Please click on your favourite category in the column on the right or just scroll down for the latest post.

 Have you caught up with our ” Jokes and Quotes” recently. They are updated regularly. Monday 21st August 2017.

Please send us your Haikus during August. We’ll post them here for all to enjoy.

Have you explored our forum yet? Click Here for a look

Future monthly themes are:

September          –     Jokes, quotes and comic writing

October               –     Change and revolution

November          –     Fire

December           –     Hobby horses

January ( 2018 ) –     Favourite writing

Our e mail address is :  themovingdragonwrites@Gmail.com

 

Exciting news!!!

The Moving Dragon Writes is very excited to announce the publication of a new little book on writing by our dragon, Lois Elsden.

This book was the result of pulling together a series of notes Lois wrote for her GCSE students while working with young people who were not in school for various reasons. These notes were tried and tested over several years; more recently Lois has added a few extra ‘chapters’ to complete her work and pull it together into this book entitled ‘So You Want To Write’. Although it started as something for young people the content is relevant to anyone who wants to write but is struggling to know how to start, and once started how to continue. Lois has used these notes with her adult writing groups too.

Chapters include:

  • Let’s begin… inspiration
  • Your readers
  • Narrator
  • Introduction, opening or beginning your story
  • Setting
  • Characters
  • Names
  • Plot
  • Language and style
  • Endings

It’s available as a paperback and on Kindle, and here is a link to ‘So You Want To Write’:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Want-Write-Telling-Tales-Book-ebook/dp/B074W19JK3/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1503309873&sr=8-2&keywords=lois+elsden

Our dragon Richard Kefford, recently published some of his work, also on Amazon:

Surreal Short Stories

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Selection-Surreal-Short-Stories-ebook/dp/B0745F6569/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1503309956&sr=1-1&keywords=richard+kefford

and Distance and Other Poems:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Distance-other-poems-Richard-Kefford-ebook/dp/B0745FCGX1/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1503309956&sr=1-2&keywords=richard+kefford

BEGINNINGS AND ENDS

The fresh green leaves on the willow tree at the side

Of the stony patch they called a playground

Spoke hopefully of spring, new life, new beginnings.

But her shuffling gait and sagging shoulders

Wrapped in a coat that might have been new in 2001

Spoke of an age too far, arthritic pain and resignation.

Her feet, in shapeless shoes mocked

The sunbeams dancing through the leaves

As, carrier bag in hand, she fumbled for the key

And let herself into the dark mean house

Elbowing its neighbours for room in the narrow street.

Flaking paint and dirty nets revealed hope discarded,

And as the door shut behind her

A cloud, as small as a man’s hand

Crossed the sun.

© Gillian Peall

The odd-bod

A true story from Lois Elsden – all names, occupations, locations – even the genders of the characters have been changed; everything  which might identify the people involved has been disguised.

Rachel was seventeen when she met Jimmy; they met at a disco, many, many years before. She and her gang of friends used to go to different clubs and places around town, and Jimmy was one of the guys who was always there. He was two years older than her and a guitar teacher, which seemed glamorous to Rachel and her friends! They went out a couple of times but it wasn’t destined to be anything more than casual.

Rachel moved away the following year, and didn’t return to live in the town except to visit her brothers and parents. Her brother Rick used to bump into Jimmy from time to time; Jimmy went through a bit of a bad patch, not professionally, his guitar teaching was as busy as ever, but he had a few personal difficulties.

Rick always thought Jimmy was a bit of a strange guy ‘an odd-bod’ as his parents described him. Rick realised that Jimmy was actually a couple of years older than what he’d originally said, but that was ok… he was pleasant enough, but they drifted out of each other’s circles – Rick was involved with the rugby club and socialised there. Rick married and he and his wife had lots of different interests which kept them busy. Jimmy, as far as Rick knew, still went to the same clubs and discos, and still wore the latest fashions, even though he was by now quite a bit older than the other ‘clubbers’.

Rick and his wife had children and became involved in their children’s activities – rugby, like their dad, swimming, scouts and guides… all the regular stuff kids do. Rick and his wife had their own social life, they went to a dance class to learn the tango, she joined a book club, he learned the ukulele and joined a little band, they had a wide social circle and went on holiday with friends as their children became older and wanted to do their own thing.

