Conversations with my Brain

‘Here we go again,’ I think, looking across at the clock. ‘For God’s sake! Its four o’clock in the morning. Can’t you just let me go back to sleep?’

But my brain is having none of it. ‘I’ve thought of a great idea.’

I tut. ‘Shut up and leave me alone.’

‘But you’ll like it, I promise.’

‘No! I’m tired.’

‘Come on, you’ll love me for it in the morning.’

‘No, I won’t!’

‘OK, suit yourself, but you’ll be cursing when you wake up and you’ve totally forgotten that brilliant idea I gave you, and all because you couldn’t be bothered writing it down. You’ll be sitting at that machine again, getting frustrated because it all sounds rubbish. And here I am, giving it away for free.’

‘Alright!’ I snap. ‘But make it quick. You know I find it hard to get back to sleep again once I’m fully awake.’

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It’s at this point that I decide my brain must be male. What woman would put me through this night after night? I picture him bouncing around with anticipation.

‘OK,’ he says, his voice full of enthusiasm now. ‘It’s about that bit you were struggling with?’

‘Oh yeah,’ I say, warming to him.

‘Yeah. I’ve thought of a brilliant way you can get round it.’

I try to shake off my sleepiness. I’d love to just turn over and go back to sleep right now but I know I daren’t miss this opportunity. I flick the bedside lamp on, the light stinging my tired eyes. Then I turn the light down low and reach for my notepad.

‘Come on then, but just this once and then I’m done. What have you got?’

‘OK, here goes. You should go back in time in the next chapter and keep the readers waiting for the denouement. There’s a bit you left unexplained anyway so it will keep them interested while they’re flicking through the pages like they’re swatting a fly.’ I can feel the excitement oozing out of him as he adds, ‘Ooh, they’ll be so eager to get to the next chapter.’

I must admit, I’m quite impressed with the idea and I quickly jot it down in my little notepad in the semi-darkness, hoping it will be legible in the morning. It’s not long before I fill in two pages then I switch the lamp back off and try to relax.

But the brain is fully awake now and it’s not long before he disturbs me again. ‘Eh, I’ve thought of something else.’

‘Don’t push your luck! I only agreed to the one idea.’

‘But I’ve thought of a great cliff-hanger. Chapter 41, the one you’ve just written, it ended a bit drearily, didn’t it?’

‘It wasn’t that bad.’

‘Oh, it was! And it wasn’t half as good as chapter 40. But I know a way you can spice it up.’

I try to ignore him and carry on with my quest to get back to sleep. ‘You’ll thank me for it in the morning,’ he whispers, tapping at my skull.

‘You’re such a pain in the arse!’

‘Yeah, but you love me for it, don’t you?’

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I can’t resist a smile as I switch the lamp back on and scribble down some more notes. Again, I’m impressed. My conscious mind would never have thought of that. This time I switch the light off quickly, turn over and wrap the duvet around my head, in a vague attempt to drown out the constant interruptions. But it’s no use; he’s soon making his presence felt.

‘Psst. Me again. Have you thought about what you’re going to put in the chapter after next?’

‘No, I’ll deal with it in the morning.’

‘You sure?’ he asks, sounding hurt. ‘Only…’

‘Stop it! You’re giving me bloody writer’s cramp.’

‘I’m worth it though. Go on. Write it down. You know you want to… Please… Pretty please.’

I swipe the duvet viciously away, feeling myself weakening into submission again. ‘For God’s sake! Why do you always get your own bloody way?’

‘Because you love me.’

‘You wish! And stop being so bloody cute!’ I say resignedly as I switch on the lamp for the third time.

The thought occurs to me that if there are shift workers living across the way, then they probably think I’m practising Morse code. This bloody lamp has been on and off so many times, and it was the same last night. What I wouldn’t give for a decent night’s sleep! But I know that will be impossible until I’ve cracked it with this novel.

