Pen bleeds

This piece is blatantly obvious. As writers, we are mad!

Pen bleeds

It be a dream
addiction aplenty
holding captive
the mind and time
and madly
reaching for another sheet
the pen bleeds
must scribe, more, more, MORE
the fever has hit
though life awaits impatiently beside
the mad-rippled human
delirious, uncaring
writes
…till the pen bleeds no more

Are you talking to me? – A brief look at Dialogue

Dialogue is absolutely critical to the pace of the story and direction, so no wonder we all feel that extra bit of pressure to get it right, if not near perfect the first time out. But the problem is, how do you decide on the speech of each character? What you need to keep in mind is that each character will have their own habits, opinions, feelings, and discomfort in regards to almost everything. Yes, these people only exists in the world of paper and type, however, you need to make their existence worth while in their own fiction world. How you do this is through dialogue. Their pattern of speech, their pet peeves, the topics that are their passion, and their annoying habits. All of these things dictate how each character will speak to one another. Do they like each other? Do they hate each other? Are they in a position to grant favours or ask for one? Or better yet, what stage in life are they, and what external aspects, people, jobs etc. are effecting their pattern of thoughts?

That’s a long list of things to consider during a bout of sitting down and writing dialogue, isn’t it? But here is the worst part, that list is even longer. You also need to make sure each dialogue is contributing to the building of the story. That each dialogue is leading to a little more discovery about the characters or the story. Do try to restrain from writing down dialogue that are fruity and pretentious, and that just makes you sound like you are trying to out write yourself.

Here is a piece of advice that I was once given (and commended for) from an industry professional: Keep dialogue REAL.

What they meant by this was, keep the dialogue sounding as if that is how people speak in normal world. If the dialogue you write sounds nerdy/over the top/unbelievable for the real world, chances are those dialogue will come across the same in the fiction world. Why is it such an issue in the ‘fiction’ world? Well, because, dialogue is what places readers straight into the world of the characters, this is how we suspend their reality and for that moment, the readers feel like they are right there, an invisible participant in that make-belief world. A dialogue that sounds out of the norm will have the same effect as punching the reader in the face – it will take them out of that suspension.

The only time you can get away from veering out of the normal pattern of speech in real-time and real people is when you are doing a period piece, or a sci-fi interspace theme. Any other time, the characters NEED to speak as real people would.

My recommendation is that you keep it as simple as you can, as natural as you can when you are drafting that first session of dialogue. You need to let the dialogue flow organically. Editing is always there to save you later on, so don’t hold back. Boot grammar and punctuation and any other sense of guidelines to the back seat and off you go writing. Write as fast as you can and as hard as you can to capture the true essence of a scene or a run of dialogue first, then tinker with it later. Fussing over dialogue when you’re just starting to write the first draft is akin shooting yourself in the foot because you’re so busy trying to make it perfect that sometimes you miss brilliant moments of writing.

I’ll give you an example. Below is an excerpt from my current novel, Rule of Thirds, undergoing slight reconstruction, but I’d like you to read it for the flow of the dialogue. When I received the assessment on this particular novel, I was commended for keeping majority of the dialogue believable. What I’m hoping to show you all is that dialogue doesn’t have to be a fabulous creation of creative language and elaborate sentences. I would like you all to read the excerpt below and observe how it comes across to you. It’s not the best section of dialogue exchange in the book, however, I just wanted to show you that minimal is good too.

The premise of the excerpt is that, Elle, the main protagonist has just moved homes. Sequence, towards the beginning of the story.

The shrill ring of her cell phone brought a stop to her tears and sent her scrambling into the room, stumbling over suitcases in the dark. She dove next to the bed at her handbag, and fished out the phone with annoyance. “What is wrong with you?” Maya, a tiny figure on the bed lay sleeping undisturbed.

 

“I was worried. You hadn’t called yet. Can’t a mother check on her child?” Trish asked.

 

“Of course, Mum…”

 

“Can’t I call to see if you both have settled okay?” her mother interrupted. “You didn’t call as you’d promised!”

 

Elle tiptoed out of the room, pulling the door close behind. “I was a little busy, Mum. Do you realize what time it is?” she sniffled.

 

“Are you okay? What’s wrong?” Trish asked immediately. “See, I told you, you can’t handle a move by yourself. I told you, Elle. Is Maya upset too? I bet she is, poor thing. First, her father, and now away from her grandparents…”

 

“Nothing’s wrong, Mum.” Elle interrupted. “She’s asleep, unless you woke her.”

