12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it



How to name a story

name-tagI don’t know about you, but when I’m writing a story it’s very rare for me to start with a title.  I tend to come up with a character or a first line and go from there, or if I’m entering a competition I’ll maybe take the theme and start with a related scenario, scribbling away until I’ve got my story.  On the occasions when I have begun with a title, I’ve often had to change it at the end because what I ended up writing had no relation to that original idea (see also: university dissertation). 

This quite often leaves me staring at a story, scratching my head and wondering what to name it.  I imagine it’s the same feeling new parents get when looking at their tiny human. 

Parent A: ‘What name could possibly encapsulate the wonder and potential of this new life?  He’s tiny and beautiful, and he could change the world!’
Parent B: ‘I dunno, how about… Barry?’

But in fact it is easier for new parents to deal with this problem, because Barry – although arguably a strange thing to pop into your head when staring into the face of a lickle baby – is a legitimate human name.  I can’t very well call my story Barry.  There are no characters called Barry in it, for a start – it just wouldn’t make any sense.

So, what to do in this situation?  I have a few suggestions.

  1. Make someone else read the story and suggest titles. 
    1a. If they have nothing, heap scorn upon their ideas safe in the knowledge their weird suggestion has actually sparked quite a good one in your superior writer brain.
  2. Take a line from the story and use that.  Preferably one that relates to the text somehow, or is vaguely poetic/literary sounding.  ‘Then they all had a drink of juice’, however important to the narrative, may not be the one you want.
  3. Nick a song lyric or line from a poem.  That way if it’s terrible you can blame Oscar Wilde, or One Direction.
  4. Use a pun.  People love puns.
  5. Just call it Barry.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home

I found it hard to come up with something for this week’s prompt – hence the lateness (it’s technically last week’s prompt at this point).  The prompt, as you may have gathered from the title of the post, was home.  I’ll stop saying prompt now.

I mused on this for a while, looking at other people’s submissions (houses, family, pets) and felt thoroughly uninspired.  Then my other half put on a CD, and a thought occurred.  Home is somewhere familiar and comforting – somewhere my brain recognises as safe.   I feel this in a number of places, but I can actually create that sense of well being artificially wherever I am – through the power of love music.  Certain songs make me feel at ease, because I associate them with places I feel at home.

And that’s why I photographed a bunch of CDs that have travelled with me from home with my parents to university and three different flats in Edinburgh.  Why on the radiator?  Just because.


And the best thing about this is, now we can play the super fun game of name all those CDs!

Or not.

Should I Take A Writing Class?

Found this by googling ’30 Rock Teapot’… From

Although I’ve written stories since I was a kid, I’ve never felt the need to take a course in writing.

I studied English until second year of university, and there were elements of creative writing throughout school, but the main focus was always on work by other people.

This was never really an issue for me because I’ve always maintained that you learn by doing, so I spend a lot of my time reading, writing and then reading and writing a bit more.  Then watching fifteen episodes of 30 Rock back to back with a pot of tea.

Continue reading “Should I Take A Writing Class?”

The Psychedelic Lady

As December finishes, it is time for another entry to The Pictonaut Challenge.

For those who don’t know what that is – every month The Rogue Verbumancer (also known on the Twitter as @Glempy) posts a different picture on his blog and invites people to write a short (around 1,000 words) story around it.  Entrants post their attempts on their own sites, or can send them to TRV if they don’t have one, and at the end of the month he does a post linking to them all.  It’s a nice way to flex your writing muscles, particularly if you are working on something that is doing your head in or if you are stuck for ideas and would like a fixed exercise to get you thinking.  It’s also really interesting to read the different ideas people take from the same image.

I began writing my December entry during breaks at work, but when I went to finish it today realised I didn’t actually email it to myself.  So I wrote a different one, in about an hour (using my favourite app, Write or Die, to get to 1000 words in just over 20 minutes and then revising it in the remaining 40), which I have posted below.  It is really not my best work, but such is the nature of the first draft, and hopefully the rawness will help you understand why the fact I have drafted all these books does not mean they are ready to read yet… Continue reading “The Psychedelic Lady”

Lunchtime Comics

All this time I have been bemoaning the fact I can’t do comics during my lunch break in the office in the same way as I can novel, having forgotten the existence of MS Paint.  That oversight is now rectified with one for the uni crowd…

Poisonous Mushrooms

Cats = Comedy

Lol. This post isn’t really about poisonous mushrooms, that was a cunning ruse to get you attention. It’s really about book 9 and why I’ve been finding it hard to write. I believe it’s a question of genre.

With specific genres, plots tend to come fairly easily once I have a character in mind.  The story grows up around the characterisation and dialogue – probably because those are the bits I like playing with most.  To give you a for instance, when I was doing fantasy in May I was given two character suggestions and knew immediately what I was going to do with them, so I sat and wrote it. 

Humour is not a very specific genre, and to be honest I don’t have a specific character in mind.  My vague plan was to write about the experiences of recent graduates living in the city in a sort of bubbly, chick lit way – Sex and the City but with real people who have real relationships, money issues, terrible flats, identity crises, whatever.  Not just any old real people, but real Scottish people. 

Continue reading “Poisonous Mushrooms”

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