Friday, 29 January 2010

Pic of the Week . . .

I thought this week I'd take a break from Anne Stokes. I love her work, but if you have too much of a good thing, it doesn't become good any more. Instead, here's one by the faithful and talented Nene Thomas.

I love her work just as much as Stokes. She is so good at portraying beauty. But one thing that always astounds me is her talent at painting material. She manages to create every single ruffle as elegant as the rest, and that adds to the over-all magnificent of the entire piece. I mean, just look at the detail in the side picture . . .

Stunning . . .

Asiria by Nene Thomas

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Exercise: The War That Wasn't . ..

We haven't written many pieces recently. Mainly we've been discussing the use of emotions in our work, and last night was spent critiquing a colleague's short piece. (And discussing our new Facebook Page. Yes, NHWC is spreading it's wings online. A few pieces of work will be published there and will be available for people to read if they are a `friend`. So, if you fancy joining us, feel free. Here's the link.)

Anyway, sifting through my numerous notebooks that I have lying around, I come across this old piece. It was written so long ago I can't remember what the exercise actually was. All I do know is that it's been called `The War That Wasn't`, and it was a worthy tale to tell . . .

Exercise: The War That Wasn't . . .

His blood turned cold in his veins as he watched the cloud of black smoke plume into the blue skies. It cast an eerie shadow over everything that lingered beneath it. A shocked silence filled the streets as people emerged from their homes with horrified curiosity. All eyes were turned towards the explosion.

Kosta wasn't alone as his mind began to comprehend what had just happened. The plane had been low as it passed, and caused no stir of panic. It was a sound that everyone had grown accustomed to in this war-stricken place. At first, when the planes passed, it brought dread thick and strong, and it would last until the sound faded in the distance. Afterwards you could hear the entire town sigh with relief. These days, however, it had become a sound that no one really battered an eye lid to.

Today was different.

This time the rumble of the plane had been followed by the earth shattering crash of an explosion. Whether it had lost control and tumbled from the skies or whether a missile had been been launched was unknown, but all Kosta could think about was the location it had destroyed.

His brother's apartment was over there.

Still groggy with sleep, he couldn't stop his legs as they began to take long strides across the street. His strides quickly turned into a jog, and then into a race. He passed people in the streets cursing the enemy as a panic broke out. Some screamed and others fell to their knees as their sobs echoed against the crumbling, unmaintained buildings.

Kosta ignored these. Only one person was on his mind - his brother.

As he grew closer, the smell of brick dust rushed into his nose. There was so much damage. Many buildings had disappeared entirely, being replaced with rubble and twisted steel. Dozens of people crowded round, calling the names of their loved ones, and digging in attempt to find survivors. Kosta joined them, his eyes dashing from right to left, searching.

Suddenly a sight came to him that sent relief spiralling through him. His brother hadn't been in the building when it collapsed, but despite this fact, something didn't feel right. Why was he lying on the floor? Why wasn't he moving?

He dashed over, dropped to his knees and touched his brother's face. There was no response. Calling his name, he began to shake his shoulder.

Still nothing.

He scooped his brother into his arms, stifling his sobs, and repeated his name in hope he would open his eyes, but there was no life. Giving into his grief, his sobs merged with hundreds of others as he cradled the body in his arms, rocking back and forth. This wasn't their war, but yet it seemed they being punished for living where they did.

His brother was dead and all he could ask was `why` . . .

Friday, 22 January 2010

Pic of the Week . . .

Another masterpiece by Anne Stokes for you . . . I just can't seem to get enough of her work at the moment.

Elegant Dragon

Monday, 18 January 2010

Exercise: End of the World . . .

One issue that a lot of writers out there suffer with is how to connect with their characters. A character is just like any other person out there and experiences every single emotion that there possible is, which makes them real. But, how do you actually put that feeling down in writing and make the reader feel what your character feels?

Any movie goer out there may have seen 2012, a film about the end of the world. It's a fantastic film but relies wholly on the special effects of what the world goes through. You don't actually get to feel what the characters are going through when faced with that predicament - and that makes it hard to connect with them.

An exercise that we came up with revolved around one question. What would you do if you had an hour left before the end of the world? Forget all the special effects that go with it, all the earth quakes, flashing lights, and the scientific `how would's` and `what if's`. Just concentrate solely on your character and what they would be feeling and going through:

Exercise: An hour before the end of the world . . .

I’ve never intended to spend my last moments locked away in the dark, but what else can I do? I’m paralysed with terror. There’s nothing else I can do but sit and wait.

When I heard the news, I was in disbelief. It couldn’t be true, and it just wasn’t possible. The world couldn’t end just like that, and certainly not within the hour. I couldn’t believe – didn’t want to believe – but then things started to go wrong.

All communication went down.

