Daily Archives: October 26, 2013

INKSPILL – Night Write

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SATURDAY 26th October – DAY 2

AWF night writeWriting Activity

This is the final event for today – I look forward to reading responses tomorrow – this is a writing prompt – use it as a first line or just to get you going.

Post your writing here or on your blog with a link back here for us to come and read your Night Write.

He hadn’t seen her since the day they left High School.

INKSPILL – My Writing Day – Open Discussion

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SATURDAY 26th October – DAY 2

af6a8d6a523a755e956fbb7021443872 Open Discussion My Writing Day

My Writing Day

Post a thread on your blog telling your followers about your writing day. Encourage them to write about theirs.

Copy & Paste this at the start of your post and a link back would be appreciated.

Post a link to your blogpost in the comments under this thread.

My Writing Day inkspill splat

The early part of the year saw a different kind of writing day. Back then I was still working and had to schedule my action plan around my job. Time wise this was much more manageable but energy wise it sucked.

I made the decision to let the job go and recreate my earning potential through a mixture of avenues. I spent the summer taking a much-needed breather, in lieu of a real holiday as we had just moved house.

By the Autumn I found myself back on track with both the world of writing and job interviews and agencies.

I tend to have two times a day when I can write – the morning and night. The afternoons are full of distractions and partly finished jobs and chores.

I know that the MOST important parts of any writing schedule are;


Time management



I am now freelancing in my day job as well as writing so my plan goes one of two ways – it works (if I get no calls) or it doesn’t (if I’m working)!

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A Typical Writing Day Looks Like This

I do not get up at the crack of dawn and make some hours up before breakfast, I did do this when I was at work full time, but I am not a morning person and often I lose more than I gain by working at this time before my brain has started to function.

I usually start between 8-9, I may write about what I have dreamt in my notebook (bedside) I try my best to complete a 5 –10 minute free-write in that lovely, dreamy morning moment when you have just woken and the world and your mind is lucid and only beginning to process reality. This is a practise I promoted at the beginning of InkSpill and it is one in which, I firmly believe.

Often you may end up with pages of unusable trails of words and sometimes you will struggle to read your handwriting, but you are also building up a treasure hoard of ideas and one liners that may see the light of day at some point. And more importantly you are ACTUALLY WRITING.

I usually start between 8-9, I may write about what I have dreamt in my notebook (bedside) I try my best to complete a 5 –10 minute free-write in that lovely, dreamy morning moment when you have just woken and the world and your mind is lucid and only beginning to process reality. This is a practise I promoted at the beginning of InkSpill and it is one in which, I firmly believe.

Often you may end up with pages of unusable trails of words and sometimes you will struggle to read your handwriting, but you are also building up a treasure hoard of ideas and one liners that may see the light of day at some point. And more importantly you are ACTUALLY WRITING.

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I check my action plan* and start working on my daily tasks, usually split across a few projects.

I may stop at 11 or 12, depending on other commitments that day.

I eat lunch and then usually spend some time catching up with social media, emails, blogs.

This is where I need to be disciplined and careful. All too often I am still doing this when Mr G arrives home from work. I attempt to use an hour and return to this task later in the night.

Then I fit the rest of life in.

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At 7pm or sometimes 8 I may write some more depending on the schedule.

9pm –11 I usually spend on the internet researching, communicating, reading and connecting with social media.

At the least I write 8a.m –11a.m morning slot.

* I have kept action plans for a monthly writing schedule as I find it an effective way to manage the written work load and it is a style I am familiar with from work.

Sometimes I don’t manage to accomplish everything that has been planned for the day, it just rolls over into the next one.

I find them an effective way of meeting deadlines as work is always scheduled to be completed before the deadline, allowing me to at least submit it within the deadline, usually a few days later.

I can balance writing, admin, research and editing time and easily see the proportions of each easily, by using different colours on the grid.

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I have learnt that the most important thing is to GET INTO A RHYTHM and your rhythm may not be the same as someone else’s. I read how other writers’ divide their time and will often experiment to see what works for me. This is what works for me. Doing it all first and not punishing myself when I spend the whole day writing and let the chores and paperwork vanish from the TO DO List in my mind!

