Your 2016

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A New Year begins with thinking about beginnings.

Last year is over. It’s gone, so let’s not dwell on it. Move on and create the future you want.

So what’s next?

Stretch your self. You owe it to yourself to be successful in whatever you choose to do. And let’s face it being successful is fun!

Whatever your circumstances, find a way to improve the conditions you face in life. If you don’t know how to move forward, find a friend you consider is doing ok and ask them how they got to where they are. It doesn’t cost a thing and gathering information on how someone else did it is the perfect way to gain knowledge, without having your own experience to draw on. If their way doesn’t suit you then ask someone else. You could also try asking Uncle Google, he’s got a few stories to tell.

Spend a little time looking at what you did that worked & what didn’t then…well it isn’t rocket science. A bit more of what worked and throw out what didn’t.

You are amazing! So talented, with such an exciting future ahead of you once you decide what that future will be.

I look forward to hearing how you made 2016 into your year.

Enjoy xxx

Amanda L Betley – Writing because I want to

facebook.com/Amanda.L.Betley

@AmandaLBetley

 

 

A Writer’s Voice

I’ve often heard it said a writer needs to find his voice but I don’t think it was lost.

As a writer, you have your own voice, that’s just there, it’s who you are and how you normally communicate. So who’s voice do you need to find? Well consider from whose viewpoint you are writing. As a writer you will need to develop many ‘voices’ not just one. One per character in fact and sometimes more as your character may think differently than he speaks. Let me explain…

Child: ‘Awesome, there’s a huge forest , let’s go explore’ Jane effused to her friend Mary

Same child to mother: ‘Mum, I’m going to go for a walk to the edge of the forest so I can show it to Mary, I promise we won’t go further’

Same child to herself: ‘I’ll show her! I’m going to find that old hag’s cottage, then Mary will know who’s right!’

Adult: ‘I’m going to go for a walk and have a look around the forest, I’ll be back in an hour.’ Stewart said

Token old hag (every village should have one!): ‘Forest is bright today, I’m gonna have me a walk in the sunshine’

The same thing spoken by different characters should sound different, modified by the viewpoint of the person communicating and by who it is being communicated to. I once heard it said, “There’s nowt as queer as folk!” back in the day when queer meant, ‘A little strange or complex’. It struck a chord with me as we can act and sound differently when in the company of friends, family or colleagues. You can make  a character real, by keeping these complexities in mind. How does he talk to his mum, his mate down the pub or his future intended bride?

As writers we assume the viewpoint of each character and communicate from that complete package of data that makes up the character. For e.g. An English mother wouldn’t say “Awesome Dude!” and high-five her daughter for an ‘A’ Grade. She would instead say something along the lines of, “That’s great, we should celebrate. Would you like to go out for dinner?”

You make up a person and have to know them intimately down to the language they use and how they would likely feel about events happening in their lives. For example an Irish Catholic would not say, “Ey up chuck” as a greeting, and of course the Lancashire lass wouldn’t say “God bless you mother.” when accepting a snack; a more natural response would be “Ta mum!”. So consider who your character is and how they would likely communicate. You have to be prepared to talk in a different language to what you may normally use to ensure your character stays in character, thus keeping it real and believable.

Consistency also bears a mention. It’s ok for a character to change his mind about something but he wouldn’t change his demeanour usually. Once a rough neck always a rough neck. He could develop into a kind rough neck, but it should be obvious to the reader that the ‘kind’ bit is out of character for him and the character himself should be shown to be aware of that fact.  If a reader thinks, ‘It’s out of character for him to be kind, he’s really trying!’ when that’s what you wanted them to think, then you have done your job well. If, of course, the rough neck doesn’t have a kind streak in him, then don’t forget that and suddenly make him act akin to Mother Teresa or you will have your reader scratching their head wondering what just happened & feeling as though they missed something. Often accompanied by flicking back a few pages looking for the missing transitional chapter.

Now if you’re a kick-ass dude who is outspoken then you know that type of character well and would be forgiven for taking advantage of your strengths. Develop a character like that by writing from your viewpoint using how you would feel and think. However, don’t make the mistake of using that character’s way of talking for another one who just shouldn’t or ‘You’ as the writer will be more noticeable than the story and those Russian spies won’t feel right if you forget to write from their viewpoint or give them a Jamaican dialect.

Now having said all that a writer most certainly does have his own voice and a way of doing things and the more you write the more obvious and comfortable this will become so as always, keep writing, write some more and when you have nothing left to write about, write more than you ever have before. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun doing it xxx

Is Success Achieved by Luck?

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I’m pretty sure success isn’t achieved by luck.

We see success on the surface but what are we actually looking at?

Maybe a Professional is someone who practiced hard, sweated long hours and still lives and breathes his chosen path. If we looked closer would we see the years of practice they didn’t mention because they were too busy doing it to talk about it? I think perhaps we would.

