The Second Draft.

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I’ve finally finished editing the first draft of 1:58 and if there is anything I have learnt from this experience of using a red pen on my own work it is this – I can be brutal. Many writers say that they don’t like to ‘kill their darlings’ but I found it quite easy to use my inner-editor to cross out sections that didn’t work, be brutally honest about my use of clichés and accept that there were parts of my novel that just didn’t work.

I had a dream a few nights ago about my novel, when I woke up I realised all of the mistakes I was making with my story and I quickly jotted them down. I’m going to make some major changes, from the name of the novel to the events that take place in the narrative. It’s still the same story in many ways and I am keeping the characters that I have grown to love but the novel didn’t excite me when I read it back. If it doesn’t excite me, then it’s definitely not going to excite a reader.

This is the first time I have completed a novel and edited my own work, so it’s an entirely new process for me. I am excited to get started on the second draft, it may take three or four drafts before this novel is ready but I’m willing to put the hard work in to really create the best story I possibly can. No one said it would be easy. Ernest Hemmingway once said “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” A little dramatic but he definitely has the right idea.

 

 

 

 

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Colour Me Calm: The Adult Colouring Book Craze

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We all remember the joy that colouring books brought to us when we were small, our parents would give us a colouring book and some crayons and we would stay quiet for hours, focusing on staying in the lines, with our tongues sticking out and wrinkles on our forehead.

Unfortunately, as we turn into adults we close the doors on our childhood, we forget everything we used to enjoy and focus on making a living, worrying about money and what we think we should be doing with our lives. We tell ourselves that everything we did when we were children should be left in the past and we should just be adults, responsible adults who have lots of important decisions to make.

I’ve always loved colouring, as a child I would entertain myself for hours, scribbling and drawing and using felt tips to colour in blank silhouettes of cartoon characters and princesses. This is why I stopped. There were no colouring books suitable for adults, until now. It might be the latest craze that will fade into obscurity in a few months time but I think it’s an excellent idea to get adults in touch with their inner child. Instead of getting caught up in the anxieties of modern life, why not sit down, switch off your brain for a little while and colour? Brilliant.

Studies have shown that colouring is a great way to relax and turn off the world. We’re so animated all of the time, whether it is scrolling down our Facebook news feeds to see what our friends are up to, working in a busy office nine hours a day or travelling on trains and buses, we find it difficult to just stop and focus on one thing. Psychologists say that colouring stimulates areas of the brain that are related to motor skills, the senses and creativity and when we enter that creative state of mind, naturally our worries melt away, it’s the perfect relaxation technique.

Some adults will shake their heads in dismay at grown-ups sitting down with a box of crayons and a book of patterns to colour in on a Friday night but if it transports them to a place where they feel calmer, happier, even nostalgic then what’s the harm? I have always found colouring to be therapeutic and since buying my ‘adult’ colouring book, I have found a new hobby that enhances my creativity, makes me feel calmer and keeps me entertained when boredom hits. The first day I opened my new colouring book, I left my laptop screen and coloured for nearly three hours. I think that’s the longest I have been away from a screen for a while.

If you feel like you need an escape from your every day life and want to reconnect with your childhood innocence then pick up an adult colouring book from your local book shop, try it, you might be pleasantly surprised.

‘Love, Rosie’ Film Review

Critics are calling Love, Rosie a mediocre Rom Com with no depth or originality but after watching it, I have to disagree. Love, Rosie is so much more than what it appears, if you look deeper into the story, it will definitely steal your heart. 

An adaptation of Cecilia Ahern’s epistolary novel Where Rainbow’s End, the film focuses on two characters, Rosie (Lily Collins) and Alex (Sam Claflin). They met at the age of five and have been best friends ever since. The two characters face the highs and lows of growing up and deal with the complexities of love, life, family and friendships.

I have no doubt that the audience will be charmed almost instantly by their unbreakable bond but wonder if there is something else between them. The film is a little bit predictable at times but sometimes all you want to watch is a simple love story with relatable characters and an uncomplicated plot.

Missed chances, miscommunication and mistakes, drive the characters two apart and as Rosie and Alex try to carry on with their separate lives, a force always pulls them back together again. The sentiment of the film is sweet and I really enjoyed watching it.

Love, Rosie is a heart-warming and likeable film, give it a chance, it is a nice relaxing love story, perfect to watch on a Friday night.

Four Stars!