After the fourth interruption, I finally settle down to sleep. But I wake up in the morning feeling groggy with the after-effects of a restless night. I switch on the lamp one more time and swing my legs out of bed.

Then I notice it. The pad on the bedside cabinet. I pick it up and quickly flick through. Five pages full of notes, both sides. Wow! I’m ecstatic.

‘Y’know brain, you’re not so bad after all,’ I admit, grudgingly.

‘It’s only because I care. I did it all for you.’

I smile. ‘I know. I suppose it was worth it.’

Then I rush downstairs, determined to overcome my grogginess and get this lot down on the PC while I’m still buzzing.

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Useful Books for Authors

Taking a look at my recent blog posts, I have noticed that most of them relate to my own books. It’s been such a busy time that I’ve neglected to produce the type of blog posts that I used to write. I therefore decided to write a post that other authors and aspiring authors will hopefully find useful. However, if you would like to receive an update regarding my books, you are welcome to subscribe to my mailing list at:  http://eepurl.com/CP6YP and I will send you a copy of my latest newsletter giving details of all my forthcoming new releases in digital and print as well as a price reduction on one of my existing books.

I’ve mentioned the Writers Bureau a few times previously, and I would certainly recommend their course to anybody thinking about writing as a career or as a way to earn extra income. But what if you want to become a writer without committing to a lengthy writing course? That’s when books aimed at writers can be useful. As well as studying with the Writers Bureau I have read several books for writers, which I still refer to either as ongoing reference books or to brush up on techniques. Here are a few I have found useful:

How to Write your First Novel by Sophie King

Sophie King has produced an excellent book here and, although it’s aimed at someone writing their first novel, it’s a good guide for any author. I re-read it to recap on a lot of the techniques I learnt on my writing course. Some of the topics it covers include: finding ideas, voice, plotting, creating characters, viewpoint dialogue, setting, show don’t tell etc. etc.

Writing a Novel and Getting Published by Nigel Watts

This is another good guide covering many of the topics in the previous book. However, the writing style is not as straightforward as that in the Sophie King book. I also found that not all of the chapters appealed to me, especially the one about the Eight-Point Arc as I find this type of novel writing too formulaic. It includes a useful chapter on marketing at the end of the book.

Creating Suspense in Fiction by John Paxton Sheriff

This is a really useful book, which takes you through the various ways in which you can create suspense in your novel including creating atmosphere, building suspense through the prologue and first chapter, foreshadowing, hooks, cliff-hangers, time-limits and much more. I’ve actually begun reading this for a second time, hence the bookmark. When you are immersed in a novel, it can be easy to forget about creating suspense so it’s always useful to have a recap.

Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran

I read a Kindle version of this book at the start of my independent publishing journey and found it invaluable. It is relatively straightforward to publish online these days and this book provides a starting point to get your book out there. The author has also followed it up with two further books about how to market your book once you have published. It was through reading one of David Gaughran’s books that I learnt how to run a successful promotion on Amazon which, in turn, led to me being spotting by my publisher.

Roget’s Thesaurus (or any good thesaurus)

I remember being told by my English lit teacher back in my sixth form days that Roget’s Thesaurus was the best thesaurus available and a must for anyone studying A level English lit. I therefore invested in a copy and have had one ever since.

This thesaurus should be read in a particular way i.e. by looking up the word in the back and then following the numbered alternative, which best matches the word. For example, ‘enchanted’ is listed with four alternatives, all of which are adjectives: pleased, enamoured, bewitched and magical. If you are using the word to mean enamoured, for example, then you will find number 887 next to the word ‘enamoured’. In the front part of the book you would then go to the number 887 rather than page 887. There you will find a huge list of words that relate to the word ‘enamoured’.

I don’t use Roget’s all the time as I often want just a quick fix alternative word which I can find by either using MS Word or my other thesaurus by Collins. However, there are times when only Roget’s will do and it will often throw up ideas that you haven’t even considered. For anyone who loves words and their use and meanings, I would strongly recommend a copy of Roget’s Thesaurus.