INKSPILL – INKWELL Session 1 – Historical Fiction & Research Part 2

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SATURDAY 26th October – DAY 2

AWF circle Inkwell 1 – Historical Fiction & Research – your questions answered. Research, polls and questions posted on the blog in the summer. Alternative links will be available for those not interested in Historical Fiction.

Welcome to the first INKWELL session, this is the 2nd part Skills & knowledge, Pitfalls to Avoid & Historical Research

FIND THE FIRST PART OF THIS INKWELL SESSION HERE https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/3517/

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Your Questions Answered – Ink Well

Historical research & fictional writing

In this session we will cover

  • Research & Sources
  • Skills & knowledge
  • Pitfalls to avoid
  • Historical Fiction – Research

Skills & knowledgeAWF circle

It is as important as researching that you understand how to apply the knowledge to your writing.

Just because your novel is set in the past doesn’t mean that the manuscript should be full or archaic text that the reader would need a companion book to understand.

You have to find a balance between showing the historical setting and creating a book that appeals to the modern reader. You cant just throw your characters into costumes and alter their speech at the same time you must not overwhelm the reader with hundreds of pages of historically accurate detail and end up with more of a nonfiction history text either.

Find a good balance. Readers of historical fiction are usually well-informed, and while they don’t want to be bogged down with useless information, they also don’t want to see a Celtic maiden wearing pleather, or a World War I soldier using laser sight.

ã 2010 staff writer Writer’s Relief


You’ll need to research their style of dress and your characters’ names.

Sometimes looking at old photographs or paintings can give you a good sense of the clothing and hairstyles of the period.


Find out what streets, buildings, and parks existed at that time. If the location isn’t crucial to your story, or if you’ve created a fictional town or city, keep track of the basic information and stay consistent.

Dialect and Terminology

Make sure you’ve got the correct terminology.

Where to find information

Internet sources are not always reliable (although reference links on Wikipedia can be helpful), and any information gleaned from them should be carefully cross-checked. The Internet is full of great sources, and you might start at a historical fiction writers’ site for some valuable and pre-tested Web site links.

If possible, personally visit the location you’re writing about. Tourism offices and historical societies are often helpful and usually have the most accurate information about their cities and towns. Visit the local museum, attend re-enactments, or interview old-timers. Take a tour, take some time, take pictures, and immerse yourself in the depths of the setting. If this is impossible, check with historians and/or the local library.

An obvious place to start is the library and a good librarian can be invaluable. They may have original documents and maps hidden away from the general public, or they can steer you in the right direction. Books aimed at younger readers can also boil down the basics of a time period—what people ate, how they dressed, what their bedrooms looked like, what their mother might say and more. Also, check out the history section of bookstores, and don’t forget about used bookstores—they often have out-of-print history books that can offer a glimpse of the past.

Ask the experts. Find a local expert on the Civil War, or check out the Web site of a well-known Roman Empire scholar. Many experts are happy to answer your questions as long as you’re professional and have done some of your own research in advance.

Keep in mind that you can’t please everyone. There are bound to be grey areas where you’ve taken some liberties, or you may have overlooked some pretty obvious anachronisms. If your plot and character development are strong, editors and readers will be more forgiving of technical inaccuracies.


Pitfalls to Avoid AWF circle


  • Poor Research


  • Too much History in the Text


  • Dialogue that doesn’t fit the era


  • Setting not specific enough to show where the story takes place.


  • The modern world seeping in.

© 2010 Margo L. Dill


  1. You are writing fiction first and historical fiction second
  2. avoid history lessons
  3. use your research
  4. build a setting
  5. use language, dialect & accents


Historical Fiction – ResearchAWF circle

Things to remember about doing historical research:


  1. Learn to love the learning process that comes with it. Think of yourself as a detective or an archaeologist sifting through clues and analyzing data.
  2. Use a good mix of primary and secondary sources for both perspective and immediacy.
  3. Double-check everything. Mistakes will reflect on your work even if it is the fault of your source.
  4. Hand in hand with double-checking comes evaluating your sources. If something seems a bit improbable or sketchy, it probably is. Look for another source to back it up.
  5. Use archaeological records, art, music and alternative resources to round out your research.

