15 October 2013

Cook a Book

Been a while (sorry), but I've had stubborm characters to deal with.

Today's recipe is how to cook a book - That's right: COOK A BOOK!

For those of you that love the kitchen as much as I do, this will be easy to undersatnd. And for the rest,well perhaps I can invite a smile.

Much the same as there are generally two types of writer, so too are there two types of cooks. Actually there is a whole lot more, but let's stick to two for the sake of simplicity. In various forums and with people I meet, I am always asked to categorise my writing style: outline or wing?
That got me thinking, and after continuous spells of writing, I have a fair idea. I do both.
Being fortunate that story ideas land on the doorstep of my mind like the morning paper, so too do recipes. But it is not as 'cast in stone' as that, at least not for me anyway.

Let's go shopping!

At the supermarket you can see outine or wing-it people from a mile away. The outline shopper is structured and meticulous. Ingredients required are scribbled on a piece of paper or appear as a page on their iPad. But they follow it to a tee. Marching in, they would look at their watch and start a mental timer. Eye's don't browse, they scan; and wing-it shoppers always get in their way. Items are selected, placed in the hand basket, and then they're off to the checkout.
The wingers are different. Time would be taken to mull over the thoughts and ideas while their children polish the tiled floors of the store by sliding around. A pose resmbling someone at an art gallery is taken while they browse the shelves. Picking up an item and putting it back again would frustrate some, but to them it is the same as paging through a magazine. Look, read, page back, and then decide. With the basket full of an array of products, they suddenly realise how much time has passed and head for the exit. Oh, yes, they also usually spend a few minutes looking for the floor polishers they walked in with.

Even though I previously mentioned that there were generally two categories of writers (or cooks), I like to think that most fall into a third category: a mixture of both.
I too have have trailing little ones that are dead-set on seeing how well the floors are polished; however, they inspire my cooking as much as they contribute to my writing. Writing romance involves people, and people either have kids of their own or know someone with children. Why refer to the little people? Each child is totally different, has differnet tastes, and most definitely a unique personality. So when planning a chapter or a meal, I involve them. And even though the eventual choice usually ends in a game of rock-paper-scissors, the outcome pleases all.

So how does this relate to telling a story? The fact is, a story has a main ingredient (the plot), the final taste (the heart-moving ending), and then the preparation which is the body of the story. My cooking is the same. Whether their choice be fish, chicken, steak, or even plain old beans on toast; the outcome has to be spot on to get the best reviews. And believe me, these little mouths are tough to please!

Now in writing, I use the same approach. Ideas turn into mental groceries, outcome is an ultimate goal, but the preparation is the most rewarding. Characters are introduced, clothed, personalised, and very often end up in a similar game of rock-paper-scissors to see what would suit them best. They grow, aromatise, share a glass of wine; but they are the spice that determines whether the end product is seven-course or a simple burger and chips. So plan your outline, but wing your characters - works for me.

Writing is a business, yes. But who says it can't be fun at the same time?

Add a comment? Go for it!

24 August 2013

What is a Love Story?

According to the dictionary, it is a story where the central interest is a love relationship.
Fair enough.
Right, so before you all go "Duh?" - let's carry on.

For now, let us break it into two words: LOVE and STORY.

Now a story could take on any form we want. It could be something told to children to put them to sleep, hopefully with fuzzy comfortable smiles on their faces; or a horrific picture we paint to teach them a lesson. I know I am using the precious little ones as an example, but then who is most susceptible?
So basically the word "story" could be whatever we want it to be. It may be fact or fiction, happy or sad, caring or brutal. The only boundaries to it's plot are the limits of our imagination.
Good.

Enter the four-letter word: LOVE.
That changes everything! The definition of the word also takes on different aspects, but no matter which, it boils down to the same thing: a deep feeling or desire. There is a love of chocolate, love for a specific sport or a favourite pet. And then there is the love for another peson.
Images of fireworks and dancing in the rain come to mind. But what happens once the sparks are put out, when we are left with the choice of what to do next? Yes, after all that has happened, we are faced with a decision.

Katharine Hepburn, in her book, said that "Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get - only what you are expecting to give - which is everything."

So we get back to the question: What is a love story?
If we take the equation (love + story = love story), then we can all come to our own conclusion.
Is a love story a tale of two people that meet on a Friday, denounce all previous ties on Saturday, and end up in bed on the Sunday? As popular as this viewpoint may seem, and as much as we may be able to sell it as truth, is it really what we accept? It all sounds tragic.

I, personally, choose to tell my kids a different story.

Now for the interesting part....
I invite you to give an opinion of what a love story is TO YOU.


21 May 2013

It is done!

This is it!


After months of drowning in a sea of information, the day has finally dawned. The itch has been scratched. Yes guys, the time has come to start applying the final polish and putting the picture up for all to see.

What started as a life-long dream has turned into a reality. I have finished it, finally. Yes, my story is ready to be shared. For all of you that supported and lied (sorry, but the first drafts you raved about were really mediocre), I appreciate it. As for the rest that laughed at the thought of me writing, thank you so much more. You did, in fact, spur me on the most!

After being able to actually nail myself to the chair and write, the daunting task of finding out where and how to publish was quite easy. Far less stresful than putting the words down on screen. For any body wondering how they can format their work to be accepted by most publishers, there are guidelines available. Do you have a manuscript locked away in the closet of your mind, all I can say is: Spring Clean, Take it out, dust it off, there are people out there that want to read it.

I will keep this blog updated as the whole process unfolds - how often, I don't know at this stage in time. If there are any new authors with WIP's, or that have recently published, feel free to share the experience. And for those that are contemplating doing it, there are so many forums on the net to motivate you.

Speak soon!