My poems are now available to pre-order in their respective anthologies from The Student Wordsmith and Good Newz–follow links here. [UPDATE: Sorry the link doesn’t seem to be working. I’m still trying to figure out why that is. In the meantime I’ve posted the info on my Welcome page.]
End sales pitch.
I’ve had an interesting month. I did a few posts titled “Things I Learned in [insert month here]” when I first started this blog, but haven’t done any for a while. But for this post I’m doing something … else.
Some Things I Learned:
- My animal is a beaver, according to one of those “What animal are you” quizzes. The night after I did the quiz, I had a dream about a beaver called Bobby who kept singing Madonna’s “Open Your Heart”. Feel free to analyse.
- If you stick a tube in a tree and collect the water, you can boil it down to make syrup. (Not all trees.) I only know this because I was looking at a wilderness survival website for researching a fan fiction (which is like a kind of cross between Lost, The Hunger Games, and I’m a Celebrity).
- I can, apparently, hold my breath for longer than average, since I beat my St Peter’s buddies on our Butlins weekend. This came as a real surprise since I always thought my lungs were rubbish and expected to lose. Okay, I used to play the oboe, but only for a couple of years, about eight years ago …
- This one’s for the Whovians: there is no ‘C’ in the Gallifreyan alphabet. At least in the one designed by Lorna Sherman, which is awesome and I’ve been inputting tonnes of character names into the translator.
Some Really Dumb Things I’ve Done (I learned from these too):
I wanted to go to Charing Cross. I usually use the ticket machines rather than real people, since the queues usually move faster and I don’t have to worry about being misheard (I don’t have a particularly loud voice).
For some reason I couldn’t fathom, my only options seemed to be “Charing Cross Underground (Sorry no fares available”, or “Charing Cross Glasgow”. Instead of going to the ticket office like a normal person, I panicked and bought a ticket to London Bridge instead.
This meant that upon arriving at said station, I had to walk all the way to the barriers, go out with the ticket and touch in with my Oyster, and go back to the same platform I’d just arrived at to get the next train. And, subsequently, the same on the way home.
And it’s not till I was just typing this up that I twigged: I should have been searching for “LONDON Charing Cross”.
Do you want to know the most ridiculous part? I wasn’t even running late. In fact I arrived an hour and a half early. Why I panicked I have no idea. I apparently have a pathological need to get to places early. It’s more of a nuisance than it sounds
Here’s another example of how my brain (sometimes) works. Yesterday I got it into my head that it was a bank holiday. (My calendar doesn’t have holidays marked, and I don’t use a diary, so they usually creep up on me.) For some reason, I thought it must be May Day.
And it’s not like I didn’t know it was actually March. It wasn’t until twenty-seven hours later, and I was pondering when spring starts, that I twigged.
So, there’s some insight into this author’s head for you. I hope you don’t find it too frightening.
PS: I don’t like starting each new post with an apology for not posting in a while, so I’m not going to do it anymore.
Mystery sentence. First reader to translate it gets a minor character named after them in aforementioned fan fiction.
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Apologies for the long gap in posting. Hope everyone had a good Christmas and didn’t get indigestion. I hope all those in my area have their power back on now, and didn’t get flooded–weather’s been awful.
A Who-ish Season
I got a book called Doctor Who: The History of the Universe in 100 Objects for Christmas (along with two Doctor Who calendars–my parents know me!). I’ve only flicked through it so far, but I have mixed feelings about these kinds of books. As far as I can predict without reading it cover to cover, anything related to the new show I’ll already know, and anything to do with the classic series will probably spoil me majorly for when I watch the episodes in question. Which I plan to once I own the complete box set that was being advertised at the Anniversary Celebrations at London ExCel (no price or release date I noticed, but it’s obviously being planned, and about time too).
I don’t think I wrote anything about the Anniversary Celebrations for my blog, which I will rectify probably in the next post. For the moment, my two cents on the last two episodes. I went to the cinema to see the Anniversary episode, and enjoyed it more than I thought I would actually. Ten(nant) was my Doctor and I never quite got into the new style of writing either since the show changed hands (that’s not to say Moffat hasn’t done some great things, but I find it more confusing and less continuous). I was afraid the ep would be too ambitious and all energy would be put into understanding it rather than enjoying it, but I think it worked in the end. And whilst during the first watch I was dreading the end (what were they going to do with Gallifrey??) I was relieved by the actual finish. I was disappointed that Billie Piper wasn’t actually there to play Rose, and I did spot a few small plot-holes that I now can’t remember, but overall I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.
I don’t think I’ve had long enough to really build an opinion of the Christmas ep. Maybe I should do a reflective paragraph on it another post.
