Winning Back Your Novel (Adventures in the Writing of “Our Skirmishers of Silk, Steel and Fire”)

 

Pencils and notebooks out time folks.Victorian writing

Here is another delve into my writing career (the word for me in uncomfortably close to ‘careen’). For you to take note of, or…if you so wish to say ‘Nah…I wouldn’t do it that way!

For those of you who have been familiar with my blog know full well how much of a problem I have with THE PLOT. This item coming down the list of priorities in my writing. Characters- no problem, narrative not so bad, humour- loads of it.

Plot?

Hmmm.

Anyway, as alluded to in my previous post having completed the first draft of Our Skirmishers of Silk, Steel and Fire I began to address THE PLOT. And in doing so a suspicion was finally confirmed.

Not only had my characters started to influence my writing, as in the previous volume ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ Book Cover 9

(See Amazon Kindle “Of Patchwork Warriors” by R J Llewellyn)

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I wish he wouldn’t do that

where they had snatched a sub-text and turned it into an entire facet of the plot; in this case they had taken hold of the whole durn book.

It’s not that I mind them having their moments of glory, adventure, romance, humour, clever schemes and narrow escapes, after all it is those aspects which give a book its flavour and zest. The issue in contention here being they felt inclined to fill every corner up with how they saw things and coped with them, BUT not allowing me to explain WHY these things were happening. Or if I did get a sentence in, matters came across as hurried and ‘Oh By The Way’ the empire is falling over and the emperor has gone vicious for no apparently good reason and I appear to have lost three minor characters who were to have conveyed certain major plot elements. Either that or there was only enough space for some other lesser characters to gather and engage in cryptic or enigmatic conversations.

(At this stage I should point out to new readers; it is my opinion I do not create these characters, they exist in another part of Creation and by some wonderous osmosis we have tuned into each other. You will appreciate I have a mixed blessing here.)

At first there was a problem of shoe-horning in ‘facts’ of the current geo-mystical-political situation in the world of this story. Some characters were unhappy at having bits of their own favourite business cut out and tried to be awkward in obstructing the flow of the narrative. Then there was the issue of avoiding the dire ‘Let me explain’ in which one previously minor character stands up and proceeds to suck the oxygen out of the flow by explaining some history or process with all the verve of a bad lecturer in economics; some successful authors get away with this; I’m not successful.

So stern and tough-love measures had to be taken, being the one who knew the world in which these stories were taken place I contrived to throw in events which I knew would fit in but were surprises to the characters. This did cause some flummoxing amongst the cast, so much so they quite overlooked me cutting out chunks of their personal activities and speeches. As is the case in normal life, they had to deal with the random and unexpected.

Since the narrative was now back in my hands I started to inject the themes encountered in history, not events, themes. Reading of political and military histories suggests there is a constant unpredictable factor be it natural such as weather, unknown folk rising suddenly, or established subordinates thinking ‘I Know Better’ and going off on a tangent; in addition you must also consider bodies of folk who have not read or forgotten the script. There is a military adage that no plan survives first contact with the enemy; thus the notion of some all-power (usually grinning) who until the last chapter is two steps ahead of the hero(es) goes straight out of the window.

In this novel there are Patchwork (ooohh, where have I heard that word before?) alliances which are fragile and not based on trust and no one is really in control of the situation, because no group really wants to work for another group. This gives an air of uncertainty and makes for interesting situations, hopefully the reader will as all writers hope ‘want more’.

This comes with its own set of problems.

For a start off it’s necessary to make sure every character is an individual but none of the lesser ones steal the plot in some unexpected way.

Secondly there should not be too much plot and sub-plots lest the reader eventually thinks….Uhh? and finally……Hah! Who cares!…..

Thirdly, structure. Even in chaos, there is structure. In writing this part of the series I ask myself a hard question. Would the background stand up to an historian’s scrutiny as a possible series of plausible events?

Jerk
Err?

Still, nothing worthwhile in writing comes easy. At least it shouldn’t.

