Category Archives: Writing

The Start of Something Beautiful

E-mail from Mike 8/1/13

Alex,

Val,

I am writing to you with an idea. It is not necessarily a new idea, but I think it’s a good idea and a good idea is an idea worthy of doing.

You know the ill fated ‘Book Club With A Difference’? Well, it didn’t work. I don’t know if it was a format thing, or just pure laziness on my behalf. But the roots of that site have merit. I believe that sharing in the writing process is important; and an important tool in focusing me into achieving… something; anything!

2013 is going to be a good year. A year of productive authoring and blogging. And I feel that those go hand-in-hand.

Speaking of hand-in-hand, will you join me?

You both were so incredibly instrumental in the bringing about of my first novel (however ill fated) and I could not have done it without you. But I’m asking for further help and guidance.

My idea is this…

We e-mail.

We have long conversations with countless forwards and responses, talking about whatever we feel the need to talk about. Of course it will stem from the ‘writing’ but I don’t think it should be confined to just that topic. It’s like a group message on the iPhone (which Val and I just experienced for the first time thanks to Rachel) but with an added sense of purpose. I’m hoping you will help me finish this book; this book which I fully intend to be the first book I have published. No more pussy-footing about. This has to happen.

I’ve started a new blog. It’s called ‘Woods End Cottage’ (https://woodsendcottage.wordpress.com/) and it’s on WordPress, which is new to me but very exciting! There, I will be blogging about writing and the process behind it all. I’m also hoping that if you guys feel like you can help me through these e-mails, that the e-mails themselves might find their way into the blog; charting the progress of the book, and encapsulating a year in our lives in which we joined to create something.

That’s how long I’m giving myself; a year to complete this book…*

It is a year that holds change (from 2 decades to 3 being a big one!) and it sort of feels like the right time to get serious.

I’ve also seen a lovely idea on other blogs where those particular bloggers have had their years worth of blogs bound into a hardback book for re-reading sometime in the future. This may sound like sentimentality gone mad, and I think if I were to just bind my blog into a book so I can read what I wrote again and again would just be so terribly self absorbed!

But if you were to join me, it would somehow become less self absorbed… and more of a shared experience worth remembering… or would we all just be totally self absorbed? But self absorbed together!

That’s my idea. Sort of like a Bridget Jones’ Diary Three-way… that sounds so wrong…

From Val 10/1/13

Sounds fab hunny, count me in!Just signed up to follow the new blog, will have a read now!

From Alex 8/1/13 (via Twitter)

@inizia Bridget Jones’ Diary Three-way with @mikehonour and @valdoherty84 lool!

I think that means she’s in???

photo (5)

(If you don’t remember this photo being taken it’s because it wasn’t. It’s two pictures merged!)

*A countdown has been added to the blog; it just got serious.

Prologue – A Reflection

It seems that I always know where a story begins. 

I’ve already written a book. It remains unpublished and possibly, if I’m being completely honest, unworthy of publication. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. But something deep in my bones tells me that first novels aren’t for general reading. First novels are almost an exercise into how to craft a story into becoming a novel.

I learnt so much writing it. It’s hard to explain specifically what… Planning was a big thing. The first book I wrote, or at least the story and characters, were alive in my head for many years before actually putting fingers to keys. So when it came to formatting it into a coherent and exciting story, I sort of winged it; it was quite a fluid exercise and I think in retrospect it feels it. The story is a little… how shall I put it… woolly. 

Perhaps I’m being too hard on myself. There’s a lot of good stuff in there, but I think if I had planned more accurately then I would be more pleased with it; and you might even be reading it!

My point, and I do have one, is that I wouldn’t be writing the book I am today if I hadn’t gone through the conception, development, characterisation, setting, research and general plot twisting-iness of that novel. 

What both novels share is a common denominator in their prologues; and that similarity is that they were the first things I ever wrote for both stories, and they both remained untouched throughout the entire writing process.

It seems almost barking mad that the first thing you write for a story lives up to the complexities and scrutinies of the book as a whole. But for me, they do; or at least they do so far…

In this prologue, Crystal is a young child and she builds a snowman. It seems so simple. And it is. But the best things usually are.

