A Writing Masterclass Success

Shani knew there was something not quite right with her opening chapters but didn’t know what.

She asked if I could put my finger on it.

So I did.

After identifying the problem areas, we did a masterclass, shaping and honing those skewed elements and ensuring a good understanding was achieved.

My enormously apt pupil Shani Struthers had this to say: apple

`John was fabulous to deal with, he’s direct but he’s funny with it and very encouraging. I thought I knew loads by the time I came to novel number three, but I made mistakes and John showed me how to fix them… from this point onwards, I hope! John’s also very quick, which, as an impatient soul, I really appreciated. So, if you’re stuck on a WIP, if you need guidance, if you just don’t know who to turn to next – I’ve got one word for you – John! He really does have great analytic instinct for what works and what doesn’t, and certainly knows how to explain his findings in the simplest of ways.`

Read Shani’s full review on her blog: http://shanisite.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/a-master-class-in-writing/

Thank you, Shani. It was a pleasure.

More details on the masterclass process coming soon.

Kimi wins GOLD

Kimi just received her 15th 5 star review…

Wowee what a journey.. just finished reading KIMI’S SECRET and I didnt want the journey to end! An amazingly super quadruple twisting non end – was sucked in all the way and Im still in the world of heart. I wanna learn to fling a stunner, create a twirly and get me some mojo!! Will pass on liquifying dodo brain delicasy tho! Brilliant story, Harry Potter got nothing on KIMI.”

Awesome! Thank you, Liz!

 

Kimi’s Secret: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005ZCQ91W

Look Before You Write!

 

Rejection, rejection, rejection…

GOOD WRITING – THE ART – THE CRAFT

Why, why, why?

Easy – you didn’t look backwards, and you didn’t look closely enough, didn’t stare until your brain throbbed, didn’t ASK ENOUGH QUESTIONS.

Let’s get serious for a few hundred moments and talk about the craft of good writing.

Good writing needs a soul.

Call it planning, call it exploring, call it good writing, call it being clever, call it all of those things, because that’s what it is.

Writing is the most human thing as close to human as there can be.

Poor writing is the outspilling of subconscious regurgitated crudely by cognisant and supposedly mindful consciousness.

Good writing is the ability to tell your cognisant self to shut the hell up while you go and look backwards and have a good stare.

Think before you speak, they teach us. Well, they should also teach us to think before we write, (not to mention `think before we read` but that’s another blog).

`I lost the plot`

`I didn’t do a plan`

`I don’t have a synopsis`

Sound familiar?

The most common rejection notes:

`Your story, although well-written, didn’t quite hook me`

`Your story didn’t quite get me going, and I therefore don’t feel I would be the best to represent you`

`Although your novel started well, I feel the story started to wander off by chapter 13`

`I did enjoy the writing, and the character of Edward is certainly engaging, but the storyline is weak, needs purpose and originality`

`We found the elements of plot cliché`

`This story has been told before`

`this is downright plagiarism`

Okay so I made a few up, but you get my point?

So where do 95% of writers go wrong?

Understanding.

Or more precisely the lack of.

They don’t understand how to get the best from their own mind.

Mind?

Call it the muse – because that’s easy to picture.

But don’t go confusing the muse with some deep and exalting all-knowing demi-god who, if you catch him on a good day, is going to come and do your dishes for you and tell you the secret of the universe.

(it’s 42 by the way)

So, there endeth the lesson. Understand your subconscious for what it is, stare at it intently until it can cough no more. And understand your conscious for what it isn’t, and you’ll do just fine.

`Wait!` I hear you shriek, `I really can’t work that way`

And `Oh, I can’t write that way – it’s just not me`

And `Not for me. I let my characters find their own direction`

Well, that’s why your book is rubbish.

That’s why you will get rejected.

Flying by the seat of your pants seldom, rarely, hardly ever, once in a blue moon, works.

Flying by the seat of your pants should be conducted at the beginning, the creation, where it can be halted, tweaked, and put on the right path, NOT when actually writing your novel.

