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!

Lessons Learned #2

The Independent and Dependent Clause

When I first read about ‘the clause’ I had to suppress a giggle. With no literary education apart from my high school English the only clause I had ever heard of was, of course, Santa Clause. But as I read on, I realised how important the clause is, and I admit I have made mistakes regarding this little-but-oh-so-important part of literature. I will try to give you a simplified explanation of ‘the clause’ and will start with the ‘independent clause’ vs. the ‘dependent clause.’

For those who don’t know (yet), the clause is the smallest way to make a sentence; it contains a subject and a verb. I walk. They sat. We read. These are all sentences made of a single clause. They contain a subject and a verb. You can have one or two clauses in a sentence and, if you’re wise with words, even more. Have a look at this 239-words sentence, its amazing!

Every sentence must have at least one (main) clause, otherwise you will have something called a fragment, which is, obviously, not a sentence.

Example of one clause: We drank a lot of wine. (We = subject; drank = verb)

Example of two clauses: We drank a lot of wine, and we danced all night. (We, we = subjects; drank, danced = verbs)

example of three clauses: We drank a lot of wine, although I didn’t really like the vintage, and we danced all night. (We, I, we = subjects; drank, didn’t like, danced = verbs)

Example of a fragment: Drank a lot of wine. (? = subject; drank = verb; hence no clause)

Clauses can be independent or dependent/subordinate.

An independent clause can make a sentence on its own.

Example: We drank a lot of wine.

A dependent/subordinate clause can’t stand on its own; it is dependent on an independent clause.

Example: Because we drank a lot of wine, we danced all night.

The underlined first clause in the above example is now a dependent clause as ‘because we drank a lot of wine’ is not a proper sentence on its own; because of this something happens. i.e. ‘we danced all night’. Because ‘we danced all night’ can be a separate sentence on its own it is an independent clause. ‘We drank a lot of wine’ would have been an independent clause, but because we added ‘because’ to it, it isn’t any longer. It now is dependent on the independent clause ‘we danced all night,’ and hence is now a depended clause. Confused yet?

Connecting independent clauses

You can connect two independent clauses in three ways;

  • with coordinating conjunctions. They are: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so; or FANBOYS (see this page). This page also has interesting text on when to use a comma with coordinating conjunctions. I learned something again here, hence I put the comma into the example sentence with the two clauses! But more about punctuation in another blog.
  • with a semicolon (;) or colon (:)
  • with a semicolon, a transition word and a comma (example: I like wine; however, I don’t like dry wines) (see this page for transition words like after, as although, unless and more)

Connecting a dependent clause to an independent clause

You can connect a dependent clause to an independent clause in two ways: by using a subordinate conjunction or a relative pronoun.

Subordinate conjunction

You use another type of conjunction to connect a dependent/subordinate clause to an independent clause; the subordinate conjunction (although, as, because, etc.). You can find a list with the most used subordinate conjunctions here.

You can start the sentence with the independent clause or with the dependent clause. If using the former, don’t use a comma to combine the two clauses. When using the latter, separate the two clauses with a comma. These two last sentences are good examples for the latter sentence structure (dependent before independent clause).

Example of former: We danced all night because we drank a lot of wine. (dependent clause first, so no comma)

By the way, there is a fine line between transition words and conjunctions. Some words can even be used as both. Have a look at this page for further information.

Relative pronoun

Another way to connect a dependent clause to an independent clause is with a relative pronoun; that, which, whichever, who, whoever, whom, whomever, whose, and of which. These words take over the role of the subject in the dependent clause and integrates the conjunction word. Look at the next two examples.

Example 1: We drank a lot of wine, but the wine was horrible, and danced all night.

Example 2: We drank a lot of wine, which was horrible, and danced all night.

In the second example ‘which’ takes the place of the conjunction ‘but’ and the noun ‘wine’ from the first example. ‘which was horrible’ is not an independent clause, it is dependent on ‘we drank a lot of wine’ and refers to the word ‘wine.’

I think this is enough wine drinking and dancing for now! Next week I will discuss the restrictive and non-restrictive clauses.

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:

Let your story get hold of you

I read an article on Flipboard yesterday titled ‘The Beauty of Writing – What I Wish All Writers Knew’ by Vanessa Carnevale, Fiction & Freelance Writer, Coach (Her article)

The words that struck me were the following:

‘If you push past the discomfort by treating your first draft with gentleness and reverence, there will come a point that your story will take hold of you instead of you taking hold of your story.’

