Aha!

Sep. 26th, 2010 04:49 pm
sandra_lindsey: me sitting in the garden with daffodils (musketeer 1)
Don't know about you, but I tend to think about my stories while I'm driving (commuting etc.). I know, not the best place to do it as there's nowhere/way to record my thoughts, conclusions, etc. but it's the kind of thinking that I can very, very easily drop straight out of. Kind of important when driving, that one ;-) Of course, it does mean that occasionally other motorists give me funny looks for suddenly cheering and/or drumming a celebratory tattoo on the steering wheel, but to be honest there's not usually many of them about! There certainly weren't any about when I was busy thinking about Vienna on the way home from the weekly shop last Thursday.

I'm so, so chuffed I got that time & figured out the niggles that've been bothering me. It's all back-story stuff, so I doubt it'll get more than a passing mention in the text itself, but like all back-story, it's kind of essential in helping to understand the character(s). In this case, K.

I've known since the first moment these boys appeared in my brain that K was pretty much alone in the world - he lives off an inheritance, so has no need for work (and therefore no work-friends), and all his friends from the past - even the ones who actually do love him dearly & care about him - are pretty much swamped with their own lives. I had an inkling that his inheritance was from his uncle, but what I couldn't figure out was where the hell his parents were. Because I knew they were alive - and that he knew they're alive. Any time I tried to think around the idea of him being an orphan, and that being the reason for their lack of existence in his life, the answer came back very strongly "No." I also failed to get anywhere with the possibility of him having been removed from their care by an external authority e.g. social services : no, nothing like that.

And then, last Thursday, I hit upon the answer - they're abroad. They moved abroad for work reasons when K was quite young, and for one reason and another, he didn't go with them and was brought up by his uncle. I think his parents originally planned to either come back after a year or two at most, or for him to move out & live with them at some point, but it just ...never happened.

*happy sigh* So glad I worked/found that lot out. It makes quite a few things clearer for me, in terms of what happens during the story I'm writing :-)
sandra_lindsey: me sitting in the garden with daffodils (starfruit)
I had to double-check who was posting what when skimming my 'reading list' today - this article about HIV infection levels for men who have sex with men was not, as I first thought, from any of my m/m related feeds, but from Scientific American. Have a read, though it's a little scary. There is good news though apparently - from Peru! I don't know why I feel surprised that Peru is being held up as an example of good practice: probably because I mostly associate the country with Paddington Bear (whose Aunt Lucy lived in Peru. I believe in Lima, though tbh I was far more of a Thomas the Tank Engine and Postman Pat girl).

e-readers

Jun. 24th, 2010 10:43 pm
sandra_lindsey: me sitting in the garden with daffodils (starfruit)
What with one thing and another - including this recent post over at Jessewave's blog and lots of m/m books I want to read being e-books only, as well as ebooks being significantly cheaper than paper-based ones... I've been thinking more often about maybe, possibly, someday getting an e-reader.

Not that I'm about to go out and buy one anytime soon (where soon = within a year) because there's other things need buying first. But this evening I realised that owning one could have a huge advantage I'd never thought of before: recipes.

Now, I don't know how many recipe books (if any?) are available as ebooks, but for someone like me it would be great - the number of times I've been struck with inspiration while I'm out doing the weekly shop, thought I've bought all the ingredients (or that I have most of them in stock already) and got home to find I've forgotten one thing... and it's usually something the village shop doesn't stock either so I'd have to drive at least to the closest town (8 miles away) and possibly to Welshpool or back to Oswestry (each being 20 miles away, in different directions). But if I had an e-reader and at least most of my favourite recipes stored on it - I could just look it up there & then (and check if it's single, double or whipping cream I need, and stuff like that).

On the other hand, I'd probably forget to take it with me which would result in the same situation as now, but with added frustration!
sandra_lindsey: me sitting in the garden with daffodils (musketeer 1)
Please let me eat pick your brains!

When you have lots of ideas running round in your head, how do you tell the good ones from the bad?

OR

How do you beat a weak idea into shape so it turns into an actually-not-too-bad idea?

(Writers who aren't friends with me yet are also free to comment, I just don't think there'd be any reading!)

Thoughts

Jun. 8th, 2010 08:02 pm
sandra_lindsey: me sitting in the garden with daffodils (reading)
I've just read Victor J Banis's excellent post on How to write M/M fiction (or rather just: How to Write), over at jessewave's blog, and it really got me thinking.

Firstly, he mentions listening to music as being a way of improving your writing - at school, I dropped English as a subject as soon as I could (age 16) but continued with Music until 18, when I left for University. I have an A Level grade C in Music, and I'm a damn sight more proud of that than I am of the B's I got in Maths and Physics (yes, I'm old enough to have done A levels before these weirdo new AS/A2 thingys came in, and in the subjects I took, Music was the most traditional).
...Anyway, to put it succintly: I have a fairly good grounding in classical music. My immediate thought on reading Mr Banis's comments on music was "perhaps that's why I get so hung up about the rhythm of my writing?" because I do, especially if the characters are talking in bed (/on the floor/up against a wall/in a lift ;-)

Following on from that, I went back to the old question of why could I not wait to drop English? I've always been a fairly prolific reader (and, like many other people, reading books which were supposedly way too advanced for my age) and I'm fairly sure I first announced my intention to become a writer before I left infant school. This enthusiasm continued - and was encouraged - by my junior school teachers, but then... I've never been able to figure out what happened at secondary school. I have certain memories (like seeing the first book we would be studying and thinking "I stopped reading books like this when I was 7" - the previous year, our class had been deconstructing Tolkein poems and greek myths in an effort to improve our storytelling...).

Coming back to today, this sudden insight caused by the linking of writing to music made me stop and think about the teaching methods I experienced in the different subjects. One thing I always, always hated about english lessons was the way they would go "Here's a really good book/play/story" and then pull it to pieces so we could see how the author had done it... but in doing that, we (or at least: I) couldn't see what the author had done.

What I'm on about is the method used where the teacher says "This term we're studying Macbeth", so lesson 1 the class read through / listen to the first scene. And then - immediately - it starts getting analysed, and notes have to be added to the text, and discussions are demanded about why such-and-such a word was used instead of this-other-one... and actually, you're lucky if you even get to the end of scene 1 before this starts happening...

Contrast this with studying Brahms's Violin Concerto for A level music:
Lesson 1: play CD of Brahms's Violin Concerto. Discuss immediate reactions to the piece.
Lesson 2: play the 1st movement. Discuss use of contrasts, orchestration etc. Identify 1st theme and mark on the score.

Do you see what I mean?

Ok, yes, I know there's a time element involved, but if you let people experience the full extent of something first, before you analyse it, they will likely be far more tolerant to your picking it apart. AND - perhaps more importantly - they will be far more likely to come back to it as adults.

As both a reader and an aspiring writer, it really upsets me how few people will turn to a book for an evening's pleasure, and I really can't stop myself from blaming it on english teaching destroying the joy of reading.

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