Monday, March 30, 2020

Putting the bits together by Priscilla Brown


Struggling with a tricky assignment on an island inhabited only by her employer
and a hundred sheep, journalist Jasmine's almost literal lifeline is the sexy ferry deckhand.

This contemporary romance set in the Scottish Hebridean islands is available from
Smashwords until 20 April 2020, at US$1.60 
As well as writing contemporary romantic fiction, my creative interests include working with textiles  (knitting, hand and machine sewing, embroidery, felting). Recently I participated in a workshop creating new cloth by intermingling scraps of any colour, design and texture of fabrics, and adding embellishments such as buttons, ribbons and braids. We worked small on a background fabric of our choice, choosing fragments from a stash we had each brought and from that generously offered by the tutor. We cut and tore, fiddled with shapes and colours and designs, overlapped our pieces or covered a join with a ribbon. When we were satisfied, we carefully removed the bits so we could paste them back. Pasting is not firm enough to last, so we secured our work by embellishing with stitching and embroidery.
For me, writing a novel is rather like putting the bits together. These are a few of the "bits" collected in my notebook which eventually found their way into the above story...reversing a car onto a tiny ferry (I had to do this, somewhat daunting especially as it was a rental car, and this became the germ of the story idea)...a smuggler's tunnel (the eighteenth century one I saw was wide enough to roll a barrel through but a smuggler would have to be skinny to use it as a escape route) ancient curse (liking the idea of this, I made one up)...a ruined castle...someone dishing the dirt... a shared partiality for fruit and nut chocolate (this came from observing a couple on a train, he feeding her squares of chocolate from the wrapper which I could see).

And then there's the practicalities of building the story. I don't have a complete plot before I start  novel, making much of it up as I go, and I like to check the technological "bits" on the way.
Choosing words: is this the most effective word for this situation? Does it convey the appropriate tone and the precise meaning? Is  the spellchecker telling lies about my spelling?

Assembling words into sentences: are the grammar and punctuation correct? Do the words fit with their neighbour words? Does the word order carry an unambiguous message? Any extraneous or repetitious words lurking? Is there a rhythm to the sentence which makes it easy to read?

Combining sentences into paragraphs: sometimes one or only a few sentences are effective in a paragraph, to build tension, or emphasise a plot point, or introduce an important situation. Otherwise, are the sentences relevant to each other, and to the current circumstances? Does the paragraph move the story on?

Placing the paragraphs into chapters:  each needs an attention-grabbing beginning and a cliffhanger ending.

Oh the satisfaction when the "bits" appear to have fitted together, reaching THE END! But of course they haven't all been cooperative. On checking the manuscript, it's likely to find some which don't fit--they may be redundant, at the wrong place in the story, out of character, failing to convey the  overall tone of the writing, simply incorrect...and more. So the revision process begins, manipulating those "bits" until the writing is reader-friendly and the story can be finally wrapped up.  (As I did with the fabric scraps, creating a pretty bangle.)

Stay safe, Priscilla

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  1. Interesting bit about the scraps of cloth. Years ago, I made quilts using bits of cloth from my relatives who sewed. Keep writing.

    1. Thanks Janet, interesting you hear you made quilts. These are too big for me! I will stick to small items, alongside my writing. Best wishes, Priscilla

  2. I like the way you think! It does work like making a quilt or doing a craft project. Want to get your book as it sounds very interesting.

  3. Appreciate your comment, Barbara.I always have both writing and craft projects in my head. Thanks and best wishes, Priscilla


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