The Naked Ladies Writing Group part 9

NOTE: Hi, and thanks for coming back to my blog in 2021, welcome if this is your first look.

As Fia sat in traffic, she found herself pondering the story she might write, in a tropical setting. Who would be her main character? A woman, a really beautiful woman with smarts and a sassy attitude. Someone who pretty much got whatever she wanted through her wits and her assets.

Who was she though, this character? What did she do for a living? Fia decided it was time to plot out the story. She decided she’d put time aside each day while she ate lunch and dinner to write. She’d create the bones of the story and then fill it all in. It would be fun.

How hard could it be to write a book? Millions of people have written books.

As for the writing group, she had to find a way to pull Ruby into line.

Fia’s phone rang through the car speakers and she answered it, partly to distract herself from thinking about how to tell Ruby she needed to be nicer, especially to Mia.

“Fia, love, it’s Sammy your favourite brother,” Fia immediately regretted answering the call.

“Hi Sammy,” she said. “What’s new?”

“All kinds of things, sis,” he said.

“How are the gyms going?” She said and noted the pause.

“That’s the thing I’m ringing about really,” he said. “Calling my brilliant sister for some business advice to be honest.”

“Advice?” She said. Advice had to mean trouble, and if he was calling her at all, the trouble was probably already way out of control.

“Advice, help, assistance, you know so much about business, girl,” he said.

“Is that the surf in the background?” She said. “Are you at the beach?”

“This is the thing, see,” He said. “I’m in Queensland researching a new business venture. I’m here for a month at least, and I need someone at the gym office, someone who can sort things out for me.”

“And you’re calling me why?” Fia said. Someone blew their horn from behind her and she put her foot down and drove through the green light.

“You’re the smartest one in the family, we all know that,” he said. “Dad said I should call you. I wouldn’t bother you, sweet girl except it’s mum and dads house on the line, see?”

“You borrowed against mum and dads place?” Fia said. She was looking for a side street to take, so she could pull over and have the argument she could feel coming.

“They wanted to support me, and Barton Gyms were such a great idea you know.” He said. “Anyway, you’ll need to call the accountant, talk to the managers at the gyms, sort things out for us.” He said.

“This, this is not my problem, Sam.” Fia said, taking a left and nosing into a no standing spot. “This is you, and your businesses, and mum and dad. Not me.”

“Bit rough, not caring about family, Fifi,” he said. “Hang on a tic love,” she could have sworn she heard him open a beer bottle.

“That’s crap and you know it, Sam,” She said. “who else have you called?”

“Oh all of them,” he said. “But none of them know about business like you do. In fact they all recommended I talk to you. Come on, Fifi, just take a look.”

“I can’t believe you’re putting this on me,” she said. “I have enough to do, running my own company.”

“Yeah, and I bet you’ve got it running as smooth as silk,” he said. “I bet it runs itself,”

“It does not run itself.” Fia said, punching the steering wheel with her fists. “I work every day of the week,”

“Geez love, that’s a bit much,” he said. “Maybe it’ll be good for you to have a distraction, a kind of side project. We all know you work best when you’re juggling a whole lot of stuff. Multitasking they call it. I’m so bad at that.”

“I’m on my way to…” she said.

“Fifi, I gotta go,” he said. “I’m needed, shall we say.”

“What the,” she said.

“Catch up with you once you’ve got a plan, okay? Bye, bye butterfly.” He said and the call ended.

Fia was breathing fast, her heart was pounding, she wanted to throw up. She started to call her father, then cancelled the call. She screamed. She jumped when she saw a man in a grey uniform standing at her window, looking into her car at her.

What? She mouthed at him, and he gestured opening the window. She pressed the window button, and lowered it just a few centimetres.

“Are you okay, miss?” The man said. “You seem upset,”

“I’m fine,” she said.

“It’s just that you can’t park here, at least not while I back my truck into the driveway there. I need the extra turning space, see?”

“Alright,” Fia said. “I’ll leave now, got to be somewhere anyway.”

She’d warned her parents not to get involved in any of Sammy’s business ventures. They’d laughed and told her they wouldn’t be so stupid. Wrong apparently. As she turned the car around in the side street, she called Ash. There was no way she’d be able to front up at the gym office until she’d had a chance to vent.

Ashleigh was sympathetic, and Fia was grateful she was able to talk it out, but Ash couldn’t help in any practical way. Fia called her accountant next, talked to her about the possibility of getting some assistance. The accountant told her to look at the books and get back to her, once Fia knew what she was dealing with. If it was too complex a problem, the accountant would step in right away.

Fia made a few calls, reorganised her afternoon. There was no way she could work until she knew the whole picture. Sam was right about one thing; Fia’s own company was running well.

Fia drove into a completely empty car park at Barton Gyms. Not a great sign right there. She walked in the front door to find six staff members sitting in the welcome area, laughing over a shared joke. None of them were wearing the uniform, two of them were in jeans.