For me, the prologue works because it is a tiny taster of where this story will go. But more than that there is some in-built imagery which I think is just as powerful as the story itself. After all, what is a book if not a way to paint a picture with words?

I think stories are an incredibly illustrative medium. Sometimes in developing a story I may just have an image in my head of a particular scene, or character, or setting, or all of the above. And the whole narrative is just an excuse to get to that picture. 

This prologue is strong because of that image of Crystal standing back and looking at the snowman she has built. All on her own, I must add, which to me really emphasises how strong she is, even at such a young age. 

Although, my favourite image is the look on her face when that white, wet hand rests on her shoulder. Her mouth wide open for all the flies in Wales to fly into and buzz around for a moment whilst she gathers herself. 

Even though it isn’t described here, in my head the snowman smiles down at her. Which I think is even more exciting! (It isn’t described for good reason, and you may take that as a teeny teaser!)

The prologue is short, it’s even quite basic. There isn’t too much detail; on the other hand I think you do get a feel for the house, and for the family that live there, and for Crystal herself. There’s lots of miniature moments; mini-mos if you will.

And I’m starting to understand my writing style in that these mini-mos may be insignificant and just add pretty colour to the scene; or they may just be of the utmost importance. 

I wonder if this prologue will change over the course of finishing this novel? 

 

Prologue

Image

 

There had always been something about Crystal Green. Ever since she was a little girl, strange things seemed to happen when she was around.

Probably the strangest thing of note happened one Christmas Eve.

Crystal had spent all day outside in the deep fresh snow. The bottom of her jeans had soaked up the moisture from the soft white blanket that had covered her garden path. The sleeves of her pink woollen cardigan that her aunt had made her had been rolled up so that she could concentrate on the job at hand.

A snowman.

It had taken her all day. Her cheeks were rosy from all of her hard work. But when she took a step back, she saw her fine creation.

He was six feet tall with big buttons that Crystal had found in her grandmother’s sewing box, in a line down his front. He had two almost perfectly spherical lumps of coal for eyes and a great big knobbly carrot for his nose.

Crystal had sneaked into the kitchen and borrowed one of her mother’s rusty red saucepans. She had to stand on a bucket to place it on top of his head, but now that it was there she was proud.

He was almost perfect. But there was something missing. He needed something…

As fast as a spark she ran from the fading light of the garden, burst through the bright red front door, raced up the stairs to the third floor and found what she was looking for in the dusty cobweb covered attic.

There amongst the old toys and the never opened boxes she saw it; her grandfather’s suitcase.

Crystal dragged the bulging case out into the centre of the room and brought it to rest on the circular woven rug under the scarlet light that streamed through the oval stained glass window.

She clicked the locks open and rummaged through the cracked leather case. It wasn’t the first time she had stolen a few minutes with her grandfather’s most prized possessions. She adored pushing her strawberry blonde hair out of her eyes and roving over these mysterious objects. But there was no time for that now. She knew exactly what she was looking for.

Her hands dug deep and her fingers closed around her treasure of the moment and off she went back out into the cold.

Carefully and proudly she wrapped Gramps’ red and brown striped scarf around the snowman’s shoulders and tied it tightly so it rested perfectly on his pale chest.

Her feet crunched on the yielding snow as she backed away from her finished masterpiece. She smiled.

The light from the house swiped across his eyes of coal making them glisten. Crystal thought this made him look more alive than just a statue of frozen water.

She looked deeply into his shining eyes and for a moment the world seemed to go quiet. The wind that had been rattling the trees seemed to diminish just as the noise coming from the loud television inside the house vanished from her ears.

Crystal continued to stare into the sparkling lumps of coal until something moved in the corner of her eye. It drew her attention for the tiniest of seconds and brought all sound back to the garden.

She shook her head. And with her eyes facing the ground she laughed. It was such a silly idea; nothing more than a silly idea.

But all of her silliness ceased. A heavy white hand took hold of her shoulder. She stopped. She slowly lifted her head.

He was alive.

She pulled in a deep long breath of shock and wonderment which left her mouth gaping for a long time. But there was no doubting it, there could be no mistake. He was alive…

There had always been something about Crystal Green.