Sanding Down and Polishing Up: redrafting short stories

Notes jotted in the margin in a different colour ink reminded me of ways of crafting early drafts of stories that I’d learned at a writing workshop by Vivienne Plumb, a New Zealand poet, playwright and author. She shared some great suggestions, and I have subsequently added more of my own ideas for writing short stories, such as character development, enriching themes and meanings in stories, and writing dialogue.

Sixteen Habits of Mind

June 1st. Here in New Zealand that means the last, colourful leaves of autumn drifting off from the trees. It means the feijoa and passionfruit crop is over for the year, and it’s time to prune the trees to replenish and make room for spring growth. Time to buy that electric blanket to replace the…

Distractions & Diversions

There’s a change in the air. The tropical, coconut lemony smell of summer has faded.  The air is thinner, clearer. Last week, the air was thick enough to wrap around us like a blanket – now it’s more like a filmy sheer curtain, with a window behind it letting in an uncomfortable draught. Most days…

The Words in my Notebook

Words – I love words. Words that probe and words that play, words that delve and words that dance. Words that explain, words that explore. I’m not so keen on words that complain and words that hurt, but they do have their uses. I have notebooks full of words. What writer doesn’t! But some of…

What Women Wear

Breasts are in the news again. This time, it’s a photograph that’s the problem. A photograph of a young woman with no top on. She sent her photo to the man she was dating. He then shared it with colleagues at the school where they both taught. I say worked, because one of them was…

Why Trigeminal Neuralgia Needs to Lose its Nickname

Billy Bones. Roribug. Little Bear. Flop-Eared Houndybeast. These are some of the nicknames I have for my daughter and grandchildren. Well, the last one belonged to our dog, who had many and varied nicknames. The kids don’t have floppy ears. I’m sure we’ll all be familiar with the concept of nicknames as affectionate (or otherwise!)…

Getting a Slice of the Cake

Change. A single, soft-spoken syllable. Yet it’s a powerful little creature, reaching into every corner of our lives. Sometimes it’s an invitation – welcome and exciting. Sometimes it’s a burden – disruptive and frightening. It’s a bundle of contradictions: progress and retreat, secret and flamboyant, havoc and harmony. It can bounce into our lives with the…

Crop Circles

We know August by how yellow our bedroom at dawn, how rich the paints nature daubs outside our window – blue slash of sky, ribbons of hedge, poppies, gold flag of corn. Our bedroom eyes this van Gogh view, our window a silent watcher of that instant our eyes never capture when the golden flag…

A Day of Opposites

Friday 15th March 2019: a day that will be carved into my heart and mind forever. A day split into two halves as extreme contrasts dominated the news cycles: hope and terror love and hate life and death A day of opposites. The morning seemed like a beacon of hope and positive action for a…

Writing Retreats and Activist Writers

Writing, by its nature, is a solitary activity. If you’re someone who thrives on a busy environment, that can be difficult. Unless you’re collaborating on a project, the actual finger-to-keyboard/pen-to-paper part of writing tends to involve hiding yourself away in a quiet corner so you can focus on your current creation. But it doesn’t have to…