Thursday, April 8, 2010

on Voice

now, here's a thing...

Hang on! Who is that?

it's me, fella. don't panic.

You mean Dave? Is it you, Dave?

yes, it's me. what are you doing still here?

Dave! Oh, it's great to see you back! I bet you missed me!


And what's that supposed to mean, Dave?

no, really. what ARE you doing here?

I'm taking a bath, Dave. Like I was when you were here last?

shizer! i hope you've changed the water since i was here last! that was back in 2008. oh, no, what is that smell?

Don't be silly, Dave, I didn't want to waste all that water by changing it all the time! Although it has got a bit cold since then...

um, maybe this wasn't such a good idea...

What? What wasn't a good idea?

coming back here to post my ideas on novel writing.

Novel writing? What do you know about novel writing?


Things like?

things like voice.


*sighs* ears?

Yeah, ears like voices, especially singing voices.

i was right. i can't do this.

Except for opera. Aint nobody who likes opera!

Dave? Dave, you haven't gone again, have you? I've got a whole list of things my ears like!


And I can do voices myself, Dave? With different body parts. Listen. Braaaaaaap! Oooops, looks like I better change the bath water after all, Dave.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

on action; lack thereof, or being missing in *ahem* sink holes...

Man! I have no idea where that cat, Dave, has gone! I mean it's been three months now. More than that! And still no sign. How long does he expect me to wait for that chick? You know, the one with the big... Hang on! What's that over there? It looks like water bubbling up out of a drain. A bloody big drain, like this is some kind of huge bathtub. Dave never told me about this. Who would use a bath this big?

*gasp* just one hand over the other *wheeze* got to keep climbing *splutter* have to keep my head out of this rushing water *gasp* this tunnel has to go somewhere... hang on! is that light up above?

Who's there? Did someone just call out? Is someone down there?

*splutter* oh, this must truly be hell! i finally come through the punishing waters undrowned to find you've followed me here...

Dave? Is that you? Here grab my hand! Man, what are you doing down there?

*wheeze* i beseech you, my gods. my lords! i am ready to believe! i will follow and obey from now till eternity, JUST PLEASE DON'T SEND ME BACK IN THERE WITH HIM!

Don't worry, I've got you! Hang on to me and I'll drag you up, Dave, although I did see you using capitals just now, so maybe it's not Dave. Just lie there on your side, buddy...

you're right. i am not dave.

Geez, you sure look like Dave. Better lay still too. And keep on that side. I don't want you choking on the water you look like you've swallowed. And I'd hate to have to give you the kiss of life, Dave!


I know, buddy, don't go getting all excited on me. Dave is kinda anti-capitalisation. No, that's not the right way to say it. He just doesn't like capitals for some reason. Must've had a bad experience in Canberra, or something. But you sure do look like Dave. Just wetter. And shit. I mean you look like shit. And Dave too, I guess.

i am not dave. you should leave here.

Now you're even sounding like Dave. Why should I leave here?

ahhhh, crap! because i'm going to vomit. can't a man come through all the seven hells, ride the wild waters of the fountain of despair and finally be left to choke on his vomit? alone? and in peace?

IT IS YOU, DAVE! Golly, it's good to see you!

*sigh* yes. it's me.

Boy! I bet you are glad that I was here to pull you free of that drain!

i refer you to my comments about the fountain of despair...

It's been three and a half months, Dave! Where have you been?

despairing. and hoping that it would be long enough...

Long enough? Being away from me hasn't improved your temperament, has it?

i was doing okay.

Doing okay? How's almost drowning in the drain from God's bathtub supposed to be doing okay?

god's bathtub? please don't make me ask...

Ask who? What? You haven't got any clearer in your general conversation, Dave.

and if he was to fall into this drain he keeps talking about, my Lords, it would be absurd to argue that i had pushed him, wouldn't it?

The weird thing is, Dave, I didn't even know you believed in God.

i'm not sure that i do.

What do you mean, not sure? How can a man be not sure? You either do, or you don't. Why have you set up your blog in God's bathtub if you don't believe in him?

*sighs* i must've been a b*stard in a previous life...

Seriously, Dave. I think you set your blog here in the hope that He might christen you with his...

christen me! who?

God. In his bath. He could duck you under the waters of his tub. Be best to keep your eyes closed but.


Dave! If God is sitting in his bath and he christens you and you open your eyes... Gee, man, there's no accounting for what you might see. And it mightn't be too good for your ego if you happened to see His wil...

his wi... oh, dear, time to be going.

Dave? What are you doing, Dave? Why are you climbing back into that drain?


