Faber Session 27 – A Sense Of Time and Place

Firstly, HUGE apologies that I’m so behind with e mails and blog comments. I was out all day Friday, then my Internet went down Friday night, and I’ve been out all day today. We’ve luckily got 2 Internet connections in the house so I’m using the boys one at the moment….Engineer coming tomorrow, but in the meantime it’s a bit up and down so please bare with me 🙂

I’m not even gunna begin to tell you how cold it was in London today. When I arrived at 9.10 it was snowing, and it continued to snow until about 4pm. I’m just relieved it didn’t settle, especially as The Hubster was meeting me in Covent Garden after class for dinner.

So today’s class was about “time” and “place” but we also did some work on pitching & synopsis, but I’ll save that for another day 🙂 a really interesting session, especially with all the time frame/structure problems I’ve had with Still.

Some of my notes:

If you can, walk around the place your novel is set. Look for things you normally don’t notice, the tiny details, for example, what’s in the gutters.

Establish how important the setting is in your novel. Is it a minor character, or a major one? The bigger the part it plays, the more detail you need to add.

Don’t forget to remind the reader every so often where they are.

Use all the senses to describe a place. Even if its just a room, that room will have a smell.

Don’t use descriptive comparisons that the reader won’t understand, ie, not everyone knows what a Peony smells like, but will be able to relate to a Rose.

Compare the landscape to emotion but don’t forget if a character is describing a place, the way they feel, and the way they feel about the place will influence the words you use.

When setting your story in the past think about how society was. What they believed in, their morals. For example, someone in the 70’s wouldn’t care about the environment.

WHY is your novel set in the era it is? Do you have a good enough reason?

Be careful when using different time zones that it doesn’t end up too fragmented.

Cloud Atlas and The Hours are good examples of different time frames used successfully.

Read books, newspapers & magazines that were published the year your novel is set in.

Don’t forget that people don’t think in the present, our internal thoughts jump about between past, present and future. Use that when writing from a characters POV.

When writing a chronological story you don’t need to include every day. Jump days, months or weeks if need be.

This gave me a lot to think about….but I’d be especially interested if you guys know of any other examples of novels that use different time frames successfully?

Only a couple more classes left….I’m really gunna miss it 😦

Here’s the view from my class room window today of the British Museum….

Oh, and of course, I bought a couple of books in my lunch hour 😉


Must Do’s 18th to 24th March

Firstly, thanks to everyone for their comments on Janes Saturday post….personally, I still can’t make my mind up 😉

It’s been a good week, the highlight being meeting up with Pauline Conolly (who was visiting from Australia) and Madalyn Morgan for lunch at The British Museum followed by cake at The Cordon Bleu Cafe 🙂

So here’s what I managed to achieve last week:
1. Faber homework. There wasn’t any lol. Tonight’s session is with an agent.
2. Add/do 1000 words on Still. Well, I didn’t do 1000 words, but it was about 500.
3. Do the 250 word synopsis. I now have 95 words lol
4. Catch up with blogs and emails. This is such an ongoing thing that I’m not going to add it in future. Just be aware that I am always behind 😦
5. Have a play with Scrivener. Well, I did open it, did start reading the guide, all 539 pages of it! *gulp*
6. Finish my book. Epic fail 😦 But only because I’ve done quite a bit of writing this week. I’ve gone back to basics and been handwriting every day. It’s worked with getting me inspired again. I’ve been using the prompts to write scenes for the novel 🙂

Must Do’s for this week are:


I really must make a start on the research for the A-Z challenge!

What are your writing plans for the week?

Faber Session 9 – Dialogue

Ok, well coffee and cake was enjoyed at The British Museum last night. Lemon drizzle which was rather nice. So I sat for an hour, reading my book, nursing a latte and looking at this view 🙂


Tonight’s class was all about dialogue…some of my notes:

Limit speech tags to the minimum.

Pinter went on bus rides and recorded conversations.

It has to serve a purpose: move the plot along, raise a question or show something about the character.

What isn’t said is very important. Use silence and remember its often what’s not said that gives more away.

Give your characters verbal ticks to make them more realistic.

Remember to use body language. A character could be saying one thing verbally, but their body language saying the complete opposite.

We then had to do 3 exercises (writing dialogue) which were very interesting, and bloody hard! Lol

It’s funny because Stephen King said that dialogue is written best by writers who enjoy talking and listening to others. Do you agree? Do you enjoy writing dialogue? It seems to be something writers either love or hate!

Will post tomorrow about my critique when I’ve recovered and had chance to absorb it all lol. I’m off to a Spa Day today 🙂

Faber Session 4 – The Psychology of Writing

Just got back from a cold, wet and dark Bloomsbury.

I took shelter in the BM but eventually had to resort to getting the brolley out lol. Standing at the entrance watching the rain pour down I looked up….

What a fabulous building The British Museum is….but I wonder how many people actually notice as they rush in and out, intent on seeing the Mummies or the Rosetta Stone 😉

Anyway, where was I? Ahhhh, yes, tonight’s class 🙂

Ok, tonight’s session was taken up with Psychology. Interesting stuff about our writing coming from the unconscious mind. We talked about motivation, guilt, support, endurance, confidence, fear and patience.

I guess the two that struck a cord with me most were “guilt” and “support” really, as they kind of go hand in hand IMO.

