Y is for “you might not want to read this if you are a writer, musician or artist”

Y for Twitter

It is very hard being a writer, a musician, or artist…what are the rewards?  Unless you make some dramatic breakthrough, you are stuck in some kind of limbo…among many others just like you.

A writer’s objective is to be published…you send your precious manuscript, you have slaved over, perfecting each chapter, each sentence, each word, far and wide.  Rejection letters arrive on your doorstep, unwanted like a bout of flue, each one like a stab in the heart, each one drains away your self belief in your work.

At last a window opens, a small publisher says they would like to publish your precious manuscript…but this is only the start of it…If you are published but nobody is paying any attention to your book what then? There’s depressing reading seeing your Amazon ranking…Favorable book reviews give you a lift, but to get genuine readers to give a review is hard going.

Being a musician to be heard you don’t necessarily have to have a record contract, you can post  your songs on soundcloud or similar sites.  You can do gigs, but then only a handful of enthusiastic friends show up…but will they come to your next gig, friend’s loyalty can go far, but even this has limits. All those hit songs, you thought you had written, you are confined to anonymity.

As a painter, you love painting, it is almost a necessity for you, but when your paintings are finished, what to do with them?  You need to find a gallery owner who is interested in your type of work.  You can post images of your work on facebook, start a website with your work., but your work gets put in the back of a cupboard,  soon to be unseen and forgotten, a film of dust gathering, as they fester.

Whatever form of creativity you are into, unless you are blessed with good fortune,  are miraculously discovered, your lack of recognition will remain a constant thorn in your side

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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W is for what makes a great story?

W for Twitter

Confronted with a blank screen, poised to  tap away,  how to go about creating that great story. Perhaps one primary consideration is the theme.  Maybe the theme should  be a ghostly shadow within the confines of the story, not screaming at the reader, but there none the less.  It may make the reader think about their own lives, there might be a moral to be learned, but a writer should not take on the role of a preacher.

Then there has to be a plot, all the conflict or struggle that the main character or characters go through. The conflict should develop in intensity and excitement, reaching some kind of climax.  If you are writing a novel there may be a number of conflicts interspersed, but a short story will have only one principal conflict.

Moving onto story structure,  the story has to entice the reader, right from the first sentence.  Equally then ending has to round things off perfectly.  You may have your theme and an outline of the story, but how are you going to tell it… a writer needs to decide about writing the story either in “first person” or in “third person.”  Will you be using “he,” “she,” and “it”—so writing in third person means telling a story as if it’s all about other people., or will you be writing using “I”—so writing in first person means telling a story as if it happened to you.  If in your head you have a rough idea of the theme,  you will also know which tense you are going to use,  either “present tense” or “past tense.” Writing in past tense means writing as if the story already happened, which is typical  manner in which most stories are written. Writing in present tense means writing as if the story is happening right now.  Normally you can’t mix the  two.

An important consideration is the characters.  I like to “live” with characters in my head, before committing to write about them.  For me the name of the character, says a lot about the character, for example in my short stories, I have a character called “Bugeyes” and the story revolves around the fact that he is person who suffers intensely, due to his oversized eyes.  Lead characters should be someone readers can feel something in common with, or feel empathy. In my stories I love to create evil characters.  My characters are far from perfect have flaws, and idiosyncrasies.  Characters are interesting if they are not too one dimensional,  even evil characters have to have some kind of redeeming feature, or perhaps they have been victims themselves in one way or another.

Settings are also paramount. In my book there is quite a range of different settings,  some are set in America, for example my story “Opium” is set in America, post-civil war.

Then there is the question of language,  it has to really correspond with your story.

A writer will tend to use actions and speech to let readers know what’s happening. Shoing , rather than telling, using  direct more “real life” quotes like “Go away!” instead of indirect quotes like “She told him to go away.”

You don’t have to write over elaborately to write well. Don’t shy away from using simple words and simple sentences, so you words and sentences cut through easily.

I often spend a long time mulling over what is the best word to use, glued to a thesaurus. Each sentence and paragraph should resonate, I often spend a lot of time, writing and rewriting so as to get the optimum sentence. Some sentences or paragraph can be redundant. You can get carried away, lose sight of the story, or go off on tangents.

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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This article is part of a blogging challenge,

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R is for Roald Dahl and Rupert Thompson two outstanding writers.

 

R for Twitter

I read Roald Dahl’s Kiss Kiss, so many years ago, I can’t exactly remember when.  Whatever I was really struck by it. Maybe some of the concepts in this book seem a bit dated…but then it was published in 1960 and times were rather different then. Would you call your short story “Parson’s Pleasure” and the main character Cyril Boggis? If you don’t know this story it is about a shady antiques dealer, who takes advantage of naïve country types, and comes across a priceless Chippendale commode, which he acquires for twenty pounds with the intention of selling it for twenty thousand. What we can safely say about Roald Dahl’s stories is that there is a significant twist at the end of each story. It is this aspect that really influenced my short story writing.
With my own short stories, like Dahl, I try to include an unexpected twist at the end. With short stories, you face limits, you have create characters, that the reader will immediately identify with. You have to create strong dialogue. You have to create an opening sentence like no other, that grabs the reader’s attention. Some people believe that authors graduate from being short story writers into full novel writers, a kind of literary rite of passage…me…I really like this format of writing. My work might be much darker than Roald Dahl might have dared…but I really admire his work and “Kiss Kiss” for will always be very special to me.

