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HOWL - A New Generation of Writing Minds

HOWL - A New Generation of Writing Minds

A Blog for Young Writers - Award winning Irish writer Gerard Beirne - author of The Eskimo in the Net (shortlisted for The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award) and Sightings of Bono (adapted into a short film featuring Bono of U2) offers help and advice to young writers

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Dangerously Making Waves

This stumbled Howl's way -

Young Irish Poet dangerously making waves

Blurb from Billy Collins: "What is remarkable about Leanne O'Sullivan is not that she is so young--how many of us reach 20 without attempting a poem?--but that she dares to write about exactly what it is to be young. A teenage Virgil, she guides us down some of the more hellish corridors of adolescence with a voice that is strong and true. For that alone, she deserves our full attention."

A Map of the World

I remember this woman
who'd sit for hours in the TV room,
staring through the window at the days
and nights, her winged arm hanging over the sill as if she were in a car travelling at a great speed. Once, after I was forbidden to walk on the grass, I sat beside her in a shaft of sunlight as she told me how she had loved the silk shawl of her garden back home, walking barefoot there at night. Then she took my hand in hers, the way you would touch a flower, and slowly traced each line of my life, her fingers moving upwards like blood from my vein, to the hollows of love in my palm. I felt myself come alive with her touch, as if continents were pulling together inside me, the core fluid with tremendous magma. My hand, a landscape of earth; I walked it, caressed the map which felt like birth, death, heaven on earth, the heat of hell, the blue stems like labyrinths under a valley of flesh. I was the ocean orbiting the shore, a drowned man kissing the land, surrounded by that strange smell of air. How to move, I was not sure, my feet spread on the ground like roots. I leaned forward to kiss this woman's eye and stood up, taking my first step towards something that would survive me.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ghosts - Leanne O Sullivan

Staring, with sheets covering
their faces, the ghosts stand
like a hive of mirrors.
You lie on a stone pillow and dread
the vision of them. One by one
they remember everything backwards.
One looks like your cold lover,
one like a bottle of sleeping pills
begging for the terrible need,
another stuns like a blade
piercing the numb surface of flesh,
shaving pores on the bone.
Terror flaps in the night wind.
They feed and drink on those howls,
claiming the screams they stare down.
Skin flickers in those horrible
cut-out eyes, where the living body
is carried back to place and time,
to the moment when a memory
was made with lead, when the first
taste of grief stuck in your throat.
As you build a table for new meals,
the ghosts wait for the time
when they can follow the tree-rings
back to the season of felling.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Motion Sickness - Setting in Short Story

Further to Forgetting Your Characters’ Names, we can only have a limited number of settings in the short story . We do not have space for more. If we are shifting around too much, travel sickness will ensue. The novel can cope, size wise, with much more settings. Just something to keep in mind. The whole fiction thing works on scene. It is the basic building block of narrative. Scene: characters in a particular setting with some action. So consider your settings carefully. They are limited and precious. Make sure the setting compliments the purpose of the scene. Don’t just stick your characters in any old place. Put them somewhere where it counts, adds atmosphere, evokes the emotion of the scene.
In the novel, we have more time to travel. More pages and more locations. But travel wisely. There are a lot of dangers in the world out there.

Forgetting Your Characters' names - Differences between the Short Story and the Novel

Here’s the thing. Howl loves the short story form even though he describes it as the ‘little thing’ (see The Little Thing that Rubs Up Against the Big Thing). Indeed Howl thinks it is quite the perfect form. And in itself can reveal a lot about human nature.

However, let us look at character for a moment. In fiction character is where we are located. It is through observing the characters actions and, most importantly, reactions that we discover things about ourselves.

But there’s the question: If you meet someone for an hour or for a complete day, which would allow you to know the person better? How about a day or a month:? A month or a year? Twenty years?

We are rich complex people. It takes a lot of time to get to know us well.
First appearances can be false.
The novel has more space to spend time with people, to get to know them better and as a result to get to know ourselves better.

This does not imply that the novel is better than the short story - just different. A collection of short stories can be as rich and complex as a novel.

The constraints of the short story means that ‘usually’ the action takes place over a day or two. Sure there are exceptions but generally speaking it is over a short period of time - not enough pages to describe much more. So we focus on one main incident in a short period of time and watch how the character is affected and what is revealed or not to him or her.

The novel brings us through a longer period of time, a wider range of incidents, a larger canvas to observe the reactions to these events.

The point is that there are differences between the forms, and we need to be aware of this. Introducing too many characters in a short story is like being introduced to a whole bunch of people all at once. We forget their names, we don’t get a chance to meet any of them for any length of time.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Irish poets 101

If you are unable to name this poet in five seconds, the you need to enroll In Irish Poets 101.

Use comments section below.
Irish literature, fiction, poetry and plays, hosted at