Monday, 22 February 2016

A little bit of Les Gillespie's gold

I'm looking at the finish line for my manuscript, so I thought I would share the opening of a chapter about three quarters the way through. Tell me what you think.

Darryl and Angela stared at the incident board.
‘Uniform tomorrow, Boss?’
Angela continued to post information from the Hammond Road murders on the board, Cassidy was lost in thought. He kept staring into the face of Joe’s attacker. ‘Sorry?’ he said.
‘What should I wear tomorrow? Uniform, or plain clothes.’
‘Plain clothes, let’s do our best to emulate our city cousins. Otherwise, they’ll brush us off as country hicks.’
‘Works for me, Sir.’ She thought about the suit she had bought at the beginning of summer and hadn’t worn yet. ‘Tomorrow, clothes will maketh the woman.’ She said.
‘Yeah... Okay.’ Darryl was deep within his mind again. He walked to the window and searched the streetscape, hoping for inspiration.
‘Boss,’ he didn’t hear her, ‘Boss?’

Cassidy didn’t look back. ‘You’re the computer whiz, overlay the photo of those tyre tracks,’ he tapped the board, ‘and the ones near the gate where Jeff found the ute. Can you do that?’ 

Friday, 12 February 2016

A few lines from Chapter 37 of Les Gillespie's Gold

Jeff rummaged behind the seat for a couple of minutes. He folded the back forward to gain better access. The bolt cutters lay below a steel box with a lock on it. The padlock was under the hasp and Jeff lifted the lid, a 9mm self-loading pistol lay encased in foam rubber. It was Army issue. He picked up the cutters and walked over to Joe. ‘Anything you want to tell me about the box under the seat?’
‘It’s not locked.’
‘And you looked?’
‘The policeman in me,’ Jeff said,’ I’m curious.’
‘That’s what got the cat killed.’ Joe said. He did not look at Jeff and worked the cutters on the chain.

‘Got a licence for it?’

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Christmas Eve in Orroroo (first draft)

For Annie

I’m in love with a princess
In a faraway land
I imagine her home
And the places she’ll see
And hope that she smiles
If she’s thinking of me

This month it is Christmas
And the trees in her park
Are covered in snow
While here in the outback
A summer Christmas we know
And we have a tree in the corner
Trimmed with tinsel too

Carols come from all corners tonight
Children waiting for Santa
Will keep their eyes closed tight
I close my eyes and see in my mind
Stockings hang from a mantel
Above a fire in the grate
And for Santa too, they wait

Her cousins out here in the bush
Take their places in the Christmas parade
There’s clowns with coloured barrows to push
A tradition we keep where memories are made
Floats decorated in green red and blue
And Annie I hope it’s a sight
My words bring to you

Outside the shops they still pipe
Those old Christmas songs
And the floats might be corny
But the spirits still here
A street full of faces spreading good cheer
And right down the back
At the end of the parade
In a little green car
Santa arrives, always the star.

Old eyes become misty
When we remember the days
When we were once young
In this street where we played
Now cousin Geoff drives the car
And he does his best
Now Uncle Murray has gone to his rest.

So now my princess from over the sea
I hope you have a Christmas as merry can be

For I’m in love with you, Princess
In your faraway land
I imagine you home
And the places you see
And hope that you smile

When you’re thinking of me

Monday, 1 February 2016

Finding Gold in Characters

This is my third year of  writing Les Gillespie's Gold and while it has become a grind at times, there are moments when words cascade onto the page. Often the real world becomes a different place and I find myself immersed in the character's story, character either makes the story believable or destroys it by the end of the first chapter. Because the manuscript is ninety percent done and I am tying the plot lines together, I thought I would take time to revisit the characters from Kundela.
    Readers of my first novel will be familiar with the Gillespie family and in the second book I have introduced a few new faces. Some likeable and others are easy to detest.

Finding Gold in Characters:

For anyone ready to start writing, or established writers interested in how others do it, I thought I would share my method for finding the things that make my characters tick. This is not the best or worst way to go about a character profile, it is my way. And I have robbed ideas form other authors to get to this point.

Knowing how your sinners differentiate from the saints is key to making the story work, but how do we get to know those differences. This my way of putting flesh on the bones of black and white words that make up the character profile.
    Writing villains is always fun and developing their character can open the writer to hours of distraction as we try to find ways to justify their place in the novel or short story. So be warned, my method can cause you to procrastinate while you divert your attention to research and discovery that often make dedicated writing hours disappear.

Character is deeper than just a name in a novel. Once a name is decided they begin to develop shape and personality, names become people. As I flesh out their history, I give names to siblings, pets and parents. I attach relationships and before long I begin to know them as well as I would one of my friends. I may even know them better, because I have created dirty little secrets. I have pushed them into liaisons, and created their fears and fantasies.
    I start with a character chart as provided by Merlene Fawdry in her Longitudinal Writing Workshop. My chart is an expanded version and it serves me well. When completed I have a rough idea of what they look like and what motivates them. From the chart I know more than their eye colour and how they dress, but character has a major part to play I need to know more. I need to know why I needed to write them into the story. What I need is an understanding of their background, what happened to make them more than just a name in a book.

    In Les Gillespie's Gold, a fifty year old grudge lies behind the main plot-line, but how did that grudge come about and who were the players? How do they influence the characters in the novel? To find my way through this maze I write stories that will have no place in the novel, but I need them to help me understand how my characters interact. Copies of these stories can be found on this blog.

Researching personality takes time as I found with a character in Les Gillespie's Gold. Spoggy Sparrow has no history, to understand this type of character and personality, I spent days on research to learn it is not easy to disappear or create a new identity. However I found myself lost to the quest and discovered devices someone like Spoggy could use to hide from society. Research like this is a great investment, a knowledge bank to call on for later novels or short stories.
    By the end of these exercises, I find my characters justifying their part in the story to me. Arguing why they deserve more action, more profile and at times trying to push the leading man or lady off the page. When I first thought about a career as a writer, I found it hard to properly show hardship, joy and humanity in my characters. Using these techniques now I find the story lets me to write action and point of view from an enlightened position. Writing character has become easier for me because of Merlene's chart and my character story. Today if I prepare a chat and write a history, I have a sharp idea of how each character drives their part in the novel.
    I was pleased when, two years ago, I attended a writing workshop by noted children's writer, Kirsty Murray. Kirsty began one of the sessions with the statement that, Character drives Plot and Plot drives Character. It took me a while to understand what she was saying, but by the end of the session I knew what she meant and the way I was going about finding a depth to my characters was not as weird as I first thought.

    All authors have their own methods and this one works for me.

Good links: Kirsty Murray:                       

                    Merlene Fawdry:                    

                    Writers Victoria:                     

                    Fellowship of Australian Writers:

Thanks for dropping by.