There is now no TV, no phone lines, and no internet. There’s no access to the outside world, and no way of contacting anyone. I am alone – that is, apart from my dog, Rufus. He’s been my trusted friend since he was a pup, and in this dark hour he is the only one I have. I used to believe that I would do anything to protect him. He was like my child. Pets are, after all, valued members of their family. I’d never let anything happen to him, but now I am powerless against what is approaching. My heart sinks with guilt at the thought of it. I feel I am letting him down.

Chaos is breaking out outside. Riots are blazing all through the streets. I can hear it from my dark confines; the screeching of tyres, the crashing and grinding of colliding cars, and the screaming of people.

Oh, the screaming. It’s tortuous to my ears. The people are running mad. I’ve seen looting in clips on the TV, but never did I expect to see it happening outside my own home. Men and women all over town are breaking into shops and stealing hundreds of pounds worth of electronic equipment and goods. I can’t help but ask myself why. Would their death be made any easier if they were sitting in front of a huge flat screen television set? And what would they watch? The thought baffles me. This news has affected everyone in different ways.

I heard a loud smash about ten minutes ago, and something tells me it was one of my windows. There’s no point in me going out to investigate. What good would it do? There’s nothing left worth protecting out there, and I’d only be swept up in the mass hysteria that has over-taken everything. It’s turned into a vicious world out there, and I know I’m making the right choice by staying locked up, even if it is only for the last twenty minutes.

Rufus whimpers beside me, and I can’t help the tears as I bury my fingers in his fur. He’s so innocent, and doesn’t deserve the fate that waits us both. A bottle of whiskey and a tub of sleeping pills sit on my lap, and my head is filled with confusion. Should I take them? At least then I’d be asleep when the moment finally comes, blissfully unaware. But I can’t leave Rufus. I debate whether I should share some with him, saving him from this agonising nightmare.

But that thought scares me more than death. What if the news flash had somehow got it wrong, and what would happen if I give him too much and he never wakes afterwards? Could I live with that grief? Could I live knowing that I killed him when I didn’t have to? At the moment Rufus is the most important thing to me. I love him more than anything, and I don’t want him to suffer the things that I, myself, am running away from.

With less than twenty minutes left before the world as we know it ends, I contemplate. I hold the tablets with one hand while the other strokes my dog.

I wish I knew what to do…

Friday, 15 January 2010

Pic of the Week . . .

I found a new Artist - don't ask me how. But `oh my god` I love her work . . .

Anne Stokes specialises in Gothic and fantasy, and has been a freelance illustrator for the last 12 years. As the fantasy writer that I am (with a tendency to sometimes swing to the Gothic side of life) I find her so inspiring! Already, while I flick through her art gallery, I have story ideas and plots running through my head. They're unstoppable!

And so I'm sharing her work with you in hopes that it gives you the same inspiration and enjoyment as it gave me . . .

`Summon the Reaper . . .`

Monday, 11 January 2010

Exercise: A Play With The Flow . . .

With this exercise we done a while back now, we were generally looking at the `flow` of our writing. If it were to be read aload, what would it sound like? Would it be monotonous, or would it play-off like a poem? Would it sound beautiful to the ear, or would it grind painfully against the ear-drum?

This short piece was written with the intention that every sentance was to have the same rythem. It was a play with words, similar to that of a poem except not quite. As usual I opted for the darker side of things. To write a piece entirely in this style would spell certain doom in the world of publishing, but it's a great little exercise, and brought the matter of flow and style to our attention. I hope that it does the same with your writing . . .

Exercise: Write a piece where every sentance shares the same rythem . . .

The water was cold, growing icier with its depth. My eyes were blinded, the murkiness darker than shadow. As it ran into my ears, hearing became almost a thing of the past. All I could hear was the pounding of my heart, its last few beats echoing within. I waited for death, for its sticky fingers to grip me. I had my reasons for suicide, still feeling its ripping pain. My happy memories flowed by, bringing a weak smile to my face. I would miss those times, it would be hard not to. It was just a shame that my life had been submerged, the shadow of despair drowning me. There was no way out now, only the path allowed by death. And as it came, I sighed with relief. Bliss . . .

Friday, 1 January 2010

Pic of the Week . . .

Was it really the 11th when I last posted a blog? Wow, just goes to show that time goes by pretty fast when you're having a good time.

A lot has happened since I last blogged. I've had a birthday (29, happy birthday me), there's been Christmas, and now we've started a brand new decade. Time does go pretty fast. As Ferris Bueller once said, "if you don't slow down once in a while, you're gonna miss it."

I've also started another stage of editing. I need to tighten and tidy up my use of language. You don't realise the amount of errors you make whilst writing until somebody kindly points it out. Hopefully this shouldn't take too long, and then maybe 2010 will see good things happening . . . we live in hope!

Anyway, 2010 should also bring back a routine of blogging. Today is Friday, and Fridays usually bring us Pic of the Week. So here's my choice. It's by an artist called Guillaume Le Tual . From the gist of things I believe he also works on a lot of digital scenery and background for films too . . . I'll let you browse further if you wish. I just like his art.