Editing a Previous Story - Episode Six (2020)

Hi, everyone. In this episode, I show you how I edited Truth Be Told, the story from a couple of weeks back.


Video Transcript


Hi, everyone and welcome to another episode of Get Writing Now.

Today, I’m going to show you why I made certain editing choices when editing Truth Be Told, which I wrote a couple of weeks ago.

So, let’s get straight into it with the first paragraph. This is probably going to be better viewed on a larger screen, if you can. The original’s on the top, and the edited version below. I’ve highlighted in orange where things were changed.

So, here, I changed this block of text, because Ididn’t think it was specific enough. ‘I wasn’t connected to them’ seemed as if the character already knew what was going, and he didn’t.

The second block of text is completely new. If your heart started doing funny things, your first reaction would probably be that something was badly wrong. That’s what I was going for with this.

In this second chunk, the first change I went for was simple clarity. And ‘It reminded me of gramps’ was to give a bit of context to the face, without having to say it was wrinkly, or there was grey hair. After all, most people will have an image in their head of what a grandfather looks like. The final change refers back to the previous paragraph. The character is relieved because there isn’t something wrong with his heart, something else is definitely going on.

In this piece, I wanted to give more detail about the voice. If I were to edit this again, I would put that information before the character speaks – but more on that later.

Only one change in this block. I thought Child of the Future needed to be highlighted with capital letters, as it was an important title.

Unfortunately, I had to put this bit on two boards, because it won’t quite fit.

This change in orange is another one for clarity. Firstly, the main character is commenting on his traits, without really sounding like he’s doing so. Secondly, Ryan hasn’t been introduced yet, so that information needs to be before he speaks.

I also split the paragraph, because it felt like two different bits of information were being told.

Here, what I wrote originally could be understood, but I thought it needed a little more clarity. I also thought it was better not to have brushed twice, so I changed one to grazing. There is still some repetition here, though. Can you see it? I would change that if I were to edit this again.

So, twice I’ve said, if I edited it again – that’s quite difficult to say. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, nothing you write will ever be perfect. You could go on editing for years and years and years, and keep tweaking little bits here and there. At some point, you have to say, that’s it. Doesn’t matter how long, or how short the story is.

The other thing is, I really like this story and I want to continue it. Which, of course, means I will be editing it again, and I’ll be making those changes and, possibly, some more. By the time you see this, because I create these about a month in advance, I’ll probably be well into writing that story. Hopefully. I’ll be doing that over Christmas. And I’ll keep you updated as to how it’s going.

I hope I’ve given you a few things to look out for when editing your own stories. I might do this again with some of the future stories that I write here. Speaking of that. I should probably write another one for next week. Better get to it.

Thank you for watching. I hope you enjoyed this video and I’ll see you next time.

ooo000ooo 
If you'd like to follow my channel, where you'll also find middle grade book reviews and some short stories, you can click this link.


Writing a Story Using Lots of Prompts - Episode Five (2020)

Do you want to write using multiple prompts, but don't have any idea how to achieve that? This video will give you some pointers on writing your short stories and a reading of one story I created using a lot of prompts.

 

Video Transcript


Hi, everyone and welcome to another episode of Get Writing Now.

Today, and next week, I’m going to be following up on last week’s video, where I wrote a story from five prompts. If you haven’t seen it, here it is. You might want to go back and watch it first.

This week, I’m tackling ways to write using multiple prompts.

Let’s have another look at the prompts I used last week. On the face of it, they’re quite complicated and have lots of elements to them.

East Shield – Illumination/Clarity
Arrow – Truth as protection
Smoke Signals – Intent
Vision Quest – Seeking/Finding
Drum – Rhythm/Internal Timing

The first thing to do is not to panic. That’s easy for me to say. I’ve done lots of stories to five prompts. But, the first time I tried one, I hadn’t. I’d been using single prompts, and it was simply a step up. And that’s your first tip. Start small and build up. First one prompt, then two, and so on.

I’ll bet you can’t guess what the maximum number of prompts I’ve used is. Maybe I’ll show you at the end. 

The next thing to do is to look for similarities and connections in the prompts. What connections can we find in these prompts?
  • Seeking the truth.
  • Clarity and illumination aids finding and vision.
  • Find a rhythm.
I’m sure you can see lots more. Why not give it a go and make your own list? 