Rick was waiting at the station for his wife to come back from a trip to London when he was greeted by a weird-looking guy wearing a wig – it took Rick a few moments to realise it was Jimmy! Jimmy was a couple of years older than Rick, but he was wearing the sort of clothes Rick’s twenty-year-old son wore! They had an awkward conversation and Jimmy asked after Rachel and then he had to go, he had a ‘gig’, he said.

Rick mentioned this to his parents, who said they’d always thought Jimmy wore a wig, and they’d always thought he was very strange…  Years passed and Rick’s children left home, married settled down. Rick and his wife retired and were very busy and active – they had a camper van and travelled far and wide round the UK, Ireland and Europe. They were always out and about, Rick still very involved in the rugby club and was on the committee, his wife now teaching the tango, and both of them members of the village society and involved in the planning of the annual fruit and produce show, the autumn carnival, Christmas activities, and the spring duck race.

It was the town’s food festival and Rick and his wife drifted along to meet up with their children and grandchildren. Rick had wandered off and was looking at a stall selling Greek olive oil when he noticed a little impromptu coffee bar nearby. He couldn’t help but stare at the odd-looking person sitting there. Espadrilles, ripped jeans, long shirt, leather jacket, bracelets, plaited leather wrist-bands, tattered bands from festivals, beads,  charity bands – the usual random collection of things a kid might have. There was a mass of gingery hair and a reggae Rasta beanie, which Rick only knew as a slouch because his grandson had told him. Rick caught a glimpse of an artificially tanned face hidden behind massive blue-lensed glasses; he looked away, took the change from the Greek olive oil man, and hurried back to his family.

A couple of days later, Rick was taking a short cut to avoid traffic but met another queue along a narrow country lane. The reason for the little tail-back was a car parked in a gateway but protruding into the lane. As Rick squeezed past, giving a thank-you wave to the car coming in the opposite direction who’d waited for him, Rick saw the owner of the parked car, shutting the boot. The man, hitched a guitar onto one shoulder, a low slung canvas bag hanging off the other. He adjusted his Rasta beanie, locked the car and went through the gate.

Rick glanced after Jimmy… the man might want to look like a twenty-year old but in reality – and his parents’ word ‘odd-bod’ came back… After seeing Jimmy at the food festival, Rick had done a little research; Jimmy was actually ten years older than he’d said when he went out with Rachel… so now Jimmy was actually seventy-one… A strange fellow and sad, very sad…

© Lois Elsden 2017

Here is a link to Lois’s e-books and her latest paperback, Radwinter:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

 

Simple, but not easy

A couple of weeks ago we mentioned writing tips and helpful suggestions – there are plenty out there, but here is a selection from a site we found-

  • Writing is simple, but not easy.
  • Practice makes you better;  repetition make it effortless.
  • Get over your excuses and do the work.
  • Write every day
  • Stay focused! Distraction is the enemy
  • Stop worrying about being a good writer; just write.
  • Get over your perfectionist tendencies.
  • Read.

Writing is an art, a craft, and although practice may not make you perfect, the more you practice and work at your craft, the better it becomes; you may not be any less self-critical, in fact you may be more self critical, but that’s good!

here is a link to he article and all the other tips, suggestions and advice:

https://goinswriter.com/writing-tips/

And if you want to read what we have written, here is a link to our pages:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_10?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+elsde%2Caps%2C134&crid=QQZS65QVJ72L

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=richard+kefford&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Arichard+kefford

Don’t confuse your reader!

Here are some thoughts from Lois Elsden, on considering your audience:

As you can imagine, as well as doing a lot of writing (I’ve actually set myself a 800 word a day target for the next six weeks – not counting what I write here!) I do a lot of reading, and I do a lot reading about writing. It was a mixture of these things which, which prompted me to have a look at a site which runs a ninety day challenge – to write eighty-five thousand words (yes 85,000)

The site which is called 85k90.com, has lots of interesting and helpful articles and I came across one which really rang a bell with my writing teaching – from when I was a teacher to now when I lead several writing groups. It’s all about not confusing your readers – and in actual fact they are the most simple and obvious points – simple and obvious but very easy to forget!

