Wednesday, 1 February 2012


A very good friend of mine keeps reminding me that I need to work on my professional profile - creating this blog and promoting myself more as a writer.

I've long since resisted, arguing that I don't yet consider myself "professional" enough for any of that, but I think she's right (shhhhh, I'll never admit that out loud!).  I started with my Suite101 profile in my real name, along with this blog, but today I took  that final step and created a Facebook page. 

If you'd like to friend me over there - I'm hoping I may be a little more prolific when I don't feel obligated to write a huge long blog post - I'd love to get to know you!

Kim McGreal @ Facebook

I look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Suite 101 and Real Life

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.  Or in my case, when life hands you a redundancy, use it as an excuse to get writing again.

On Friday, my world got spun on its axis and I found myself sitting at home with no job.  I'm not going to get all depressed about it because I have faith in myself that I'll find something else soon enough.  It's just a small setback right now.  Oh, and if you know of anyone in West Yorkshire, UK, who needs a data analyst, please pass my name on!

So in the spirit of making the most of my "freetime", I applied to be a freelance article writer on  I'd never considered writing non-fiction before, but I figured that if nothing else, it would give me some experience that I could use in the future.

I got accepted and my first article went live today!  I'm quite ridiculously excited by it, to be honest.

This particular article is about writing Twitter Fiction - which is a bit of a passion of mine.  If you get a chance, please pop on over and see what you think!  For future reference, all of my articles can be found on my profile page there.


Friday, 16 September 2011

Micro Fiction

This week's challenge over at Chuck Wendig's blog was to write a story of no more than 100 words using three of the five words he listed.  The words I chose were ivy, bishop and lollipop.  This is what I came up with!


Ivy held the ivory piece in her hand and felt a surge of jealousy. This chess piece could simply ignore the same path everyone else took  and could slip diagonally between the patterns, like a child who coloured outside the lines to design their own picture.

She was a prodigy, they said, but her life felt more like that of a pawn than a bishop, always following the path that her parents had set.  She had no choice, but at four years old, who did?  She popped her lollipop back in her mouth and moved the bishop to knight 2.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Plots and goals

I was seriously depressed about my lack of writing this week and couldn't figure out how to turn some of my ideas into fully developed stories. All I seemed to have were scenarios and single mental images - none of which makes a story. I needed characters and plot, but I couldn't come up with anything.

Until I read a single tip that made it all come together for me:

A plot is simply your character's goal.

It sounds ridiculously obvious, but I'm the type of person who sometimes needs things to be broken down into their simplest form. I may have an awesomely built post-apocalyptic universe, but without a character and their goal, it's never going to be a story (flash, short or novel).

So, in my trusty notebook that I scribble my ideas into, I have a single line written after each idea. The line always takes the same format: Character wants something.

It is, I suppose, the top-most level of plot. The post-apocalyptic one now states: Main character wants to rescue his girlfriend from her place of work before the zombies overrun the building. It doesn't have to be a physical object - I have one that says "The Princess wants to stay alive" - but my rule is that it has to have the word want in there.

Since starting this idea earlier in the week, I now have four new possible stories, where I once had some vague ideas. And two of those were ideas that had been sitting around in my head for months.

I'm actually excited about writing again.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Fic: Fourth of July

This flash fiction was written for the challenge at Terrible Minds.  

Fourth of July (400 Words)
The newspapers say that we'll never know why they chose the 4th of July to attack, but it's only by considering it to be a coincidence that we maintain any hope of winning this war. 
Without hope, how are we going fight an invisible enemy? 

People dropped like flies, collapsing where they stood, be it barbecue, parade or baseball game.  One minute they had been perfectly fine, laughing and joking with the rest of us; the next, they were dead.  We thought that was the end of it though, and accusations were made about infected meat and airborne virus'.  In all, 10% of the population died that day. 

They were the lucky ones. 

We mourned their loss.  Not one person was left unaffected by the deaths – each of us lost a friend or a family member, and for a brief, shining moment, the world was united in its grief.  Politicians and world leaders suffered the same as beggars on the street, and it offered empty platitudes about something good coming from tragedy. 

There was a baby boom later that year - about 9 months later, if we're being specific - as if the world was trying to replace those who had died.  The most popular baby names recorded were Hope and Faith for girls.  Boys were Adam, Michael and John.  Good strong names.  People believed the names would somehow protect them.   Everything seemed idyllic for a few short months. 

Until the following year, when they came back.  

On the 4th July again. That was the moment the world realised it wasn't just some random infection in the air.  Another 10% died.  Adults, children, boys, girls.  There was no pattern to it, but the timing couldn't have been coincidental.  This time the rumours were of alien invasions, terrorist attacks gone wrong and divine intervention. 

It's happened every year now for the past five.  Always 10% of the population and always on the 4th July.  There are still no public indications about who is doing this or why, but everyone seems to have accepted the inevitability of it.  Slowly but surely, the entire human race is being wiped out of existence with no way of preventing it.   Whoever is responsible is keeping to themselves.
I have my own secret though.  

I know exactly who is causing this and why.  But I can't tell a single soul.  Not that they'd believe me anyway...

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Bad Blogger

I'm a bad blogger.

It's been far too long since I posted anything here, but in all honesty, that's probably because nothing has really been happening in terms of my writing.

After the optimism of my first few rejections, the harsh reality of the situation is starting to set in, and I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever receive a response that doesn't include the phrase "Thank you for your submission but...".

The most depressing aspect I'm experiencing is the constructive criticism that I'm receiving. I know that, as writers, we're supposed to embrace the honesty, but I'm finding it extremely demoralizing to be told the same thing over and over again. Especially when I believe I'm improving. Which I'm obviously not.

Apparently, my submissions aren't "proper" stories. They're more vignettes than stories. I'm failing to provide a solid beginning, middle and end for my characters. There is no real conflict (or, indeed, conflict resolution). I can see this in my writing, but I'm struggling to do this inside the 500 word (or whatever the particular flash fiction word count is that I'm working on) limit.

Maybe I'm failing right at the start of the idea process. Most of my ideas stem from scenarios or characters, rather than actual stories.

Okay. My task for this week. I'll come up with some generic plot ideas that have a solid outline. No characterization or anything, just story outlines that could possibly be told in 500 words.

Feel free to nudge me if I don't post something next week!
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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

More on Comics

This weekend was amazing!  I spent two whole days surrounded by people who love comic books as much as I do!

However, the best part of it was the panel I went to on Saturday morning about Breaking into Comics.  Editors, artists and a writer from Marvel (you know, the X-Men and Wolverine people!) were there, talking honestly and openly about what it took for them to get into the field.  The most fascinating part was that it seems no two people take the same route in!  For some of them it was something they "fell" into on the back of creative works in other industries, and for others it was something they had fought for since they first discovered comics.

There were two things, however, that stuck with me.  The first is that, as a writer, I'm going to struggle to get into comic books without an artist to work with.  My script may be the greatest thing ever, but without the visuals to make it easier to read, no editor is even going to bother.  They have too many scripts to read that they've requested, so there is little to no chance that they'll have the time to read my unsolicited one.

The second thing that I will remember is from the writer Kieron Gillen whose two pieces of advice were simply to "Do Stuff" and "Not Mess Up".  They remind me of a quote I read when I was just starting out writing that said "If you write, you're a writer".

Words for all of us to live by, I guess!