Wednesday, July 22, 2009

RNA Conference 4 (part 3) - Linda Gillard

Below is the final section of Linda Gillard's Sense and Sensitivity session.

But before that I just wanted to update you on where things are with my own writing. I had to leave Penderrown at 71,000 words and plunge into A Cornish House as the New Writers' Scheme deadline is approaching fast. The good thing is that I haven't looked at the manuscript in about seven months. It is amazing what the fresh eye can see and what I have learned in the intervening time. I have read all the feedback from last year's NWS report, agents comments and publisher comments. I looked for any real consistency and there was none! So it is now down to me as the writer to see where this story needs to grow and shrink. I need to give myself clear page deadlines for each day which have to be met or surpassed - I may be a bit quiet on the blog if I start falling behind (Needless to say that this deadline falls as DH is on his three weeks hols, hence the rain in Cornwall, the kids are all here and we have guests!) So each day I need to revise 25 pages which will give me time for one last read through before submission. Fingers crossed.

CREATING DETAILED CHARACTERS – using photos

Beware: description of character can be where writing sags.

It’s much harder to describe beautiful people than ugly ones! Difficult to avoid cliché. Focusing on non-visual aspects some of the time will help avoid the pitfalls.
(I avoid describing my characters because I think it’s a pit you can fall into. I also think it’s a weakness in my writing, so I don’t draw attention to it.)
You don’t want lists of adjectives, back-story, clichés. You mustn’t let readers switch off. (Some skip description!) Keep your descriptions sensory and vivid, and readers won’t want to skip.
Make your characters vivid by using concrete detail (and not just things you can see.) Be specific.

I often work from photos of real people (sometimes amalgams of more than one) because it makes me step outside my comfort zone and my own limited memory bank.
[Resources: PEOPLE photo packs Note: Here pick a few of your own]

WRITING TASK 5 Sensory Gymnastics!

1. Choose a photo and study it.
Imagine this is one of your characters.

2. Think of a smell associated with that character - their perfume or their natural body smell; the smell of the job they do; perhaps the smell of fear or blood.

3. Think of a sound associated with your character – the sound of their voice, an instrument they play, the music they listen to, a sound their body makes (eg asthmatic wheeze.)

4. Think of a texture associated with your character – the feel of their hair, skin, clothes, or something they touch in the course of their work, something they make as a hobby.

5. Can you think of a taste associated with your character? A food or drink they like? Or if your character lends himself/herself to the sensuous and erotic, something s/he tastes of?…

I want to thank Linda for sharing all of this. It is a fantastic set of exercises and I can already see the benefit.... So to find out more about Linda drop by her website. There is a great section on writing.

3 comments:

ChrisH said...

Thanks Liz and good luck with your NWS submission.

Phillipa said...

Thanks for the reports, Liz and good luck with the NWS script, P x

Glynis said...

Great exercises, I find these always help me. Thanks for sharing.