Peace of writing

There have, over the past year or so, been some fairly negative moments in the Thanet literary scene. That’s sad, so let’s fix it.

Thanet Creative Writers can’t, as a single charity, solve every problem in Thanet but maybe we can set an example and take the first step.

Let me first address some of the petty rivalries that have been stoked up between our group and others. Writing has never been a competitive event. Sure, a good plot needs conflict but we writers ourselves do not.

If you are part of this rather silly conflict then you know who you are, and if you are not then you have not missed out. But each and every person who was caught up in all this, I am publicly inviting to become friends.

As of this moment, consider the past a closed box; the slate wiped clean. Let us work together and make the enjoyment of writing our only priority.

As for my part in all this silliness, I have no doubt that I have not been perfect. For whatever slights, real or imagined, that you feel that I personally had any part in, I ask for your pardon. I am not really sure what I, or the group I chair, stands accused of but I am willing to ask for forgiveness anyway. The reality is that whatever the facts are (and they might forever be hidden) if feelings have been hurt, I want to start the process of healing.

Let me personally extend an open invitation to all of you to come and go from our groups, events, and website as you see fit. You are as welcome as any other and I would be pleased to see you. No one (and I will make that my personal responsibility) will bring up the past. The past is over and no one can change that but we can choose how we move forward. I want us to move forward inclusively.

The local blogger who felt the need to unload on us publicly. You know who you are but let us put that behind us. Sure what you wrote hurt a lot of people, and maybe there may be some repercussions to unpack from that event. I doubt either of us covered ourselves in glory in the way we behaved and no one was ever helped by a war of words (which no one can win).

It is too easy to hate people when they have no face, so come and join with us, not to unpack the past but to start a fresh relationship. Come to one of our trustee meetings if you want, or one of our tea and chat events, or poetry events. Come and meet the people that enjoy our group. Let us be friends.

The local poet who spat out a massive wall of vitriolic text at me over private message, you too. You know who you are. I am going to choose to believe that you were just having a bad day and needed to vent. I am glad that I was able to be that vent for you. It is fine. I’m big enough to take it.

You, sir, are still welcome to come to our poetry events on the last Thursday of the month. Not just welcome but actively invited. Let us have a cuppa, share some rhymes, and put the past behind us.

Finally, the person or persons who feel the need to stir up hatred. All I can do is ask that you stop. Hate and conflict have no place outside of the plots we write. Let us keep conflict where it belongs – in fiction alone.

There is so much good that we can build together. Our future lies with each other. Let us start building it today.

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I am in love with a woman who does not exist

Today’s writing prompt for Fiction Friday has love with a big twist.

I am in love with a woman
who does not exist

  • Who is this person?
  • How can they be in love with someone who does not exist?
  • What is happening here?
  • Why is it happening?
  • What happens next?

We would love to read your stories that you write based on this prompt. Please do drop us a link, if you write something. Wishing you many happy hours with The Muse.

Writing Love and Romance

I have a confession to make. I am not qualified to write this post. Love, romance, and intimate relationships in serious fiction are something that I struggle to get right.

Not being one to let my weaknesses hold me back, I’ve been looking into the whole topic of writing love and romance.

Blog posts about writing love and romance

Being a geek as well as a writer I have been looking at what other people have had to say about writing love and romance. Here is a cross section of the blog posts that I looked at.

Good Reasons to have love and romance in a story

There are some great reasons to include love and romance in a story. Here are three good reasons.

  1. Love and romance happen in real life so why not in fiction too?
  2. Love and romance are a central part of the story.
  3. Love and romance are the story (I think we all know what you are writing)

I am sure that you can think of more good reasons to include love and romance in your story. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment. However, this list exists to contrast with some very bad reasons to include love and romance.

Very bad reasons to include love or romance

Love and romance because I need a female character

Oh dear muse, no. Just don’t. Not ever…

This is just about the worst reason to include love and romance. If your female character cannot stand alone without the romance then she is an interloper. There are many good reasons to have strong female characters in a story. You don’t need romance for any of them.