Let’s get one thing straight… I understand you, I understand what you’re saying, but writing by the flying seat of one’s bloomers is easy peasy. Good writing, good storytelling, is not.

If you wish to stand at the river (d’nile) and continue to bleat that planning is not your bag, that your characters must do the walking and talking, that flying by the seat of your pants is the only way for you, then you are excused.

If you’re still here, let’s take a look at how to hook your reader and make your story a great one.

PLAN

`I can’t`

Shut up and listen

Good writing is difficult to achieve; be that a letter, a document, a blog post, a short story, a poem, a piece of graffiti, or even a full-blown novel.

We’ve all been there, staring at the blank page, wondering how this thing that was at first a piece of genius will ever get finished/get moving/get over the plot hole, etc.

Truth is, you shouldn’t have started in the first place… at least not writing the bloody thing.

Rewind

The idea sparkles. You see a character, maybe another. The story idea excites you. What if? What if? What if?

And so, you might assign a title, character names, choose a setting, and get down to writing.

`It’s my only way`

`My characters lead the way`

`My characters are acting odd`

`Ohh, I never expected that to happen`

And then you type: THE END

And watch those `standard` rejections drop in your inbox.

`Your story, although well-written, didn’t quite hook me`

`Your story didn’t quite get me going, and I therefore don’t feel I would be the best to represent you`

`Although your novel started well, I feel the story started to wander off by chapter 13`

And so on.

`Standard` because so many make the same mistake.

So what did you do wrong?

You submitted your plan. That’s what.

`But it took me a year to write that`

Yes it did.

But you spent far too much time poring over the conscious detail, and failed to look at the bigger, deeper picture:

THE RELEVANT DETAIL OF GOOD STORY-TELLING PROWESS.

You failed to capitalise on the strengths of your subconscious

You failed to examine those relevant details

You failed to STARE

You stood at the river and ignored the niggling doubts that are plot holes, cliché, and downright plagiarism

You stood at the river, convinced that enough was enough

Be it a letter, a document, a blog post, a short, a flash or a novel, if you want it to be great, if you want it to work: STARE and PLAN!

Imagine a beginning

Now imagine one or more possible endings

Be satisfied that the beginning and the possible ending is not clichéd, plagiarised, or dull-as-muck slush

Now, in your mind, fill in some middle scenes to get your story from A to Z

Does every scene entice?

Does it?

Really?

Really, really, really?

Be totally satisfied

Don’t kid yourself

Be hard on yourself

Be disciplined

STARE at it!

Realise that this possible novel idea is just that – novel – that this work WILL be original, exciting, and WILL have readers begging for more

Get to this stage and you a rare bird indeed

No open up that fresh-shiny-new blank doc

Title it: “private, and not ever in a million years for publication, no sir, no siree

This will become your blueprint, scene run, storyboard, road map, skeleton, all of those things.

This is a precious document

Keep it safe, respect it, but above all use it and abuse it, stare at it, work backwards, mould it to the greatest thing it can be

Start writing

Let the story ideas flow

Opening scene – bingo!

Next scene – bingo!

Next scene – bingo!

And on

Write this `plan` in rough, shorthand, acronyms, contractions and scribbles and add notes and create new sections for characters, places, props, research and so on and make sure you are having the most gut-chuckling fun you ever can have while doing so.

Play your muse

Go one step further and conjure up another muse

And maybe even another

Build your creation

Don’t watch it grow – MAKE it grow.

When you’ve found your next scene jot it down.

Dissect it, question it, question it, question it, ask your muse how many directions this scene could take, ask him, go on. Examine the answers, working backwards from the ending to see if you might have the best possible way upon which to reach the desired conclusion.

Stare at it in wonder and the more you stare the more answers and ideas will come.

With practice, the muse becomes more giving. The more you poke him the more he’ll cough. The more you question, the cleverer he will become and so the act of planning, creating that rough-written skeleton becomes easier, too.

Write fast, let it flow, but always question it, always look for BETTER ways from new angles.

