Michaeline: FKA twigs Inspires Me to Write Gorgeously

You’ve gotta see this! FKA twigs performs on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, and the performance is so layered and wonderful – stay for the dancing at the end.

Everything works for me in this video. You have a stark setting, but one where every component has a use and meaning – the long piano that leads to the pole, the bare stage for three performers with minimal light. You have tone – echoed in the lighting, in her voice, and in the tone of the instruments. You have a gorgeous costume that strips down to reveal not a beautiful butterfly, but rather the chrysalis that was hiding inside. And you have the dancing – ethereal and effortless (but any kid who has done a pull-up on the monkey bars knows how much muscle control must go into that “effortless” look).

All of it serves to reinforce the story: a person has loved, and has just lost (and hasn’t quite accepted it yet, or is gathering strength to try again).

It’s National Novel Writing Month, and even if you aren’t playing along, maybe you can spare a little time to add some layering into your work. If you are doing NaNo, then it’s all good – every experiment is word-count! As writers, we work with words, and can’t depend on fancy camera angles or pretty pictures. But the magic of words does mean we can create setting, tone, costumes and anything in the realm of our imaginations. So, take a risk when writing today – let your writing take on a tinge of poetry, or the color of the characters’ feelings.

Have fun!

Justine: Travel Inspiration

I’m currently jaunting about Barcelona on our annual family vacation and whenever I travel, I try to use the places I visit as inspiration for my stories. Today, we visited the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia (Basilica of the Sacred Family), which has been under construction since 1882 (and still not completed). While it’s breathtakingly beautiful, it’s a bit hard for me to imagine using in any of my books, given they take place in the early 1800s. Continue reading

Justine: Fiction Fundamentals…Setting

Welcome to the fifth installment of Fiction Fundamentals. In this issue…Setting.

How would you describe this street? What are you writing? Who is your character? That and more will affect your description.

How would you describe this street? What are you writing? Who is your character? That and more will affect your description.

Setting serves an important purpose to ground the reader. It’s hard to get into a story when you don’t know where the character is or at what point in time the story takes place.

Margie Lawson maintains that within the first paragraph or two of every chapter or scene, you need to inform the reader of setting. Sometimes this isn’t necessary. If you start off each chapter with the location and year (for example, “London, March 1815”), then we have a pretty good idea of the where and when.

But establishing setting is more than just the where and when. There are Continue reading

Justine: An Exercise Using the Five Senses

Me (left) and Jilly, the most amazing travel partner and tour guide!

Me (left) and Jilly, the most amazing travel partner and tour guide!

As many of you know, I recently wrapped up a fabulous 10-day trip to England (with the wonderful Jilly as my official host and tour guide). The things I saw and did are experiences that I will eventually include in my books, with the goal being more realistic, “show-not-tell” scenes…scenes written well enough, you can imagine yourself there, even as you sit in your bed curled up with the book.

To get to that point, though, a bit of preschool-type exercises in the five senses can be very helpful to ensure your readers get “the full picture.” Using two of the pictures I’ve taken as examples, I’ll come up with some basic descriptions of different “scenes,” hitting on the major images, feelings, etc. that I want to evoke as I describe that scene for a reader.

First is Continue reading

Michaeline: Photos and Memories as Writing Tools

Iris Gardens at Meiji Shrine on a sunny day. A photographer takes a picture of the painter capturing the flowers in full bloom.

The Iris Gardens at Meiji Shrine. We’re often driven to capture reality, whether it’s in pixels or oils or words. (©Michaeline Duskova, 2014)

I just got back from Tokyo last week, where I “walked the walk” of my characters in my 2013 NaNo, Little Affair in Greater Tokyo.

Going to Tokyo is a big deal for me because I live on the island of Hokkaido. But unusually, this was my third time in Tokyo in as many years, so I could ignore some of the first-time tourist distractions and go a bit deeper into my research.

When I was writing my NaNo in November, I got stuck in some of the half-remembered details. I looked at my pictures from my Tokyo trip, and they helped trigger my memories, but I remember thinking, “Man, these pictures suck. And there aren’t nearly enough of them!” I wound up Continue reading

Michaeline: Developing Descriptive Tools

1001 Details of Takeshita Street

1001 Details of Takeshita Street

Yesterday, Kat talked about travelling to the setting of her contemporary romance and doing research on the spot. I have to agree, there’s nothing like going there, soaking up the atmosphere, and turning that into words – maybe in one’s diary or blog for practice before the words make it onto the page.

I mostly write urban fantasy and science fiction, so it’s not possible for me to physically travel to the Angel Caldera on Paradise 7, or visit the Goblin King’s throne room in the depths of the Cave of Wonders. I have to use my imagination, but Continue reading