This helps with a story, because you can use more than one prompt in an idea, an action, a plot point and it gives you a starting point. Now, if you’re a planner, rather than a discovery writer (which I am), this might not work for you, but I find that clearing my mind of anything other than that first connection stops me obsessing over what I haven’t included yet. I find that first connection and simply start writing. That’s why the story videos I put up here are, literally, me showing you how I create. It’s not truly in real time, but the stories do come very quickly. At least the first drafts.

Once you have your start, go back and look at the prompts that you haven’t used yet. Do any jump out at you with a further connection? Use that next. Keep doing this until you get to the end of the story.

But, what if I’ve got to the end of my story and I haven’t included all my prompts? That happens to me a lot. It’s usually a lot easier than you might think to slot them in. Remember, you don’t have to use the actual words of the prompts. I talked about this with six-word stories. You need to think around the prompts, not necessarily use them literally. If you’re not used to this, go back to these videos here and watch them for some ideas. 

Other things you could do, if you’re stuck? 
  • You could use one of the prompts as a person’s name. Lots of fantasy stories have names like Clarity and Arrow. 
  • Look in a thesaurus for alternative words that might spark an idea.
  • Look up the words on the Internet, if you’re allowed. You can often find weird connections that way. 
  • Ask the members of your family, or your friends, what they first think of when you say one of the prompts to them.
The options are endless. And, as I’ve said before, practice makes perfect. Don’t expect to get it right straightaway.

So, I said I’d show you a story created from more than five prompts. How many do you think it is? 
It’s thirty-one. I’ll bet you weren’t expecting that.

The prompt words are highlighted and some of them are a little obscure, so I’m putting a list of all of them, with the meanings that I’ve used in the story - they may have other meanings as well - down below. 
***

She travelled the mångata, her diaphanous wings limpid in the orb’s illuminating rays. The moonbroch, a mirror to her eyes, foretold of perilous times ahead. She trembled at the thought. A scintilla of doubt crossed her mind and elicited a feeling of incalescent sirocco air against her throat. It made her breathless, forced her to halt. It was too soon for her to rely upon the elixir for help. Instead, her hand went to the talisman around her neck. Tender, stardust kisses caressed her fingers, coruscating wisps of energy that fortified her against her nemesis. She calmed.

It wasn’t long before the island ruin came into view, the point at which her path forked from the moonlit road, where sculpted, brumous patches clouded the way to the labyrinthine tunnel below. She was not fooled. A trail of vestigial markers of past visitors cascaded through the air, slices of scent, and checkered thoughts eternally hanging, mostly nefarious in their nature. 
She knew what she had to do. Retrieve the sacred, bloody parchment for her people. A treasure of ineffable importance that would save them from certain death, by means of the words etched upon it. And she was up to the challenge.
***

These prompts originated from a month of six-word story prompts. They weren’t necessarily these exact words. They might have been a noun and I’m using the adjective, for example. But that’s allowed.
  • Mångata – meaning the reflection of the moon in water, like a pathway.
  • Diaphanous – light and delicate, almost see-through, usually of fabric.
  • Limpid – clear and transparent
  • Illuminating – lighting up
  • Moonbroch – the halo of light you see around the moon
  • Perilous - dangerous
  • Trembled -- shook
  • Scintilla – trace of a feeling
  • Incalescent – growing hotter
  • Sirocco – a hot wind (usually blown in from Africa)
  • Breathless – out of breath, or gasping for breath
  • Elixir – a magical potion
  • Talisman – an object considered to have magical powers, or to bring good luck
  • Tender – gentle
  • Stardust – magical quality
  • Coruscating – flashing, or sparkling
  • Wisps – a twisted object, like smoke
  • Nemesis – enemy
  • Ruin – a decaying building
  • Forked – a path that divides into two
  • Sculpted – carved
  • Brumous – foggy
  • Labyrinthine – like a labyrinth, twisting and confusing
  • Vestigial – a remnant of something once much greater
  • Cascaded – fell like a waterfall
  • Slices – pieces, or slivers
  • Checkered – bad, or unfortunate
  • Eternally - forever
  • Nefarious – wicked
  • Parchment – a kind of paper made out of an animal skin
  • Ineffable – cannot be described in words

Can you see how I connected some of these words? Can you see how I used some of them in slightly unusual ways, but ones that would be understood?