 

“Then why are you upset?”

 

Elle leaned against the wall, “I’m just tried, Mum,” and lied.

 

“Well, you should get some sleep too, honey. Been a long and unnecessary day for you two. You know, your dad and I still think you shouldn’t have moved away, especially now. Maya needs her family. In fact, we can come tomorrow and bring you girls back home.”

 

Elle slid all the way to the floor and massaged her temples. She’d heard these concerns too many times before. “Mum, we’ve been over this time and time again. I told you, I need my own space. Let it go!”

 

“You’re my children.”

 

“And it’s my life and Maya is my child,” Elle answered, holding back her anger. “I’ll do what I feel is best for the both of us. For once in my life, Mama, let me do what I need to do.”

 

“And what’s that? Take yourself and my only grandchild away from home? Elle, you need help, you need dad and I to take care of you two.”

 

Elle clenched her teeth, “Mum, I don’t want you to take care of me, or my child. I am perfectly capable of doing it myself”.

 

“Blake used to take care of you, and now that he’s gone, how are you going to put food on the table, huh? How are you going to look after that child by yourself, Elle?”

 

“I’ll find a job.”

 

“Like the last time you found a job? Ellie, you had a nervous breakdown and Ethan and Bert had to come get you.”

 

“Mum, I don’t wanna talk about this. Not right now. I’m tired, I’m irritated, I smell,” and I miss Blake like crazy and wish he were here so I wouldn’t be having this conversation with you, she thought. “All I want to do right now is take a shower and get some sleep. Can I do that?”

 

“I’m worried about you.”

 

“Yeah? Well, worry a little less then.”

 

“I would if you two were safe here with me.”

 

“Mum, we are perfectly fine.”

 

“Yeah of course you are, all alone in that house, lonely. Of course you’re fine!”

 

“Mum, please.”

 

“Fine, do what you want. Who are we to say anything? Good night then.”

 

The dial tone beeped in Elle’s ear as the call ended. “Good night” she whispered and sat, staring at the phone in her hand. She knew the argument was far from over and was tempted to hurl the phone across the hallway and watch it shatter. Maybe that’d stop her mother trying to control her decisions, and her life.

 

“If only it were that simple,” she pushed off the dusty floor. Bottom line, she was tired of people smothering her with concern.

Now that you’ve read that bit of glamorous writing (not)…how did you respond to it? To the flow of the dialogue? Did you find it easy to read? Did you think the characters sounded believable? What are your thoughts?

Ease of reading and believability of dialogue is the main thing that affect how your story reads.

Thou shalt not kill characters?

Do you have a story that is riveting, and exciting and has you sitting on the edge of your seat as you write? You’re loving it, the way the characters grate on one another, or the way they are able to look past another’s fault to get something done? Or is there a part in your story that you think will benefit from a ‘death’?

It’s a tough decision to KILL a character. You are doing it for the benefit of the story, but what does it stand to gain or lose via this act of yours?

Well, depends really. You want something gripping and urgent, then maybe the death will benefit, you want emotions to rock a character’s stable world, then maybe. But how do you choose which character to sacrifice after having spent weeks and month developing them?

Show some tough love. Weigh their pros and cons.

Here is an exercise for you to try:

Question 1: You have a story with four characters: 3 male (Jack, Matt and Brandon), one female (Clare). Who would you sacrifice?

You’re thinking definitely not Clare, right?

Question 2: With Clare remaining in the picture, you have potential for romance with any one of the 3 males? Who would you chose?

Can’t decide yet? Of course not, you don’t know anything about the boys to pick which one might add some extra weight to the story.

So, here is a brief description about the boys:

Jack: a handsome guy with sandy blond hair, average height, slightly build, blue eyes. Character wise, he is a goof ball, likes to always lighten any situation. Is doing law. Not fussed about a relationship, but wouldn’t mind dating just for fun.

Matt: an average-looker, fairly tall at almost 6 feet, goes to the gym regularly, is on his way to becoming a proficient businessman. He is serious when he needs to be, but also knows how to have fun. Is looking for a steady relationship.

Brandon: a gorgeous eye-catcher. Dark brown hair, light brown eyes, build and lean. Similar to Matt in height. He is a quite type. Likes to observe more than engage in a conversation. Pretty handy with tools and has travelled quite extensively. He appears the serious type, and frankly doesn’t really care to hook up with a girl any time soon.

