Finding the Heart

Image by June Perkins

The last few months I have been revisiting picture book drafts and short stories, that didn’t feel like they were quite there yet.

Something special was missing.  I just couldn’t put my finger on it.  But I didn’t want to give up on the potential.

I had to have a huge break from them to see these pieces with a new heart.  I attended a few workshops and made tips lists for myself.  I read books on writing.  I read books I loved.  I waited and then I leapt back into my stories with hope!

What was I really trying to say in them?  How could I give them the life they deserved and make them leap off the page into the reader’s imagination?

I reflected on where do I want to go with my writing?  Where do I want to take the reader?  How can I invite them to a conversation without a set idea of the answer?  How can I make them care about the characters?

My new notebook for jotting down ideas in inspiring spaces, just looking at the cover makes me smile.

Here are the top ten techniques that have been helping me find the heart of my stories.

  1. Visualising the scenes and story boarding the works, including consideration of the turns pages to keep someone reading.
  2. Ensuring a story is played out to a length that allows me to do everything I intended without limitations (some picture books are short stories!)
  3. Changing the perspective the story is told from but retaining the overall scene and setting.
  4. Adding a sense of rhythm in the language from poetic techniques and keeping that going throughout the piece so it is a musical sound to the ear.
  5. Recognising when I am in the mood to work on a particular piece and going with the call of the muse.  Especially when it comes to hearing the music of words in my head.
  6. Removing the ‘thought verbs’ and rewriting the scenes without these.
  7. Playing with point of view, by extending it, restricting it, moving from first person to third person until it feels just right
  8. Adding the back story and pulling the back story out and hinting at it.
  9. Leaving the stories on a tricky point and day dreaming options to resolve that.
  10.  Changing the title to a key phrase in the story that I can use as a motif throughout the work.

So far, so good with this methodology.  One picture book became a short story and was successful in making it into an anthology.

One picture book remains a picture book, but the characters are so much closer to what I wanted them to be, and this one feels almost ready for submission.

Another three picture books are in the process of rewrites and again may be short stories, or short chapter books.

One flash fiction piece, from the ideas for my much longer memoir, made a long list for the Brisbane Writers Festival.  I will go back to the piece again and work on it and submit it somewhere.  Maybe I have lots of flash fiction pieces ready to go!

Another picture book is a definite chapter book and is progressing well.  This one had a change of perspective

My utmost thanks to Gabrielle Wang, Isobelle Carmody, Virginia Lowe, Giuseppe Poli, and Trent Dalton, for enabling me to press on in this journey with something they said in a talk, a tweet or a workshop, or something that they wrote that sparked a renewal of this journey, and also to other people who regularly read my work and give me some ideas of how to develop it.

Meeting Trent Dalton at the Brisbane Writers Festival

Some people are great sounding boards, as I tell them the story the solutions begin to just pop out of my brain, so thank you to anyone being that.

Today I have a whole day to write and revise.  I might even begin to tackle  unfinished novels.  Whilst I love revising, I keep jotting down new ideas and give myself space for free writes. 

One series of new ideas, free writes, is just called Australia’s Maya Angelou, and in this space I can write anything mostly from memories,  I am not sure if I will ever share it, but it is a place where anything goes with my writing, and I just experiment with all of the things outlined.  I think in these free writes there are more stories, poems and even one day finally that elusive memoir that might mean something to others.

So signing off from blogville land, to go visit my characters and their worlds, with a renewed sense of joy and a willingness to craft them until they have that special something.

June Perkins aka Gumbootspearlz

The Poet at Play 2 – ‘Dream’ in many languages

Ripple Poetry

I was writing a poem today, and wanted to name a character.

For inspiration I looked at an old poem of mine, and borrowed its structure, but then the poem soon had a life of its own.  Sorry can’t tell you which one, as it is top secret.

I decided that I wanted the character’s name to be significant to the topic.

Perhaps ‘Dream’ in another language would be appropriate, so I found a website to help me.

It has so many beautiful sounding words for DREAM.

Here are some of the words for dream that also seem to me like wonderful names.

There is something so musical about them.

