Get your book written

‘Get that Book Written’

Time To Manage Time

Getting your writing done is some challenge. There is so much else to do – email, social media, (Twitter, Facebook, Blogging, Reviewing, etc.), reading, television, sports, concerts, exercise, hobbies, community work, volunteering, films to see, etc, etc – oh, and then there’s that small thing called LIFE! You know, your Special One, family, friends, holidays, travel, and of course WORK. I’m in the fortunate situation now where my WRITING is my WORK but for many years I held down a full-time, demanding job and managed to write. I know it’s tough. Now this blog isn’t about writing per se, i.e. what or how to write; you can get loads of stuff on that. This is about how we best get our writing done?

I’ve always been an advocate of time management. It’s the one resource that’s finite. We all get the same twenty four hours per day; how we use the time we have determines how productive we are. Not everyone will have the same priorities or time available for writing but I’ve distilled my approach into three basic, daily cyclical tasks that I think apply to most of us.

NO WAY OUT
Latest Matt Proctor crime novel now published

Check out book here

  1. Plan

Long and medium term plans are important. Do have specific writing goals that are timed and achievable – know what you want to write; by when and how (will you need money, support, facilities, tools?). Remember that the most important plan is what you are going to do today. Always have a written Daily Plan and be sure it’s doable – stretching, yes but doable so you don’t set yourself up to fail each day! Your Daily Plan is the foundation to achieving long term goals.

  1. Schedule

Decide what you are going to do today and when and for how long. This is more than a ‘To Do’ wish list – it’s a thought through commitment. There are plenty of tools to help here. A simple pocket diary at a minimum, better still an electronic diary/planner on your pc, tablet or phone. (Search the internet for planners, project managers, diaries or similar – you’ll find loads of apps). The important trick is to look ahead, enter recurring items and when to do them, how often (daily, weekly) and for how long. Then add today’s most important one-off jobs from your To-Do list. Put them in your schedule. Try to allocate a specific  recurring period, ideally every weekday, for ‘Writing’. Similarly for Marketing – although I call that ‘Grow my Book Sales’, my bottom line. Any time on the Internet should have this goal . Anything else that leads to that end also gets done in this time slot (Giving talks, conferences, book reviews, etc.). I also have my ‘Admin’ time – half an hour a day for emails, desk housekeeping, planning and reviewing. As a writer I believe these three are critical – you may want to add others.

  1. Review

Right, you have a daily plan; you’ve scheduled your tasks, so…How’ve you done today? Checking (or as we in the UK say ‘ticking’) a ‘Done’ box feels good; are all tasks ticked (checked)? Yes? Then grab a coffee, smile and stare into space for a minute or so. Time Tracking apps are a great help as well, (I swear by them for reviewing; they don’t lie – as long as you don’t!). You can see how much time you’ve actually spent on your projects or tasks to compare with your scheduled time. Some have pie charts that are great for picturing the actual amount and percentage of your time spent on different activities to compare with your plan. Saves yet more time on a lot of arithmetic (math!).  Learn from your reviews; make adjustments, reschedule if necessary, get more disciplined to adhering to ‘bum on seat’ targets. Now get out your ‘To Do’ list, prioritise and set tomorrow’s plan – today.

So that’s my brief take on writing productivity. ‘Get that book written’.

I plan to write a ‘how to’ giveaway book soon elaborating on these basic steps of Plan, Schedule and Review. Look in on my website/blog for more information.

And Good Luck on your writing journey

Now here’s what I call Time Management!

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Great Festival event – Evesham

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What a lovely group of people at the Evesham Festival of Words, 2017. When a writer attends an event at an unfamiliar venue there are always some nerves jangling. Will they be a friendly lot? Welcoming smiles or fiercely crossed arms and legs? Will there be ANYONE?
I need have had no such concerns for this Evesham Festival – a great variety of events held in a truly friendly atmosphere. I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the Festival Bookshop launch in the Almonry (a superb historical building in the centre of the town, once a 14th Century home to the Almoner of the Benedictine Abbey that was founded at Evesham in the 8th Century) where I read from my first DCI Matt Proctor novel “Too Smart to Die” to a packed audience.
Festival Chair Sue Ablett and her excellent team devised a varied programme of authors reading from their works, namely; Andrea Darby, Sue Johnson, James Bacon, Hilary Orme, Paige Elizabeth Turner/aka Nigel Barnard, Pershore Young writers and yours truly; readings well chaired by Ashleigh Jayes.
Afterwards, writers and attendees mingled and chatted over nibbles and drinks – and took the opportunity to buy signed copies of books and tickets for other festival event. (I’m sure a few dads and mums were ‘persuaded’ by teenage offspring to buy my book when they heard me refer to ‘cybercrime’!).
A most enjoyable experience – this writer for one will definitely be back next year.