Love and romance to fill up the word count

Just, no.

Apart from anything else, this would be as boring to your readers as it is likely to be to you as a writer. Stop worrying about your word count and tell the best story you can.

Love and romance to motivate the hero

If you ever – and I do mean that literally – if you ever need romance to give your hero motivation then you have not got a story but a cliche. I mean, honestly, stop that right now.

Come back tot he idea of love and romance in your story after you have sorted out the hero’s motivation.

3 things that make you better at writing love romance

After all that reading I have come up with three things that will make you or me better at writing love and romance. When you think about it, this is common sense for writers.

  1. Read good love and romance writing.
  2. Write more love and romance.
  3. If possible, get out there and experience life.

Swap out “love and romance” for any other aspect of life you want in your story and the same three rules apply.

What, you wanted some magic formula? Please. This is writing, not magic (the two are very similar sometimes).

Using “magic moments” for love and romance

Oh, very well then. Here is how to use a magic formula for writing love and romance. This magic formula is derived entirely from writing theory and is based on no direct experience whatsoever.

Rules for writing love and romance

  1. Feelings matter, keep them in focus
  2. Show far more than tell
  3. Avoid cliches
  4. Anticipation builds expectation
  5. Let the reader do some of the work for you

Let me briefly explain these rules. Love is an emotional topic, therefore you need to be comfortable talking about feelings. Furthermore, you need to be able to show what characters feel not just tell the reader. If you use cliches to do this, you will kill your story.

Do not be in a rush. Anticipation can be a powerful tool. Think about romance stories (I’m talking about the sort of story where all there you have in a romance) we don’t rush to the happy ever after but take our time getting there.

Anticipation can let the reader do some of the work for you. If you can present the reader with the material to start shipping your characters for you, then they will do a lot of the heavy lifting too. A close cousin of the cliche is the pattern. The pattern of love and love stories contain a common language that signals to the reader that a love story is in progress. I’m going to talk about patterns another time. If you know how to use them do, if you are worried about cliches avoid them.

Now the magic

The magic formula is actually the magic for all story telling. The formula is in two parts:

  1. The Scene
  2. The Sequal

The love and romance scene

In the scene a character wants something. In this case, maybe to confess her feelings to her love interest. There are obstacles to overcome. Something defining happens. Often this is a disaster to be dealt with but as this is romance this could be a mid-story win for the hero.

A married man, alone at the bar, wants a drink. There are a lot of people at the bar and the barman is busy. Disaster strikes as some (hot) woman starts chatting to him and he misses his opportunity to be served.

A timid girl alone in the castle wants to go horse riding. Guests arrive and she must receive them. Disaster! Prince Charming is walking over to her.

The lovers, separated, long to be reunited. They must overcome the distance between them. Success, they finally find each other.

The sequel to the scene

In the sequel, there are four stages to be covered and they need to happen in strict order.

1. Emotional Reaction

This is vital to a love and romance moment. The emotional reaction is both the payoff and the motivator so do not skimp here. This is, I think, where I might be going wrong- time will tell on that one.

A married guy approached by a hot lady might feel flattered but shy.

A timid girl, approached by her prince charming, might feel flustered but overjoyed.

The lovers, reunited, are relieved to be back together. This is a big emotional payoff so we dwell on those feelings.

2. Reasoning

The more pure romance you are going for the smaller this section will be. If the hero is in denial about his feelings this is where he will try to reason them away. He might even think about what the right thing is to do here.

The married man might reason that he needs to end the conversation with the hot lady at the bar. He might conclude that this is the right thing to do.

The timid girl might reason that her prince charming is telling her the truth. She trusts him.

The loves reason that the conflict is over.

3. Anticipation

This is where the character considers what others might do and say. He anticipates what might come next. This is fairly internal but you need to show it nevertheless.

The married guy might anticipate that he can get away with a night of forbidden passion.

The timid girl might anticipate being hurt as she has before.

The lovers anticipate living their happy every after. They think about how they will spend the rest of their life together.