Fowler’s Modern English Usage

I often use Fowler’s when I’m writing and want to check my grammar. It’s an excellent quick reference guide to grammar and invaluable to any writer.

I am sure that there are many more useful books on the market for aspiring or existing novelists but the above are just a few that I have personally found helpful.

 

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Organising a Book’s Timeline

As I’m coming to the end of writing my eighth book I’m reminded again of the author task that I find the most difficult of all – the dreaded timeline. It seems that no matter how many books I write, I still haven’t mastered an easy way to deal with the timeline issue.

So, what does it involve?

Each time I write a book I draw up a timeline relating to each chapter and scene in the book. It’s important to have a timeline so that you can ensure that everything fits in sequentially. This can avoid situations where, for example, someone gives birth to a full term baby when they have only been pregnant for five months. There are many other howlers that can occur because of the lack of a timeline but I won’t list them all here.

Why is it so difficult?

My problem is that I always produce my timeline at the end of writing a book. This is because I don’t want anything to spoil the continuity while I am writing. I therefore have to do a search of all mentions to weeks, days, months, seasons etc. Other things to watch out for are the clothes that someone is wearing, whether it’s sunny etc. as this can be indicative of the season. I then add the timeline to my list of chapters from the book, indicating if a particular scene came before or after another and, if so, what the time span was between each.

I know this is a long-winded way of doing things and it also means I often have to switch things around to make sure I’m not contradicting myself. Fortunately, I didn’t have to make too many changes in this latest book but I have had previous books where I’ve had to make a lot of changes to make sure everything fits in sequentially.

What’s the solution?

The answer I think is to keep a note of the timeline from the outset so that I can make any necessary changes as I go along. I keep a document, which I call a ‘Sequence of Events’ for each novel anyway. It’s basically just a list of chapters and scenes, which gives a brief description of what happens in each so that I can easily recap each time I return to my work and take a quick overview of how the plot is progressing. I also review my previous days’ work every time I return to my desk. I therefore think it wouldn’t be too much trouble to add an extra column for the date/time in my Sequence of Events and fill it in each time I review my work.

If anybody has any other ideas of how to approach the timeline issue I would love to hear them. Please feel free to post your comments below.

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The Writers Bureau

I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for some time to acknowledge the part that the Writers Bureau has played in my writing career as this is where I started out. I would therefore like to begin this post by saying a massive thank you to The Writers Bureau for all the invaluable skills that I learnt during the diploma course.

I studied with them between 1999 and 2002, and the skills and knowledge that I gained have been invaluable ever since. There are many people who say that writing is a skill that cannot be taught but I strongly disagree. During my studies I learnt writing techniques that have stood me in good stead not only as an author but also in my previous career as a copywriter.

In terms of fiction writing I learnt many writing rules and techniques including: viewpoint, creating atmosphere, building suspense, creating realistic characters, show don’t tell, writing good dialogue, outlines, pace, conflict etc. etc. There are many others but it was a long time ago and I can’t recall all of them offhand. I am sure they have stayed in my subconscious though so that I automatically utilise what I learnt on the course.

The Writers Bureau also suggests reading a wide range of well-written novels because it helps to improve your writing style. By doing so, you can see the approach that other authors take, and how they utilise their writing skills.

But the Writers Bureau diploma is much more than a creative writing course. It’s very comprehensive and also covers article writing, non-fiction books, biographies, writing for trade magazines, and journalism. On the fiction side of things, as well as novels, there are short stories, writing for radio, writing for the theatre and writing for TV.

What I loved about the course was that the tutors encourage you to submit your work to publications so that you can earn income from your writing while you are studying. In fact, the Writers Bureau guarantees that if you don’t earn the cost of the course back by the end of it, they will refund your fees.

