Blog 63: 5 Nuggets of Advice for New Spoken Word Performers – Jen Hughes

I’ve been performing my poems for about three years. I started out performing at open mics in local pubs and as part of women’s poetry group Wummin’s Words, before performing at a festival on the Largs coast and in FreshAyr’s poetry events. Around this time, I found a treasure trove of spoken words events in Glasgow, which I couldn’t go to that regularly until I moved there late last year. In 2018, I made it a new year’s resolution to perform at these events more regularly, and I’m now a regular at a long-running spoken word open mic in Glasgow called Words and Music (or Tinhut Tuesdays, as it’s lovingly nicknamed). So, I thought I would share with you some wisdom that I acquired over the many gigs I’ve performed.

  1. Know your set-list

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Blog 62: Why The Blue Curtains Probably Do Reflect Sadness.

I’ve written it before and you’ve probably heard it before, the English teacher exclaiming that the colour of an inanimate object is a clever tool used by the author to convey and deepen an emotion. I mentioned this briefly in Blog 37: On The Importance of Words but I didn’t explain why the author chose blue curtains and why your English teacher was probably right in saying that they did reflect sadness.

In the end it all comes down to psychology and how we associate certain feelings with certain words. There are certain word which we dislike and involuntarily shrink away from, this is called word-aversion, and there are some words which we like and are instantly drawn to. Different experiences and circumstances may affect which words you like and which words you don’t like, for instance I have a friend who hates the word ‘blood’ and seeing ‘blood’ for that matter, yet this word does not affect me. This can be very useful when building characters in a book and it can add an emotional human quality to your characters. read more »

Blog 44: The Language And Terminology We Use In Writing.

I already touched on this topic in Blog 37: On The Importance Of Words, but I wanted to write more about the language and terminology that we use.

As a writer getting the language and terminology right for your characters, setting, plot and storyline is important. The writers who nail this often have the best-selling novels, whilst the writers who don’t, often trail behind. Now that’s not to say that every best-selling novel is a good book and every other book is bad, but you can definitely tell when a book is more likely to be good, based on the language and terminology that the author uses.

Language and terminology can be used to add colour and complexity to your characters without compromising on your word count. Sticking to stereotypes for now, the evilness of your antagonists can be increased with the language and terminology that they use. If their language is mean, cold, and/or condescending, it is likely that the reader will ‘dislike’ these characters. Similarly, the goodness of your protagonists can be amplified by the honesty, good-will and politeness that may shine through in how they speak and interact with other characters. Not only this, but the language and terminology used by characters when they talk about other characters, can be used to paint pictures and nudge the reader’s opinions of those other characters. This happens all the time in real life, you see it in advertising, music, the media, and pretty much every single thing that is written, everyone has an opinion and their own lives, and naturally this will come through in their work, their mannerisms and what they say, even if they’re not aware of it. read more »

Blog 37: On The Importance Of Words.

When I was in high school and studying English Literature, we read books like ‘Of Mice And Men’ and ‘An Inspector Calls’. One day that I remember clearly, a student asked the English teacher why we were bothering to study the sentences in such detail. This student was sure that writers would not and did not plan every single sentence they wrote. They thought that if a writer chose to write that the curtains were blue then they simply were blue and that it was not a subtle attempt at drawing out feelings of sadness from the reader. My teacher didn’t have a reply at the time, but after writing a book, reading hundreds of other books and many years later, I do have a reply. read more »