a writing guy

Archive for the tag “writing”

Supporting New Authors

I’m on a phone!

No seriously I am–therefore this will be a short update.


Firstly, movellas looks good. I’ll be checking that place out for a while. I’ve even put a chapter up to test it out. A much bigger community than jottify so I/we will need to work harder to be seen–that can only be a good thing surely?

Second thing I wanted to mention was about focusing. I think I need to focus on writers a lot more I’m spreading myself thinly right now; trying to do a lot, in a lot if different area of business and life and I’m struggling tbh. I’ve got 3 weeks to chill during Uni spring break, but I also need that time to make some life decisions.

I want to:

• Create digital books for new writers.
• Work with new writers to show them how to use social media to promote their work.
• Develop a digital publishing workshop.
• Promote new writers.
• Create a new digital publishing blog.
• Become known as the digital publishing guy for new authors.

Nice challenge hey? Can I count on your support?

Mark 🙂


catching up where I left off

hooray another post!

For someone that claims to be a writer, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I’m actually any good at it, judging by the lack of updates on this blog. But that’s not true, I’m simply writing lots elsewhere – namely my main blog here: http://markmapstone.wordpress.com

What’s been happening? 

Well, as stated below, I am in the middle of sorting out my home to move (somewhere), but am running behind schedule and probably won’t get out of here before May now :/ And that’s only if I can find someone to rent my place! 

But on the writing front, I’m doing well. I’m not actually writing, but still making lots of notes in Evernote, reading as much as I can, watching films (in Directors commentary mode) and generally brainstorming plots. 

My latest story line, I love, but fear I’m not good enough a writer yet to write it well enough. It goes like this;

A car accident is caused, a child is killed, the driver/killer is destraught and the parent can’t accept that the driver is to blame. This turns into an obsession of thought and a desire to track back through events and time to trace the connections that led up to their child being killed, to find the true cause of the effect. Think of this as Chaos in the wind of a butterflies wings, perhaps? As the connections are eventually traced if becomes evident that the parent themselves are responsible for their own childs death. 

Why I love this plot: 

I love the idea of fate
I’m astounded by the theory of the ‘6 degree’s of separation’.
These ‘connections’ in the story, will allow me to visit many differing situations easily.
It can be presented in many different ways – either in written type or cinematically displayed.

eg: I don’t have to start the story with the car accident, or at that moment in time. I can fast forward it 10 years easily. I can tell the story from many different angles and it still make sense.

I feel there’s a lot of freedom to explore topics I’m uncertain about – and god I need the practice!

So, that’s one idea. And its the best I have atm. Another idea was to take a Catcher in the Rye approach of a young person, traveling, for reasons not even I know yet, and have them beg for work and beds each day and night in a modern day setting. Relying on the charity of others, and getting caught up in the abusive and addictive personalities that we see around us today.

but as I said above, now I have the newer, better plot, I think I’ll give this one a back seat. 

Ok, that’s enough about stories. Regarding reading, I’ve read Outliers, my mates novel Merewold, Catcher in the Rye, and I’ve just started reading The Other Hand.

When is novel number 3 going to start? Well, as I said i’m moving home, and atm I have lots of decorating to do here. I need to be somewhere settled for a decent period of time in order to get this thing done. The plan is still to write it quickly, yet take 3 months instead of 1 to do it. Most likely starting in June, rather than ending it then. Yes, June, July, and August ‘should’ be good clear months to write. I don’t know of anything crazy going on there yet – hopefully it’ll stay empty.

Maybe I should start to plan my calendar now for it? Hmm, good idea, I’ll do that.

I’m also looking forward to a little more planning time. I don’t want to get bogged down with endless research, but I do want to read as many news articles as I can (I should cut out and keep them), read some more books and think my characters through thoroughly.

I love the light spontaneity of ‘just writing’ –  combined with the structure of set word counts everyday and a deadline to finish. 

Lets not procrastinate the story to death eh? All the fun is in the mental surprises – and  I want plenty of those. 


Idea, tools and observations

I’m enjoying reading a good book: How not to Write a Novel

I’m enjoying it because, slowly, I’m learning that the most common mistakes in newbie writers work, isn’t the sort of errors that I make. Admitedly, I’m only on Chapter 1(ish) but I see it as a good sign. I recently started to re-read my last writing effort called: The King Of Bohicon, and I’m generally very pleased. On comparison to my first effort: Stowaway, the former is 100 times better. 

Learning that I haven’t made obvious mistakes is really comforting 🙂

On the writing front, I’ve not actually started #3 yet, there’s still a lot of thought going on. I think I’ll probably start in April as I’m looking to move home just prior to then, and I’m hoping I’ll be settled somewhere else by that date. If I can be done with writing in June, I’ll be a very happy man indeed. 

