Back to gloomy autumn weather and a wait to hear news on the latest novel, a psychological thriller.
Talking of which…after high temperatures and a late summer, the weather suddenly changed. I woke up at around 3am on Thursday, aware of the steady thud of rain outside. Lightning flickered, causing the clock radio to crackle. Thunder roared close by.
Generally, I like storms, but I lay there unsettled, thinking of another storm that took place when I was a child, maybe five or six years old. When that storm occurred, I fled from the bedroom, convinced that the house was haunted and that the ghosts were pursuing me. Obviously, I have no idea whether the house was really haunted. However, from time to time, I’ve found certain places or atmospheres disquieting right from the start, and still do occasionally. So I suppose I must believe in the possibility of hauntings and ghosts, although the whole thing scares me.
Anyway, I think the above would do well in a psychological thriller.
Posted in Writing | Tagged autumn, psychological thriller, storm | Leave a Comment »
I recently read the Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz and thought I’d write a brief review.
The book, a true story set in the early war years, sees the central character Slavomir and six of his companions escape from a harsh labour camp in the middle of Siberia. I don’t want to give away the ending, but there are a number of surprises along the way, along with sadness and loss in places.
The author, also the central characters, creates a compelling mood throughout the narrative, and I, the reader, could feel/almost see the freezing and bleak conditions of Siberia. Later, the author describes his experiences in the Gobi Desert, and again I almost felt the overwhelming heat and dusty sand, along with the terrible sense of thirst and weakness that persisted day after day. There are also mountains scenes which evoked an almost tangible sense of danger. The ending provokes intense emotion – one almost wants to remain with the central character and his companions – and I was slightly disappointed not to see some form of afterword.
In all, an excellent read, absolutely compelling.
Posted in Writing | Tagged gobi desert, labour camp, siberia, Slavomir Rawicz, war years | Leave a Comment »
I’ve finished the writing for the time being and hope to put it aside, in order to gain a fresh perspective. In the meantime, Bank Holiday Monday beckons, hopefully warm and sunny. As the novel, a psychological thriller, explores the events of a Bank Holiday Monday in the central character’s past, I thought I would include the opening in this blog article:
They say a group of teenagers saw me on the field that August Bank Holiday Monday.
One called over, asked if I was all right. I didn’t answer, apparently. Just continued stumbling in the direction of home, sweat dripping from my face. The teenagers didn’t hang around. They assumed I had sunstroke. If I had seen myself, I would have probably thought the same.
Others noticed me wandering along the main road towards the estate where we lived. Drinkers in the pub watched me stagger like a drunk. I continued walking. Up the hill, through a ginnel, past the church. Down the hill, along alleyways of back-to-front houses, to the car park at the bottom of the estate.
Dad was out with your dad that afternoon. They say your mother saw me and came out. ‘Where’s Craig?’ she said. ‘What happened, Alan?’
They say I muttered two words.
A man went to prison.
End of story.
So I thought.
Posted in Writing | Tagged novel, psychological thriller | Leave a Comment »
Clammy, sticky weather, and I’m ploughing on with the novel, making the changes needed to strengthen the story. A psychological thriller. It’s hard. A fresh twist in the plot increase the tension, but often at a cost, as each alteration affects the rest of the story and errors creep in, usually unnoticed.
I’ve also observed that ruthlessly cutting superfluous sentences – for instance, 100 words here, 50 words there – will tighten the prose, but might result in the loss of the writer’s unique voice. The story may take on a racy-pace, but lack originality.
For me, psychological thrillers must create an atmosphere (preferably portrayed through a first person narrative) that the reader relates to, even if their own experience differs from that of the main character. The atmosphere determines the plot, I believe, although this runs counter to the general advice that plot should be character-led. Perhaps there is room for both then – atmosphere and character actions?
Let’s hope so.
In the meantime, I have another fifty-five thousands words to deal with.
Posted in Writing | Tagged atmosphere, Character, plot, psychological thriller, story, tension | Leave a Comment »
A writer works on a manuscript, with or without a plan. The writer learns more about the character during the writing project. The plot seems to flow naturally, without any hint of contrivance. Afterwards, the reader could reasonably wonder if originally the writer had originally taken advice such as: “just begin the writing and see where that takes you.”
Consider an alternative approach. Tight plot, careful structure, little time for introspection. Here, the writer may even have mapped out story events before writing a word.
Two distinct approaches. So which one is right – introspection or projection?
Obviously, each writer will favour one over the other. I tend to favour introspection and atmosphere, not to mention immediacy, but often my plotting will require further attention. I suppose each writer must concentrate more on her/his weaker approach without losing the overall original voicing resulting from the stronger approach.
Just a few of my thoughts.
Posted in Writing | Tagged Creative Writing, immediacy, introspection, plot, story events | Leave a Comment »
Often, writers struggle with sections of their work. Parts of the writing may become stale while remaining relevant to the story – problematic, as the writer has to find alternative ways of presenting this material. Other sections of the writing might lack any function in the story, in which case the writer can hit delete.
I had to deal with a stale writing issue recently. I chose to remedy the problem by turning the chunk of crucial information into dialogue. It meant that I needed to pay close attention to the voicing and the interactions between the two characters. Inevitably, slight errors crept into the work – ruthless editing and rewriting will do that – but I caught these on a reread.
When revising a sample of writing, I try to look out for two things.
Original voicing that exposes more of the character in question.
A way of advancing plot and/or atmosphere, including immediacy (especially for psychological thrillers, my genre).
Sometimes, I need to cut back, a case of less is better. At other times, I need more. On occasion, I will read the amended sections and decide they’ve made the story worse. I think this happens a lot during the writing process. A writer implements an idea or change of plot and it knocks the rest of the story off balance. Writing’s always a gamble; yet, unless the writer takes a risk, she or he will never know what works or doesn’t work.
Just a few of my thoughts.
Posted in Writing | Tagged immediacy, psychological thriller, story, writing process | Leave a Comment »
Today marks my fourth year anniversary of giving up smoking. At times, particularly three or four months in, I didn’t think I would make it, but I can truthfully say I haven’t smoked any cigarettes, or attempted to, in the last four years.
Before then, I had tried to stop many times, but failed.
So what was different this time?
- A proper reason for wanting to quit – in this case, a true lung age test gave a disastrous result, enough to force me to face the damage caused from years of smoking
- Help from Nicorette products.
I pay close attention to the fact that “just one cigarette” usually leads to another, and then another, and so on, until the ex-smoker has taken up the habit again. In other words, no cigarette is safe for an ex-smoker – a case of, don’t do it.
Looking forward to many more years of not smoking.
Posted in health and wellbeing | Tagged ex-smoker, just one cigarette, nicorette, quit smoking, true lung age | Leave a Comment »