For All. Wherever. However

Light of Writing 1

Christmas day & Christmas-time. A religious festival, a great reason for an extended break, somebody else’s idea to be taken advantage of for fun and harmless indulgence. I’m ideally with the first, but truth be known also have a certain affiliation with the other two. Anyhow, wherever you are, whatever reason, I hope you are having a happy time and the day(s) will live up to your expectations.

But….. If you’ve always had happy times during this season then I am glad for you, and if that has not always been the case; how many have been there? Quite a few I’m guessing. If this relates to you, you have my thoughts and sympathies. This can be one of those times which brings unhappiness, disappointment and tragedy into even sharper relief; the feeling of isolation as everyone else seems to be having such a good time. Been there, know how it goes.

So this is for you, writer, blogger in pain or in despair. One thing which cannot be taken from you is your ability to write, create, imagine. Take to your pen, your keyboard, your talent and escape. Fly out and onwards. Soar as I have witnessed so many of you do. Do not look down, or back. Reach upwards head for the clear skies of your ability. Never stop, never doubt. Creation is the goal, your right.

And in conclusion. To all those I’ve encountered on WordPress, thanks you’re opening up whole new worlds to me.

 

 

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Anyone for Whimsicality

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The resolution to write in a serious fashion was a responsible and mature one, which truth be known is not usually my outlook when it comes to writing, but nonetheless one must with all due steadfastness forge on, irrespective of the effort this will involve.

But I still wanna do comic turns!!

And don’t we all? I mean to say, there are times when you just have to embrace the quirkiness that resides within us all and give flight to that aspect of your imagination.

So I have this humble suggestion as to one way to let off the literary steam.

Write a mangled account of a period of history just for the sheer fun of it. This exercise is also useful for giving your imagination and invention a chance to run riot. In fact something of a work out.

Firstly all due credit and acknowledgements must be given to first Sellar & Yateman who wrote 1066 and All That in 1929/30 and then to the incomparable Richard Armour who between 1955 and 1962 (approx.) took up the torch and produced the ‘It All Started With….’series. Sellar & Yateman ‘s style was to poke fun at the pervious century’s imperially and bombastic minded way of looking at things. Armour while acknowledging their inspiration added a screwball humour peppered with the type of errors as a professor he had often encountered from students.

To make the project work the writer should interpret facts incorrectly, reach ludicrous conclusions, sprinkle the text with awful puns and where suitable insert a wry observation on current life by referencing the events. Of course history can be raw and emotional so choosing an era and an incident does require a mixture of tact and probably chosing one not in living memory. These are two examples from the masters…

From 1066 and All That….”One day when George III was insane he heard that Americans had never had afternoon tea. This made him very obstinate and he invited them all to a compulsory tea-party at Boston….”

In ‘It All Started With Columbus’ Armour’s account of the same event is as follows “the colonists, who were now called Americans, which was only fair in view of what the British were being called, tried to avoid stamp tax by writing fewer and fewer letters. They became Bad Correspondents. This made the king mad, so mad that he thought up a diabolical scheme of forcing Americans to drink tea instead of coffee…”

My own endeavour came from a combination of being Catholic (by choice), recent readings of the Reformation/ Counter-Reformation period and while taking time out from such tomes reading some of the above. It is also owes something to some posts I encountered on what was apparently an on-line religious forum but tended to be a cyber-screeching match (I quit that by the way)

So in the spirit of only mangling facts and with no intention of offend anyone’s beliefs I humbly submit:

The Reformation and Counter-Reformation:

One day while walking in a field, a student Martin Luther, was struck by lightning, but survived. He soon became weary of people inferring there were many other reasons why a student would be lying confused in a field and also not wishing to risk a repeat experience he became a monk. At this time the Church had become very indulgent by making a rule which said you could do what you liked as long as you said you were sorry and paid a large amount of money to the Church. Luther thought this unfair upon the poor people and showed his displeasure by writing a version of the Bible in a very common language called The Vernacular while also by nailing nine-five pastries to the door of a church. The Church authorities summoned him to a court. Here, despite being trained as a lawyer he adopted the strange defence of standing and saying nothing. The Church lawyers naturally proved him to be an hysteric and he was sentenced to the terrible punishment of living on a diet of worms. The poor people were so outraged by this cruel treatment that they rose in rebellion. Luther confused the issue by telling them they should not rise but sit down to read his bible and do as their prince told them, while anyone who didn’t could be hung. This caused many princes to become Lutherans without asking Luther himself.