 

 

 

Libraries – we need them.

Support your local community library.

Read to see

In many parts of the UK cash-strapped local authorities have to make drastic cuts in services to save money. My own local library, Kinver, since the beginning of this year (2017) is staffed entirely by volunteers. We owe a debt of gratitude to them – by their efforts we continue to have a library that provides such an essential service to young and old (and those in-between!) and serves as a community hub.

To support the library, I have agreed to give a free session in the form of a talk/workshop on ‘Writing and Publishing your Book’. This may be followed by support sessions for those who want to pursue writing their book. Here’s my press release.

Writing and Publishing know-how for budding authors”

What do you want to write?

  • Memoir 
  • Novel
  • Short stories anthology
  • Poetry collection
  • Children’s story

Local Kinver crime and thriller writer, Tom Bryson, will explain how would-be authors can write and publish their own books at minimal cost. His talk at Kinver Community Library is on Thursday, 9th March at 7.30 pm.

He says, ‘Ever thought of writing your personal or family memoir – not an autobiography but a ‘slices of life’ story? Sometimes we leave it too late to ask our parents, grandparents about their lives and times. All too soon we’ve lost them and then regret missed opportunities to have known so much more. So how about writing your book for posterity – for your family and descendants. Without getting too pretentious, this could be your much-treasured legacy.

‘Or what about that novel you’ve had at the back of your mind for years – perhaps there’s a draft gathering dust in a drawer somewhere. Why not dig it out, rewrite it in the best way you can, find a good editor and see your book in print and as an e-book.

‘Perhaps you have an idea for a children’s book, or a collection of short stories or poems you want to produce in an anthology. All are possible.

‘Won’t all this cost a fortune? Not necessarily, given the advent of digital technology and print-on-demand publishing. The days are gone when you needed to buy a shedful of books to get an economic print run and then traipse the shops and streets to sell them. If you’re prepared to take the learning curve and get to grips with word processing and formatting for internet uploads, you can do it. (Or perhaps there’s a fourteen year old you can collar to help!). If you must incur costs, then a good editor is the most important investment to make.’

Local Kinver author Tom Bryson, who writes crime and thriller novels, will reveal all at the recently launched Kinver Community Library on Thursday, 9th March, 7.30pm, tickets from the library, £2. (All proceeds go the the Community library)

So – dream your dream – come along and hear what Tom has to say.

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Website https://tombrysonwriter.wordpress.com

Books available from amazon here (print and e-book) and author (email tombryson1@yahoo.com  Tel. 01384 872204)


 

Writing a novel

WRITING A NOVEL

4. SCENES

A quick recap.

I’ve already written blogs covering three of ‘Seven Components of Novel Writing’. Below is the fourth. Here’s the FULL list:

  1. CORE– Who is the Main Character, what’s their goal, problem, obstacles, what are the stakes for failure? In 50 words; yes, I keep this to 50 words. Concentrates the mind!
  2. OUTLINE– Two pages max. Written in present tense, with a start, middle and end. Split into key scenes with short headings. Leave room for the story to evolve.
  3. MAIN PLOT– Spine of the story, the heart of the MC’s journey. Sub-plots add complexity and richness. The main plot (and sub-plots) summaries need only be a sentence or two.
  4. SCENES– Scenes are the building blocks of the novel. These are where the action is. As you write scenes you are writing your book.
  5. CHARACTERS– Absolutely critical. The reader must care about these people.
  6. SETTINGS– Give ‘colour’, atmosphere, they complement characterisation, add credibility and context whether real or fictional places.
  7. SYNOPSIS – Comes at the end because a synopsis is a ‘selling’ tool; your book summary. You write a synopsis when you’ve finished your book. (I include it as part of planning because you’ll need it for submissions).

 

SCENES

In this FOURTH  blog in the series, I’ll focus on my fourth COMPONENT in WRITING A NOVEL, namely writing SCENES. 

