Can you relate to these writing quotes? #amwriting

I think these are funny because, even though they are old, they are still relevant today!

“The wastepaper basket is still the writer’s best friend.” Issaac Singer, Story writer and novelist.

“When I’m writing a novel, I’m dealing with a double life. I live in the present at the same time that I live in the past with my characters. Is is this that makes a novelist so eccentric and unpleasant.” John Marquand (1893-1960)

“One ought to write only when one leaves a piece of one’s flesh in the inkpot each time one dips one’s pen.” Count Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910)

“I am breaking my heart over this story and cannot bear to finish it.” Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

LOL I love them! Can you relate to these too?

Lisa Flaus

My beautiful Auckland, New Zealand

I love my city 🙂

Last weekend I went out on a plane, flown by my friend Lynn Marshall. The weekend before I went out on a boat on the harbour.

2012 The Final Revelation – Sample

I thought I would post up a little snippet of chapter five. It is a short scene where Andrew and his father are about to reveal to the archaeology students and work crew what Andrew has discovered down in the tomb…

The team gathered back in the center of the camp. Tents were half built and Andrew could see the relief etched into the faces of the sweating students as they got to take a break from the hot, challenging work. They sat on the ground while the rest of the team had the luxury of sitting on green canvas chairs. Afi stood.

Andrew noticed his father’s face was aglow and alive, and it was clear the students and staff could feel excitement in the air. Although they were all well aware of the new tomb, Andrew could tell everyone was curious about all the murmurings and whisperings filling the air between himself, Baxter, and his father.

“Right,” John began, “let’s have a moment together. Settle down,” he said.

The crowd hushed.

“Well here we are, nestled in the highland rain forest of Chiapas. Palenque is considered to be one of the most beautiful ancient cities in the entire Mayan world.” John paced back and forth as he talked. “We have so much still to discover and find in the region and are blessed to have this opportunity to be a part of history.” He glanced over at Andrew.

Andrew nodded. He was proud to be one of the few archaeologists in the country that was permitted to peel back the layers of time and learn more about the Mayan people.

Even in ruins, the city of Palenque was impressive and still guarded secrets yet to be unraveled by the archaeologist’s trowel. Alongside Andrew and his team, other archaeological and research teams were studying and excavating in the area to uncover more of the mysteries and enigmas surrounding the ancient civilization of the Maya. Large areas of the ancient city were roped off to visitors as teams worked to reveal hidden treasures.

“Tell the students more about the area will you, Andrew,” his father requested.

“Sure.” Andrew stood and spoke. “The vegetation is so thick here in the forest that Palenque town residents, and the local Maya Indians, lived in the area for almost two hundred and fifty years before discovering the ancient ruins. Around 1786 a man called Don Antonio del Rio led a team and cut back the jungle, clearing the land. The site of Palenque covers fifteen square kilometers and contains hundreds of buildings, of which only forty have been uncovered or restored. The finding of a tomb and contents is a huge discovery.”

“Indeed a big discovery,” his father interrupted.

“We are going to be really busy the next few weeks now that we have a new tomb,” Andrew continued. “Some of the crew will work with you on our original dig site. You never know what else we might find.”

Andrew nodded at his father and sat back down.

“Thank you, Andrew,” his father said, looking at the students. “We will also find the time to take you on a tour of the Palenque ruins.”

The students all nodded enthusiastically.

John continued on. “Palenque shows us the highest point in the art of the late-classic period, between 600 to 800 AD. The Mayan architecture and their artwork reached the zenith of expression at this site.”

Everybody listened intently.

“The Temple of Inscriptions is one of the best preserved Mayan temples. We have learned so much from the hieroglyphic tablets and stelae. In 1952, what was found there?” he asked.

There was silence a moment before a student called out, “A tomb.”

“Yes,” John said. “Who found it?”

“Mexican archaeologist, Alberto Ruz Lhuillier.”

“Excellent, yes,” John replied. “It was an incredible find. The texts indicated the tomb belonged to a leader called Pacal the Great. He ruled the land for sixty-eight years,” he paused, interlocking his fingers. “It took Alberto four years to clear the rubble from the stairway. He found an elaborately carved sarcophagus with the king’s human remains still lying inside it. His body was adorned with the richest offering of jade ever seen in a Maya tomb. He was wearing a jade mask over his face and a jade suit.” John began to walk around the students. “When did he rule?”