I have been writing a number of possible plots for April, in Evernote Which is my ‘pre-writing’ tool of choice. For those that are interested, its a quick and easy text tool, for capturing notes, which is automatically sync’d online. Perfect for not losing any ideas. For the novel writing itself, I will most likely be using Buzzword again. Its just sooo nice and I really hate using anything else. 

A plot that I’m thinking about atm, here’s the notes as I have typed them into Evernote:

As I travel, so do my purchases, blocks are put on my creditcard to prevent fraudulant claims. I have to phone up the bank to convince the Fraud Dept I am who I say I am. This intrigues me as I now know that someone is following my purchasing movements digitally, on a computer screen, in an office somewhere. I have to be able to recall my travels and purchases, this unknown person has a lot of power over me to decide if I am who I say I am. 

This is inspired by going to Japan and finding my card blocked immediately, and finding it blocked after a few train ticket purchases when back home. The call with the voice at the other end, assumed I was guilty first… I mean c’mon, when has a criminal ever phoned up a fraud dept to get the card he stole unblocked?

Sooo, I’m seeing leg room in a plot for this.

I’ll keep thinking about it (and many others) until April.

Novel 3: day -1

My brain is still in overload on how to write. I’m still fascinated with the art behind the process, and I’m no closer to understanding why. Today in Costa I hit upon a thought (which I’m rather proud of):

To write, is to create a plot which is never spoken about. Imagine a plot line which resembles a colouring book outline, by filling in the colours, we create the scenes, and to colour up to but not on or over the lines. The more accurate the colouring the more obvious the (plot) line will become. 

Write a plot, then write the scenes, remove the plot outline and the plot should still stand up with just the scenes alone. If it does not, then I will know that the scenes were not strong enough in the first place. 

Scenes should be like the walls of a home that come together to create a house shape. Without strong and clear walls, there is no recognisable house. 

I have a plan to write from tomorrow onwards for the next 3 months. To create the plot outline, to ‘see’ the scenes, to write the scenes and to shape the story. My previous books haven’t followed this system, they race along chopping and changing until it reaches an end at the 1 month deadline. The result is a story, but not one that I’m happy with. 

This one will be different. I have no plot yet, I have ideas only. I have a better idea of how to write, and I am determined to spend more time on the process, than just blasting through to the end. 3 months for a novel is short, but its more than enough for me. 

I only hope that I don’t get bored with the story before the deadline!

filling up with ideas

Its been a while again. But that’s ok, things take a while don’t they? 

I have been reading loads, from magazines like New Scientist and National Geographic, to newspapers like the Times and Independent, reading good stories like No Country For Old Men and The Road, and buying many books on creative writing. I’ve also been expanding my mind with philosophical reads and conversations with my girlfriend. All this is hopefully making me a better author. Which reminds me! I wrote my second novel ‘The King of Bohicon’ in November 08. I’m so pleased about that, let me explain a little: 

The first novel I wrote ‘The Stowaway’ was a mess, sure the story was good, but my writing wasn’t and it was the kind of book, where I threw everything I had at it, in order to complete. My plan to write a second novel a year later, was a much bigger challenge. Completing it was a milestone, because I knew I’d used all my best material on the first. The second was clearly going to be much harder with all new material, therefore the completion sealed my confidence that I really could be a writer if  I worked at it. 

Sooo… back to the reading material. 

I have read a lot of books about writing: the practice of writing, the art of writing, the writers behind the writing, the structure, the grammer, the hints and tips and much more. Its been a joy and an effort, and one that I’m sure many ‘trainee writers’ possibly wouldn’t bother with. The reason why I’ve read so many of these is because I want to break the rules, and in order to do that I need to know the rules, so I can break them with knowledge, rather than just bumbling through a draft and assuming I’m doing everything right. 

And there’s the word: right. 

Many authors will argue that there is no right way to write. And now I’ve read a little more I’d agree. But for those that haven’t read any more of this blog, I haven’t read much either. Infact I’m very very new to reading fiction. I simply didn’t even know that there weren’t any rules to writing. I had to read that to discover it. This is how dumb I am about writing, even tho I know it is an art, I simply couldn’t consider that it was totally ruleless. 

I’m also aware of the best way I learn is  by 1) writing (which I’ve done by 2 completed novels) and by 2)  learning from people that write. Now 2 could have been achieved by talking to my writing friends in real life or online, or by hanging out in writing groups. However I have no access to of any of those. Hence reading about writers really helped boost my confidence.

