cannot learn without effort. I managed this:

Alice’s happy thought was about the contest after

As she ate her second banana

Her final piece as a genius crafter

Showed a glorious textured panorama

Comments from friends confirmed she would

Win the coveted bandanna

Her gumption knew she could

A promised reward when she won – a dessert

Even though her diet negated she should

I even managed to include the ‘extra’ point words of happy, genius & gumption in that one.

What workshop have you recently attended. What did you learn about your writing?

 

Wordsmith’s Collective Thursday – #AuthorToolboxBlogHop – Define a Genre for Your Narrative

February 20, 2020
mandyevebarnett


genre-picture-2Being aware of your genre can help you contextualize your story but remember—just because you may have been writing towards a certain kind of genre, it may not mean that’s what your story actually is.

Common Genres include:

  • Thriller –built around the fast-paced pursuit of a life-or-death goal.
  • Fantasy – typified by fantastic aspects, such as magic.
  • Sci-fi – Sometimes called ‘speculative’ fiction. Fiction typified by scientific aspects, such as nonexistent technology or alternative realities.
  • Horror – instilling dread or fear in the reader. Sometimes but not always featuring supernatural aspects.
  • Mystery – solving of a mysterious set of circumstances.
  • Crime – typified by a focus on criminal activities.
  • Historical – set within a defined time period but drawing context from the cultural understanding of that time.
  • Western – typified by aspects of the American frontier.
  • Romance –focuses on a romantic relationship as the source of its drama.
  • Erotica – primarily intended to instill arousal in the reader.
  • Literary – focuses on realistic, weighty issues, typified by character-focused writing and a lack of other genre features.
  • Adventure Story
    A genre of fiction in which action is the key element, overshadowing characters, theme and setting. … The conflict in an adventure story is often man against nature. A secondary plot that reinforces this kind of conflict is sometimes included.
  • Biographical Novel
    A life story documented in history and transformed into fiction through the insight and imagination of the writer. This type of novel melds the elements of biographical research and historical truth into the framework of a novel, complete with dialogue, drama and mood. A biographical novel resembles historical fiction, save for one aspect: Characters in a historical novel may be fabricated and then placed into an authentic setting; characters in a biographical novel have actually lived.
  • Ethnic Fiction
    Stories and novels whose central characters are black, Native American, Italian American, Jewish, Appalachian or members of some other specific cultural group. Ethnic fiction usually deals with a protagonist caught between two conflicting ways of life: mainstream American culture and his ethnic heritage.
  • Fictional Biography
    The biography of a real person that goes beyond the events of a person’s life by being fleshed out with imagined scenes and dialogue. The writer of fictional biographies strives to make it clear that the story is, indeed, fiction and not history.
  • Gothic
    This type of category fiction dates back to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Contemporary gothic novels are characterized by atmospheric, historical settings and feature young, beautiful women who win the favor of handsome, brooding heroes—simultaneously dealing successfully with some life-threatening menace, either natural or supernatural. Gothics rely on mystery, peril, romantic relationships and a sense of foreboding for their strong, emotional effect on the reader.
  • Historical Fiction – story set in a recognizable period of history. As well as telling the stories of ordinary people’s lives, historical fiction may involve political or social events of the time.
  • Horror – includes certain atmospheric breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces.
  • Juvenile – intended for an audience usually between the ages of two and sixteen. The language must be appropriate for the age of the reader, the subject matter must be of interest to the target age group, the opening of the work must be vivid enough to capture the reader’s attention and the writing throughout must be action-oriented enough to keep it with the use of suspense and the interplay of human relationships. Categories are usually divided in this way: (1) picture and storybooks (ages two to nine)… ; (2) easy-to-read books (ages seven to nine)… ; (3) “middle-age” [also called “middle grade”] children’s books (ages eight to twelve)… ; (4) young adult books (ages twelve to sixteen.
  • Literary Fiction vs. Commercial Fiction
    Literary, or serious, fiction, style and technique are often as important as subject matter. Commercial fiction is written with the intent of reaching as wide an audience as possible. It is sometimes called genre fiction because books of this type often fall into categories, such as western, gothic, romance, historical, mystery and horror.
  • Mainstream Fiction – transcends popular novel categories—mystery, romance or science fiction, [etc.] and is called mainstream fiction. Using conventional methods, this kind of fiction tells stories about people and their conflicts but with greater depth of characterization, background, etc. than the more narrowly focused genre novels.
  • Nonfiction Novel – real events and people are written [about] in novel form but are not camouflaged and written in a novelistic structure.
  • Popular Fiction
    Generally, a synonym for category or genre fiction; i.e., fiction intended to appeal to audiences for certain kinds of novels. … Popular, or category, fiction is defined as such primarily for the convenience of publishers, editors, reviewers and booksellers who must identify novels of different areas of interest for potential readers.
  • Psychological Novel
    A narrative that emphasizes the mental and emotional aspects of its characters, focusing on motivations and mental activities rather than on exterior events.
  • Roman a Clef
    The French term for “novel with a key.” This type of novel incorporates real people and events into the story under the guise of fiction.
  • Romance Novel – the romance novel is a type of category fiction in which the love relationship between a man and a woman pervades the plot.
  • Romantic Suspense Novel – romantic suspense novel is a modern emergence of early gothic writing and differs from traditional suspense novels because it moves more slowly and has more character interplay and psychological conflict than the fast-paced violence of [most] suspense thrillers.
  • Science Fiction [vs. Fantasy]
    Science fiction can be defined as literature involving elements of science and technology as a basis for conflict, or as the setting for a story.
  • Techno-Thriller – utilizes many of the same elements as the thriller, with one major difference. In techno-thrillers, technology becomes a major character.
  • Thriller – intended to arouse feelings of excitement or suspense focusing on illegal activities, international espionage, sex and violence.
  • Young Adult – refers to books published for young people between the ages of twelve and seventeen.

