Tag Archives: A Writer’s Life

Create a Last Line First

At the start of a piece of writing, it may be worth a writer’s time to take a few moments to draft the last line or two of the story, and to picture its closing image.  Consider these great last lines.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.

He turned out the light and went into Jem’s room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.

First, taking the time to write last lines may help to avoid the dreaded one-third doldrums. Everyone has different rhythms, but it’s often at 1,000 words of a short story or 30,000 into a novel that energy lags. Knowing the ending can help power through.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby:

 So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Second, a great ending can save time writing the book at as a whole. We’ve many of us found ourselves writing an extra 30,000 words that may later have to come out. Of course, that extra 30,000 word (or more) expansion might also result in a twelve-volume bestselling series. But it can be pleasant to know how long the work ahead may take.

A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess:

And so farewell from your little droog. And to all others in this story profound shooms of lip-music brrrrr. And they can kiss my sharries. But you, O my brothers, remember sometimes thy little Alex that was. Amen. And all that cal.

Third, getting the ending written down at the start (although we reserve our right to make changes) allows us a view of the opening and closing images, and to judge how they resonate, before the energy-filled plot distracts from the pure and binary vision of a beginning alongside its ending.

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel:

 Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at sea as Mr. Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger.

I hope you’ll have another great week in your writing career. Cheers, Mel.

Mel Anastasiou writes The Fairmount Manor Mysteries series, starring Mrs Stella Ryman, The Hertfordshire Pub Mysteries series, starring Spencer Stevens, and the Monument Studio Mysteries starring Frankie Ray, found in Issue 22 and  Issue 24. She is a founding editor of Pulp Literature Press.

Restarting your Writing Career

Most writers go through periods of rest from time to time. It’s worth remembering that these caesuras often come in times of stress, when we’re helping others, or dealing with increased personal burdens in other aspects of our lives, like a day job. We may not be writing our 1,000 words, but we’re contributing something to the greater world.

What’s more, we might well be resting our writing brains for the great task ahead. In any case, even if the pause was to stream 14 seasons of NCIS, it’s well to set aside writer’s guilt (I don’t believe in writer’s block) and be confident that any obstacles we face could be grist for the writing mill.

Restart

Everybody works differently, but one way to restart is to set a timer for ten minutes and write out a character’s thoughts. Another is to copy out a favourite opening passage, and then to write an opening one in a similar rhythm, rather than a similar style. If neither of these do the trick, it’s very possible that outlining is in order.

Or maybe you’re still resting. When you return to your task, with your usual vigour, your characters will still be there, loyal and ready for new adventures.

I hope you’ll have another great week in your writing career. Cheers, Mel.

Mel Anastasiou writes The Fairmount Manor Mysteries series, starring Mrs Stella Ryman, The Hertfordshire Pub Mysteries series, starring Spencer Stevens, and the Monument Studio Mysteries starring Frankie Ray, found in Issue 22 and  Issue 24. She is a founding editor of Pulp Literature Press.

A Writer’s Life: Creating Something New

One of the great things about being a writer, and living an author’s life, is that we can be confident that we’re making a difference in the world.  Each turning point, thrill, laugh, satisfying ending we write, is an act of creation, leaving the sphere of readership a little richer.

The Big Picture

Jean Rhys wrote, “All of writing is a huge lake.  There are great rivers that feed the lake, like Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky. And then there are mere trickles, like Jean Rhys.  All that matters if feeding the lake.  I don’t matter. The lake matters.  You must keep feeding the lake.”

Thinking of the big picture is one of the great methods for getting down to work, feeling the energy that accompanies the understanding that what we do, matters.

I hope you’ll have another brilliant writing week. Cheers, Mel


If you’re a fan of Mel Anastasiou’s writing tips, you might try her pocket-sized writing guide The Writer’s Boon Companion: Thirty Days Towards an Extraordinary Volume. Motivates, organizes, encourages, inspires.

From Pulp Literature Press

 

On, Beside, Atop the Standing Desk

editorial-writer-forest-smallThe standing desk began to trend on Facebook a while back.  Churchill used one to write and edit.  Learning this, I perk up and look more deeply into the concept.

Companies are still making standing desks.  I don’t care for the look, though. And, I already have a desk with drawers and a flat surface.

So, I look at raising my writing desk to standing desk level.  What if I were to balance  it on stacks of books, once I know what  height it should be. So, I measure the distance between the top of my head and the screen, then subtract the difference between the top of my head and the floor sitting, and standing.  Or something. And come up with a number of centimeters that put my desk in a weird half-space at the window and me working in full view of all my neighbours, which is distracting to creative thought, especially with the desk falling off the stacks of books all the time.

I check out portable Victorian pulpits. Small ones, you know. They do exist, ebay-ers, but our flat is also small, and there is really nowhere to put one except the bathroom, and then the hamper will have to sit on the bed.

But, man, I’m picturing Churchill, standing at his desk to work (when not working in his bath). There’s got to be a way.

So, I measure the kitchen counter, which is 4 cm too short, and find a big wide book that measures 4 cm from the countertop to support my laptop. I put a block of wood at my foot to act as a foot rail, like the ones in wild-west bars. True, I have to clear my laptop away to cook at all, and wipe down my counter to work, but the view of the Victorian pub, sometimes accessorized with Morris dancers, traffic accidents, and magpie battles, inspires me.  And the extra movement and shifting of position, when combined with taking walks outside, helps enhance this happy-brain profession so that it’s a more movement-oriented career.  As well, for those of us working on computer screens, it’s well to know that we’re meant to look up and focus into the distance every few minutes. I find I do that when I’m standing far more than when I’m sitting.

Now, to turn off my wifi.  Lovely.  Oh! Look, a squirrel.

Cheers, Mel

Pulp Literature is running, with terrific rewards, a Kickstarter campaign to startup a boutique publishing house, with Allaigna’s Song: Overture  leading the way to more fantasy, science fiction, mystery, steampunk, and historica titles.

45eeddf5c7712aa1b4db548092c36a3b_originalHere’s where to get it: Kickstarter’s Pulp Literature Press, Something Novel.

Your Writer’s Life: Six Ways You’re Living it Now

summerFew will argue that the path to being a full-time writer isn’t a challenging one, but then it’s also difficult to become doctors and lawyers and such.  I observe that nobody says to those aspirants, as they say to writers, “Ha, don’t quit the day job.” Instead they exclaim, “Wow, a doctor, good for you, that’s a hard career to get into. How are you going to manage that?”

It’s a good question for us to answer anyway.  And it’s a time-management, organizational question. 

Here are six ways to know you’re closer than you ever thought to success in your writing career.

  1. You think and plan both long-term and short-term.
  2. You rely on preparation and love of the craft to write, rather than the inspiration of the moment.
  3. You have already found ways to encourage and give back to other writers.
  4. You think beyond the manuscript to reaching your readers.
  5. You can answer the question, “What’s your book about?” in a sentence.
  6. You devise a way to carve out a few large (1 ½ hours perhaps for drafting and revising) and many small (3 to 10 minutes for planning, polishing, and marketing) chunks of time during the week. These blocks of time may be flexibly scheduled but are certainly sacrosanct.

All the success experts insist that we need dreams of success to help spark action, and time management common sense agrees that if you’re excited about something brilliant and feasible, you’re likely to do the hard work that’s needed to achieve it with efficiency and focus.

I hope you’ll have a terrific writing day today.