Poetry and NYC Midnight

We’re almost halfway through June. How did that happen?

The month kicked off with a poetry at the Button Warehouse. (Normally hosted by Joy Winkler but covered this month by John Lindley). Angela Topping was guest poet, and gave fantastic readings at the start of each half from her various collections. Then the evening was turned over to the open mic, and I ended up closing the evening out with ‘Legs Eleven’ from my collection ‘It’s All In The Blood’. This was probably my favourite performance of the year so far as the atmosphere was fantastic, I made it through the poem without stumbling, and even sold a copy of my book. 

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Not A Word To Waste, The Horror Of Redrafts #WeekendCoffeeShare

This weekend the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge is taking place. Last month I posted my entry for the second challenge of the first round: Stolen Silence and at the moment I’m working on redrafting my submission for the first challenge of this year’s first round.

Redrafting is the part of the process where you quite often find yourself doubting that you have any ability to put one work in front of the other at all. You find typos, spelling mistakes, words that you didn’t even know existed. Tenses switch back and forth, character names suddenly change, and out of nowhere you move from mountains to city surroundings. Editing is where all your mistakes come to the forefront and you have to go back and fix them.

If you’re luck you will have brilliant people who will help you with your redrafts and edits. These people (if you can find the ones that will give you an honest review rather than just ‘yeah mate, good job’) are invaluable for getting your past that snow-blind stage where you can’t see the words for the prose. Distance from your work can help, but I often find a fresh pair of eyes will pick apart of poem or story far more effectively than I ever could.

I’ve been very luck, I’ve always had friends who were interested in reading and writing so I’ve always had people to run work past. At the moment there is someone reading my poetry collection ‘All In The Blood’ for me, and someone else who has been giving feedback on my NYC submission. For both it has been less about being told what is wrong with my writing, or what is right, but about being challenged to look at my work through a different lens. More often than not this means I go back and take another shot at saying whatever it was I was trying to say.

So, my top tips for editing and redrafting.

  • Try not to send out first drafts. Do a little redrafting yourself before exposing your child to the elements.
  • Remember that you’re asking someone for their opinion. You don’t have to agree with it, but you asked for it so be polite when they give it.
  • Think about the comments your editor makes and even if you don’t go in that direction, think about why they have been made. You might find it sends you off down a different avenue of thought.
  • If your story has an element that you’re not familiar with in it, try finding someone who is familiar. I don’t always believe in the ‘write what you know’ but you should at least ‘write what you’ve researched’.

Now, enough procrastinating, I have a story to redraft, a poetry collection to edit, and a novel to corral. As they say, no sleep for the writer.

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If We Were Having Coffee: Novel Redrafts And Flash Fiction Competition #amwriting

It’s been a while since I’ve written a Weekend Coffee Share post, months in fact, but I’m currently supposed to writing an entry for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Competition so this seemed like the perfect way to procrastinate.

Project StatsI signed up late for Camp NaNoWriMo this month. At the start of the month I was debating whether or not I was going to have a crack at it and decided not to because I tend to find that writing purely for word-count goals make it even harder for me to get myself into the right frame of mind for writing. That said, having  a goal in mind does help drive me forward on projects so when I started rewriting my Shadow Dawn novel around the 10th July, I decided that I’d set myself a 30,000 word goal for the month and use Camp NaNoWriMo to help me hit that target. I’ve got more time to focus on my writing this month as  I’m still waiting for the result of my last AAT Level 3 exam which means I haven’t got any studying to do. However, other social engagements are taking up most of my weekends so my current progress has been limited to what I can write during my lunch hour at work. Hence the pitiful looking bar chart above.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, I’m also taking part in the NYC Midnight’s Flash Fiction competition. The deadline for round one is 4am (GMT) so I’ve got the rest of this afternoon to sort out my 1,000 words story and submit it, even if the heat is making it almost impossible for me to get on with anything. I’d rather melt than write at the moment so I’m hoping hammering out a post might encourage me to hammer out a thousand words of fiction in a few minutes time. I can easily write a thousand words in a hour so a first draft should be straight forward, I just wish the weekend wouldn’t slip past me so quickly.

*Note: It’s now almost five in the evening as I’ve been procrastinating from writing this post as well. I really need to learn to just get on with things.*


Tomorrow will mark DVerse Poets Pub coming back off their two week break, something I’ve been looking forward to since their first day of absence. For the last fortnight I’ve been desperate for poetry prompt so I can’t wait until Monday’s Quadrille night.

I’m also trying to work out how to take my poetry to the next level on this poem. When going through the stats on this site I realize that I only reach about fifty views per post most of the while so I’d really like to start bumping that number up. I suppose the upside to that total is that my view total stays quite close to my likes total so I can see that most people who read the poems, go on to liking them. I just need to find a way of getting more people reading them.

Other than that there isn’t much going on this weekend. I hope yours have been slightly more productive than mine and I will now go off and get this flash fiction piece written for NYC Midnight before I find a way to procrastinate right up to the deadline. All the best for the next week and thanks for reading.