Now I’m building up momentum to write again, though this time I’m determined to do things differently. After the first 2 novels I’ve indentified my weaknesses and will write again, with better research, more plot freedom, and to try and remove my nemisis: showing not telling. 

This last point makes me cringe at reading my previous work – its the text of newbies, amateurs and reading works by other authors that know how to ‘show’, makes me drool with jealously. I simply have to learn to write that way.

Hence the previous efforts of writing within 30days, needs to be extended. I hope to write another book in the middle of the year, but will spend much much longer on it. Possibly 3-4 months. I need to see how I cope and what I can write like if I spend as much time as I need on a story. I still like having a tight timeframe because that will force me to be disciplined and have a deadline -I know how people expand to fill their void:

“give a man an unlimited timeframe and they will take forever, give the same man a week and it shall be done in that” – Quote by me

So, wish me luck. I’m not sure when I’ll be back to write again in this blog, but I shall return – hopefully with another novel under my belt. 


Unleashed a creative beast

I appear to be taping in to a good part of me thats been lying dormant for a decade or so. I used to write at work when I had time (which was frequently) .. mostly lyrics for a mythical band I once dreamed of being part of. Those words are still with me, kept in a folder in my cupboard (just in case).

Now I spit my qwerty old school stylee in Moleskin notebooks – which I love. I use the reporter type and write in my own style. By that I mean always towards the spine. Which means I have to flip the book upside down for every other page. I do this because I hate writing right off the edge of the page. Having a solid edge to perch my resting hand is more comfortable. I choose the reporter type because I’m left handed and have trouble writing up to the spine on regular notepads. Ergh I’m not even sure that sentence made sense there – but I think you get me.

I’m writing shorts and thoughts and still reading loads and loads. Trying to make up for lost time as a colour and whitespace designer, getting creative with words is a wonderful change.

I know I mostly write shit tho. I’m fully aware of it. But I have to go through this pathetic creative wanky style in order to discover the good stuff.

take this passage for example:

Recycled oxygen from the air conditioned office atmosphere consumes the world I exist in. The even, consistent, chilled pressure, suspends all fixed objects perfectly, as if without it they would break free causing untold chaos whereby staplers crash into photocopiers and monitors fight to the death with fire extinguishers. The air is the container for my everything, yet not thin and transparent, but dry dusty and grey with weight, like a quicksand flood had sucked itself up through the carpet tiles, similar to drawing liquid up through a syringe, causing everything electrical to fizz and pop in its mass until reaching the false ceiling and fossilising the noise into silence.

Within this dry, grey air, my coffee mug sits steaming, barely, as if trying to breathe, just like I am.

Its pure selfish indulgance. Nonsensical and directionless. I was bored and it came to mind to describe the coffee on my desk. When I reread it, I laugh at how silly it is. But have hope.

My first draft of my first book… was all function, no prissy arty creativity, it just told the story, I didn’t even enjoy writing it particularly, it just needed to get out of me. Now I’m going the otherway, writing pure creativity for the hell of it. Because I want to, and because I can and because once I’ve gone OTT, once I’ve unleashed the driveling beast from within, I’ll be able to tame it and pull things back into line with the ‘function’ to make something of sense to read. That’s the plan anyway.

So, that’s me for the time being – and I’m loving it. 🙂

Where You Find the Time to Spend Online

A great video about spending time online, instead of infront the TV.


xtimeline: research and plots

want a highly visual way of visualising your plot on a timeline, whilst linking to research and attaching inspirational pictures?

take a look at http://www.xtimeline.com I have a feeling this could become a writers dream app.

writing kills blogging

Before writing, I blogged. Like crazy. All the time in fact. I have many many blogs and profiles set up both here on wordpress and else where. But since I started writing, my bloggage has nearly ceased. My own personal blog for example, has been a real struggle to keep up with. I used to write down all the crazy thoughts in my head there, but now all my crazy thoughts fall into my book instead. Whilst this isn’t surprising, what is surprising, is that blogging was a substitute for proper story telling. i had no-idea, and now it all makes sense.

I was asked recently how my book was coming along: it wasn’t. Things have halted whilst I desperately get educated. I’ve mentioned this many times below, and I’m mentioning it again here, because I want to post what I’m doing and what I’m thinking. This post reflects that continued thought. Sorry it means a dull post, but life is often dull, it needs to be in order for the exciting stuff to fall between the pages (that’s my excuse anyway) 😉

more, when I have more… however until then, this is all I have!

Writing software…

Write with Word? ergh… think again, there’s loads of better alternatives:

http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter4.html <– read the ‘about’ section

Personally I use http://buzzword.com and like Final Draft and Celtx. Google em 🙂

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