Archive for February, 2016

I love cop shows and police procedural shows, from Law and order, to Life on mars. Here are some of my favourites

LAW AND ORDER SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT

Benson and Stabler – I love these two – and I love how in the series we know just enough about their personal life to care about them, without being bogged down in the pointless stuff. its more about their cases and their reactions to them. Special Victims Unit deals with sexual crimes or crimes involving especially vulnerable people. Before watching SVU I felt as though the crimes they were investigating were things that are not readily talked about in society (more so now) and that maybe these stories were gratuitous. BUt upon watching a few episodes I became addicted to it and it was largely because of these characters. Olivia Benson is a strong but gentle woman. Stabler is an angry righteous man. It makes for a strong and loyal partnership. There was some sexual tension there, but in all honesty, it was deeper than that.

CAGNEY AND LACEY

Strong Hard New York women. When I was a kid we watched this and I remember thinking that they were amazing. As a kid I always saw Christine as the pretty one. But they were both just normal attractive women. I struggle with the trend of only having beautiful people on Tv these days, I’m glad that it finally seems to be moving back to having non-perfect people. Some women don’t wear make up, some women don’t wear heels, some women swear or pick their noses or wear their clothes for three days in a row. Women are people, too. I had no idea that sharon gless wasn’t in season 1 – Her joining the show definitely raised its profile. Also the catchy theme tune was added in season 2. The chemistry with these 2 women was brilliant, and also they were plausible cops.

 

THE KILLING

Linden and Holder were a great partnership – I found Linden incredibly dour and with everyone else she was quite irritating but when she was with Holder she was entirely more bearable. I liked the look of holder, i liked his vulnerability and also his shadiness. Joel Kinnaman was brilliant in this role – He probably inspired Imogen more than any other TV cop. I thought he really challenged my perception of what a TV cop was – but he was good inside, and I like that. Their partnership is why i stuck out 4 seasons, I struggled with the first 2 seasons to be honest, it all dragged on a little for me. Once case a season is about as much as I can handle.

THE X FILES

Mulder and Scully were brilliant together. The banter was what made the show stand out. I think watching the x files is a great way to gain insight into a perfect cop buddy partnership if you’re thinking about writing a story with one in.

 

HOMICIDE:LIFE ON THE STREET

Frank Pembleton and Tim Bayliss were such great characters. They fought constantly but they respected each other – and they agreed where it mattered. We never realise until the end just how close they actually are – and its heartbreaking. Frank was so intense and Tim seemed to be so easy going and vulnerable at times but they were like two halves of the same coin. The dialogue and storytelling of Homicide is unmatched by any other show if you ask me.

PSYCH

Shaun and Gus in Psych – although not technically cops – they work in the police as consultants. I loved Psych and I watched it from beginning to end. I don’t know why it worked but it did. Its LIGHT entertainment but with heart. I love their friendship and how Shaun is constantly taking advantage of gus, who ultimately enjoys it. Best friends. Great show.

LIFE ON MARS

Now originally when I watched life on Mars i watched the US version. I really didnt enjoy it, it was dull and lacked personality – and was confusing. A few years later i bit the bullet and started watching the British one – I didnt sleep for a week as i worked my way through both Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes. I think the appeal was just remembering those times, but only very vaguely as I wasn’t in the seventies for long and I was very young. It was a strange nostalgia because its not a time I would ever want to return to. But it was interesting – especially with Sam as us, from our era, pointing out the more obvious of the things we now think of as bizarre. Great fun, but also very deep in places.

ASHES TO ASHES

What was interesting about this is how the dynamic completely changed when they put a woman in – not just the dynamic but we saw a completely different side to Gene hunt’s character.  While i was devstated at the loss of Sam, I think Alex was brilliant. Their relationship was brimming with sexual tension.

 

There are loads more cop partnerships that are great and i might remind you of them at some other point. These are the ones for now.

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When I first started writing it was like a dirty little secret that I couldn’t tell anyone, it felt self indulgent and also a little arrogant. It took me a long time to ‘come out’ and from the moment I started being more open about it, the world opened up to me. Being in a writing group was one of the most productive things I have done. It forced me to write, to explore my writing as public content, as something to be shared and not to be embarrassed about. It also made me confront what I would and would not be comfortable sharing.

If there isn’t a group near you then I urge you to start your own. It may take some time to get off the ground but its a very rewarding experience.

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Take charge

Although its nice to have a real group feel, there should always be someone taking the helm, if your group is open to the public then you don’t know who you could get. Sometimes things can go off topic and you might need to steer the conversation back to the topic at hand. Every ship needs a captain.

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Participants

Who do you want to come to your group? is it for anyone? Is it just for you and some friends? Is there an age restriction? Gender restriction? How many people would you realistically want to accommodate? From my experience, over 4 and under 15 participants is ideal. Small intimate groups are nice but its also nice to get varying viewpoints.  My ideal would be between 8 and 10 members. Also I have an over 18’s policy in my group because of the content of the work.

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Venue

You may decide that you and some friends want to do a writing group together in which case you could easily just take it in turns to have your group in each others houses. Alternatively You could ask around locally for a venue. I asked someone I knew who organises a lot of local events who then recommended a venue, a local pub. I contacted the pub owner who was more than happy to let me use the space. You need to be aware of the fact that people will want privacy when reading out, and also – constant interruptions can be distracting and off-putting. Also check if there is a charge for the venue. If not then support the venue by buying drinks there.

