What a happy crime scene…

crime scene, Edwardian costume, summer fete, garden party, fiction, creative writing

What a charming scene, a festive garden party, all summery and joyful. Champagne, feathers, corsets and straw boaters, the click of mallet on croquet ball, bird-like chatter and bell-like giggles as flirting occurs across the bowls of strawberries and cream.

How lovely. So, so delightful, so carefree.

But who is plotting murder? Which of the straw boaters conceals a mind full of schemes? Which linen-clad cad has a garotte in his inside pocket? Which of these lacy ladies has poison tucked into a garter?

Somewhere in this English scene is an unfrocked vicar, a colonel who delights in stockings and silky undies, a lady in a froth of feathers who guards secrets like a tigress, and a duchess who runs a spy ring for an enemy of the Crown. Which of them is the lord of logic, the amateur sleuth who will scoop up clues and sniff out the slayer?

And the crucial question: which of these people will not survive till the village clock strikes six?

You tell me!

 

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Inspired by nature

Is your writer’s soul inspired by natural beauty? Then this is a place to come for peace, beauty and inspiration, where you can write your book, find new ideas and refresh your soul. June is the best time to see the famous wildflower meadows of Transylvania, as you can see here. What scenes do these images conjure up in your head? Which characters would be doing what here? Does this natural beauty make you think of romance, or villainy? What might these scenes of tranquil beauty be hiding?

Want an English name for your character?

Old English names have seven basic sources. Immigrants to the country over the centuries have brought fresh names with them, of course, so today England is peopled with a global spectrum of names, but if you fancy something traditional, have a look at this article from Ancestry. You can also browse through my own lists  of names derived from occupations, and names derived from plants and flowers.

Which names are your particular favourites?

Do any names spark ideas for a new character?

Got all your ideas for NaNoWriMo?

where do you get your ideas? all keyed up for NaNoWriMo
Mists and mellow fruitfulness – it’s the season for NaNoWriMo

It’s on the doorstep, howling to be let in. Forget about Hallowe’en tomorrow – it’s NaNoWriMoe’en…

Are you ready? Got your ideas lined up, got names for your characters and your setting? How about sub-plots and your supporting cast? Are your main characters rounded and complex, or do they feel like rice paper?

If you’re keyed up, your imagination might be locked up…

Some people are admitting to an excitement bordering on panic, which doesn’t help the flow of creativity we will all need in the next four weeks.

Here, on various pages, you’ll find help in conjuring up great names, settings, real life stories to plunder, images to inspire you, character quirks for your key people… All you might need is a tiny nudge to unlock a whole world.

Raid as much as you like, and feel free to share with your writing buddies. Open to all, no catches, no sign-ups – November is mutual help for authors month.

 [That’s not permission to filch, though – if you share it, do please share the credit, too!]

I’m going to be with you through the caffeine-fuelled, RSI-inducing month – my NaNoWriMo name is Abbs Pepper, so if you’d like another writing buddy, say hello.

Good luck! Happy scribbling! All power to your fingers…

 

What turns your characters on?

Trending on Twitter 22.8.12 was the topic of what people find sexy. Some were incomprehensible, some a bit twisted, some definitely deviant, some safely traditional.

For your villain or antagonist, you can enhance their villainy or give them a sympathetic facet.

Any way you slice it, the fancies and fetishes of your characters give you a copper-bottomed chance to have fun with them.

If your hero were caught like this, what would it do to his credibility?

The tweeted confessions included:

– boys who drink guava juice

– bacon

– socks with crocs

– wrestlers

– farts

– cargo shorts

– eyebrows

– shaving a man

– sweaty feet

– boobs

Your characters’  favourite fetishes? Go on… confess… you know you want to.

What’s your favourite reference book?

 

Whether you’re writing fiction, non-fiction, articles or poetry, you need to know things. Be it the times of the trains on 5th February from Oxford to Montrose, the name of the first dog to go into space, or the statistics of the Headingley Ashes Test in 1981, writers need to do their research and be sure of their facts.

What reference books do you rely on?

Which book is your utter favourite? 

What can you recommend?

Writer's reference books [photo credit Abbs Pepper]

Sex, sorcery, sewing and sleep

Fascinating post about the way people used the night hours before artificial light became the norm. Splendid material for historical fiction – what goes on between first and second sleeps? A whole secret life, perhaps…

Evan Filby, the ‘revue guru’ writes in his blog the South Fork Companion:

According to the latest research, nighttime in pre-industrial society was not just the haunt of criminals, astrologers, desperate commoners, or “things that go bump.” This essay was, in fact, inspired by a discussion in one of my Groups on the LinkedIn forum. Thoughts there arose about time keeping, sundown and sunrise, and how all that impacted people’s behavior. That brought to mind the results of one of the most thorough studies of pre-industrial nighttime behavior, which are described in the book by A. Roger Ekirch, At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past.

The almost-full moon in TransylvaniaOne of his key findings had to do with what he calls “segmented sleep.” People slept differently when simple flames (fireplace, candle, or smoky lamp) were their only sources of artificial light. Depending upon the season, they generally went to bed no later than nine or ten o’clock. After roughly four hours of “first sleep,” they awoke. After an hour or two of wakefulness, they dropped into another four hours of “second sleep.” Ekirch focused mostly on accounts from Western Europe, with some emphasis on the British Isles … and on the years before about 1750. Read more….

Crescent moon over the mountains in Transylvania
Around sunset comes first sleep, after a heavy day’s work. Refreshed, a few hours of night-time pleasure, work or contemplation (Photo: Arabella McIntyre-Brown)