What do you mean that? Oh, heavens! That looks like a giant pair of buttocks. And they look like they're coming this way! Bloody heck, I'm not going to make the drain in time! Dave! Dave, what do I do?


Pretend? What's that supposed to mean? God's about to take a bath, with me in the tub with him and you're telling me to pretend!



pretend to be soap

Monday, June 30, 2008

on the pitch, and reading out loud...

Hey, Dave. What are you doing?

nothing. i'm doing nothing.

You were talking to yourself, weren't you?

no, i wasn't.

You were too. I heard you. When I came in. You were talking to yourself. You DO get lonley in here, don't you, Dave.

no. i don't.

Sure you do, why else would you be talking to yourself?

i don't want to say. you'll twist it up and make me look stupid.

I don't sit in here talking to myself, Dave.

*sigh* i wasn't talking to myself, i was reading. out loud.

Reading? Out loud? You've been by yourself for far too long.

see. i told you you would twist it!

All right, take it easy. Just tell me why you were reading out loud, will you?

i was reading my pitch.

Your pitch?

uh huh. my verbal blurb.

Oh, like your back cover blurb?

that's kind of like it.

Bummer. I thought you'd be talking about your cricket pitch. That's why I came in here, I read the blog title and thought I might get the cricket scores.

i don't have a cricket pitch.

You don't?

i don't.

Wow! That's almost un-Australian, isn't it?

what's un-Australian about not having a cricket pitch?

Well, let me see. Oh, everything, I guess. Like, what is the point of reading a pitch if it's not a cricketing one? I mean, if you can't try to pick Warnie's leg-break, or his wrong'un off the pitch, why bother reading anything?

the only wrong'un here is you, buddy!

No, seriously, I just came in here to find out how the one-dayers were going.

and i only came in to read my pitch.

You know, against the West Indies. In the Caribbean? Are we winning?

i can't imagine winning feeling this bad...

You don't know the score, do you?

yes, you twenty eight, me zero.

I mean the cricket score.

oh... no, i don't know the score.

So, what is the point of reading your pitch if there are no cricket scores in it?

it's my verbal blurb, for my novel, The Shadow Without. it's what i need to have ready to pitch to an agent or a publisher so it has to sound good. that's why i was reading it aloud.

And did it sound good?

i don't know. you kept talking over the top of it.

Did you mention the scores from the latest one day international in it? That'd make it sound real good, I reckon.


Dave? Where are you? Dammit! I wanted to ask if there are any good cricketing blogs out there...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

on being loved


that's great. i'll be leaving then.

You're a rude bugger at times, Dave, know that?


Is it some kind of superior posturing oh, look at me the great author bit, you are trying to achieve here?


Or are you doing that old treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen thing on me?

no, no, no. you mustn't think, even for a minute, that i might be trying to keep--

That's it! I know it is, and you're just too shy to come out and say it.


I guess you writers like to be loved?


I mean everybody needs loving. Or to paraphrase Donkey in Shrek, "Aint nobody who don't like loving!"

Donkey? in Shrek? what are you doing in here?

Just popping in to appreciate you some.

i don't need any appreciating today, thanks. and i won't need any tomorrow, or for the rest of this month, so you shouldn't have bothered.

Yeah, sure, Dave. It's easy to say that but I know the truth.

truth? what would you know about truth? any truth?

I know about yours.

all right! i know i'm going to regret this, but what are my truths?

Well, I don't know them all, but I know a big one.


You get lonely in here.

lonely? are you mad?

It's true, Dave. You know it is.

it's not true.

It is, Dave. Everytime I find you in here, you are alone...

somebody can be alone without being--

Alone. And cranky.

oh, for crying out loud! i am not lonely and i am not cranky.

God hates liars, Dave.

that's it, i am...

Where are you going now?

it doesn't matter.

It matters to me. I'll be in here waiting for you.

you don't have to stay in my blog and wait for me!

Sure I do.


If I tell you, you will get angry...

*sigh* no. i won't.


fer chri--

See! I knew you'd get angry.

there is a difference between angry and frustrated. i am not angry, so tell me why.

All right, I have to stay in here because nobody else visits. And I feel kind of embarrassed for you that it's only ever you in here.

well, don't. i'm not lonely. i'm not cranky. i just appreciate my peace and quiet. so i am going. and you should too.

Where to?

my draft. there's the Penguin Most Wanted, their Crime Writing competition due in a couple of weeks. i need to polish my draft.

You are going to enter The Shadow Without in that competition?

yes, what's wrong with that?