“Hi,” she said. There were a couple of sheepish looks and one person wouldn’t even make eye contact.

“What’s happening here?” She said. I sound like an angry librarian, she thought.

“Hi Sophie,” one guy said, standing. “You are Sophie, yes? I’m Travis Linton the manager here. How are you?”

“I’m fine,” she said. “Is this usual for a week day? No customers?”

“Yep,” he said. “Ever since they opened that big chain gym on the main road, it’s been like rats jumping off a sinking ship here.”

“Haha, you’re so right,” one guy in jeans said.

“Hey, I’m Dee, have you seen Sammy?” One woman said. “We’re wondering if we’re getting paid this week.”

Fia bit back a snappy response. “Which of you are casual employees?”

“All of us, haha,” the manager said. “Ever heard of a manager on casual rates? Well that’s me, and the other two managers, Ray and Ian.”

“Go home,” Fia said. “All of you except Travis.”

“What?” Dee said. “What if people start coming in? Who’s going to meet and greet and who’s going to sign up any newbies?”

“Please go home,” Fia said. “Management is doing it all today, in fact management will be doing it all until further notice.”

“Are you kidding?” Jeans and sneakers said.

“Not kidding,” Fia said.

The group stood and went to the lockers to take out their belongings. The manager waved them off, shrugging.

“Sammy said his sister was a bitch,” jeans and black tshirt said not too quietly.

“Don’t you come back at all, mate,” Fia said.

“Screw you,” he said, flipping the bird at her.

“Nice,” the manager said.

“Go put the closed sign up,” Fia said once everyone else had left. “We need to talk. Point me to the office.”

Travis raised his eyebrows, but he closed the gym and pointed to a set of stairs on the back wall.

As Fia made her way to the back, she noticed dust and even dirt on machines, hand weights that had not been put away and a general untidiness.

The stairs led to a spacious, open plan office area with half a dozen desks and chairs. There were cordless phones and laptops on each desk. In one corner of the room there was a kitchenette and in the other, a door with a sign saying bathrooms. Between the two, there were whiteboards on the wall with names and dates and numbers on them. They were partly worn off, as though a lot of people had walked by and brushed up against the whiteboard.

“They were for Sam’s incentive plan,” Travis said. “to try and get us to do cold calling to get some more clients in.”

Fia nodded and made her way to the larger desk that looked out through the window to the gym floor below.

“Sam’s desk?” She said.

“Yes,” Travis said. “When he comes in, which isn’t often now things are quiet.”

“Doesn’t look quiet,” she said. “It looks dead.”

What I Learned About Writing by Watching Ever After

What I Learned About Writing When I Watched the Movie Ever After

I’m a sucker for a Cinderella story, and it doesn’t take Freud to work out that this stems from my own difficult childhood.

Ever After is a classic Cinderella story set in France some hundreds of years ago. Drew Barrymore is fantastic as Cinderella and Angelica Houston is great as the step-monster.

For the first half of the movie I didn’t recognise Dougray Scott as the prince, he is just such a perfect spoiled royal.

The movie was more than just entertaining for me, it taught me about writing. The main characters are as they should be, but the minor characters really flesh out the story, taking it from simple to extraordinary.

The character of Leonardo DaVinci first seems a distraction in the story, and a hindrance to the prince, but ends up being a crucial part of the tale and he is nicely woven in by the detail that Cinderellas childhood buddy is an amateur artist.

This taught me that clever associations can add to a story as long as they carry things along.

Jacqueline De Ghent, the younger step-sister, is written as the lesser daughter, the imperfect and to her mother not at all useful extra child. In the story she acts as our bridge between Danielle, Cinderella, and her mother and sister.

Gradually Jacqueline becomes more and more outspoken about her unhappy life and in the end sides with our heroine.

This character taught me about writing a gradual shift of allegiance and why it might begin. At first, the character doing their best to fit in, all the way through to rejecting the very thing they thought they wanted so much.

Fictional characters are a lot like us in that think they know who they are and what they want. When a character gradually realises that they need to pursue a different course, we can relate to that.

As a reader, or a writer, we want what we want from characters and when they surprise us it’s a gift.

When we watch a movie or read a book, we see from the outside looking in at the lives of the characters and we recognise parts of ourselves in each one.

The Baroness Rodmilla De Ghent, the step mother, doesn’t change at all throughout the story, and that works well. She knows what she wants, which is to have the regal life she feels she deserves, and she is ruthless in her attempts to push her elder daughter forward to achieve her desire.

This taught me the importance of sometimes creating a character incapable of shifting from one single-minded attitude.

There’s one scene where Cinderella and her step mother are alone and the step mother speaks about her upbringing by a mother who sounds a little unhinged.

The one small fact that the step mother shares is enough to make you think that there was a good reason why she turned out unbalanced herself. From this one scene I learned the power of a single detail.