Fill in those scenes with the end goal in mind

Along the way you will find plot holes to fill

Fill them… there’s ALWAYS a way

You will uncover the most brilliant gems

Use them to mould your story into something beautiful, something that WILL hook that reader/agent/publisher.

This is the Art, the Craft

When the scene run/storyboard/road map/skeleton is complete, leave it alone for a week or two.

When you go back to it, start at the beginning, examining the detail, working backwards from your knowledge of the current `end scene`, working backwards and inserting new-found gems, moulding the content to make it sharper, fresher, original.

And keep on going, always on the lookout for plot holes and gems, always convincing yourself that reader will be satisfied, hooked.

Keep on going until skeleton version 2 is complete.

Then put it away for a week or two.

Repeat

And repeat

And repeat

Until you feel you have got something WORTH putting into actual written form

If you really, really do feel that your skeleton is worth jangling in peoples faces; really feel that you have something original, something that no reader, and possibly even a publisher might resist, then now is the time to start writing the actual novel.

Now is the time to rattle off the first few chapters and bother your peers

No earlier than this

Not until you’re truly satisfied that you really might have something

Ask your peers for steers

Take them, use them

Get the writing down in the engaging fashion you are capable of and get flesh on the skeleton scenes

Keep on going ‘til  

THE END

Then leave it a month or two

Let it stew

Now it’s time for the first edit

Examine your fleshy skeleton with fresh eyes

Imagine yourself as a sculptor, fine-tuning

Or an artist tweaking his brush

Tidy the writing

Trim the fluff

Keep the storyline on a buoyant, undulating wave but never so distant that it might vanish from sight

Uncover new gems

Pat down the holes

Use, insert, tweak

THE END

Hiatus

Repeat

Now what have you got?

An engaging, original story, hopefully.

Here’s the important parts again, just in case you missed them.

Good writing is hard – get over it.

Plan.

Rough out the first scene

Rough out the last

Fill in the middle bit

Stew

Fiddle – and every time you fiddle: WORK BACKWARDS, constantly questioning, constantly staring and creating better

This is THE CRAFT – THE ART – THE JOY

Stew

Fiddle

Allow peers to steer

Fiddle again

Stew

And now, and only now, using your skill as the brilliant writer that you are, use your rough-written run of scenes and write the thing into the blank pages and watch your novel take its written form

Peers steer

Stew

Fiddle

Stew

Fiddle

Et Voilà

THE END

This is good, enjoyable creation

 THE ART -THE CRAFT

 

 

My editing services:  http://www.johnhudspith.co.uk/5.html

Buy Kimi’s Secret for PC or Kindle: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005ZCQ91W

But Kimi’s Secret paperback: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kimis-Secret-John-Hudspith/dp/1908603755/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

 

 

 

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FREE paranormal fantasy download

FREE for one last time until next time.

*13 five star reviews

“Like Harry Potter with wheels” one reviewer said (whatever that means)

“A hugely satisfying read” said quite a few.

“I was nearly sick” said a couple of old biddies.

“This is disgusting” said `disgusted from the Wirral`.

“Twilight eat your heart out” said another (which made me giggle)

“Fifty shades of snot” remarked one cool dude.

“Thank Lucifer there’s no vampire crap” said Larry from London.

Aliens are greylians in this weird little tale and Kimi must race against time and dodge their waggling tongues and abduction beams before claiming victory and saving all the universes.

Scary cloned clown boys, famoose (rodents with wings who eat rotten teeth), and the snot spitting taxidermist and master of calculus: Charlie Babbage all come to Kimi’s aid.

With a cast of half a million evil crows and some canny imploding giant toads, how can any reader resist such a noxious concoction?

A cracking tale for all ages that will leave you gagging and sleeping with the light on.

Grab it while you can. FREE!

Download to your Kindle or to your PC

Did you know you can download a free Kindle app from Amazon?

Well you can and it only takes two minutes.

Download Kimi’s Secret FREE: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005ZCQ91W

FREE eBook

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005ZCQ91W

Kimi’s Secret Wins Gold !!!