4. Reaction

This is where the character does something following from their anticipation and they set up the next scene where they want something and must overcome obstacles.

Our married guy might decide to cheat (or try to).

Our timid girl may run away from her prince charming. Thus setting up the prince for a chapter of him trying harder to win her heart.

The lovers, meanwhile, are sailing off into the sunset.

We are on to the next scene

Rinse and repeat, as they say.

That’s the structure of a scene, generally, but with the theory applied to love and romance. I’m going to be giving this a try soon.

Over to you

When it comes to love and romance in fiction, I am just a beginner. This is more theory than any practical experience here. Please use the comments to share your insights into writing love and romance.

Let’s sort this out?

This is written in response to the constant stream of accusations, threats and outright lies that are being aimed at M. Brown, and therefore us as a group.

A bit of background; In 2013 an idea for a writers group (called Thanet Creative Writers) was thought up in M. Brown’s mind. He shared his idea with me and others joined. Thus leading to the first ever meeting in M. Brown’s home. The second happened in a cafe in Margate.

We had been running successfully for a long time and had around 30 members. We decided to start meeting at a local pub. A while after that a ‘certain person’ joined in 2015. The group grew considerably, the name was changed by a vote of members (to Thanet Writers) and a website was produced, by M. Brown and a couple of others with the know-how.

Then, for reasons I am not going to go into here as it’s not the reason for this article, myself and later M. Brown, were removed from the facebook group, and didn’t feel welcome at any meetings.

This leads to M. Brown returning to the original format, with the original name, ideas and most of the original members.

It now seems that a certain person, possibly a member of Thanet Writers (unrelated), is going around spouting lies and rumours about one of us that are nasty and unfounded.

We are being accused of everything from posting ‘nasty things’ about the ‘leader’ of theThanet Writers and its members & making accusations against the ‘leader’ and/or its members, to copyright infringement & fraud. We have no idea if this is all from one person without the knowledge of his members, or if this is him with others involved. We have no idea if these so called posts even exist.

We don’t know what we have done to these people to make them feel it’s necessary to barrage us with this, and we have asked them on numerous occasions to provide proof of what we are being accused of. Nobody has come forward to explain any of it. Instead, they hide behind their keyboard to write various nasty emails, ‘open letters’ and ‘To my accuser’ posts in public arenas to gain sympathy for something they say is happening to them but have yet to substantiate.

The relentless campaign against us is causing great stress that we could all do without.

It appears that this individual is trying (and succeeding in parts) to turn people against us, and it has resulted in them losing members, and us being ‘blacklisted’ or ‘banned’ from other groups and events.

This is wholeheartedly not what writing is about.

Thanet Writers have been getting their information from a third party (so they say) and that third party is the person who sent the posts in the first instance to the ‘leader’, and it seems that he or she are saying they were from us.

We would like to know who this third party is. We would also like to know where you are finding all of these alleged posts that you like to pass on while saying they are from us…

Let me try to explain better. In one of these ‘Open Letters’ it is stated, and I quote from the original letter;

Recently I was made aware by a third party that you have made numerous posts containing allegations, which combined with statements you have made towards or about me have lead me to write this open letter. Usually I would not publicly respond to such matters, but after being sent these posts it appears you are putting me in a position where I have to.

This particular ‘open letter’ (posted publicly) was the very first time that we had heard about any such posts, allegations or statements. It was quite confusing to even receive such a letter.

The following quote is the private emailed reply (from M.Brown) to the author of the quote above. It is taken from an email conversation, sent in December 2016, between the two main people involved in this… shite.

Look, clearly, there has been some shit-stirring going on. If it’s not come from me (I hate that crap), and if it’s not come from you (you say it’s not), then who the hell has it come from? Solve that, and we can both go back to doing more interesting things. I read your “open letter”. I found it sufficiently vague to leave me in the dark. I am not going to respond to it because I have no idea what I am responding to AND because I am not going to get into that kind of argument. I am very annoyed that I have to address this at all. I shall file this under “another crappy 2016 thing” and move on. If you could do likewise, that’d be good. This is not an invitation to reply. It’s just a heads up and a request that you deal with your stress in a way that does not include me. Thanks.

