manuscript meanderings feat. tea

It’s coming to that time in my Masters where I need to start prepping myself to work independently now that my contact hours will soon be over, and I’ll have 40,000 words to  prepare, write, and edit for my hand in. This is always something I’ve struggled with, as I know I’m easily distracted and often pop the kettle on just to have five minutes away from the reality of my workload. (Surely I’m not the only one?)

I’ve started thinking about my manuscript, where it’s up to currently, and where I see it going for my deadline in September (which is creeping closer and closer each minute.) Planning is a crucial thing for me right now. Even though it’s not my favourite thing in the world, I know it will help in the long run.

As much as I rave about planning it all out, I don’t find it easy and often spend more time planning than I spent writing. That in principal is fine, but if you’re me, it can often go the opposite way and hinder your writing because you are trying too hard to fit a mould you’ve spent ages creating. Finding a balance with planning is something I’ve been working on so that I am able to plan bits and not get caught up in the concrete parts, but rather use it more as a flexible structure.

As my novel is dual narrative, and written in months as opposed to chapters, it’s quite hard for me to pinpoint a whole selection of plot points to include. What I can do, however, is take each month and write out what scenes I think will be included and how my characters will be feeling.

Are they having a crap day at school? Spending their free time somewhere they really don’t want to be? Lost somewhere and unable to find there way home?

Bringing the characters emotions into the plan really helps me to see their character arc developing, as well as the novel, without thinking too hard about concrete structures. Sometimes we get too caught up in things that we think are crucial, and actually lose focus on the main plot, and our characters, which are the story.

If you’re struggling to plan out a long piece, or with structuring a small piece, try piecing together what the scene looks like and what emotion your character is carrying at that moment. It might help you to see what doesn’t work, which is just as helpful as finding out what does!

Let me know if it helps!

love sophie

 

 

bogged down in word counts: where did my story go?

I’m feeling pretty rubbish about writing at the moment. I don’t know if it’s the impending doom of deadlines, or the fact I’m struggling to write even a word of my manuscript, but the pen has been dropped and I’ve left the writing desk. I even devoured a full punnet of blueberries and scoffed a full block of chocolate in misery (did I mention I’m lactose intolerant?) I can honestly say: it doesn’t help.

I just can’t blooming do it.

And I’ve decided, for now, that it’s fine.

Writing is such a solitary venture that even with a head full of characters you can feel more alone than ever. My attempt at giving up social media during the daytime to focus on my work was an absolute disaster which hasn’t helped. And the worry of falling behind with work has left me skipping fun sociable things which in reality are helpful for my writing and spark my creativity.

I’m finding the balance of it all really difficult, and every time I think I’m getting there, the scales start tipping.

Alas! I’m hoping a couple of days off topic, mooching around on my bike, and reading other people’s words, will do wonders to mine. Here’s hoping!

Have you got any top tips on how to keep ploughing through your word count? And how to keep motivated? If you do, I’m all ears!

love sophie

gay in YA

My research project this term has surrounded the growing presence of LGBTQ+ characters, and stories, in YA fiction, among other children’s books.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading books for research around the topic, and learning more than I thought I knew about the topic. It is so easy to become ignorant to topics, so I think it’s really important, especially when writing and analysing it, to be aware of the facts, and talk to the community, being involved and understanding, listening to what they have to say.

I read Kalaidoscope Song, by Fox Benwell, an alumni from my course, as well as Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan which are both completely different examples of representation, from characters right through to plot. Both authors are also both members of the community.

Something I found whilst researching was that lots of the books covered the same plots and themes: coming out, being accepted socially, self acceptance, bullying, mental health etc. which I didn’t think fully represented the community. Obviously these themes are prevalent, but they don’t equate to everything the characters are feeling. Surely they’d want to read something where the character, no matter what part of the LGBTQ+ community, had the normal teenage life, and where their sexuality didn’t define them?

I think there is such a gap in the market for these books. Many of the books I looked at for research were fairly recent to the market, with only a few years between them, a couple proving to be quite ahead of their time. But more recently, we are seeing more LGBTQ+ books being published, along with authors from the community which is really important.

I hope this brings with it a new wave of publishing for this community. Books are a platform to bring controversial and often unspoken topics into the open and for many they are the way they learn things about the world.

‘These characters and narratives can shine a light into the corners of possibility for children searching for signs that they are not alone in their otherness.’

love sophie

it’s good to be home

It’s only been two weeks since heading back to Bath after Christmas, but being in what felt like solitary confinement for that long was turning me insane (slight exaggeration, it wasn’t that bad.) I’ve been trying to utilise the free time to myself and finish off my work, but the temptation to binge watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S. on Netflix is just too big. And as much as I’ve tried to finish deadlines, and write more of my novel, I always find it’s on in the background (even when I do manage to make some headway!)

It was lucky that I was actually heading up to Leeds for some appointments, and I absolutely loved going home. (I didn’t get much done but how can you when those ‘you’re home’ treats are on the menu?)

I was back for hospital appointments on the Friday so Mum picked me up on the Thursday (legend) and we roadtripped back up following the scenic route. Anyone who knows me will know I absolutely hate motorways and would rather get there three hours later going the ‘pretty way around’ and avoiding all the traffic.

I had a busy weekend actually, from walking around the grounds at Harewood on Saturday morning (if you live in Leeds and haven’t been, go! The Harewood Arms do great pub grub for a post walk treat too, with Ve/GF/V options available which I was surprised by, and you can feed the penguins – what’s more to love!), to having giggles with the twins who came on Monday (babies are the best antidepressant in the world! Fact!)

In between hospital visits, long walks, and babies, there was lots of chocolate munching (thanks Em!) and binge watching property programmes on the TV (Mum and I love a good restoration.) I always enjoy going home because I write it off as a bit of a jolly. Even if I plan to do loads of things (which, let’s face it, I don’t) I always end up just sitting back with a cuppa, being harassed with constant offers of cake and asked if I want to do this or that (and isn’t that just the best.) I also love being home for the kitchen cupboards. There’s nothing more satisfying than looking in the cupboards and seeing everything you could ever dream of making or eating. I definitely don’t have that luxury at uni.

I’m also probably not the only one who absolutely loves the first couple of days of being home, and then just wants to leave. I always miss the independence of being away from home (especially if I’m having to share the attention with siblings who just so happen to be home for the same weekend… typical!)

I’m really weird in that I also enjoy just driving around. If Mum’s going to the shops, I’ll go just for the ride. I find being in the car really enjoyable, although I often get travel sick on long drives, and I always imagine I’m in a soppy film when it’s raining and a sad song comes on the radio.

I’m looking forward to going back to the tub, but it’s been nice to have some time back at home with my family, who have returned from down under. Getting home cooked grub and mugs of tea on demand is never a bad thing!

What do you like most about being home?

love sophie