Famous Last Words

These are the last words of some of the most famous novels ever written.

Courtesy of the BBC Website

1. “After all, tomorrow is another day.”

Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell
2. “Very few castaways can claim to have survived so long at sea as Mr. Patel, and none in the company of an adult Bengal tiger.”

Life of Pi, Yann Martel

3. “But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.”

The House At Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne

4. “He was soon borne away 
by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.”

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

5. “Are there any questions?”

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

6. “And then, while the pretty brunette girl finished singing her verse, he buzzed me through like I was someone who mattered.”

The Devil Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger

7. “I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers, for the sleepers in that quiet earth.”

Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

8. “The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling

9. “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”

Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White

10. “Later on he will understand how some men so loved her, that they did dare much for her sake.”

Dracula, Bram Stoker

Clue or Red Herring


Whilst reading a book or watching a film, even a TV drama, I do enjoy picking up on clues. Those little moments when the writer throws in a stepping stone for us to move a little bit closer to solving the old question. Whodunnit?

I like to marvel at just how many of these clues are not really that, but so-called Red Herrings.

Where does the term Red Herring come from?

 According to an entry in Wikipedia

The origin of the expression is unknown. Conventional wisdom has long supposed it to be the use of a kipper (a strong-smelling smoked fish) to train hounds to follow a scent, or to divert them from the correct route when hunting; however, modern linguistic research suggests that the term was probably invented in 1807 by English polemicist William Cobbett, referring to one occasion on which he had supposedly used a kipper to divert hounds from chasing a hare, and was never an actual practice of hunters. The phrase was later borrowed to provide a formal name for the logical fallacy and literary device.>

I’ve always been interested in the origin of expressions we use every day without thinking. Those which have a meaning completely unrelated to its words. There are so many of these we mostly don’t even think about them:

  1. Bite the bulletUsed as a type of anaesthetic, patients would be given a bullet to bite
  2. Break the iceWhen ships were stuck the nearest nation would send their vessels to release it
  3. Mad as a hatterNothing to do with Lewis Carrol’s books but from a disease of hat makers, caused by Mercury used in the process, which brought about strange behaviour
  4. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwaterIn the early 1500s, people only bathed once a year. Not only that, but they also bathed in the same water without changing it! The adult males would bath first, then the females, leaving the children and babies to go last. By the time the babies got in, the water was clouded with filth. The poor mothers had to take extra care that their babies were not thrown out with the bathwater.
  5. Give the cold shoulderIn medieval England, it was customary to give a guest a cold piece of meat from the shoulder of mutton, pork, or beef chop when the host felt it was time for the guest to leave. This was a polite way to communicate, “You may leave, now.”

These are just a few of the many sayings we have in the English language.

Reading Your Novel on a Kindle

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I have recently discovered this trick. For anyone who is writing their first, second, third, tenth great novel and are at the stage where they are reading its first/second/whatever draft then this could be for you. I used to have a Kindle tablet but now just use the Kindle app on my iPad and Android phone and it works great on these too.

You can actually send your unedited masterpiece to your Kindle and then read and annotate it, just as you would if it was an ebook you had purchased.

One of the great advantages of using this method is that:

a. It’s easy to do.

b. It looks like a book.

c. It’s in book reading format

d. It’s free

The last item is a real bonus as there is also no paper cost or printer ink. If you prefer to print and read then that’s fine. You could still use this method after you have done that level. The choice is yours. All you have to do is to email to your (Or someone else’s) Kindle email address. Each Kindle account has a unique email address which you’ll find in the settings of the tablet/app. Then you simply attach your novel to an email and send it that address. Sync the Kindle and there it will be for you to work with.

You can find full and detailed instruction on the Amazon website for your individual country.

Why not give it a try? Can’t hurt.

How I Found Scrivener.

Like most people who write anything, I started by using a pencil and paper. It’s untrue that I began with a chalk board or chiselling letters on a stone tablet! Then, at school, I used pen and ink. Those pens made terrific darts and still managed to write okay afterwards.

Later came the portable typewriter with gallons of correction fluid and waste paper baskets filled with spoiled sheets of type. I can still feel the heavy clatter of keys and hear the dull thud of metal levers hitting the drum, padded with blue Xerox paper so I could have a second copy of my efforts.

Technology advanced and I purchased a stand alone word processor, a marvellous innovation which allowed me to change words right there on the single line of green text. It also allowed me to save my work on to floppy discs which could be annotated with the name of the project for future reference.  This was a great innovation and once I had completed the work I could print it as many times as I required. Fantastic,

Suddenly computers were all the rage and writing software was developed that could be used with the new technology. Initially, it was supplied on floppy disc, as downloads were slow and rare.  The different software could be added or removed from the computer as required. The further advances of computer and internet use meant a rapid acceleration of affordability. In the early 1990’s I bought a Gateway computer with a 36mb hard drive (Yes, mb). This was my first foray into Microsoft Windows and Word. I thought it was marvellous and in many ways, it still is, though not for writing long texts. Using Word with a word count in the thousands is no fun, and soon becomes problematic and unmanageable. Although I’m certain there are thousands of books written using Word and, by the same token, millions of books written using pen and paper, it’s not my preferred medium.

The advent of CD-ROM and DVD meant that software development increased and improved. Suddenly there was almost anything you needed for your computer and companies were producing excellent writing software, easily obtained by mail order.

