Writer’s Diary 6: Every Sentence

 

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I recently finished a novel. It was a love novel, one of those ones you write because you love the subject or something about it. I love meta-fiction – it’s a meta-fiction novel.

But now that I have finished, what next? I’m now writing another novel, this one may be a series, but we will see.

I’ve come to realise that I missed the love I have for writing and words and sentences. I lost that lovin’ feeling with the publication of my novel, The Neighbour. I got all wound up in the expectations that I put on myself to promote on social media.

But I’ve wound all that back and loving writing again. What do I love? I love that every sentence is an opportunity to convey meaning – and that is simply it. I love sentences.

I love my chair, the blank page, and sentences.

 

Quicky Writer’s Health For Back Pain & Mental Fatigue: Writer’s Diary 5

I’m sharing with you my fabulous, and quick – and when I say quick I mean minutes – daily remedies that work for me,  I hope they help you too.

These two simple things take a few minutes. For back health, four simple yoga exercises that are wonderful for back pain,and for mental fatigue an easy and quick meditation app.

 

LEG-OVER

(Photo credit: Jill Miller)

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Lie on back with arms stretched out to the side

Raise right leg until pointing straight up

Move the raised leg left across the body & try to lower to the floor

Keep both shoulders on the floor

Turn your head to the right – hold for 5-20 secs then raise the leg again and lower back straight

Repeat with left leg.

 

2. ALTERNATE LEG STRETCH

(Photo credit: Yoga Basics)

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Sit with right leg straight out in front of you, place the bottom of the left foot against the right thigh.

Slide your hands down your leg as far as you can, curling your spine, then grasp your leg where ever you are at, knee, calf, ankle – hold for a few seconds.

Repeat with other leg. Do both legs three times.

 

3CROSS-BEAM

(Photo credit: Blue Osa)

parighasana

 

Kneel on the floor

Stretch your right leg out to the right

Keep your left knee directly in line below your left hip and align your right heel with the left knee.

Place your right arm on your right leg

Bend your torso to the right, aiming to put your right ear on your right arm

Lift your left arm over your head, aiming to bring it down to the right and put palms of both hands together ( I did say aiming)

Keep facing forward, and hold it for a few seconds

Repeat on the other side

 

4 CROSSED KNEE BEND

(Photo credit: Yoga Journal)

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Stand, and cross your right ankle over your left. Place toes beside each other

Inhale, then as you bend forward, slowly exhale and bring fingers as close to floor as you can. Let your head hang

Exhale completely, relax abdomen, wait as the abdomen is voluntarily sucked upwards

Straighten and inhale

Repeat on other leg

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… and for mental health/fatigue, to take you out of that deep writer-thinking-mode and relax your brain muscles, I use a meditation app on my phone that takes ten minutes.The app is the Head Space app which has the first ten sessions for free so you can try it out. I bought the whole thing and use it most days.

What do you do for writer’s health?

 

 

 

 

That Word When: Writer’s diary, 3.

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There’s nothing wrong with the word ‘when’, and many many writers, including myself, use it in the way that I’m about to tell you can distance your reader from the action and lose them a little bit; they might start thinking of cats and drop the book and look around for the kitty litter tray and never come back. I’ve just read this sentence at the beginning of my chapter 9:

When Ulrik breathes in the taste of hot dust, he remembers where he is.” And I’ve edited out two words, ‘when’ and ‘he’. “Ulrik breathes in the taste of hot dust, and remembers where he is.”

The difference is that the word ‘when’  means the action is not happening now, it happened at some time in the past or will happen some time in the future. There’s no urgency to keep reading, it’s not happening right now, and there’s probably no dire consequences bc Ulrik is perfectly fine right now. Taking out that word ‘when’ has dropped the reader right into the action.

Clunky sentences? Read that stuff out loud. Writer’s Diary: 2

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The last thing I do before moving on to the next chapter to edit, is read that thing out loud — shut the door and say it loud! — It’s a piece of advice people give you but you never do, right? I started doing it b/c the couple of times I’ve had to record a short story for radio and podcasts, I found that in the act of doing so I picked up so many clunky phrases or yucky sentences. And it’s especially helpful if you’re a fan of sentences that have rhythm and feel good and are nice to listen to. After reading my stories for said radio/podcast I actually changed a lot of words and had to resubmit the written story. If you imagine, while reading, that it is for radio and therefore u need to pronounce clearly, it really hones in on those ugly words – and you never know when, in the future, you might have to read that out loud to someone, so best fix that shit now.

Writer’s Diary: 1

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(Apologies for the repost, I’m changing my theme and rearranging my blog.)

THE process an author goes through is detailed and individual. In Writer’s Diary I will dip in and note what it is that I do to create my current novel. The posts will be short and to the point, and, on the topic of writing, only. I hope it is useful to both you and me!

I’m currently working my way through a draft of ABSENCE. It’s something like the fifth or sixth draft. (when I think about it, it’s a lot more than that!) As I deleted approximately 50,000w in the last draft the MS was down to about 40k, but the essence of the story is now very clear and tight. So now I’m working my way through and expanding every idea in each chapter. I’m also working backward from C60 back to C1 so that I give every attention to the individual chapters rather than getting lost in the entire story. It’s now back up to just over 63k and I’m at C28.

