Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Our Audience

We pay a lot of attention to the characters we’re writing about. They’re given carefully thought out names, appearances, relationships and jobs. We choose their age, marital status, gender and pretty much everything about them. It has even been suggested we get to know them more thoroughly by taking them out to lunch or tea to have a nice chat and find out more about them.
Do we give our audience that much thought? By looking at the advertisements in magazines some idea of the type of reader can be attained. A story may then be crafted with that readership in mind. Of course it is still difficult to know who will be reading our work: male, female, young, old, lonely or busy people.

Perhaps we could concoct a composite picture of our audience person and pin it up near our writing station and write with that person in mind.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

What's In A Name?

What's in a name? Lots, apparently. Names, I believe, have power even if it's subtle back of mind stuff. At least the power for a reader to remember them. Out of interest I keyed in my first name [which I have never liked by the way] into a name analysis website and came up with the following:

"The name of Noelene has given you an appreciation for many beautiful and refined aspects of life--music and art, literature, drama--and the outdoors, where you find much peace and relaxation, but it creates a far too sensitive nature."

True in many ways because I love music - country, easy listening, play the keyboard organ since learning piano as a child. And art - especially landscapes and aboriginal art. And the last part is spot on - I love the Australian bush, find it utterly necessary to the peaceful life I want to live here in the country and would never consider living in a city. And, yes, I admit to being very sensitive.

However, I digress.
The names we give our story people. What about them? How do we get them? I'm always looking at the name credits at the end of a television programme or movie [if they don't go too fast]. Of course there are telephone books, baby name sites, name generator sites. Whenever I drive along the A8 highway toward Ballarat, there is an unsealed road leading off that has the name Sweet Pea Paddock Road. Love it. How on earth did it acquire that name? So I guess as creative people, writers are always subconsciously looking out there for ideas all the time.

I find only a certain name will do for a particular character. Some possibilities just don't work for the image I have in my head and the person my protagonist is meant to be as I begin plotting a novel and learn more about him or her. As my characters become clearer in my mind, they lead the story and become real. They create their own background story and issues. They come alive in the early thinking and planning process. Which makes it easy in the writing especially when it comes to dialogue and keeping that person in character throughout. Without characters of course there is no scenario, no story.

Two rather famous story people

The heroine in my recently completed story, Outback Kingdom, the first in my new Outback trilogy, did not come alive until I realised she was an Irish redhead and gave her the name of Meghan. My hero is a true Aussie bloke of course and is called Dusty although his real name is Daniel. I often find my characters end up with nicknames. Meghan, for example, is called Meggie by all of her Irish friends and family which I didn't know until they started speaking to her.

So now it's on to my next set of characters, Sophie who has a half share in an outback sheep station in the South Australian Flinders Ranges and Charlie who is a geologist and comes onto her property for research. They're already well formed in my mind and they're personal stories are emerging.

I would love to hear about your favourite characters or the current ones in the book you are writing.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013



Having recently bought my daughter a Kindle e-reader for her birthday, I was thinking how things have changed.

I can remember, as a child, being really excited when I got a book for my birthday, particularly if it was one I had been waiting to read. E Nesbit was one of my favourite authors when I was younger. The Railway Children and Five Children and It being two of my favourites. I moved on to Jane Austin, and eventually Nora Roberts, all romances and all proper books. Although most of the classics got sampled at some point in time, I hated Dickens, loved Shakespeare and gave up if a book made me cry, like Black Beauty.

I still like paper books, but my little Kindle is so much easier to take on holiday, or slip in my bag to read on the train, and my granddaughter can read a full-length novel on her phone.

I write romantic suspense, and I like writing full-length novels, but it is getting harder and harder to get a 90,000 word book accepted by a publisher unless, of course, you are a big name already. My novellas, the ones already published by D.C.Thomson, are all on Amazon, but I’m rubbish at publicising myself, so they don’t sell as well as I would like – and I don’t write all that fast so I can’t produce four or five books a year, even novellas. So what do I do next?

I have a horrible feeling that by the time I decide what to do next, everything will have changed again.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Choosing A Project

Is it only me, or does anyone else start to panic when there is yet another Email about a new E-Publisher starting up and wanting your stories, right here, right now!
     I know I should be very glad that there are so many opportunities to get published these days but the fact is that I can't write quickly enough to take advantage of them all. Then I find I can't concentrate on one project alone because I keep thinking of other plots just ideal for that new publisher.
     I now have several manuscripts in various stages and targeted at different publishers from my writing this year, and all of them are un-finished.
In the end, I went back to my comfort zone and wrote a new Pocket Novel over the summer which I've just finished and am about to submit.
     But now that it is done, I have to decide what to do.
     I hope I'm going to be brave and take that next step and try something a bit different, if only because it should make my writing fresher and better.
Do you have a drawer full of half-finished stories? Are they worth reworking or is it better to start something entirely new? I'd love to know your thoughts.