A recent bout of insomnia, other than spurring a tonne of fanfiction during the first night (I wish it could have been my coursework that got stuck in my head, but at least I wrote something) has made me read more, since I now stop looking at screens an hour before I try to sleep. This has meant a break from my Kindle, since it is Kindle Fire and more like a tablet than an e-reader. But it’s made me finally get around to reading some physical books again, specifically all 7 Harry Potter, which is and always will be my favourite book series.
I haven’t read them through for some time–the last time I read one, it was the seventh, and I finished the day I moved into my first uni digs (back in 2010). So it’s been a great experience re-reading them and reminding myself of all the greatest bits, especially those that never made it into the films, like my favourite quote:
It unscrews the other way”
or small details that I’d forgotten or even not noticed before, such as:
… one [task] that many of my followers would give their right hands to perform …”
(Both quotes by JK Rowling, I claim no ownership.)
Also moving through the series there were more of them, since the later ones I’ve read far fewer times. I can recite passages from the first book or two (I used to be able to do most of the first chapter) but the seventh I’m much less familiar with. Allow me to demonstrate.
All right, I’m a geek. And it’s all approximate, I’ve hardly kept track of how many times I read each book. The only one I can be certain of is Deathly Hallows, since I read it once when it came out, once to my dad, and just finished it again two days ago.
In my “calculations” I’m allowing for audio versions and the number of times I’ve read individual passages (for example some of the earlier books I flicked through so often there’s probably at least an extra read total in addition to having read cover to cover).
Joke of the Week
(Told to me at Christmas.)
It was a cold Christmas night. A man was sitting warm by his fire, when there was a knock on the door. When he opened it, there was nobody there.
“Excuse me,” said a tiny voice. He looked around, but still couldn’t see anyone. “Excuse me, I’m down here!”
He looked down, and there on his doorstep was a snail, shivering and dusted in snow. “P-please s-sir, I’m s-so cold, could I c-come in and shelter b-by your fire?”
The man picked up the snail, and hurled it down the garden, slammed the door and returned to his chair by the fire.
The next Christmas, there was a knock on the door. The man left his warm seat by the fire to open it, but again there was nobody there.
Then a tiny voice said, “What did you do that for?”
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My Aquila project has officially begun. I have drafted a plan of the pilot and begun researching the genre and other things. You may find I am talking about superheroes a lot for the coming months! I’ve invested in plenty of books on writing for television, as well as a few box sets to work my way through. I need to be a superhero expert by the time I come to write my critical essay, so that seems like a good place to start.
I began writing the plan out in script form, and feel it’s falling rather flat–it’s also turning out a lot shorter than it needs to be, which is worrying.
Hospital Waiting Room
(DAD is staring at a magazine without reading it. FIONA comes rushing in.)
DAD: Fiona! (stands up quickly) Well?
FIONA: I’m fine. Just a bit of a bump, nothing to worry about.
DAD: Sweetheart, you have amnesia. I’d say that’s something to worry about.
FIONA: Dad, I’m fine. Look, they’re letting me go, see? And if my memories come back, they come back; if they don’t, well, I can live with that. Come on, let’s get out of here. Please.
Fiona’s Bedroom, Night
(FIONA is in her own bed, asleep but fitful. The flashes continue.)
DAD (v.o.): Sweetheart, you have amnesia. I’d say that’s something to worry about.
NURSE #1 (v.o.): I can’t make out what this is–it looks like some kind of implant …
(The words BEWARE REDTHORN is superimposed over her.)
GEORGIA REDTHORN (V.o.): Come on in my dear, let’s get you dried off and warm, and then something to eat …
(FIONA sits up with a gasp.)
Major’s Kitchen, Morning
DAD is brewing coffee. ALFIE is in school uniform eating breakfast, wide awake. MUM is on the phone, holding a list.
MUM: … I know we should have called, but it was the early hours and our primary concern was getting her to bed safely. … Of course, I’ll give her your love. Bye, Dad.
(Phone is replaced. MUM crosses a name off her list.)
MUM: So that’s Grandad notified …
FIONA enters in her dressing-gown. The room stills as they all look at her.
FIONA: Um, morning.
MUM: Morning, love. What do you want for breakfast?
DAD: Do you want some coffee? Or tea, I could put the kettle back on.
MUM: You could let her answer, Doug.
ALFIE: Mm, Daddy’s being rude.
FIONA: Do we have any bacon?
MUM and DAD look at each other.
MUM: No, but I could pick some up when I drop Alfie off at school. Come on, Alfie, you’ll be late.
(ALFIE finishes his breakfast speedily while DAD proffers the cafetiere at FIONA.)
FIONA: Coffee, please, Dad.
(FIONA sits down while DAD pours her a coffee. MUM ushers ALFIE out into the hall.)