You can find the language they are from by visiting the link  IN DIFFERENT LANGUAGES

Sanjati
Ala
Sognare
Ruya

The other thing that I find inspires poems are things of beauty I see, like the tree image shared for this…

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The Poet at Play 1


If you don’t like knowing the secrets to conjuring tricks read no further.  But if you like to have an insight into how to do them then you will like this series, the poet at play.

In this series I explore how the poet, and creative writer can make their words more powerfully appear on the page, and their metaphors more astounding.

It’s about ways of pushing beyond the boundaries of a cliche, and the obvious.  It’s based on the belief that EVERYONE can potentially make their words salsa, waltz or tango or do the cultural dance of their origins or liking.

I’ll introduce you to some of the text books I like to work with, and some of the things I have found that work for me through my own personal reading, practice and study.

This week, I am working hard on new poetry for competitions and submissions.

I have two metaphors that have been preoccupying me for a couple of weeks. They simply won’t go away. I even had a vivid dream based on one of them last night!

I have put preliminary words down on paper. Now I am faced with the task of playing with them until they become fully formed poems. As part of this process, I am doing some creative writing exercises from Hazel’s Smith’s  The Writing Experiment.

I spent nearly two hours reworking two ideas, and these may turn into two poems or a suite of poems.

I loved particularly Smith’s exercises on additions and substitutions, which were my main focus of this first experimenting stint.

Whilst I can’t share the new poems, I thought I would demonstrate how some of the techniques from Smith’s book might work on poems I have already shared on this blog. Applying some of the techniques of Smith to past poems, here is what might happen to ‘You strip me back to the bones’   Beyond Prejudice where I substitute a new word for bones.

You strip me back to the bones
You strip me back to raw emotion
You strip me back to my outlines
You strip me back to my thoughts
You strip me back to my music
You strip me back to my soul
You strip me back to me

After I have done one of these experiments I can then do some of my own work and strip away the repetition and rework again. I pull out these words: emotion, bones, outlines, thoughts, music, soul, me.

A short poem emerges.

Emotions bones
Thought outlines
Soul Music
Me

Me
Music
Soul outlines
thought bones

Then these lines emerge as another starting point.

The music of me
In outlines

And looking at  ‘I refuse to see myself through your eyes’ from the same poem – and I continue the process as just outlined to discover new lines.

I refuse to feel myself through your hands
I refuse to hear myself through your music
I refuse to move to your expectations

But I stop because now I can mix the ‘music of me’ with some of the experiments just done, into the beginnings of a new poem,

The music of me
In outlines
you refuse to hear

You think you strip me back to my music
You think you strip me back to my soul
You think you strip me back to me

But I refuse
to feel myself through your hands
to hear myself through your music
to move to your expectations

(c) June Perkins  (This series to be continued)

Reaching the Mountain of My First Draft

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I am looking down the pathway of writing my way to the mountain of my completed first draft.

Using my plan and outline as a map and continuing to read books that inspire me when I become stuck, I have reached my fourth chapter.

I am following the plan, but letting the characters help me construct them as I write them.  I look forward to seeing you at the other end of the first draft.

I was delighted to write two and a half chapters today.

At this point I am trying not to censor each sentence and perfect it but rather get the character and my  plot and scenes down cleanly and then I will work on other aspects in my second draft.

With this draft I am determined to get my structural plot, pacing and introduction of characters very clear.

I have started reading  Molly and Pim and the Millions of Stars.  (2016) It’s so beautifully written and  delightful, you just want to read it from the first paragraph.  This will be the task of my second draft.

All the very best,

June

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Outlining Time

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At the moment my blogs will be brief as I settle in for outlining, planning scenes and then carrying out my writing projects.

I had a couple of weeks in Melbourne with extended family and visited the Art Vo Immersive Gallery.

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I think after this experience I’ll imagine myself immersed in the worlds of my current writing projects and walk through the scenes in 3D.

I’m using KM Weiland’s, Outlining Your Novel to think through my writing projects in some detail before full on commencing the writing.

This year I am also planning to do a lot more reading and rereading of my favourite authors.

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All the very best for your creative projects too!

If you feel like sharing the way you like to outline your novels feel free to do so.

As for me I am enjoying applying a number of methods from Weiland as well as things I have tried in the past.