The character of Gustave is Cinderellas friend from childhood. He is a simple character; friend and amateur artist, but the story-tellers use him to show what Cinderella is thinking through conversations.

This taught me to use seemingly insignificant characters to show rather than tell what is going on for the main character. This is a really important part of writing. Finding ways to show, not tell, is part of the business of good writing.

I love this movie so much,and being able to learn from it is the icing on the cake.

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a creative day.

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Write your life, know yourself,


Character Development: Ashleigh

Ashleigh Julia Maiden was the third of five children born to a mother who went from simply not coping to being almost bedridden with depression.

Wendy, Ashleigh’s eldest sibling, did her best to run the house while their father worked fourteen hour days away from the home.

When Ashleigh was ten, her mother made her first suicide attempt, swallowing a lot of pills.

Ashleigh learned one thing that stayed with her her entire life; never have babies. Never, ever have babies because they only break you, make you miserable, keep you down.

Ashleigh met Ryan Austen on their first day at university, they were both studying to be registered nurses. Ryan asked her out the second time they took the same lecture.

They went out for a Chinese meal, and got on like a house on fire.

Ryan was the eldest of four boys and they swapped stories about growing up in a big family.

On their first date, Ashleigh had blurted out that she would never want to have children. Not ever. Ryan had laughed and said me either. They had fallen in love quickly.

When they went out, if they saw couples with kids, they’d share a secret smile. Crying babies had them reaching out for one another’s hands.

Ashleigh used to joke that she was born without the ability to get clucky, without a biological clock.

Their siblings, meantime, produced nieces and nephews at a fast rate. Ashleigh enjoyed playing the favourite Aunty. She loved and spoiled those kids. She hosted girly sleepovers and she and Ryan took the kids camping. They did it all on their own terms.

She acted as birth partner for one of her brothers wives and the experience, as incredible as it was, only confirmed her and Ryans choice.

Ashleigh got a plum job as a critical care nurse in a big city private hospital. Ryan went into Aged Care, working in a nursing home in the suburbs.

They had their perfect life. Nothing could spoil it. Except maybe an unplanned pregnancy.

Character Development: Sofia – Trigger Warning

NOTE: I’m giving a trigger warning here, because Sofia has a past that contains trauma which may trigger some people.

Sofia Faith Barton was born into a cult where her parents were enthusiastic about keeping all the rules.

Being a girl, she and her sister suffered under many more of these rules than their brothers. Don’t cut your hair, don’t wear make-up, don’t wear shorts or jeans, only skirts or dresses, no pierced ears, no boyfriends unless they were found by the family, the cult.

She was taught from a young age that women were responsible for men’s arousal. If a woman was raped, she probably asked for it. If a woman was touched at work, she definitely asked for it somehow.

When Sophia got her first job at fifteeen, in a small local cafe, the owner would pinch her bottom each time he walked behind her, which he made sure to do often. Sofia dreaded this, but she didn’t outwardly react, knowing with certainty that this was her fault. After a while, he moved on to holding her hips and pushing himself close to her as he passed behind her. This made Sofia physically sick, and she began to take days off, preferring the unhappy company of her mother to the shame she felt at work.

She finally broke down and quit, and although she was surrounded by family, she felt utterly alone. She had no friends and she could never tell her family what had happened  at work, because she knew that they would blame her and probably punish her, and she hadn’t said a word at work, for fear of being ridiculed and shamed.

She told the family that she didn’t know what was wrong with her, she just wasn’t coping. Her father yelled at her for quitting a perfectly good job without consulting him. He soon found a job for her with a friend of his who owned a bookshop.

At first, it seemed as though this would be better than the cafe. At first, the owner of the bookshop didn’t lay a hand on Sofia. But then, a regular delivery man, Adam, became very friendly with Sofia, telling her little jokes. Each visit to the shop, he made a point of getting close to Sofia, and one day he touched her on the forearm, and she felt immediately stressed. She knew she’d done something wrong for this man to touch her.

A touch to the arm turned into a hug when he arrived, a hug when he left, then the seemingly inevitable bottom pinching. Not to be outdone, the shop owner caught onto this and started pinching Sofia as well.

The senior shop assistant was a sour older woman who would frown and sneer at Sofia whenever the men were around. Sofia knew that the woman knew that she was a slut, one of her fathers words for women of loose morals.

Sofia, still in her teens, knew exactly what she was by now. She was a slut, a loose woman, one of those filthy dirty teases her father had been talking about for years. She was deathly afraid she’d be raped next.

Sofia liked the saying that you might as well be hanged for a sheep, as a lamb, and so she made a decision to stop trying to be modest, and dressed as she wanted. She was less careful how she spoke to her parents, and searched for someone to marry, in the hopes she could escape the cult.