Copyright © 2004 Catherine Lundoff


Links to articles on Historical Fiction writing

We finish this first INKWELL session on Historical Fiction with a list of useful websites.


British Library http://www.bl.uk/

US Public Libraries


http://books.google.com/ search inside many public domain works

http://www.royalhistoricalsociety.org/ Royal Historical Society: wonderful programme of lectures






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We hope you have found this session helpful and that you have gained valuable information from the posts.

If you still have burning questions that neither this session, relevant articles or linked websites can answer, leave your comment here and we will do our best to answer it by the end of the retreat.

Thank you.


INKSPILL – Assisting you with Writing Projects: The Why Technique


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SATURDAY 26th October – DAY 2

AWF circleWe are currently focussing on Writing Historical Fiction – this is posted as an alternative for anyone who is not interested in the Historical Fiction Event – this doesn’t stop you from completing both if you choose.


Ink Well Alternative

Assisting you with your own writing projects. inkspill crit.

If you clicked this link it means that you are not interested in our first class on writing and researching Historical Fiction. The alternative is that you spend some time instead with your own writing projects.


If this project happens to be a work of fiction then you may find this Ink Well session useful.

We are looking at our creations, stories and characters. So find something you are currently writing and work through this post.




Jot the answers down in your notebook or as a blog post, don’t forget to post your link here in the comments.


Q. Ask yourself why are you writing this?

Write your answer and re-read it to gain another question from the answer.

Keep going until you reach a natural end.

Then go deeper, repeat this activity, this time the WHY question should refer to characters.

It is a good way to get to know your characters and keep your writing on the right track. It helps build a more solid picture of both what you’re writing and whom you’re writing about in your mind. Lots of this information will never see the light of day in your story. This exercise creates back story. However it is not a waste of time. It will help iron out weaknesses in your first draft.

Some writers’ use this method after they have finished their first draft to make sure they tighten up questions readers may have for characters motives, events in the plot etc.

You can also use the WHY technique to construct several different scenarios for how events pan out, this will allow you choice and you will find you don’t necessarily pick your first, often most obvious, idea.

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INKSPILL – INKWELL Session 1 – Historical Fiction & Research


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SATURDAY 26th October – DAY 2

AWF circle Inkwell 1 – Historical Fiction & Research – your questions answered. Research, polls and questions posted on the blog in the summer. Alternative links will be available for those not interested in Historical Fiction.

Welcome to the first INKWELL session, if Historical Fiction and Research is not of interest to you, here is an alternative link


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Your Questions Answered – Ink Well

Session 1

During the planning of this programme I asked followers of my blog what they wanted to know. I have always found courses and workshops more fulfilling when they are personalised and able to cater to specific needs, knowledge and support.

The first of these sessions tackles Historical Fiction. I have drawn on my own research and many sources, I write in my own words and link up to articles written by experts, websites and publications along the way, I have sought permission to do so from the original sources/ writers.

For those of you not interested in this session there is an alternative link to continue a creative writing focus.



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Historical research & fictional writing

In this session we will cover

  • Research & Sources
  • Skills & knowledge
  • Pitfalls to avoid
  • Historical Fiction – Research

Let’s begin with a definition of Historical Fiction;

Research & Sources AWF circle

I would argue that all writing requires a certain element of research, even if it is as simple as researching the chosen market or target readership. Writing Historical Fiction inevitably involves thorough research, so if you’re not up for that you should think twice about writing in this genre. In fact, don’t think. Just don’t do it.

Similarly if you are so gripped by the research and haven’t got ideas for plots or characters, perhaps you should consider writing Historical non-fiction.

How much research is enough? Is a common question and we will address this issue in this session.

Caro Clarke writes about Historical Fiction (amongst other things)

The good historical novel is the wise selection of the right fact for the right effect. It doesn’t surfeit the reader by too much information, it doesn’t starve them with too little. But, in the end, it is the story that must rule. If you’ve swept your readers into Willem’s world by judicious use of historical fact, you must hold them there because of Willem himself, because of Maria Dolores, and their struggle to love each other. If you don’t engage your readers’ emotions, all the research in the world is for nothing.