Now…

Question 3: Which one of the three boys would you kill off in your story based on the information you now have?

Jack/Matt/Brandon???

Well this all depends on where you want to take your story. Whether ‘Clare’ is looking for a fling/steady relationship/ or chase after a man she can’t really have?

You see, with any one of these boys you have three avenues through which your story can travel. What you must learn to decipher is where you want your story to go, and whom might help with that travel?

Share your thoughts with me. I beg you! I’d really like to know which avenue people would choose and why. Perhaps I could learn something new yet.

These four characters are from my novel IN STRANGE COMPANY. If you’d like to know which one of the three boys I am guilty of killing you can find out. The book is available on Amazon.com for $4.99 (USD). I am looking forward to putting the funds towards developing a film on women’s activism and voice in the third world .

The Colour War!

I don’t normally write about being politically correct, racism and all those sensitive issues that always rub people the wrong way.

Here’s a thing some of you may not know about me. I was born in Nepal. My parents are Nepali, and so are my grandparents. So technically, I’m a Nepali, putting citizenship by naturalisation aside. And I live in Australia. So sometimes, unfortunately when you put those two factors together, I brush past the sore topic of discrimination and racism.

One thing everyone should always note is that racism, discriminatory behaviours and speeches do not hide well on one who holds on to these. The only reason I’m actually writing this today was that I was unfortunately a target of such behaviour for no reason than the fact that these people were intolerant and working in the wrong field – retail. I will be lying if I say this was the first time I’ve been a ‘victim’ of such mindless, narrow, uptight people, but the difference today was, I’ve had enough. I officially made my first complaint against this person that made me feel like I had no right to be breathing this air, or even standing in front of her. This is not on anymore. This behaviour is unacceptable, disgusting, and frankly there is no place for it in today’s multicultural world.

What I’d like to say to people who carry on like mindless ape is this: The world isn’t black and white anymore. No need to be all huffy and superior. We are all the same. And if they don’t like diversity, then perhaps they may as well to go home, lock their door and stay there.

I do apologise if I offend anyone, but this is simply my opinion. It’s not fun being on the receiving end. I usually don’t dabble in this kind of debate, but today was just a very jolting day, and made me very angry to say the least. How do you guys feel about this issue?

Don’t be so greedy!

Oh boy! This is a rather unusual piece for me. I normally write about human emotions and odd situations, but I’m not one to sit there and write a period piece. This poem seems to have gone back to the time just before WWII was starting, and I think covers the perspective of the women, watching the men in their lives go to war in one piece, and never come back the same. I’m not sue how this has turned out in the writing. :s

Don’t be so greedy!
What kind of wars did we wage,
where boys barely out of childhood strayed?
First the fathers did we bid well,
barely knowing of the next embrace.
World saw little but heard a lot of ruffle,
booms of all the trouble,
the boys in boggy trenches faced.

Though it all rests now in history,
parts of the wounded world is yet to heal,
some booms are still being felt.
Let the stories lay their,
between the pages where men are fond of telling extravagant tales.
We care not to hear your glorious victory for all the battles you never fought.
Don’t be so greedy, these boys have just come back home, in all their various forms. And some, not at all.
Just let them be, let them have some peace.
The world can do without sending, anymore young ones to sort out your power rows!

You cruel beauty!

Mirage,
my my, how you trick,
you dazzling beaut
amongst mighty dunes.
How cruel you be
if a weary traveller,
hungry and thirsty,
shall ever stumble upon
the empty promise you keep.
Mirage, you cruel beaut!

Where in the maze shall I stray?

OMG!!! Before I let you delve into this piece of poetry I’ve just penned on the train (and I’m still here – in the train that is).
Here is what I wanted to say.
Will you give me a moment worth sharing, today?
This piece is quite personal,
slightly unconventional, I must say.
It was an utter labor of love,
for all the muses, that do leave me
somewhat astray.

Before long, I give you…

Where in the maze shall I stray?
Hard of hearing,
and no, I don’t mean that thing
where I yell at you as part of a conversation.
And no, I do not also mean deaf – you’re far from it.

Hard of hearing, you are,
hearing all the words that say,
‘You are going the wrong way!’
Perhaps you should have paid a moment and taken the right turn, they say.