The flip side of this is that I did become inundated with work at various points of the course. This is because, if you have an article accepted by a magazine, for example, then it makes good sense to follow it up with another article while your name is still fresh in the editor’s mind. That means that as well as studying for the Writers Bureau diploma you can also find yourself busy writing various magazine articles at the same time.

It can also become a little frustrating as the course introduces you to so many types of writing that you often only write the opening chapters and a synopsis before you have to push on with the next course module. Having said that, there is no time limit for finishing your diploma (from what I remember) and it means you have the makings of a large body of work, which you can return to in the future.

The Writers Bureau diploma is completed on a home study basis so students can study at their own pace. Each student is allocated a personal tutor who gives feedback on their work and makes suggestions regarding ways in which it can be improved. I found this personal touch very helpful.

It was while I was studying for my diploma with the Writers Bureau that I wrote the first three chapters of a book called Nightclubbing’, a chic lit novel about two twenty somethings with a colourful social life. That was a long time ago. At the time I sent it to various agents and publishers as suggested by the course tutors but wasn’t successful.

However, I did have some success with magazine articles so I put the novel to one side and pursued the magazine route for some time. Eventually, I stopped writing magazine articles and transitioned into a copywriter and proof-reader, setting up a writing services business. The diploma gave me the confidence to do that and to pursue opportunities for paid work.

I enjoyed my time as a copywriter and proof-reader but I discovered on the writing course that my forte and preference lay in writing novels and I always intended to return to that one day. As well as wanting to finish the novel, I wanted to finish a non-fiction book that I had also started during the course. Eventually I did so and, although I didn’t have much success on the non-fiction side of things, my first novel was well received.

By this time I had left the novel for several years and when I returned to it I changed it completely. What had started out as a chic lit novel entitled, Nightclubbing, became my first gritty crime novel entitled, Slur. I’ve since realised that gritty crime is definitely my genre of choice although I’d like to write at least one thriller in the future too.

Although I originally self-published Slur and the two follow up novels, A Gangster’s Grip and Danger by Association, I was lucky enough to be spotted by a publisher, Aria Fiction. The three books became The Riverhill Trilogy, which has been republished with Aria Fiction.

I have since written a further trilogy, The Manchester Trilogy, also available through Aria, and have just signed a contract with them for another three books. The first two books in The Manchester Trilogy, Born Bad and Blood Ties, have both become Amazon category bestsellers and reached the top 100 overall of Amazon UK eBooks with one of them reaching the top 50.

I am sure that without the Writers Bureau I would never have had the confidence to self-publish my first novel. They taught me many valuable skills, which I put to good use every time I write. I am now lucky to be earning a living doing something I love, and it all started when I studied for my writing diploma with The Writers’ Bureau.

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Writing though the Chaos

Friday 3rd November is a date that will probably stay in my mind for a long time. It was the completion date for my house move. I wish I could say that I am now happily settling into my new home. But no…

The party at the bottom end of the chain pulled the plug on the whole thing three days before we were due to complete. It turns out that they were nowhere near ready to move, but that information didn’t filter through to me until three days before the proposed completion.

So here I am, two weeks on, living out of boxes, sleeping on a mattress on the bedroom floor and still waiting to hear whether I might be moving in the near future.

It’s so frustrating!

For almost three weeks I have been in a state of limbo. I left out just enough things to keep me going until the move and, as we have passed Friday 3rd November, I have had to buy things which I already have in storage somewhere. I’m also constantly tripping over things that have been left out for the move, and I have the bruises to show for it.

To complicate matters I have things stored at three different houses as well as a mountain of boxes at home. And to complicate matters more, even if I know where something is in my home, I still can’t get to it.

The problem is that the boxes are heavy and due to a health problem I am not allowed to lift heavy weights. I find myself staring longingly at a plastic box and wishing I could lift the boxes on top of it so that I can get to the contents. It’s so tempting and I confess that I have been naughty once or twice. I’m just not patient enough to wait until someone is around who can help me.