I read a book once and my reaction to it was. INCREDIBLE!!! Everyone needs to read this. It’s amazing. One book wonder? No chance! Online it transpired much to my amusement that pretty much everyone had already read it before me. Hundreds of thousands of fans and plenty of reviews and on the best seller lists. I’d been too busy writing to be checking those. Several books published of which the latest was the best seller. The earlier books were good also, they just lacked a tiny something that he nailed in his latest book. I know of course because after reading his latest book, I then bought all his earlier ones so I could catch up. It wasn’t that the earlier books weren’t good, they were. It’s just that his last book was better, he had learned things along the path that led him there and I for one, and several thousand others I’m sure, were grateful he kept on going.

Some paths are a long but gentle climb and maybe some are much steeper than others. You would be forgiven for stopping for a rest along the way to enjoy a little of the view and contemplate where you started and where you are going. That’s what I’m looking at right now and I’m going to spend a little time fleshing out my plans to include envisioning what I think is going to be at the end of my own climb, I bet the view is stunning from the top. What will it feel like when we get there? How do we define where ‘there’ is?

Whatever path you choose, be the best you can be and don’t forget to enjoy the journey.

Happy climbing xxx

When the family insists – I had to go

But I have a story to finish!! I plead, beg, and after a few stern looks from the family I finally give in and allow myself to be dragged away from the keyboard, not quite kicking and screaming, but certainly reluctantly.

But it’s my holiday as well, surely that means I get to write not just before and after work but in the in-between time when I’m not actually at work.  Okay, Okay I’m packing !

So off we go on a road trip, with body boards, tent, towels and a fat wallet.

I’m so glad we did, the space and freedom was truly amazing and with scenery like this, I officially forgive my family for dragging me along for the trip.

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Writing…

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Writing is a funny old game.

It’s easy to do, you just put pen to paper or more likely these days you would put fingers to keyboard and off you go. Doesn’t matter what you write, it’s your creation, your words, do what you want with them. Write a poem, a story or about what happened that day that was good. Or bad!

Write to your friends and family about what’s happening in your life. Everyone loves receiving letters and emails, it makes them feel cared about. The fact you took the time out of your day to write them a note or a ‘Hey how are you doing?’ shows them you care and can really lift someone’s spirit.

But what if you want to be a professional writer? Well I saw a quote recently that said ‘A Professional writer is just an amateur that didn’t quit’ and that about covers it for me.

When I’m asked where my ideas come from I tell people I daydream, I imagine, I wonder what would happen if…then I write about it. On those days I can’t think of what happens next in one of my stories, I write about something else, an idea for the next story, another character that isn’t in the book but I might use for another one. Anything, I just keep writing.

Even this post is part of my ‘process’. I just love to write. Period.

However, then there is the proof reading, the editing, the adding more and cutting it out, the re-write, the scrap pile, the just can’t make that sentence work hour of agony, the promotion, the production, the publisher, the sale, then the better get started with the next one.  Not to mention the art of communication, testing your audience, writing for a specific target market, the illustration then American, English or Australian spellings, idioms, slang and the grammar of which my education in that subject seems to be never ending, definitely an ongoing process.

My advice?  Just have fun, then tidy it up a bit and quickly get back to having some more fun.

Because let’s face it, that IS why I write, if it’s not fun,why bother?

Viewpoints

Image When you look at a situation how do you asses whether your emotions are clouding your judgement? How do you know if you are making the right decision? What would happen if you changed your mind? What about the other fellow’s viewpoint? Is he right really or are you absolutely certain your viewpoint is the right one? Just how is that decision going to affect your future? Does it help or hinder in the short or long term? It behooves us to ‘Look!’ No I don’t mean any old kind of look! I mean really, honestly and thoroughly look from all angles possible. That includes having a ganders at the situation from the other fellow’s viewpoint whether you like him or not. ‘Understanding’ results in peace and tolerance. If you understand why someone acts as they do you are less likely to condemn them for it. Sometimes people’s actions are so weird they aren’t understandable, but even that is understandable to the degree you accept that not everything is understandable!! There are many reasons the not-understandables can seemingly slow you down. Trying to understand a not-understandable can leave you pondering in a motionless morass for days until you finally grudgingly accept the absurdity of putting life on hold and focus on something else. Have a go at trying on the other fellows viewpoint, surprisingly some of them can fit quite snugly.

When to write

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Whenever I go for a stroll, wherever I end up, there’s always a story hiding just around the next corner. A new character, a setting for the next scene or a thought provoking conversation with a stranger. I love to write and spend all my spare minutes collecting the material I want to write about.

I don’t usually get to put any of it down until after 10pm though as I’m too busy living life. So I wait until life is snuggling down for a rest and has slowed down just enough for me to pause and pen a few words before bedtime.

That’s what I tell myself, then I realise again, oops! 3am and still writing and such a lot of life to  catch up on tomorrow. Maybe just a few more words before sleep.