Poem: The Bus Home

 

He always got the same bus home

from work,

at the same time,

he’d take out his latest romance novel

and begin reading,

being took away to worlds

where ordinary lads like him were in the arms

of dukes, princes, wealthy businessmen,

where ordinary lads like him were loved unconditionally

and protected by their sweet, charming man,

oh sometimes he felt so lonely,

there had to be more to life than the McDonalds rota

and the bus home.

Why couldn’t someone notice me

and think I was delightfully wonderful?

I amn’t but still … it’d be nice.

 

But someone had noticed …

He noticed how he got the same bus

at the same time each night

and so he got on,

sat beside him,

got chatting to him,

charmed him.

He noticed something else too

about the man,

his naiveness born from loneliness

and when he asked him to his place,

he knew he wouldn’t say no.

 

So they got off the bus together,

this young lonely man

thinking this was the start of something

unaware that this charming young man was

leading him to his end.

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Writing 101: Writing Romance

 

 

Hello everyone and welcome to part 4 of Writing 101. This part will focus on writing romance. I mostly write romance and mysteries so they will be the two genres I will cover over two parts in Writing 101. I’ll leave the other genres to those who know what they are talking about!

 

The crucial part of romance is the couple and their connection. It needs to feel authentic. It needs to not be over the top but it also can’t be dismissive either. So the right balance is somewhere in the middle. The two people can’t just be thrown together, they need to fit like a glove. You need your readers to never want them to part and to be happy together.

 

So without further ado, let’s get going on tips for all you fellow romance writers out there (and writers in general because romance features in most books to some degree. :-))

 

Writing Romance 

 

1.  So You’re Going About Connection. How Exactly Do You Go About That?

 

Well one thing you mustn’t do is throw two characters together for the sake of having a romance in a story. They must authentically suit. Think of the couples you like in books, in films, on TV, in short stories, etc … They feel right together. Their journey is made up of little things that make their relationship authentic. Little things could include knowing obscure things about each other because they listen to each other and are interested in each other, the way they have nicknames for each other that no one else has for each of them, the way their relationship grows and becomes more and more comfortable bit by bit. Though they say opposites attract they often will have quite a few things in common even if they are very different. You really need to get invested in their relationship yourself so that you write it from your heart what you think their hearts are feeling. Don’t write what you think it should sound like, write it as you really feel they feel. And if you are struggling base it on a couple you know or know of. Don’t make it obvious who they are but it will help you to make the couple authentic if you are struggling to do so.

 

2. Conflict’s Always Good 

Ok so here’s an example: This lad who is a jockey falls in love with this lad who is an animal rights activist. How do they find a balance between their beliefs and how they feel about each other? Well as the story progresses they need to have something in common that can manage that. Is the jockey good to the horses? Does he care about them? If so, you have something they have in common. The example comes from one of my books (which I won’t plug because that wouldn’t be fair, tempting as it is to do so! :-)) But the point is that the conflict needs to feel natural. It can’t be thrown into a story all of a sudden out of nowhere. It has to be born out of who those characters are or their circumstances or both. It can’t just suddenly appear out of thin air. There needs to be a gradual lead-up which eventually results in the conflict coming to a head. Oh the drama of it all!

 

3. They Need To Marry At The End, Right? 

No. But they can too. Or they can live together. (How shockingly modern?! Actually daring to go against the Institution of Marriage! :-))

What this really boils down to is how well you know your characters. You need to know how they feel about their beliefs very well. Then you’ll know very easily whether they dream of marrying or cohabiting. Or either or neither. Some questions that might help include:

  • Are they conventional or not?
  • Do they believe that love is beautiful no matter which way a couple is committed?
  • Does their backgrounds affect what they believe in terms of commitment?

Actually the decision of whether to cohabit or marry can be used as a great source of conflict. Often writers make the error when they use it as a source of conflict in making the person who doesn’t believe in marriage out to be wrong in the situation. It always make me cringe because surely in society we’re a bit beyond making out marriage to be the only right way. Suddenly we’re all set back to 1950. You have a duty to both your characters and you need to equally understand where each of them is coming from. You need to value the individuality of your characters. Then you’re in a position to make them richer.

 

4. Two Flawed Characters Make Two Perfect Characters

You have a duty of equal care and attention to both of your lead characters. The idea (and it’s done so often that I feel like cringing) is not to be trying to make one character look sweet as sugar pie by making the other the villain who needs to change their ways. It’s quite boring because you can’t relate to either of them. One’s gone too far one side while the other is gone too far the other side. Personally if I had to pick a side, I’d pick the villain. Despite all their flaws there’s often a slight more realness to them. So make them both flawed. Make them both also nice. Make them human. The character you might like the best in the partnership will still get the spotlight and adoration. But they just need to share it.

