Friday, 31 October 2014

NaNoWriMo planning

As the deadline for the start of NaNoWriMo approaches, I wondered how many of my followers had signed up to join in this year?  Two (possibly three) of my fellow Cleckheaton Writer's Group members are taking part this year and my fellow blogger Charmed Lassie has already confirmed that she will be joining in.

For those of you that haven't heard of NaNoWriMo, this is the annual challenge of National Novel Writing Month, where intrepid writers sign themselves up to the challenge of writing 50k words in a month.  To achieve this, a writer needs to write each day for the month of November (to hit 50k, this works out at approximately 1,667 words a day) and this is an excellent way to get into the discipline of writing each day, so for those writers that feel they need a little motivation in these Autumnal months, NaNo is a perfect way to get you started.

I have spent the past week outlining my characters (strengths, weaknesses, growth), story arc (beginning, middle and end) and structure (a plot plan if you will) to enable me to have a road map to follow to keep me on track to hitting the 50k words.  This will be the third year I have attempted to make it to the end and I am hoping that this year may be the one (last year I got to 42k and the first year 35k, so I get closer each time).

Thanks to an excellent couple of workshops by one of our CWG members and helpful messages from the NaNoWriMo team, I feel I am more prepared than ever before ahead of the challenge and I thought it might be helpful for my followers if I shared my 'road map' so that they can decide if they fancy the challenge of NaNoWriMo this November:


Separate your story into 8 distinct sequences (themes) to plot progression:

1) Status Quo (the real world of the story) - start of the first act/inciting incident (call to adventure)
2) Implication - this is where the protagonist embarks on their quest (following the refusal)
3) Preparation - this is the start of the second act and would show the readers hopes for the hero
4) Triumph - this is where the protagonist is closest to their goals and includes the turning point
5) Unravelling - this is where the antagonist begins to get the upper hand (readers fears)
6) Failure - this finishes with the crashing point (protagonist fails/antagonist close to goal)
7) Resurrection - this is act three (protagonist realises why they failed and why they must battle)
8) Salvation - begins with the false resolution/twist and ends with the balance restored

Let me know if any of you are joining in with NaNoWriMo this year and if you fancy a writing buddy, I am YorkshireBelle on the site.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Coming events at The Theatre Royal Wakefield

Here is information on upcoming performances at the Theatre Royal Wakefield, plus a chance to win a pair of tickets to The Man Who Thought The Moon Would Fall Out Of The Sky:

The Man Who Thought The Moon Would Fall Out Of The Sky
Exciting theatre company The Letter Room will be at Theatre Royal Wakefield for one night only this November! The Man Who Thought The Moon Would Fall Out Of The Sky is a riotus event filled with laughter, live music and a magical story that may or may not be true. Click here for more information about the show.

'One of the most vibrant and engaging entries into the theatre circuit in years.'
What's On Stage, at Lattitude 2013 

The Man Who Thought The Moon Would Fall Out Of The Sky
Monday 3 November
Call Box Office on 01924 211 311 or book online.

Name the Dame!

Things are hotting up for panto with rehearsals on the horizon! In the meantime we have something to get you in the panto groove - a Name the Dame quiz! Can you name our previous Pantomine Dames? Click here to find out.

Beauty and the Beast
Thursday 27 November - Sunday 4 January
Times Vary
Call Box Office on 01924 211 311
or book online.
Sponsor Your Seat
We are marking Theatre Royal Wakefield's 120th Anniversary by inviting you to sponsor your very own seat in the auditorium for £120.
Theatre is a place where lifelong memories are created. As part of our 120th Anniversary celebrations, we are now launching an appeal for £120,000. This will help ensure that we continue to develop our work, engaging with new audiences and introducing young people to live theatre so they can experience their own special moments.
For more information about our unique sponsor packages please email Gavin Leonard or phone him on 01924 330060
On The Piste
On The Piste has been cooking up a storm after leaving Theatre Royal Wakefield for its UK tour. Already having strutted its stuff at Lighthouse Poole, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds and Cast in Doncaster, On The Piste will soon be en route to the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-Under-Lyme.