Here are the five by Wendy Janes:

  • Ensure names and descriptions of characters are consistent
  • Differentiate your characters
  • Handle time carefully
  • Yes, write beautiful prose, but don’t show off your vocabulary
  • Steer clear of using drama for the sake of drama

Simple aren’t they? Because I’ve been writing just about all my life, from almost as soon as I could hold a pencil, I’ve learned these lessons by making mistakes on all these tips. Now I really try to make sure I don’t create muddle with names – however, in my genealogical mysteries, because my main character is dealing with family history sometimes there is a repeat of names – in my fiction as in real life family trees. I do that deliberately and carefully – and sometimes there is a muddle – but that is part of the story and I very clearly (I hope) make sure the reader knows it’s an intended muddle! I also write things down in old diaries to keep track of the dates of when things happen in my stories – I want events to be sequential and to be possible!

I guess my ultimate challenge in trying not to confuse the reader with characters was my latest Thomas Radwinter mystery, ‘Earthquake‘, where there were thirteen Chinese girls at a little boarding school in the 1930’s, one of them was murdered and the other twelve were all suspects! Twelve teenage girls!! I had to work really hard to make sure my readers didn’t get in a muddle (I got a bit in a muddle at times myself, I have to say!

When I read point number four, I almost blushed… with a little embarrassment. Last year I published my e-book ‘Lucky Portbraddon‘; it was something I had written quite a while ago but I wanted to get it off my mental writing shelf and out into the world. I set to editing it, having not looked at it for about seven years… oh dear… When I wrote it I had been trying to write a literary book… some of what I had written was actually very good, but it just felt unnatural and not my style, and well… pretentious to be honest! I went through with a mighty editing scythe and whipped out all the pompous, ‘aren’t I clever, aren’t I a wonderful writer‘ bits. I slimmed it down by more than a third cutting out ‘the beautiful prose’ which was just ‘showing off’ my vocabulary. It was a lesson learned, I can tell you!

Here is a link to the article which is very appropriately entitled, ‘Avoid Confusing Your Readers’!

https://85k90.com/five-simple-editing-tips/

… and here is a link to the challenge site:

https://85k90.com/

…and here is a link to my slimmed down ‘Lucky Portbraddon’:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/LUCKY-PORTBRADDON-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B01LWTVURP/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1502443608&sr=8-3&keywords=lois+elsden

… and my twelve suspect 1930’s murder mystery:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/EARTHQUAKE-RADWINTER-Book-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B06Y18H8JR/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1502444271&sr=8-2&keywords=lois+elsden

FOG IS NOT YOUR FRIEND

The fog was closing in.   The woman dug her hands deep into her pockets and pulled her coat tightly round her body.   Her feet crunched along the beach, as the sea shooshed and sighed against the shingle.   The only other sound was the mournful two-tone warning from the lightship on the far side of the sandbanks.

A breakwater loomed up in the fog.  She had lost all sense of distance, of time.   How far along the beach had she come?   Without being able to look back at the town, she was unable to gauge her position.   She called the dog to her, and together they crunched along for a while.   All sounds were muffled, her own footsteps reflected against the fog, sounding louder than she remembered.   Were hers really the only feet walking along that beach?

Another breakwater materialised.   Surely that big one was where the sea wall began?   She had come further than she intended.      A redshank called a warning, once, twice.   Was it her presence that had alarmed it?   Who else was there?

The woman decided to go to the path above the beach, and calling the dog, they laboured up the steep shingle bank, feet and paws slipping, sliding back, the shingle trickling, chinking quietly down to the bottom.   She couldn’t hear the sea now, only the foghorn on the lightship to keep her company.   The fog stung her nostrils, and clung round her face in wet wisps.   She could feel it on my eyelashes.   She finally found the top of the beach, and clambered onto the concrete path.   The dog kept close to her, his ears back, his tail down.   What could he sense?    She walked as quietly as she could along the path.   Surely those were footsteps behind her?   She increased her speed a bit.  Did the other footsteps speed up too?   Where had she left the car?   How far had she come?   The foghorn seemed to be warning her of danger,

Every step she took seemed to take an hour.   She’d reached the point where the streetlights began, and their orange glow seemed friendly, but you could only see one at a time.   The woman began to count them.   It wasn’t far from where they began that she had left the car.   Surely it was there?   Wasn’t it?   Had she missed it?   Then, with a thankfulness that turned her stomach to jelly, she saw it.   In with the dog, into the driving seat, never mind the wet, dirty boots.   She locked the doors.