A friend of the family had a son, older than Sofia, and not completely ugly. He, Simon, was an accountant in his fathers firm and had liked Sofia since she turned sixteen.

Sofia and Simon sat together at cult functions and family gatherings for six months and then Simon proposed. Sofia quit her job the same day, and the cult approved. A married lady should look after the home, so Sofia ought to be following her mother around, learning how to be a good, virtuous wife.

They married less than a year later and moved into the flat that Simon owned, in the city. Immediately, Sofia spoke to her husband about keeping away from the families, and she was shocked to learn that he agreed completely. He, like she, had no interest in cult life, let alone the families. Simon had his own story of abuse, his by an elder in the cult.

Simons abuse impacted his self worth, to the point that he could barely make a decision in his life. He suffered with untreatable impotence and blamed Sofia entirely.

He told her that he found other women attractive, and they gave him the right feelings, the ones his wife should have given him.

Simon found a new job in a bigger accounts firm, and started hanging around with a few guys from work. They went out evenings, and took weekends away together. Simon always came home so much happier, so Sofia didn’t mind.

Sofia had done some online courses, learning marketing and website design. Simon had helped her to set up a business, and she’d done well. People liked working with her, they found her kind, smart and trustworthy, so word of mouth led to more business than she could handle on her own. She’d employed her first person, Louisa, a woman of course, and together they’d grown the business even more.

When Sofia was twenty five, Simon told her they needed to get a divorce. She wasn’t shocked. When her parents came to the flat howling with rage and disappointment, Sofia told them that Simon was gay and he deserved to have his own happy life. She’d thought her father was going to die on the spot.

They had demanded she come home, so they could all pray over her. Sofia had laughed and reassured them that she had a plan for her life and it didn’t involve any prayer.

Simon had done well in his job, and had played the stock market successfully for a few years. They had lived pretty simply, and had a good amount of money saved, between them, which they split equally.

Sofia looked for an apartment in a city suburb near the beach and found a one bedroom fixer-upper she could afford. Dark wallpaper peeling from the walls, bright orange benchtops in the kitchen, Sofia loved it. She installed air conditioning as a priority, and set up her desk in the living area, looking out through the other buildings for a glance at the blue ocean.

Working hard and renovating the apartment took up all of Sofias time. When it was time to sell and find the next bargain, she was able to move that little bit closer to the beach. Her new disaster of an apartment was on the second from top floor of a solid brick building, and gave her glimpses of actual sand and waves. She felt very grateful, and pleased with herself.

She now had two bedrooms, and after she’d moved in, she set to work on the bigger bedroom, turning it into a nice, spacious office with room for her and Louisa, and a client or two.

She renovated from the front door to the office, and to the guest bathroom, so that clients wouldn’t have to be confronted by the old shag pile carpet and lime green walls.

Sofia’s real success had come from her YouTube channel where she offered business advice, tips and tricks and courses for women. Her long black hair, green eyes and elfin features, the way she spoke clearly and yet without pretension, her happy smile due mostly to her independent life working with only the nicest women.

She wrote a book that had sold well across the world. Then she’d written a book about her life growing up in a cult and it had done even better.

She was prospering, having fun, and yet something was missing. She shrank from the thought that it was a man. Yet, she did feel ready for a relationship. As she’d always done, Sofia thought long and hard about this dilemma.

Character Development: Ruby

Ruby Leanne Bell was born in the back seat of a rusting, yellow 1977 Ford Escort. The carload of teenagers was on its way back from a night of clubbing, and Ruby’s mum had to shimmy out of her jeans right there by the side of the road. The driver was the only one clear-headed enough to offer to help, but Leanne Bell didn’t want her best friends boyfriend putting his hands up there.

Ruby came into the world loud and pink. Leanne wrapped her in the pale green cardigan she’d brought with her. Everyone piled back into the Escort for the drive to the nearest hospital.

Leanne and Ruby lived in a group house, with Leanne’s twelve closest friends. Ruby grew up ruling the roost, spoiled and indulged. She was extroverted and dominating, and anyone who challenged her was soon removed from the home for one infraction or another.

Ruby hated school and had to be bribed to attend. By year five she’d realised that all the other kids were a complete waste of time. She preferred the company of adults, especially the ones who were easy to manipulate.

She aced every test, every subject. She read books a stack at a time and she never found a topic that didn’t interest her.

In high school, she finally saw the point of making friends, although she went after the timid, easily led people, male and female, first. Creating a large group who sat together at lunch and went on outings after school, Ruby led with an iron fist. Nobody was allowed to get ahead of her. Few tried. Everyone had to put Ruby first.

Ruby got a job at a local law firm, doing all the unskilled grunt work for anyone who put their hand up. She was confident that this would look great on her resume later.

