Apr 23rd

Shakespeare was maybe born today

By Tony
Did you see how The One Show celebrated? They asked for 25 words or less, telling the story of one of the Bard' s plays.

Here's my offering:

Cash-strapped businessman takes out pay-day loan and ends up facing killing interest rate. Transvestite lawer wins him a bloodless victory in court and marries him.
(Merchant of Venice)

Let's see yours... 
Apr 23rd

Mentoring

By Blue

Does anyone have experience of using a mentor for their writing?  Obviously I tried the Writers’ Workshop first, but unfortunately it doesn’t offer the type of mentoring I need.  I’m 65,000 words through my novel and need help and looking for somewhere I can submit sections in maybe 10,000 – 15,000 chunks and get feedback before I send the next part for critique.   Because I work long hours, I can’t commit to returning the favour, which is why I haven’t tried to set up anything with a lovely Cloudie.

I’ve looked online and for mentoring it can cost £1500 - £3000, which is way over my budget.  There are other, more affordable options, but some look a bit dodgy and I would very much prefer a recommendation - can anyone help?  Please

Apr 22nd

New season, new look ... Order will very soon be restored!

By The WordCloud
Hi folks

you'll have seen that the Cloud is doing some weird and wonderful things at the moment, as we migrate to the new look site. Apologies for that. It'll take a bit longer to clean up the look of the site, but in the meantime, we think we've fixed it so that:
  • Everything works in Chrome
  • Everything works in Firefox
  • Everything works in IE9 or above
IE8 and below is still having a problem - but we know what and we know what to do.

If this isn't right, please let us know! And again, apologies for the uppy-downiness (which may last a day or two yet).
Apr 22nd

Why the Festival of Writing 2014 came at the right time.

By Flickimp
Sorry for the long title.

Let me be honest... 3 weeks ago I attended the Get Writing 2014 event in St Albans. It was my 3rd and usually I come away bouyant. Except this year there was a little less spark, and the atmosphere didn't tick all my boxes. Other than my Nomad mates, others that I came across weren't excited about writing, and had more to complain than shout about.

Since then my writing took a knock.
My enthusiasm waned... and getting into gear for writing sessions was seriously hard work. My output suffered to only producing 5k a week.

Yes it's not an amount to feel totally bad at, but compared to my normal 12k... I felt like a part of me was hiding away.

Luckily - booking started for FoW14.
Thank the maker!

I've booked, and with that my mojo has rejigged into dance-off super stardom.

This evening I whacked out 2.5k in 1.75 hours.
And I can't wait for tomorrow's session.

FoW is an amazing event.
I mean that. The atmosphere, the people, the agents, the editors, the book doctors, the speakers, the organisers, the Cloudies, and the lovely waitresses that serve at the Gala meal with their beaming smiles... oh and the wine... all make it a spectacle to behold.

Sure it costs money.
But the tips and skills gained are epic.

Sorry to highlight these ones as a must - but you MUST go to Debi and Emma's Editing workshop and Julie Cohen's Pixar Story workshop (take some tissues).

1-2-1 with agents, editors and book doctors should not be ignored. Do them.

BUT most of all - the enthusiasm of going to FoW has kickstarted my writing passion... And it will triple after the event.

Get booking.
Apr 22nd

The Break-in Experience

By Penelope Pitstop
 

This, sadly is a true tale about to day but since I like to write some comedy I thought I'd tell it to y'all. (Sorry for any mistakes I had to speed type.)

 

Well...This afternoon I was in the City to go to my interview at UEA (university) and I've really had to fight for this position on the a course. All the documents I needed to take where at my mum's house, and since I fell out of bed late, I decided I could take a shower at her house. I caught the train and got to hers in plenty of time.

Only to find when I got there she and her boyfriend (Peter) had buggered off out and that the house was done up tighter than an Eskimos nut sack. And here's the best bit, my Mother is a dope! She'd left me a note on the back door.

