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.
300px-Witchcraft_at_Salem_Village

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)

Of Patchwork Warriors…Evidence of Interference and Malice

Hello Again.

Wigran Hendrechan here.

In your world I might be called, as I understand the term ‘a hacker’. To be honest our name of Jordisk has a more dignified ring, hailing from an ancient northern language it means Underground (I think).

I cannot spend too much time on this message. The LifeGuard Fortress at Drygnest is infamous for its sharp eyes and ears and dread for its long and deadly reach. These words were  transcripted from a text dispatched to Drygnest by Captain Dekyria. He is a moderately benign officer of the LifeGuard who I am obliged to work with, there is no option. Normally the work is not so onerous or conflicting with my other tasks. However, the Implication is there to behave.

And yet my consciousness will not let this recent deed go by. Here are the details, you must draw your own conclusions. I bid you farewell, for the present:

 

 

Dispatch: Breech in Confidentiality.

Category: Of Current Low Consequence.

Potential: Of possible risk prejudicial to future tasks.

 

Concerns arose of the safety of the scouting and intelligence gathering into the Realm known as 21st Century under the guise of co-operation with the native R J Llewellyn in his alleged work of fiction ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’.* (copy of cover attached)

Having read and examined this for any possible seditious themes I noticed he had gleaned an amount of detail on our own modes of strategy, tactics and long-term planning which were becoming excessive. This had garnered support amongst some of the other individuals involved in the narrative. An attempt to make a direct intrusion would have met with their protests and disruptions which could have had repercussions in related missions.

It was therefore judged best to insert into the initial printing a certain of number of errors which others would notice and cause the author to react. He is a fellow prone to bouts of frenetic but not very accurate or well thought out actions. Once these errors had been brought to his attention he was somewhat embarrassed and set to work to address the problem. In his haste to rectify matters he failed to notice my duplication of half a chapter in his second edition compounding the view of his presentation as being badly formulated and thus demeaning the work in popular terms.

Although this has not discouraged his production of distortion (with it has to be admitted some facts) into a second volume of his tale and the now published third edition of the original volume I am confident the disruptions embedded will lead to more uncertainty and degrading of confidence. This is turn will continue to reinforce his reluctance to make known his work and so ensure the operations of the LifeGuard remain basically unknown to his and our realm.

An apparent accidental termination of the fellow is not recommended lest by some quirk of this 21st Century Realm he becomes a cult figure.

 

Attested

Captain Dekyria.

*

*Patchwork 

‘Of Patchwork Warriors’: The Chapter Seventeen Incident- An Appeal for Discernment

‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ Wigran Hendrechan explains something of the forces at work

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