Graduating dux of her high school and receiving offers from her top three university choices was no surprise to Ruby. It was what she expected. A huge party at her home with mum and the regular crowd, along with her high school group, made Ruby realise she needed to make a clean break with this old life if she was to concentrate on achieving everything she wanted. The law degree crowd wouldn’t want to mix with a houseful of wanna-be hippies.

Her high school group was easy to avoid, Ruby simply bought a new mobile and didn’t give the new number to anyone. She threw the old phone in the Parramatta River.

University was everything Ruby had expected. At last, an adult world to explore, no more children.

She joined the appropriate clubs and socialised with the right crowd. Her only problems were her temper, her tongue, and her high opinion of her own opinions. She argued with her professors, and not in the appropriate way. She called out in lectures and tutorials, disputing what was taught, the way it was taught. She yelled and called the tutors names. Some quit, others complained.

She was warned, suspended and eventually expelled.

She re-applied for admission and enough of the staff at the university came together against her that her readmission was never going to happen. She was so infuriated she refused to even consider applying to other uni’s. They didn’t deserve her, none of them. She phoned the law firm she’d been working at and quit over the phone.

On her way back to the flat she shared with three guys who were so afraid of her they paid most of the rent, she walked past a real estate agency with a sign in the window advertising a receptionist job.

Ruby lied her way into the position; she had decided to defer uni for a year, earn money and save up for her fees. She smiled and nodded like a champion. Promised dedication and attention to detail, kindness toward buyers, respect to rentals. She started the next day.

It turned out she loved real estate. She worked hard, was ruthless, studied real estate and made a lot of money.

Law would have been a waste of her time, she’d tell people, real estate was far more lucrative. It was just the kind of game Ruby liked; playing both sides against the middle and making a fortune doing it.

Character Development: Mia

NOTE: Here are my notes on my Mia character. I enjoyed exploring her world, and I quite like her. I hope you enjoy this peek into her life.

Mia Rose Martin was born in Melbourne, and lived her first five years in a high rise apartment with her parents, Glenn and Rosie and her older brother Max.

She was a quiet child and her dad always called her Mia mouse.

They moved out of the apartment and into the penthouse of a building her father partly owned.

Mia and Max loved the rooftop garden and they tended it faithfully, planting according to the seasons.

Her brother was her hero. He’d been born deaf and mildly intellectually disabled. He and Mia had their own way of communicating, beyond the sign language they used on a day-to-day basis.

Mia and Max were Irish twins, born a year apart. They were as close as kids could be.

When Mia had learned she was being sent to a different school to Max she’d cried for days. She didn’t want to try on her uniform, she didn’t want a new, pink lunchbox and drink bottle, she wanted to go on the bus with Max and his friends, to their school.

Any chance she got, she was at Max’s school, watching plays in the evening and cheering his team on at the after school soccer matches.

At her own school, Mia made friends easily and she was lucky to be a part of a big group of girls with similar temperaments who ended up going all the way through school together.

She’d met Ruby towards the end of high school, and Ruby had taken her on a trip off the rails for a while. Mia’s family had no idea what to make of her acting out. It all came to an end when Mia’s dad had had to pick her and Ruby up from the police station after they’d been arrested for shoplifting.

Max had told her she needed to get her act together, told her she wasn’t that kind of person. Mia always listened to Max. Even then, when she was trying on a whole different persona, trying to be the tough girl who didn’t care what people thought; what Max thought mattered.

Ruby had called her all kinds of names, but remained a friend. Ruby said Mia was selfish and everything had to be about what Mia wanted. Mia said nothing about that, she was glad to get back to her real friends, the ones who’d known her almost her whole life. The ones who were glad she was almost back to her old self by graduation.

After high school, Max got a job in a local plants nursery and he loved it.

Mia, graduating a year later, went to uni in Bathurst and did a teaching degree. Alone for the first time in her life, Mia made new friends. There wasn’t a lot to do on the weekends, so carloads of people would head for the city for a few days.

Mia met Jordan at one of these weekends and they started hanging out exclusively right away. Jordan was a born-again Christian who did his best to convert Mia and her crowd. It didn’t go down well, but there were some pretty full-on discussions had between the religious, the agnostics and the atheists.

Mia realised at this time that she was actually pagan. She never told Jordan this, though. He eventually met someone in his church that he liked better than Mia, and they broke up. Mia decided never to date a Christian again.

In her final year of her degree, one of the girls in her crowd, Lindsay, asked Mia out on a date. Mia said yes. Lindsay was pagan, too, and a witch, and their relationship was beautiful magic, as Mia texted home to Max.

Her first teaching position was in south east Queensland, and so she’d said goodbye to Lindsay and moved her few boxes and bags north.

Teaching took her around Queensland and NSW until she’d settled in a city school where she could be close to Max.

It hadn’t taken Ruby long to find her again and they’d been friends since. Mia was surprised to find that Ruby hadn’t changed at all. She still had that drive to control and dominate. Mia understood her friend better than anyone else could, and she allowed Ruby the space to be herself. Mia felt it didn’t cost her anything to be kind.

