Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First Hand Experiences

I don't know where I learned to fall but I am pretty good at it.

I mean the way I turned yesterday's, tripping over a bit of rubbish in the garden, into a roll rather than thumping down and lying there. I have to believe that my right side, first point of contact, hurts less because I rolled.

But what I was getting to, I experienced that real 'the air was knocked out of her' feeling. For a couple of micro seconds I was literally gasping for air.

Afterwards I thought, so that's what we mean when we (glibly) write that? I say 'glibly' because we often write things without having experienced them, and so don't really know what they feel like.

Mind you, before I became a writer, I may not have had the words with which to describe experiences and so couldn't save them to use them at a later date anyway. Because that's the worst about us writers. Everything becomes grist to the mill.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away

This December and January I am sitting inside as much as if I lived in the northern hemisphere, where winter is keeping people indoors. Here it's rain.

Grass is dying, from having stood in water for weeks already. And this is without the flooding the weather bureau is forecasting. Yesterday Toowoomba in Queensland. Today, according to news bulletins, Mullumbimby in Northern NSW.

Except that the rain has held off, so far today. Okay, we might have had one or two little showers. But it's the real, 25mm-an-hour rain, falling steadily and without hold-up for hours that I'm talking about. And it's windy now. Some old timers would say, too windy for more rain.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed. If we have real rain, we will flood. The ground is sodden. In December we had 583 mm; in the last ten days we've already clocked up 206.5 mm. Am I impressed by these numbers?

Only so far as they tell me the story of our rain this summer. Stories can be in whatever can be read and interpreted. In fact, reading numbers, or facts, or clouds, or observations of nature in my backyard all become that much more interesting when string them together and I make them into stories.

It's what we all do with the bits and pieces we come across. The data, dust, factoids, facts, observations, words, lies, truths. As always the study is how we tack everything together. How we make the story. I haven't started to put things up yet. When it starts I'll be too worried to do anything else.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Plotting my Crow Saga

Came up with the full story, I thought, this morning. Wrote it out summary style and was pretty happy about it. A series aiming for a 10-12 year old readership.

Then I read Dave Freer on plotting over on the Mad Genius Club. (This was a link to a great website, gone now) He talked about the hard questions to ask. Who hurts and why? Who is afraid and why? How do characters do anything about their fears and hurts. (I've paraphrased to help me think about them.)

I knew that while I hadn't forgotten conflict and drama, the way I talked about them in my summary -- conflict and drama -- straightaway made them more distant than Dave's expression of them. And I saw that that more personal way of talking about them, would help me express them better from the point of view of the characters undergoing them.

I'd get right into the characters' skins in the summary. The place to be right from the beginning. So it's back to the quill for me, plotting.