I know it’s tough when the words don’t want to go play in the fields of your imagination.
Like a hunger pang which makes you question whether you’re capable of telling the story which lives inside you. You call yourself an ‘aspiring writer’ but you just want to get it down, with the themes and ideas which possessed you to pursue it in the first place.
But it doesn’t quite work, does it?
You see all the writing advice out there, mostly from theorists who’ve studied the game but haven’t set foot on the field.
It’s like trying to take a drink from a fire hydrant sometimes.
Well, what if there was someone who could cut through all that, help you find and illustrate what you saw in your story?
I’ve written and consulted on numerous projects. I’ve studied classical story structure and narrative, mythology and psychology as it relates to storytelling and archetypes.
I have also known the pain of an unborn story inside you.
So, why not get in touch and see what my insights and experience can do to take your work to a level where it is out there, and reflecting your passion and craft?
Here is someone who has benefited from my help:
“My main concern when starting this process for our client was whether or not an editor was going to “get it”, and by that I mean understand what the author, a military historian and academician was trying to accomplish with the update of his nearly two decade-old historical nonfiction manuscript. Essentially, your specific editorial task was to make the manuscript less academic while maintaining the author’s voice. Fortunately, you immediately understood what we were going for and did a thorough job of editing the book according to our specifications. It was very refreshing to read your yield. Thank you.” — Florita Bell Griffin, Ph.D., ARC Communications, LLC. Texas USA
If you’re interested, please get in touch with me: firstname.lastname@example.org and see what we can accomplish together.
M B Blissett
You prepare a synopsis, with all plot points from beginning to end via email. Don’t think of it as a teaser, I will need to see the spoilers and points where your story turns. Also, don’t worry if there are gaps. This will be where I come in.
You then fill out your synopsis, email it to me, with a small consultation fee.
I will contact you with questions to clarify points in your story, your wishes and expectations.
I prepare and send you a report which highlights key areas, based on your concerns and my observations. If you have any questions about my findings, then you are free to ask as many as you need to.
You then prepare a new outline/synopsis based on my findings, which will give you a solid framework to complete or revise your story.
For an additional but reduced fee, additional consulting sessions are available if you want further revisions or want a more detailed report. It is all done with the sole aim of making your story the absolute best it can be.
You are not bound to follow any of my suggestions. I waive right to any additions you use, nor even entertain the thought of asking. It’s all yours, to use or disregard as you wish. You retain any and all rights to your work, and everything you share with me is in strictest confidence.
Contact me for further details: email@example.com
Part 1 is here
Gloria’s life could be measured in rituals. Her first was to get out of bed, throw on sweats and trainers, drink a cup of coffee and then hit the road. She ran to the bridge and back. It was a quiet stretch of road, and that time of the morning, no one was around. She lived out here precisely because there were vast stretches of silence that she could shout into and know that it was absorbed.
Perfect conditions for her writing.
She liked people, but was never sure that she could stand to be around them for any amount of time. She locked up, even though she knew that she didn’t have to. She had learned about that the hard way. She started to run, to get away from the memory.
Gloria had whittled herself down to sinew. She knew how far she could push herself, but always wanted to go further. The writing was the most sane application of that impulse and that would come later. At that time of day, though, she ran.
The mist clung to the road and a bank of cold air met her as she started her run, letting her body remember the pain, then the pleasure. She could not say which she preferred, if anyone asked her.
She went deeper inside herself with each mile, focusing on the deep engine of her breath and letting the quiet majesty of the trees work their magic upon her. It was her hundredth run without him.
He had gone to get groceries, cook them both breakfast because she had forgotten to pick up eggs and he had rolled his eyes, called her a goofball and put on his shoes. She had sidled up to him with one of those side way bump and grinds that she did, pushing her warm hip against the small of his back and said she would keep the bed warm for him.
In the washed out, grey days and nights afterwards, she slept on the couch to keep the warmth of him still in the sheets. She would try and write, but nothing came out of her. So she ran, went back and looked at the blank page, smooth and devoid of anything. She wanted to trade places with it so much that she could not bring herself to mark it.
She started to feel the dull ache beginning in her hips and hamstrings, which meant that she was close to the bridge, she would stop and walk off the lactic acid build up, then run back to the house, shower and eat breakfast.
