Writing Your Book – The Environmental Issue.

Choosing your ground

 

If you are reading this, then there is quite a good chance you have an urge to or are already writing in one form or another.  You may be just starting out, you may have been writing for some time, or you be thinking about writing and are working through several blogs getting an idea as to the commitment involved.

This post and subsequent ones will be about some of the issues involved, the platform used will be my latest project ‘Our Skirmishers of Lace, Steel and Fire,’ I will be trying to avoid:

Preaching for this to be the ‘true and only way’ to write

This being a marketing feature.

These posts are one writer’s experiences, you can take notes, compare or resolve to do the opposite. Whatever. As long as you are writing or starting to write.

Thus said;

A daunting aspect of writing is starting off. Most folk will go through an episode of staring at a blank paper or screen. All the words which were tumbling around in their head have either evaporated and lie condensed in the sub-conscious or are blocked up somewhere along the creative channel. The poor writer in a creative panic, thinking, whispering or muttering: ‘Where do I start?’

Nothing unusual there.

A writer might have a plot line but still can’t get the details onto ‘paper’. If you are on a laptop, by the way and are listening to music do not be tempted to go onto YouTube to watch the music ‘live’; more chapters, ideas and writing time are lost that way than through state censorship.

One way to ease in is to have your backdrop, environment and underlying themes set out as a motivation. Let me elaborate here using myself as a laboratory specimen.

As the years go on, I find myself becoming increasingly picky about subject matter. The moment the words ‘serial killer’ crop or ‘conspiracy at highest levels’ crop up, I am off and away. The former repel me, the latter I have had my fill of. There you go; my choice. Also, after reading so much political and military history there is a tendency for me to go for happy or at least equitable endings.

After reading a great deal a writer (or writer in situ) will have a sneaking whisper in their head ‘Yeh, fine, but I think I could do better’; nothing wrong with that just so long as you keep the feeling under control and don’t publicly savage all writers rather than write.

A writer may also feel they have a voice and just want it to be heard/read.

Putting those aspects all into my head and mixing them up this is the universe which began to form, the one most comfortable for me to write in. In this instance ‘comfortable’ does not mean cosy or easy, the usage refers to the most productive way the words come out.

In my case. Firstly being a Calvin (Calvin & Hobbes) type-dreamer I am hopeless at writing about the normal world. I am at my ease when writing fantasy for being incurably impatient researching science to create a credible SF background would just not work for me. Give me a place where laws of physics and chemistry are working which have not yet been uncovered or fully realised. But may I stick with some of continuity!

My familiarity geographically is with northern Europe, as this book is set in another time after monumental events this gives me some leeway to juggle about with peoples, places and locations. Thus, a great deal is given up to the readers imagination.

As stated above since everything is geared towards a certain type of ending it is easier to move along while creating ‘bumps’ in the road, in fact flooding out the road on occasions, or putting in a divert.

My own interests have always been in matters military, my work experience has been in the UK civil service thus I approach neither subject with a rigidity or clichés. The principal characters are also the ones at the bottom rungs, so they are focused or trying to carry or survive orders.

I like romance as a feature of a story. Setting this in a narrative is not a problem, avoiding the cliched predictable, highly unrealistic settings, interactions and terrible descriptions are! ( more about that later…later I said!)

Evil does not triumph in my books. Evil has one hell of a (‘hell of a’!..you gotta laugh folks, I got dozens like that!) time in my worlds, in fact my challenge is having the thing hang around enough to create a feasible contest. The main methods of destruction and unhappiness in my worlds are. (A) The well-meaning authoritarians who think they know best (B) The folks whose plans are not very good (C) The opportunists waiting for the ‘main’ chance (D) The thoughtless idiot (E) The unforeseen collision of plans.

I personally cannot write very long without some sort of humour creeping it. This may take the form of a satirical comment on today or some of the lazier troupes of Fantasy writing. It can be bawdy or downright slapstick. It may be knockabout verbal. Being a male as we never grow up it could be very, very juvenile. Since all these happen in Life anyhow, I have no problems with putting any of them into the narrative.