Jesus Sandals and Anchovette, by Joanna Atherfold Finn

 

 

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Delicate and sweet writing from the point-of-view of an eight-year-old child, but what is really great about this piece is that it’s written in second person. I haven’t read a second person story before this that isn’t in the form of letter or diary. (If you know of any, comment below I’d love to read it) In this instance it gives the reader a strong sense of being right with the character and somehow helps to put you in the mind of the child. There’s nothing bad to say about this; it’s gorgeous, a must read.

This story is from the Amanda Lohrey Selects series at Spineless Wonders Publishing.

There is so much information about the little girl (and the family) to be gleaned from these few opening sentences.

You look out the back window of the lime-green Galant to the curved struts of the rusting balcony, the top step where you grinned (gap-toothed) for your first-day-of-school photo, the pine tree with its dying centre. Behind the gate is your cubby house with foundations so deep it can’t be moved. Next door, Mr Carter is spraying his cumquat trees. You picture Mrs Carter inside sitting at the kitchen table doing her crossword, and Jesus hanging from his cross, observing her forlornly. She has told you he is all-knowing. You wonder why he doesn’t drop a hint now and then.

The sentences are dripping with descriptions of colour and images,

A row of blue-headed pins protruded from her pillowy lips. Her smooth forehead bobbed as you revolved in tiny increments.

and descriptions that can pull you back right there with the little girl. We know where they are even before it’s made clear.

He leads you through glass doors with his hand clamped around the back of your neck, past nicotine-yellow tables, over kaleidoscope carpet. A row of men are perched on stools, their thick arms bent across blue towels, their hairy legs dangling. Their hair is shrinking into their skulls. They are stunted and swollen like the puffer fish you poke with a stick on the beach.

 

 

Lychees or Peaches? with author, Adrian Deans: in which Adrian doesn’t tell us the meaning of life.

 

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1 Hard questions first, Adrian:

Lychees or Peaches?

Seeing as I’d rather suck petrol out of a hose before eating lychees, I guess it’s peaches.

 

2 If you were written about in a newspaper, what would the headline say?

Abbott’s Axe-murderer Receives Thanks of Nation

 

3 What is your favourite line from a book or movie?

Too many to choose from… Maybe: “Is sex dirty?” “Only if it’s done right.” (Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex); OR “Anyone who doublecross Tuco and leave him alive…does not understand Tuco.” (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) OR “Oh…and what’s so stinking about it?” (A Clockwork Orange)

 

4 What genre do you usually write in? And why do you think this is so?

 

I started out writing strange speculative fiction stories but accidentally morphed into an offbeat crime novelist. I certainly did not do this on purpose. My first stories were very ‘high concept’ and required a lot of work from the reader…they didn’t get published. I turned to writing screenplays and learned a huge amount about telling a story through dialogue and being very direct about getting from plot point to plot point. I also relaxed into my natural style – allowing some understated humour to enter the stories. Then when I tried again to write a novel, armed with my screenwriting skills and a very commercial story idea, the half-written draft (Mr Cleansheets) was accepted by the first publisher to whom I showed it. I found I enjoyed exploring the (slightly comic) dark side and seemed to have a talent for it. So I have increasingly focussed my writing in that direction.

 

5 Tell me a secret about yourself that nobody in the whole world knows? Go on tell me, nobody but me is listening.

 

I have discovered the meaning of life.

 

6 What is your latest book about?

 

My last book (Straight Jacket) was about a life sculptor – a lawyer who takes an interest in strangers and pulls strings in the shadows to change their lives as he thinks they deserve. At the same time the story is also being told from the perspective of a detective in charge of a serial killer investigation, but the detective can hardly focus on the case when his boss hates him, his deputy is trying to undermine him, and the woman he loves is having an affair. As it says on the back cover: In the cicada-throbbing heat of a Sydney summer, the threads of a strange story tangle together in a wild conclusion no-one will see coming.

 

7 How did you come up with the title? Did it come to fistycuffs with your editor?

 

Straight Jacket works on several levels. It is the name on the biker vests in the story; Morgen refers to his expensive suit as his ‘straight jacket’; Morgen’s greatest terror is to be regarded as bourgeois (which is a synonym for ‘straight’) and cicadas are an important transcendent theme. There is a cicada emerging from its shell on the cover. If I say any more I’ll spoil it, but no…there was no argument from the editor.

 

8 When you daydream about singing on The Voice (I know you do) which song do you sing and if you could have any celebrity judge in the world turn for you who would it be?

 

Well, I seriously don’t daydream about this…but if I did, I’d be singing Life on Mars and David Bowie would turn for me.

 

  9   What do you really, really, really, love?

 

Football, travel in Europe, great books and films, music, dinner parties with friends, excellent wine, any sort of writing success (especially good reviews) and my wife Kazzie.

 

 10 Can you show us a quick snap of your work desk? No tidy spic and span ones please. I won’t believe you.

My work desk is mainly my lap top on the train (I commute an hour each way to work every day).

 

11 Serious stuff now: where can we purchase your latest book?

 

All sorts of places (including the airport bookstores) but if in doubt:

http://www.highhorse.com.au/straight-jacket/ OR

http://www.booktopia.com.au/straight-jacket-adrian-deans/prod9780646906256.html

 

 

Thanks for taking part in Lychees or Peaches? Adrian!

If you would like to see more of Adrian you can find him here:

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http://adriandeans.wordpress.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18341665-straight-jacket

https://www.facebook.com/StraightJacket242

 

 

 

 

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