Wednesday, 10 June 2015

WEbook Interviews Keladrion, Winner of the April Poetry Challenge

For this April's Challenge, we decided to delve into the murky world of stanzas, iambic pentameter, assonance and enjambement... 

Or, poetry, to the rest of us.


Poetry. It's a funny beast, figuratively, metaphorically, and more often than not, philosophically. Meaning that many writers distance themselves from delving into this murky world of hidden meaning and duplicity of word. Evoking feelings that are not too dissimilar from how people feel about Marmite - they either love it, or they hate it - poetry is all at once a revered, hated and widely misunderstood form of literature.
The range of approaches an author can take when writing poetry are so varied that you can almost never go wrong. Poetry is sculpture with words. At first, a reader may not understand it, or perhaps see only surface meaning. But once inspected from a few different angles, poems can take on new meaning, new shapes and new forms - morphing from what you think you saw, into something entirely new.

So, needless to say we were very excited about running a (well overdue) Poetry Challenge. Your responses to the challenge brief encompassed such a varied range of approaches to the topic, and it was especially brilliant to see so many entries composed by WEbook members who are not regular entrants to the monthly challenges - keep it up!!

***
The winner of our Poetry Challenge was Keladrion, with her outstanding entry Windowless. Congratulations to Keladrion, all the runners up, and everyone else who entered the challenge!

***
Don't worry if you didn't manage to submit an entry in the Poetry Challenge this time around. We'll be running at least one more Poetry Challenge for all you budding Bards before the year's end. And for those of you who are tempted to dip your toe in the poetical waters, here are a few resources from around the web to help get you started on your journey:

  • Poetry 101: Resources for Beginners - A collection of articles for beginners on how to read poetry, recommendations on what to read, plus a few helpful pointers.
  • How to Write a Poem - A comprehensive guide for beginners to follow when approaching the creation of their first, great poetical masterpiece. 
  • Poetry Terms and Definitions - Write what you know, know what you're writing. Get to grips with common poetical devices and try your hand at some alternative forms of poetry, such as Pattern Poems.


Runners up...


• Alohomora by RainbowBlight • Mermaid Wishes by NightRose • 



WEbook: Hi Keladrion, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us about your winning entry to our April Challenge, Windowless

In Windowless, the opening stanza: 'Oh, / what a thing it would be / to be windowless.' seems to have a wistful longing to achieve this state of windowlessness, almost as if it's a spiritual plane of existence. Could you explain a bit about what you are trying to portray in this opening stanza?

Keladrion: To me, it’s not so much wistfulness, but more a quiet warning. I would certainly call being ‘windowless’ a spiritual plane of existence, in a way, but not an especially good one: to be windowless is to have no windows, in the sense that you’re walled off. There’s no way to look in or out, so when I say ‘what a thing it would be/ to be windowless,’ what i’m really saying is, wouldn’t that be something else: something sad. Wouldn’t that be a way to live; you’d be in the world, but you wouldn’t be part of it.

Saying that, I totally get that it could mean exactly the opposite. To be windowless, I suppose, could mean to be open, to have no windows obscuring your way. Were that my intentions, however, I imagine I’d have had an easier time focusing on doors, which, obviously, was not the challenge

WEbook: When you move onto the main body of the poem, there are repeated references to memory and especially the visual elements that are contained within their recall. Is the state of windowlessness addressed in this poem an allusion to blindness, and / or perhaps a darkening of the world?

Keladrion: The poem itself is about shutting yourself off- being windowless- and therefore having no means of living. If you don’t let people see you, you can never see them, and make friends, and with them memories and lives. If you’re not part of the world the world will never be a part of you, ‘and so to be windowless/ would wash away the world.’

With the line ‘to close your eyes and yet still see/ exists only in words,’ you can read it in more than one way (as with everything) but it’s all saying the same thing. Maybe i’m saying that, yes in your books you may find the most wondrous adventures, but they’ll still only be in books (though, as I writer, there’s no such thing as ‘only books’ but you get the general gist) or perhaps it’s literally that closing your eyes and still seeing is something that only really, truly, happens in fiction. Either way, it means the same.

It’s like saying ‘you’re kidding yourself if you expect to see if you don’t look.’ Open your eyes! Find people, make memories, live, love, fly. You’ve got from roughly here to everywhere to do whatever you want to do, so do it, don’t be walled off, don’t expect what you won’t look for, or fight for, or strive for. 

I watched a trailer recently (or an advert, maybe) in which someone said ‘happiness comes to those who wait, but what are you waiting for?’ I think that’s what I was going for, really. So when I talk about memory a lot, I think I’m trying to emphasize the fact that you have to go and find them. In a poem I wrote recently for my Classics teacher (as a sort of thank you, school is over, it’s a time of sentimentality and nostalgia) there’s a line saying ‘ahead is a memory/ and behind is remembering,’ and I think that that applies here: ‘lost memories’ aren’t memories that you’ve forgotten, but one’s that you’ll never have, because you’re windowless, you can’t see the world, or ahead of you and the memories that you could be making. They’re lost to you.

