Writer's Blog

The quintessential lap cat

So the Bengal cat is not for you. How about that charming feline, the Persian? You wouldn't be the first one to fall for them. They were adored by  Queen Victoria,and are now favoured throughout the world. If you are one for the quiet life, this sedate and placid cat would fit the bill. There is one problem which is now being recognised and that is the breeding that has produced a 'flat faced' cat.  Sometimes this can result in breathing problems. Better to go for the original 'doll face' where the nose is less squashed. Choose a Persian and she'll be happy to keep you company while you take some time out on the sofa. Read more in The Cat

BENGAL CATS: A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH

The longer I venture into the world of cats the more amazing I find their variety. It is clear that anyone who wants to home one of the many breeds would do

well to study their overall charscteristics. The recent spotlight shone on the Bengsl, for example, has proved my point. Unaware of what they were taking on

the unfortunate cat has beenpassed from home to home until it ended up in a rescue centre. Bengals have a highly developed hunt/kill instinct thanks to

their wild cat heritage. They are also extremely territorial and woe betide any normal sized domestic cat that strays in its path. It is probably wise to train

such felines to walk on a harness and lead rather than allow it to roam the neighbourhood and menace moggies. Friends who own two Siamese cats report

that one was almost killed by a Bengal and have resorted to keeping their pets indoors. Maybe it is time to cool this passion for owning a 'wildcat'! 

THE NINE RULES OF DIALOGUE

During the workshop we will discuss the nine rules of writing good dialogue using examples of text and short written exercises including the following:

Dialogue Must Be In Conflict

The two characters should have conflicting goals – one of them wants one thing, the other something else. The underlying tension will be all you need to keep the readers turning those pages.

Dialogue Should Drive the Story Forward

Conversations in the real world often have little or no point to them, with the circumstances of the people involved remaining unchanged at the end.

Fictional dialogue should advance the plot in some way.

Dialogue Should Characterise

Another way of giving dialogue a purpose is adding to the readers’ understanding of a character’s personality.

Dialogue Should Provide Information

Dialogue is one of the best methods there is for getting information across in a bite-sized way. If done well enough, the readers won’t even know what is happening!

Want to write dialogue that grips your reader?

Writing dialogue isn’t about imitating a real-life conversation. It’s about giving an impersonation of it and, in the process, refining it.

A fictional conversation is like real life with the dull bits removed. If you want to write realistic dialogue, your role as writer is to select what is important and then distil it down to its essence. If you've ever struggled with dialogue in your writing let me help you. I'll be leading a workshop at Ropetackle, Sh22nd September  - 2pm - 4pm

WRITING REALISTIC DIALOGUE will help you write dialogue that grips the attention and never bores your readers.

Conversation Piece

'What's the good of a book without pictures or conversation?' Alice demanded. Her creator, Lewis Carroll, made a point. OK maybe we can forgo the pictures but  a book where non of the characters speaks (or very little) makes for a monotonous read. Writers who employ mainly narrative are unconfident (I suspect) of writing realistic dialogue. It's a pity because it is a powerful tool, not only giving characters voivces but telling the reader a lot abut their character, background location, mood, thought process, feelings...need I go on? I've never found writing dialogue difficult but for those who do my advice is this: cultivate being a listener, tune in to people's voices. Keep a notebook and write down scraps of dialogue overheard. And here is the big one: eavesdrop on conversations whenever you are in a public place. Eventually the music of dialogue will enter your brain and you'll find yourself writing convincing and realistic dialogue. 

Who is telling the story?

So many writers, especially at the beginning, make mistakes over point of view. They begin a short story or  a novel telling the story through one character's eyes and then switch to the view of another character. And the reader, who is happily immersed in the story as 'told' by Character 1, is brought up short and  the illusion is lost. You, as writer, has to decide 'who is telling the story?' and stick with it. Ok, you CAN change point of view but there has to be a clear signal...beginning another chapter, for example. You are taking your reader on a journey into your character's mind. Don;t risk them getting lost. 

Acquire a cat - if you want to write.

“If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially on some piece of writing or paper-work, you should acquire a cat. Alone with the cat in the room where you work … the cat will invariably get up on your desk and settle under the desk lamp. The light from a lamp … gives the cat great satisfaction. The cat will settle down and be serene, with a serenity that passes all understanding. And the tranquillity of the cat will gradually come to affect you, sitting there at your desk, so that all the excitable qualities that impeded your concentration compose themselves and give your mind back the self-command it has lost. You need not watch the cat all the time. Its presence alone is enough. The effect of a cat on your concentration is remarkable, and very mysterious." 
*(or rather, the character of Mrs Hawkins in A Far Cry from Kensington.)

