Friday, 29 June 2012

Oh dear, I can't stop writing in blank verse

Fantastique Unfettered is still open to submissions for its Shakespeare Unfettered issue. I wanted to submit a story I wrote, but its far too short (I have unintentionally written my first ever piece of flash fiction.)

by Schnellart @ dA
I've written a piece about Ophelia, under water. I read and re-read the scene where Gertrude tells Laertes how his sister died, and tried to use similar images, and even mention plants that Gertrude talks about. Then, when I'd written a first draft, I thought about making it a real challenge to I re-wrote it in blank verse.

Good grief, I had no idea how much it would mess with my head! I don't know how Shakespeare could have held a normal conversation after a long stint writing - my brain was translating everything, and all I could hear was the iambic pentameter rhythm pounding in my head. I've experienced this before after reading Shakespeare, but I had no idea writing in blank verse would do the same thing; I thought my head would be pleased to be shot of it! Isn't it described as the rhythm most suited to the English language? Something like that - maybe that's why my brain couldn't let go. 

I would even recommend it - it was a fun sort of challenge, after all, how often can we say we've tried to write like Shakespeare? And if anyone submits a piece I would love to hear about it, or about anything Shakespeare-related that inspires/amuses/means something to you...

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Never trust a talking tree

I've just noticed that a whole load of posts I'd written and scheduled to go live have somehow vanished from Blogger, which means that I am once again behind on posting (pretty ironic considering my recent warning about how much I have to talk about, haha!) 

I think there's a lesson here about backing up my work. Alternatively, there's one about making the best out of a bad situation. Despite feeling completely ineloquent and harried right now, I'd like to apologetically go for the second option and share something positive that came out of my day: I came across a beautiful picture that shocked me, because it perfectly encapsulates a story I'm working on:

by jerry8448 @ dA
(My tree even offers a girl a flower...) I would encourage everyone to explore jerry's gallery on deviantART, the scenes he creates are magical, and the attention to nature's details is wonderful.

I think lots of people are inspired by pictures or other creative media. Personally I find them most helpful for describing landscapes or buildings, but they inspire me most when I come across something that conveys a mood or feeling very strongly. My starting point for writing is often a feeling which is then attached to a situation or character, rather than a character, place or situation that I then have to find feelings for (if that makes sense).

I recognise that this often causes problems because my plots don't move at a decent pace, or my characters don't develop enough - I just get so caught up in the feeling! But I suppose, in the end, it doesn't matter where inspiration comes from as long as everything else fits together and works well, and the end result is a good story.

But this picture could be the find of a lifetime - like he was illustrating my thoughts...

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Break, break, break

Break, Break, Break
Break, break, break,       
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter         
The thoughts that arise in me.
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson 
When I first moved to Brighton two summers ago I spent so much time by the sea. I felt so free and relaxed listening to the waves, and it seemed like my best creative ideas popped into my head when I was in the water.  Perhaps it was inspired by change, but I also think that the raw power of nature played a part. Recently, it has been green spaces that draw inspiration from me; parks, gardens, instead of water. 

I want to spend more time outdoors, now. I have been reading stories that draw so much inspiration and feeling from the landscapes in which they are set, where characters live and breathe their surroundings, and I've missed having that connection. It makes me feel alive; and reading it in books makes the characters and the stories come to life (and, frustratingly, they feel like they are living more than me, sitting with a book curled up on the sofa with a cup of coffee!)

A few examples off the top of my head of some books that I think do this more than others:

  • Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys (various Caribbean locations)
  • Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (Yorkshire Moors)
  • When God Was a Rabbit - Sarah Winman (Cornwall)
  • The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy (Kerala, Southern India)