Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Fiction Feast

It's half term now and so this period and the following week until the beginning of march I am declaring Fiction Feast Fortnight! I have been kept busy with a run of articles over the past couple of months and this means I have had to neglect my fiction writing. I'm not moaning, just making an observation. And as my writing tends to be cyclical, I can feel my non-fiction article writing phase coming to a temporary end and the door is opening to another fiction phase.

Once I have completed the last two of the articles I have been commisioned to write I shall turn my attention to reading short stories and writing them again. I have around forty declined short stories in my rejection drawer that I haven't looked at but I will now! I'm going to swallow my pride and get them out and apply the Swain principle (thanks Carole!) to them.

For those of you who aren't acquainted with Dwight. V.  Swaine, he wrote the book Techniques of the Selling Writer, and although it is an American book it is so relevent for us here in the UK too. You can get it at Amazon. You must beg, steal (perhaps not steal really! ) or borrow this book and read it cover to cover as it has certainly made me think and given me some pointers that I hope will take me one step closer to getting some more of my short stories published. I had one published back in June 2009 and I am determined to get at least one more published somewhere before I get to the one year anniversary!!

The Swain principle is simple: you have a character who has a goal/problem - they want something or need to do something but they have a conflict or obstacle that stops them getting what they want. This conflict or obstacle can be a person or circumstances. They may have tried to alleviate this problem themselves in the past which has led to a disaster where the person causing the conflict has stepped up their barricade to the character getting where they want to be, or more obstacles have been thrown in their way and how they react to this  leaves them with a  dilemma. The dilemma presents the character with at least two options as to how they might resolve their problem/conflict. How the problem/conflict is resolved must come from the main character and they must change some way in order to learn fron their experience. The decision is made and the story reaches it's conclusion or resolution. What the character ends up with may not be what they originally wanted but they will have learned something and changed in some way through the story - and this should provide a satisfying end to the story for you and your readers!

So, I am going to go through my old stories and apply this Character - Goal - conflict - disaster - reaction - dilemma - decision/resolution to them and see if I can improve them in this way. I am also going to finish my NaNo novel as I haven't really touched it since December and I want to get it down on paper so I have something to work with and can edit it. If nothing else I want to be able to say that I have finished writing a novel! It may or may not end up being good enough to publish but I'm not concerned with that. It's the process of sitting down and seeing if I have the discipline and stamina to write an entire novel that interests and fires me.

So, if you have the seed of a novel in your head, or a half finished one hiding in your cupboard somewhere then get it out, dust it down and make the time and effort to finish it - you may be surprised with what you end up with. If you usually write novels why not have a swap around and write an article instead. Or if you write poetry write a short story instead. If you write short stories try poetry. We did this on a smaller scale at my writing group a few months ago and it threw up some interesting and exciting results. Or if you are, like me, struggling to get your short stories published in the women's magazines then adopt Swain's principles and let's see where he takes us!

Happy writing what ever genre you write in!

Julie xx


Suzanne Jones said...

Sounds like you're going to be busy, Julie.

Brilliant post - and great advice. And thanks for details about the book - one I haven't got. Am off to order it now.


Suzanne Jones said...

Oooops, according to Amazon, I bought this book in May 2006. Just as well they give you a buying update these days. It must be somewhere...TBR piles everywhere. I'll have to look for it.


Julie P said...

I am going to busy, Suzanne, so it's a good job I only have a term-time job! Otherwise I don't think I could do it.

LOL! I forget books that I bought too! It will turn up when you least expect it!

Julie xx

Diane Perry said...

A great post Julie. The Swain principle is very useful and thanks for sharing it. I shall be applying it to my work from now on.
Good luck with your fiction feast fortnight!

Julie P said...

Thanks, Di

I'm looking forward to seeing what happens when we adopt the Swain principle!

But my fiction feast fortnight might be delayed as I have a stomach bug at the moment - felt a bit 'odd' yesterday evening and was sick at 3am this am - feeling a bit better now so I'm hoping to get back on track tomorrow.

Kath said...

I really enjoyed this post, Julie and hope the bug has well and truly gone by now.

Simon Whaley said...

Goal - conflict - disaster - reaction - dilemma - decision/resolution - sounds like a typical day at my writing desk just trying to get the job done!

Julie P said...

Thanks, Kath.

Yes, I'm well on the way to recovery now - still tired and a bit weak but I'm upright! That's progress!

Julie xx

Julie P said...

LOL, Simon! Typical day at the nursery too! I suppose we could apply it to whatever we are doing!

Julie xx