So far, so sort of good. There has been a lot of alteration and some deletion of banter and ‘business’. However, the atmosphere of crisis and varied approaches to it is starting to seep in; it is meant to seep in, all being well this series is a long haul (heck I’m only 67, plenty of time). And the central characters?

They are struggling to keep balance and focus (Well apart from Karlyn, but if you knew her you would  not be surprised. This said she is not going to be allowed to scamper and giggle through the whole lot; even if she is difficult to rein in).

In conclusion.200px-Advokat,_Engelsk_advokatdräkt,_Nordisk_familjebok

Never be afraid to let go on a tight narrative. Life is not ordered, predictable or convenient, so why should you story?

Re-rewrites, Highlights and Reality-Bites (A journey through writing of The Skirmishes of Lace, Steel and Fire-Part II of a Fantasy )

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Re-rewrites, Highlights and Reality-Bites (A journey through writing of The Skirmishes of Lace, Steel and Fire-Part II of a Fantasy )

WARNING: Some images you may find disturbing 245px-1271754717_william-e.-gladstone

(No, not that one!)

Some writers understandably hate doing the rewrite. I can see their point. They’ve put all their effort into forging this narrative together, worked hard and heavy through all manner of issues and had to squeeze out the time to write amongst all the other demands made by Life. Victorian writingThen, what to they get as a reward? Typos, syntax problems, holes in the plot, main characters not coming alive and that’s before we even start to think of listing all the problems.Me

Me? I enjoy a rewrite. Taking the journey with the characters, knowing where they are going, how they are getting there and all the fun which goes with it.WIN_20180727_19_28_15_Pro

Hold on! What did I say?WIN_20180727_19_28_44_Pro

Look again sunshine!

Oh Frib! I’ve done it again. Gone and literally lost the plot.WIN_20180727_19_28_27_Pro

Y’ see this can be a bit of a problem when you are having so much ‘fun’ with describing all the adventures, banter, relationship interactions, personal hopes, fear and so forth, which you decided would be vital to brining the characters alive (Or in my case, help them travel from their world to ours).Handel_GF
The book now reads like a series of unconnected sketches and vignettes, as if it were some sort of comedy skit show with moral message.Illustration from 'Le Theatre' magazine, 1900s (litho)

Dearie me. All these lovely folk wandering from one circumstance to another and surmounting all manner of problems. And there’s no plot to indicate as to why they are doing all these things! Melodrama -idiot manOK a few minor characters turn up and make ominous statements of heavy portent then vanish again and someone leaps up with a seriously dangerous weapon, be it physical or ‘magical’ (crude word, it’ll have to do) only to be cleverly defeated, but sadly this does not make for a plot.

I had a sneak of bad feeling, WIN_20180727_19_28_23_Prowhen at towards the end of this volume the central characters were left stalwartly together basically affirming their friendship, loyalty and love to each other then effectively saying to the whole world ‘Bring It On’ to go riding off into, literally, sunrises.

Yeh that’ll work……If it was a Musical.
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So it is time for some serious crafting. Time for a serious discussion with myself….WIN_20180727_19_28_18_Pro

Here is the work. There, over there are bits of the plot. Now, go through the whole thing and weave those bits into one long thread which should run through the book.

But I might lose some of my favourite little vignettes.

Well that’s too bad.

This is not as much fun as it used to be.

It’s because you are taking things seriously.

Oh My! This means hard work!

Do you want folk to read the fribbin’ book or not?Lavery_Maiss_Auras

If you put it like that….Confrontation

And there we are everyone. Remember never lose sight of your plot. InventionsIt may change a bit, could even do a complete lurch in a way you did not expect.

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Whatever, but at least keep it on the horizonrunning training

 

All the best with whatever you are currently working on.

 

Launches, Re-launches. No time to sit back on my haunches (OK. You try and find a better rhyme)

‘Ullo Everyone! It’s proper ‘Patchwork Warriors’ time!!

Hi Karlyn here!!

‘Lo everyone! I said I’d be back didn’t I?

For meself, speaking personally, I was pleased  wiv’ the way ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ went. There was a lot of running about, thumpin’ blokes wot deserved it, stabbing a few an’ I got to climb up as many trees as I wanted to AN’ talk to so many really interesting and clever bees and butterflys. AN’ a made a really best good friend Trelli, who understands me. And is kindly an’ sweet.