“Intelligent, professional, creative and worthy of a great deal of praise.”

 

Receiving these comments from such a respected reviewer as Perry Iles makes the slog worthwhile. My athlete, trained from birth, just came back with gold…

 

 Kimi’s Secret – John Hudspith

Reviewed by Words With Jam columnist and reviewer Perry Iles

 

There’s a story in here, and a good one at that, a tale told for children and young adults that doesn’t patronise its audience or insult their intelligence. Here is a story that tells itself at its own pace, allowing the suspense to extend across several chapters as the characters develop and interact, a story that runs along as a series of set pieces filled with action and adventure. Kimi Nichols is a girl approaching her eleventh birthday. She lives in the Cornish town ofMousehole, and wants nothing more than a ride in a pink limo for her birthday. She’s a normal kid; wears pink, loves her mum and dad, but something very abnormal is about to happen to her, heralded by swarms – murders in fact – of crows (would a small group of crows be an attempted murder, I wonder?) and by a thunderstorm of supernatural proportions that appears to sweep her parents into oblivion.

 

So instead of a pink limo, Kimi gets Bentley, her tulpa, a composite of her own thoughts and emotions that she unknowingly conjured into being when she was threatened by a giant cat on Bodmin Moor at the age of five. Bentley is a beautifully imagined character, an original creation who shifts arbitrarily from youth to old age and back again on a whim, and who acts as the reader’s guide whilst simultaneously educating Kimi into the ways of her new life. This could be really clumsy and awkward, a fictional trope calling attention to itself in a way that screams of affectation, but Hudspith pulls it off superbly, with no convoluted dialogue or lumpy downloads of fact.

 

Bentley tells Kimi that her life has been a hollow sham, that she is in fact a premature Balancer, someone who helps hold worlds in harmony. Hold on a minute… we’ve been here before, haven’t we? Young boy with National Health specs and a lightning scar gets taken from normal surroundings and shoved through a station platform wall into the wonderful world of wizardry? Well maybe there are some similarities in approach, but Hudspith has the imagination and the ability to make this different enough to retain originality. Threatened by crows, protected by a mass of verminous tooth-fairies, Bentley and Kimi come to Heart, a land of fantasy brought to life very successfully in a style that is bright, imaginative and colourful. They are taken to Middling, a slightly Tolkienesque city surrounded by rocky ridges with an immense mountain as a backdrop. But Hudspith’s originality reminds us we’re not in Middle Earth. “Rocky terrain led to potholed fields which in turn met swampy marshland that smelled like sick”. The fairies, famoose as they’re called, subsist on rotten teeth, crunching them like crumbly rock. It’s not exactly Rivendell and Galadriel, is it? No, and all the better for it. Kimi’s Secret is a book that ploughs its own furrow through the landscape of fantasy as Heart comes to life, as a bewildered and frightened Kimi meets adepts, greylians, other balancers and Rehd, a simian police chief on a quad-bike. Kimi makes friends with Sue the Guy – a chef who one might imagine as a kind of gay Hagrid, and with Stella, a punky, attitudinal girl, described in a one-for-the-dads kind of way as an attractive, leather-clad balancer appointed as Kimi’s mentor. Like Bentley, Stella guides Kimi and the reader deeper into the landscape and traditions of Heart, and like Bentley, Stella’s role is well written and smoothly executed.

 

Such encounters and the tests Kimi is forced to go through keep the reader entertained. Somewhere in the background, as the pages go on, there’s a sense of “where’s the story gone” as the set pieces follow, each hot on the heels of the last, with no let-up in imaginative setting and description. Somehow I found myself well and truly immersed in the book before I began to think that something ought to happen soon, and just in time, it did. Kimi discovers that her parents appear to have been killed as they were on the verge of making an exciting discovery. To rescue them, Kimi, Bentley, Rehd the police chief, Sue the Guy and Stella must join forces and survive perilous and at times wonderfully nauseating encounters as they pursue Kimi’s parents and unravel the story in a series of revelations and adventures…

 

So the book has style, imagination, effortless scene-setting and characterisation and a fair chunk of originality going for it. And, as I said before, it’s a page-turner.