“Had to go out. Be back a 3. Spare key on Kitchen unit.”

The silly woman had then locked the doors. So the key could be on the unit or it could be in Spain – it was no use to me. My interview was at 1. It would be pointless going without the documents I needed and because I'd been up late I hadn't showered or brushed my hair, I looked like a hobo, I couldn't go up expecting to get a place looking and smelling like a street urchin.

Then, it got worse.

My Mum never leaves a window open but today she had. The dining room window was open enough for me to squeeze through. So I had a good go, but I obviously have a rather deluded opinion of my body frame because half way in I got stuck.

So, all our nosy neighbour saw was a back side and dangling little chicken legs. She doesn't know my backside personally, so she figured someone was breaking in.

Not only was I stuck in the window but Peter's dog, who only happens to be a HUGE Burmese Mountain Dog was a little overly excited to see me and so proceeded in trying to hump me. Half in, half out and being humped to death.

And it gets worse.

I finally fall through the window, not my most lady-like moment and manage to kick “Moscow” of me. Brush myself off, unlock the back door (just because I now have the power) and rush upstairs to make myself more presentable.

2O minutes later I step into the shower and I hear a knock on the back door. I thought 'they'll go away' but they didn't. Next minute I hear.

“Police! Open up please!”

The nosy neighbour had called the police!

So at this point I shit a house. They know about me!

I'm terrified they'll force their way in, so I grab the biggest towel I can find and go down.

I open the door, just a crack. they ask if everything is okay. I say yes. They explain someone reported a break-in. I explain it was me and why. Even after my explanation they didn't seem in any hurry to leave, and I wasn't really thinking straight so said.

“Would you like to come in?”

I'm standing there in a towel asking two policeman to come into my house. Which is know dubbed “the love castle” by Peter after today, not sure why. But he came up with a theory that they thought it was some wild sex game, involving his dog – and I don't want to over think that.

Before they have to answer my inappropriate question, the neighbour comes out to explain herself and my mother and Peter walk round the corner with a group of their mates from the “book club”. They tell me it's a book club anyway.

I said: “Why are you home early?”

Mum say: “Why are you in a towel?”

Peter says: “Never mind that why are the police here.”

So I'm in a towel, covered in scratches from the dog and with an audience. The two police men start talking to my mother and explain everything was fine, misunderstanding blah, blah, blah. And I take that opportunity to run away.

My mum and Peter haven't stopped laughing all day. And all kind of theories have come up. On the plus side it's good to know the neighbour cares enough to take notice if something is wrong, and if anyone ever does genuinely break in Moscow will hump them to death anyway. Good strategy

I got to my interview on time and I think it went okay. Hehehe he he

 

Have a good evening people

 

Love Scarlett xxx

Apr 22nd

Slice of Pie

By Hil
This morning I joined 400 other teachers in Bury St Edmunds to hear Pie Corbett talk about storytelling in schools - specifically Talk for Writing. Here are a few choice slices of the things he said.
The brain needs narrative.
Without story you have neither a past nor a future.
Only 53% of children under the age of 4 have a bedtime story read to them regularly. (I'm not sure if this is UK based...)
80% of our vocabulary comes from reading.
You cannot create out of nothing. Imagination is the manipulation of things you already know.
Learning stories makes children feel good, develops confidence, memory, concentration and co-operation. Stories pass on values, culture, a sense of belonging.

His way of working, summarised, is to start with a model text (eg The Little Red Hen) and learn it, by heart, orally, with actions. This also involves saying it, acting it, making a picture map of it, playing it, etc. Then read it as a reader; then read it as a writer, analysing its structure and language features. Then change it, innovate, substitute, add, re-order etc. Do this as a shared exercise first. Then invent your own. By then you have all structures, language features, vocabulary at your finger tips.
(He also showed how this can be done for non-fiction text types across the curriculum, and not just in Primary Schools - but that's another 'story').