Character Development: Alice

There’s a wild part in every woman’s heart.

Alice Summer Wright started her life in Katoomba, in The Blue Mountains, an area west of Sydney.

Her parents, Felicia and Felix, had been born on the same day as one another, the same year, the second of February 1975. They were both psychic mediums and shared a business in the family home.

They planned Alice’s birth around their shared birthday and yes, improbably, she was born on the second of February as well.

They all lived in one of the original homes in the area, an ancient, creaking house with an impressive herb and vegetable garden that wrapped the home in a blanket of green.

Alice grew up surrounded by mystical people; psychics, channellers, mediums, wiccans, pagans, witches and warlocks. None of it impressed her.

Alice’s younger brother, Edgar, named after Edgar Cayce, came into the world quietly and without a fuss, twenty years after Alice, and impossibly, also on the second of February.

Her parents didn’t believe in restricting children, controlling them or pulling them into line. They raised Alice accordingly, and she was a wild child who was thrown out of two preschools before she was three years old.

At school, Alice excelled in almost every subject. Her favourites were maths and science, which confused her parents who had been doing spell-work since she was conceived to try and produce their own special Indigo Child.

She ruled the playground from kindergarten through to year twelve, but she wasn’t hated for it. She led her minions in a matter-of-fact way, never asking more than she knew could be given.

She ate whatever she wanted from anyone’s lunch box and the other children were happy to share with her. She always found it a little odd that people followed her so easily, after all her parents hadn’t taught her a thing about being in charge of others.

She’d always been bigger than the other girls, and the further through school she went, the larger she grew. Her mother was always buying her new uniforms, the next size up.

Somehow, in spite of her size and what that usually meant in schools, all the freedom they’d given her had instilled in her an almost limitless self-confidence, and self-belief. Somehow, a life without boundaries had taught her how to be the one who set the rules.

It wasn’t until high school that someone told her that everyone was dead scared of her parents and their home. Everyone, from kids, to parents and teachers.

Rumours abounded of heathen rituals, candles and black magic, blood sacrifices, naked midnight dancing around a fire. Most of it was true.

She always thought Felicia and Felix were seen as harmless kooks. Apparently not. It made her laugh.

Moving to the city when she got into a Sydney university, Alice decided she’d go by Ali, it sounded more adult somehow. Her dad had sorted a job for her, in a pagan bookshop, and there was a tiny flat above where she could live for some exchange arrangement between her dad and the owner.

Uni was another world, and Ali threw herself into her studies, her job and a busy adult social life. She went through boyfriends and girlfriends quickly, none of them her true love.

That was until she met Lily at their uni graduation ceremony. They were both sitting there, unimpressed with the pomp, one person between them. Lily had pulled out a tube of the reddest lipstick Ali had ever seen, and applied it to her already perfect lips. She’d noticed Ali watching her and held out the lipstick to her. Ali had laughed and refused it.

After the ceremony was over, Ali found Lily and asked her out for drinks. They’d stuck like glue to one another ever since, turning the tiny apartment over the shop into a real little home for two.

Lily was already working in a very junior role at a publishing house, and was able to get Ali a job there as well. Give us time, they’d said to friends and family, and time along with hard work and talent had paid off for each of them.

Saving and penny-pinching had them able to make a deposit on an only slightly bigger apartment, needing improvements but their very own.

They called it their little nest.

5 Unusual Habits of Women Writers

1. We Are Always Writing

If we get an idea at three am, we’ll probably get out of bed and write it down, and that’s if we’re in bed in the first place because if the words are flowing there’s no way we’re sleeping.

We write whenever and wherever inspiration strikes, including the waiting room at the doctors, while we are pushing a trolley around the supermarket, as we breastfeed a baby, while we plan and cook dinner; we have to write when we can, we are busy people.

When we sit down at our computers, we bring together all of that incidental writing and use it to build up our work.

An idea we had at the hairdressers might end up being central to the message in our book.

2. We Carry A Notebook At All Times

Okay, it might not be an actual notebook, but we like to carry something to record brilliant thoughts.

Our notebook, or equivalent, goes with us everywhere we go. Some of us use our phones now, taking notes on an app.

We can be choosing an avocado and bam, a truly inspired idea pops into our heads, so we put down the avocado and record that thought. Sometimes we might be asked to shift along, so someone can get to the fruit we are ignoring while we scribble in our notebook.

Some of us can’t resist a gorgeous notebook or journal from one of those stationery stores. Oh we love those stores.

3. We Write In Different Voices

We write in a voice that doesn’t always sound like our speaking voice. Especially when we write fiction, but not only then.

In the same way that your mother has a normal voice and a phone voice, writers have a regular voice and a selection of writing voices. It depends on what we are writing, who we are writing for.