The bridge had always been there. It had borne endless winters and humid, torrid summers without complaint. She would walk across it, holding her breath until she got to the other side, make a wish and still believe that it would come true. She would talk about the running until her voice gave out, but the truth of it was that she did all so that she could walk across the bridge and make a wish.
She turned the corner and saw the man stood there, waving to her with a cigarette burning between his fingers. She missed cigarettes but she had managed ten years without them, and the constant test of will had smoothed over the jagged peaks of her withdrawal. That was also when she had subsisted on a diet of coffee, cigarettes and diet cola to keep her skinny. The smell of it wandered over to her, and she shook her head, upset that someone had to be out here, an absurd anger at the cosmic coincidences of life that made her feel petulant and small inside.
She stopped. Her heartbeat fluttered with concern. She had dealt with convention crud, online reviews and all the forms of ugly compulsive interaction that a woman writing dealt with but this jangled her nerves. Her phone was back at the house, but out there there was nothing but the silence. It swallowed her cell phone signal as ably as her screams.
He finished his cigarette, stubbed it out on the heel of his shoe and pocketed it with a practised, smooth gesture. His smile faded, noting her apprehension and already moving to address it.
‘It’s okay, the last thing I’m here to do is cause you any trouble.’
She stood there, feeling the aches gathering together and telling her to run.
‘You don’t just walk up to people like that. I don’t know who the hell you are.’
He put his hands up and raised his eyebrows. He had dark-blond hair, streaked with charcoal and platinum and a crop of stubble that highlighted his angular, sharp features. She went dizzy when she saw the pointed ears peeking through the hair.
‘You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you. But I know you, Gloria.’
He had jewellery on his fingers, twisted and burnished into spirals and knots at which sat gleaming precious stones. He wore an olive-green leather coat over a crumpled white shirt and blue jeans, faded at the knee over black polished shoes.
‘That’s not helping you, whoever the fuck you are.’
She could punch, aim for his eyes, the jewellery on his fingers would cut her if he was going to hit her.
‘I know that you’re thinking that if I hit you, these rings would do a lot of damage.’
He put his hands in front of him, started to chant and stare at a point on the road a few feet ahead of her.
The air sparked and seethed with an organic, ambient light like the luminescence of deep undersea creatures. It undulated and he splayed his fingers again.
Gloria desperately wished for a pen and a piece of paper, to commit this to memory. The energy began to coalesce into the shape of a small bird.
It held the shape well, but sacrificed the details of beak and feathers, for suggestions of the craft and the shifting, rainbow patterns of the matter that formed it. He stood back and swept his hands upwards. He grinned like a child and gazed into her eyes.
‘Tell me where it goes, Gloria.’
She sucked in a breath, watching it circle overhead.
‘It returns to the flaming forest, there is an egg that needs it’s attention and inside that egg lies the child who will grow to rule -‘
He tutted and shook his head.
‘Oi, no spoilers.’ He laughed with a confident chuckle and lowered his hands to his side.
Gloria shuddered. That phrase had been taunting her, afraid to leave the skull prison of her head and mark the page. She had not been able to even speak it, but here it had flowed from her lips like an unguarded criticism.
‘Who the fuck are you?’ she said. She sounded distant, subdued by this florid burst of insanity.
He watched the bird before clicking his fingers and on cue, it shot upwards into the sky, past the limits of her vision.
‘I’ve had a few names through the years. Bragi. Brahma. Manjushri. I like the way that the ‘bra’ sounds, but I’m just going by Manny today.’
Everything felt so far away and incredibly close at the same time. This was not insanity, this was like finding out that your whole life really was that cosmic joke that everyone else was in on but you.
‘What if I said that you writing again is the reason I came here?’
She put her hand over her mouth and started to giggle with hysteria.
‘Oh if Kelly’s put you up to this, you’re really really good.’
Manny shook his head and smiled.
‘Kelly has nothing to do with this. I’m here because some people need you to start writing again.’
Her laughter died in her throat and she stopped breathing.
‘Who are these people?’
Manny’s face looked pinched with concern.
TO BE CONTINUED.
So, the pen sketch yesterday was useful, and it reads well so I may keep it but I’ve moved things on in order to get to the next set of beats/scenes in order to start bringing together the A and B plots.