“615 to 683 AD, Sir.”

“Correct. When he was twelve years old, he assumed power. During his rule, he set in motion the vast rebuilding of Palenque, emphasizing the construction of grandiose buildings to reflect his power. One of his great structures was the Palace, covered with stucco carvings of rulers, gods, and ceremonies.”

Andrew listened intently. He knew all this information, but loved watching his father’s teaching style, passionate and knowledgeable.

“Who can tell me about the ancient Maya writings?” John asked the students.

After a few seconds three hands shot up.

“Martin,” John said, pointing to the youth.

“They wrote in hieroglyphic writing. It was very complex and they had hundreds of signs in the form of abstract designs.”

“Yes, excellent reply! The Maya writing system had an extensive set of phonetic signs that represented individual sounds like in alphabetic systems. The earliest examples of Maya writing were created during the pre-classic period. The unit of the writing system is the glyphic cartouche, which is equivalent to the words and sentences of our modern language.” John scratched his chin then sat himself back down on a chair. “Now,” he continued the lesson. “What did they write about? Mary.” He pointed at the teenage girl.

“They documented historical and social events. Like birth and death and that….” Mary trailed off.

“What else?”

“Astronomical events,” another voice piped up.

“Yes, yes, good. What else?”

“Torture and death.”

“Yes, important later in time. Initially, the Maya recorded lines of succession, important dates, genealogy too; but in later years they documented the capture of enemies, torture, and death. Right, next question, what did they use to write on?”

Hands shot up, including Baxter’s. Ignoring his wild humorous gesturing, his father pointed to a student.

“Carved in stone, Sir.”

“What else?” John asked.

“Ceramics and pottery.”

“Walls? Made of Stucco?” another student added.

“Yes, well done. Our newly discovered tomb appears to have that construction material, but we will have to wait until that’s confirmed….” John paused, as if pondering his next question. “Anyway, what is stucco made of?”

“Stucco is made from sand, lime, and water, Sir.”

“Good, yes. What else did they write on?” John asked, raising himself off his chair and walking around again.

Typical teacher. Andrew thought.

Silence.

The students sat, some eyes were cast downward, others looking around at each other.

“Books,” Leanne, the other female student in the group said, “called Codices.”

“Excellent!” the Professor almost bellowed. Andrew saw her smile with relief. “Yes books! The Maya would pound bark into pulp with stone implements called bark beaters. Natural gums were used as a bonding substance to hold the pulp together. Then they would apply a coating of fine white lime to both sides of the paper, providing a smooth finish they could paint on. Does anyone know what they wrote with?”

No one replied.

“It is thought they would use quills made of feathers, wood and other implements,” John answered his own question. “Now, how many Mayan Codices have ever been found?”

“Four, Sir.” Leanne answered again. “The others were burned by the Spanish.”

“And how many Aztec Codices are there?”

Silence.

“A lot more,” John said, obviously realizing the question was a tricky one to answer. “There are only a few surviving pre-conquest Codices, but there are as many as five hundred Colonial-era Codices dating around the time of the Spanish conquest of Mexico. One of the more beautiful older ones, painted around 1530, about a decade after the conquest, is the Boturnini Codex. A piece of art I myself have studied.” He began pacing as he talked. “It is on one long sheet of fig bark, folded accordion style and is around twenty one pages long. The pictures tell the story of the Aztec journey to the valley of Mexico.” He stopped talking.

Andrew looked around the group. The whole team, including Afi, were totally captivated. He looked back to his father as he resumed talking.

“Anyway I digress, that was about the Aztec Codices. Now we are talking about the rarer Maya versions. Leanne mentioned they were burned by the Spanish. Yes, this did indeed happen. Many books, both Mayan and Aztec, were destroyed when the Spanish tried to convert the population to Christianity.” Professor Cunningham scratched his head and looked around at his captive audience. “Now let’s see if I can remember this quote,” he said, still scratching his head as if to recall it. “We found a great number of books and since they contained nothing but superstitions and falsehoods of the devil, we burned them, which they took most grievously, and it gave them great pain.” I think I might have a few words wrong there but it’s about right. Now who spoke those words? Andrew?” John asked his son.