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Time

is it easier to do it in the day or the evening? How long do you want your gathering to be. Start with something manageable then learn from it. I would recommend around 2 hours. Frequency – for a nice casual no pressure group then once a month is good. There is nothing to stop you doing it more or less frequently.

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Content

In the group I attended before and now my own writing group – Flash Fiction is a big part of the content. We had 15-20 minutes to write a short piece on any given topic, then each person would take it in turns to read out what they had written. it sounds daunting but its actually quite a liberating experience. We would then talk about what we and other people had written. Again, think about ages for members if you know your content will be explicit.

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Topics

There are many ways to look for topics. You can pick song lyrics, first sentences from pre- existing books, newspaper articles, a certain genre, a picture as inspiration. a historical figure – the possibilities are literally endless. Its also a good idea to discuss books that are already out there. look at examples of a good sex scene vs a bad one. Look at books with great beginnings and great endings. Books with strong characters, strong writing styles. Look at prize winning books. Compare books on similar themes to see how different they are. Any discussion in this literary context helps to further your understanding of writing books, assuming that’s what you want from the group.

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Do Check ins every few sessions

So flash fiction is fun but sometimes people are already working on stuff, every few sessions its worth asking people if they want to bring stuff in they have already been working on and you can all offer each other advice.

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Homework

You can set homework if you like. It can be something as simple as to bring an object in next time, or to find a newspaper article, or even to write a short piece and send it in beforehand. Or you could ask people to read a couple of passages from books so that you can discuss them next time. You just have to figure out if homework is something that could work for your group or not.

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Future Options

You can discuss where people may want to go with their work. You can talk about Blogs, facebook pages, submitting to magazines and competitions. publishing vs self publishing – it may be an idea to discuss with your group what the options are for publishing vs self publishing. Some of your group may want to pursue a serious writing career and some may not.

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Contact 

You can either set up a mailing list – which you probably should do anyway. When you get new members add their email addresses and then you can keep them up to date with when the next meet up will be and what (if anything) they need to bring with them. Depending on the size you could either set up a facebook group or page. The benefit of a private facebook group is that members could create documents and you could keep a copy of all the flash fiction, and see how people progress. Discuss this with your group and see if its something they would be willing to do. Obviously you can exchange phone numbers and anything else but as organiser then you should have a central location for all of that information.

 

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Just remember that it takes time and its mostly an evolving process. You can try things and change things, its all about what works best for you as a group. There are no rules, you just have to find your way. Good luck!

Well – First world problems – Am I right?

If you’re a creative person – it’s probably not likely to change at any time soon.

Imagine sitting in a room with an artist, a seamstress, a baker, a writer, a photographer, a crafter, etc etc – now imagine instead its not a room at all but an arena where all of those people have to fight to the death to see who comes out on top – Yep.

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I used to have a market stall in a little market near where I live where I sold things that I had made. Meanwhile on the side I was writing stories at home. When I had my market stall people would come up and say – Wow your stuff is great and then buy my stuff – or they would slyly take photos of my stuff and then try and recreate it themselves – or occasionally they would just poke it like it was a dead rat or something. All in all I never really did well on my Market stall.

Before that a friend and I decided to write a TV show – we wrote 15 episodes and tried to pitch it – with both of us being introverts it was quite hard to do. Instead we wrote a web-series to go with it – thats another story entirely.

Before that I used to make rockabilly petticoats and sell them on ebay – at the time I was trying to write a movie as well – this was about 12 years ago before the rockabilly thing became a big THING and now you cant move for rockabilly petticoats on ebay. I did ‘ok’ with the petticoats – but while I liked the finished products, I didnt really like the work. I enjoy creating in general.

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I got so disheartened with that – I donated all the things I had made to a local charity shop and then decided to put away my sewing machine and concentrate on the writing – for while I like to make things: I LOVE to be writing. I thought long and hard about the best way to be a writer and I decided I wanted to write something that I wanted to read. I like reading crime thrillers and so I decided to write one of those – I was already a little way into my novel before I made that decision but while I was enjoying the story I was writing, I didn’t believe in it, it wasn’t something I would read. It was a bit boring.

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I watched a load of crime thrillers, read some crime thrillers, had a really good think about writing a crime thriller and then I just got on with it. I cant even begin to tell you the number of projects I have started over the years and not finished – mainly because I didn’t believe in myself. I decided to ignore those nagging feelings and carry on writing.

This is where it gets tricky – I’ve had such an amazing response so far to what I have written that I started to believe all the hype. At the end of the day I’m just a regular person who decided to write a book.  It’s getting closer to my publication date and I don’t quite feel like an author yet – I feel like I’m just pretending.

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However – I did write a book and it did get published. (or soon will be at least) I’m starting to get a trickle of opinions from people who don’t know me, who don’t know that I am not this remote entity with no feelings. In real life – and anyone who knows me will tell you this – I’m pretty laid back about what other people think of me. I felt vulnerable when I was letting people look at cushions I had made – amplify that by about a million and you would be close to how I feel about people reading my book.

Why the hell did I do this to myself? 

 

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I’m not complaining – I made my choices. I knew it would come to this. I just need to take a deep breath and take it on the chin. I’m going to get bad reviews, I deliberately wrote a book that would appeal to me, and I’m a hard person to please – there are things I like that other people don’t, there are things other people like that I don’t. I cant get hung up on the negativity and just try and find a way to use the criticisms I get constructively.