You must bear this in mind along with your research the need for the story, the characters and the plot, it is this that will keep the readers interested. You need just enough research to be an expert on the times and to avoid uncharacteristic items and events into the setting and plot of your chosen period. You need not be an expert or a historian.

Copyright Caro Clarke


So what about that research?

It’s important to know there are two basic categories;

  • Primary sources, contemporary records of the time period that you are researching.
  • Secondary sources – written after that time period.

And it’s not just books that have the answers. As a historical researcher, think about other possible sources of historical fact.

Many writers join historical re-enactment groups or organizations that focus on aspects of the time period that they are interested in. These organisations usually have some local experts and knowledgeable people, who would probably be only too willing to help with your research. It can be quicker to learn this way. Remember you need to keep your story historically accurate, but it is the STORY that counts. So you need to know enough to represent an authentic feel.


Beyond Books

You can find other ways to research;

  • Try watching films and plays about your chosen time period,
  • go to museums and travel if you can.
  • Check out local restaurants with the cuisine of the area you’re writing about.
  • There may be community education programs on culture, language and travel at local colleges:
  • try taking a class or attending a talk.
  • Learn to ride a horse or shoot a bow and arrow or do silk embroidery.

These experiences will help you use first hand knowledge in your writing – and at the very least may lead to an interesting new hobby!


How much research is too much?

This is the opinion of Catherine Lundoff (from her article ‘Historical Research for Fiction writers’ )

If it becomes a substitute for writing, then it may be time to stop for a while. If you get excited about doing research, it’s fairly easy to get sidetracked to the point you’re doing more research than writing. Don’t lose sight of your goal: a finished story where the settings, plot and characters pull the reader into a vivid picture that he or she may not have read before. Remember you can always check more facts later. There should be a point where you begin to actually write your novel.

© Catherine Lundoff

Catherine Lundoff uses historical settings for a lot of her fiction, including an ongoing series on vampires in colonial Mexico, swashbuckling adventures set in regency England and 16th-century France, and a novel set in an alternate nineteenth century Europe. She even put herself through graduate school on her research skills. Her articles have appeared in The Journal of Women’s History, Speculations, the SpecFicMe Newsletter, American Writer, Queue Press, and Writing-World. Check out her website at




Links include the full article ‘Historical Research for Fiction Writers’ where Catherine Lundoff writes in depth about the process of researching and writing in this genre.

Remember to use a range of Primary and Secondary resources and double check everything.

Skills and Knowledge AWF circleCOMING SOON

INKSPILL – Edit – Time to work on your own projects and HAVE LUNCH!


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SATURDAY 26th October – DAY 2

AWF Edit Time to work on your own writing projects.


As we draw closer to lunchtime the morning sessions are over for today. (If you have done them, if not – read them and treat yourself!) I will be posting later to answer questions about Freewriting and to leave some resources, links to other websites.

I hope you are enjoying your experience so far.


Take some time now to write on your own projects and don’t forget to leave a comment, let us know what writing projects you are working on.


Later this afternoon we have our first Inkspill Session (as requested by you) – these are fairly information heavy, I originally postponed yesterdays to today, however I think it may be best to extend INKSPILL instead and see you off after a late breakfast, final session and feedback on Monday.

I don’t want to post an unrealistic amount of material to the blog for those of you attempting the full INKSPILL experience in real time (or world -clock near enough) ….

So grab lunch, work on your own projects and I will see you back here later this afternoon.


Many thanks and happy writing!



Edit Spend any writing time on your own projects – let us know how you get on.

INKSPILL – Open Discussion – Share your WRITING TIPS


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SATURDAY 26th October – DAY 2


af6a8d6a523a755e956fbb7021443872 Open Discussion Writing Tips


It is our hope that INKSPILL open discussions will generate a whole page of ideas. Please leave comments sharing your writing tips and discuss other tips posted.


INKSPILL – Freewriting Information


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SATURDAY 26th October – DAY 2

AWF free write

Freewriting is a way of getting your brain in gear. You usually start with a topic or key word, I started freewriting with ink on paper, but you may prefer to type. The rules remain the same;

DON’T JUDGE yourself



Keep the pen (or keys) moving – doodle if you get a block or just key the same button ,,,,,,,,,,,,,, until the thoughts flow again.