Hurt of hearing,
and yes, I mean what I say,
this is the part you’ve dreamed,
this is all that’s been consuming your everyday.

Hurt of hearing, you are,
hearing all the words that say,
‘You will never make it this way!’
Perhaps it’s still not too late to change, not too late they pray.

Yet you plow,
heart still hurting somehow.
Should you still follow,
the road that lies ahead,
hidden within a maze?

Hard of hearing, you say?
No, I’m just ignoring, while I be searching for that who leads me away.

Where in the maze shall I stray?

Thousand Words

This poem featured in my How to write Poetry’ yesterday, but I think it deserves a post of its own. So here is…

Thousand Words
A picture says a thousand words
What does a picture of me tell you?
Does it say, ‘Oh, look at that gorgeous girl, ain’t she happy?’
Does it invite the admiration we desire?
Or does it stir deep beneath your porcelain glee a hidden heart of venom?
Or perhaps your glance at the image stirs nothing, nope, not a twig, for you couldn’t care less about the girl in that dress?

The girl, with her ever wide smile,
those cherry lips on a milky face,
her hand on the merry waists of friend, or family – who cares?

You may not know,
nor may you care,
but the girl you see may never be
the girl everyone sees. Not even she.

You do not see the strain in her eyes,
the clamp of her hands,
the way her chin is slight tucked in,
or the fact that her eyes glint.

You may not know what she has seen.

How to write Poetry – from an amateur poet.

Hi there! Ola, Namaste, bonjour, hallo, hello, and Gooday.

I’m feeling very perky today (if you haven’t yet noticed). So, you’re wondering what zibber-zabber I’m about to ramble today? Oh, you’re not?
My bad. I’m going to write this anyway. I haven’t done a confessional post in quite some days – for some reason Uni and poetry have got in the way. That’s all I’ve really been doing here this past week. Some of you have even ‘liked’ the little pieces I’ve done of late, especially ‘Would you be so kind?’ And ‘Chime’. One of my favourite has been ‘Bring back the day’, perhaps the reason being that this one is actually personal and based on my childhood days with my siblings and cousins.

Now here is what you may not have noticed, or overlooked: I am not a poet! Yes, I dabble (a bit too much lately), but I actually do not know any of the rules and regulations of writing poetry. I write what sings in my head (and yes, these all sing, each with their own tune – but I’m a terribly singer and an even worse musician, so you are all lucky I only write them down!).

I must confess, part of the reason I’ve put my poetry hat on lately was because I had so little time to express my creativity in between fetching multiple cups of tea or coffee as I scratched my head over uni assignment.

So you must be thinking, if I’m not a poet, then how am I writing these? Gut instinct! Yes, we have those! And sometimes they know better than our educated selves what to do with an idea. And, truth be told, I always just get the first line of these poems coming to me, and I write and fiddle around till it starts making sense – and eventually, 3 or 4 lines down the track I finally see the headlights, then slowly and slowly with each line the poem builds itself.

Sorry if you had actually stumbled into this post hoping to learn a thing or two about composing poems, but I simply do not have the guide-book on that. All I can say is start with a line, or a word and then hand the reins over to your gut! It will (or should) lead the way. You can always tweak later on.

Don’t despair though, I have a treat. And as always, it began with a line and build itself. I’m merely the construction worker. Hope you will like…

Thousand Words
A picture says a thousand words
What does a picture of me tell you?
Does it say, ‘Oh, look at that gorgeous girl, ain’t she happy?’
Does it invite the admiration we desire?
Or does it stir deep beneath your porcelain glee a hidden heart of venom?
Or perhaps your glance at the image stirs nothing, nope, not a twig, for you couldn’t care less about the girl in that dress?

The girl, with her ever wide smile,
those cherry lips on a milky face,
her hand on merry waists of friend, or family – who cares?

You may not know,
nor may you care,
but the girl you see may never be
the girl everyone sees. Not even she.

You do not see the strain in her smile,
the clamp of her hands,
her chin slightly tucked in,
Or the fact that her eyes glint.

You may not know what she has seen.

The World

She chose not to see
She chose not to hear.
Of all the things
she wished for a chance.
A chance that offered its embrace.
A chance that said
The world wasn’t empty of love.

He saw all
He heard all.
Of all the things
He saw nought a soul.
A soul who could offer
A chance at love
To fill his entire world.