The Feel Good Factor


Elaine and Francesca consider some of their favourite films.

Elaine: When Francesca and I discussed writing a piece on our favourite films, I’m sure you can believe me when I say it was impossible to pick just two.

I’ve thought about it long and hard before coming to the conclusion that my least favourite films tend to be ones where I have read the books. Films that come under that category are:

P.S. I Love You, written by Cecelia Ahern

My Sister’s Keeper, written by Jodi Picoult

Before I Go To Sleep, written by S. J. Watson

Obviously the list can go on and on but for me, the films were enjoyable but the books were great.

However, I do love a feel good film. The obvious ones relate to Christmas. Love Actually is up there, as indeed is Miracle on 34th Street, but I also love an old fashioned Doris Day movie.

It is difficult to pick just two but I’m going to give it a go.

DVDSliding Doors, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah. This film is up there because I like the idea that you get to where you are meant to be eventually, no matter how many bad decisions you make along the way.

Dead Poets Society, starring Robin Williams. He was such a talented person and a loss to our society. The film is about students being made to fit into what their family and society decides for them. I won’t give too much away just in case somebody decides to watch it. It comes highly recommended.


Mockingbird About a BoyFrancesca: I agree with Elaine that I’m not very fond of films made from books I’ve enjoyed: they are often a disappointment. One of the exceptions is To Kill A Mockingbird. The film makers did a good job and Gregory Peck plays Atticus Finch to a tee. I’m also very fond of the The Lord of the Rings films. Even though there is much to make me hit my forehead with my palm (eg, soppy, feeble Frodo in the film as opposed to tortured, resolute Frodo in the book), there is much to love too. The first one, The Fellowship of the Ring, remains my favourite of the three, as with the books.

I love British films from the 1960s like Georgy Girl, Alfie, Whistle Down The Wind, Up The Junction, A Taste of Honey and Kes. It’s partly because they evoke the period of time when I was a child. They’re also dramas about ordinary people during an era of social change. The characterisation in them is fantastic and good characterisation is something I always strive for in my own novels (whether I succeed is another matter!).1960s films

I enjoyed The Mummy films (the first three anyway – the last one was ‘muh’). They were great fun and full of adventure. Complete escapism. Ditto the first three Star Wars films (that is, the original three, since they came in reverse order!).

Shelf of filmsOkay, that’s already more than two. Difficult to leave out so many but I must mention About a Boy. It has pathos and comedy and made me want to cry as well as laugh. Perhaps one day I’ll get round to reading the book!

Something else I have to agree with Elaine on: Miracle on 34th Street. It’s my favouriteMiracle 34 Street Christmas film of all time (I’m referring to the 1947 film, not the 1994 one – not sure about Elaine). ‘It’s not just Kris that’s on trial, it’s everything he stands for. It’s kindness and joy and love and all the other intangibles.’ Yes, ‘feel good factor’ indeed.


Nonna Blog: diary of a reluctant grandmother


Which films would you choose?


Waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear

Francesca Capaldi Burgess considers the dreaded editing, and those dratted ‘favourite’ words.

Editing is something I love and hate, much as Golem in Lord of the Rings loved and hated the ring. And like Golem, I will never be rid of my need for it.

The ‘love’ part comes from the knowledge that I have completed the first draft, ‘The End’ typed, in my mind if not in truth, on the last page. Then comes the reality – back to page 1. And I know this will be only one of many edits, whether it’s a short story or a novel. The more I edit it, the more I tend to hate it! Neither does the editing process finish with the submission of the work.Page editing

I’ve written before of how I’m an eternal editor. If my work comes winging its way back to me, I will be
sifting through it yet again. Even if it’s a short story I’ve already sold in a different country, I will make sure it’s the best I think it can be. And that’s quite aside from the fact that foreign markets might compel me to change certain aspect in any case.

So, I shrug, huff a sigh while a sense of foreboding floods my senses, eyeing the page hopefully, clearly ready to begin, obviously. Which brings me to one of the major editing events – eradicating favourite words. Not favourite in the sense that I like them, but because they are overused by me. The sentence before last contains many that I placed on a hit list recently after finishing the first draft of a novella. Sometimes I end up simply replacing one well-worn word with another equally shabby one. In which case, a complete re-write of that sentence, and perhaps the one before and after, is called for.

The ‘Word’ list of synonyms is some help, as is the internet, but I prefer my Collins Thesaurus. What a hunk of a book! It’s much better than Roget’s version, which I’ve always found cumbersome.

I am, however, eternally grateful for the ‘Find and Replace’ function. I can’t imagine how much more difficult sifting through hackneyed words must have been in the days of typewriters and pens/quills, though I have to admit a fondness for writing by hand. ‘F&R’ is also useful for changing single quotes to double, and vice versa, for the requirements of different publishers, though it’s still mind-numbingly tedious to do.

Below is the hit list I made for my most recent work. Some of them will probably have you going ‘eh?!’ How many of these are also your bugbears? Can you add to the list? Feel free to comment below and tell me of any of your own worn out words.

shrug                           admonish

sigh                              laugh

huff                              wildly

breath                         unspoken

smile                           tut

grin                              raise

senses                          head

lips                               eyeing

nod                              turn

wide-eyed                   vaguely

ripple                           life

obviously                     bright

clear                            expression

connection                  screwed (not what you’re thinking, you mucky pup!)

And if you’re wondering about the title of this blog, it’s because of this rather nice quote by author Patricia Fuller: 

Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.”

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