Tag Archives: song

Voice of an Angel Says: ‘Don’t Bother Praying’

There are all kinds of writers from poets thru playwrights, novelists thru short-story writers. And, all types of writers are influenced in turn by other forms of artistic expression, be it painting, film, dance, music and song. However, it is the marriage of word and music that creates the most immediate effect of any art form.

A couple of notes in a particular key wedded to carefully selected lyrics, can reach in and squeeze your heart, roil you memory, pump your tear ducts.

And to prove the point here is my cousin Fiona Flavin – who has one of the finest voices in Ireland –singing her own composition, a soul-blues number, ‘Don’t Bother Praying’. Enjoy!

 

 

 

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Fringe thus far…

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I’ve been thoroughly entertained for a week both by the festival itself and by old friends I’ve met up with (planned and unexpected) and so far this trip has been a 2013 highlight. Edinburgh Fringe is a swirling, bubbling, boiling concoction of the performing arts. And I’m dizzy. There are, I’m told, 45,000 shows here over the month of August and, it seems, every single one of these shows is represented on The Royal Mile by a clown juggling on a unicycle, dishing out flyers as she goes. It’s overwhelming. And it’s unique.

With so much on offer, there’s  always going to be a wide range re quality and it’s difficult to make a decision re what to view when all you have are lists and lists and lists of names. I’ve been advised to stick to a few venues that are known for picking quality shows and then I also chose on the basis of my own taste/interest/content (ie my novel involves a lot of juggling, so I went to see a juggling show).  But even with this advice in hand, the results were not quite what I expected.

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The juggling show has so far been the hands down (‘scuse pun) best theatre I’ve seen at the Fringe so far. ‘Smashed’ by the Gandini Jugglers at the Assembly Hall is a hybrid of dance and juggling which manages to be smug-ironic funny, thought provoking, skilful, thoughtful, entertaining and just the right amount of crazy. And I only went there for juggling research purposes! Unexpected delight. Five stars for ‘Smashed’.

And I’ll give a four star review to ‘The Events’ at the Traverse. The Traverse has a reputation for picking the cream of the crop and scooping up Fringe firsts. This is a play that raises questions that linger in the mind long after the performance – which is what art should do. The performances by the two professional actors are outstanding and the writing is clever and weaves and juxtaposes opposing philosophies. The Events uses a local choir partly to sing, partly to act out ‘members of the public’. They don’t try to be anything but reading-off-the-page-with-a-mike, non-actors which while I admired what the production was trying to achieve, I felt these moments jarred too much with the rest of the performance. Also, the cynic in me wondered if the non-professionals were funding donkeys – something which only works if you can make it feel right and I don’t quite think this quite did. Still, it’s a small quibble in an otherwise excellent piece of theatre.  Zoe Lyons, at the Assembly rooms also gets four stars. Her comedy is keenly observed simple truths about life, warmly told.

Three stars to ‘The Secret Agent’ at the Traverse. This production was popping with good ideas, visually interesting, beautiful moments of choreography, funny comedy, high drama etc… the problem was that the piece never really figured out its own identity and ended up being rather a blancmange of genre, each one pulling against the next and the audience and production lost the plot, quite literally.

And two stars to ‘Tell me the Truth about Love’ at Underbelly’s Topside. Much like with the Gandinis I went there for Auden research purposes and this is his work put to music (inspired by the rhythm in his poetry) and sung in a Noel Cowardesque manner. The idea was interesting, the material good but somehow it fell down on the delivery and the result was Brideshead camp and monotonous after a fashion.

Obviously, I’ve only seen a few grains of sugar in a bowl full of performance – And there’s still a week to go! Oh, and thanks to Colette (comment on previous article) for the dining tips – Spoon for lunch and Kilimanjaro for coffee are ace – maybe see you there.

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What Kind of Beast is This?

What sort of beast is this?

One of the questions most frequently asked in creative writing classes is “how long is a novel/play/short story/screenplay?” And, as is often the case in creative writing, the answer is that there are no rules but… there kind of are.

There is not an official cut off word count for any of the above literary forms but the publishing industry has generally accepted average lengths. Be alive to the fact that just because your word count has hit the “magic number”, it does not follow that you are finished. Apart from the fact you’ll be lobbing off at least a third in edits, you also need be sure that you have brought all the strands of your story to satisfactory conclusion, have made your point and your character has undergone some sort of change / journey / learning arc in the process. Otherwise, to paraphrase Truman Capote, your’re just typing.

What follows is a rough guide/ballpark figure for each literary form:

 Novel

The average commercial novel is 78,000 words in length; this roughly amounts to 300 A4 pages in double spaced twelve-point font. However, a novel can be anything from 45,000 words onwards. A book between 20,000 – 45,000 is usually marketed as a “novella”.

 Short Story

Traditionally, a short story is meant to be read in one sitting. Normally, this narrative form is quite pointed in its message, involves a single setting and few characters. A short story can be anything from 1,000-20,000 words.Writing short stories is a good way of building up your story telling skills, honing your craft as a writer and amassing a writing portfolio. Also, the short story is the literary form favoured by writing competitions. Such competitions usually look for stories in the 2,000-5,000 word bracket.

Flash Fiction

This is the short story’s kid brother. Somewhat akin to the Haiku, a flash fiction story often aims to capture a fleeting moment. It can be any thing between 100-1,000 words. Flash fiction is becoming very popular in competitions these days. Personally, I think this may be to save reading time for judges.

Screenplay

The standard “Hollywood” screenplay is 90 minutes long. Given the rule of thumb that one page equals one minute of movie, you should be aiming for a90-page long screen play. Obviously, this is an approximation.

 TV/Play

Likewise, the page per minute rule applies here too. Bear in mind the slot your are aiming for. commercial TV and radio stations will include advert breaks in their schedule – so a half hour comedy show might in fact be only 22 minutes long etc… If you have a slot in mind, time the duration of the actual show (excluding theme music and commercial breaks.)

 Stageplay

The page per minute rule can roughly be applied to stage plays too. If a stage play were to last an hour and a half, it should be 20,000 words long and span 90 pages.

 Poem

A poem can be as short or as long as you like. A  haiku is traditionally 17 syllables over three line. The Iliad is 25,000 lines long. For the try outs, however, you might aim for two or three verses.