Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Planning your writing.

Over the next few weeks I am going to embark on a series of discussions about writing a novel and I may also attempt the same project from a poetry perspective on my other blog. Today however I am going to jump ahead and talk a little bit about planning your novel and knowing what is coming up next, as I have been involved in many diuscussions on this of late. My view on this can be best described through experience and I will relate one experience to you as an example.

This happened during the writing of my second novel. I was midway through it at the time and had a good idea where I was going and I was being very disciplined and writing every night at the same time. I had a small bit character in the book that was adding weight to one of the main characters and this particular evening I was going to my desk to just do a couple of thousands words about her and where she was. Nothing big, nothing ground breaking, just an easy evening on the keyboard.

One of the things I am very strong about in my books is that what happens has to be believable and what would have been possible in the given situation. I am not writing super hero books after all, although I might give that a try one day.

An hour and a half after sitting down at my computer I got up and walked out of the room in tears. The girl was dead, and worse she had done something horrible before she had needed up that way. I never intended her to die, but in the situation she had put herself in, there was no other way it could ever end. I still get teary when I read that chapter of Arlington Reef.

This unexpected event caused me to change the other character and what he did from that point, as his motivation changed the moment she died. It also changed the dynamics between that character and others and helped alter their perspective on life a little too. In the end I did not rewrite my planning, I just went with it and let the story flow using my planning as a loose base.

This little episode showed me that all the planning in the world, whilst a great tool, will not stop the characters doing what they must, and as a writer, you must listen to your characters at all times. Never try to put them in a box just to suit the planning and hard work you've done leading up to that point.

This is an interesting topic and I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Monday, February 23, 2009

The Best Job in the World

You may have read about this in your travels. This post is not a writing one but it is one I would like you to read if you have time.

I applied for this job and now I need your help. You may wonder why when there is only a little over 30,000 applicants last I looked, so why wouldn’t they pick me? I like a challenge. Anyway, there are two ways to get into the last eleven applicants. The first is through the natural selection process of the video and other information you can provide on the first go round (very scant but I am ingenious) and the second is through a popularity poll, and that’s where you come in.

For those who are happy to help, go to this link, http://www.islandreefjob.com/#/applicants/watch/drBJmKIVGSI and watch the video then rate it high, very high. If I win, we all win. It may take a while to load. You can also try this button below

As an update, I have also added a new poetry blog to the web that you might like to have a look at and maybe even comment on. The link is http://australianpoet.blogspot.com/

Thanks all


PS pass the link on to friends etc if you feel happy to do that

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Hi all, I'm back and creating posts again. They will all have something to do with writing but it may just be that you have to read through to the end to find out what! I will attempt to make them all entertaining for you as a trade off for having to read right through to the end.

Yesterday my wife and I drove the forty minute trip from one side of Canberra to the other just to have coffee and food at Fruitylicious in Gunghalin. Yes I know the names might seem a bit funny, even more so to those of you who do not live in Australia but I have to say, this lunchtime all you can eat feast is amazing. There is pizza, vegetarian food, curries, zucchini fritters, sweet potato filled delights that were just amazing and so many other things I just could not list them all here. And then of course they had vanilla slice. I think my wife ate four but don't tell anyone. We did not have breakfast before we went and we could not eat dinner that night.

Superb. So what has this to do with writing?

The creativity they put into there dishes is brilliant, but that is not what puts us here.

When I was leaving I was talking to Cathy (or Kathy?) and she mentioned she never had time to read anymore. I have often heard people say they could not find time to write but not finding time to read is an even deeper dilemma. As our conversation went on however, I did discover that Cathy's children read, but sadly there is nothing on my website for children.

When I was out on my morning walk this morning however, I decided to change that. I am going to design a children's section on my website (bernardjrossi.com) where I will put some reading for younger people but also encourage the young to start writing and contributing to the site themselves.

Who knows, the next great Australian Author might get their start right there, on my pages.

Take care all and I look forward to staring some discussions in the next few weeks that will get us all thinking. And while we're on the subject of thinking, take a little visit to my poetry blog, http://australianpoet.blogspot.com/, you might find a gem or two there over the next few weeks or you might just get an idea or some inspiration.

Good luck all, and thanks once more to Cathy and her team at Fruityliscious.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Great first pages

First let me apologise for taking so long to get back to my blog. I had a weekend with my youngest brother a little while ago and we decided to write some songs (he is a great musician) and I have been flat out working on that project as well as my latest manuscript. I have not neglected my writing group though and this week we met and discussed the first pages of many novels.

Our group is very strong, we had a dozen people present on Wednesday night and there were a few apologies, so when we discuss topics like this we get a wide range of ideas and thoughts, which is the object of the exercise.

There are so many books in the world it is a big decision just to come up with two or three each to discuss and some people went for the classics, others went for books that had me reaching for dictionaries and googling terms used by midway through page one. When I read I prefer to read, not research but others loved the learning aspect of these books. I myself chose three very different books, all by large selling authors, as this is something I think we all want to achieve.

Raymond Chandler's Killer in The Rain was one I chose. His dialogue is so brilliant it describes the physical appearance of the character without him having to, and it entertains as it does so. His choice of names also is perfect and describes the character he is creating. In this book he introduces three characters on page one but one of them he only gives you his name. Violets McGee. In my mind that was all I needed to see the character in my head. There was also a descriptive sentence He looked like a bouncer who had just come into money, which I thought was concise but perfect way to het the man into the reader's head.

The range of books we talked about included The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King, Abarat, but we talked more about the way the title appears on the cover then we did about the first page, The Book Thief, Captain Corelli, Middlesex, The Little Friend by Donna Tartt and The Hopkins Manuscript, as well as many more.

It was a great way to learn what worked and did not work on the first page of a book, it also showed that there is not one formula to work to as readers all prefer something different to each other, and it also highlighted the usefulness of these types of writing groups.

We had two first nighters on Wednesday, one of whom was only now about to embark on his writing journey, and they came away from that with a lot of knowledge but also they gained confidence from talking to others and finding out that this dream we all have running around in our heads is in fact achievable.

Exercises like this are well worth doing so if you are in writers group get active and involved.

Good luck and good writing.