Take Your Writing Up a Notch

This is a new group with the desire to enable writers to bring their work to publication sytandasrd. We would love you to join us at Toast By The Coast 8th December at 20 am. Bring something you arre working on and let us hear it. Friendly and supportive group. No fees just a great meet up of writers.

It all began with Lizzie

The rescue of a feral cat called Lizzie set me on a mission, which continues to this day. It has been one of many obstacles but also success. My eyes have been opened to the shadowy side of Sicily, a place I believed I knew so well.

I’m a writer and journalist and, in 2002 I was having a prolonged stay in Taormina, Sicily while I worked on a book. My friend, Andrew, came to stay for a week or so and we took a trip to Castelmola, a little hill town village. The plan was to sit in a renowned old bar to taste vino al mandorla, almond wine. Instead, Andrew suggested we explore the tiny side streets and darted ahead. When I finally caught him up I found he was staring at something in silence.

            Lying on the ground was a small cat with a ghastly wound – a back leg so shattered the bones were protruding through the skin. As an ardent cat lover I knew I had to help. Many of the local people didn’t seem to care but I found a young man who suggested a vet he knew and allowed me to call him up. That was how I first met Giulio. But he couldn’t come until the evening.

Armed with torch, thick gauntlets and a humane trap, he and I prowled the dark streets until finally we caught her. Then it was back to Giulio’s surgery where she flew round the room like a cat demented until he managed to sedate her and set the break. While I waited I asked myself: why am I doing this? I knew the answer. Fate had somehow sent us down those narrow streets. Most people would have just left the cat to her fate.

The question was where could she stay while she recovered? To Giulio’s amusement I said I would nurse her in the apartment .I dared not tell my landlady what I was doing and had a terrible job hiding any traces if ever she popped in. Lizzie, I’d called her Lizzie, stayed with me for three weeks. She suffered her imprisonment in silence under the bed, emerging to scoff the tasty morsels I offered. She was my first experience of feral cats and I had no notion of their nature. Little did I know then, that I would learn a great deal more about these felines of the streets.

They have an innate mistrust of human beings. The mother cats train kittens to be quiet and stay put. A meow might attract predators. They will also make their kittens wash and wash to remove the scent of food from their fur, which again could attract the enemy. Their games prepare offspring for the life of a feral. A mother may play roughly with the dominant male kitten, training him to be an alpha male. She will teach her kittens to go to the food dish, forever watchful and poised to run, should a human appear. It is a game, but a grim one of survival.

            I was exploring new territory on this the beginning of my journey. 

Creating a character

There are many ways to create a character that is three dimensional. Description of how they look is just the start. Dialogue is a great tool. How someone speaks gives a lot away about the person they are.  Are they straight to the point or prevaricating? What is their vacabulary? Do they use certain catch phrases? How do your other characters see them? Often, different people will each see a person in a quite different light. What are their habits? Are they slovenly or super tidy to name just two. It's the old business of showing us rather than telling us about them.

A Day for 'Lovies'

The CAA (Concert Artistes Association) resides quietly in Bedford Street, just off the Strand, London. What a place, a welcoming space for 'lovies' who gathered in the delightful Jesters Bar, yesterday. I was among them, having a drink before our Scripts Live! showcase began. The walls are lined with photographs of performers and the talk was mainly theatrical. Martin Cort had assembled a group of us, all members of his Drasma group for a public reading of our plays.  Mine, WAITING, was second on the programme. It's a quirky piece, a conversation between a diffident man and a nosy woman in a hospital waiting room. Gradually she worms out of him (I use the term advisedly) that the secret of his svelteness is his friend, a tapeworm. Audience loved it and I preened in the applause. For a writer who spends so much of her time alone, it was wonderful to have such an airing and, together with friends Bev and John, we had a great afternoon.

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I am based in Shoreham-by-Sea
West Sussex

Email: info@jenniferpulling.co.uk

 

Writers Workshops

Unleash your imagination at one of my forthcoming workshops, beginners welcome, I take an organic approach which encourages the writer to sift through experience and allow it to compost in the imagination.... read more