That’s all for today.

Whatever you do, have fun with your prompts.

Happy writing.

ooo000ooo 
If you'd like to follow my channel, where you'll also find middle grade book reviews and some short stories, you can click this link.

How to Write a Story with Five Prompts - Episode Four (2020)


In this video, I go through the process of me writing a story using five separate prompts, in as close to real/virtual time, as possible. That is, I wrote down exactly what I was thinking and doing at the time.


Video Transcript


Hi, everyone. It’s time to write another story in virtual real time and this time I’m using something different to get my prompts. Yes, prompts plural. I used to write very short stories on one of my social media accounts and I often took five prompts and put them into a story. That’s what I’m doing today and I’m getting my prompts from these. They’re called Sacred Path Cards and they’re based on Native American beliefs. Just so you know, this story is only using what’s on the cards and is not intended to represent any beliefs. I’m trying to prove to you that you can write stories using almost anything as your prompts. I also have several other sets of cards I may use in the future.

Now we’re clear on that, these are the 5 cards I randomly picked.

At the top is the card’s name and at the bottom, its basic meaning. We have:

  • East Shield – Illumination/Clarity
  • Arrow – Truth as protection
  • Smoke Signals – Intent
  • Vision Quest – Seeking/Finding
  • Drum – Rhythm/Internal Timing

I’m probably going to use a combination of the card names and the meanings, but we’ll see how it goes. Being a discovery writer means I’ll discover that as I go along.

My initial thoughts are that truth as protection and illumination/clarity are closely linked and could be combined with seeking/finding. So, someone finding out about themselves? Here we go.

It was like a dream, but I knew I wasn’t asleep. I could see everyone around me in the playground, but I wasn’t connected to them. They were like the blurry background in a photograph. I could hear the drumbeat of my heart flip, just a little, as if my internal rhythms were changing.

Okay, first paragraph done. Or, perhaps, first part of first paragraph? I’m not sure yet. But writing those few words has, I think, given me my very short story. This is one of those destiny, find out who you are, and possibly, you’re in danger, scenarios. I think there’s a vision coming up. 

Out of the blur, a face appeared, floating by itself and bobbing a little, like a balloon on a string. Its expression was severe, but at the same time, there was kindness in the features. I really should’ve been scared, but I wasn’t. 

Hmm. Now, obviously, this floating face is going to say something. What do you think that’s going to be? I know kinda how it’s going to go, but not exactly. I’ve pretty much used two of the prompts. I still have three to include.

“Child of the future,” it said.

I looked around to make sure there was no chance it was talking about someone else. 

Discovering what I already knew, I pointed to my chest, accompanying that with a silent, “Me?”

(“May the arrow of truth protect you.”)

Okay, so this bit’s a little weird. All of this carries on from where I left off, but the last line is probably the last line of the dialogue/they story, which just came to me. It’s best to write it down, in case I forget it. So, I’ve bracketed it to put in later. Onwards.

“I am not here to harm you. I am here to bring you a message. It is a message of grave importance. You, child of the future, will be our saviour. Over the coming days and years, as you grow from child into man, your powers will become apparent. Do not be afraid of this. It is foretold. It has purpose. It is for the good of our kind. Clarity is the best shield. It will illuminate your mind.”

“What?” I said.

“Look out,” Ryan said. 

I turned, too late to see the football heading for my stomach. The force of its punch had me bent over, slightly winded and with the certainty I’d have one large bruise the next day. I realised my friends were no longer blurry. I blinked hard and looked up to where the face had been. There was nothing. I shook my head to clear it.

“Have you ever had a dream while you’re awake?” I said to Ryan.

He screwed up his brow. He put his hand to my forehead. I pushed it away. It was the only answer I needed. I brushed all thoughts of it away, but a breeze brushed my cheek and I could swear I heard it say, “May the arrow of truth protect you.”

Oooooh. 

So, that’s the first draft done. Let’s analyse where the prompts are used. I’ll highlight them in a different colour.

The last line, where I’ve highlighted in blue, is obviously this one. 12

And the orange line before that, why am I going backwards? Who knows. Anyhow, that’s clearly this card. 8

Let’s jump up the top. The line in purple is this one. 32

Everything highlighted in red is related to this card. 3

And the green text is this one. 23

Can you see how they link up? You might want to pause the video and think about that for a minute.