Click here for the full tour list.
You can read for yourself how well its doing by checking out the cracking review in The Public Reviews after it's run at Cast in Doncaster.
The Nutcracker
Wednesday 5 November

The Russian State Ballet and Opera House will burst onto the stage again with a new and exciting performance of The Nutcracker.
Let's Hang On
Thursday 6 November
Following huge demand after their performance here last year, Let's Hang On returns to take you on a musical journey.
Saturday 8 November
Following a highly acclaimed touring production of Britten's Albert Herring last year, Mid Wales Opera returns to celebrate their 25th season.
Coming soon...

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay book review

Blurb: What would you do if you witnessed a murder - but no one believed you ...

Map-obsessed Thomas spends his days and nights on a virtual tour of the world, believing he must store the details of every town and city in his head.  Then one day, he sees something that shouldn't be there: a woman being murdered behind a window on a New York street.

When Thomas tells his brother Ray what he has witnessed, Ray humours him with a half-hearted investigation - until he realises Thomas may have stumbled on to a deadly conspiracy, which puts them in danger ...

Just finished this book which has a fantastic premise, which is that the car that maps for the internet accidentally picks up a murder in a window seen by schizophrenic Thomas Kilbride.  In this thriller, the author uses the fantastic premise to pull the reader in to the world of Thomas and Ray, brothers who have recently lost their father and who are having to try at a relationship under difficult circumstances.  With plenty twists and turns, Barclay pulls you in and leaves you guessing about the murder and just who has been killed and why.

Stephen King describes Barclay as 'A suspense master' and it is not hard to see why.       6/10

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Cleckheaton Writers Group meeting 28 October 2014

Fantastic CWG last night where M, A, L, J, P new member K and myself were in attendance, D and N having passed on their apologies.

After introductions we started of with WIP updates.  M informed members that she was a runner-up in a recent flash fiction competition which can be found in the current Writers Forum magazine.  P has been working on her woman and camera story, I have been plot-planning for NaNoWriMo and A has submitted his novel BT to 5 agents.

For the feedback sessions, M and A had sent their pieces to the CWG members ahead of the meeting.  M's short story was very well received by the Group and it generated plenty of discussion.  P felt that it had lots of description and M agreed that this could be because she is a travel writer.  It was felt that the action could happen earlier in the story and A thought the contraction of the Antagonist's speech would be better.  He also felt the writing conveyed how the antagonist operated a cycle of abuse and S thought it was evocative, cleverly written and had a good atmosphere, but felt it needed a stronger reason for the protagonist to decide to leave.  J felt that it was better not to portray a monster with your antagonist, but to have some humanity to the character and K agreed.

A's piece was the first section of his new children's novel 'P E' and S felt that it was a coming of age story and I felt that although the main character was sympathetic and she was lonely, she was still likeable, not too wet.  The characterisations were good and moving, and A informed the members that the world of the story will open up in future chapters and then the expectation of the character really comes across.  A has written the story from the 3rd person POV, but has also got into a goblins head and an ogre.  A also thinks that in a couple of days his first draft should be complete.

S then did the second of his workshops, this one on structure, using The Matrix as an example.  All the members agreed that it was a good film, but S believes that the reason why is that it hits the right buttons at the right time using the three act structure, the framework that can apply to stories as you write them.  It is not about plotting, but understanding structure will make it better as it is a road map so that you know which direction you are going in; once you understand the rules, you can decide how you break them.  S then passed around the 3 act structure for screenplay - The Hollywood Model - to the members.  For the structure in story, he recommends Aristotle's poetics as it shows the formula for plays, beginning, middle and end, for tragedy, comedy etc.

Hollywood wanted a cheap way to keep bums on seats for 2+ hours (old films had cans lasting 13 minutes) whilst the change of the cans happened that didn't result in the audience going off to the pub.  Frank Danielle created the Disney model of how to sell a story.  There are 12-15 minutes for each sequence (8 sequences) 1/2 first act, 3-6 the second and 7/8, the third act.  The antagonist is hugely important as it makes/drives the hero; the stronger you make the him, the better the hero has to be.

The Matrix opens with Trinity and the agents arriving to try and arrest her, then when she runs around the walls, it changes to the world of the story, and we realise she and they are a formidable force to be reckoned with (at this point we don't know who is right/wrong as there is no hero at this point).  S recommended us trying to work out the key beats in terms of The Matrix.