Support: I feel incredibly lucky that I have the support of my other half with my writing. Now, that maybe because he wants me to hurry up and write a best seller so he can give up work, but we won’t dwell on that 😉 Seriously, does he have a choice? I guess so, he could sulk, make life difficult, moan at me….But perhaps he just knows that for a peaceful life he has to accept my writing time? I’m not the sort of girlie who will stop doing something I love because hubby don’t like it. But then again, he ain’t the kind of guy to stop me doing something I love. Give and take? Definitely! Mutual respect? Oh gawd yes! Our tutor was saying that most writers lack support. That’s sad 😦 And if that’s you…. (((((hugs))))) but, he then went on to say, that if that is you……BE TOUGH! DEFEND YOUR TERRITORY! 🙂

Guilt: Ok, so I have support…..so why do i still feel guilty? Guilt if the washing piles up, guilt if I’ve not been shopping and not cooked dinner, guilt if the house is a mess (and beleive me, the house is a total mess at the moment)….But the major guilt for me is the fact that i don’t work, don’t bring any income into the house 😦 Our tutor talked about writing feeling “indulgent” and I knew exactly what he meant. I can kind of justify my writing time, but what I can’t justify is sitting and reading. How can I do that when I know we’re down to our last toilet roll and that hubby will be home soon hungry and tired? I hate it, I really do, and that’s why I don’t read other than when I go to bed and I’m exhausted, and then I don’t benefit from it anyway *deep sigh* 😦

I don’t know what the answer is. Tim (our tutor) says its one of those parts of writing that we have to get use to, deal with. And I’m trying, I really am….. Perhaps I’ll feel better when my writing actually brings in an income? 😉

How’s support & guilt for you? Is it more relevant to female writers? Especially those with children? Would love to hear your views.

Faber Session 3 – Kidnapping A Character (or permission to stalk)

I never thought when I arrived at class this morning that I’d be asked to do some stalking lol

The ground floor Faber hallway.

But that’s exactly what Tim asked us to do today. We had an hour and a half this morning to go out, find a character (somebody we found interesting), and follow them. We had to make notes on their clothing, the way they walked, talked (which meant if we had to resort to asking them directions so be it!), what they looked like…. Everything we could possibly observe about them, to build up a picture.

I found a guy in the British Museum who walked in a very distinctive way. I followed him and his family around the museum, out to a book shop, and then through the streets until he got into a taxi. I learnt his name, who the other members of the family were, plus got most of the physical details Tim was looking for.

When we got back to Faber everyone admitted they had initially been apprehensive about the task, but most of us had loved it. It was really good fun! One girl even got on a tube to follow her character! There’s dedication!

Tims advice had been “try not to get busted” ha ha ha! And there was me wearing a bight red coat! Lol. I’m sure my guy was thinking “why is that woman in the red coat everywhere I go?” 😉

My classroom

The afternoon was spent doing work on our characters, including pairing up and creating scenes where our characters met for the first time.

So I had a good day, which included Sushi from Wasabi mmmmmmmm 🙂

Back home relaxing now….I’m shattered 🙂

I just can’t wait to go stalking again 🙂

Would you do it?

Faber – Introduction Session 1

Those of you who are on FaceBook will know what an awful time I’ve been having (and I’m still having) with my phone network since last Friday 😦 So the idea of travelling up to London with no phone and no map was not really a prospect I was looking forward to 😦 I jokingly say to people that if its going to happen, it’ll happen to me, and it usually does! Proven by the fact that hubby’s phone which is on the same network, same phone, same number apart from 1 different digit, is working fine!

I guess I shouldn’t have been shocked then when the moment i left the house it started to rain and when I got to the station i discovered that my train had been cancelled and that there wasn’t another one for an hour (I ended up taking a different route which cost me more money).

So I finally arrived in Bloomsbury, hungry, tired (I fell asleep on the train) and with frizzy hair! Lol

After a quick stop in Costa I made my way over to The British Museum, managing a trip to the loo and a peek at their wonderful jewellery collection in their shop, before being turfed out at closing time.


I then made my way over to the London Review Bookshop where I have a 10% discount card for being a Faber student. Yes, ok, I did buy a book alright 😉

Then it was time to ring that buzzer *queue dramatic intro music* The Faber building is stunning! From the outside a row of elegant Georgian town houses, but inside, modern, slick, and very very white. Our class is in the attic, on the 4th floor. I’m sure the view from the windows is stunning, but I was too engrossed in everything else to check. The class filled up quickly and there was lots of chair shuffling when Tim, our tutor arrived (we hadn’t left a seat for him lol).

I won’t bore you too much with the lesson, needless to say we had to go round introducing ourselves and saying what we wanted from the course. I said about my 2 novels and that I needed to be more focused. When he asked if I would be working on ‘But Not Forgotten’ I was a little bit chuffed, and couldn’t help wonder what he actually thought of it. I told him I wanted to start something new and he seemed to approve 😉 He went on to say, to all of us, that we were there for a reason. That he had read every single submission, and that we had been chosen because he saw something promising in every one of our pieces. That was good to know 😉

The rest of the lesson was taken up with writing exercises (I’ll share them at some stage), reading recommendations (books about writing) and a pep talk about sacrifice and commitment to being a writer. I think we all secretly squealed inside when he told us that a 3rd of the class from last year now had agents!

Homework for next weeks session is to read up about “planning” (a print out Tim gave us) and to read the other notes we were given. There will be a “peer critique” every week, where one students work is analysed *gulp* so I guess I better start working on my first piece. It has to be under 5,000 words so I’ll probably get cracking on the new novel…..exciting….and more about that tomorrow!


Right, I spose I better get some sleep, but I’m buzzing! A great night! Can’t wait till next week now 🙂

ps….I went for the red top 😉