Okay, now I’m going to go away and edit this into a final version. I don’t think it’s going to change all that much, but I could be wrong. But first, a title. 

Imagine several minutes of furrowed brow, before I come up with a few options.

  • Strange Truth
  • Truth is Stranger than Fiction
  • Truth be told

Which one do you think I picked? Yes, Truth Be Told was my choice.

After a few editing passes, this is the final story. I can’t put them side by side, because it’s too long, but I’ll put the original up for a few seconds first, so you can easily go back and forth and compare, if you want to.

It felt like a dream, but I knew I wasn’t asleep. I could see everyone around me in the playground, but it was as if I wasn’t connected to them. They looked blurry, like the background in a photograph. I heard the drumbeat of my heart flip, just a little, as if my internal rhythms were changing. I put my hand to my chest, fearful that I was going to collapse. I didn’t.

Out of the blur, a face appeared, floating by itself and bobbing a little, in the way a balloon on a string might do. Its expression was severe, but at the same time, there was kindness in the features – it reminded me of gramps. I really should’ve been scared, but I wasn’t. In a way, I was relieved.

“Child of the Future,” it said. Its voice was deep and gravelly.

I looked around to make sure there was no chance it was talking about someone else. Discovering what I already knew, I pointed to myself. I accompanied that with a silent, “Me?”

“I am not here to harm you. I am here to bring you a message. It is a message of grave importance. You, Child of the Future, will be our saviour. Over the coming days and years, as you grow from child into man, your powers will become apparent. Do not be afraid of this. It is foretold. It has purpose. It is for the good of our kind. Clarity is the best shield. It will illuminate your mind.”

“What?” I said, eloquent as always, but it wasn’t the face that replied.

Ryan yelled, “I said, look out.”

I turned too late to see the football heading for my stomach. The force of its punch had me bent over, slightly winded and with the certainty I’d have one large bruise the next day.

I realised my friends were no longer blurry. I blinked hard and looked up to where the face had been. There was nothing. I shook my head to clear it.

“Have you ever had a dream while you’re awake?” I asked Ryan.

He screwed up his brow. He put his hand to my forehead. I pushed it away. It was the only answer I needed. I brushed all thoughts of what I’d imagined away, but a breeze brushed back at me, grazing my cheek, and I could swear I heard it say, “May the arrow of truth protect you.”

So, what do you think? Do you have any cards you could use to give you prompts? They could be any cards, maybe something from a game you have. Shuffle them up well, close your eyes, and pick out some of them and make up a story. Or, you could use the ones in this video, if you don’t have any of your own.

If you enjoy writing, you might want to go to my channel page and check out this video. It’s all about writing six words stories on topics that matter to you.

I’ll put the final story up at the end again, so you can read it at your leisure.

Thank you for watching. Until next time.

ooo000ooo

If you'd like to follow my channel, where you'll also find middle grade book reviews and some short stories, you can click this link.

Write What You Know - or Don't - Episode Three (2020)

This time, I'm discussing whether write what you know really means what it seems to, at first glance.



Video Transcript


Hi, everyone. And welcome to another episode of Get Writing Now. Today, we’re going to talk about write what you know.

Have you ever heard this writing rule before? It’s something that’s often given to people as writing advice when they start writing and most people take it literally.

For example: You might write about school, or sports, or what your siblings are like.

The trouble is, there’s only so much you can write about if you write about what you know literally.

I don’t think this advice is meant to be taken literally.

For example: How many people do you know, who know what it’s like to live on Mars, or to walk like a dragon, or to go through a wall like a ghost? Not many, I reckon. In fact, I’d say no one.

So, what do I think this advice means?

Well, it’s like this.

Write what you know can refer to emotions. So, how you might feel in a certain situation. I’m sure you’ve experienced things that make you very happy, or very sad. We can use those feelings, those emotions, and apply them to our characters, no matter what situation they’re in. You could be very happy that you’re on Mars. You could be very sad that walking like a dragon is difficult. You could be absolutely ecstatic about being able to go through walls.