That is exactly what happened when I started writing my first novel! I sat back and let the characters do what they wanted to do. I immersed myself in the situation and… it just happened. I was merely the medium that was putting the words on paper. I didn’t plan the story line, I didn’t think about where I wanted to go with the story; I just let it happen… AND IT DID! Sometimes I even surprised myself with what I had written. My main character would be peddling up shit creek and I had no idea how to get her out again, but she did this all herself!

It’s the same with writing songs I suppose, as Marlon Roudette’s sings in ‘When the Beat Drops Out’: ‘The song will write you, you don’t write it.’ This was the song, by the way, that initiated my dream. He sings ‘ I was running, we collided’ and ‘I didn’t mean to fall in love, last thing I was thinking off.’ That’s exactly what happened in my dream: girl was running and collided with vampire, hopelessly falling in love with him.

So you never know where your inspiration comes from, but you shouldn’t worry about it. It’ll come, one way or another. Don’t give up, just put your pen to paper! Or your fingers to the keyboard… 🙂

Romance Week!

Yes, it’s Romance Week on Goodreads!

And who doesn’t like some romance in their lives? I have copied some romantic excerpts from both my novels onto my Goodreads page, but for those of you who are not Goodreads members (I’m not sure if you can read Goodreads stuff if you’re not) or just lazy (;P) I have copied them here too. I hope you get all romantic now…

Excerpt from Succedaneum – Living Like A Vampire

I found my way back to the foyer and was glad to find that the drone had fallen asleep whilst on duty. Outside the sun was still shining, I blinked heavily and I hesitated to go outside.

I can’t do this anymore…

I so wanted to go away, get in a car and leave all this shit behind me. I wanted to feel the sun on my face and just drive, I didn’t care where to. True, I wanted to find Caleb, but it was more than that. I wanted normality, I wanted the boredom of going to work every day, I wanted laughing children around me, and I wanted to visit my parents and my sisters.

 “Please don’t go,” I heard a quiet voice say behind me all of a sudden. I turned around and saw Charlie standing there. “You’ll expose us all,” he added.

The stupidity of what I had just contemplated then hit me, I let my bag fall to the floor and I dropped onto the couch next to me and started crying. Charlie quickly came over, sat next to me and put his arms around me. I put my head on his shoulder and cried until there were no more tears coming. Charlie unlocked our embrace and looked at me.

“Look, if you are so sure about him, I will help you find Caleb.”

“Would you do that for me?” I asked as I grabbed his hands.

“Of course, Kate, I would do anything for you. I thought you knew that by now.”

I smiled at him. Even though I had been so angry at him, I was so glad to have Charlie in my life. He was the rock that I could cling to while the turbulent torrent of chaos that surrounded me was trying to grab me, trying to drown me.

He noticed the bump on my forehead and gently touched it. “You want some ice on that?” he asked with the sweetest voice.

“No, it’s okay,” I said, and all of a sudden I was extremely tired again. I put my feet up on the couch and leaned against his body.

Charlie didn’t react immediately, but then decided that I would probably be okay with him putting his arms around me and we sat there together until the sun had gone down.

Succedaneum – Living Like A Vampire for sale on Amazon

Excerpt from Succedaneum – Raising A Vampire

But he only kissed my neck. Then his lips stroked my skin, his fangs dragging. His breath was warm an arousing me. He licked my skin, trailing my jugular all the way up and then he sucked my earlobe as he pulled my hair. I put my arms and legs around him, pulling him even closer, pressing him to sensitive parts of me. His caresses were like a typhoon, wrecking me like a house built of straw. I was nothing against his power.

All of a sudden I had to cry. I felt wonderful and awful at the same time. Thoughts of John and Charlie were jumping up involuntarily. I didn’t want to betray Charlie, but I wanted Caleb so much right there and then. But Caleb’s hands on my body reminded me of John’s and made me feel dirty. This was so unfair, there was just no way to feel good about this any which way I turned it.

“Caleb, I can’t do this,” I said as I took his face in my hands and made him focus on my eyes. “I love Charlie too much.”

His eyes filled with tears too. “I have waited for you for ten years, Kate…” he said under his breath.

“But I can’t be with you, can’t you see that?” I urged him to understand. “I have a partner and a daughter. I love them both dearly and I can’t just leave that all behind me…” I rested my head against his and tears fell from my eyes.

We stayed like that for a little while, both breathing heavily. Then all of a sudden he let go of me and walked out of the bathroom. He didn’t look back and I hadn’t been able to see his face. I had no idea what state of mind he was in now.


I quickly jumped off the benchtop and ran back to Sue’s room. She was still sleeping soundly. I sat down beside her bed, hid my face in my arms and wept silently.

Succedaneum – Raising A Vampire for sale on Amazon

Copyrighted by Jacky Dahlhaus

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