Do real research, describe aesthetic/tone/vibe over content, and be open to adjusting your decision down the line as you grow more accustomed to working with genres.

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Genre is different from age group

Genre isn’t the age group you’re writing for.  Age group and genre are often said together, so it’s easy to think they’re the same, but they’re not. For example: Young adult is the age group – Spy and thriller are the genres.

The primary age groups are:

– Board books: Newborn to age 3
– Picture books: Ages 3–8
– Colouring and activity books: Ages 3–8
– Novelty books: Ages 3 and up, depending on content
– Early, levelled readers: Ages 5–9
– First chapter books: Ages 6–9 or 7–10
– Middle-grade books: Ages 8–12
– Young adult (YA) novels: Ages 12 and up or 14 and up

Choose a primary genre

When you pick your primary genre, you’re identifying the most prominent elements of your book. Ask the following questions.

You may have a handful of these elements in your book but when picking a primary genre focus on the most dominant aspects of your novel.

Is there magic?

If the answer is yes, then your book is most likely a fantasy. Is it set it in a fictional world that you created from scratch (like Lord of the Rings)? Then you probably have a high fantasy. Or is it built into our own world? If so it is most likely an urban fantasy.

Is it a fairy tale or a fairy tale retelling then you might want to classify your book as such.

Are there paranormal creatures (such as vampires, zombies, etc.)?

If there are, then it could be a fantasy, or it could be a supernatural/paranormal. Fantasy and paranormal are closely related and share some overlap, so it comes down to what is the more dominant element. If the magic is the more dominant element, then you have a fantasy. If the creatures are the more dominant element, then it’s supernatural.

When is it set?

If it’s set in the past, it’s probably a historical fiction. If it’s set in the present, you’ve got a contemporary and if it’s set in the future, it’s probably science fiction.

Where is it set?

If it’s set in this world, it might be a historical or contemporary. If it’s set in a world you made up, it might be some kind of fantasy or science fiction.

Is there manipulated science/technology?

If you are using significant manipulation of the science, we know today it’s likely to be science fiction. If you have time travel, then you could consider it science fiction.

Is there an element of mystery/crime to solve?

If the main purpose of your plot is mystery, then this is the genre you will use.

Is it laugh-out-loud funny?

If it is, then you’ve got a comedy

Is it a tear-jerker or a book with a lot of interpersonal conflicts?

Then it’s probably some form of drama.

Is there a romance?

Use the romance genre when the central plot of the book is a romantic relationship.

Is it intended to scare?

Then you’ve got a horror.

Is it “literary”?

If it’s a deep book, rich with symbolism and deeper meaning that’s meant to be dissected an analyzed than you most likely have written a work of literary fiction.

Is it action packed?

If your book is littered with action scenes like fights and car chases, then you have an action or thriller on your hands.

Is it about a terrible version of this world?

Then you’re looking at a dystopian.

Now decide which elements you think are the strongest/most prominent. That’s your primary genre.

Do your research

Make sure you do your research and have a good understanding of genre conventions. Readers of each genre have certain expectations. While you can most definitely take some liberties, you want to make sure you’re giving your readers what they’re looking for.

Note*** I did a series of posts throughout 2018 detailing every genre if you want to scroll through put ‘genres’ in the search box.***

#AuthorToolboxBlogHop

 

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