When we write for our blog, we use our blogger voice, which we unconsciously chose when we started our blog. My blogging voice is much more confident than my actual voice.

4. We Listen In On Conversations

We know there’s no better way to get to know how people actually talk, than to eavesdrop.

We don’t always know the context of the conversation, but we listen to learn about tone of voice, unique expressions and the pot of gold; stories.

Now that we can get to know friends from around the world via social media, we gladly pay attention to everything people put out there.

5. We Turn People We Know Into Book Characters

Some people stand out to you; their way of talking, their mannerisms, the fact they’ve been arrested eight times.

People are really interesting, including the people who think their lives are boring. Quiet people who live simple lives often have complex inner worlds, filled with secret desires, hopes and dreams.

You never know what’s going on inside another human being unless you listen to them.

We writers most often mix a few people together to make one character. We might add some unique habits of an eccentric cousin to a kindergarten teacher who owns a dozen cats and come up with a complicated and somehow relatable character.

I hope you found this interesting. Find me on instagram if you’d like to connect, I’m rachelgracewrites. I also have a Facebook page with the same name. Ask me anything you’d like to know about writing in general, or my writing in particular.

Character Development Notes

Character Development Notes:

Main Character: Sofia

Nickname: Fia

Hair: dusty blonde

Eyes: green

Job: Entrepreneur, YouTube Channel, Blog

Personality/character: Loner, driven and serious about growing her business, proud of the home she owns, close to her best friend Ashleigh, single, keeps busy mostly doing work related things

Quote: Work is my social life

Character: Ashleigh

Nickname: Ash

Hair: long, red, curly

Eyes: blue

Job: RN

Personality/character: passionate, cares a lot about friends and family, loves her husband Ryan

Quote: Never tell me I can’t do something

Character: Mia

Nickname: Meme

Hair: shoulder-length mid-brown

Eyes: brown

Job: kindergarten teacher

Personality/character: giving, loving, caring, kind, secretly wants to be tougher

Quote: kindness is my superpower

Character: Ruby

Nickname: Rubes

Hair: black sharp chin-length bob

Eyes: darkest brown

Job: real estate agent

Personality/character: tells it like it is, knows what she wants, impatient, generous

Quote: don’t ask me unless you want the truth

Character: Alice

Nickname: Ali

Hair: light brown layers around her face

Eyes: hazel

Job: marketing at a publisher, works with Betty

Personality/character: outgoing, big smile, seems confident on the outside, joker

Quote: happiness is your choice

Character: Betty

Nickname: Miss B

Hair: thick black fringe, blue at the back, long

Eyes: blue

Job: editor at a publisher, works with Alice

Personality/character: cheeky, happy, confident, loves a grunge pinup aesthetic

Quote: what new thing can I try next?

The Naked Ladies Writing Group part 6

NOTE: I’m sorry if this block of writing seems a little disjointed, I needed to get Fia’s home from inside my head onto the page. Now I can copy some of the description into my book bible for future reference. Enjoy!

Fia’s home was an inviting nest decorated in warm blues and soft golds. Her furniture looked cared for and cosy, and there were small framed paintings on almost every wall. In the entry area there was a hall stand painted the palest caramel, a navy blue umbrella with a gold duck head in one side and a gnarled old walking stick in the other. On the tiny shelf between the two, sat a faded photograph in a white frame, a tiny bowl filled with marbles and a tea light candle in a glass cup.

There were polished floorboards throughout the house, and Fia had placed soft rugs in neutral colours on the floor in each bedroom. 

From the entry, you could turn right and enter the roomy second bedroom that was decorated in a soft, pastel lilac colour, or turn left and walk directly into the lounge room. Fia always felt it was a flaw in the design that the previous owner had removed walls and taken away the old hall that had gone from the front door to the back door.

Visitors always had to walk through the main lounge room on their way to the kitchen, dining room and open living area.

Once you’d made your way to the back of the house, you were treated to the experience of the green room, as Fia called it. Running all the way across the back of the house and as deep as a bedroom, the green room was filled with lush, healthy indoor plants. From huge pots containing tall greenery to a vintage drinks cart topped with orchids and violets, the room was an impressive way to say hey, I have a green thumb.

A cane chair with a woven peacock back, as tall as the doorway, sat in pride of place at the furthest left wall and wore a stuffed cushion in emerald green. To the right, among the leaves, was a plain, functional park bench with two white cushions. A book lay on the bench, with a bookmark hanging out of the top.

The green room drew you to it so powerfully, that it was possible to miss the entry into the remaining hallway that led to the master bedroom, complete with ensuite, and walk-in wardrobe, three more bedrooms, the main bathroom, a decent sized laundry room and generous built-in cupboards.

Each bedroom was decorated in a different pale pastel colour, with the main being painted Fia’s favourite colour, blue. The others were lemon, peach and green. The main bathroom was all white, with stainless steel taps and fittings. Soft, white towels were stacked on shelves and a delicate fern in a wooden bowl softened the harshness of the room.