Rupert Thompson.
I encountered this author while he was writing his first book “Dreams of Leaving”. I was an Art student at the time, my dream to become a famous painter…Rupert at the time was the boyfriend of an Art College friend and was a bit older than me. He came from a similar boarding education as me, but he and his brother, who I also got know, were of a rebellious nature. His sentences are always sharp, his observations equally cutting. More recently I read a book called “This Party’s Got to stop” which is not fictional, but based on the period when I was in contact with him…it is a moving account of when his father died. It is moving, witty but it has a real edge to it.

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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This article is part of a blogging challenge,

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/sign-ups-for-2016-to-z-blogging.html

follow me on Twitter

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When a writer needs to add a bit of romance or sex to their story!

love is blind

It seems the writing world is crammed full writers whose genre is romance. Romantic novels seem to be a money spinner, as are kinky sex books a la Fifty Shades of Grey. But what if your stories are not of this ilk, but romance and sex play a part in your stories? My stories are dark surreal short stories, that have elements of horror.

There are  some of my stories that contain sexual elements. One story even starts off with… Mercedes Shwartz had just had the most incredible orgasm, but her pleasure was still incomplete.

I would say if you are a horror writer, or a suspense writer, or whatever your genre, the sex parts in your stories, should not seem like they have been pasted in, to add a bit of spice to your story, but should be natural elements that enhance your stories. There has to be the same tension that pervades in the other elements in your stories. It has to be in keeping with the characters of the stories as well the moods.

In my story Cast from Hell, I created a character (previously a middle aged man) who has returned to earth from Hell, in the body of a woman. She becomes a predator, without any scruples, using men to own ends. I had to battle with my editor to make the parts that involved sex, in keeping with my style and how I imagined them. I got the impression my editor’s imagination was running wild at times and he was being far more explicit than I would have ventured, while moving away from the subtlety that is characteristic in other parts of my book.

http://francishpowellauthor.weebly.com/love-is-blind-blog-hop.html

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Merciless Reviewers, an article every author should read.

Axeman

You have always loved reading books and writing stories. You have a mind brimming with ideas for writing stories, constantly turning in your head. You find the courage to start formulating your ideas. You have been inspired by a few favorite authors, you have in mind the genre you are going to work in, be it romance, horror, science fiction…

You soon have a body of work ready for the world at large…all well and good. You get your nearest and dearest to read your manuscript, they offer words of encouragement. A close friend or two does the same. A close friend is a great graphic designer and has come up with a great design for the cover of the book. All well and good. After much work on your part your book is finally published…In celebration you open a bottle of wine.
Now you need readers and publicity to bring attention to your work. Part of this is to get reviews, so you subscribe to Goodreads, a site that will connect you to readers. On top of this you advertise the fact that you are searching for reviews. You are naturally proud of your work, it was done with good intention. All well and good…and then…

The hatchet man steps in. You sent him a copy to review in good faith. It seems his it is his intent to verbally pulverize your book, with as much a bile as he can muster. His sadistic, as brutally direct as he could possibly be. He has sharpened the knives and planted them right in your heart. You get a mandatory one star for your efforts (you spent hours writing, re-writing, editing and polishing, proof reading, scrutinizing every sentence for any flaws or errors.

He does not write a crisp short paragraph expressing his dislike for your work, he gone to great lengths to document all the failings he has found in your work, while mercilessly damaging your fledgling reputation, beyond repair (or so he hopes). Perhaps he is going through the male menopause, perhaps he is psychologically unbalanced, you will never know, he could be living thousands of miles from you, in another continent…Whatever he is determined to crucify your book and his review is now firmly etched on Goodreads for all to see. When you read the review for the first time you are both mystified and horrified. It is like getting a tax demand out of the blue for an amount of money you have no chance of paying back. You are now in a state of shock, that sweet wine you tasted when your book was first published now has bitter taste. Your work has been sullied, you feel violated. His words appear to be aimed to cause maximum hurt, and the reviewer has succeeded in this objective. Even other reviews of a much more positive nature seem empty now that you have been overwhelmed by this dark force.

The hatchet man could have sent you a curt e mail, to the effect that he was unprepared to post a review…that might of hurt, but not half as much as this…Some reviewers don’t post, if they think a book does not merit three stars. It could be argued that once you publish your work and engage with reviewers you should be able to take on board any harsh criticism that comes your way, that you can’t expect any sugar-coated reviews, reviews are supposed to be honest. At the same time it is unacceptable for fired up reviewers to use a new author on the scene as a kind of punch bag, to vent your spleen and spread their poison. We have to wonder why people take pleasure in decimating a writer’s work? It seems the same mentality as an internet troll.

While reviewing another author’s work I was drawn to two reviews of the distinctly“hatchet man” nature. A Neanderthal looking man seemed to delight in the use of the word “fuck”. “Who the fuck cares? ” he says laying into the fact that the author has nine pages devoted to dedications etc. He then goes into one attack after another. Another word he is prone to use is the word “retarded” a word where I come is a word considered not exactly politically correct, the Neanderthal seems to love using it. I thought this word was an insult mostly used in the playground by rather nasty children looking for the maximum effect…

On the other side of the coin, one writer namely a Richard Brittain, who published work on Wattpad (a facility for writers to get feedback on their work) took the extreme measure of hitting a teenager over the head with a wine bottle as retribution for a negative review. He tracked down the negative reviewer, went to her work place and applied his crude form of revenge on the unsuspecting reviewer.

I would not recommend a Richard Brittain type approach to dealing with reviewers.  I would say that reviewers should choose their words carefully and should not try to kill off aspiring authors before they have managed to bloom.  And Mr Neanderthal, stay off the “fuck” word, it’s really not too original, and you really show yourself up…are you for real?

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