Writer's Blog

Another time, another place

Let me take you on a journey into the past, to 1937 when a young woman found love in the romantic setting of Calude Monet's France.  Immerse yourself in the beauty of his flower garden. Live with Isabelle the joy and pain of a first love.  

Read more: Another time, another place

The Cat

This sumptuous book celebrates the sheer variety of cats around the world, with beautiful photography accompanied by a lyrical and expertly-written text that describes the key characteristics of over 50 species. It also features paper press-outs, enabling you to view the cats in relief and create the most spectacular book art. Press out the cats, fan out the pages, and display your copy as a work of art on a shelf or mantelpiece.

Order from Amazon now

Dear writer: please don't TELL us, SHOW us

I am sometimes asked to read other writers' work and to offer a critique. Generally, their storyline moves along. BUT while these authors probably have a clear idea in their heads of the appearance of their characters, their surroundings and the locations in which they move, we are not mind readers. We may be told that a character is 'beautiful' another is 'amusing' or that a room is 'badly decorated', a birth is 'long and difficult' or, again, that the countryside is 'unfriendly' THIS IS JUST NOT ENOUGH. We need pictures painted for us, specific details, tellingactions or dialogue that reveals every character as an individual. Otherwise the story remains on a two dimensional level and worst of all, does not hook the reader. Showing rather than telling demands much more work so that we 'see' the characters, the locations, understand them by the way they behave. The reward will be that your reader 'feels they are there.'

WRITERS ARE POACHERS

I'm sure you've had the advice: 'write about what you know' and sometimes thought that can be quite limiting. But if you widen your horizons you'll realise that you 'know' a great deal more than you imagined. Writers like D.H. Lawrece poached without any guilt on the experiences and stories other people told him. The French writer Colette's characters were often based on people she knew. so cleverly did she do it that they never realised she was writing about THEM.So, keep a notebook and jot down snippets and stories people tell you. You don;t have to copy them slavishly but they will expand your range of 'what you know.'

Creating characters that 'live'

If I asked you which is your favourite book it is likely you'll name one where its characters have stayed long in your mind after you came to the last page. Emma in Emma Bovary, Mrs Ramsey in To the Lighthouse are just two women with whom I've shared their lives.

As a writer intent on creating strong characters  you need to know them through and through if they are going to come alive on the page.Spend some time living with them, in your imagination, 'talk' to them, preferably not in public or you might get some funny looks.

If brain storming is your thing, sit yourself down with pen and paper and sketch them out as fully as you can. This way you will know how they think, feel and act which will influence how you write about them.

 

 

Writing dialogue: a technique

There are certain rules about formatting dialogue that beginners sometimes neglect. One. It should be separated from the narrative passages. Fresh line, indent, open quotes. These are usually single in British text and double in American. Two. New line, new indent when another person is speaking. Three. a certain amount of narrative can be included, for example: 'She picked up the book and opened it at page ten,'this is what I was referring to.' Apart from allowing the reader to follow a conversation with ease, it also 'breaks up' a page of text.

Ear Wigging

Are you like me and can't resist ear wigging on other people's conversations. You know the scene: you are sipping a flat white in a cafe or riding on the top deck of a bus and you hear the most astounding or funny remarks:. 'so, I'm going to dye my hair bright green'  'you'd never believe what he keeps in that toolshed of his'

As a writer, this could set the imagination working and might spark the idea of a story.I wrote a play called THE WOMAN WHO WASHED HER KNICKERS after hearing a bizarre remark about 'flying sperm'.

My advice is to carry a notebook wherever you go and jot down these gems. You think you'll remember them, but you won't. Over time you'll collect a wealth of material that will often come in useful when you are think of what to write. 

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.

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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