 

What is a scene?  

Scenes are the building blocks of the novel. These are where the action is. As you write scenes you are writing your book.

I find that I need a scene plan to give me prompts to flesh out the scene. When I am writing the scene I follow the plan but not as if it were a ‘tablet of stone’ – no, I let the writing flow and don’t permit the plan to be a strait-jacket, more a rough track that becomes a defined path as the writing progresses. To give completeness to a scene I use a checklist – I call it my ‘Easyview Scene Planner’. Here it is and I’ll go through how it works.

I write my first draft using Microsoft One Note – it’s free and having experimented with other writing tools including Scrivener – a great tool by the way that many writers swear by- but one I found over-complicated. (I’m a simple soul who likes things simple).

 

EASYVIEW SCENE PLANNER (Enter here brief scene description, scene number, word count)

FOR EACH SCENES ASK; WRITE THIS SCENE PLAN BELOW – REVISE DURING WRITING
Why? PURPOSE: Show viewpoint character – who? Chasing goal which is?
What? ACTION: Through the main plot/sub-plots? Which in this scene are?
Who? VIEWPOINT CHARACTER is? Show traits, develop character. Other characters?
How? CONFLICT: What are the Internal/External obstacles to the main character’s goal?
Where? SETTING: Where are we? Define early in scene. Create atmosphere?
When? TIMELINE: Day, night, season, time since last scene?? Define early
Hook HOOK: Why read on? Entice, intrigue, engage  – dazzle reader
 

 

 

KEEP WRITING FOCUS ON:

·        PROTAGONIST’S PROBLEMS, FIGHTING OBSTACLES AND FINAL GOAL

·        Use external action-character reaction units (instinctive, dilemma, decision)

·        Use active verbs, min adverbs/adjectives, pace sentences, concrete not abstract words use senses, show-don’t tell, eke info, intrigue, balance action/description/dialogue.

·        Use the senses, sight, sound, taste, touch, smell

·        Explore emotions – anger, fear, elation, sadness, love,hate, disgust, happiness, etc.

 

I fully expect some will say this is far too detailed and will inhibit creativity. I understand that view although I think this grid can be adapted and modified to suit individual tastes.

I tried a few more basic approaches such as this: it works.


Scene heading:  


Viewpoint character


Goal, obstacles, conflict?


What happens?


Using this tool, I can write a scene plan in a couple of minutes – I don’t write a plan for every scene at the outset, but get the key scenes planned and written first, then fill in the rest. My key scenes are the opening scene, the inciting incident or ‘spark’ that gets the story going, turning points where the main character hits the buffers and has to change tack, tough it out, tastes success, faces despair, and of course the climax – where good triumphs over evil – or maybe vice versa!

Here’s the scene plan for the opening scene in my cop Matt Proctor novel ‘IN IT FOR THE MONEY’. (See below)

EASYVIEW SCENE PLANNER

  1. 1. Bookmaker Harry McGeady’s murder in Birmingham betting shop

 

FOR EACH SCENES ASK; WRITE THIS SCENE PLAN BELOW – REVISE DURING WRITING
Why? PURPOSE: Show viewpoint character – who? Chasing goal which is? Grab attention, introduce cop Matt Proctor (likes a bet), start spine story, introduce problem for MP (McGeady’s murder), set tone, atmosphere.
What? ACTION: Through the main plot/sub-plots? Which in this scene are? Proctor collects winning bet, shop raided, cash handed over to two  balacala’d bikers, McGeady shot dead in face.

Senses: Red blood, salty, loud gunshot, tv blast, bike roars, cigarette smells,  p/mint gum, sphincter gone, cold floor, hot outside

Who? VIEWPOINT CHARACTER is? Show traits, develop character. Other characters?  DCI Matt Proctor
How? CONFLICT: What are the Internal/External obstacles to the main character’s goal? MP versus  gang, MP versus teller, MP v ‘demons’
Where? SETTING: Where are we? Define early in scene. Create atmosphere? Int. bookies, tv’s on, newspapers on wall, tinny speakers, tawdry
When? TIMELINE: Day, night, season, time since last scene?? Define early  June, summer, hot and sunny
Hook HOOK: Why read on? Entice, intrigue, engage  – dazzle reader MP’s good mood shattered, jolted, injured, angry, his snout murdered.
KEEP WRITING FOCUS ON:

·        PROTAGONIST’S PROBLEMS, FIGHTING OBSTACLES AND FINAL GOAL

·        Use external action-character reaction units (instinctive, dilemma, decision)

·        Use active verbs, min adverbs/adjectives, pace sentences, concrete not abstract words use senses, show-don’t tell, eke info, intrigue, balance action/description/dialogue.