The windows were wet with fog, it was impossible to see out.   The woman put the wipers on, and peered ahead.   The dense white wall showed nothing, no breaks.   On with the lights.   They reflected back at her, whitely, wispily.   Was that a shadow going past her windows?   Her hands shook as she fumbled with the gears, and trod hard on the accelerator.   Nothing happened.   Again she put her foot down.   The engine roared, but the car stayed still.

There was a knock on the window.   She screamed as she saw a man’s face outside.   He made signs to open the window, and carefully she opened it a crack.

“Nasty place to break down” he said, putting his fingers on the edge of the window.

“Yes, No” she said, shaking with fear.    “I don’t think there’s anything wrong, it was fine coming”.

“Damp gets into the sparking plugs” he said. “You’ll not get a breakdown out in this weather.  Open up and I’ll have a look for you”.

The woman was sure there was nothing wrong.   By now the dog was pushing at her shoulder, trying to get to the window.   A soft growl told her he scented something was not right.

“You going to stay here all night?   Come on, don’t be a silly girl, I’m here to help you”.

The woman took a deep breath.   She was not a silly girl.   No one was going to call her out of her car on a dark and foggy night like this.   She might have been afraid, but she wasn’t stupid.

She took her foot off the accelerator.   Took another deep breath and methodically put her foot on the clutch, put the car into first gear, took off the handbrake, and gently let in the clutch and depressed the accelerator.

To her relief the car moved forward,  she kept going, and watched the man cursing as he pulled his hand from the window.

The woman sobbed with relief as she drove slowly home, peering into the fog, which lifted a bit when she was away from the shore.    She wondered afterwards whether she had been silly to be so frightened, what could possibly have happened to her?

The man walked back to where he had parked his own car.   Silly cow, but there would be another time, another stupid bitch taking her dog for a walk in the dark.    Next time he’d catch up with them on the beach.   Bit of meat if it was a big dog, hefty kick for the silly yappy small ones.

What could go wrong?    And fog was his friend.

© Gillian Peall

 

 

Get inspired, look round, listen in…

Sometimes you’re just in the mood for writing something, but nothing springs to mind; or you’re in a writer’s group and the days are running out before your next meeting and you have no clue what you are going to write about.

Here are some thoughts from Lois Elsden:

Inspiration

Where do stories come from? Here are some ideas:

  • an observation of people in the street, on a bus, in a shop, on the beach, walking by a river…
  • people you don’t know but see arguing, kissing, looking at each other, not looking at each other, fighting, smiling secretively
  • an incident you observed or witnessed
  • a scrap of conversation you overheard
  • the lyric of a song, a line from a poem, a phrase from a book
  • an experience you had
  • a strange coincidence
  • a dream or day-dream
  • a traditional story, myth or legend which suggests a modern re-telling
  • another story you read, saw on TV or as a film, which suggests a situation, series of events, characters which you can rework to make your own
  • the ‘what happened next’ of another story
  • a what if… moment
  • a family story – your own family or someone else’s
  • unexplained inspiration
  • a found photo… who are those people? How are they related, why are they there? What is the occasion? What are they really thinking? Who is taking the photo?
  • something you pretend happened to you
  • the story of your house, or a house you once lived in or a house someone in your family once lived in, or just a house you pass by on the street and are intrigued by
  • something you would have liked to happen to you
  • a news item
  • a picture in a gallery, museum, on a wall in a waiting room, in a newspaper or magazine
  • a film or a TV programme
  • a song
  • music
  • doors and windows – what’s behind them?
  • a mystery or puzzle
  • famous people, singers, actors, sports or TV personalities…
  • your own family or friends – maybe disguised

Any of these suggestions or a combination of several of them can trigger a story.

Here’ a link to Lois’s e-books and her recently published paperback, Radwinter:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

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