Words with JAM April 2011

Without them, it will be incredibly difficult to hold local authorities to account and local people will be much less likely to receive a quality public library service that is consistent across the country. I urge you to submit your views by the 25 April But for now, here is our World Book Night podcast — a selection of our readers and contributors championing their choice of books from the World Book Night List.

The podcast can now also be accessed via iTunes. Just go to http: And if you feel like giving us a review or a star rating while you're there, that's even better! This weekend, buy a book from your local bookshop. A friend or stranger, a library or school or doctor's surgery or anything. Thursday, 31 March JK Rowling.

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That Get Your Attention? The day I came here, I owned nothing and nothing belonged to me except my crutch Glimpse, by Stephanie Cameroon Looking around I see nothing except my burden. Everywhere seems dark, confined. Like smoke from the chimney I want to run out Without remorse, Leave everything behind like birds in the sky who fly free.

An exclusive interview with JJ Marsh

I want to turn my eyes to a new horizon fill my lungs with different air. Like the sun rising East to West, North to South, Reaching every nook and cranny I want to conquer the world Leave my footprint everywhere. But I know I belong here. One day, when I came to England I felt terrible. In this new country, with a new foreign language, there was nothing for me to do anymore. This time, it was my hand I had lost. Much as everyone talks about opportunity, none of them seems to be for me.

I couldn't cook my food any more, nor have a house to clean. These hands, although they look like my Dad's hand, they were no use to me now. An article published in Sunday's New York Times about the revival of small run printed zines. I've pinched their scan of the newsprint too. Please do give them a look if you have time. Posted by Words with JAM 2 comments: Yes, it's finally happened If you know me personally, you'll know that actually writing pieces for the magazine is something that, well, just doesn't happen, shall we say.

But, over the last couple of months, I've been asked by a few people to write Blog posts related to writing and running the magazine.

Who's Ready to Jam?

You can read Editor, me? Starting and running a literary magazine here: Monday, 17 October Please Sir! A guest post by Sam Payne.

I almost choked on the end of my pencil. This was my first creative writing course, excitement and anticipation had been bubbling away inside of me for days. This course was going to teach me how to be the next JK Rowling. I was going to write a bestseller, make a shitload of money and retire to an island in the sun. Or, buy a campervan and tour Cornwall, I hadn't quite decided which. So why was the dishevelled latecomer or Bob as he later became known, so furious about being enrolled?

What did he know that I didn't?

Description and Scene Setting with Dan Holloway

Subjects were shown either a series of animal pictures or neutral pictures prior to exposure to the ambiguous picture. The information may well be there but inaccessible because of weakened retrieval mechanisms. Posted by Words with JAM 1 comment: When death comes knocking on your door there is really only one place to hide. Having won a year in Berlin as a prize for coming top in her German course, she has stayed on, largely solitary, drifting from one odd job to another.

Trouble is instead of actually putting pen to paper, I decided I needed to learn all there was to know about writing a novel before I could make a start. So I bought a book: I devoured the book in a single sitting and then as I sat picking bits of paper from my teeth I contemplated making a start. Over the next few days I wrote a grand total of one thousand, four hundred and twenty six words. I needed more than a book, I needed feedback.

Who's Ready to Jam? : Announcements : domaine-solitude.com

I needed help to coax my inner genius out from under the rock it called home. So after a quick flick through the yellow pages and an even quicker phone call I was enrolled on a Creative Writing course at the local community centre. He said he was a university graduate and a successful poet. All these courses do is teach you never to be satisfied with what you write. So I enrolled on another course and then another one and then another one after that.

I was an addict. My life was over. Did I write a bestseller? Did I even get close to writing a novel? I hear you cry. Sam lives in a quiet corner of Devon where she spends most of her time staring at goats. Why do we react differently to our writing after a break from it? Is there an optimum period of time for leaving it before editing? There seems to be a rare consensus among writers about the wisdom of leaving a gap between finishing a piece of work and starting the editing process.