Letters To Emily

I’m still amazed that I completed NaNoWriMo in 2014. I set myself the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I completed it and now I feel like I am ready to write another novel. Writing 1:58 was an amazing experience, I finally finished a novel. It was a big achievement to actually finish something. 1:58 is technically a novella but it’s definitely given me the confidence boost that I need to move forward.

I learnt a lot from the NaNoWriMo experience, I found that discipline was extremely important and I learnt to turn off my editor voice in my head and just write. I really loved the characters in my story but once I wrote the finally word and ended it with a full stop, I knew that the plot definitely had to change. My original story fell flat and I knew I could do better. That’s when I started to plan Letters To Emily.

There were many different titles but I’ve decided to settle on Letters To Emily because it fits the idea I have in my mind perfectly. I’m still using the character’s Eleanor Hemming and Lacey Collins because I loved writing about their lives in 1:58. However, instead of the story being centred around two babies that were switched, I’ve decided to change it to a child that is taken.

Now, I know that the idea has been done many times before but there are a few twists and turns that I have planned to make sure that my novel stands out. There will be many different forms in the novel. Letters and messages will be embedded into the narrative and the story will not only focus on the lives of Lacey and Eleanor but their daughters Charlotte and Erin and let’s not forget Lacey’s husband Ben.

A big secret will change the lives of both families and I want to focus on how a tragedy can effect a family. I also want to write about the bond between mother and daughter and another layer to my story is how the internet has become an important part of our daily lives. Charlotte and Erin meet on an online chat room, they become friends and confide in each other about the daily problems that they both face. Erin feels disconnected from her mother Eleanor, they never stay in one town for long and she finds it difficult to meet new friends. Charlotte is tired of constantly being in Emily’s shadow, her mother is still obsessed with finding her daughter even though ten years have past. Ben doesn’t know if he can save his marriage and Lacey is either running her bookshop or posting in an online forum about missing children.

I am confident that this is the book that I want to write. I know that 50,000 words is achievable in 30 days so I shouldn’t have an issue with writing 80,000 to 100,000 words with no deadline. Of course I would love to finish the first draft of the novel by the summer, so I can edit it and make it better and hopefully get it ready for publishing by the end of this year.

‘Lucy’ Film Review

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Lucy is a heart-pounding action packed thriller with eccentric possibilities. 

Luc Besson’s latest film Lucy has been compared to Limitless, a previous film starring Bradley Cooper but the thriller explores further fictional realms. The plot begins with the main character Lucy played by Scarlett Johansson, a student living in Taiwan. Her latest boyfriend Richard tricks her into delivering a case to a group of business men in a fancy hotel. In a matter of minutes Lucy is thrown into a mess of blood, drugs and crime when she and three other men are used as drug mules to transport a mystery drug CPH4 to different countries.

After being kicked in the stomach where the drugs are stored Lucy experiences the devastating effects of the drug leaking into her body. The sub-plot centres around Professor Samuel Norman played by Morgan Freeman, who’s area of academic expertise surrounds brain activity and cerebral capacity. The plot switches between the action of  Lucy discovering her abilities and Professor Samuel Norman talking about what would happen if humans could use more than 10% of their brains.

When the characters collide the fast paced plot soars and the mind blowing blend of science and fiction creates an exciting  film experience. The words that really stood out to me during the film were ‘Without time we don’t exist.’ This profound sentence captivates the entire meaning of the film and makes you wonder if we actually exist at all. There are very few films that leave a lasting effect on the viewer, Lucy is one of those films. It is a gem, the best film I have seen this year and if you love science fiction, action or thrillers you will definitely love this film.

Five stars *****

True Blood – Season 6 Episode 10 (Season Finale) TV Episode Review [SPOILERS]

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So season six has officially finished. Season six was the shortest season so far, there were only ten episodes instead of twelve because of Anna Paquin’s pregnancy so the writers had to cram a lot into the season finale to set up all the story lines for season seven. The season finale may have fallen flat comparing to season five’s finale but there are a few cliffhangers that will keep truebies anxiously guessing until Summer 2014.

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The first storyline to come to an end in the finale was vampires being able to walk in daylight. I’m glad that this came to end because vampires are creatures of the night, Warlow died in this episode and the ability for the vampires to walk in the daylight died with him. This resulted in Eric (supposedly) burning in the sun. Now I’m a bit sceptic about this, the writers want us to believe that Eric is dead but I don’t think they will kill of one of their main characters in that way. It’s just a cliffhanger to keep fans guessing and panicking that their favourite character has died. A lot of fans have commented on the ‘six months later’ section of the episode saying that it felt rushed but I felt that moving the time along shows how things returned back to normal in Bon Temps, something that we haven’t experienced since the first season. The writers recently commented on this by saying that they wanted to return to the set up of season one, focus on the main characters of Bon Temps after exploring different subjects like the vampire authority, the fellowship and vamp camp.

