Of Cameras and Their Point of View.

I have commented previously on how invaluable I find my writers' group.  We meet once a month, at the local library. Last week I took a break from writing Doctor Jack - to enjoy the company  of my fellow writers and discuss the final scenes of The Department of Curiosities's fifth chapter  (my novel length manuscript work-in-progress).

chapter51strewritesThese scenes of Chapter 5: Of Resurrections, Discoveries and Assassinations/Eliminations (still being decided) - follows the despicable acts of the antagonist's henchmen. No spoilers. From the start, I envisaged the henchmen as almost faceless non-individuals. They do not speak. We never learn their names. They act almost as one. We do not get any insight into their thoughts, feelings or motives. Nada.

This has forced me to practice writing from a new point of view (POV) - that of the 'Camera'. Not an easy task! Personal descriptives kept sneaking into the prose. One sentence that had to be culled was:  'This had been expected, and planned for.'  How can a camera interpret their motives or intent?  Smells, vision and sound need to be self-explanatory - or suggestive. Gone was also 'With all secrecy lost'. The reader must interpret for themselves.

This has been a great learning experience. If I can pull it off, the henchmen will be just that little bit more detached and hopefully produce some discomfort - like emotionless robots. My take home lesson this month has been: The camera does not think. It does not interpret. The camera only sees.

Of Lessons, Practice and Satisfaction.

I often say - "I learn something every day." In fact if I don't learn something new, I sometimes get disappointed. There is a wonderful world out there - so much knowledge, so many talents and skills that are to be found in our Earth's inhabitants. If I can but glean just a miniscule amount from any of them, then I am happy.

Though our writing group only officially meets once a month, it is one place where I always learn something (and not always about writing). Last month, I had very useful constructive feedback on Chapter 3 - of The Department of Curiosities.

  1. on dialogue, setting out dialogue and associated action
  2. building tension, plot and storyline - specifically within a chapter.
  3. culling, minimising or spreading around 'information/background dump'
I finished the rewrite to both chapter 2 and 3, spreading out background where it was more appropriate - and to reduce boredom.

This month, I proffered the first part of chapter 4 - Of Diaries, Ghostmen and Despicable Acts. I steeled myself for another long list of rewrites. In the end I had less than 1/4 of the rewrites as last month.   I was complimented on the improvement in dialogue and pace of the story.  I came home and finished the rewrites on the same afternoon.

It is extremely gratifying when I get constructive feedback. Without it I could not learn more of the craft of writing. Without it I could not gain the confidence to try new things. There is a comforting sense of satisfaction when I realise that I have actually learnt something - and even more when I have put it into practice.

Tomorrow I look forward to writing more - and learning more. I love this writing gig!

Manuscript Word Progress: Total Words:   Revised Words:  At 1st draft only:

Order and Method

I am a Writers' group convert.  I used to read about the value of such groups - like minded (and non-like minded) writers getting together,  critiquing each other's work and drinking tea or coffee. (There has to be tea or coffee - and sometimes chocolate cake.) The theory sounded good but I was never quite sure about letting other writers read the words poured from my soul. What if they laughed? What if they thought I was a fraud?

What I discovered was a group of writers who I can talk to with ease (not just about writing), are great company and who are encouraging.  All of our group write (or want to write) speculative fiction. We understand the lure of the fantastical and are quite open to reading my steampunk fare.

Our group - Spec Fic Chic hold a monthly meeting at the local library. Though some turn up each week, depending on our schedules. Each month, I learn something new. (I honestly feel I get more out of the group than the others!) This week I submitted the second half of chapter 3 -  Of Traitors, the Department and Curiosities. This was  a very rough first draft - the stream of consciousness version. I had not had time to do my first rewrite.

This week's take home message was a reminder that the reader does not know what the writer has hidden in her head. I know the backgrounds and motives my characters.  The reader does not - until I tell.

We talked about the order of the reveal, dialogue and action and the reasons behind a scene that helps it develop the characters or simply make the scene superfluous . (Dialogue should preceed the action it produces - always recommended.) The end result is flowing prose, more suspense and less confusion over the plot.

A big shout out to the lovely ladies who teach me so much, kick my creative muse in the butt and encourage me to keep writing and - best of all - don't make me feel like a fool. Thank you.

Now I have over 2500 words to rewrite.

Manuscript Word Progress: First draft:26% completed. Total Words:   At 1st draft only: Revised Words: