....welcome to my blog on writing, reading and living in London ......

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Creating atmosphere/setting the scene in your writing

I was struck today sitting in a new coffee and cake shop at how important it is to create atmosphere. Obviously we try to do this in our writing, but it is done every day in various ways that we hardly notice. Yet there is a kind of magic conjured up when atmosphere is created. If we can inject a little of that magic into our stories, they will come alive. This picture I hope demonstrates what I mean.This new coffee shop, Dolce Dolce is in Purley where the only other coffee shop I frequent is Costa. Dolce Dolce used to be a pizza parlour but it has been TRANSFORMED in a simple but magical way. As they are primarily a wedding business creating cakes and other goodies for special events, the creation of a light, airy, romantic feel is important in letting people know what the business is all about. Firstly everything has been painted white and there are wispy folds of light curtaining at the window. What isn't white has been painted gold so that what might have been dull, dark wood is burnished. Cleverly, the owner, Antoinette, has scattered lovely old pieces of furniture, coffee tables, and chaises longues throughout and covered them in pastel and ivory fabrics. A long counter full of cup cakes and apricot and almond tarts have made it look like a French patisserie and mirrors reflect all the goodies back at you. When you see a sign like this garlanded in its own little frame with golden curlicues you know you're not in Costa! The cups and saucers which instead of being a uniform colour or shape are a variety of wonderful mix and match pieces of old Aynsley and other ware is presented with gold pastry forks and eating out of a cornucopia of different tea sets is unusual and fun. Finally, 4 chandeliers complete the picture and pictures are what I'm talking about. For when we set the scene in our books and short stories, it only takes a few sentences to sum up where your characters are. But these sentences have to be well chosen and create atmosphere. I critique a lot of manuscripts and I often find one scene blurs into another because the author hasn't given places an identity. A few well chosen sentences to paint a picture are all that is needed to breathe life into a story. Dolce Dolce is like a film set and all the better for it. The next time you are sitting somewhere which has a strong atmosphere, jot down notes and analyse what visuals and scents make it come alive and I guarantee this can be used to push your writing up another notch.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Chatting with the Romaniacs.....

Hi I have been lucky enough to be invited on the lovely Romaniacs blog for their Tuesday chit-chat. Talking about writing and how to get published is one of my favourite things. It was lovely chatting with these super ladies who are members of the Romantic Novelists Association and like myself have benefitted from the Association's New Writers Scheme. The NWS offers an invaluable critique service to new writers from an established author. As well as tea and cyber cake (which is a good thing as I've had too much of the real thing lately) we talked about writing my 8-part serial, The Lemon Grove which is still running in The People's Friend magazine. Do pop over to their blog and take a look, and feel free to comment, like I say, I love to chat about writing!

Sunday, 4 August 2013

People's Friend serial 'The Lemon Grove'

Phew, at long, long last, my serial 'The Lemon Grove' is appearing in The People's Friend. This has been a long and protracted birth but it is wonderful finally to see all those ideas come together on the printed page. What is huge fun is seeing how the artist has interpreted my characters. This link to the People's Friend blog gives an idea of how artists approach a story. They've entitled the blog post 'Talking Pictures', highly appropriate as they can so often bring a story alive. When I write, I sometimes base looks on people I know, and as the illustrations continue (Week 3 of the 8 part serial is out this week) my hero is looking more and more like the Italian friend I thought of while I was writing my hero Antonio. I didn't get to speak to the illustrator, it was the editor who made the decisions about the artwork. I'm really pleased with the work done and hope the artist enjoyed painting the characters as much as I enjoyed writing them. I am now working on ideas to pitch a further serial taking one of the minor characters, Mel
and giving her a story of her own. There'll be some adventure, lots of romance and some crime.... it takes a lot of plot to fill 8 episodes with cliffhangers at the end of each. So far I have a beginning and an end, it's just the middle I have to work on! I hope anyone else who's tried for a serial has had positive results.