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We finally see Sookie in a somewhat normal relationship in the six months later section of the episode, for a few seasons her flirtation and chemistry between her and Alcide has been clear but it is far too domesticated for Sookie, we all know that she is a Danger Whore and Alcide will not satisfy her needs for very long.  Sookie has been whining about having a ‘normal’ life for five seasons and that’s what her relationship with Alcide suggests but the end of the finale suggests that danger is coming whether she likes it or not (bit predictable… when will her character learn?) I also really like the relationship between Jason and his new vampire girlfriend Violet. She may be a little bit crazy and obsessed with Jason but she shows Jason how to only tend to her needs and Jason has only ever had the opposite treatment. This relationship will only strengthen his character in the future and heighten his overall respect for women. I commend the writers on exploring a different path for this character.

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A very sweet moment in the finale was the scene between Tara and her mother. The citizens of Bon Temp have decided, since there is no longer any True Blood that every vampire should have their own human. What Tara’s mum offers to do is to nurture and look after Tara to make up for all of the times that she failed as a mother when Tara was a human. The season finale tied up a lot of lose ends such as Arlene buying Merlotte’s and renaming it Arlene’s Bar and Grill and Sam becoming Mayor. Having a flash forward six months allowed these revelations to be revealed so I think it was a very smart move for the writers, even though it felt a little forced.

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The ending is exciting but not as heart wrenching as season five’s finale. We see many hungry, sick looking vampires making their way for Arlene’s Bar and Grill (it’s going to take a while to stop calling it Merlotte’s.) The writers have managed to leave unanswered questions which is what a successful season finale should do. I am really excited to see how these stories progress in season seven. There is always going to be someone unhappy with the way the writers deal with the main characters but in the grand scheme of things I think they have hit the nail on the head with the final episode.

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Writing And Planning My Novel

I’ve had a few days off from the whole book process but it’s definitely time to start it up again. Most writers will say that free writing a first chapter is the way you should go about it. Well, I tried that. I’m more of a planner than a free thinker so I went back to my notes and decided to delve further into the actual plan before carrying on. I discovered that the reason behind my writers block is the fact that my plan wasn’t detailed enough.

I had profiles of my characters and I knew how the whole entire story should be plotted but I didn’t actually break down the chapters into events. I didn’t know what was happening in particular parts of the story, my first error. So, back to the drawing board I went through my notes. I had also made another minor mistake with the dates of the character’s actions and that had to be sorted out straight away. I now know that starting to write a book has a lot more planning involved that I ever thought. I’m going to spend time planning it to the extent I need too. I need to know my characters inside out and I need to know every action they make and everything they say in the chapters.

When I am happy with this I will carry on redrafting the first chapter. I’m new to this so I guess I will run into problems along the way. I was too eager to start the actual book, when I didn’t have a good plan as a foundation. Thought I would keep people updated with the challenge of writing my first book. I’m going to be making blogs often like this one. Sometimes it will be a random thought of the day, nothing to do with my book at all and sometimes I will go into much further detail with what is happening. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.

Writing A Novel

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Well I have officially started planning my novel, yeah ‘planning’, not really got pen to paper or words to a page just yet… I keep changing my mind on things about my story and the characters. I really want to start writing it but I know that there is something about my story that doesn’t quite click with me. I have the basic plot of my story and I know how the narration is going to be. I even have a title, whether that changes during the process I don’t know but I think it’s the perfect title at the moment.

I’m getting a little bit of writer’s block and being a Gemini I bounce from one project to another.. which is a problem when you need to commit to writing a novel! I know that when I have no distractions, no uni work and nothing else to take up my time I will sit down with my laptop and just start to write… probably complete nonsense at first!!

Redrafting and editing will take a very long time, I’m aware of that but I would like to have my first chapter at least a first draft before the end of April. If I set myself a goal I am more likely to strive to achieve it. In the meantime, I have lots of uni work to complete, books to read and other things to balance in my busy life at the moment.

I just hope that I actual start writing this novel, it’s something I want to do and it’s something I feel have to do! Writing a novel isn’t easy, I know this and I haven’t even got the first word written yet! Any advice on how to get started?