The first section is the new status quo, showing Neo in the normal world before the inciting incident (before the piercing of their world/call to arms) - which is the 'follow the rabbit' moment.  The first act is all about the refusal.

The second is the threshold, the no going back point (signified usually by a journey) but in this instance it is Neo taking the pill because he has to make the choice, but he can't got back once he sees the real world.  Sequence three is all about preparation (can be about team building and sequence four, optimistic that this will resolve and end well).  Three is him taken out of The Matrix and four is about his training to see whether he can survive and function in this world that is not real.  Still about the refusal as his mind is still not believing he is the one.  Section four is the triumph as the 'one' is kicking ass and the antagonist has a falling line now.

Sequence five is the fight sequence, everything unravelling when Sypher starts killing those in The Matrix, Neo should be able to fix this but can't (the antagonist pulls back now) and the agents have kidnapped Morpheus and are going to hack his mind.  This would be the end of humankind (crashing point/failure).

They are about to pull Morpheus' plug out as all seems lost when Neo realises that this is the moment he was told about by the Oracle, that he has to make a choice.  He hatches a plan, tools up and kicks ass (this is the false resolution).  The real resolution is when he starts to believe and stops the bullets and we see the fear in the agents eyes; he realises that he exists in a world that does not have these rules and that this can save mankind.  The climax (having fun with the toys): in As Good as It Gets this would be the cracks on the pavement moment, so he is now bigger than he was at the beginning.  Neo would not want to go back to the unreal world.  The antagonist has failed and the balance is restored.

In further advice, S recommended giving your character a trait that can be exploited so that you can work out what the worst thing that can happen for your Mr Man/Little Miss, as in the Coen brothers films (John recommended that the members should check out the Coen short stories).  The sequences are 15 minutes in The Matrix except for the inciting incident as it is a little bit early (they are concentrating on the refusal - climbing out the window/wants to get out of the car).  To relate this to a novel, you could have it at the end of each chapter rather than sequence.

S stressed that the protagonist needs to make their own choices, not to be made to do it by someone else, but he can make the wrong choices by refusing to believe someone else (another character).  You can take the three act structure and apply it to your favourite film, but S feels that the high and low point have to be interrelated to the objectives etc.  The beginning, middle and end should be in every scene, not just for the whole film, so for each chapter try to have this in your mind because once you understand the rules it becomes ingrained.

The next meeting will take place on Monday 10 November where J has taken one of the feedback slots, but the other is available.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Writers' Centre Norwich newsletter, October

Here is the latest Writer's Centre Norwich newsletter for my followers to peruse:

We've been busy bees this month, launching a suite of creative writing courses with the UEA which will run online and also face-to-face, starting from this January. With poetry and fiction to choose from, in two levels, run by Helen Ivory, Anjali Joseph and Ian Nettleton, it's a great opportunity to fit your learning around your lifestyle - applications are open, so don't delay!

We've also been continuing the occasionally controversial, and consistently interesting, National Conversation - this time at the Cheltenham Literature Festival with a provocation from Will Self.

Plus, we've launched Free Reads which is offering serious writers who are short on funds the opportunity to benefit from a free manuscript assessment.  

So, to find out more, scroll down! 
Join our New Creative Writing Programme - offering the opportunity for worldwide study!

UEA and WCN have created a suite of creative writing courses, online and face-to-face, offering high quality teaching in both fiction and poetry. And with the first courses starting in January, this is certainly one way for you to ensure that your New Year's resolution to put pen to paper, is upheld! But if that's too soon for you, don't worry, the next round of courses start in April.

Building upon Norwich and UEA’s proven record of literary excellence, we're offering courses in creative writing, both online and face-to-face. Led by writers with excellent records in teaching, the UEA-WCN Creative Writing Programme offers courses in both poetry and prose fiction and caters for beginners as well as for those who are more advanced.

Starting to Write Poems (Online) with Helen Ivory
12 week course:12th Jan – 30th March 2015, £450 payable on being accepted onto the course.
Get to grips with key elements of writing poetry - explore the power of language and begin to develop your own voice.

Starting to Write Fiction (Online) with Anjali Joseph
12 week course: 12th Jan – 30th March 2015, £450 payable on being accepted onto the course. 
Learn the foundation skills of writing fiction by looking at how to craft a good short story.