 

5.   You Don’t Even Have To Have A Happy Ending.

Ok, so I exaggerate slightly. You will be expected to. It’s kind of thought of as business savvy to do so in a romance. But it’s not a rule. If it’s right for your story, end it unhappily. There is nothing worse than a happy ending that doesn’t fit. If you have did your job right, your readers will be distraught because they have got invested in and got to love the characters (or at least one of them) very much but 90% of the time that won’t put a reader off coming back to your work if they like it. A cliched happy ending might put people off too. So you can’t win. The best you can do is end it with what feels right. Or you could always end it with an ending that doesn’t give anything away. They could just be going about their usual activities together and it could be left open at that. What happens next kind of thing. That way the reader decides and everyone’s happy. Bar the readers who wanted a closure at the end. Yeah, you can’t win. Go with your gut. If you’re invested in the characters and their story, you’ll know what’s right to do. And don’t be scared to. Just write it. And relax. Endings are the hardest part of books.

 

Key Points Summary

  • The crucial part of romance is the couple and their connection. It needs to feel authentic.
  • You really need to get invested in their relationship yourself so that you write it from your heart what you think their hearts are feeling. Don’t write what you think it should sound like, write it as you really feel they feel.
  • If you are struggling, base them on a couple you know or know of but make sure to not make it too obvious who they are based on.
  • It’s a good idea to include conflict but make sure it feels natural and not just put in for effect.
  • They can end up living together or married. It all depends on your characters’ beliefs which you need to know very well.
  • You have a duty of equal care and attention to both of your lead characters. And they must both be nice and flawed in order to be human.
  • You don’t have to have a happy ending. Let the story dictate the ending.

 

 

 

 

Rest In Peace Gerber

 

 

On Friday, the sad news came through that Gerber passed away. In an update on the Go Fund Me page set up to raise funds for him, his owner Wendi Bear said,

 

My heart is broken. This morning after attempting to syringe feed (he spit it out) Gerber, he collapsed onto the floor and never got up. 

His blood work came back this morning and even with all the treatment and medical care, his illness has progressed. 

Around 10:30 this morning Gerby crossed over the rainbow bridge. 

Thank you everyone so much for all your help in extending Gerber’s life. He had a quite a few extra days lying in the sun because of you. 

All the left over medications (some unopened) and fluids will be donated to families with pets in need who can’t afford medical care. 

Thank you again for your love and support ♡♡♡♡

 

This is very, very sad news. I know how Wendi must be feeling at his loss as I lost my dog Cookie in 2010 and it was a devastatingly sad time. My condolences go out to Wendi on Gerber’s passing.

Though I didn’t know Gerber personally, he was clearly a strong little cat who fought and fought like a little champion. He stole my heart and I’m sure many other hearts as we followed his journey. Rest in peace little Gerber.

Poem: Ophelia

 

 

She came to us

and left three deaths

and destruction in her wake.

 

She came to us

and we ventured out for food,

the things you do because you have to,

shops were closed,

I had a panic attack.

 

My sister braved her later,

me and Mum worried

but she brought back food

and was unharmed.

 

Three people didn’t survive,

we lost three of our country people

to her.

May they rest in peace,

my condolences go out to their loved ones

at this very sad time.

 

It still feels surreal

that a hurricane was in Ireland,

we feel thankful

just to be alive.

 

Poem: Self-Care

National Coming Out Day was yesterday and National Coming Out Week is currently happening from the 9th of October to the 13th of October. This poem is inspired by that.

 

To come out as pansexual

has extra problems,

a lot of people still don’t know what it means

and instead of learning

people say ignorant things before they learn.

I’ll explain it to anyone who honestly wants to know

but I’m not going to sit there and be insulted

while they learn.

Coming out is a two-way process

and too often the feelings of those being told the news

are put at the forefront,

“Understand where they are coming from”,

“You took time to accept who you were,

they need time too”,

well no, I realised and I accepted it straightaway.

It shouldn’t be hard in this era in time,

it shouldn’t matter

but sadly often still does.

So come out to who you feel comfortable

doing so to and leave the rest till you’re ready,

operate self-care,

you aren’t the one with the problem,

if someone isn’t alright with you being your sexuality

and you are alright with them being their sexuality

then obviously they have the problem,

they need to sort their issues out,

you need to be happy,

let no one make you unhappy

over ignorance and stupidity.

