Fly me to the moon or Mordor.

Not Mordor, St Michael’s Mount Marazion. Cornwall.

Location. It’s not just a place, it’s a character.

As a child did you have that special place where you hid out in a thunder storm? Or a place you returned to at every opportunity for adventure?

I did. Back in my hometown there is a man-made lake, with a wooden bridge that takes you over from one to the other.

Southport Marine Lake and the Victorian Venetian bridge.

It wasn’t the bridge but what I called the islands. Back in the late 70’s/ early 80’s these where overgrown with bushes and shrubs, that had natural hollow dens inside them. Perfect for the young girl seeking an adventure with her trusty bearded collie.

I convinced myself there were mine, collecting the rare piece of litter that had the audacity to spoil the landscape, hiding from adults and families in the summer, like some lost runaway, with a book under my arm.

I don’t have my own private island (maybe one day!) but the importance of that location is till with me.

We were partners in crime. It held my secrets. It was a huge part of my life every opportunity I had.

When writing location in your stories you need to add the relevance to the main characters., what is it and why are we here.

Make your place feel real, dynamic thinks of the great fiction canon’s, from Wuthering Heights and the moody moors reflecting that of Heathcliffe. The moors set the tone throughout.

The landscape of Modor and the Shire are at odds with each other as they should be because each one involves a different part of the hero’s journey.

Your characters need to react to their location, inhale their surroundings, watch how it challenges them and sense when it’s safe and able to protect them. Location is personal.

Like with every part of your story, flip it! Make it unique!

Not only will your setting change over distance but the same one will change over time.

Has the place you grew up in remained the same? I know mine hasn’t, parts that were important to me have disappeared become shops and fast-food restaurants.

Southport sea bathing lake then.
Southport now.

Research an area, notice the changes and think how has this affected your character? What stories do they have to tell. Has it changed their opinions, their outlook?

Most importantly see the landscape through their eyes.

It doesn’t matter if your place is real or totally made-up. The attention to detail needs to be there. Take a page from Tolkien, and draw out a map for your setting. Add important features or prominent places.

For the August challenge Day Two, think of a place that holds a special meaning to you. Write it down in great detail. Now do the same with your story location, through the eyes of your character.

Whether it’s the moon or Mordor make it memorable.

For more tips on writing go to The Coffeehouse Writer.

Why join a writing group?

Belonging to a writing group is about taking strength from that group and giving it back.

The idea of sitting home alone, with just a cat for company is the image most people have of life as a writer.

Indeed this is my life! Juggling family life, teaching and time to write can be hard, but why do we feel the need to add to that by doing it on our own?

When I first started attending writing groups, it was hard to share my work, soon the feedback I was receiving from others encouraged me to dip a toe into sharing my private thoughts.

I got a mixture of love and suggestions to improve, some I took on board, others I felt were not right. After considering why a suggestion was made I understood better my weaknesses.

Motivated and encouraged I became a more confident writer and also I started to give feedback, improving my own writing as I understoof the processes better.

As a new writer, feedback from others is probably the best tool in our writers toolkit.

Belonging to a writing group is about taking strength from that group and giving it back.

Motivation, discussions on early drafts, putting heads together to solve character and plot difficulties, a shoulder to support the many rejections received and someone to celebrate the wins with.

Whatever you write, support of a good writing circle is priceless.

The Coffeehouse Writing Group starts on Wednesday 19th June 2019, 7pm at The Potting Shed, Beverley East Yorkshire. £5 on the door or £25 for a years membership. Includes an hours lesson, writing and an hour socialising with occasional Guest speakers.

For further details email: feedback@thecoffeehousewriter.com

How’s the ‘big plan’ going?i

Woooh we’re halfway there!

Can you believe it’s June already? It seems like it was only last week I was putting the Christmas decorations away and desperately searching for the perfect year planner.

Now it’s halfway through the year.

So how are those targets coming along?

I’m happy to hold my hand up and admit life got in the way. My health took a priority for the first few months, and now I seem to be getting back to my ‘old’ self, I realise that my best laid plans for the year are far behind.

Time to evaluate. I still have my goals that are achievable I just need to re-jig the timeframe a bit, set smaller goals. Chunks are more manageable then big bites after all. Cutting back on extra projects and time doing what I enjoy is always tough. There will never be enough time in five lifetimes for me to achieve and do everything I want to.

Do I feel guilty? Hell yes! But I’m getting better at that too.

My writing is coming along nicely, I’m reaching new daily goals, the podcast will be out next week and I love my writing classes and all the WiP’s and weekly writing prompts.

Plan what you can when you can, be happy, keep it balanced and DON’T feel guilty!

M x

Motivating new writers.

Excuses range from their reading is not good enough, or they didn’t do well at school. Some believe that no-one would want to read their story but most lack the confidence to show their work to others, even loved ones.

 




Helping Each Other.

This week is the last of the latest set of ten writing lessons in the beginner’s course I run. I deliberately have no more than six on each course. It’s enough to be intimate and works well when writers share their work with each other.

As a writer, I love hearing everyone idea’s on what they would do if they could write. When I ask why they don’t write themselves, they have a barrage of excuses. Intrigued I often push further asking if they have ever given writing a go. Most say no.

Excuses range from their reading is not good enough, or they didn’t do well at school. Some believe that no-one would want to read their story but most lack the confidence to show their work to others, even loved ones.

I started writing as a child, and apart from my high school English teacher, keeping it pretty much a secret until three years ago. I have not included the work I did as a copywriter or the odd articles I wrote, to me that was ‘professional writing’ I had a topic, I had a deadline, a word count and audience etc all chosen for me. All I had to do was string a few words together.

I taught in high schools yet I wanted to know the difference from writing academically to writing fiction.  So I joined a community writing class.

At first, the idea of reading my fiction aloud in a room of strangers was terrifying. This was personal, so far removed from my previous writing, that it never existed. This was me laying bare not only myself but my ideas, my private thoughts and processes. It was hard.

We started the with snippets and the odd sentence here and there before we finally built up to full short stories. Pages of my words being shared and reviews by others.

My confidence soon soared.  I wrote a novel and a collection of short stories, enough to enrol on a Masters program in writing for tv and film!

I’ve nearly finished but over the time I have written a feature film that has gained production interest. My short film is currently in production and I had a short play out.

I am currently working on my dissertation, a biopic about an inspiring woman, who believed a writing career was possible despite at of life’s struggles.

So what do I take from this, what do I give my students?  The inspiration that anything is possible if you work hard enough. Hope, that they will be a writer.  If I can then it’s never too late for anyone, and finally motivation. For when those days that hit that you want to give up, that you feel it isn’t going right or you just can’t seem to find the words. Carry on it will come eventually.  Have Faith in Yourself.

M x