Write what you know could also be how the environment affects you. What it’s like to feel warmth on your face. What’s it like to walk through snow for the first time? I’m sure you can think of many other examples of these kinds of things. Walking through snow might be like walking on Mars. I’m not so sure about that. And a ghost might be sad that it can no longer feel the sun on its face.

Writing what you know could also be something like what it’s like to learn a new skill. So, how difficult it is physically, or mentally. You know what that feels like, don’t you?

Do you see where this is going?

Write what you know isn’t just about literally what you’ve done, it’s using your experiences and translating them into the experiences a character has, in totally different situations and, sometimes, on totally different worlds.

So, next time you hear someone say write what you know, you’ll know to think outside of that restrictive box of things that you know literally and to use your experiences instead.

Thank you for watching. You might also like to watch this video here, which is about writing every day. You’ll find it on my channel page. 

Until next time.

ooo000ooo

If you'd like to follow my channel, where you'll also find middle grade book reviews and some short stories, you can click this link.

How I Write a Story to a Random Prompt - Episode Two (2020)


Have you ever wondered how other people go about writing stories? Wonder no more. This is the first of a series where I write a story in virtual time and show you my process. Plus, you get a story to read.




Video Transcription

Hi, everyone and welcome back to another episode of Get Writing Now. And, as I promised last week, today, I’m going to be talking about how I write a story, or one particular story. And this story is going to be written from a prompt.


So, in order to find a prompt, I went to a plot generator site on the Internet. There are lots of these things around, but this one gave you ten examples of a first line for a story. And I found a rather interesting one in my first selection. This is it

I always wanted to be a porcupine – until it happened. 

How’s that for random?

So, where to start?

Well, I know virtually nothing about porcupines, or I didn’t so the first thing I did, was I went to Wikipedia and looked them up. Now, Wikipedia isn’t always the best place to find information, but for something like this where the facts don’t matter so much, I decided that’s the place to go. 

These are the things I found out:

  • There are two types of porcupines – Old World and New World.
  • Some New World porcupines live in trees. Hmm. Didn’t know that.
  • They’re generally a nocturnal animal.
  • Their quills have these little barbs on them that stick into the skin, so they won’t come out.
  • And they can live as long as 27 years.

So, that’s all very well, but how does that make a story? 

Well, the first thing I thought of was a race and magic. Now, magic is the obvious one. If you suddenly become a porcupine, what else is that, other than some kind of magic? And the race came from the fact that they were tree animals, so I had this image of them racing up a tree. Why not?

Okay, so the character is in a race and they’re climbing up a tree, and they’ve created a spell. At this point I’m thinking that it’s a race where losing is going to be devastating to the main character. I don’t really know how, in what way. I have no idea what’s going to happen.

So, let’s get started. Here’s the first paragraph I came up with.

I always wanted to be a porcupine – until it happened. Somehow, my subconscious brain managed to link that fact to the spell at exactly the wrong moment. Yes, I thought animal. Yes, I thought spiky. But, honestly, I was hoping for something more like a dragon with a lethal tail. It did have one advantage, though. I became so small that they couldn’t see me.

Okay, so that was the first paragraph done, which was literally my brain spewing out thoughts onto the page. What next? It’s definitely running away … to save its life? I think that’s clear in my head. 

So, how can we use trees and night-time?

When you can’t outrun, there are always the trees, and the dark of night added to the camouflage. But, I forgot it was autumn and the moment I started to jiggle the branches, crunchy leaves began to bite at the air with their dying tune.

I was immediately pursued.

Okay, so I’m still not sure exactly what the pursuers are like, but I do know how they’re going to be fought. I need to work out the effects and the outcome, because this is supposed to be a very short story, so I don’t have many words left.

Four sets of orange, glowing eyes slunk up the trunk behind me. I had only one option. I shot a ring of quills into the bark, creating a painful barrier that would slow them down enough. It was surprisingly freeing and made it easier for me to move. I tried to shut out their hissing, because who knew what I’d end up as if my brain added that to a spell. It didn’t bear thinking about.

Oh, right. 

This is where I go back to the Internet to look up hissing animals and I get the final line, which is …

A hissing scorpion. Here we go again.

And, at this point, I realise what the title is. Epic Fail 6,582.