I think I’ve just said the same thing about twelve times. You get the idea.

WEbook: The metaphorical associations a reader can ally with a state of windowlessness explored in your poem could also be interpreted as a form of disassociation from the world we see around us, and an attempt to find an understanding of things by exploring their other physical attributes, such as how they sound or feel: '...grasping fingers held against pricked ears, / listening for a little tangible / in the intangible,' Do you feel that we make too many assumptions about the things around us from the visual information we gather, and should we be looking at the whole picture to create a more balanced understanding of the things around us, both physical and emotional?

Keladrion: I believe in finding a little tangible in the intangible, and the opposite, that way nothing is just, what it is. Saying that, there’s such a thing as looking too far into something. There’s nothing wrong with just being. Some things just are. I’m finishing off my A-levels at the moment, and looking to English in Uni, and I both love and hate reading too much into writing. It’s a great feeling when you suddenly get it- oh, so it means that?- but I also find myself, as a writer, thinking ‘you know what, i will write in my exam that the author chose the dress that minor character in purple to imply his/her lustful state of mind, but I’ve never once had those sorts of thoughts whilst writing.’ As for the real world, though, yeah, we definitely make too many assumptions based on what we see. I’m pretty sure that’s the basis of many, many anti-discrimination movements

WEbook: This is the first poetry challenge we have run on WEbook in a while, could you talk to us a bit about your writing, especially in relation to poetry. What got you started? Where do you find inspiration? And anything else you'd like to add!

Keladrion: Poetry is weird. It’s one of those things that not many people like, very few people can learn to like, and I never ever thought I would like, let alone write. I was wrong, obviously. I sort of started and never stopped. If I get an idea - a line or a title, or a feeling, I suppose - I've got to write the poem, start to finish, or I never will. I don’t like not finishing a poem, or it’s unlikely that it will be finished; it’s hard to get back into the same beat or rhyme - I don’t like to try to rhyme, it starts to feel artificial- or meaning. Meaning, of course, is subjective. I’ve always believed that a poem shouldn’t mean what the author meant, but whatever the reader finds in it. Of course, I don’t write blind (always, Windowless was more because I was really feeling sibilance at the time, and little add ins in a poem, like extra information, the meaning came later), there’s normally something to be said, but I’m not really bothered at all if what I’m saying and what people are reading are two different things. Of course, that’s not the case when I write prose, which I do often.

Like many people, I’m writing a book or two, and I've been writing in that sense for so much longer than I’ve even liked poetry, and it’s normally my main focus. If I write a poem, its because something takes me, I don’t normally sit down and try. I suppose there’s something more natural about it.

WEbook: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us about Windowless and your writing, Keladrion! We're looking forwards to seeing more of your entires in our WEbook Challenges over the next few months. 

---

Windowless 
by Keladrion


Oh,
what a thing it would be
to be windowless.
It would be like a whisper.
The soft touch of words against words,
murmurs of secrets breathed
from lips to lips
wistfully,
-only a whisper-
a symphony of silence sought in
shadows and solemn remembering
speaking words like lost memories
and forgotten lives.
There would be an absence of wings,
-silk swaths of soft silk
floating on nothingness,
gliding from here to there to places like
everywhere-
and no words, no
leaves on the wind
twirling in dance to
the green grass ground;
a scattering of tiny boats
on a vast, vast ocean.
And so, to be windowless
would wash away the world,
-to close your eyes and yet still see
exists only in words-
so you’ll search for more;
for smooth strands of the intangible
and the unknown, weaved through
grasping fingers held against pricked ears,
listening for a little tangible
in the intangible,
but whispers aren’t words
and whispers breed whispering,
and the walls are paper thin
and windowless.

Monday, 8 June 2015

WEbook's May Newsletter!


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Dear WEbookers,

Welcome to WEbook's May Newsletter!

This month we're highlighting some useful and free (!!) resources for writers on the internet, including some great places to find inspiration, ideas to help you stay focussed and some interesting thesauruses that will help to diversify your vocabulary and writing.

We're also giving away a free eBook copy of our latest WEbook release Songs from the Laughing Tree, by WEbook member Aftab Latif, to each WEbook member receiving this newsletter - lucky you! Make sure to read on below to find out how you can claim your free copy.

Thanks to everyone who participated in our May Challenge, First Line Imitations, our judges are locked away in their dungeon making their final decisions about the winners as you read this... Our June Challenge is now up and running, and this month we're challenging you to start your tale in the middle of the action. No faffing about with building up tension. We don't care about developing your character's broody features. WE WANT ACTION!