When I use these terms, it’s borrowed wholly from Story and The Story Grid, in which you have the following:
The External or A plot is where you have your external conflict and action go on. Explosions, bullets, external events and forces that challenge and complicate your characters. The object of desire for this plot can be the recovery of a magic item, the defeat of a monster or the uncovering of truth.
The internal or B plot runs counter to the external plot. An example McKee gives is ‘Out of Africa’ where Karen Blixen rejects the notion of ‘owning things’ in order to save her soul and identity. It’s what lies beneath the surface of the character, notable by it’s absence in the likes of James Bond, although the Craig-era brought with it, the existence of it in terms of his ageing, the usefulness of his methods in an age of drones and open source terrorism etc.
Now, they don’t necessarily have to intersect but I think that they should because it adds emotional weight to the piece, especially if the successful resolution of the internal plot offers up an insight, an ally or a realisation that allows them to demonstrate the traits necessary to see through the resolution of the A plot. From even thinking about these, you’re thinking from a point of how to sell, or even pitch your work to people who don’t care about the thousands of hours you’ve put into it, your cogent argument for the inclusion of adverbs. It might take away some of the delight and whimsy you find in writing, but that’s a good thing. I thrive on being a productive adult, not someone who expects a standing ovation because I’ve written something. My concern is with my work, it’s quality and potential because that’s the only thing I have control over. I don’t write for the marketplace and trends because they change. That 50 Shades meets Harry Potter you’ve been working on, posting sentences out of context because the need to be seen to do it is more important than the actual achievement? It’s going to look flat and lifeless if it doesn’t burn like a UTI with your passion and investment in it. It’s not the sloppy, uninformed passion though, it’s the application of it. A sniper round rather than a shotgun. You can, and will write mess but you don’t have to share it. Show us the trick itself, not the endless hours you spent learning how to perform it without flaw.
There will be passion and magic invested in it. I’m open about the points where I write and it’s wonderful, but amongst that are the days you get it down on paper with the same passion that you brush your teeth or shave. Do you brush your teeth passionately? Should you? No, you do what is necessary then get on with your day, you work on improving your technique so your gums don’t bleed and you do it without thinking about it.
The results are there in your smile.
I was writing when it happened. On page 66 and writing a spooky scene when the electric went out.
That was an interesting moment, one that I’ve not had whilst writing. Art rarely imitates life but then we seldom perform a perfect imitation of ourselves. I also have the books title now which I’m really happy with as I struggle with titles a lot.
I always go for feeling that underpins whatever else is happening in the story. There’s a degree of equanimity that comes from practice and craft but that’s useful to figure out what’s going on rather than a barrier.
Which is a double edged sword when you’re dealing with the darker waters of the story. I cringe when writers talk about writing in a purply, floaty way which is why I write as I speak. But there is so much to our minds that it sometimes throws up moments that make you wonder.
It worked out well and my nerves are sizzling with good feeling. I enjoy the feeling of having written, it’s mingled with relief and regret but i like to do a little less than I am capable of doing because it keeps me hungry for it. That’s not automating laziness but about sustained and timely effort.
I’ve started episode 3 of Sir. I’m having fun with it, trying to find a place between tenderness, lust and commerce. The story is forming but I have some delicious moments in mind and it’s enjoyable to write about.
Also I’ve been looking at my stats and there’s 660 of you following this but so few comments. Not begging but let me know if you are reading once in a while, yeah? Writing is an exquisite irony where your moments of bliss are oftentimes had alone and a kind word matters more than you know.
Now go outside. Talk to people and consider that children and old people are closer to the raw stuff of the universe and so you can learn what you forgot when you grew up.
I wrote about the support structure and relationships that Tom has. It’s important to establish these as they’re a good way to define the characters and also generate conflict.
Again, it’s about showing the details rather than telling and that’s a matter of craft without any expectation that the reader will interpret it in the way you intend. Preparing for an active reader makes sense to me because I am one and I know what I like in a book.
There’s also the question of showing Tom and his vulnerability without denunciations of his ability to pursue action. To wound a character can be rich and compelling so long as you acknowledge that and it doesn’t cripple the pace that you are aiming to set.
It was a good moment to capture and I tapped into the emotions of injury and denial as well as some domestic touches that helped me get a sense of Tom and his family.