Camp NaNoWriMo July 2015: Day 16

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Day 16: 9,674 words

Less than 400 words away from my 10k target. Most of what I wrote was the FMC and potential MMC in the school story talking, getting to know one another before moving to another location that I think might be important. I also might have revealed to myself and the reader the future of the two characters.

So not a lot in terms of story but still enough to get me closer to my word count target. Still it is important I think as it helped me figure things out and get some ideas for later. How things will work out in the end with this story, I don’t know. All I do know is that I just want to write this story and not my other one.

Harry Potter’s 18th Birthday

18 years ago, a book called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling was released here in the UK, which led to the phenomenon today that defines many young people’s childhoods and created a generation of readers and writers, myself included.

Quite timely, today JK Rowling revealed that she is working on a play called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child due to open next year in London. Telling the untold part of Harry’s life, including the story of James and Lilly’s life. Find further details by visiting the BBC News story.

This is to be closely followed by the film version of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in November 2016, starring Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne.

Happy Birthday Harry and may you keep fans new and old fascinated for years to come.

A Question about Rewriting

Muslim Beauxbatons student by Celeste Doodles. Source: Celeste Doodles Tumblr Page.

This isn’t a post so much as me asking for advice. I hope folks don’t mind.

I recently started rewriting an old story, a story that I started in college (that’s 16-18 for folks outside of the UK) and only finished in 2012 as part of my NaNoWriMo for that November. The rewrite was inspired by the picture, left, on Tumblr of a Muslim Beauxbatons student, by Celeste Doodles. (If you click on the image, it takes you to the page of the original picture). It got me thinking about my FMC in the story and her appearance.

Now, I have thought about rewriting the story in question a few times, mostly through changing the FMC as well as some other characters but none of the angles seemed to work. As I said, when I saw the picture, it got me thinking about the FMC and her appearance in the first instance. I considered giving her a headscarf and then thought, why is she wearing it. The reasoning I have come up with since after talking to others for her headscarf is to do with vanity but I am also considering maybe giving some underlying spiritual reasoning. (She’s not going to be Muslim as she lives in another world to our own).

From this, my mind turned to other aspects of the character in general. That led to me reconsidering other parts of the story and the new set up that I have developing from those decisions makes it fairly far removed from the original story that I had written over the years.

I know changes to characters and the story are normal during the rewriting process but I am wondering how big changes to the story a writer should make from one draft to another? Should they be far-reaching, heavily changing lots of aspects of characters/story all at once or should the changes come slowly and be introduced slowly over a succession of drafts?

Curious to how others view this issue as I am a little intimidate with how big the changes are whilst also being comfortable with it. It’s crazy.

Chocolate and Fiction

Things happening in my personal life got me thinking about this. Christmas being just around the corner and being almost synonymous with chocolate makes now a good time for me to post about it.

Does chocolate show the light and dark of societal inequality? Source: GoodSearch Images

Food is often read about in books, both to tell the reader more about the characters as well as to fuel the characters. I have been thinking specifically however about chocolate and it has led me to realise the possible symbolism of chocolate in children’s literature (as I could only think of examples from children’s books).

The first story that came to mind was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the obvious one. Now, I want to admit I have only seen the original and remake films of the books and have never read the book. Please bare with me! In the classic Roald Dahl story, chocolate, in my mind, represents childhood and wealth. Charlie Bucket is poor. He buys the chocolate car with the little money he has. He is one child among many. In comparison to the other children who are desperate to get a coveted golden ticket to visit the fabled Wonka factory, he merely wishes to eat the chocolate because it is so rare for him to be able to have chocolate.

The same story plays out in the most recent remake film of the story, starring Johnny Depp. This suggests that chocolate is still seen as a luxury item within modern society and possible divides the haves with the have-nots, an issue that has popped a lot as of late in America and here in the UK. This I find quite extraordinary considering that the book was first published in 1964, the original film released in 1971 (starring Gene Wilder) and the remake in 2005.

The inequalities in society that chocolate could represent in fiction then led me to think about the Malory Towers series. I will grant that the books were set in a different time frame but the same themes and ideas are represented. When chocolate is mentioned in the stories, from the first book with Darrell to the last with Felicity, it is bought as a luxury item and by brand name, Cadbury’s. When a scholarship girl or a girl who is at the school thanks to a kindly uncle or other relative sees another buy some chocolate, they are described as staring or being surprised at the ease at which the chocolate is bought.