AND ‘course there was (hee-hee) Flaxi, whose proper name is Arketre but she’s got this lovely blonde hair! So my pet name for ‘er is Flaxi!….But I’m not supposed to say too much ‘bout us ‘cause Flaxi’s particular about HOW much you lot should know. She says ‘I don’ want to go a walkin’ about their bedrooms do I naw? So they can jus’ use their Good Lord God-given imaginations!’– she can get a bit snippy y’know.

Anyways, so this lad Roger gets sniff of all the tydes and such wots and starts to put them together, us putting him right from time to time. Sometimes I had to give ‘im one of them allegorical smacks on the ‘ead. I told him straight ‘I don’t care wot a rommm-Kommmm is in your world sunshine, it won’t do for us!’ then he got in a sulk an’ then a panic and starting wibblin’ about the place ‘bout ‘is own ideas! Well I just laughed, harshly, an’ threatened him with a half-finished book. I says ‘We’ll walk out on y’know. Leave y’ Bee-refted an’ all forlon, just like an unwatered flower!’ so ‘e does as he’s told (Well, actually ‘e had Flaxi lurkin’ over his shoulder an’ whisperin’ fings like ‘Dontcha y’all go writin’ no stuff for the boys to get over-excited about naw,’).

An’ then later on he got another bit of panicky ‘bout ‘ow I was like some characters in more well-known stuff in ‘is world, then I says ‘Huh! If y’’ asks me seems like they’s more like me! Only not as variable’ well that confused ‘im, so he shut up and got on wiv writing, like a good lil’ doggy.

Mus’ tell you! We ‘ad so much Hooo-Hah wiv the cover! Y’see Roger thought ‘e’d try ‘is own an’ did all of these photographs, which I ‘elped ‘im wiv, ‘cas although the lad is a sproggle-head like me ‘e’s all for allegorical an’ symbolisms. But when I shows the rest of the folk  the draft photos there was all sorts of grumblin’ and objections. Trelli wanted to know if that was supposed to be ‘er undershirt, ‘cas it looked common an’ unsanitary, an’ Flaxi complained the whole fing looked like ‘alf of the latrine pit was showin’. Then The Captain (that’s Dekyria), well ‘im being all stern and correct says there should be outlines and silly-outettes of grim lookin’ figures with swords an’ stuff. Well, I told ’em all straight, ‘Look’ I says ‘We’ve got a noodle-hutch doin’ this. Do you fink ‘e can organise that sorta clever stuff? You’ve been wiv ‘im for a year now..right?…If we push the lad too much, ‘ee’ll jus’ go and panic an’ take one of them Amazon stock photos an’ claim everyone will get the Hi-roh-nee!’ Now that put ‘em all in line!

Then our brave author finally gets the whole thing on Amazon on the Kindly only to think that is the end of it! So we have to tell the boy all ‘bout marketing an’ raising profiles. Then ‘e does ‘is annoying ‘Yes. Of course. I’ll get on with it’ and puts some stuff out on the Wordly Press an’ reckons job’s a good ‘un! SO we have to good back an’ ask him wot ‘bout Twitter, Tumbly (or sum fing) an’ that Face Book. He tries to sneak out of that by getting on a box an’ going on ‘bout the tox-i-city of Social Media, whatever that means!

Then he starts giving books away (or downlumps, I dunno) an’ that gets The Guv’Nor (That’s MR. Silc to you lot!) cross, him bein’ all for for money in the bank, but you’ll be readin’ from MR Silc soon, so watch out!

Anyways, I’d luv to stay an’ chat a lot more ‘bout all the good stuff we got up to, an’ answer yer questions but ‘is Sproggleness is workin’ on the second book an’ ‘e’s getting’it all wrong again, so I gotta go an’ do some allegorical ‘ead-smacking, if y’ know wot I mean.