Against this chaotic background I am still trying to write. I had a whole week without writing when I thought I was moving and had to pack up quickly. This was also very frustrating. I take my writing seriously and hate anything getting in the way of it unless it’s a holiday, and I’ll definitely need one of them soon.

The other thing about writing is that it can provide an escape from stressful situations. So, a stressful situation that keeps me away from my writing is a double blow.

Currently I’m still waiting to hear whether contracts might be exchanged on Monday. I’ve found it difficult to concentrate on work today as I know that once I receive confirmation of exchange of contracts it will be all systems go.

If contracts are exchanged on Monday then hopefully we will make the new proposed completion date of Friday 24th November. It would have been nice to have known before the weekend but I’ve come to appreciate that things are never straightforward when it comes to moving house.

So, I won’t count on it until it actually happens. Here’s hoping…

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The Best Writing Advice Ever

There is one piece of writing advice that I have come across many times. The first time was during my writing course and I have since read a lot of blog posts and Internet articles giving that same advice, which is to ‘Show Don’t Tell’. I have found that piece of advice invaluable although I also find sometimes that I forget to heed it. When I do forget, I can often see that it makes a big difference to the standard of my work.  So, what exactly does it mean and how do you achieve it?

I think the best way to explain is by example. A simple example is to look at the way in which young children write stories. If a young child was writing a story about a girl going to the park, he might say:

‘The girl went into the park which had some grass where boys were playing football. There were lots of trees and a playground with swings, a roundabout and a slide. The girl enjoyed herself on the playground.’

Placing the Reader at the Scene

If you wanted to show instead of telling you would in effect be placing the reader at the park. The best way to do this is to try to get inside the girl’s head. Think about what it felt like being in the park. Was it a warm day or a cold day? Were the other children friendly? Did she feel nervous about playing among them or excited at the prospect of making new friends? What could she hear? Were the birds singing in the trees, was there laughter from the other children or perhaps squeals of excitement?

A good way to get inside your character’s head is to use the five senses i.e. think about what she could see, hear, touch, feel and taste. I have written about this topic before at: Writing Using the Five Senses.

It is also good to give the girl a name so that the reader can identify with her more easily. A name in itself can help to paint a picture in the reader’s mind. For example, the name Mabel would paint a different picture than the name Karen, which would also paint a different picture than the name Jessica. For Mabel I would imagine an elderly lady, for Karen a middle-aged woman and for Jessica a young woman or girl.  Try an Internet search for popular baby names in the year in which your fictitious character was born.

Exposition

Exposition is used to give background information and it does have its use. However, if you overuse it you can find that you are telling the tale instead of showing what is happening. Many writers do this without realising it, myself included, and a good editor can be helpful in spotting the overuse of exposition.

If you want to give some background information but don’t want to use too much exposition, you could try conveying it in another way, for example, through speech. If you are going to use this technique though, it’s best to ensure that the speech still flows naturally and doesn’t sound contrived.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have found this blog post useful.

Channelling my Inner Angst

During much of the writing of my current WIP I was going through a lot of personal trauma. Last year I went through a divorce after 23 years of marriage so things were never going to be easy.

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While it would have been easier to hide away somewhere till the black cloud had passed, I had no choice but to continue writing. Firstly, I have a publishing deal to fulfil and, secondly, I had to think about my future income. At times I felt frustrated as my writing wasn’t flowing as easily as normal; I was too preoccupied with other matters and it made it really hard work.

With all this in mind I was dreading the edits, feeling that I might read through the book and think, ‘what a load of rubbish’ or words to that effect. However, I’ve now reached the editing stage and I’m glad to say that I’m pleasantly surprised. It seems that I have channelled my inner angst.

There’s no doubt that the writing of this book, more than any others, has been cathartic. It’s fortunate that I write gritty crime rather than syrupy romance as I think it would have been difficult to write anything sickly sweet given my frame of mind throughout much of the writing process.