What Maniac Enters A Screen Writing Competition With No Idea How To Write A Screenplay??? Oh Right. Me!

So yesterday morning I opened my inbox to find a shiny email from NYC Midnight The Screen Writing Challenge to say that the first round was officially open and we had eight days to write our twelve page screen plays based on the genre, subject, and character we have been assigned.

Well I had the following:

Genre: Action/Adventure

Subject: Earthquake

Character: Witness To A Crime

So everything should be fine right? I mean, eight days to write twelve pages? That should be easy. That’s a pretty nice genre to get, pretty broad ranging if you think about it. Witness to a crime, well that’s pretty broad as well. Earthquake is a little odder but not impossible to work with. What’s the problem?

The morning agenda

Oh yes, I’ve not done this before and I don’t know how to write a screenplay.


That might be an issue.

Now let me clarify something before we continue. I’ve written two screenplays in my life. Both were during six form. That’s now six years in the past.

The first was part of a extra-circular project in school and was a national competition. I wrote a piece about my Grandmother’s experience of moving over England when she was eighteen and starting to study nursing.

I don’t remember the exact plot but I do remember the playwright who was mentoring our school said I should included a bit about women’s suffrage. I nodded at the time but later realized that a) it was the wrong time period and b) my Grandmother was Irish so trying to shoehorn in English politics might be a bit of a stretch.

Screen play number two was written in a tea fueled haze at three in the morning, based on a collection of notes that I’d been given by a group of lads who wanted to shoot a zombie movie. They wanted someone to write dialogue and that was about it. I wrote it, they seemed to like it, they only ever shot the trailer.

Luckily for me there’s a short ‘how-to’ manual on the NYC Midnight site that explains clearly, and concisely how a screenplay should be formatted. It’s helpfully called ‘How To Write A Screenplay – The Basis’. If you’re thinking about trying to write a screenplay for the first time, or you want to make sure your formatting is correct, then I’d highly recommend printing off a copy.  It was a lifesaver for me as I couldn’t dredge up a single memory on how a screenplay is supposed to be laid out on the page and as it turns out, there are quite a few rules to follow.

It’s actually a little surprising how quickly you get used to writing in the format. I thought I would struggle quite a bit as it’s a completely different style of writing from what I usual do.

For example. Take the following opening to my short story ‘The Last Of The Embers’:

Sunrise was not for another hour but already the sky had taken on the grey haze that suggested morning was just around the corner. Elaine let her rucksack slip from her shoulder and hang in the crook of her arm while she fumbled with the knackered zip. The bottle inside was almost half empty, not enough to see her back down the mountain, but enough to see her to the top. She wrestled it free and used her teeth to pry to cap open.

‘Are you coming?’

Damien watched from where he’d stopped further up on the steps, bare legs and arms, tanned and muscled. He was younger, fitter as well but that had little to do with age, at least that was what Elaine told herself.

‘Just give me a minute,’ she called. The water was lukewarm and sour on her tongue but she swallowed it and snapped the cap shut. Her sweat had her clothes sticking, every crease and fold in the fabric welding itself to her limbs. She could swear the last time she’d made this climb it had been easier, but then again, the last time she had more faith to help things along. A little more faith and a little more time.

‘Do you remember before?’ Damien asked. He held out a hand when she finally reached him. She let him help her and paused for a breath, lungs hitching as she dragged each mouthful of air in.

‘Which before?’ she gasped. ‘The one before this or the one before that? There have been too many changes, too many befores to count or to know which before you mean.’ She pulled her hand out of his and forced her legs to push ahead, ignoring the way she had to lock her knees on each step.

‘I mean the before when we were strong,’ he said. ‘When we were still gods.’

If this was written as a screenplay it would look more like this:

Script Example

There is very little in the way of description in this apart from the scene heading and the action lines at the top. There is one other action line part way down where Elaine drinks from her bottle but the rest is all dialogue. This means if the dialogue falls flat, the whole piece falls flat.

Typing this piece out into a screenplay format also made me read this piece in a different light. When you write something and proofread it, you can miss certain blips simply from being too close to the work. By looking at it through a different lens you can sometimes catch those blips. The thing for me with this piece was noticing that the speaker isn’t always crystal clear when you’re reading the dialogue. You can be halfway through reading a piece of speech and notice that the other character was the one talking the whole time.

Aside from playing around with the format to analyse the dialogue quality of old short stories, I did manage to type up twelve pages of what I hope is a semi-decent screenplay that I can polish and tidy over the next few days.


The bit that got me, is how short twelve pages actually is. I could have written a much longer screenplay and as it is I’m worried I might have skimmed over too much in an attempt to fit more in within the page limit.

Either way, I have until Saturday to work up a final draft and submit it for the First Round and today has been a new learning curb for my writing, something that I don’t find to such a degree these days.

Also, there’s nothing to stop me going back to this screenplay when the competition is done and making it longer then. Actually, I think I might do just that.