Monthly Archives: May 2015

Taking the leap

Last month I decided that crying in my car after work every day probably wasn’t healthy. So I handed in my notice. It’s now been a week since my last day at work and I’ve been trying to make a go of it as a freelance proofreader and copyeditor. I just completed my first job – a 3,000 word proofread of a warehouse logistics study.

I’ve given myself two weeks to get things up and running, before turning my attentions primarily to finding a more traditional job. The first week has been one of learning – learning how Elance works, for starters. Learning a bit about how to win jobs there. Learning that now procrastination will have a real-terms impact on my ability to earn money. Also I’ve picked up learning French again, and signed up for several FutureLearn courses (it’s interesting and who knows, maybe something I learn will inspire a story or help me win a proofreading job).

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How to Hunt and Care for Wild Ideas

Many new writers complain that they can’t find Ideas, or that no Ideas are coming to them. But of course an Idea won’t just walk up and ask to be petted, it’s not a dog – it’s a wild animal. If you want an Idea, you have to hunt it.

Tools to Hunt Ideas

Every hunter needs their tools and weapons, and to prepare before they depart on their hunt. This is no different for the Idea hunter. Your most important weapon is a Note-maker. Traditionally, this was a notebook and pen (or sometimes pencil), though unprepared hunters who spot a wild Idea have been known to use receipts, napkins and envelopes. The modern, high-tech Idea hunters use phones and tablets with memo or word processing apps. Other Idea hunters prefer the dictaphone or voice recording app.

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This character sketch thing is difficult (Week 2 of Start Writing Fiction)

Since Monday I’ve been working my way through the second week of the Open University’s Start Writing Fiction course on FutureLearn. The initial exercises proved to be reasonably easy. The first was to consider the best and worst place to write, in my opinion, and then put a character into each one. I think I got the idea of place reasonably well, but failed to put into practice the concepts of showing character explored in week 1. The second was about using fluff phrases to start a sentence, before rewriting the paragraph to remove the fluff phrase. Again, I think I managed okay with the exercise itself, but didn’t put character into either one.

The third and final exercise troubles me. The prompt was to turn on the radio and use the first thing I heard as the basis for a short story, but the exercise also had specific instructions to include week 1’s concepts. Using physical description, actions, backstory and so on to reveal personality.

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My first week on the Start Writing Fiction course

I’ve recently started a free online course with FutureLearn called Start Writing Fiction, run by the Open University. The course focuses on characters; after all, a story is nothing without them. I certainly think it’s important to have characters who feel like real people and who are distinct and interesting. Since I don’t know everything and am some way away from having some published novels out there, I thought I’d give this course a go and see what I could learn.

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