The third bedroom, decorated in peach, had the largest window and made a perfect home office. Fia did a lot of videoing in there, with her chair pulled up to the desk that faced the window.

She’d carefully decorated the wall behind her with simple things that wouldn’t distract from whatever message she was delivering. There was a bookcase, a fern in a basket, on a small table to the left and a framed quote on the right.

Her street was pretty quiet, thankfully, so she was able to record video’s whenever it suited her. She generally worked from home every Wednesday, recording a series of video’s, ready for her editor Clair to cut, add intro and extro, and splice in b-roll footage, which was recorded at the office and specific to the content. Clair made it seem so easy, that Fia never once doubted her choice to employ someone to do this task for her. Clair was a good amateur photographer as well and depending on the weather, would go out taking still photo’s for promotions and social media. Some days she texted Fia before work, asking her to bring in a certain outfit so she could wear it in photographs she had planned. The first time she’d done this, Fia had thought it a bit odd, and to be truthful, a bit much, until she’d seen the images. Then she’d told Clair to do it any damn time she pleased.

Her desk in the city office was the best place for ideas and research. Being in the office with her team gave her energy. She loved the way the team bounced ideas off one another, although like any boss, she was sure they could all breathe easier on her Wednesdays at home. Having the boss around had always changed her work flow, when she’d been the one who was employed.

Mia woke up with a doozy of a headache and a sick stomach. She wished she’d stuck to wine, or beer, or cider, because mixing the three had not been a great idea. Ruby had stuck to her like glue, which was starting to be a regular thing. Ever since Ruby had fired her last boyfriend, fired, her word, she’d been at a loose end and that never went well for Mia.

She lurched from the bed to the bathroom and put in some time leaning over the toilet bowl. Not a good look for a modern woman, she thought. Once she could stand without swaying side to side she took a long, hot shower. She hated to get out, but it was necessary.

She scrunched her hair as she held her hairdryer to it, creating long, wavy volume. Sunday hair, she thought.

She was determined to leave the house before Ruby showed up with some urgent reason for the both of them to spend another entire day together. Mia didn’t want to hurt Ruby’s feelings, although lately she’d begun to wonder if her friend had any feelings, other than anger and determination.

Mia noticed that last night she had attempted to set out clothes for today and had failed terribly. It was Sunday, so jeans and a pretty shirt, white runners, hair in a band, and her new yellow purse were in order. What she found draped on the soft chair in the corner of her bedroom was a black lace g-string, the t-shirt she’d worn to help Fia paint her house, a starched black pencil skirt and a pair of hot pink fluffy socks.

Mia shook her head and put each item away in her wardrobe. As she dressed she heard her phone receive two messages. No, no, she thought. I can make it.

She grabbed her purse, put her phone in it without checking her messages and made it out of the flat and into her car. She was cheering to herself as she put the car in reverse and looked in her rear view mirror. She backed out of her parking spot and drove into the street, joining the rest of humanity intent on enjoying as much of their Sunday as possible.

This really is the first day I’ve had to myself for a couple of weeks, she thought, and merged onto the road that led to the highway. A perfect opportunity to visit that gallery I’ve been meaning to get to, down the coast.

Mia turned the radio on and settled in for the drive.

Ruby couldn’t get onto Mia by phone, and it was driving her crazy. She’d almost hit a stupid bike rider who was taking up half her lane.

She had to get to Mia’s place before that woman went off doing some random thing. Left to herself, Mia could be very basic. Ruby felt it was her responsibility to make sure Mia learned how to be a real, modern woman and what better way to teach her than to show her by spending as much time together as possible. Now that Ruby didn’t have that loser boyfriend anymore, there was more time for Mia.

Her car wasn’t in her car space. Where was that woman, and why wasn’t she answering her phone? Ruby drove her car into Mia’s spot and punched her steering wheel. Maybe she was at the shops, grabbing a few groceries. Or visiting her Nanna in the eastern suburbs. Maybe she was visiting Fia, yeah, that would be it. Mia put the car in reverse and backed out, waited for the street to clear both ways and turned right.

Ashleigh and Ryan were up early with matching hangovers. Ryan had to work and Ashley had to drive him there or have no car all day. Ryan jumped into the shower and Ashley fried up bacon and eggs for sandwiches on the go.

“I need my own car,” Ashleigh said with her face in her hands.

“You used to have your own car,” Ryan said, picking up the sandwiches, which Ashleigh had wrapped in aluminium foil. “You sold it to save money.”

“I hate saving money, I want to sleep in. Argh.” Ashleigh said. “You drive us there, I’m sleeping.”

Ryan led the way out the door, grabbing his keys off the hall table. “You’ve got your keys?”


“Your phone?”


“Your bag?”


NOTE: Thanks for reading my blog.