Where's the crime, Dave? You kill off a bunch of miners, and possibly a big busted blonde because I haven't come across her in the book yet, but apart from murder, what is the crime?

murder is not good enough for you? what about the stealing of souls?

Oh, hell! You're not going to do that to my blonde friend, are you?

that's it. i'm out of here.

I hope there are some people where ever you are going, Dave. People who care about you...

Saturday, May 24, 2008

on characterisation and sin


is anybody here?

anybody at all? seems like we might be alone in here today, which is good because i really wanted to get a few ideas on characterisation down on paper, so to speak. and now while there are no distractions will be a good--

Characterisation? What are you on about, Dave?

oh. it's you.

Good to see you, too. What's happening?

nothing. i was just finishing up. on my way out of here. got to get to my draft, you know.

The Shadow Without. Yes, I know. The one where Kelsey may, or may not, sing.

that's it. anyway, been good to chat to you.

And what about this characterisation business?

it's nothing. it can wait till another day--

You've forgotten, haven't you? You can't remember what you were going to say?

of course i remember what i was going to say!

Well, go on, say it!

no! you'll mess it up. trivialise it, or take me off topic and it will all look a bit half ar... half done.

Come on, Dave. I promise I won't ask about Kelsey's singing anymore.

or try to get me to ask her for a date?

Won't even think about it!

all right then, but any stupid comments and i'm out of here.


okay, so it's important to know your characters. that's a given and it's a standard line in any of the texts on writing, but i mention it because it is really important. if you are a writer like me who doesn't plan too much, who doesn't plot too much, preferring to let the characters tell me the story then it is even more important.

Got it.

if we go back to the last example where we were talking about Kelsey singing then i need to know more than if she sings or not. when i go through my edits i need to be able to pick whenever Kelsey is acting out of character--

And how can you tell?

let me stick with the singing bit. i need to know not just if Kelsey can sing, i need to know what she sings, and when she sings. is she likely to burst into song in the shower or on a fine sunny day? does the sight of a grand piano send her off into operatic solo? is she want to break out into some Ella Fitzgerald number? or is she a modern girl into trash metal? or the the less than mainstream of a PJ Harvey or such? now i happen to like this girl and i happen to be rather fond of PJ too, so Kel is probably going to like her too. there's another thing, i need to know what Kelsey thinks when somebody calls her Kel--

What does it matter what you call her, or what music she likes?

i was getting to that. it is that acting out of character bit. Kelsey has to be Kelsey all the time. if she is the type that would smack you for calling her Kel, and instead she hears the name and goes weak at the knees, then she's acting out of character.

I bet she'd go weak at the knees if I whispered Kel in her ear!

stop it. we've finally started to get to the mechanics of writing.

Okay, so Kelsey starts to act out of character. What does it matter? You've already said you let the characters tell you the story, what if she likes acting out of character?

that's the crux of it really. people don't act out of character. not unless they are really, really stressed. they might show behaviour that you haven't seen before but even a changed behaviour has to be within character.

You're losing me, buddy.

i wish.


let me put it like this. if Kelsey is straight, and she is. she's in a relationship with Jetta's best friend, so i can't just have her going off on a lesbian affair.

You can't? Bummer.

well, i can but i would need to put some clues that this is possible in her characterisation prior to her going off with the busty blonde.

Why put it in the characterisation rather than the book?

haha, good joke.

Thanks, I do try. What is it that acting out of character does? Why is it so bad?

it's one of those things that causes readers to turn off. to jump out of the story, or more probably, be kicked out of the story, land back in the chair and ask 'What happened there?' anything that causes the reader to stop and shake their head and ask that question is bad. the hardest task for the writer is to capture the readers attention. to lose it is perhaps the biggest sin.

Lesbian affairs with busty blondes. How's that supposed to make me lose attention? Where's my copy of your book?

i didn't say that's in the--

Man, can you keep it down? I'm trying to get some reading done in here!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

of singing, and knowing your characters


hey, indeed...

It's been some time, Dave.

has it? seems like yesterday.

Yesterday? No way! I've been waiting ages. AGES! For you to come back in here...

i popped in last monday. i don't think that qualifies as ages ago.

Not to you, Dave, but to the rest of us who are waiting for your next words of wisdom it seems like forever!

now you're being silly. there's no one else here--

What? You are never here! How can you tell how many people are here? Or how many have been here? Waiting?

waiting for what?

You tell me! You're the one who keeps us waiting!

i don't keep you waiting. i don't keep anyone waiting. i just pass through. i just write through. remember? on my way to my draft?

Yes. Yes, of your book, The Shadow Without. Of course, I remember, it's just that...