So, do not delay, enter The June Challenge: LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! right away. Thanks for reading and as ever, happy writing!

The WEbook Team


Do you have a member or project in mind that should be highlighted in our June newsletter? 



WEbook Community

Member of the Month

Congratulations to Miss_LadyBug for being selected as our Member of the Month for April. We decided to pick Miss_LadyBug for her fantastic contribution to PageToFame, with over 70 ratings in the last month alone!

Project Spotlight

There are loads of great new projects available to read on WEbook, but our favourite this month has to be Pivotal Moments by musesinspire:'Life can change in an instant. Everyone at some point comes to a moment when everything is changed beyond recognition. This point in time is called a Pivotal Moment.'

Why not become more involved with the WEbook community by joining one of these group projects...



A Problem Shared...

A place to ask your fellow WEbookers for help on problematic chapters, tricky characters, and frustrating plot lines... This is the place to ask for help on parts of your story that you've already written, but you just can't get quiiiite right.

Get Sharing!

500 Words

Add your own chapter to this project and top it up by 500-words every day! You should aim to be adding to your chapter in 500-word chunks for 30 days. This will get you to 15,000 words in around a month - which is basically a book!

Get Writing!

Pitch a Plot

When all you've got so far is a killer character, a banging background story or a spectacular setting and the rest of the story is... well... not materialising... it can be rather frustrating. Why waste a good idea on a moment of stunted inspiration?



This month to celebrate the release of Songs from the Laughing Tree, by A.U. Latif, we are giving away free digital copies to all our WEbook members. To download your free copy, head over to the WEbook Store and use the code NEWSLETTERAPRIL. Happy reading!



Do you think you could be our next WEbook Author? We're currently accepting submissions for Autumn / Fall publication. Email our team with your query today!

WEbook Community

Stimulation

Everyone needs a little inspiration every now and again. To get back into the literary groove check out these prompts and writing exercises designed to help reignite that inky flame...
  • One Word: Write as much as you can in 60-seconds using this single word prompt generator...
  • Dark Copy: Blot out any distractions with this screen darkening word-processor. Focus. Focus. Success.
  • Automatic Writing: If you haven't explored automatic writing yet, try it now! The idea is to keep your fingers moving - it's a doing rather than thinking exercise.
  • Lino: Brainstorm with this online pinboard. Add images, gifs, colours and notes to build up your mind palace of inspiration.

    Variety

    The English language has such a plethora of brilliant, yet uncommonly used words that could be the perfect fit for your next plot twist...

    • The Compendium of Lost Words : Bored of the garrulous blaterations of foppotee individuals? Us too. Gnathonize and roblet to your heart's desire with these long-forgotten words.
    • Fancy Phraseology : Here's a list of 225 foreign language phrases you can slip into your stories to add a little... je ne sais quoi.
    • Dictionary of Purple ProseA list of fun and unusual words to liven up your ditties, extol your character's greatest feats and jaculate an insult or two.

    Fun :)

    Here are some fun tools from around the web for us word-nuts and book-geeks that you can keep bookmarked in your writer's toolbox for 'research' purposes...
  • The Colour Thesaurus
  • : Ever wondered what colour porcelain actually is? Or Admiral blue? Here's your chance to nail those colours with one fell word.



    Wednesday, 6 May 2015

    Interview with the winner of WEbook's March Challenge - Rainbow Blight

    Back in March, we asked you to submit a story that tested your ability to manipulate the reader. The WEbook Monthly Writing Challenge often falls somewhere between a technical exercise and a bit of fun (well, we try and set them up with this premise, anyway...), and this challenge certainly fulfilled that brief! (brownie points...)

    Not only did we have a whole host of excellent stories, but they were, more often than not, the kinds of stories that stick with you and make you think. Some of the stories did this through a straight-up manipulation of the reader, others by encouraging the reader to trust with the villain, before unleashing their evil into the story. Considering each approach, many of the entries submitted to the Challenge were interesting and unique in their treatment of the task. 

    A huge thank you to everyone who entered the Challenge, and a massive congratulations to everyone who was shortlisted. 





    The runners up for March are:




    Following on from her win, we had a chat with RainbowBlight to find out some more about her, the inspiration behind Recess Lessons, and how she approached the technical side of the March Challenge: A Victimless Crime, to become our winner.

    Behind the Pen Name...



    "I’ve been writing since forever. I’ve just finished writing a YA novel about an adrenaline junkie trying to kick his habit, and I’m working on revisions." 

    "I’ve been enjoying the WEbook monthly challenges as I revise my MS. I make my living as a copy editor; I also have a photography business and license some of my photos through Getty Images US." 

    "I love reading, making art, taking long bike rides, cruising around on my motorcycle, dancing to hip-hop, and running crazy-ass OCRs like the Warrior Dash and Tough Mudder." 