Jane Austen, however, put her novels away in a drawer for a year before starting the editing process. There may well be a lesson there for us all. Why does it help to allow time to pass between writing and editing? I would say because time, or what happens cognitively during the passage of time, enhances objectivity.

Both emotional and cognitive factors are likely to be relevant, but I will set emotion to one side and focus here on: Perceptual set is the tendency to perceive or notice some aspects of available sensory data and ignore others. Subjects were shown either a series of animal pictures or neutral pictures prior to exposure to the ambiguous picture.

Those subjects who had had prior exposure to animal pictures significantly more frequently perceived the ambiguous picture to be a rat. Habituation is the psychological process in which there is a decrease in psychological and behavioural responding to a stimulus after repeated exposure to that stimulus. For example, a short time after we dress, the stimulation of clothing against the skin fades and we become unaware of it — hair shirts aside.

For the editing process, visual habituation is relevant: Sensory memory, the information we receive through the senses, lasts only a few seconds. Short Term Memory STM takes over when the information in sensory memory is transferred to consciousness. Short term memory lasts longer than sensory memory up to 30 seconds or so , but it still has a very limited capacity: Finally, there is long term memory LTM. Unlike sensory memory and STM, LTM is relatively permanent and practically unlimited in terms of its storage capacity.

It is the type of memory most relevant to your question. Factors which strongly influence the transfer of information from STM into LTM are the significance and rehearsal; the more significant information is to us and the more we rehearse, the more we tend to remember. In learning theory terms, going over and over the same piece of prose constitutes rehearsal. The ability to retrieve information from LTM tends to reduce over time, although failing to remember something does not necessarily mean the information is no longer stored.

The information may well be there but inaccessible because of weakened retrieval mechanisms. To sum up, the longer one leaves it between writing and editing, the less rehearsal there will be and the more likely forgetting, of at least some aspects of the work, becomes. In addition, the influence of perceptual set and habituation are likely to be reduced, the combined effects facilitating greater objectivity. I hope that rather long answer to your question persuades you to let as much time as possible elapse between drafts. I may just have convinced myself. Sue Carver, consultant clinical psychologist and writer of fiction and poetry, has a keen interest in the psychological aspects of the creative writing process.

Please send your questions to: Posted by LibraryCat 1 comment: Carver's Couch , editing , Writers' Toolbox. Three Ps in a Plot. The writer is an artist whose medium is language and whose artefact is a story. The story is what the reader interacts with, what the reader experiences.


But story is NOT plot. Plotting is a technical skill. The successful plot needs Perspective, Possibilities and Pauses. There is an assertion often made by tutors of writing that there are only seven basic plots in novel writing. I feel a metaphor coming on. I have a friend who is a hill-walking and mountaineering guide. When preparing to lead a party of walkers or climbers, she has to think about navigating and route-finding for the expedition. The start and end points of the trip are fixed and every mountain will have its own story to tell its visitors.

But the guide must choose whether to navigate from north or south, whether to turn east or west at some point and must keep checking along the way that the bearings are true. Navigation decisions give a particular perspective.

Then there are the route finding possibilities — will she lead the party along a well worn path, will she take a new, unexplored line, will she take them over rough or easy terrain? And finally — where will the rest points, viewpoints and possible side trips occur? When plotting, the writer chooses the perspective from which the reader will view the story. The narration provides the map, compass and waymarkers - and may well leave some decisions and interpretations to the reader.

The author will also provide intriguing possibilities as to where the path is heading, there will be some satisfying predictability and some unforeseen twists. And there may well be pauses — places to reflect, to look back, to study the horizon before pressing on. All these decisions will be crucial for how the reader experiences the story. The plot lines determine how the artefact of the story is revealed. Plot , Writers' Toolbox. Plot, Rinse and Repeat. Probably, this ur-story began around a camp-fire, and probably because someone died.

