Hard Work!

I just did three hours of courses. I started the second week of ‘Explore Filmmaking’ and the first week of ‘An Introduction To Screenwriting.’ Boy, this is hard work! It’s fun to ‘meet’ other film makers / writers though, read their career paths, discuss their views, learn from their experiences.

Now that’s done I finally get to edit my second novel, I just got the text back from my proof reader yesterday. I am supposed to hand in the text by the third of March, so bring out the coke zero!

Create50 entry #3

Hi Everybody,

I just entered my third story in the Create50 Twisted Vol.2 short story competition. You can find it in the top right hand side of my page under ‘My Short Stories’ and it is called ‘Stuff nightmares are made of.’ It’s only 247 words, half a page. They’re getting shorter and shorter!

I would love to hear what you think of it, or of my other competition entries. I understand that not everybody can leave a reaction/like on this page. You can also leave a comment on my Facebook page.

Love to hear from you soon,

Jacky D.


Lessons Learned #4

Hug your friends, but love your thesaurus

Honestly, I don’t know what I’d be without a thesaurus. I don’t own one in book form, but I use any online thesaurus that can give me a description and/or synonyms of a word that I am trying to use in my writing. With English not being my first language I have to make sure that whatever word I use is exactly what I want it to say. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

I thought I had written a pretty good story when I handed in my first novel to the proof reader. Little did I know. When I got it back it was filled with red words, most of them suggestions for using other words. My vocabulary was small and I fell into the trap of repetition. I learned a lot from the comments of my proof reader. I wrote them all down and go through the whole list whenever I have written something. Just to make sure I don’t repeat the same mistakes.

One of the biggest mistakes I made is repeatedly using the word ‘to get.’

I got up.

I got dressed.

I got the book.

I got his gest.

All of these are valid sentences. If you put them into a text, however, you will not be so happy with them.

I got up and got dressed. I got the book. I finally got his gest.

I got, I got, I got, I got. Repetition. Boring! You probably could say it that way, but this is not what people want to read.

All these ‘gots’ actually have different meanings.

I got up – I rose, lifted myself off…, hoisted myself out of….

I got dressed – I put my clothes on.

I got the book – I grabbed/retrieved/picked up the book.

I got his gest – I understood his meaning.

To get up and to get dressed are probably ok to use as the ‘getting’ is part of the verb; to get dressed, to get up. But there are other ways to say it. If you use these different descriptions your writing will become not only more clear, but also more of a pleasure to read.

I hoisted by body out of bed and put my clothes on. Once dressed I picked up the book. I finally understood his meaning.

So much better.

Use a thesaurus!


I repeat: OMG! I just had to get it out. I’ll explain.

Yesterday I received a review on my Create50 Twisted Vol.2 short story entry called ‘Rumour has it…’ (see my short stories list at the top right hand side of my Website) which goes as follows:

‘I don’t know how you managed to make something so brutal sound so poetic. This is fantastic.’

– Stephany Hutton –

I have never been a poet. I don’t really like poetry, especially when it doesn’t rhyme, it is wasted on me. I was in discussion with a writer/poet the other day and I had to re-iterate to him several times that I don’t like poetry. Especially when it doesn’t rhyme. His poems didn’t rhyme.

There are poems that I like, of course, Dutch ones. There’s one in particular that I remember about how a guys realizes that the lid of the peanut butter pot fits the jam pot and he wonders of the jam pot lid fits the peanut butter pot. Which it does! But these occasions, of liking poems, are rare for me. The writer/poet that I was in discussion with argued that you are ‘free’ when it doesn’t have to rhyme. But, as another friend of mine said, ‘if you don’t want it to rhyme, why not write a short story?’

So why am I, who doesn’t like poetry, so elated that I got this comment?

Is it because it is such a particular nice comment? Am I so eager to have my ego patted on the back? Everybody needs a pat on the shoulder of course. And when you embark on a new career it can be rather daunting, especially if your existence has spanned nearly half a century. Any positive feedback is very welcomed to help you to take another step on your precarious journey. But I got other lovely comments on my writing. This one, though, has me jumping up and down.

‘Make something so brutal sound so poetic,’ is not something that I was aiming for and doing it without ‘lifting my shirt’ (part of a Dutch expression conveying that I did it with ease) makes it very special to me. Maybe I am looking for conformation that I have finally found my niche? That I truly am a writer at heart, that I can do this.

When I think about it, I have always been writing. As a kid I started writing movie reviews on films I saw on television. Nobody got to read them, but I have a whole book full of them. As a teenager I had a diary. I once let my diary be read by my then boyfriend and it made him cry (not everything I wrote was nice). I tore up the pages and it took me a long time before I started writing again. I didn’t want to hurt anybody with my words (the pen is mightier than the sword, eh). I have also been an editor during my studies (working for an exotic animal magazine by and for veterinary students), I wrote lesson plans for my students when I was a high school science teacher, and after that I took notes during meetings at work and at a residents’ association. Not the most creative of writing, but writing still.

I have been looking for the right job for me for years, never being truly happy in what I did. Until last summer, when I started writing my first novel. I literally got a high from it. If I wasn’t writing, I was having private rave parties, I was this high on it. So maybe the review confirms that, even after the rush of writing a novel has gone, I am truly a writer at heart. Let’s just stick with this for now…

I’ve started a Filmmaking Group!

Aargh! I’ve just started up a filmmaking group on MeetUp. I have no idea if there are any likewise inclined people in my area, but this was the only way to find out. I so hope that there are creative people around that want to learn how to make a movie, like me. I don’t care if they are young or old, ugly or handsome, have experience or not. The whole exercise is to get experience. There are lots of opportunities in and around Edinburgh and Glasgow, but that’s it for Scotland.

