27 January 2013


The answer to that question is ANYWHERE.  All you need to start a story is a spark!  It could be someone you passed on the street yesterday.  A newspaper article you read this morning while drinking your coffee.  A bit of gossip you heard at the gym.  The list goes on.

For example, the story idea for The Celtic Dagger began with a news item about a scientist whose car was found on a bridge with the keys still in it.  The scientist was nowhere to be found.  I never heard anything further about this, but for some reason that news item stuck in my mind and I started to write The Celtic Dagger.  Albeit, the scientist turned into an archaeologist, and instead of an abandoned car on a bridge, I ended up with artifacts stolen from a museum.  But that doesn’t matter.  It’s the spark of an idea that gets you started.

My work in progress, Once Upon A Lie, started when I was taking a morning walk in the leafy suburb of Waverton in Sydney.  There I passed by a beautiful old house that looked somewhat neglected.  Straight away, I envisaged what it must have looked like in its hay-day.  A manicured garden, what we would now call vintage cars in the driveway, house parties in the 1920s.  I walked passed that house three times while my imagination conjured up the person who now lived inside.  A lady in her 80s whose fiancĂ© did not return from the Korean War.  And so Esme Timmins jumped onto my page when I started to write.

So, when you’re next out and about, be aware of what’s around you because your next story idea might be right in front of you, waiting to be noticed.  But remember, this spark will go nowhere unless you start writing.  And who knows where it will take you!

Where do your ideas come from?

18 January 2013


 Often, we tend to think that because we are aware of something, everyone else is.  This came to mind the other day when I spoke to a writer who had never heard of Goodreads.  With this in mind, I decided to put together a list of some helpful sites for writers, those aspiring to write and anyone else who is interested.  These sites can be, particularly, beneficial if you’re wanting to promote your first or your latest prose masterpiece!

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7 January 2013


Your villain is as important to your story as is your hero so keep this in mind when you're creating your villain’s character.

Why is your villain so important?

Because HE/SHE  must be a worthy adversary for your hero to deal with, and because a good villain drives the conflict in your story.

Think of the stories you’ve read where there was one particular character (the villain) who put you on edge.  For me, there are two villains that come to mind in two of Daphne du Maurier’s books, Jamaica Inn and Rebecca.

I read Jamaica Inn while I was on a particularly stormy ocean cruise, but that’s another story.  Although, I must say that reading the book did help transport me away from that stormy sea and to the moors along the Cornish coast. And I'd say too that the character most responsible for my transportation was the VILLAIN.  And a most sinister one, at that.  His name is Joss Merlyn and he terrorises his wife and his niece.  And sent chills down my spine.

 Rebecca, I read in much more congenial surroundings.  At home.  On dry land!  The VILLAIN  here is Mrs Danvers, and a spookier woman you wouldn’t wish to meet.  After the heroine marries Max de Winter, and he whisks her away to live at his manor house, ‘Manderley’.  Once there, she is plagued by Mrs Danvers, the forbidding housekeeper, who keeps the memory of Max’s first wife alive by various means.

In both stories the villains drove the conflict and made life difficult for the heroines.  The villains also created an ‘on the edge of your seat’ experience for, me, the reader.

So, how do you create such powerful, three dimensional villains?  Here are some questions to ask yourself.

What traumatic experience causes my villain to act the way he/she does?

What is the connection between my villain and my hero?

What is my villains agenda?  What does he want?

Is my villain determined to win at all cost?

Is my villain equal to my hero in ingenuity, determination, courage, etc?

Does my villain have any redeeming characteristics or is he/she all bad?  (Perhaps he/she has a pet he/she loves.  There's got to be something, surely!)

Create a back-story for your villain.

You’ve more than likely created a back-story for your hero, and it’s probably a good idea to do the same for your villain.  Even if you never use this, you will be able to write with more surety about your villain if you know more about him/her.
Give your villain a gaol.

What does he want?  Is it the same thing that your hero wants or does he/she want to destroy your hero's goal?
Get into your villain's head.
You could interview him.  Find out what makes him/her tick.
How does he feel?
What lengths will he/she go to.
How does he/she plan to go about getting what he/she wants?
You may find out things you didn't expect.  They will pop into your mind like magic!

In fact, your villain is as important to your story as is your hero so don’t cobble your VILLAIN together as an after thought.  Make your villain the height of VILLAINNESS!

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1 January 2013


Happy New Year!

Yet another New Year’s has gone by without my making a New Year’s resolution.  If I did, on this particular occasion, it should be to complete my edits of Once Upon A Lie instead of dragging my heels in the sand.  
Of course, when I think about it, there are many resolutions I could make.  That is, all the things I procrastinate about on a daily basis.  One of those would be to think of new and interesting things to blog about on a weekly basis.  Posts that are helpful to aspiring writers and interesting to readers.  I will give that some extra thought in 2013. 
So, does that mean that I have made a new year’s resolution?

Have you made one?  If so, let us know what it is.

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