I’m happy with the book’s content and feel that it’s my best yet although some may view it as my worst in terms of the level of brutality. As I enter a new year and the next chapter in my life it’s a relief to know that I have produced something that I’m not only proud of but that I also feel is marketable, especially as my writing now provides the bulk of my income.

So here’s to a better year ahead. This will be the year when my first book through my new publisher hits the market so I’m very excited about that. I’m also hoping to push ahead in my personal life too with just the small matter of moving home to attend to and sorting out my finances. Although I expect moving house to be a stressful process I’m viewing it as the start of a new phase in my life.

Here’s to new beginnings:

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Writer’s High

There’s a feeling that many authors are probably familiar with. I like to think of it as ‘writer’s high’ but others refer to it as having the muse. I also call it being ‘in the zone’. It’s that wonderful feeling when you enter one of those writing phases during which you’re on a roll and the ideas are spilling from you quicker than you can type them up.

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Unfortunately, it isn’t always like that. Sometimes it’s an uphill struggle, especially with a new novel, and it can take a while before you really connect with a piece of work and with the characters. You’ve got your basic premise for the novel and may have drawn up an outline but it feels a bit like painting by numbers as you try to fit each of the scenes into an overall framework. However, you’re not feeling a real spark and your writing isn’t exciting you.

Then, all of a sudden, something kicks in – one idea leads to another, scenes come alive in your imagination, characters become animated and you’re typing like the clappers, before you forget everything. You stop to make the dinner, you think of something else. You go for a walk, another scene comes to mind. You go to bed and the ideas still keep spilling out of you. By the morning you’ve got pages of handwritten notes ready to type up the following day. Your mind is alive with the thrill of it and you can’t wait to commit it all to the PC before you lose the feeling. Does that sound familiar?

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It can take over your life – a bit like a drug and, although it’s a good feeling, it can get in the way of so much. When I’m ‘In the Zone’ ideas usually come to me when I’m trying to relax so it can be while I’m trying to sleep, when I’m out for a walk or even when I’m taking a shower. I find it useful to have a notepad by my bedside and another in my handbag so that I can jot down ideas whenever they come to mind. When I’m ‘in the zone’ I find it difficult to concentrate on a film as my mind wanders. That’s the reason I watch a lot of trash TV; because I don’t need to concentrate too much. (That’s my excuse anyway.)

With my current WIP it was an uphill struggle for part of it but mostly because I was going through emotional upheaval in my personal life. However, I’m now in a much better place and back ‘in the zone’. This novel has two timelines running through it and, in order to write the later timeline, I had to recap on a lot of what had happened in the previous timeline. I was relieved to find that it read quite well. Perhaps my personal struggles helped me in dealing with much of the conflict in the book.

I’m almost ready to give the novel a good edit and hope to send it off to my publisher in a few weeks’ time. It’s been a challenge as it’s the most I’ve ever written for a novel, in accordance with my publisher’s guidelines. But this story has a lot of depth to it so I was confident of reaching the word count without any unnecessary padding. I’ll be keeping you updated as I progress further with the novel.

 

Using Images to Create Atmosphere

During the writing of my current book and the previous one, Danger by Association, I have found a technique that is useful in creating the atmosphere for a particular scene in a novel. I therefore thought I would share it. Here’s an example of how it works in practice:

If you are writing about an abandoned building, for example, type ‘abandoned building’ in Google images and you should be able to view a good selection on your screen. Next, select an image that you feel captures the scene you want to create. If one image alone doesn’t work for you, perhaps you could try combining two different images. Take a note of what you can see e.g. mouldy bricks, peeling wallpaper etc.

While looking at the image, and thinking about the atmosphere, don’t forget to use the five senses. So rather than just describing what you can see think about how the building would feel. Is it cold inside? Can you hear the wind rustling through the eves? What does it smell of – damp? mustiness?