And finally, tying in with the ‘evil’ thing as those who have read my posts know I have no tolerance level for cruelty, bigotry, and violence on the weak, so I work out a few ‘issues’ without being too obvious and straining the narrative.

The above are therefore my ways of giving myself a setting I can work with, to enable me to concentrate upon plot and characters. Some of the facets I have listed in fact encourage me to get on with the work, because I do so want to write about them; the problem being not to rush into these or keep repeating unless there might be good cause (a really valid ‘might’). Thus, there is my environment to work within.

If you take a ‘Living World’ analogy it can be seen there are many environments in which Life flourishes. Therefore, what is my favoured environment, might well be another’s arid desert, frozen tundra, crushing sea bottom depths or any other comparison you might care to make which will stifle your creativity. The important facet being you create your own in which your own flora and fauna of a book may flourish.

Keep on keeping.

The Return of The Wayward Writer

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The Return of The Wayward Writer

My Absence

 

There are times when it just gets you. Y’know?.

I appeal you who are writers of fiction to back me up on this. The time when The Book takes over, and all of your creative powers are drawing into the swirling nascent stellar body which is, to use the vernacular ‘Your Baby’.

I would tease out the cosmological analogy a smidge more by way of explanation. Stars commence as clouds of dust, an event causes the cloud to contract, gravity kicks in more and more dust gathers together, pressures build up, the event grows hot building up to a crucial temperature when nuclear fusion takes place and what was dust becomes a star.

There is a risk with using this description. Mean folk of negligible talent who carp but never write will pass cheap comments about arrogance and vanity for the writer daring to compare their work to a stellar event. HA! I say…in fact I say ‘HA!’ again. In a writer’s own universe, the creation of their book is as such, and a writer has good cause to celebrate.

Anyway, to clarify:

My Second Volume preceded by ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’. Book Cover 9(kindle -Amazon)
My second volume: ‘Our Skirmishers of Lace, Fire and Steel’ (or maybe ‘Our Skirmishers of Steel, Fire and Lace’, I’ve not quite decided). This continues the involvement of Arketre Beritt, Karlyn Nahtinee, and Trelyvana Waywanderer (an adopted name. For most of her life she was simply known as ‘Trelli’) in events in the physical world of the Oakhostian Empire, the otherworldly power which going by many names permeates all, the unsettling other realms which its existence made possible and the beings inhabiting therein.

Those of you who were following my many travails will know the original version of the novel when tested on the re-write suffered from instant ‘wheels falling off’. Here are few of the errors:

Humour, and pretty puerile humour at that, in the wrong places.

Plots wandering off into sub-plots with no immediate relevance.

Characters who made a big fuss at the beginning fading into obscurity half way through with no good reason

Circumstances from Vol I being repeated with new scenery in Vol II.

Minor characters who should have been important wandering in and out with a confused air about them to blurt out a few hurried lines then vanish again.

An excess of sub-plots.

A rushed conclusion with previously unforeseen events forced in to make it work.

And whereas I do like sort of happy endings, riding off into the sunrise just looked…. odd

Naahh it wasn’t working.

For those of you who have been through similar experiences you know the agony and the weariness which assails the writer on having to start up again, having to shed yourself of the notion all the time previously was a waste. The latter is a falsehood. If you’ve not been along this road yet you have to appreciate the first draft is always bad and the second one won’t be much better and so on and so on, you’ve simply found the way which won’t work.

A re-write is like that only far heavier. But what must be done must be done.

It was fairly plodding to begin with, trying to use large chunks of the previous writing, having to ditch them, pondering here, pondering there.

Then back to the star analogy, around about December the narrative took on a very strong momentum all of its own, the whole work was demanding to be finished, all the necessary parts were in place on paper on in my head, heart and spirit; the final coalescence was taking place. So, what with the seasonal activities joining in everything else had to take its place in line, all creativity was being fed into the book, all writing time subsumed into the finish. My own version of nuclear fusion was taking place right here in my universe.