Well, this reply did not work. Quite obviously, due to the fact that we are still receiving (so called) ‘olive branches’ & ‘Open letters’ and things posted publically aimed at us. I can only assume, based on this conversation being sent via private email, that the aforementioned ‘third party’ is the one doing the stirring.

We cannot stress it enough; so listen up.

WE, AT THANET CREATIVE WRITER’S, HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.

To clear up some of the rumours;

  1. Contrary to the popular belief of others, none of us have ever posted anything at all detrimental to other writers, and we emphatically implore anyone who accuses us of doing so to provide us with evidence (in black and white) of what it is we are supposed to have done, and to prove it, beyond all reasonable doubt, that it came from us. If anything we publish makes you unhappy then tell us about it and we will do our best to make things better.
  2. Contrary to the popular belief of some people, Thanet Writers is not the original group, and we did not copy them, or ‘their’ name. We simply reverted back to the original name after the unpleasantness happened.
  3. We did not copy them in becoming a charity. This has been in the pipeline for a considerable amount of time. The ‘leader’ of Thanet Writers is aware of this as he was the one who suggested we wait until we became a bigger group.
  4. M. Brown, I. Adams, D. Clements, K. Peake, and H. Yasumi, A. Winder and myself (L. Winder) were, are and have always been the original founding members of Thanet Creative Writers. That is never going to change, no matter who tells you differently.

We are utterly sick to the back teeth of this rubbish. It is not something we started, it is not something we wish to carry on with and it is not what we, as writers, want to be dragged into on an almost daily basis. This shite will damage the local writing scene (as proven already) more than is necessary and not through any fault of our own.

We have sent a Peace Treaty message to one of Thanet Writer’s admin (H.F) asking if we can try to resolve this nonsense somehow, and we have not yet been answered. We decided to go down this route when it became quite obvious that the ‘particular person’ mentioned above is behind the detritus being aimed at us. We, after writing and sending it, received yet another ‘Open letter’. We then sent another message to the same admin asking if the peace treaty had been shown/read out to Thanet Writers. We are still waiting for a response.

Please, I implore you again, either provide us with these posts, statements and accusations you keep adhering too, or leave us alone.

Simply put, we have had enough. Put up, or shut up.

 

L. Winder, Lead Proof Reader at Thanet Creative Writers, Trustee and secretary of Thanet Creative Writers: Charity; and one of the original co-founders of the now named Thanet Writers.

Thanet Creative Writers, Then and Now

We’ve been going a long time and I thought it worth a look at where we started to see how far we have come.

Thanet Creative Writers started as an idea I had. An idea is nothing if you don’t share it and so I shared this idea with some other people. Our first meeting was in 2013 and consisted of four people. Myself, L. Winder, D. Clements, and I. Adams. We were ably supported by others particularly by A. Winder who did a lot of location scouting for us.

We were later joined a by a host of other people including: my dad (if you ever get to see his art do because you are in for a treat); the proprietor of SNK where we relocated for a while; and many others. I think our new charity secretary wants to cover more on that so I will let her fill in the details.

We spent a lot of time tinkering with formats for events trying to work out what worked best for writers. Even then, we seemed to specialise in helping new writers get started. To this day I get a real kick out of seeing people who always felt they wanted to write get started. I could listen to hours as they tell me about the plots, characters and settings that they have developed for their work.

Today, four of the five original members are trustees and all five are very strong supporters of our community.

The road from here to there has not always been smooth, there were some bumps along the way, but here we are now having grown from a ragtag bunch of oddballs interested in writing into a Charitable Association hoping to help many more people find the joy of writing.

It has been my distinct privilege to watch writers develop – some faster than others – from unsure beginners into confident writers. It has been an honour to walk that road with them.

I don’t know what the future holds but it is my fondest desire that we will be able to contribute something worthwhile and good to the local writing scene. May our mistakes me slight and easily forgotten and our successes to the benefit of all.