Fingers crossed people will turn up. I’ve got my ‘Complete Book of Scriptwriting,’ by J.Michael Straczynski, and am ready to go!

Explore Filmmaking

I just began a new course from Future Learn, called Explore Filmmaking (#FLexplorefilm). It has more practical features than my last course, Film Production, and I can’t wait to get started!

I normally handle the SLR camera and my DH the video camera. It will be quite a change to deal with moving images. I hope I can deal with the moving objects, focus and lighting at the same time. But like they say; practice makes perfect!

Create 50

I have entered a short story writing competition called ‘Create 50.’ You write a 2000 words story, enter for £5 and in return you read and review three other stories. It is a fun way of learning what other people think of your writing and learn about other people’s writing style.

This year’s theme is a repeat of last year’s, called ‘Twisted.’ It’s basically a horror theme. I entered a story I started to write after a scary dream I had and got stuck on the story line. The dream ended. But 2K words should do the trick. I got nice feedback already of fellow writers (thanks Scott, Christopher and Dan!). They were spot on that I actually intended to make this into a feature length novel and kind of rushed the end of my short story whilst starting very detailed. I will have to re-write the story to put more emphasis on the ending, where it matters.

I will, when I’m back behind my computer and not sitting in bed still, upload the first version and subsequent reviewed versions of my story, called ‘The Entity,’ in ‘My Other Ramblings’ at the top of my page, so you can follow my progress. I can only upload three drafts, so I have to make them count!



Lessons Learned #3

The Non-restrictive and Restrictive Clause

There is a saying in Dutch – alles mag, niets moet – that translates as ‘Anything goes, nothing must be done.’ Hmm, somehow it doesn’t sound the same in English. But what I wanted to say with it is that this isn’t so in grammar. In grammar it is more likely to use the phrase ‘Anything you say can and will be used against you!’ Have a look at these two sentences.

Example 1: I ate all the cake that was chocolate.

Example 2: I ate all the cake, which was chocolate.

In the first example it is clear that I only ate cake that was chocolate cake; not the vanilla cake, not the carrot cake or any other type of cake. That was chocolate is the restrictive clause (remember the clause; it has a subject and a verb). It could, however, be all the chocolate cake around; the one on my plate, the one on your plate and even all the cake on the cake stand. If you don’t want to sound bulimic you will have to add some more restrictions into the sentence.

In the second example, the main clause implies I ate all the cake; vanilla, carrot and chocolate alike. The second part of the sentence, which was chocolate, can be left out. It just lets you know that all the cake there was happens to be chocolate cake, but this is non-essential. I still ate all the cake. Hence this clause is a non-restrictive clause. It just leaves you wondering who took the vanilla and carrot cake before you came into the room…

You may have noticed in these two examples that there are slight differences. The first one is the use of a comma in example 2. This is the rule for non-restrictive clauses; they are separated from the main clause by at least one comma. If the non-restrictive clause is in the middle of a sentence, as it is in this sentence, there is a comma before and after it. If it is at the end of a sentence, there is a comma in front of it. You know it is a non-restrictive clause if, when you take it out of the sentence, the main clause still has the same meaning. Try it yourself with this previous sentence. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

The second difference is that in example 1 I used the word that and in example 2 I used the word which. This is another differentiation between a restrictive and non-restrictive clause. If you use that, you introduce a restrictive clause (and hence no commas). If you use which, you introduce a non-restrictive clause and it should be separated from the main clause by a comma (or two, depending on the location in the sentence).

Now where is that carrot cake…?

Have a Wonderful Writing Week(end)!

PS: If anybody notices that I’ve got something wrong, please let me know. I have no proper literary education and get all my information from the internet.

Websites used to compile this text:

Illusion lost…

At the moment I am reading the book ‘Story’ by Robert McKee; a book about structure, substance and style and the principles of screenwriting. It was recommended to me by one of my fellow cursists. Even though I am not halfway into the book, I have learned a lot already and I can recommend it to anyone who wants to write a good story.

I must admit I was dumbfounded when I read a passage that said that some writers reach this ‘mystical point where all of a sudden the characters jump of the page and make the story happen.’ ‘OMG,’ I thought, ‘that’s what happened to me!’ Only to be demystified immediately by the explanation that it is purely the result of the writer being over-saturated with knowledge about the story. I had become a ‘god (not with a capital, mind you) in my little universe’ and it was the result of all my hard work. I wasn’t happy at all that this experience was de-mystified for me, for I was sure it had been a sign I had a gift and had to become a writer. Fortunately, being compared to a god (even if only in my little universe) sort of made me feel good again.

I’m not sure about the ‘hard work’ mentioned, as I didn’t do much active research into human relationships. Unless you count the numerous (human) relations I have had, but these were not planned. I did notice that when I got stuck in the story was when it was not about human relations. Cars and planes and motorbikes are not my forte and I hope that this isn’t too obvious in my stories.

So, I have lost an illusion, but gained some crucial advice: when you want to write a story, you need to know every aspect of it inside out.  Who are your characters, what is their past, how are they feeling, what is the setting? If you know these things by heart, without thinking, and you have some imagination and sort of know how to write a story, then your story may happen as if by magic! Continue reading “Illusion lost…”

Film Production

I just finished the three weeks online course on Film Production by Future Learn. I managed to cramp it into two weeks and one day! It was an interesting course that gave more insight into what roles there are in film making. The last week was more focused on how people should start getting into the film business, with emphasis on being runners and working your way up. Not much about script writing, so can’t wait for the course Introduction To Script Writing to start at the end of the month!