Writing Resources and NaNo Prep: Creating a Story Bible

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With NaNoWriMo a little under two weeks away, now is usually about the time I start thinking about which story I’m going to have a bash at telling. I’m kind of a mix between a planner and a panster, to be honest. I always like to start out with a plan (however basic and vague it might be), though plots and characters often end up changing dramatically as I write. But as I get started with my own prep, today I thought I’d share with you a template for my version of a ‘story bible’. Continue reading

The Woodland

A Ceepy Forest by tsonline, click-through for full size!

A Ceepy Forest by tsonline, click-through for full size!

There’s something about the mist that swirls at your feet. It slows you down, makes you feel heavier than you should. The torch in your hand sends a bright beam out ahead of you, but it’s a narrow field of view. With every creek and crack of movement it shakes and stutters, flashing from one line of trees to the next.

But it isn’t the dark or the noise that’s making your stomach twist.

It’s the smell.

There is no breeze, no wind to offer relief from the dank, lingering stench. It’s tangy and old and rotting, like vinegar left out too long in the heat. Putting a sleeve over your face makes little difference – it’s sunk into your clothes and hair and skin.

You try to ignore the muffled groaning at first. Focusing ahead and pushing through the grey, you pretend it’s all in your head. But the light drifts up of its own accord, as though your hand has made a decision of its own. And now you have to look.

It’s not a face you recognise. The tree has taken whoever it was. Sunk its branches into the skin and creeped along until there’s barely any flesh at all. Thank god for the night, the dim and the shadows that save you from seeing the extent of the infection. You stare and try to make out the words cracked lips are trying to form, but you feel as though you could remain there forever and never understand.

It’s the tear streaked, blinking eyes that finally breach the confusion. You follow their gaze, tilting your head to look down, but it’s already far too late. The roots that have circled gently around your ankles are already half way up your calf.

You don’t remember coming here, and you find your fingers shake as you switch off the torch. You drop it to the ground, can hardly make it out as it rolls away. There are thin vines at your waist now.

You don’t struggle.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Bit of an experiment with the dreaded second person present tense there, but since the Weekly Photo challenge over at the Daily Post is Creepy, I figured it was appropriate. Make sure you check out the artists work! :)

Self-Editing Tricks to Tuck up Your Sleeve

Whether you’re writing a short story, blog post, poem or working on a novel, at some point you’re going to have to look back over your own words. This comes at different stages in the process for many of us, but we all have to do it eventually. And its a buggering nightmare, most of the time. Mainly because deep down you know you’re never going to catch it all. There’ll be the odd spelling error, a mistyped phrase, an unnecessary adverb or heaven forbid – a misused semi colon.

To be honest, I’ve been caught out so many times now I tend to laugh it off. Discovering all these things and more days or even weeks after some of my work has gone live is always rather  embarrassing. Fortunately, I’ve only ever found myself in the most gentile company of fellow readers and writers, and most of them are very forgiving about obvious mistakes.

But when it comes to my more serious ventures – the ones I intend to make money from, I do everything I can to make sure the text is as polished as possible. And while line and copy editors are a service I think all writers should take advantage of, it never hurts to do as much as you can before handing it off. So here are a few tips and tricks I use to help me weed out even the most easily overlooked mistakes in my prose. Continue reading

Hidden Below

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In response to the Weekly Photo Challenge over on the Daily Post, here’s a piece by photographer Andrew Brooks.

It’s a part of his ‘Hidden Cities’ collection, and was taken during an exploration of Manchester.

I have a lot of his worked saved and hidden away, because it has often served to inspire and save me from more than one bought of writer’s block.

The reason I love this particular picture so much is because I found it when trying to research locations for Underground, back when it was still a short that took place almost entirely inside a series of abandoned tunnels.

Whenever I’m having trouble writing that story, taking a look at Brooks’ work often helps me get back on track.

Be sure to click-through for the full-sized image and check out the rest of his site too!

Camp NaNo: Victory Lap

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Please excuse me while I collapse into a pitiful heap, surrounded by empty wine bottles and snapped pencils, scattered between piles of paperbacks and notebooks. I’m here! I did it!

I think I became some weird form of literary zombie during the month though… But don’t worry, I probably won’t try to eat your brains*.

And you’ll have to forgive me for being so utterly, unabashedly pleased with myself. I’ve been dipping in and out of the NaNoWriMo scene since I was at uni over a decade ago, and I’ve never once managed to cross the finish line.

Until today!

Continue reading

Swamp Night Delight

Swamp Fever by Andree Wallin

Swamp Fever by Andree Wallin

There was a shotgun in my left hand. I remember the weight of it keenly. I knew how to use it.

Which was odd, since I’ve never laid eyes on a gun before.

It may have been dusk, though the trees curling above made it impossible to really tell. There was a green tinged mist in the air, a smell of moss and sodden dirt on the breeze. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked around and seen something so unfamiliar. Continue reading

Camp Nano: Mid-month Madness

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The storyverse my novel takes place in started out as a world building exercise last year. I wanted to create an interesting system with a few habitable planets, an asteroid belt with a couple of space stations and a big old ship that housed the entire government, which traveled from one orbit to another. Continue reading