The increase in download speeds via broadband replaced the old dial-up speeds. Almost overnight it was possible to buy a software package, download it, and have installed on your home computer in minutes. Gone was the mail order, waiting for the package to drop through the letterbox. Life had become instant.

During that time I tried many writing packages; they were still not yet called apps. Too many to name here, but they all had something but not everything I required. In late 2012, I read an online article which extolled the virtues of a piece of incredible software called Scrivener. Developed, in the UK for the Mac, it had recently become available on the Windows platform. So I downloaded the trial offer and tried it out. Wow, it blew me away with its simplicity and power. It was exactly what I needed. Some of the features of the Mac version were unavailable on Windows and there was always the question, in the forums, ‘When will it catch up?’ Well, I never found out the answer as I bought a MacBook and purchased the version for that. They even kindly discounted it as I’d already, previously, bought the Windows version.

Then came the iOS version, and although it was a long time coming it was well worth the wait. I was involved in the Beta testing and as soon as I downloaded it I was hooked. Like many, I had a few problems with synchronising with Dropbox but that was soon sorted and was more down to my inexperience than the program itself.

Scrivener 3 is due to be released later this year and although that promises to be a paid-for update, I’m happy to do it. I’ve had five years of use of this superb piece of kit so I can’t complain about making a contribution to help fund the great work that goes on behind the scenes.

Oh, and just to add, I’ve even used the free Linux version of Scrivener successfully.

Done, But What Have I Learned?

 

Last night I completed NaNoWriMo with a day to spare. I can now luxuriate today in the thought that the marathon is over.  I was always confident that, baring disasters, I will be a winner this year. It’s been hard to focus my attention but I’ve managed to write everyday, which for me, has been the main point of the exercise. But with all things complete or incomplete I ask myself what have I learned from it? 

  • That I can write a high word count in a short time and have a life as well
  • I can write without the constant procrastination exercise of going back and editing all the time.
  • That my fingers, wrists, arms and shoulders are still working after all that exercise
  • That determination overcomes procrastination
  • It’s a great idea to have a writing buddy as mine has been very supportive throughout and seeing her word count rise kept me going at times

I think now, in the afterglow, that it has enabled me to write every day again, as I did before I lost my enthusiasm which, I still believe, stemmed from last years failure in this event.

The final question, of course is, would I do it again? My answer today is probably not but we’ll have to see next year I suppose.

Would you winners out there do it again?

The Write Way

I haven’t posted on here for a while as several things seem to have got in the way of that. One of which is that I finally decided to purchase a laptop and use that instead of our desktop computer; not that I have anything against the desktop. PC’s have served me well over the years since I purchased my first one about 1991; a Gateway with a ground breaking 33mb hard drive for storage and floppy disc drive to backup any precious documents.

What I have found, however, is that I find I have more opportunities to use the laptop than I ever did with the PC. Even though we moved the PC from the small bedroom/office upstairs to the corner of the dining room a couple of years ago, I still didn’t use it as much as I could. With the laptop I can crank it up in no time and effectively scribble a few notes and ideas quicker than writing them on paper then transferring them to the PC, anytime I chose to leave the comparative comfort and warmth of my armchair and sit in the dining room. Also, often the piece of paper with the idea can be misplaced or lost along with it’s content but once it’s on the computer it’s on and can be worked with, reworked or deleted anytime.

The other thing which has come into my writing life is specialist software. I suppose I thought, like lots of other people, that word or similar word processing packages were the programs of choice that writers used to produce their all important manuscripts. Until recently, all my work has been produced this way. Microsoft, however have this habit of constant upgrade and change. Nothing wrong with that, you might say, but sometimes the compatability of different versions can be a problem; along with formatting issues on longer documents. I am currently trying out Scrivener which I have downloaded on a 30 day free trial, which is the full version, and yWrite which is totally free.

Scrivener seems to be my preferred software, of the two so far but I’m only 4 days into the trial. Impressively the trial means the 30 days you use it, so if you only use it 2 days a week the trial lasts 15 weeks; very useful when you are trialing other programs too. The software comes with an excellent tutorial which took about 2hrs to read from beginning to end but is pretty comprehensive. It boasts that it will complile your novel into several formats PDF or E-reader and also Word, if that’s what the publisher wants but I haven’t tried that as my novels nowhere near that stage. (I wish !!) So far I like the features, particularly the full screen mode, where it almost fills the screen and darkens the rest of the area to stop distractions. The text is always in the middle of the screen as you type, unlike Word where it gets to the bottom and jumps up a couple of lines. Its a small thing but it works for me. Lots of other useful features including adding notes and assigning them to a character and it feels well built and solid but time will tell.

yWrite is the other program I downloaded and have been working with but I have had less time to use and evaluate. It is freeware with the option to contribute financially to the updating of the software. It has been designed by a published writer who also can write computer programs. It looks like a spreadsheet and each writing section is divided into chapters and scenes which are listed as they would be in Excel. It all seems to work fine as it’s fairly easy to understand it once you accept its spreadsheet styling. It appears that you need to add a character before you write them into a scene but I could be wrong as I need to play with it more.

Both programs have the ability to store, text, pictures, web pages all in the one place. Its a bit like saving a collection of word documents together in a folder but much easier to access as they are all on one screen. They also have many more features that I haven’t mentioned but I’ll add them as I find out how useful they are to me.

When my Scrivener trial is completed I post and let you know how things are with the software and what I have decided to use. In the meantime I’ll look out for some other programs and try to evaluate them too.

Watch this space