Let the words drift out of you. Don’t worry if they make sense, try to resist re-reading or editing or changing anything.

Freewrites tend to be timed and can be small (5 minutes) or long (15 minutes) – try to write as fast as you can (this will stop your brain getting involved and your inner critic won’t have time to strike up any doubt)!


Don’t worry about making sense or connecting your ideas.

Do not worry if you get completely off subject. Just keep writing. Don’t read, edit or think, allow your sub conscious to write for a while.

Get into the habit, keep doing it, this is one of the reasons we have encouraged you to do a daily morning freewrite to get you into the INKSPILL retreat.

Don’t give up on freewriting after one exercise. Freewriting is like any other kind of mental activity: you will get better at it. The first couple of times you try it, perhaps nothing will come of it. After a few efforts, though, the exercise will become liberating.


When I first came across freewriting (at college in the 90’s) Goldberg’s books were on  our reading list. Great reads – thoroughly recommended.

Goldberg, N. (1986).

Writing down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within..

Goldberg, N. (1990). Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life. Bantam Dell Pub Group.


Free writing has these benefits:

  • It makes you more comfortable with the act of writing.
  • It helps you bypass the “inner critic” who tells you you can’t write.
  • It can be a valve to release inner tensions.
  • It can help you discover things to write about.
  • It can indirectly improve your formal writing.
  • It can be fun.

Some final suggestions for free writing:

  • Use the writing tool that is most comfortable for you— pencil, computer, or whatever.
  • Don’t cross anything out: Write the new idea down; leave the old one.
  • Drop all punctuation. That can make your free writing faster and more fluent.

Completing freewriting in the morning has the benefits I have mentioned – your mind and inner critic are as yet, not fully awake. You are more likely to go with the flow and less likely to censor your ideas. Plus what comes out can really surprise and excite you!


Following AR Neal’s comment on Free writing – writing Everyday yesterday, I decided to complete additional research and posts on freewriting to answer her question.inkspill feedback

Remember if you have any questions ASK them. We will do our best to make the events and ideas behind the techniques and advice as clear as we can.




This website includes further resources including a PDF


again – more links cited on this website


Dana mentions The Artists Way By Julia Cameron who can explain the benefits of morning free writing better than I could.

7 Reasons Morning Pages are nothing short of practical magic.


This website also offers some prompts if you wish to continue freewriting.



INKSPILL – Ideas for Writing Everyday


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SATURDAY 26th October – DAY 2

ticket1Ideas for writing everyday. (Participation for the 3 mornings of INKSPILL)

Hopefully this morning you have already completed a free write of 5, 10 or 15 minutes, if you haven’t or weren’t part of Inkspill yesterday, follow the link.

Writing Everyday

Ideas for Writing Everyday

This is something I want you to do everyday before you log into Inkspill.

You may find it beneficial to continue this practise after the retreat, maybe for a week, or a fortnight, month or more. Early morning journaling is not a new idea and some of you may already do this.

This writing is JUST FOR YOU. You needn’t share any writing from journaling activities unless you want to. If you cant manage to do it first thing, do it in the first available moments you can snatch in the morning before you log onto the day’s programme.

The morning free write is all about finding the beginning of your voice.

Remember don’t aim for brilliance… aim for free – it is amazing what writes out of your mind.



WATCH OUT for extra posts inkspill feedbackfollowing questions about the practise of free writing in the morning.

REMEMBER if you have any questions about anything INKSPILL, ask away.

INKSPILL Good Morning and Welcome to Day 2


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Good morning and welcome to Day 2 of Inkspill.

inkspill coffee

The programme for yesterday was delayed slightly and some of the sessions have been pushed forward to today. So we have a full day of events ahead of us, don’t forget to leave your comments and links and if any questions come up, ask them, you would if this was a real life retreat.

I hope that you have managed to dip into some of the Inkspill posts from yesterday. It is not too late, if you join us today I would recommend you start at the 1st posts, give them a read, choose what you would like to do.

If you followed yesterday, you will hopefully have done a 5, 10 or 15 minute free write this morning, if not read the next post.