Specifically in regards to childhood, chocolate and sweets of any kind are talked about much more often in the earlier books of the Harry Potter series. There is an element of wealth involved as Harry buys practically everything off the trolley that the witch brings down the train. In the earlier books, before the stories become very dark, Harry, Ron and Hermione are very young, childlike. There is a certain innocence in the earlier books that’s lost as they grow older and things get darker, particularly after the third book. The third book is about family. Chocolate is also mentioned as a healing substance in Prisoner of Azkaban and I read Goblet of Fire as the story that effectively ends Harry’s childhood specifically.

Perhaps I am reading too much into things but in children’s literature at least, the possible symbolism of chocolate and what it says about our society seems staggering to me. It is especially so, to me at least, that the stories that have stood the test of time (and being remade for a modern audience) still carries the same message that permeates through our society. Have you any examples in other types of literature? Am I reading too much into it or do you think the same? Don’t be afraid to comment below.

Camp NaNoWriMo: Days 9-13

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First things first, apologies for the lack of updates. I will explain later the reason but for now, word counts:

Day 9: 5,006 words

Day 10: 5,006 words

Day 11: 5,424 words

Day 12: 7,209 words

Day 13: 8,628 words

Okay, so the reason I have barely updated my word count is because I was struggling to figure out where to take the story next however, after allowing myself to free write a little and thinking about the story, I’ve ended up going down a route that includes raising issues such as homophobia and putting my MMC in a position of having to work out how he is going to keep his job because he is bisexual. The character announced that randomly on Friday evening. Characters sure know how to keep you on your toes right?

Whilst writing, I have wondering if I should perhaps look to JK Rowling’s the Order of the Phoenix book and the Professor Umbridge character. I suspect that could help me as elements of the Umbridge character is already started to slip in any way. If I can work out a way to push that through to help, it might make writing this novel a bit easier.

I think I know how this is going to develop (still based on Wicked) but whether I will hit my 50,000 word goal, I honestly have no idea. But here’s hoping, with some good writing time and a bit of luck that the story will really get going soon, I will be fine.

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JK Rowling paid damages by Daily Mail

The UK newspaper, the Daily Mail, has been made to print an apology and pay “substantial” damages to JK Rowling, BBC News reports.

In September last year, the Daily Mail printed an article on suggesting that JK Rowling told a false “sob story” after being stigmatised by church goers when she was a single mother. The story was based on an article Rowling wrote for Gingerbread, a single parent charity. (You can read the original article here: http://www.gingerbread.org.uk/content/1901/J-K-Rowling).

Rowling sued the paper for libel, saying that the article was “misleading” and “unfair”, caused her great distress and embarrassment and had injured her reputation. In January, the Daily Mail admitted liability and promised to print an apology and pay damages. The BBC has said that all the damage money has been donated to charity by Rowling.

Read the full article by BBC News for further details at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-27312080.

Why They Write

This caught my eye a few days ago but I am only just getting round to reblogging it now because I’ve been thinking about my own reasons for writing.

I agree with those that say that the reason changes day-to-day. For me, I write because my mind keeps coming up with stories, even before I realised what I was doing when I was younger. I suppose when I was younger, it was just my imagination coming up with games to play but as I got older, it continued and I started writing down the stories (a lot of fan fiction) because one of my school teachers pointed out that I had a gift for it.

It is also partly because I had just found my genre, the type of books and stories I liked to read and write, around the same time. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series inspired millions of children around the world and I am one of those. Even now, I go back to the premise of the Harry Potter series and Enid Blyton’s school stories, especially the Malory Towers series occasionally.

I love fantasy stories, I enjoy school stories and over the years, I have also come to enjoy romance, crime, drama and some comedy and sci-fi stories. As I have read them, I have incorporated that in my writing. My writing can become dark in places but it can also be light.

What is it about them? It’s the escapism. It’s the discovering a world different to our own, sometimes right on our doorsteps. It’s the common premise of school that most people will be able to relate to. It’s the rooting for the characters to be together, the solving of a puzzle, the everyday dilemmas that we experience in our lives and the fabulous funny moments that we think of later which makes you smile and laugh out loud.

Even in the stories set in a place different from our own, there is the baseline of common themes and occurrences in our lives. That’s what attracts me to those sorts of stories and probably attracts many, many others to them too.