Meanwhile some peasants being very confused asked a man called John Calvin for advice, he said it didn’t matter as God knew what was going to happen, but that everyone should go to his church, just in case. Other peasants decided it would be best to listen to the Church, and to save up their money so they could indulge, which meant they had to count it a lot and this naturally led to the Counter Reformation, headed by the Church which now called itself The Catholic Church to avoid payments going to the wrong source.

Luther, probably suffering from the effects of an excess of worms decided to smuggle nuns in herring barrels. The Church (Catholic) thought there was something fishy going on but shrewdly deduced such scheme could only land him in a pickle. The Church (Catholic) was proven correct when Luther married one of the nuns, and thus was constrained by domesticity which was more effective than anything The Church (Catholic) could think of. Strangely enough these latter events have not formed the basis for a rom-com film, for as most historians agree it would be a barrel of laughs.

The questions raised by Luther have never been settled, but being modern times, these days people prefer to argue over them as Economic Issues and thus avoiding Moral Stances and subsequent cricks in the neck.

So there you go. Have fun with your own notions of how history should be read. Even post it up on your own blog.

 

An Interlude Involving A Writer’s Torment

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So the time has come.

What are you talking about???

That post last week about men writing women characters

Yehhh….Wasn’t bad, I suppose

And you remember the last paragraph?

Ummm….

I thought you’d say that! I will remind you. You were going to post up a part of this novel of ours to demonstrate……

Yes! But it needs work!

This is not the Great Pyramid of Giza. It is about 1,100 words. Send it now.20151207_192255

I’ve not finished, yet. And I have Facebook things to do.

You have posted your polemic, you have read the ones which need reading, and this also will go up on Facebook, and will no doubt make more sense than most of what you post.

But there’s that Amazon forum!

Yes I know and whereas there are worthy people there, you have a knack of exchanging views with those whose genetic base is linked to brick walls. It is a pointless exercise.

But I have that Amazon book review to do

Oh please! The last time you tried that one you were on your hands and knees amongst your graphic library trying to find a book that hadn’t been reviewed to death already…..Now get on with the posting.

But it’s not ready I tell you! The syntax is wrong!

Says the one who utters the basest profanities at Word when Verb Confusion, Reflex Pronoun or Fragment are mentioned.

But people might laugh at me.

I would consider that an improvement over no one reading anything of it at all

But I….But I have other….things to do!

Ah me! I did not want to resort to this, but you leave me no choice…..I release the characters!!!

NO! Stop shoving! Don’t you lot dare move to the front of my head! Leave my hands alone!….Stop it supine hand!…..

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Must fight this…must appeal…..Oh Great God of Procrastination, speed to your servants aid! (What do you mean, acolyte! That he’ll be there in a day or two once he’s sorted out what things need to be sorted out?)…..Oh Dark Lord of Distraction… (eh? He would help but he’s watching cartoons?)……..Dear Merciful Meekness, please (she’s doesn’t want to come out???..Oh for frib’s sake!!)…..Won’t someone help me!..Can’t fight the characters….they have my hand!…Argh! NO! Not The Send Button……Noooooooo!

Pathetic isn’t it??

And then came the extract ……

Intro: This is the meeting of three women whose volatile companionship and motivations will be a central factor in the novel. Trelli and Ferdelene’s characters and motivation have already been established. Beritt has been mentioned but only as one of a group of soldiers. This event takes place in the aftermath of an attack by pirates upon a small port town. Beritt as a ‘medic’ has rushed towards the two others following a detonation, there is a second detonation……        

 

Beritt hurt, so she supposed she must still be alive. Was that pain minor or something nasty just pretending to be small until the shock wore off?  Initially she was afraid to try to move in case she found she couldn’t, this was when training and discipline forced their twin demands upon her; work trooper! Yes, feet and toes were moving. Encouraged she drew up her legs, right knee hurt, but only through that knock against a stone when falling down. Fingers lessened their fierce grip on her hair, but she couldn’t see them! The stab of panic jolted her to the fact this was because her eyes were still squeezed tight shut and if she tried they just might open open. And joy! They did!! So for an interlude she gazed upon her hands if new to her. Everything intact and wiggled. And even better she could sit up and look about.