Writing Poems: Intermediate (Online) with Helen Ivory
24 week course: w/c 12th Jan – w/c 6th July 2015, £900 payable on being accepted onto the course. 
Develop an understanding of your poetic abilities, and discover your voice.

Writing Fiction: Intermediate (Online) with Anjali Joseph
24 week course: w/c 12th Jan – w/c 6th July 2015, £900 payable on being accepted onto the course.
Take the next step with your fiction writing, and gain the skills  necessary to reach that final draft.

Starting to Write Fiction (Face-to-face) with Ian Nettleton
10 week course:13th Jan – 17th March 2015 (Tuesdays), WCN, NR3 1AE, 7-9pm, £230/£195 concs
Get into writing and gain the necessary tools to understand and tackle fiction writing.

Each course will give you: the opportunity to benefit from extensive one-to-one criticism and feedback; bespoke course materials written by the tutor; a Certificate of Completion from the UEA. You will be able to learn the craft of writing whilst fitting your education around everyday life.

These will undoubtedly be popular – find out more and apply today.
Apply for TLC Free Reads
A bit of love for your manuscript

If you're a serious writer of poetry, scripts (for TV, Film, Radio or Theatre) or prose (fiction, children’s, narrative non-fiction and short stories) living in the East of England but finding that financial barriers are stunting your progress then TLC Free Reads is for you.

Through this Arts Council England-funded scheme we can offer you a free opportunity to have your work read and reported back on by a professional from The Literary Consultancy. Click for application details.

Find out the facts about the Agent and Author relationship  
7th November 2014, at Cafe Bar Marzano, Norwich, £2 Book now.

Agent Juliet Pickering of Blake Friedmann will form a panel with two of her authors: Ben Johncock, whose debut novel The Last Pilot was recently sold in the US and Kerry Hudson, whose second novel Thirst was published this year.
From working collaboratively on a manuscript to negotiating offers with publishers, they will give you a valuable insight into the agent / author relationship.

You’ll also get to ask your burning questions in a Q&A session and hear both Hudson and Johncock read from their books. Find out more, and book.
Sign Up for our Forthcoming Workshops

Navigate your Novel with Ross Raisin
Saturday 18th October, Writers’ Centre Norwich, 10am-4pm, £75/£55 conc
Has your novel lost its way? Get back on the right track, at this workshop with Ross Raisin. Further information

The Figures Poems Make
Saturday 29th November, Writers’ Centre Norwich, 10am-4pm, £75/£55 conc
Join leading poet Frances Leviston to explore the shapes and structures of poetry, in this perfectly formed poetry masterclass. Further information

Synopsis, Submissions and Slushpiles: A Guide to Finding a Literary Agent 
The Art of the Synopsis with Nicola Perry -Saturday 1st November, 10am-4pm
Lessons from the Slushpile with Juliet Pickering - Saturday 22nd November, 11am - 12.30pm (with one to ones taking place in the afternoon)

Made up of two workshops a month apart, this unique package will help you polish your agent pitch to perfection. The first workshop, taught by Nicola Perry, will give you vital industry understanding and help you to hone your synopsis, whilst Juliet Pickering will reveal an agent’s biggest turn-offs and give one-to-one feedback on your agent submission.
Find out more, and apply now. 
Attendees of this workshop will also receive free entry to 'Agent & Author with Kerry Hudson, Ben Johncock and Juliet Pickering' on 7th November at Cafe Marzano. 
The National Conversation continues...

...on Dec 3rd at the Southbank Centre, as we get lost in language with Ali Smith who will be discussing the value of literary translation with Xiaolu Guo, Daniel Hahn and Margaret Jull Costa. (Dec 3rd at the Southbank Centre, London, 7.45pm. Book now)

Having opened our National Conversation at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, with Michael Rosen's provocation on the Point of Books, we took the conversation off to its next location - Cheltenham Literature Festival.

And boy did the conversation heat up!

Will Self, known for his habit of causing a bit of an intellectual ruckus, gave his provocation on the rise and impact of the e-reader on deep reading. Debate got heated and with his provocation published in the Guardian, too, the conversation snowballed!

He was joined onstage by PEN's Maureen Freely, WCN's Chris Gribble, and Dan Franklin of Penguin Random House.Read WCN Chief Exec Chris Gribble's blog to find out how things went.