Andrew knew the answer immediately.

In 1519, six hundred Spaniards and native allies, led by Don Hernando Cortes, arrived at the metropolis the Aztecs had built on a lake island, now known asMexico. Although the Maya cities were in ruins centuries before, the mighty Aztec culture was rich and economically, politically, and religiously powerful. The Spanish were amazed by the splendors they saw, great temples and palaces and incredible marvels. Even so, the Spaniards considered the Aztec to be barbarians and aimed to attack and steal their riches and convert them to Christianity.

“Bishop Diego de Landa,” Andrew answered.

“When?”

“By 1566, they started gathering up all the writings they could find to burn them. A few missionaries saved as much indigenous literature they could find so they could protect them and escape the fire.”

“So,” John went on, not acknowledging Andrew’s correct answers. “Although there are a number of Aztec writings, we do know that only four Maya glyph books survived. Can anyone tell me the name of any of the four Mayan Codices that have been found?”

Andrew noticed his field team looking over at him, wondering where this line of questioning was going and whispering amongst themselves. He caught Baxter’s eye and grinned. Baxter smiled back. They both knew the plan to announce the find. Baxter was clearly enjoying the line of questioning.

“The Dresden Codex,” Leanne called out again.

“Yes, the most famous, most beautiful, most complete and best understood of all the Codices. It has served as our most important source of information about Maya astronomy. The Dresden Codex has around seventy four pages. The artist used both sides of the paper and painted them with a fine brush. The Codex is housed securely in a glass cabinet inDresden, hence its name.”

Everyone was listening.

“Now, what are the other three called?” John asked again. When no one replied he turned to the archaeological team sitting by Andrew. “Team?”

“Grolier Codex, a fragment of eleven pages.”

“ParisCodex.”

“MadridCodex.”

“Which of the four is the one still debated?” John asked.

“The Grolier Codex is the most recently discovered and its authenticity is still furiously debated,” Baxter answered.

“Very good, yes,” John replied. “It was said to have been found in a wooden box in a cave not far from here, inChiapas. It is in very poor condition. It appears to have been hastily created with rough penmanship but that doesn’t mean it’s not authentic. So we have the Grolier, Paris, Dresden, and Madrid Codices, the only four that have ever been found and all named after the cities that house them.” John stopped talking and rubbed his chin.

No one spoke.

“Andrew,” he turned to face his son, pausing a moment longer for effect. “What will the name of the fifth Codex be I wonder?”

Andrew smiled and paused, savoring the moment. “I don’t know yet, any suggestions?” Andrew replied.

There were loud audible gasps from the team. Some of the younger group did not immediately comprehend what was transpiring between father and son. After a moment, the noise level slowly rose and erupted, peaking in level as the group realized what had just been announced.

There was a Codex down in the tomb!

More writing tips…

Continuing on from the previous 5 tips, here are 2 more …

6. The Plot

The success of your story depends on plot and character development.

Before you start writing it helps to develop an overall story plot. This may take some time but, believe me, it is worth it.

The best way to develop the plot is either a) Do a chapter outline (example given in previous post) or b) Create a storyboard.

I started with an A3 sheet of paper and divided it into chapters. After a while I added small post-it notes to add extras. I then changed it to be the chapter outline because the wall post got too messy.

Not all writers use these approaches. They can start writing and just see where the story leads them. There is no right way but, for a first novel, I recommend at least a broad plot structure or outline. In my opinion, these are the basic building blocks to writing a story. It will be a living and breathing process that will change and develop as you write your novel.

7. Commitment

“I have a dream to write a novel.”

It’s all very well you have a goal but what about how this decision may impact, not only your own life but people in your life?

Sometimes you will become obsessed with the story and it will impact on your social life. I can’t tell you the amount of times I said these words over the years: “I can’t come out tonight.” “I’m writing this weekend.” “I’m really busy.”

Sometimes I’d feel so guilty saying no but the writers journey is so exciting! You get obsessed and you just can’t take a break. Once you’re in the ‘zone,’ it feeds you and drives you.

If you feel that passionate about a story, it comes through your writing voice and the reader hears it.

I can give you a little tip. The people in my life were supportive because, once I explained my dream, we struck an agreement. I would write and edit the first ten chapters – then let them read it.

