On giving feedback

It’s nearing deadline time at university, and both my housemates and I are frantically writing words, swapping essays and proofreading each other’s work. We are a house that is writing a lot of words – there are six of us, four of which are writing dissertations and four of which have a 5,000 word creative writing project. I’m doing both (glutton for punishment) and am so grateful for the feedback being given to me by my friends. I thought I would share some tips and advice for any of you who do this on a regular basis for friends.

Firstly, check how much feedback they want

My first question is always ‘how harsh am I being?’ Sometimes we send first drafts to each other, in which case it’s more about clarity of argument or continuity issues. Other times it’s a pre-final draft and it’s über red pen time. It’s important to ask this question because there’s nothing more disheartening than getting a page of red pen back on things you already know will be wrong. It takes seconds to ask and will save a lot of fall outs.

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World Book Day

This month we had the joy of World Book Day – sadly a day not overly celebrated in university land unless it ties into some kind of Student Union event (which it did, yesterday – World Book Day fancy dress disco). It was always a highlight for me as a child for several reasons.

1) We almost always had a fancy dress day at school that said ‘pah’ to the curriculum and instead involved readings, creative writing exercises and the odd film clip or two.
2) Book tokens – being given a token to exchange for a brand new book!
3) I could show off my knowledge of literature and talk about books FOR A WHOLE DAY.

Sadly it means slightly less for me now. As a Drama and Creative Writing student it’s a day that should be embraced and celebrated. Sadly, the curriculum and looming deadlines meant that it passed unnoticed by many of us. So here I am taking the opportunity to talk about the 50 Books That Will Change Your Life (or at least some of them) as chosen by both young people and adults and compiled by World Book Day.

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Off to Camp I go

Those who have been following this blog will remember back in November I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and managed to write 30,000 words of a novel in just a month. While this was technically a failure by their standards (you’re supposed to hit 50k) I was pretty chuffed to get that much down in such a short space of time. I haven’t looked at it since, being too occupied with uni work and the novel I’m writing for one of my modules to even think about editing.

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I am, however, desperate to finish both of these novels. I love the story for both of them and have had many people interested in the concept of both of them, saying they would love to read them when they are written. So, despite the dissertation (and the other 12,000 words of other assignments) I have signed myself up to Camp NaNoWriMo. Basically, it’s the same as November, with a few minor changes. Most importantly for me this time, you can choose your own word count. So I can choose an achievable amount of words each day and still be able to focus on my uni work… in theory!

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Gendered books – do they still exist?

When I was a child I was an avid reader. I would read anything and everything I could get my hands on. I had the added bonus of a brother who also read – not as much as me, but thankfully completely different books. So when, after Christmas, I had finished all of my Famous Five adventures, I would turn to his Secret Seven. Bu we both fought tooth and nail for the Roald Dahl’s and Goosebumps. We had our own books, and then there was a little slice of ambiguity that we both loved.

These days, with the likes of Harry Potter and Malory Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series, is there such a thing as gendered fiction? Boys and girls are reading the same books with no second thoughts. Equality and gender expectations have changed from ten years ago. Yet books such as The Dangerous Book for Boys and it’s female equivalent still sell like hot cakes.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing. As mentioned, I love books. I will read almost anything you put in front of me. At twenty-six I will still happily browse the teenage section for a good, shorter read. And I’m not the only one – the success of The Hunger Games trilogy has proved that. Maybe we don’t even have the age barriers there once were.

I think it’s a great thing that children (and adults) are free to read whatever they choose now. There will always be the ‘girlie’ books and the ‘boy’ books for the very young. I can’t see an eight year-old boy picking up an Animal Ark book voluntarily, nor will many girls choose Captain Underpants as their first choice. That’s not a bad thing either. Sometimes you need to fit the stereotype now and again. As long as they have the freedom to choose, and as long as there are those transcendental series such as Narnia and Harry Potter to bring them together, I say let them read what they like.

Theatre Review – Jane Eyre at the Bristol Old Vic

Last week I went to see the fantastic Jane Eyre at the Bristol Old Vic. I have never read the book, didn’t even know the storyline, so it was with some trepidation I headed into town to see it.

I went with two good friends and the Bearded One himself, who isn’t much of a theatre goer, but as it was my birthday he decided to join us. He was so glad he did. I have never been so moved by a theatre performance in all of years of attending shows.

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New ventures

So last night I started a new blog (because I had the idea so I figured I might as well just go for it). It’s purely about writing prompts and getting people’s work published also. You can find it here. It has daily writing prompts in and the opportunity to become a featured writer once a week, with links to your blog and social media sites. Please feel free to have a look and follow it.

Many thanks all 🙂

On the Oscars

Yes I know, it’s everywhere today. No matter where you look there will comments about Leo missing out yet again, how obvious it was that 12 Years a Slave would get Best Picture, or THAT selfie. So I thought I would share my views.

First of all, I must tell you that I think very little of award ceremonies. Whether it’s for film, television or books, I can recognise that something has won an award but that holds very little weight with me. I’m a judge-it-for-myself kind of person. I am that annoying person that avoids something because everyone says I HAVE to see it. So I didn’t watch the award ceremony last night, but I did go online as soon as I woke up to find out the winners. And I was so happy with what I saw.

Image courtesy of @TheEllenShow

Image courtesy of @TheEllenShow

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