This was some millennia before Celebrity Big Brother, mind Someone had died and to explain the inexplicable, a person close to the deceased started telling the story of who he, or she, was: Thus; religion and story-telling became inextricably intertwined. A dual, Manichean, universe evolved that would influence most world religions to describe an everlasting storyline of good vs evil.

To make the legends that developed into story clearly recognizable as tales of woe, wonder and mystery, a formula began to develop: Stories started taking on a certain form, a template, if you like. There was a hero. There was an adversary. But most of the time we already knew the outcome. The other fella would wash his hands in eternity: The hero would overcome all the obstacles, the adversary would vanish in a fiery pit.

This is where plot begins. How do you make tons of cash on stories. Mythic structure for writers. Basically, scripts set up a question-mark in the beginning: Will the detective find the killer? Will the boy get the girl? The guy finally gets the girl? Both plot engines - the question marks set up at the beginning of the story are null and void the second they are answered - and our interest fades faster than you can spell THE END. The main-character must take action. Action is forward momentum and action defines character - and so - plot.

Now, imagine the same set-up, but the guy making his own costume and walking out on the streets to become a super-hero. However, the first thing that happens is he gets brutally stabbed in the stomach by punks - then hit by a car. Something that seriously alters the course of the story. In Four Weddings and a Funeral , e. And my word-count is headed for the moon. As for the outcome in both films: This is probably because there is such a beautiful wonderness as Suspension of Disbelief.

And without it, film-making would be dead in the water. Will he survive the guys with machine-guns after him in a highscraper? Oh Willis, will you make it? We instinctively buy into this ancient sense of community around the warm camp-fire light. In kids this is very pronounced. Plot , scripts , Writers' Toolbox. I dare say most readers of this magazine live perfectly adequately without any serving men serving women, on the other hand, raising a whole new argument which has no place here.

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There are contemporary writers and theorists of the novel who would contend that the novel can live equally well without a plot. However, he entitled one of these This Is Not A Novel, thus begging the question, however ironically, whether or not a plotless narrative can be defined as a novel. That said, however, the popular novel remains a predominantly plot driven form. The extraordinary success of a novelist like Dan Brown illustrates the pre-eminence of plot over skilful characterisation, atmospheric scene-setting or plausible dialogue.

Plot, therefore, you must, if you wish to sell books. Kipling would have found it difficult to conceive of civilised living without servants. The novelist who wants to make any kind of living at all must learn to plot. On the one hand, it is something we do almost intuitively. We are hard-wired for storytelling. From the point in our distant past when we first learned to make fires and gather round them to cook and keep warm, we have passed the time by telling stories. The hunter arrives home as darkness falls and what he narrates, while the meat is roasting, is not that which is mundane or reflects badly on his prowess but the exciting, the dangerous, the heroic.

From the outset, we have reordered and edited the facts to improve the story. New students frequently come to my novel writing classes saying they have a great idea for a novel, they have written maybe ten or twenty pages and then run out of steam. This is almost always because they have failed to appreciate the importance of planning. Unlike a short story, which tends to be an examination of a single theme or situation, a novel is a complex structure involving many characters, multiple storylines, an extended chronology and a range of different settings. It is absolutely impossible for the writer to hold all this in her mind without mapping the novel out so she knows where she is going.

The conventional novel is constructed around a spine of Aristotelian causality. This is where you need to begin when devising a plot. Its spine will consist of a series of causally linked events which carry the principal characters on their journey of discovery and self-revelation. On its own, however, this kind of structure would quickly become boring. The next phase of the plan must be to set up obstacles which will throw the characters off-course and delay, inhibit, or even reverse, their progress. Now you are beginning to introduce narrative tension to your work.

You have shown what your characters have to achieve, and then blocked their path so readers become anxious as to whether or not they will succeed.

Che 'Nelle - Tear Jerker [Lyrics]

As long as you have created engaging characters, this uncertainty will be a major factor in hooking your readers and keeping them interested. At this stage, we are still working with a linear chronology. One event leads to another in a conventionally logical way, and the only disruption is a series of hurdles you have erected around the track to provide a bit of excitement. But the novel is more than this, surely. The novel is an illusion, a sleight of hand whereby the reader is duped into believing mere words on the page constitute a concrete world.