If you've not yet read Will's provocation, be sure to do so, along with reading Dan Franklin's opening response. And let us know whether you agree with him or not, by sharing your comments on our website, or on twitter via #NatConv.
Enjoy a new season of UEA Live 2014

A new season of UEA Live launched on 2nd Oct in fine style, with possibly the biggest turn-out so far.

With readers from UEA's new incumbent of Undergrad Creative Writers, and also Emma Healey, this was a real celebration of the work of both UEA and it's students past and present. We're looking forward to enjoying the rest of these events over the coming months, including readings from Jonathan Gibbs (30th Oct), Emily Berry (27th Nov) and Tash Aw (11th Dec). See the full line-up of events here.
Attend our Young People and Literature Symposium
Friday 31st October 2014, 13:00-16:00 with networking time until 16:30
Vernon Castle Room, Millennium Library, Norwich

Join us for a spot of (free!) lunch and an afternoon of discussion and networking for literature organisations, education providers, artists and volunteers working with young people in a literature setting. A forum to express opinions and ideas on literacy and literature, we will be exploring the role of creative writing and reading provision for young people in Norfolk.

Featuring presentations on Literacy and Literature learning Opportunities Available to Schools in Norfolk (Bridge report by Roxanne Matthews) and Engaging Young People in Creative Reading.

The event will create awareness of gaps in literature and literacy provision in Norfolk; provide networking to encourage collaborative discussion and a means of advocacy for successful projects and programmes.

To register as an attendee please complete the registration form.
Join us at the Jarrold East Anglian Book Awards 
Thursday 20th November 2014, Jarrolds. Tickets £20, including 2-course meal with coffee, and drink on arrival. 

The EDP, Jarrold and the Writers' Centre Norwich are once again joining forces, with the support of UEA, to celebrate the pick of the region's literary talent.

Now in their seventh year, the awards will feature their best-ever prizes. From the category winners, an overall East Anglian Book of the Year will be chosen.

The overall winner will receive a prize of £1,000, sponsored by the PACCAR Foundation, and East Anglian Writers will also be supporting a new prize this year, with £100 for the best-designed cover from all the shortlisted books.
It's all going well for Escalator Alumni

We're pleased and proud to announce that previous Escalator winner Robert Mason has been shortlisted for the Manchester Fiction Prize 2014. We wish him the best of luck!

Meanwhile another past Escalator winner Guinevere Glasford-Brown has sold the German rights to her book The Words in My Hand after an exciting bidding war at Frankfurt Book Fair. She will be published in 2015.

Congratulations to both, and we look forward to hearing news of further achievements in the future. 

Other News

The BFI Film Academy Residential Programme in Screenwriting is seeking 16-19 year olds, passionate about writing for film!
Apply now, for a chance to attend this intensive and exciting residential training programme that will kick-start a career in the film industry. With exclusive insider views on how to break into the film business, producing your own short film script with a mentor, learning the craft skills necessary to succeed as a screenwriter and networking with leading industry professionals.
Find out more about applying. Deadline Mon 1st Dec 2014.

The Rialto and RSPB Nature Poetry Competition.
The RSPB is teaming up with The Rialto poetry magazine and publisher, to run this competition celebrating all things nature. Judged by Simon Armitage, you have until March 1st 2015 to submit your masterpiece. For more information visit their website.

Daljit Nagra's Ramayana tour.
Join Daljit Nagra as he retells the tale of Ramayana for the 21st Century. Described as 'rumbustious storytelling, [with] beautiful language and an introduction to a revered cultural artefact all rolled up together', this will be an exciting poetry performance with projections, confetti, colour and audience participation! Click here for tour dates.

Words & Women Writing Competition.
Are you a prose writer? Do you write fiction, memoir, creative non-fiction? Do you enjoy life-writing? Then enter your work for 2014's Words And Women Writing Competition. There is a prize of £600 for the winning entry along with being featured, alongside twenty commended entries, in Words & Women's second anthology Words And Women: Two, published in conjunction with Unthank Books.

Great Line-up at UEA Literary Festival.
The UEA has once again put together an exciting series of talks with the likes of Ian McEwan for their 2014 Literary Festival, which is already underway.
With an hour talk, followed by a book signing in the campus Waterstones, this is a great opportunity to hear more from your favourite writers. 
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