There’ll be some more folk along wiv’ their piece to say, probably more ‘bout marketing and making everything know more…. I reckon it’s a b it of an’ opeless task and we gotta play the long game an’ maybe in like a ‘undred years it’ll all get discovered…. Well a ‘undred of your years, not ours ‘cause we’s different.

See ya!

PS: Don’t ferget to tell everyone one ‘bout us! Y’ can tell we’re more lively than ‘e made out!

Book Cover 9An’ this is the book…. ‘Of Patchwork Warriors!’ S’ on Kindly. An’ it don’t cost that much, so wot you gotta loose I says….And if anyone says in that snotty sorta voice ‘Oh five How-Wars of my Life which Hi shall nevah get back’ an’ then think they’ve been clever, I’ll be ’round to talk wiv’ em if y’ get MY MEANING…. I can y’know, being Eeefereal an’ all.

An’ I gotta a body-count too.

Bye-bye

An Author’s Concerns

An Author’s Concerns

Dear fellow writers, this day you find me a troubled person…..

 Me

There is much discussed about how characters develop and how they should be utilised, be they major or minor.

One aspect which is not given that much time and space, because it is an arguable and moot point is where the author finds they have tuned into another part of the vast Reality which in The Universe in all its manifold manifestation in what we humans’ clumsily call the Past, Present, and Future.

This effect should have a name or title, or something, but I am fribbed if I can think of one! True it is beneficial as it allows the author to surf along the narrative, translating it into our everyday language and thus be understandable (sort of). However, as we all know and as the actresses so succinctly to the bishop nothing comes without its price. (that’s an old British-style musical hall joke by the way…can be used in all sorts of ways, as the actress said…oh never mind, you get the idea).

But I digress.

The problem arises is when the sentient beings which are the characters perceive you are there and you are turning their lives into a tale for others. By good fortune, the ones I have encountered have actually been quite co-operative, nay even enthusiastic (at times). However, once they know just what is going on they start to become intrusive, telling you how things should be going, and expecting you do more than you might feel inclined to do, and at times impatient with a writer who has, shall we say, indolent tendencies.

I say this in advance for anything which might turn up on my blog in the days ahead, for I fear some of them may have stole in with the intention of making their feelings known and being so clever are keeping things hidden from me.

Sorry about that, but they are a very enterprising bunch.

Book Cover 9

???

Oh Fribbin’ First Hell, he’s not told ya has he?

S’called  ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ and he writers under the name of R J Llewellyn (which is supposed to sound more Fantasy like, or so he says. I said he should have used Gret Sandstone, because it sounds more strong, but he just whined on about people would laugh at him. An’ I says, ‘they’s laughing at you already mate!’ an’ he says ‘That’s not a  very nice thing to say Karlyn’ an’ I say back ‘Droppin’ me out of the sky into a little lake-or was it a big pond?- on a chilly day wasn’t very kindly neither!’ Then he goes and sulks…. That’s authors for you. Get all of a sproggle, they do.

Anyways, I’ll be back tomorrow, wiv a LOT more to say, I can tell y’!!‘Of Patchwork Warriors’- The 2nd Launch!*

*(An’ I ‘ad to do that for ‘I’m too!!)

Book Launch!- A True History of These Isles Vol II (or 2).

At last Vol II (or 2) of my A True History of These Isles is up and about on Amazon Kindle!      History Vol II

Still in the style of the Legendary 1066 and All That this volume covers the era from 1216 (sort of) after Bad King John (the Only, so far) and up to the Battle of Bosworth Field (22nd August 1485) and the downfall of Controversial King Richard III.

There were lots of kings, and other colourful characters in all of the Nations (alphabetically England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales) (chronologically Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England) and thus this was a great deal of fun to write.

In addition to supplying dates and a sort of correct of history I am, naturally hoping to cause a swath of controversy over some of my conclusions and interpretations; the true intention of any historian, as facts are often variable as well as being disputable.

To clarify what may seem sudden flourish of books (3) under my name. Vol I (or 1 or One) was original published in March 2017, but as with all good history books was 51vnj7ZqupL__SY346_updated in the light of new research, using Grammarly to clear up typos and a new improved headings system, thus was re-launched in January.