To succeed in creating this illusion, we must add a depth of perspective to the narrative. We achieve this by devising minor characters and giving each of them a storyline which feeds into the main spine of the story. To a greater or lesser extent, you can break down each chapter and even each scene in the same way — as if your plot was a verbal cauliflower! The climax is the major turning point, induced by the crisis. The resolution can involve either the balance being restored or the protagonist coming to terms with a changed environment.

Whatever the resolution, the protagonist must have gone on a journey. This may be physical as well as intellectual and emotional, but need not necessarily be so. How you plan your novel is your choice. Others use timelines, spreadsheets, index cards or brainstorms, all tools we tend to associate with activities such as manufacturing or accountancy rather than creative writing. If not, cut it — and you will find this a lot easier to do at the planning stage than when it is a complete and polished miniature masterpiece.

So, when asked by the Almighty Ed to judge the comedy scene competition I humbly yet eagerly accepted before she even got to the question mark. The variety of style, format and subject matter in the entries was astonishing, and it was great to see not just prose writers but screenwriters, sketch writers and playwrights entering the fray. Whittling down the entries to a longlist of six and then an overall winner was agonising in a way people with multiple physical injuries will never understand.

But, it had to be done so do it I did. First a few words about our five worthy runners up. Monday, 26 September Banned Books Week Organised by the American Libraries Association, this has run annually since and is billed as a celebration of the freedom to read. The vast majority of these challenges affect books for children and — increasingly — for young adults. Not all books that are challenged end up being taken off the shelves, but a fair few do.

In some cases, a book can be taken off the school curriculum in individual schools or school districts because of the objection of one parent. Judy Blume, in her introduction to Places I Never Meant to Be, dates the change in attitudes to the presidential election. Anne Rooney, a Cambridge based YA writer who had one of her own books removed from an elementary school in Texas last year, believes that writers elsewhere are being affected even before their books are published.

And to writers self-censoring. Why not pick a banned book of your own and set it free? You can choose any book that has banned at some point in its history. If you want some ideas, take a look at http: Tuesday, 20 September 60 Seconds with Emma Donoghue. She became a writer at the age of Her novels include the award-winning Hood ; Slammerkin , a historical novel; Life Mask , which tells the true story of three famous Londoners in the late eighteenth century; and The Sealed Letter , joint winner of the Lambda Literary Award Lesbian Fiction.

Her short story collections include Kissing the Witch , a collection of re-imagined fairytales; The Woman who Gave Birth to Rabbits ; and Touchy Subjects , stories about taboos. Her non-fiction includes Passions Between Women: British Lesbian Culture , a survey of printed texts on lesbian themes published between the Restoration and the end of the eighteenth century.

She now lives in Canada, with Chris, Finn and Una. Where do you write? Anywhere I happen to be. Which was the book that changed your life? Jeanette Winterson's The Passion taught me what should have been obvious, that I could be an out lesbian and a great writer at the same time. What objects are on your desk, and why? Every bloody thing I'm trying to keep out of my small kids' mouths or am meaning to file away Short stories or novels - which is more you? Can't choose, won't choose, and that goes for plays and nonfiction too.

Do you have a word or phrase that you most overuse? Is there a book you were supposed to love but didn't? Many - the chemistry is most mysterious - couldn't stand The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, for instance. What have you learned from writing? We're here on earth to let out the stories in our heads that no one else can tell. Which book do you wish you'd written? Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle. E-books - nemesis or genesis? Haven't read one yet but all in favour. Catherine Austen, Walking Backwards.

What are you working on at the moment? Wading through email up to my eyeballs Which nostalgic snack do you wish they still made? Acid drops like I remember them from Ireland circa Tuesday, 13 September August Issue. Open publication - Free publishing - More words with jam. Newer Posts Older Posts Home.