·        Use the senses, sight, sound, taste, touch, smell

·        Explore emotions – anger, fear, elation, sadness, love,hate, disgust, happiness, etc.

 

I intend pulling these blogs together into a compact ‘how-to’ book provisionally called ‘The Quick Novel Writer’ and publish it later this year – possibly as a free giveaway. Website header collage straightPicMonkeyThanks and keep looking in, folks!

Myths and legends

Zepp cover BCBugleTurning facts into legend

Myths and Legends

Myth

A traditional story about heroes or supernatural beings, often attempting to explain the origins of natural phenomena or aspects of human behaviour

Legend

A story that has been passed down for generations, especially one that is presented as history but is unlikely to be true

So is my story of “The Zeppelin of Kinver Edge” a myth or a legend – or an approximation of the truth. We hear a lot these days about “Fake Stories” – but how much of what we read as history is in fact true?

Henry Ford once said “History is more or less bunk.” (Bunk or bunkum meaning nonsense). Isn’t it the case that history is written from thenry ford history is bunkhe viewpoint of the writer which may well be biased in a certain direction? Is historical “truth” an objective that can never be realised? Is the Bible or the Koran “true”?

When I wrote “The Zeppelin of Kinver Edge”, I based it on a small historical snippet that I heard mentioned when I moved into the village about ten years ago.

“They say a zeppelin airship landed on Kinver Edge during the Great War – World War I.”

That morsel intrigued me. So I did a bit of research and discovered that the West Midlands of England suffered airship bombing raids in 1916 – and one airship hit engine trouble. Then I asked myself the mouth-watering question all writers should ask all the time when dreaming up a story.

WHAT IF…?

That question led me to consider the plight of young Harry Foley and ask “What if, early one morning in 1916, he looked up towards Kinver Edge and there it was – a Zeppelin airship?” So Harry followed his curiosity and the rest – as they say – is history! Or legend? Or myth? Or bunkum?

Anyway – it’s a great little read – with pictures! .

To sample or buy print or ebook click here 

 

I’ve been retired ! Well, not me but my website theme…so new look.

Welcome to my new website/blog look – for whatever reason WordPress decided to retire the previous theme. Never mind – I do think that theme was getting jaded; probably a bit too grim looking as well.

I’ve also now managed to get a ‘comments’ box set up after each post. So – no excuses – what do you think of my ‘new suit’? Does the blank page in the banner pic above resonate with you writers out there? I want to pick up the pen in the shot and start scribbling on the pad … get productive. That’s precisely what my last post was about – raising our productivity levels. Have a look at the ideas in there; what do you think? Please pass on your tips to ‘get the writing done’. We can all learn from each other.

By the way below was my previous banner pic – possibly somewhat too much in your face…

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Join me and other writers at the Evesham Festival of Words Bookshop Launch, Friday 16th June 7pm.

Following the success of last year’s event, join us again for the launch of the festival bookshop here at the Almonry.  Meet and hear extracts read by our bookshop authors and buy a copy of your favourites. Books will be on sale at the Almonry until 15th July. Free evening event.

‘NO WAY OUT’

The latest Birmingham cop DCI Matt Proctor crime thriller out soon. Hear Tom Bryson read from his new, fast-paced novel – the third in the Matt Proctor series.

DSC01764“Trapped in their own minds they must follow cult leader Gabriel Omoto – but to where and what? What “evil things” terrify young cult member Adele so much she won’t dare speak of them?

Cop Matt Proctor also has problems in his mind – he needs to get out of a rut and take on a big new challenge. Is he up to it? Or is the price too high?

Then there’s his spirited daughter Sarah to contend with – a young woman with a mind of her own, maybe too much a “chip off the old block”.

A fast-paced crime thriller with many twists and turns and a gripping climax.

The third novel in the DCI Matt Proctor series works as a stand-alone crime thriller.

COVER 6 NO WAY OUT-page-001