Character development – the “Impact Character”… OK, so someone kindly sent me a heads up on Dramatica and I am checking the criteria for an Impact Character against a character in my plot. I might have thought of her as the Antagonist, but perhaps she could be described as an Impact Character because…

an Impact Character must present an alternative approach to the Main Character

and though she will have similarities in her outer manner, i.e. she will be circumspect, almost hermit-like – she will seem mysterious; probably because she is mystical; artistic: instinctual and has an inner faith – whereas Ignatius will be logical. A Mr-Black-and-White who’s lost all faith. Though as always, it will be the writers task – me, in this case – to show that nothing is as it seems… anyway – all this theory on character types is making my head ache! So, let me digress a little – as I’m looking at characters (the, perhaps futile, plot v character debate ringing in my ears) I would like to share something on character development from an author who I am fond of for writing Ingenious Pain, Andrew Miller. No question which side of this debate his opinion rests on…

First off (and at the risk of being punched in the face by some follower of the nouveau roman school), let it be loudly asserted that character, strong characters, are at the heart of all great literature and always will be. Plot, even in detective fiction, is a very secondary matter. Not many readers could outline the plot of The Sign of the Four but no one has any difficulty bringing Holmes and Watson to mind. A writer who does not create convincing characters will fail. A writer who creates thrilling, troubling, seductive, insistent characters need not worry too much about any other aspect of writing. You do not need to know how to spell. You do not need to know much about grammar. You do not even need any huge sensitivity to language, though this is the other quality that really matters in writing; it is also, perhaps, the most resistant to any kind of formal teaching.

For the full article, go here. I’d say I’m more inclined to take his side than fall on the side of plot, but really it’s all a matter of approach. Both are equally important unless you are constructing an antinovel surely. Perhaps it is best to let the debate continue in other quarters, while I get on with some work! Till next time – and I told you I was no blogger… see how lazy I have been!


Letting the setting get under my skin

Good Day!

My sentence/paragraph for today – and these will all be ones that have been written in rough that day – is:

St Mary’s, so benignly dominating the skyline during daylight hours, now loomed dark as pitch, giving shelter to more than those that lay at peace below ground. Like many things in life though, there are always at least two faces to present the world, each at their different time, and each as far apart that one can be from it’s other. And so St Mary’s now stood brooding with her nighttime face, and I ensured my footsteps clicked a little faster till I was clear of her chilling reach.

Now I am beginning to settle to the task of writing and also immersing myself in all kinds of media – whether it be photographic, literary or film – to bring about an under-the-skin understanding of place. Of time and setting.

My story begins at the turn of the century after the Industrial Revolution began tightening the thumbscrews of the working man. It starts in London – in Canonbury Square, Islington – the home of the main protagonist, Jasper (rough draft name). Though we will also travel through the Court of King Louis XIV, at the Palais de Versailles – and in particular, the Galerie des Glaces – but that comes later…

So for now, I am in the transitionary time from Victorian to Edwardian England, with a protagonist somewhere on route from Canonbury Square, along Upper Street, walking and deciding against taking the omnibus to the hubbub that is the Angel. The paragraph above describes his walk past the church about halfway from Canonbury Sq. to the Angel.

Having just watched a Culture Show Special on Ford Maddox Ford, which showed some lovely film footage of around the period I am after – I ascended to my little writers cave with a strong feeling for the times and wanted to capitalise on it at once. Of course, I will have to keep soaking up all that I can to try and maintain a strong impression of the times. But that’s quite a fun part of the process for me. It’s a kind of escape, like being lost in the painting process – which I am leaving behind for a while so I can concentrate on writing. Then it will be down to how I translate these impressions to my writing. To re-create the smells, the feel of things. Using the senses to convey a description. I’m looking forward to that!

I suppose I am naturally drawn to historical fiction. I read quite a bit of it – though like to strike a balance so also love science fiction. Anyway, I have vague memories of enjoying history at school, though only the receiving of information – definitely NOT the remembering of it for exam purposes. Enjoying anything at school was a real bonus as I remember… but that’s another story! I’d better stop, before I get very side-tracked.

But before I go – here’s a question for you: What are your top 2 methods for working in a sense of time and space?

…and till next time, stay inspired!




Sentence of the day… and maybe more

Ok, so it’s my 3rd day of writing. First 2 days I got to 600 words each day – today we’ll see! I thought I’d share some of my writing as it comes – a sentence or two from the day. So to get started, here’s one I made earlier…

‘The silence seemed to intensify. Solidify and darken in the room till there was no space, not even for a breath.’

So, now that’s out-of-the-way – I thought I’d share a resource I find invaluable for keeping me on track when it comes to the reason I want to write, and keeping the passion burning within. And what could anyone’s reason be if not for the complete love of ‘Story’… and indeed, it is Robert McKee‘s ‘Story – Substance, structure, style and the principles of screenwriting’ to which I refer. Inspirational stuff!

On the art of Story, he says that

Story is about principles, not rules (great start for me, as I am a bit of a punk)

Story is about mastering the art, not second-guessing the marketplace (good, art is what I like)

…and there is so much more that really grabs me and makes me hold on to the dream of writing and writing well, I’d recommend the read. But what about you??? Where do you take inspiration from? Maybe you’d like to share your thoughts… until then,

stay inspired x

First day of writing!

Ok, so I’ve actually sat down in front of the screen and started typing. Even though I’ve thought about the characters and plot many times before it seemed really difficult to just start… Part of me want to bury myself in the cosy world of research. Now that would be soooo easy, not to mention enjoyable to do! But how much time do you spend on such things??? 

So when I started looking up ‘the history of the necktie’ – I’ve stopped myself from getting to anal about it (this time!) and getting sidetracked into writing a whole new story based on this new and interesting research… and walked my fingers back onto the keys to type, type, type! I really just want to plough on and get a ‘fast first draft’ so no dillydallying for me. No Sir.

In my allotted 2 hours, I’ve managed 600 words, not a great deal maybe but I’m vaguely pleased… let’s see what tomorrow brings ;0)


It may seem a little strange – or maybe not – but the medium that really fires me up about ‘story’ is actually film. I don’t know exactly why, but it is great film, more than a great novel, that really inspires me to write. Maybe some of you other writers out there feel the same? I’m talking films like ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’, ‘The Insider’ – (De Niro and Russell Crowe) and ‘Blue Sky’ with the wonderful Jessica Lange (such a gorgeous woman)!  These great films really pull me apart… and I love it.

And on the subject of film – I’ve just finished watching ‘Michael’, a film by Markus Schleinzer – first time writer/director – released March of this year. I was very unsure about watching a film about a man who kept a young boy hostage in his cellar – but I was also curious as to how this subject matter would be portrayed. Although it was written and directed really well, allowing a level of detachment because of the understated way things are revealed… it’s still quite difficult to come away from it knowing that normally I am so incensed about these things. If you are the sort of person that isn’t afraid to get under the skin of the horrors some people experience in this life, then I would recommend it. It could certainly start some very intense debates.

I think I will need a comfort-balm next. Something to lift me. ‘The Insider’ is always a good tonic – I love Crowe’s portrayal of the reluctant hero. I fell deeply in love with this character. Ah, now I feel better already!