Once you have typed up your notes you will have a good idea of the atmosphere you want to create. Next, put your character at the scene. How does he or she feel about the abandoned building? Why are they there? Have they gone to meet someone? Are they frightened? Are they distressed? Use powerful verbs to describe your character’s actions as they enter the building.

Here’s an example of part of a scene I created in Danger by Association using this technique:

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A few more seconds and they were all inside. Rita scanned the room as her eyes adjusted to the gloom. Their makeshift entrance led into a classroom. The place had an eerie feel to it and Rita shuddered.

There were no longer any desks or chairs, but in the half-light she could see cupboards lining one of the walls. The doors of one cupboard were hanging off, its contents spilling out onto the dusty classroom floor. She was surprised the cupboards still contained old books and papers; this seemed to emphasise the state of abandon.

They crept through the classroom and into a long corridor. Here a strong smell of urine assailed them. The ceiling was high with small skylights. This meant that there was more light here than in the classroom, but in the gloom of night it cast strange shadows on the walls, which unnerved Rita.

In the distance she could hear weird noises; a tapping, and a faint gushing sound, perhaps from running water. She also thought she heard the murmur of voices but it was difficult to tell.

Hopefully by following this technique you will write scenes that capture the atmosphere you are aiming for.

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Playing with Words

As a writer I love playing with words and I love words themselves. I know – weird aren’t I? Some words I love more than others. With certain words it’s because they have a lovely sound to them. With others it’s because they suit their meaning so well that no other word would quite suffice. There are many words that are so powerful and descriptive that they can transform a whole paragraph. In fact, ‘transform’ is one of the words on my list. Here are some of my favourite words:

Words 1

–         Expertise – It’s like experience, knowledge and skills all rolled into one.

–         Transform – it’s more powerful than ‘change’, don’t you think?

–         Incongruous – I love this one, it’s says exactly what it means.

–         Onomatopoeia – This relates to the use of a word that sounds like its meaning. What I love about ‘onomatopoeia’ is the sound of the word, the use of four vowels together and the fact that very few people can spell it. I can’t think of any other word that uses four vowels together – no doubt someone will put me straight on that point. I believe it stems from either Latin or Greek so there could be other four-vowel words that have been adopted by the English language.

–         Detract – I feel that no one word captures the meaning of this word in the same way. Although you’ll find alternatives such as ‘lessen’, Words 2‘diminish’ etc. in a Thesaurus, ‘detract’ means more than that. For me ‘detract’ makes me think of moving away from something or taking away from something, especially when used as ‘detract from’.

–         Encapsulate – I just love the sound of it. Again, no other single word does it justice. ‘Summarise’ is used as a synonym, but ‘encapsulate’ is more than that; it’s the act of taking all the components and bringing them neatly together as though in a capsule.

–         Retrospect – To me this word means more than just ‘reflection’, it’s looking back but also learning from past mistakes. Again, no other word conjures up the precise meaning.

–         Basically – It’s an excellent opener for a sentence and leaves the reader full of expectation of what’s coming next. It can open up an explanation, a conclusion or a summary. ‘Basically’, it’s a really useful word, but unfortunately I realise that I do tend to overuse it.

–         Divisive – Another powerful word, which was overused on the death of Margaret Thatcher – it was definitely the media word of the week. Now, whenever I hear that word my brain automatically connects it with Margaret Thatcher.

–         Replicate – Sounds more sophisticated than duplicate or copy.

Words 3

–         Proclivities – Means tendencies or inclinations but it’s often used in a negative way so it’s usually the word of choice if someone has perverse sexual tendencies. This word always makes me smile because of my mucky mind. It reminds me of Les Dawson (one of my all time favourite comedians) who said that some words are just funny because of all the connotations associated with that particular word.

Do you have any favourite words? What are your favourites and why? I bet you can think of some that I love but I’ve forgotten about – alas, the middle-aged memory isn’t what it used to be!

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