Although the view was not encouraging; light brown stone dust still drifted mixing with the billows of dark hues from burning buildings, distant knots of running figures against a backdrop of sounds of collapsing and anguish.

“Oh poor little town, The Fifth Hell’s come visiting” realising her voice was a currently a croak, she took a small draught from her canteen and marvelled at how much better a mouthful of water could make you feel.

Beritt was not much schooled in mortars and their waywardness, but she supposed their missiles must have fallen short on the other side of the already damaged wall and so had made the impacts seeem a lot more impressive than they had been. Time to be about duty now. Those two figures; one still, the other quivering in sobs beneath a ragged dress.

As she rose, she encountered the narrow eyed wariness of a fox-faced character no longer still, now also in the business of standing up, right hand gripped upon a cutlass which was being slowly being pointed directly at Beritt, who hoped that was just a gesture of shock and confusion. They licked their sneering lips.

“What’s your business?”

Blaggatinian accents; Beritt felt they always made the speaker appear as if they wanted a fight, whatever you said in reply; particularly the girls, especially dusty and shaken ones. She resolved though to be on her best healer’s empathetic behaviour even if her knee hurt like scraith.

“Medician Beritt of the Life Regiment of the Imperial. Are you hurt? Can I help?”

The stance relaxed, although the wariness irksomely slackened in contempt.

“Oh a pert an’ pretty soldier- healer. I thought you was too tight an’ short on snivelling for Mummy for a local boy. Well, I’m alright, an’ don’t need your help. Ferdelene’s the name. I serve The Lord God Holubane in assisting Custodian Aragas, I do. I’ve been slicing up pirates an’ keeping this possible witch under surveillance,” she nudged the nearby quivering form.

What Beritt had judged to be a badly shaken and possibly injured woman suddenly conducted her own upwards jolt. Although the dust thick face bore trails of the progress of tears and snot, a sudden fierce blaze of angry eyes announced fear was not the only emotion here. One hand clutching a book in a way which Beritt compared with the other one’s cutlass act

“I am not,” Trelli yelled “A witch, or even a whychie! I am a victim of circumstances which no one is going to explain to me, even if I was to sit here and scream and scream myself hoarse…which I am very likely to do!!”

Beritt had often dealt with hystericals so she place a hand gently on Trelli’s shoulder.

“Imperial forces are here,” she began

“Oh I’m rescued!” Trelli cried and flung her arms about Beritt “It’s all so terrible and that blaggatinian is being horrid to me!!”

“You watch her army-girl. Look how she don’t let go of that book of hers!”

Beritt gently untangled Trelli from her neck to aid ease of breath, the medician then firmly held up her index fingers and tried to sound as if she were a sergeant.

“Now let’s all get calm,” she turned to Trelli “Your name please,”

“Trelli,” came the snuffled reply.

“Thank you. Trelli, if folk think you are important, then it’s my duty to get you to the Life Regiment. Don’t look alarmed. We only want to find out what this….errr….thing is that makes you important. I’m sure it’s all Three Hells of Confusion to you because it is to me. Yes we’re lost, but trying to find anyone in a town on fire is next to impossible. There’s a rallying point for my file, in case this sort of thing happened. We’ll head there. It’s outside of the town,”

Ferdelene leant into Beritt’s face.

“I’m responsible to a Custodian. Not to any army lot!”

Beritt’s face froze into a stern expression, on she hoped being vaguely similar to Sergeant Erzns’ when he was ordering troopers to do something no one right in the head would only have nightmares about.

“And in my experience wherever there’s The Regiment and a Custodian in proximity, then they are sure meet up on account of looking for the same damn thing! And your,” she placed very heavy evidence on that last word “Custodian can explain why he and you were observed consorting and working with parties suspected as prejudicial to the stability of the realm,”

Ferdelene rocked back a little.

