Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Lesson to Writing #1 Every Writer is Different

Although I may not feel it, I’ve been writing for six years now, and over that time, I’ve picked up bits of knowledge. In the following Wednesdays, I’ll be sharing those bits of knowledge in my series: The Six Lessons of Writing. Today, I’m kicking off the series with Lesson #1: Every Writer is Different.


For most of my writing life, I’ve always tried to copy other “real” authors. I would think: They’re doing it, and they’re real authors. If I want to be a real author, then I should be doing it too.

With that thought, I began trying to mimic other, published, authors. I began typing out my work on computer (as opposed to handwriting my work). I tried to have a specified writing time. I tried outlining my novels over-the-top (as in, what the main character had for breakfast*). I trembled at the thought of having to pump out a first draft in three months. The list goes on and on.

I’ve learnt now that every writer is different. What works for one writer won’t work for the next. Typing out my novel? That works for me. But having a designated writing time? That works for some people, but not me. Over-the-top outlines? I feel that it stifles creativity. A rough draft in three months? Are you kidding me?! I wish!

If you write, then you are a writer. End of story. How you do it doesn’t matter. If you can only write at 1 in the morning under a full moon… well, it might take you a while to finish, but YOU’RE STILL A WRITER, and you’re no less of a writer than the cyborg that writes all day, every day and will have a completed manuscript by Christmas.

For the comments, what are your thoughts?

* Okay, not that over-the-top. But you get the point.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Renewed Enthusiasm

I finished my final exam for the semester on Thursday, and I’m officially on holidays! I’ve got a lot of writing to catch up on (about 2,000 words) so I’m hoping to get heaps of writing time in these holidays.

One thing I’ve noticed recently is that changing the font of my writing every now and then gives me a renewed enthusiasm to write. Before 2011, I had always used Times New Roman, but over New Years I had a writing slump. For some reason, I changed to font to Georgia… and got a renewed enthusiasm to write! I changed the font again to Arial (and the line spacing) and once again I’ve got a renewed enthusiasm!

I think it’s similar to the writing hint to change your style to get rid of Writers Block. (It’s said that if you have Writers Block then you should hand write in pen, pencil, or even crayon to break it.)

What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever tried changing your WIP’s font or style when you have Writers Block?

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Six Years, Six Lessons

Although sometimes I don’t feel it, I have in fact been writing for quite some. Six years, actually (I can’t actually remember exactly when I started writing, although I know it was sometime in Year Seven).

In those six years of writing, I've realised that I have picked up a few useful bits of knowledge about the craft.  Which is why, in the coming weeks, I’m going to be presenting The Six Lessons to Writing.

Lesson to Writing #1: Every writer is different

Lesson to Writing #2: Short stories are short

Lesson to Writing #3: Planning is important

Lesson to Writing #4: You have to know The Rules to break The Rules

Lesson to Writing #5: Writing is hard work

Lesson to Writing #6: Writing is fun

I’m going to kick off the series next Wednesday with my first Lesson to Writing, and share the next five in the following weeks.

For the comments: what bits of knowledge have you picked up?

Monday, 20 June 2011

Yay For Monday!

Happy Monday, everyone!

By the time you read this, it’ll be Monday afternoon in Australia, and I will have finished my economics exam, and only have one more left! I’ve had a really big, exhausting weekend, so I can’t believe it, but I’m actually glad it’s Monday. I don’t know why I feel this way though; I’ve still got to study hard until my last exam on Thursday, so nothing will change from the weekend.

Although it’s been pretty much cold, rainy, cloudy, windy, cold, and just miserable in general all winter, these past few days have been agonisingly sunny. I should know, I’ve been watching people enjoy the sunny weekend from my bedroom window in-between trying to remember the differences between Keynesian and Neo-classical views.

I don’t really have anything writerly to say, so that’s it from me. For the comments, how was your weekend? Did you have fun? What did you do?

Enjoy your Monday!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Curse of the First Action Scene

I’ve only been making slow progress on my WIP lately. It’s partially because it’s Exam Block so I’ve been focussing on my exams, but also because I just can’t seem to get Chapter Four written.

Chapter Four is the first action scene of the book, so I should be excited to write a chase scene, right? I haven’t written one in too long. Yet, every time I sit down to write… nothing. I’ve hit a wall. No matter how hard I try I simply cannot get this action scene written. It’s like I have Writers Block. I’ve only managed to write a feeble 600 words, but I think that even that will have to be cut to start again.

This isn’t the first time I’ve hit a bump when writing the first action scene. The previous chapter was supposed to be an action scene, but after a tough time trying to write it, I changed it to a bit of a hostage scene. And in my previous novel, POSEIDON’S TRIDENT, the first action scene was tough to write too!

I’m beginning to think I’ve been cursed by a cranky old witch. Have I annoyed an elderly lady who placed a jinx on me? Or maybe, similar to Lord Carnarvon (who discovered King Tut’s tomb) I’ve opened the tomb of a long dead writer who is cursing me for disrupting them.