He was a most entertaining speaker, and underlined all the things we all know about reading to and with children, even when they're babies, and telling them stories, and making up stories with them, and playing stories...

And, oh, I just LOVE STORIES!
Apr 21st

More Cloudie Talent

By Skylark
It's always great reading a novel that grips, consumes and burns the dinner... but even better when it's been written by a fellow Cloudie who you know has worked so hard to get to this point and really, truly deserves to have her writing out there being read by millions because it's just bloody good writing. CJ's Predator X is a tense, fast-paced, edge of the seat thriller. I started it yesterday lunchtime and finished it this morning. Just couldn't put it down. And I'll be wondering from now until forever what lurks beneath my feet...

So who's next? I have a growing 'Cloudie' shelf on my bookcase - plenty there already but definitely room for more :-D
Apr 21st

Dialogue

By Drx1972
My mum always trotted out that old line about 'being seen and not heard' when I was a kid. I never listened, but after 19 years as I teacher I get where she was coming from now.

Strangely the old mantra seems to have crept into my writing, especially at the start of a new piece. I recently ran my eye over a piece of work I had been editing for ever. I noticed that in chapter one I was four pages in (MS Word) before the first line of spoken dialogue.

Now I hope (and believe) that this was not all clumsy back story or needless exposition. Yet I am beginning to worry that I may have one explanation for my five rejection letters right here. Despite every possible way of looking at the MS in re-edits I had not considered this issue. Throughout the rest of the story there is plenty of (hopefully sharp, snappy, story-moving-on type) dialogue. I feel like a bit of an idiot for not noticing the lack of it so early on.

Just curious what other people think about the merits of starting with chatterboxes rather than a more internalised, interior monologue style. Does anyone have any great examples of great writing which is very light on the dialogue early on?
Apr 21st

3 Act Structure

By Flickimp
The function of the first act is to set-up the world of the main characters and to foreshadow their conflicts, as well as to establish the protagonist's goal. The dramatic question of the first act is: What is the protagonist's initial situation that compels him to embark on the story goal?

The second act is defined by the dramatic context ofconflict. This act pits the protagonist against the antagonist by placing both in a situation of mounting attrition, forcing the protagonist to adapt his skills, and face his inner weakness, in order to achieve his goal.

The second act is typically double the length of the first act, and is orchestrated by a midpoint: the moment in which the protagonist decides on whether to give up on his goal, or press on against mounting opposition. To do so, he has to dig deep to uncover his inner strength and, perhaps, defeat hidden demons.

Paradoxically, his renewed determination inevitably results in an increase in the amount of deadly opposition he encounters along the way. The dramatic question of the second act is: How does the protagonist keep his head above water in the face of mounting obstacles and conflict.

The third act is defined by the dramatic context of climaxand resolution. It contains the so-called must-have scene: the final and deadliest clash between the protagonist and antagonist. The act unswervingly builds up to this must-have scene, the outcome of which yields the theme: if the hero looses then that which defeats him becomes the theme.

In Othello, for example, jealousy leads the Moor to murder his wife, thinking that she was unfaithful to him. The theme here is: Jealousy leads to destruction. The dramatic question of this final act is: will the protagonist, and all that he stands for, carry the day, or will he be defeated by the antagonist and his world?

A story, then, breaks down into three acts, which correspond to the beginning, middle and end of the tale, each of which has a specific function to perform.

Summary

A story typically comprises of three acts. Each act answers a specific dramatic question.

As far as Novel 9 goes, I'm coming to the end of Act 1. The real fun starts when the antagonists spin things out of control in Act 2...

Apr 21st

Omniscience or head-hopping?

By Sandra
I've suddenly got self-conscious - and consequently come to a stuttering halt - about some of the passages in one of my current wips as a result of hearing about the iniquities of head-hopping.  I thought this passage, dealing with  the conversation, actions and thoughts of three adults and three children  worked fine until then, but does it transgress all grammar rules and confuse the reader?

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