“You been watching us?”

Beritt could not resist a brief wallow in triumphalism

“All the time holy-girl. Even when you were riding into town and chattering verses like you’d been given preaching time at a temple. Welcome to the grown-ups games,”

That done Beritt made to move off and smiled at Trelli.

Who in response managed one of her own.

“I trust you,” she said, not really sure if she did, but she liked this one better than Ferdelene anyway, so she stood in beside Beritt; perhaps she could find the courage to tell this soldier about the peculiar dreams and the very physical visitation by someone out of the past.

Meanwhile Ferdelene was determined to have a last word, though mostly to herself.

“Fribbin’ army! All buttons and brass bits!”

Not that it had any sense, but even so it was the last….few words

And then she loped off after the other two.  

 

Some thoughts gentlemen concerning your lady characters

2nd Dec 15 Blog

Foreword: Although this is written from the perspective of Fantasy/SF, there may be some aspects which cross over in other genres.

Fifthword: The author does not assume that he is the font (Times New Roman-12) of all knowledge and wisdom in this matter. These notions are based on 55(ish) years of reading both genres; and truth be known from being married to the same dear lady for 42 years and having bright, resourceful and determined daughters (two) and a similar-minded daughter-in-law (one)

Sixthword: It’s a long blog….’cause I’ve itching to say this for a long, long time, having read some pretty bad fiction on this score which still surfaces and makes its presence felt through the media (Sorry about that)

Anyway….

There were in days of yore when the tales were but ‘Sword & Sorcery’ that statuesque women clad in naught but skimpy bikinis (and sometimes a helmet) arm(ed) with a sword seemed to be able to travel the world with no worry of climate or terrain and showeth not the slightest blemish. Some did opt for trousers but, presumably because the woman warrior has a limited clothing budget they opted not to cover their top halves; they were also statuesque nonetheless. This continues to some extent in graphic novels of the heroic sort, only in this case the super-powered woman in a swim suit has the extra gift to be hurled through walls and show no bruises at all.

These days male writers are advised to put aside their dream girls, keep their sub-conscious thoughts right there, try not fit a female mind and body into a male personae and think of their female characters as might expect them to be. You should have realised by now that women come in all shapes and size and not just in the physical sense.

Of course you can have a tough and hard-faced woman character, but think about the real life equivalent, do they have to actually act like men? Sure it’s comparatively easy to write about the male type you’ve met them, you might like to be one. But the tough woman? You can’t assume that they have to have a vocabulary that would make a barracks blush or spit, be carelessly flatulent, ogle men (or women), drink guys under the table or arm wrestle drovers .The toughness might well be inside, from a bad life, it might be their nature. They may look and act like some fellow’s version of a receptionist or demure milk-maid and they might not know how to handle a weapon, BUT, they keep their heads and take the hard choices when things get rough.EG:

“Thealene grasped the sword in both hands, raised it above her head and with all her determination and strength brought the blade keening down to bite straight through the main rope. The slender bridge bereft of its principal anchor swayed under the panic of six men suddenly deprived of balance casting them all down the ravine into the torrent below.

‘Maken!” screamed Jose and then to Thealene “What in five hells! You killed Maken!!”

Thealene stood contemplating the drop and the furious waters below, she turned and handed the sword back to Jose, she was still breathing hard from the effort but her face held composure.

“The arrow in Maken’s leg, Jose. He never would have out-paced those trackers. They’d have slaughtered him and still had time to over-take the two of us” she shrugged “ One cadet and ladies-maid? What could we do against them? This way we’re still alive and carrying the message and five threats are done,” she caste one hand to the ravine.

“Hells! Have you got a heart girl?”

“I suppose so, something is beating in my chest and hurting for Maken. One day this will catch me up and I’ll have to dance with nightmares. In the meantime I’m glad we are alive and still running. We must move now,”

Ok that’s not going to win anything other than earn twenty re-writes, but you see the point. Who was the tough one? Who made the call and accepts there will be a price to pay, but still gets the job done?