    "I suck at Scrabble and always try to open doors the wrong way."



    WEbook: Hi RainbowBlight, thanks for taking the time to talk to us about your winning submission!

    Your visual depictions of Aiden's drawings are as engulfing to the reader as they are to the villain. Yet rather than letting the reader become overly compassionate toward Aiden, you regularly shatter the villain's descriptions of Aiden's art with stabs of rage, insult, and a subtle but present vein of jealousy. This not only makes the reader pity the protagonist, but it encourages us to forgive his final action, despite its violence and irrationality. 

    When you decided to write this story, how did you approach the development of a character that as a reader, we were supposed to hate and sympathise with all at once? 


    RainbowBlight: It’s easy to hate a bully; it’s hard to understand him. When my daughter started public school, she had to deal with a bully who rode her bus and sat next to her in class. It turned out that the boy was being abused at home; he treated my daughter according to the rules he knew. This didn’t make him bad, only misguided. 

    In Recess Lessons, Drake isn’t modeled after that boy, but he is based on the complex and conflicting set of emotions I felt in that situation: a strange mix of anger and compassion. I knew I had to show the depth of Drake’s loneliness in order to make the reader empathize with him, and I had to contrast that with the violence of his actions.


    WEbook: The main character in your story, the villain, is full of a violent anger that he wants to teach his victim to experience. From the villain's point of view this is rationalised as way of saving the victim from greater, future pain. Could you give us some more insight into the 'strength of good versus the strength of evil' theme that you have structured your story's action around? 

    RainbowBlight: I see Drake as living in a home environment that crushes good where it finds it. He’s young enough that compassion and hope haven’t been entirely beaten out of him, but old enough to know that exposing vulnerability will only get him hurt. To Drake’s mind, if someone he identifies as “good” is going to have a chance in the world, that person must learn to defend himself as early as possible from the evil that exists—the kind of evil Drake has experienced firsthand and he assumes Aiden has not. 

    Drake’s reluctance to act stems partly from how he feels about Aiden and partly from his fear that if he does this, he’ll become the kind of monster he hates. When the fight of good intent and evilness/anger inside him reach a fever pitch, he acts, and when it’s over, his tears of regret are both for himself and for what he’s done to Aiden, and, by extension, the art Aiden will hereafter produce. 

    Good: Aiden will be safe. 

    Evil: Aiden’s art, and Aiden himself, will no longer be so free.


    WEbook: The villain's narrative is almost entirely taken up by his description of Aiden's, chalk drawing of the universe. There are specific focuses on use of colour and the mixing of elements that shouldn't go together, but do. It's difficult not to interpret this as an attraction to Aiden, rather than purely to the freedom of his art. Especially when it is considered in light of the villain's treatment of love in the first paragraph. 

    Is the freedom that Aiden displays and the villain covets intended to be a freedom (and frustration) of sexuality as well as a freedom (and frustration) of the mind? 

    RainbowBlight: At the age of twelve, kids are just starting to wake up to the world of sexuality and physical attraction. I wanted Drake’s unacknowledged attraction to Aiden to add another layer of complexity to the combined jealousy and awe with which he views Aiden and his art. 

    Drake wants both to have Aiden and to be him; since he can do neither, he resorts to the next-best thing, which is to force Aiden to change in a way that Drake hopes, subconsciously, will make him love Aiden less. Drake’s experience of human touch has only been violent, so it’s the way he imagines physically interacting with Aiden. Drake’s survival instincts have led him to hold the belief that you hit because you care.

    TL;DR: Yes. :-)

    WEbook: Underneath the brilliant descriptions of Aiden's art, there is a character that every reader will have met - the angry, malicious, violent, bully. In life, as in literature, this character often appears, and so it can be difficult to develop a convincing portrait of a bully that does not slip into the trap of cliché. How do you deal with this, and other literary challenges, in your writing?


    RainbowBlight: Complex fictional characters reflect human complexity; we all have contradictory elements to our personalities. One person might be both laid-back and drawn to adventure, while another might be gregarious around close friends but clam up in larger groups. It’s the same with bullies. They’re as human as any of us, motivated sometimes by greed, anger, or lust, and other times by sadness and pain. Avoiding clichés is sometimes as simple as showing your character’s complicated, conflicting inner motivations—which is my favorite aspect of writing. 

    WEbook: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us about your winning entry, Rainbow Blight! We look forwards to reading more of your entries over the coming months.


    To read RainbowBlight's winning entry, Recess Lessons, head on over to the March Challenge page.

    Don't forget that the May Challenge: First Line Imitations is now OPEN

    This month we're challenging you to take the first line of your favourite book and write a completely different story. 

    Good luck and happy writing!

    The WEbook Team