And so, here I am on the re-read. Sure, aside from spelling, syntax and so forth one or two bits are being edited out, but only so the good of the main narrative.

Over the next few posts I will be going into this. This will not be an exercise in how I expertly navigated problems, nor a course in ‘How-To’ (In this blog?…….The very idea!). These will be simply one writer’s journal of their experiences. The reason for cataloguing them will be to share with other writers along the lines of:

Oh. Not just me then.

Hmm. Must make sure I don’t do that.

Oh yeah. That’s interesting I think I could improve on it though.

Ahh, I wonder if something similar might work for me.

Hey, there’s hope for me yet!

There might even be some time given to ‘The Marketing Thing’.

 

I wouldn’t have had it any other way!

PS: Thanks to Charles for pointing out it’s ‘fusion’ not ‘fission’…..curse that cup of coffee!

 

 

 

 

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)

fed_up_woman-620x412
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 )

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.

9780393956238_p0_v1_s260x420cartoon-guy-laughing-pointing-bent-over-31869170

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)

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

Two weeks ago we were on holiday in a blissful little place called Trefriw which is  in North (kind of middle) Wales- look for Llandudno or Colwyn Bay on a map and go south inland for a few winding miles, and I should have downloaded, then uploaded the photos by now, buy I haven’t……sorry ’bout thatsolilqy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anyways, the things about holidays is you tend to get into another sort of routine, and the one thing I could not get back into was reading up on what other folks were doing of on WP. I had enjoyed being away, going here and there, watching the Soccer World Cup in the evening and here we were back.

Oh my! Trump’s fat backside had descended upon the UK. The UK Govt had continued to make a mess of Brexit, aided by its opponents in its own Party (all wealthy by independent means). The Labour Party continued to fail to convince it is not indulging in Anti-Semitism thus saving the government . Drunken Wastes of Precious Resources  were lurching about the place. Idiots were proclaiming that an onerous piece of excrement who leads the EDL (That’s the English Dolts League) should be free to preach hate, and Johnson, Boris (minor) had a hissy fit and ran away from his job because it wasn’t fair and he couldn’t Walk the Walk. There was some other nasty news and the usual Idiots On Parade on FaceBook but I won’t take up your time.

Now I don’t like the Summer at best (I’m weird. So sue me), this prolonged heat was not doing anything for my temper or judgement. So to spare my poor wife rather than glower, brood and stalk muttering like some central character out of a British 1950s over-rated drama and returned to Vol II of my series.

The first draft (draught?) was completed and now the fun begins with the re-write, I love re-writes, you can put in ‘Hey why didn’t I think of that before‘ s or delete the ‘What was I think of there‘ s and in my case actually work a proper plot into the narrative. I have too much fun with dialogue, scenes and situations, my first drafts normally read like a TV sketch show (though not all funny scenes). I even created a good working and maybe permanent title:

‘OUR SKIRMISHERS of SILK, STEEL and FIRE’

I wonder why that title turned red?

Anyways, I was pleased with that. So at about 350 pages in the first draft and into page 50 of the re-write. Of course only the FIRST re-write but the one which will make the narrative appear as a book. All the old characters are there (part from the lesser ones I gleefully killed off) and a couple of new ones. Maybe not as much action at the beginning, but it’s the plot thing y’see.

So that’s all about the writing.

Now to the simmering bad mood over the excess of idiots that despite Darwin’s best arguments and assumptions still survive.

To get around this I have set up another blog. One solely devoted to ranting at all the mean-spirited, the selfish, the foolish, the oafish, the snake-oil merchants and those who (as the old saying went) should have been drowned at birth. This blog is will be short on humour and long on vitriol, on the basis, of they started it I’m gonna finish it. No reasoned and polite discourse here, I’m done with that.

ragingfromthelectern.wordpress.com

Is the place to go….

Or not as the case may be…

In the meantime I hope all you, my good, sane, caring, creative and nice friends  on WP are OK