 

Book Cover 9My Fantasy Novel ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ was originally published in October 2017 and subsequently everything which was wrong was sorted out and re-launched in January.

 

 

Thus Vol 2 of the History is the only one of the three which is a truly Newly Published Book.

From tomorrow (1st Feb to Sunday 4th Feb) Vol 2 will be free on Kindle. Anyone who takes advantage of this offer and reads the book is invited to start a controversial debate over any of the dates, interpretations and conclusion asserting why these are wrong as there is nothing which sells a history book so well as someone publicly doubting the accuracy of the content.     

Take advantage of this easy method to learn about the Middle-Middle or Late-Middle Ages of these Isles (or yes and bits about France too because we were quite mixed up together in those days).

A True History of These Isles Vol.I- relaunch

A True History of These Isles Vol.I- relaunch

There is a somewhat confused picture of the history of ‘These Isles’, no more so than amongst the inhabitants. The intention of this and subsequent volumes is to put the business straight….

51vnj7ZqupL__SY346_

As all authoratative works must have good presentation to maintain the veneer of credibility there has been a revision in terms of typing errors, one possibly misleading statement, and an overall tiding up in presentation of Volume I of ‘A True History of These Isles’.

The work covers the history of the Isles currently encompassing in alphabetical order England, Ireland, Mann, Scotland and Wales. This volume leads from the original colonisation up to 1216 AD/BCE (ish)

To make up to the folk buying a faulty copy, the revised edition is being put out on Kindle for free up to and including Thursday 18th January.

Although I am somewhat pleased with the content, as opposed to the quality of presentation I do admit to a certain disappointment that no historian has felt the need to launch a scathing criticism. For it is an acknowledged circumstance of works of history that to have true value someone must call into question their authenticity.

Still, it has only been in ‘Kindle’ since March of 2017 so there is still time

Links to extracts follow:

A True History of The Isles Part 4- The Romans (Part I) time.

A True History of The Isles Part 18- The Rule of William The Conqueror (and also The I)

Publishing … Just a thought (or two)

So I did this re-re-edit of my ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ Book Cover 9and thought ‘Aww what the frib (mild swear word used in the said book), let’s enrol in this Promotion Stuff and try and be professional for once’ so I put it out there free for 3 days, and announced it on WP.

Then I’m updating my ‘A True History of These Isles Vol I’ and put the 2nd edition up and wonder what’s going on with ‘Patchwork’ and there’s that’s little red line which shows someone bought a copy of the 1st edition in December and I’m thinking ‘Sorry ‘bout that’ (so many typos etc), then I notice this blue line.

What’s with the blue line? Maybe it’s a sort of line which indicates that’s as far as the report goes, I mean it’s the kind of thing I’d put up…but hang on, like there’s a guide to all these lines; never noticed that before……and…….Shocked-face

Well, bless my boots! NINE, yeh NINE free copies ‘kindlised’…..like NINE!!

OK so some might say ‘Yeh that’s ‘cause they were free’

And I’m saying ‘So fribbin’ (there’s that word again) what? It’s copies in the hands of the Reading Public! It’s more than I’ve ever, ever, ever achieved. It’s all cool!!’crazy-lime-cartoon-jumping-happy-35166861

So, going back to my original mission statement:

Tip for folks starting out- if you just wish to dip your toe in the water:

Having completed your manuscript:

Firstly: check it and check it for typos etc and if short of cash, use an online editor such as Grammarly (its basic package is for free, although there are other goodies)

Secondly: find yourself a platform to upload on an e-book.

Thirdly: Put it out there free for a short space of time.

Now, none of this is perfect, none of this will turn you into a ‘name’ but it will give you the first taste of self-publishing. You will feel you have taken the first beat of your wings.

Yes, I know, then we all wait on tender hooks waiting for the reviews. (Thanks again Audrey for yours!)  And, that is nerve-racking. I feel your twitchiness. But that is another chapter in your journey.

As the old saying goes:

‘To accumulate you have to speculate’

It can be done, people!

And this is from one of the world’s most hapless marketers ever!

PS: If anyone reading this are one of the NINE……thanks!!