Now what is beauty? ‘The tall and beautiful lady of nobility’. ‘The pretty and pert serving girl’ ‘the shy retiring maid,’ (with her head perpetually lowered?- perhaps she’s worried about her shoes). All very nice I’m sure but… What about the kindly nature, the quick wits, the sense of humour, the irrepressible independence; the fund of knowledge, the intense, the strong unfailing faith, the sense of justice? These are just as beautiful. You can depict a less than celebrity looking woman and gifting her with any of those will make her just as attractive.

The warrior? Ah the fighting girl, cousin to the tough woman. She does not have to be Wonder Woman-esque. Nor in the Red Sonja mould and let’s not get started on Power Girl/Woman. Her height is not that important, her skills are. As for her mode of dress make sure the poor girl has the right sort of clothes, which are likely to be very worn, probably dirty and tailored by experience to suit a battlefield and not for a pack of adolescent males (of any age). Because she is the warrior does not mean she has to be the Alpha of the pack. One who ascends to an imperfect leadership over the course of a narrative is more interesting. To have her turn up one day with strident voice, unflappable self-belief, excellent riding skills, and a perfect plan for every situation, at best it comes across as pandering and patronising in the misguided view that she will a fine role model to women readers who will instantly love your work (and more fool you!..readers get annoyed by perfect characters). At worse the reader will be hoping this paragon falls off of that night black steed of hers and remains concussed for the remainder of the tale to let more believable folk get a word in sideways.

Romance & ‘Naughty things’- Well, yes folk are folk, and they might well forge an attraction with another and they might if they get the chance, sneak away into a bed, hayloft, deserted part of the castle or tent which for some unaccountable reason everyone else leaves alone. Yes that’s part of life and in its right context; fine. But, be very careful. Don’t have your women hanging about waiting for the ‘right man’ who (inadvertently, I hope) tames their restlessness while he carries on being the complete loveable klutz from start to finish. Don’t assume a tough fighting girl has insatiable..eh… appetites; she might have, but give her a good reason- perhaps she reckons she’d going to die someday, so what the heck- but make it background. Try to avoid a couple having a fit of speed dating and disposing of garments in but a few pages, where’s the tension in that? And anyway what are they going to do for the rest of the book, go sneaking off at every opportunity? (You read them, right?). It might be amusing at first but I would suggest a fair proportion of the readership might be asking ‘Oh c’mon kids you’ve got to rest sometime!’ or more sourly ‘Uh! Lucky old you two!’ and secretly wish some event separates this over-heated pair for at least one chapter.   (And while we are about it, try to avoid the dry humourless and literally minded stalwart woman who finally realises what she has been missing all the years….any reader can see that one rolling along from the first line this mobile staute speaks)

The Femme Fatale: Well once you let one of these into your plot they are just going to write everything themselves. Everyone loves them and cheers them on. You can have them stamp on puppies and they get away with it. BUT supply them with very quick wits, a sense of humour and a good reason for doing what they do. This is vital, it may be a conviction to maintain the stability of the realm at all costs. It could be that nasty childhood, but craft that carefully; too much pain and logically they would be so damaged as not to function. They may be ambitious, that always works well. Doing it all for the love of a man tends to relegate them as subordinate to him and not as interesting. Doing it to protect a family, now that’s a complex mix.

Age: Well not everyone has to be late teens to mid- twenty somethings. But age relates to the context of your tale, so deploy it logically. Not all old women are wise. Not all young ones are spirited.

I’ve only covered the general characters as some of the more ‘exotic’ ones such as the ‘Ethereal’ tend by their nature to be subordinate to the environment of the world you’ve created and are worth a blog in themselves.

In short women are people.

All I’ve got to do now is take my (A) Confused and swept up by events serving maid (B) Violent and religiously mystic wanderer (C) Trained military medician (healer) and get them into the scene where they become one group annnnddd make it convincing.

(Will you guys at the back stop shoving! Yes, I know girls…..sorry….I didn’t mean to call you girls in that generic term….no, I didn’t think you were a man, Girl (B)!- Oooooh she’s been trouble form the start!!!)