Writing 101: Character

 

 

Hello and welcome everyone to lesson 3 of Writing 101. Today’s topic is one of the most vital elements of your piece: character. Your character is the driving force of your piece. They can make or break your piece. They make readers continue reading because they care what happens to them. So with further ado, let’s get started on character …

 

Character

  1. Know Your Characters Very Well

In order to make your characters rounded and believable, the first step is to know them inside out. You need to know so much more about them then you’ll ever probably put into your piece. Some writers use character profiles, some use notes, some do spider diagrams with their character’s name in the middle while others think their characters out in their head. Whatever way you do it, you need to have a huge knowledge of them. Some basic things you need to know include their name, gender, age, class, nationality, race, sexuality, religion or lack of, job or lack of, political beliefs, beliefs about life, whether they are conformist or not, are they introverts, extroverts or somewhere in the middle, how they dress, how they perceive others and how others perceive them. When you have knowledge like this about your character down, you will know how they will react easily in numerous situations as your plot develops. So get to know your characters very well. Know what they have for breakfast, where they shop, what they spend their money on, what their relationships are like with other characters like their love interest, family, friends and enemies. Make your character your best friend while your are writing them.

 

2. What Makes Interesting Characters?

Interesting characters are real. Often it is difficult to identify with or relate to characters who are too perfect. Examples that spring to mind are in many romances the main character is sweet as sugar while their love interest is simply awful and then they end up with another character who is as sweet as sugar. Another example is the war hero who is brave and unselfishly fights for their country and is without any negative qualities. While a final example is the detective in mysteries who is proper and brave and puts the baddies in their place but has no negative qualities themselves. None of these types of characters are easy for readers to identify with or relate to. In all honesty if readers took them to heart they would feel quite inadequate. Because in reality most of us are not either perfect or completely imperfect. So the same rule applies to villains. Even villains need to have positive qualities. They might be awful in most aspects but do they love their other half and their family for instance? Your characters, in short, need to be as real and as complex as any human being is.

 

3. What About Stereotyping?

It’s a bit of a complex answer so let’s try to break it down. As a writer, you have a duty to represent people from all walks of life and backgrounds and also of all personalities. In real life there is people whose personalities conform to stereotypes and whose personalities don’t. For example some gay men are camp while other gay men aren’t but likewise some straight men are camp while others aren’t. You shouldn’t use a stereotype out of ignorance but if it fits your character you can have their personality happen to fit a stereotype or also not fit a stereotype. But it should never be used in a cliched and one-dimensional way. The bottom line is that everything about your character should fit them and they should be well rounded.

 

4. Should I Tell My Piece From My Character’s POV Or In Third Person?

There is advantages to both. When you tell it from your character’s POV you have more opportunity to incorporate more of who they are into the story and get readers to identify and relate more to them. But it can also limit you. On the other hand, from a third person perspective you have more opportunity to write about what happens in situations with different characters where your main character is not present. Another option is to write from the POV of more than one character which helps you to cover both things. But you must know each character very well. It might be confusing for many readers though as it jumps from one POV to the other. So that’s the downside of that technique but it has many advantages too.

 

      5. Secondary Characters Are Just There For Decoration, Right?

No, they are very vital. Every character must feel authentic and must have a purpose for being there. Especially your main secondary characters. Say, you have a love interest in a story. They can’t just be there to help a reader know how your main character feels about love and life. You need to show how they feel about things as well. Likewise in a mystery as well as why the detective wants to solve the crime you need to show why the killer felt they needed to commit the crime. Every character must be fully rounded and we must know both their inner and outer worlds.

 

Key Points Summary

  • Your character is the driving force of your piece and they can make or break it.
  • You need to have a huge knowledge of your characters. You need to know more about them then you’ll ever put into your piece of work. That way, no situation they face as the plot develops will be a problem for you. You’ll know easily how they’ll react and feel in each situation that happens.
  • Interesting characters are real. They should never be too perfect or too imperfect.
  • You should never stereotype but if a stereotype fits your character’s personality it is alright for them to happen to fit the stereotype. But the character should never be written in a one-dimensional or cliched way.
  • There is advantages and disadvantages to telling your story from your character’s POV as well as from the third person perspective. There is also advantages and disadvantages to telling your story from the POV of more than one character. The best way is the way that brings your story to life the best.
  • Secondary characters are vital. They must be as rounded and complex as your main character. Readers must know how they feel about life as well.