Reading and writing are inextricably interlinked I feel. You can’t do one without the other.

I also write because it is a type of therapy and escapism. When the life is getting stressful and tough, it is a nice way to escape for a while and to get out all those feelings through characters on to the physical (or virtual!) page. If I didn’t have an outlet for those sorts of feelings, and others, I don’t know where I would be.

I would love to get paid to write and maybe that will happen in the future but for now, it’s therapy, escapism and an outlet for all the stories clamouring in my head.

Is my answer clichéd? Perhaps but that’s how I feel today. Who knows? Tomorrow, I might have a completely different answer.

Legends of Windemere

Kenshin Himura (How I feel) Kenshin Himura

Sorry!  I totally forgot that I was going to list people’s answers and reasons to Monday’s question.  Please check out the blogs and published works of everyone:

“I’m on board with most of that but I write poetry and know there is no money in that.” The Mirror Obscura

“I love writing because I’m totally addicted to it since the day when I started reading “anything” so seriously” Insight

“For me as a total readerholic and mental escape artist all my life, the writing came late, but now that particular joy of creating worlds, people, dragons, scenarios – whatever – can’t be matched by anything else that I’ve ever done.” Jo Robinson

“I think the reason evolves over time. I began writing as a way to express myself in a healing way. But then I began writing poetry. Poetry is a great self-expression for me and I…

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JK Rowling writing three films

Warner Brothers have announced that the Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them film will be apart of a trilogy.

All featuring magizoologist Newt Scamander, who “wrote” the iconic Hogwarts textbook, Rowling told Hermione actress, Emma Watson, in an interview that she wrote the script in just 12 days. David Heyman is said to be producing the project, fresh from his success with Gravity.

Last year, when the film was announced, Rowling said, “I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about and this is it.”

Find further details from the BBC News website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-26812277.

The Hunger Games, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Finished this novel a few days ago but events at home have prevented me from posting the review until tonight.

Panem is at war.

The districts are in revolt. The Capitol is fighting to regain control  and has Peeta Mellark prisoner, using him for their own means. District 13 is trying to turn Katniss Everdeen, survivor of two Hunger Games, into the Mockingjay. Katniss is reeling from the revelations that she has been a pawn in plans laid down by everyone around her and finds herself questioning who to trust.

Kept busy initially with doing propaganda work for the rebels, she eventually manages to persuade the rebel leaders to give her the chance to actually fight in the revolution and takes it with both hands.

Katniss’s goal? To bring down the oppressive rule of Panem and kill President Snow.

The third book in the series brings the curtain down on the story brilliant, tying up loose ends and keeping the reader glued from start to finish. It shows not just the war but the things that happen behind the scenes: the war councils, the tactical discussions and the creation of propaganda. The book also shows the effects of war on  civilian people in their civilian life in their civilian homes. This happens in District 13 but is especially emphasised I think in the Capitol, with people becoming refugees, having been displaced from their homes, and others being forced to take those people in. I couldn’t help thinking it almost mirrored the billeting of evacuees in the Second World War. Think Goodnight Mr Tom and you get an idea of what I am talking about.

This book does seem more bloody than the others, especially considering the level of violence in all three books. This feeling is accentuated by certain major events, again, near the end of the book. Certainly, this is not bad thing I don’t think as it actually makes sure the book, story and the series makes a lasting impact on the reader and forces them to think.

For the most part, the limited first person narration is perfect for the story however, near the end, there were some events that I feel could have benefited from being in third person so being elaborated on. I think those events would actually make for a great short story and/or spin-off novella. I am not going to say what as I don’t want to give away any spoilers.

There were parts which seemed rushed or just skipped over which could also have been elaborated on and it felt like that Collins decided to use the hospital almost as a way of setting things back to default. Rowling used this as well near the end of the Harry Potter novels but it made Mockingjay feel very episodic by bringing it constantly back to the hospital. I feel it was unneeded and better plotting of the novel could easily have avoided this.

Mockingjay is brilliant book to finish the series, despite it’s issues, showing sensibility, tact and raising issues about the effects of war on people. It makes the reader think about what they are reading and consider the earlier books in light of events in this book, something that rarely seems to happen in modern day novels.  Whilst it perhaps could not be read as a stand alone, it has an excellent story that breaks away from the almost formulaic plotting of the previous two books and keeps the reader’s attention from start to finish.