Thursday, 30 May 2013

Your life as a fairy tale (Part 1)

It's hard to say who the heroes
and villains were in my life; they
never took their masks off.
When I trained to be a creative writing therapist I had a lot of fun trauma moments of insight when therapising myself. For obvious reasons, I am not going to bear my shocking revelations on this blog, but The Fairy Tale exercise is one I remember as being both enjoyable and enlightening, and I thought you might like to have a go yourself.

It is based on Valdimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale – a theory about the characters and format of folk tales, in which he identified 7 broad character types and a sequence of 31 functions which make up the structure of story. When you place yourself in this scenario, it makes you think about the people and situations in your life and how they have been both helpful and detrimental to your happiness; how you succeeded and failed and became the person you are today.

For the first part of this exercise, you need to examine the characters that have played a part in your life and assign them a role in your fairy tale. You might find it easier to focus on one period or even a single episode in your life.

The characters in your story are

  • The hero - this character is you - also known as the seeker or victim
  • The villain - opposes the hero or blocks his/her quest
  • The donor - the fairy godmother archetype - gives the hero a magical object
  • The dispatcher - sends the hero on their way
  • The false hero - perceived as good character in beginning but emerges as evil
  • The helper - helps the hero in the quest
  • The prince/princess - acts as a reward for the hero - and/or the object of the villain’s scheming.

Primarily it is a bit of fun, but if you do the exercise, I defy you not to go away and think a little deeper about the people who have helped you become who you are today.

The second part of this exercise is coming soon! 

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Holy Grail

Are you brave
enough to go it alone?

I’ve seen a lot of posts recently where people are really stressing the importance of having an agent, and making out it’s, like, really the ONLY way to get anywhere in publishing. And while I’d agree it’s ONE way to get somewhere, it’s definitely not the ONLY way.

I was with my agent nearly three years. She tried hard to get my books out there and gave me lots of help and valuable pointers. But it - that much desired publication contract - never happened. And I know from the feedback she passed on from editors and publishers that it wasn’t about the quality of my writing; the most common issue seemed to be that they already had something similar. Market forces.

(Yes, Dharling we love your work, but it would clash horribly with one we saw earlier….) 

I can hack that. Publishers have to make a living too.

But don’t make out that agents and mainstream publishers are the ONLY option. Because there’s a lot to be said for going it alone. As a self-publisher you control:
  • the rights to your work
  • the content of your work
  • the cover design
  • the price
  • the distribution
  • the speed at which you move 

On top of that, you have higher royalties, the opportunity to learn about the industry from a different angle, the opportunity to learn about new technologies, self promotion and marketing. And let’s not forget that self published writers are happier.

Will you jump for joy?
You might not get an advance, and you might not have the prestige associated with a traditional book deal, but after all your hard work, surely the Holy Grail here is getting your work into print? And believe me, it is possible to have a quality product and an income from writing without an agent or Random Penguin holding your hand.

So if you're not getting anywhere with your agent and wondering if it's ever going to happen, my advice is to think about your options seriously... and if it still doesn't happen, JUMP! What have you got to lose?