 

What doesn’t the book have? A good editor might have suggested bringing Kimi herself to life a little more. She has a slightly deformed hand: Little Hand she calls it, her left, which she can’t open properly and which gets pins and needles as a kind of harbinger or internal barometer of impending threat. This deformity sticks in the reader’s mind and is explained later as an aid to accuracy, but whilst Sue, Rehd and Stella are well-described, there’s a hole in the centre where an image of Kimi should be. A good editor might tell Hudspith to fill this hole, but even a good editor is sometimes wrong. The reader has to imagine Kimi, which is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we don’t really know what she looks like – an average English girl of around eleven, likes jeans and superman t-shirts, is affronted by the fact that the colour pink is outlawed on Heart. But on the other hand, it means we have to use our imagination. We’re used to living in a world where Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are indistinguishable from Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, but a little bit of mental exercise is no bad thing, surely. We can each keep a picture of our own Kimi-composite in our heads (until such time as they film the book, when someone from a famous drama school will no doubt stop us from this unpleasant chore of having to think for ourselves.) Hudspith says that this lack of pictorial description of Kimi was deliberate, and in the final analysis that’s no bad thing. Should we rely on the Disney takes for our mental pictures of Snow White and Cinderella? What about Peter and Lucy and Edmund and Susan from the Narnia books? Or Tracey Beaker? And don’t forget that Santa Claus never wore a red suit until the Coca Cola company put him in it. The fact that these characters have all been brought to life commercially shouldn’t prevent readers from having their own mental pictures of them. Pictures they drew themselves. So, go off into your head and make up your own Kimi. Hudspith’s given you the room, knock yourself out. And while you’re doing that, you might tip your hat in John Hudspith’s direction as a gesture of appreciation for not hammering a picture of a character to the wall of your own internal canvas.

 

In the end, the tale is brought to a very satisfying conclusion, a clever reworking of the start of the story that’s intelligent, professional, creative and worthy of a great deal of praise. It’s an ending that’s bold and, as far as this tale is concerned, finite. It’s not one of those wishy-washy American endings that leave everything open so that the writer can cash in on the sequel, and yet the ending of Kimi’s Secret promises more, promises a series by finishing with what’s basically the start of book two – a book which, if Kimi’s Secret is anything to go by, holds out a great deal of promise.

 

To conclude then, John Hudspith has the imagination and the style to keep his characters three-dimensional and his story interesting and eventful in a setting that’s well-realised and colourful. If Kimi’s Secret is the opening volume in a series, I can only wish the stories luck and hope that mainstream success can follow.

***

For me, the greatest challenge when composing a written piece, no matter how long or how short, is to make that final connection with reader. To be told that you have done that in an original and entertaining way is pure gold. Thank you, Perry Iles you made it all worthwhile!

This is why I Iove writing

Despite the creaking joints and sore head as the Olster hauled me round the lake, there was a sniff of something good in the air this morning.

Despite the abundant litter, a dead eel, and an extremely large dog turd that looked frighteningly fresh and chocolate mousse-like and good enough to – er, no, we won’t go there; despite the low thrumming sound all-of-a-sudden coming from my exhaust (my car’s exhaust – not er, mine), despite that it’s now warm enough to hang the washing out which means I can no longer be lazy and shove it in the dryer, despite the fact that the black pudding’s out of date and my goose egg will never be the same without it, despite all that, I came home to an email which made me float out of my chair…

…I don’t know how you do it but Kimi is amazing. I was telling my hubby this morning. I’m at where Kimi has to eat brains. Oh my god that is so ?@;#$%&#! and  @#~&%, so gross, I can’t put it down and don’t want it to end. This book has kept me hooked all the way through and that’s rare for any book to do that. You must write more and more and more!  Jessica…

Thank you, Jessica. I’m off to hug a tree.