I was not comfortable giving them my first draft because I’m a perfectionist. I waited until those ten chapters were in 3rd draft and well edited. Even then there were mistakes. I wouldn’t recommend letting people see your work until it is in a good state you are happy to hand over. 

I was incredibly nervous, but we had a deal – if it’s not a good story and I’m not a good writer I will find another hobby. If it is, then they will understand my commitment and support me 100%. They all did.

It was so beneficial to go through that process because whenever, and it will happen to you, I lost my mojo, had writers block, suffered from doubt – they were there supporting me and telling me to “keep going”.

Because they had read a sample, they all became part of my journey and understood when I bailed out on social events.

So, it’s very well for you to commit to writing a novel but I recommend you also include your closest, most trustworthy loved ones.

They will support your commitment, then walk beside you.

That’s all for now,

Lisa Flaus

5 Novel Writing Tips…

Each week I will post up some tips for writers based on my  own experience. Every writer follows a different process so I hope these ideas can help someone.

The Writers Journey – Starting out…

A novel has three important components that make it a good story, plot, scenes and characters. Knowing how to make these key components work together is vital in writing a successful fiction novel.

#TIP 1 – Spend time thinking about your story and make it as original as possible. If you have more than one idea in your head, pick one. Don’t attempt to write more than one book at a time. Pick one and nail it. Create a chapter outline (structure) with key focus on the beginning, middle and end. At least start the book with the idea of them, it may change later but it helps flesh out the storyline.

Here is an example of mine:

Chapter Description Key Characters Ending
Prologue Tuesday May 24th, 2011. The spirit Kin’ah sees Andrew in the rainforest. He is the chosen one. Kin’ah (main)Andrew (secondary) 

Baxter (secondary)

Afi (secondary)

Kin’ah spoke. “Lelo’ Andu u k’aaba.”
1 One year laterAndrew falls into the tomb. 

 

Andrew (main) Andrew had found a Maya Codex.
2 Thursday, December 20th, 2012Kathryn arrives at grandmothers house. Set the scene. Kathryn (main)Father (secondary) Her exhaustion would save her life.

 

#TIP 2 – Genre. Write what you love to read or a subject you know most about. Read, read, read. What is your favourite book and why? Analyse it. Why couldn’t you put it down? What did the author do to keep you engaged? Learn from reading.

#TIP 3 – Always carry a small pad and pen wherever you go. Some of my greatest ideas have come to me when I’m not sitting in front of my computer and I need to capture them quickly. You can often find me scribbling notes in the supermarket, meetings, out with friends, doing the dishes or stopped at a red light. It’s a never ending process. The story is always in your head.

#TIP 4 – Know your characters. Know them as well as you know yourself. Stand beside them. It was during my first chapter, when Andrew was standing in the rainforest, I understood. I had to walk in his shoes, smell the environment, hear the sounds, feel his reaction and emotion when he fell into a tomb. So I started a “Character Description” document. 1/2 page per character.

It contains fields like Name, Physical Description (age, height etc), Role, Relationships to other characters, strengths, weaknesses and personality key words etc.

#TIP 5 – Dialogue. Easier said than done. In my very first 10 chapter review someone told me some of my dialog was “stilted and stiff.” So I learnt to write dialog by speaking it aloud to myself. Then I sat with someone and talked through some conversations, like a play. Keep the conversation casual and natural.

In summary

Writing a novel is hard work. Writing a great novel is extremely hard. If you have a dream to write a book and see it to publication you want it to be the very best you can achieve. And always remember, even the best selling author had to write their very first story. Mine took six years from concept to publication. I re-wrote my chapters about 20-30 times each. When I finally held the physical book in my hand, I knew every word off by heart.

I encourage you to keep going. It isn’t easy, but it is worth every stroke of the pen.

Let me know if there is anything you want to know about and I will try to help.

Until next time…

Lisa Flaus

My 3 favourite writing quotes

Love these quotes:

“Writing is so difficult that I often feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment hereafter.”  J West, 1907

“Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.”  Gloria Steinem, 1934

“Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies he mast. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out, if it’s not, throw it out the window.”  William Faukner (1897 – 1962)

My manuscript turns into a novel…

What a feeling! Check out my word document, edits and all VS the actual page in the book!

I had a dream…