Although, I am going to see the Tutankhamun museum exhibit later this year… maybe I’ve been cursed in advance? Hmmm…

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Age Debate

One topic that I see semi-frequently around the blogging world, particularly on teen writers’ blogs, is the topic of age, and if being under 20 can be a disadvantage in the publishing world. As a teen writer myself, I thought I’d share my thoughts on the issue.

While most people argue that age doesn’t matter in the publishing world, I, for one, do believe that teen writers can be disadvantaged in the publishing world.

(Now, now. Put down your pitchforks… I mean it. Thank you.)

Sure, teens can be as good as, if not better than, adult writers. However, I think that a teen writer’s age can have a negative impact while trying to find an agent. I think that some agents could be judgmental against an author’s age, and perhaps not take the teen so seriously. Others might be reluctant to work with a teenager over fear the teen won’t act professionally.

I’m not saying that it’s impossible for teenagers to get published. I know of many published teens, and I congratulate them. It’s an amazing achievement. But I think age still would have overcome them.

What should ready-to-be-published teenagers do? I think it’s best to leave age out initial queries. There’s no need to tell everyone just how young you are. Once an agent offers to represent you, then go ahead and tell them. They already think you have potential, and would be expecting to work with you.

That’s my thoughts on age and publishing. What are your thoughts on the issue? If you’re a published teenager, what were your experiences? Share them in the comments.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Q & A

I took this Q&A off another blog a while ago, but unfortunately can't remember where. If you know where the questions came from let me know and I'll add credit to the author.

What’s the last thing you wrote? What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?
The last thing I’ve written would be my previous WIP, POSEIDON'S TRIDENT. I still have the first thing I’ve written – a story on magic fish and Power Rangers which I wrote dictated when I was really little. I drew the illustrations and my mum bound it together for me.

What’s your favourite genre of writing?
I love archaeological thrillers (think Indiana Jones and Lara Croft). I really enjoy reading it, so it makes sense that I want to write my own.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years, both as a writer and otherwise?
In 10 years, I’ll be 28. As a writer, my writing will be 10 times better than it is now, and I can hopefully have at least one novel published. Assuming I don’t sell enough books to get rich off of writing, I see myself working in business.
What’s the best plot you’ve ever created?
The best plot would have to be the plot for POSEIDON'S TRIDENT. I think it’s really good and has potential, which makes it even harder to put it down. But I need to practice writing a bit more before I can write it satisfactorily.
Do you save everything you write?
Yes, everything that I’ve written a substantial amount on gets saved. If I’ve only written a few paragraphs I might delete it, but If it’s half finished, it gets saved.
What is everyone else’s favourite story you’ve ever written?
I don’t like sharing my work with non-writers, but the writers who have read some of my short stories generally like a piece I wrote a few years ago, BLOOD KNIGHTS.

What’s your favourite setting for your characters?
I love writing stories with settings all around the world, so any exotic setting is good. My favourite, however, would have to be in an ocean.

How many writing projects are you working on right now?
I’m working on two: my untitled WIP, and a not-so-short story.

Do you favour happy endings?
Generally I like twists at the end, but in happy ending vs. sad ending, happy ending wins. There’s too much horrible things happening in the world, I think people like to have happy endings in fiction.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Spelling and grammar is really important to me, and lots of my friends get annoyed when I try to correct them :) Spelling and grammar has to be perfect in my writing.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

My Projects

I thought I’d share with you today the projects that I’m working on:

My WIP is an adult fiction archaeological thriller (think Indiana Jones or Lara Croft), and it’s based on the hunt for King Arthur’s powerful weapon, Excalibur. I began outlining it back in March, and finally began putting pen to paper… well, fingers to keyboard in mid-May. I’m hoping to have a rough draft completed early 2012. (I’m a pretty slow writer.)

Before my Excalibur WIP, I had been working on another thriller novel since 2009: POSEIDON’S TRIDENT. I really like the plot of the novel, but I made lots of mistakes throughout the rough draft stage. So many that I finally decided the only way I could fix it was to re-write the entire thing. I’m working on the Excalibur idea to give myself space.

I’m also working on a short story whenever I have time. CHASE is a murder mystery which is turning out to be longer than I expected. It’s smashed past the 6,000 word mark, and is nowhere near drawing to a close. I’ve been working on it since I began editing my previous WIP, but since starting a new novel, CHASE has been left untouched.

There you have it: my projects. For the comments, tell me what your projects are!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Once Upon a Time

Hey there!

I’m Matthew Dodwell, a teenage writer from Australia. I’m currently working on my third novel, an adult fiction archaeological thriller.

I’ve been writing most of my life, but didn’t really taking creative writing seriously until I was 12, when I wrote my first “novel” (a novella, really). Since then, I’ve written one more novel (a proper one this time), and countless short stories. Now, at 18, I’m working on my third novel, and I’m striving for publication. I’ve got a long road ahead of me.

In this blog, I’ll share with you my writing journey – my success, my failures, my ups, my downs. Enjoy reading!