No, you'll think I'm stupid!

why would i think you're *ahem* stupid?

Because you don't answer our questions!

our questions?

You're laughing at me now, aren't you?


You are!

no. i am not. i am concerned that you spend too much time in my blog, but i am not laughing at you.



Then you'll answer our questions?

yes, i'll answer your questions. except...


except there is the problem that there is only you in here with me. so this our bit is kind of disconcerting...

Oh, don't worry! I'll just ask the questions for the others.

there are NO others! i don't think i can do this...

Sure you can. And don't worry about the others. I don't see them either.

i'd close my eyes, but i can't type that way. and it wouldn't help because there are no--

Look, Dave, I won't mention them again. Serious.

serious? glad you mentioned it. i have to be going, i must get to my draft--

Of The Shadow Without? Fantastic, Dave. Glad you bought it up. See, I've been thinking about the characters in your book.

you have?

Sure I have! And I mean't to ask, do any of them sing?


Do any of them sing? Like Kelsey? Fine girl that one. I bet she has a fine voice, doesn't she?


Possibly? What do you mean? You don't know?

actually, i do know. i am just puzzled by your question. why do you ask?

Well, while I was waiting, you know, for all of those ages, I didn't really have much to do so I read that quote from DH Lawrence that you say 'sings to you' and I wondered if your characters sing?

that's not a bad question. now you've got me wondering if there is anyone else in here.

There isn't now! They've all left. Got sick of waiting for you--

*sigh* why do i bother...

To tell me.

to tell you what?

To tell me if any of your characters sing!


Yes, what?

yes, my characters sing.

Do they? How do you know?

they are my characters!

So Kelsey DOES sing! On what page?

i didn't say she sings in the book.

If she doesn't sing in the book, how do you know she can sing?

because, and watch my lips, s--

I can't see your lips!

then watch my fingers. on the keyboard. she is my character. i know everything about her. all that she has done. all that she wants to do. all that she desires, everybody she desires. that's what being an author is about. understanding your characters. so, yes, i know she can sing.

You know everything she does?


And everything she thinks?

of course.

So, you'd be able to ask her for a date?

yes, i could ask her out on a date.

Not with you, Dave. With me!

stop! you're asking me if Kelsey can sing?

That's right.

and you're asking me if she can go out on a date?

Thats right.

with you?

Fantastic, Dave. Do it please!

sorry, buddy. i don't know anything about you.

Oh, come on! We're old friends now!

can't do. not with Kelsey.

Please! I'm begging you, Dave.

sorry, buddy, can't hear you.

Just one date!

just passing through, buddy. just writing through...

Monday, May 12, 2008

of rules; the breaking thereof...

right! today there will be no comments on capital letters, prologues and people dying. got it?

What about pasta?

no pasta either.

No Pasta? What are we going to eat then, Dave?

haha, good joke, very funny...

I do my best. Today I want to ask you about the writing process.

you do?

Oh, so now you're the comedian! I shouldn't have to tell you that visual jokes don't work in a blog, Dave, so pretending to fall over in shock is not going to generate any laughs.

but i was shocked. you really want to talk about the writing process?

Certainly do. These characters in The Shadow Without, Jetta Coorain and his mate Samuel Robinson and Kelsey Prant; how do you think them up?

well, i'm not sure about other writers but i just listen to them.

Listen to them? Like voices in your head?

yeah, something like that. i get little snippets of dialogue from them, just bits and pieces. then the other characters start to interact, like answer back, that kind of thing. and the more dialogue i hear, the more answering back i hear and the more fleshed out the characters become. soon i hear most of a chapter, just the critical moments, but enough to sketch out the scenes.

You're hearing and you're sketching, so where does the writing come into it?

when i have enough detail i just sit at the keyboard and let the characters do their stuff. so in the opening chapter, Jetta walks into the cafe and the cook tries to kill him. that's what i started with, i sketched it out and wrote it up--

And then?

then i asked Jetta why the cook was trying to kill him.

You mentioned that death, not me! I didn't break the rules, okay? Look, I've read that first chapter--

what a surprise...

--and Jetta eventually works out that his grandfather is trying to contact him via the Song Stones but it is the stones themselves that have led the demon Molongo directly to him. Are you saying this is what Jetta told you? After you sketched him out?

that's what i am saying.

You're not bipolar by any chance are you?

not that i know, why?

No reason, really. Just that sometimes you kind of flip out, don't you?

flip out? no, not at all. i simply use all the tools at my disposal, without prejudice, to create the best stories i can. i believe The Shadow Without is one of them.

Even though you ripped the story off one of your own characters?

and you call me bipolar...