writing discussion

Call For (Constructive) Criticism, Aquila Extract

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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.

Extract:

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.

DAD: Alfie!

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.)

VICTORIA: Fiona?

(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.

Funny-Pictures-Anti-stress

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Blog Hop!

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Thank you to MissTiffany for tagging me in the blog hop. I think I’ve figured out what I do now!

What is the (working) title of your book?

Conturbus Chronicles (1): Crossfire

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Good question. It was conceived about a week into NaNoWrimo 2011. I had almost given up participating that year, but then two plot twists came at me suddenly, which gave me a starting point and an end. The rest was pretty much improvised; I took a couple of days to brainstorm some characters, and the rest is history.

What genre does your book fall under?

YA urban fantasy adventure

Which actors and/or actresses would you choose to play your characters in the movie rendition?

I don’t know … I picture Justin as a bit like how Alex Pettyfer was in Stormbreaker, but he’s a bit older now! As for the others, I can’t think of anyone specific. I know I’d want to do as JK Rowling did, and insist on British actors, except the characters who are supposed to have an accent. I could live with Tam being played by an American since she has roots there, though I’d prefer a Brit.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Justin’s quest to find the Conturbus key before the evil Marotte takes him through a world of cape-wearing villains, dragons and vampires*, and magic that’s fully compatible with the latest smartphone.

*Not the sparkly kind!

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Too early to say. I read ebooks but I would want my book in print as well, and I can’t see that being financed myself.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

If by first draft that includes the occasional scene in note form and great stretches lacking punctuation or speech tags … about three weeks. However re-reading it, about 60% needs cutting. At present I have a chapter plan, notes for future books in the series, a synopsis and the first chapter in full–so don’t hold your breath.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Hmm, tricky one. I did tackle this task as part of my writing course–my first chapter and synopsis formed part of my Fiction module–and found it difficult to find something quite in the same vein. The plot’s perhaps closest to the Percy Jackson series, but for older readers and without all the Greek gods.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I have to hand it to JK Rowling, if it weren’t for her I would not be a writer–or to be more precise, I would not be attempting it as a profession. And that’s nothing to do with fame and fortune, I mean her books inspired me, more than I can describe in a few sentences! I’ve been inspired by too many things (more than books) to name–television shows, photographs …

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Psychic scorpions, dragons who don’t look like dragons, a wizard hermit called Hobble, magic carpets and a smartphone app to help you find one … that enough to whet your appetite? And of course it wouldn’t be a London-based fantasy without something wacky happening on the Underground …

Now I pass this Blog Hop along to:

Thank you for reading! I’m sorry to say my novel will be some time in coming, but I’ve heard it said you can’t start talking about it too early …

Write What You Read?

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I’ve heard and read lots of writing advice, and many people say to write what you know. Also, many people say that to be a (good) writer you have to read a lot. I don’t think I’ve heard this as an actual quote, but it’s been implied, that you write what you read (like, ‘you are what you eat’).

To contest that, I’ve met many writers who struggle to find the time to read. I myself struggle to read even the required reading for my course, so when I finish a novel I’ve been reading for pleasure, it’s a pretty big deal. Contrast that to my childhood when I devoured book after book and got into trouble for reading under the desk at school. For me, the telly is an alternative that requires less effort to enjoy since it’s more passive.

Of course to an extend I think how much you get out of reading depends what you’re trying to write. In terms of format, I write prose but it’s been commented that my dialogue is quite script-like, which could be because I ‘read’ (watch) more scripts than I read prose. Since I want to be a scriptwriter, and I’ve got pretty good feedback for prose in this style, I’m not going to worry too much, though I would like to read a lot more than I do–I have so many book samples on my Kindle awaiting reading.

Genre, I think, is a more interesting one. This is all just my opinion, I am by no means saying any writers should take my word as law, but I think it is possible to write in a genre you don’t really read–although it comes with limitations. I should explain.

For a case study, take one of my novels (a work in progress), Shadow Charge. Unlike my other novel WIP, Crossfire, SC is I think pretty difficult to define as a genre. I think the closest possible descriptive would be supernatural whodunit. But on its own that doesn’t sum it up. I would say that SC is part whodunit, part ghost story, part time travel, part psychological thriller, with a touch of romance, and that description is subject to some altering between now and publication (which is not foreseeable for some years). Out of all those genre labels, I don’t read very many. Take psychological thrillers, for example. I don’t make a habit of reading them because many of them freak me out a bit. The same with ghost stories. While I have not read many whodunits, I have watched countless ones on television so I am familiar with tropes and so forth (though I have read two Agatha Christies and one Conan Doyle to date, so I’m not doing too badly).

What’s my point? Well I won’t know for certain till the novel is at a point where I get a lot of feedback on it, but the way the plot has played out I think it works–if I can iron out the wrinkles. Because the novel is such a blend of genres–when I got the initial idea, I would have called it a fantasy, but it has since become apparent that despite its links to my fantasy novel, the actual story is very different–being fluent in its genre(s) is not so vital, because it’s something new. That’s not to say I won’t continue to persue reading more whodunit etc novels. Though I have yet to come across someone who’s had an idea quite like mine. (If you know of something that crosses all those genres, please do tell me, I’d be interested to read it.) On the other hand, I would not dare to try and write a straight romance or straight psychological thriller before becoming fluent in the genre first–I don’t believe I would have the tools to make it a great, stand-out story that way.

So, some food for thought. Do any writers reading this write ‘blended’ genres? How much experience do you reckon you need for each? Please do comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.