ALFIE: (from hall) Fiona, you’ll still be here when I come home, right?
FIONA: Of course I will.
(Sounds of MUM and ALFIE leaving house.)
DAD: Are you all right, sweetheart?
FIONA: You’re all acting so weird.
DAD: You can hardly blame us, it hasn’t exactly been a normal few weeks.
FIONA: No, it hasn’t.
DAD: We all want things to go back to normal as soon as possible.
FIONA: I know, Dad. I just wish it were that easy.
Fiona’s Bedroom, Morning
(FIONA is alone with her laptop, and searches REDTHORN online. Too many results. She tries REDTHORN SUPER EYESIGHT and REDTHORN IMPLANTS but also gets nowhere. Tries variants with RED THORN, still nothing useful.)
School Gates, Morning
(FIONA stands in a milling crowd of students, nervous. She looks around, noticing minute details. She looks behind her and reads the menu of a cafe the other end of the road. Swallows, but with great reluctance joins the crowds.)
(FIONA turns and sees VICTORIA and EMMA standing behind her.)
FIONA: Vicks! Emma!
FIONA goes to hug them both but they don’t respond.
EMMA: Where’ve you been?
FIONA: I … I’m not sure. Amnesia.
VICTORIA: That’s not what I heard. Everyone’s saying you ran out on us for the Gymnastics Championships.
FIONA: What? They’re not! That’s not what–
EMMA: No, you just chose then to do a disappearing act on us, your teammates. We always said you were a drama queen.
FIONA: But–I didn’t–really–
VICTORIA: Have a nice life, Fiona.
(VICTORIA and EMMA walk off, arm in arm. FIONA stands there, stunned. The bell goes and she runs into school.)
I’m looking for some constructive criticism (not about the format, I had to do some jiggling to get it to be readable as a blog post). This is the first time I’ve posted something on this blog specifically for feedback, I’m hoping to do it more in future. I’m very very sorry for neglecting my blog, but the stress has I’m afraid been getting to me.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized, Writing Examples, Writing Process and tagged alex harlequin, aquila, author, character development, constructive criticism, coursework, creative writing, family, fan, fiction, fiona major, geek, nanowrimo, nerd, novel, reader, reading, science fiction, script, script frenzy, student, superhero, wordsmith, writing, writing discussion, writing feedback, writing student, youn, young writer.
“The Unofficial Harry Potter Joke and Riddle Book”, by R.U Kidding M.E. I stumbled across this in my Kindle recommendations this morning, but sadly it did not live up to expectations.
This book needs a lot of work before I would pay money for it. I didn’t need to read further than the free sample–most of the jokes are not actually HP-related apart from the author sticking a character name in front, some are Americanised and just don’t fit with the feel of the books, and there are persistent errors: in the Herbology section, Professor Sprout is consistency referred to as Madam Pomfrey. The few jokes that were actually Harry Potter jokes and I as a Brit appreciated and were factually correct, just didn’t merit paying for.
If you’re looking for a Harry Potter joke book where the author knows their stuff, I highly recommend “Harry Pottiness: A Totally Unofficial Book of Muggle Fun”.
I’ve thumbed my way through this book time and time again when needing some laughs. It’s true it’s incredibly cheesy and the jokes are BAD, but most do fall into the “so bad it’s good” category. The highlights however have to be the more creative pages, such as the Invisibility Cloak care label, and the music chart–always worth a giggle. Highly recommended, and you don’t have to be a die-hard Harry Potter fan to understand most of the jokes; having seen most of the films once is probably good enough.
Since we seem to be having a Potter themed post, why not? I don’t normally discuss my fan fiction on this blog, but as it happens, the (Harry Potter) fan fiction chapter I mentioned in my last post that got mostly wiped, I have managed to re-write to, I think, a pretty good standard. It’s a couple of hundred words shorter so I’ve obviously lost some content forever, but I’m pretty sure I covered everything I meant to cover. Even a lot of the dialogue reads like it did before, which is brilliant. My prayers have been answered. The chapter in question is actually on a story that’s not public yet, and won’t be for a long time–but that doesn’t mean I don’t write something on it when the thought strikes. It’s actually one of the sequels to Six.
Moving away from the Potter stuff, I am so close now with my coursework–just got to figure out this bibliography, and some proof-reading, and I’ll be free to work on Aquila! (And hopefully a few days’ holiday!) I got a 5 for my Children’s Writing module–I have to say I was slightly disappointed, as the first draft of one of my stories was predicted 4-6 before it was redrafted, and it means I just missed getting a First on another module. I’m not totally confident in the report I’m about to hand in, so my hopes are pinned on my Aquila script.
Pin of the Week
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