So, that’s my basic story, but it’s not nearly finished yet. Now comes the hard part, the editing. I’m not going to bore you with all the ins and outs of that, ‘cos it takes a while. But here is the final story and I’m going to put them side by side, so that you can compare them. Now, you might not be able to see that on a small screen, but you could either look at it on a big screen, or take a screen shot. And, obviously, I won’t be able to fit into the page, as well. So, I’m going away.

***

Epic Fail 6,582

I always wanted to be a porcupine – until it happened. Somehow, my subconscious brain managed to link that obscure fact, hidden in a tiny, inaccessible nook, to the spell I was casting, at exactly the wrong moment. Yes, I’d thought animal. Yes, I’d thought spiky. But, honestly, I was hoping for something more like a dragon with a lethal tail, than a much smaller rodent with a line in lethal quills.

It did have one advantage, though. I became so small that they couldn’t easily see me in the undergrowth. But, they weren’t going to stay still and I knew they were faster than me in that form.

When you can’t outrun, there are always the trees, and the dark of night provided a little extra camouflage. But, me being me, I forgot it was autumn and the moment I started to jiggle the branches with my rapid ascent, crunchy leaves began to bite at the air with their dying tune.

Four sets of orange, glowing eyes slunk up the tree behind me, weaving back and forth as if they were trying to make a living basket. I stared down at my body. It was my only weapon. I shot a ring of quills into the bark, creating a barrier that would be painful for them to traverse and slow them down enough for my next awesome move – another spell. The process was surprisingly freeing. For a start, it made it easier for me to move. 

I tried to shut out their hissing, because who knew what I’d end up as if my brain added that to the magical concoction. 

Oh, right. A hissing scorpion. 

Here we go again.
  
***

And that’s it. When I’m writing I often like to leave the ending open for the reader’s interpretation, especially when it’s a very short story like this, because you don’t have time to explain an awful lot. And, as you’ll see, I’ve explained very little about this world, or the main character. The only thing we really know is that they get distracted when creating spells and that they’re fleeing from some slinky, slidey animals that may, or may not be, snake-like.

I’ll be doing some more of these story creation videos in the future, so make sure you subscribe if you want to see them.

If you enjoy writing stories, you might want to check out the video mentioned here, which you’ll find on my channel page.

Until next time.

ooo000ooo

If you'd like to follow my channel, where you'll also find middle grade book reviews and some short stories, you can click this link.

 

Write Every Day? New Year's Resolutions for Kids - Episode One (2020)

As a kid, do you struggle to think of New Year's resolutions that are relevant to you? Have you ever thought about making creative writing one of yours? Writing regularly is one of the best ways to get better at it. Why not watch this video to find out more, or, if you prefer, you can read the transcription of what I say below.



Video Transcription


Hi, everyone and welcome to the new format for Get Writing Now. As you can see, I have a blackboard over to my right, to put up the important points that we’re going to discuss.

Let’s get started.

As it’s the New Year and everyone will be thinking about New Year’s Resolutions, I thought we could talk about writing every day. Does that sound like something you’d want to put on your New Year’s Resolutions list?

Writing every day is one of those rules that’s always talked about when you’re an adult and a writer. And it makes sense. Writing is no different from any other skill. You have to practise to get better.

Think about when you practise a musical instrument, or you practise because you’re on the sports team. Practice makes perfect.

But just how much writing do you need to do to become a good writer?

Have you ever heard of the 10,000 hours rule? The popular interpretation of this is that you need to practise for 10,000 hours to become good at something. That’s a lot of hours.

I’m not sure 10,000 hours are necessary, but you do need to practise, because practice makes perfect. 

So, how much should you practise every day? Well, that depends on you as a person, but goals need to be realistic in order to stick to them. So, maybe something like fifteen minutes a day, or every other day, or even a couple of times a week. It’s all practice. And it will make you a better writer.

So, are you going to put writing as one of your New Year’s Resolutions? If the answer’s yes, then make sure you subscribe to get weekly writing tips.

Next week, I’ll be showing you how I write a very short story. Sort of in real time, but obviously, not actually in real time. Let’s call it in virtual real time.

See you then.

ooo000ooo

If you'd like to follow my channel, where you'll also find middle grade book reviews and some short stories, you can click this link.

Editing a Previous Story - Episode Six (2020)

Hi, everyone. In this episode, I show you how I edited Truth Be Told, the story from a couple of weeks back. Video Transcript Hi, e...