Of Protagonists, The Unexpected and The Go-Figure (Adventures in the World of “Our Skirmishers of Silk, Steel and Fire”

One of the advantages of having no illusions about ever being a great success (as opposed to dreams and wishes that is) in writing is one is able to experiment and not be afraid whichever what-way matters go. Once more, dear reader and fellow writer, feel free to take out notebook and notate either ‘Hey I must try that’ or ‘No, must avoid that’ or ‘Oh boy that is so not going to work for me!’. To repeat my blog is all about pitfalls, wrong turnings, but best of all ‘Wow! The blessed thing actually worked! Who’d thought it??’ So gentle follower let us take another sojourn, shall we?Williamterriss7

Many successful and also good writers (the two do not necessarily go together) will hold fast to the idea of there being at least one strong protagonist. To have a hero or central character who forges though a book with no particularly effective opposition is not going to work. (unless the writer might be the latest Commercial Thing- which we are not are we?)   This is a good point and is undeniable.

Once more I have to admit, villains are my weak spot, they are there to be humiliated or slaughtered. Morally, elastic types who drift between ethical and legal borders, not so bad with those. Real fearsome, terrifying, evil folk…..not going to have a good time in my pages, if they do hang around it’s only to suffer…So sue me.200px-Advokat,_Engelsk_advokatdräkt,_Nordisk_familjebok

Anyway, a solution to this dilemma and to give my characters more to do than just than having a fun time or a challenging romp? Ah there was the rub! (Pause for Shakespearean interlude of silent staring off-stage).Othell0-8_2-1924-Jago

Now speaking for myself I read a history, mostly military, and after reading a lot of this it began to dawn, very little every goes to plan. In fact, after many amendments to the original we have the military saying, ‘No plan survives contact with the enemy’ (the original is much longer and slightly turgid). Thus, it occurred to me in the real world would you have a seemingly all-powerful and cunning protagonist whose plans went along so smoothly until the last few heroic efforts of the central characters?…. Nah! Great military geniuses and shrewd political operators were often wrong footed by the unexpected and had to adapt… if they were that good at their job!

To get around my prejudice (yes, it is a prejudice, must admit it) I thought about the many events in history and how these overwhelmed the participants maybe permanently, maybe temporarily and set the protagonist as The Situation the world was in.

To re-cap or to introduce. The World, which is ours set in a future at some stage was overwhelmed by a force which has many names (Ethereal, Stommigheid to name but two). Its true nature is not to date revealed, however can be utilised by machines, mind or physical effort, but NOT, NOT controlled. Think of an ocean or a river, think of water. Now in this future the World may be split or have given rise to other satellite worlds as a result of the arrival of this force, which is subject to its own relationships to the Universe and using the Water analogy there are tides (aka tydes- just liked the ‘y’) and storms. The stories are taking place at one of these junctures.

The first volume……..

Patchwork (See Amazon Kindle for your copy of ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’)

understanding-anger_183x90_184933693(if he does that again, I swear….)

set up the central characters, a familiarity on how this force affects the world and also an insight into some of the life forms other than what we might think of as human. This second volume looks into how the coming turbulence is affecting the plans, strategies and intentions of disparate folk, organisations, and races. The principal theme here is that no one is control, there are no superior beings, everyone is in the same boat, most just don’t realise it, they are floundering, or adjusting all the time.

Thus my central characters are working in constantly shifting states, whereas they remain true to reach other. The often comic and wacky Karlyn is drifting or being driven closer to learn about her background; Every Soldier Arketre is being shunted up the ladder of responsibility and getting some tough orders. While Trelli is still continuing her journey of discovery and adaptability to her new ‘powers’ although her journey parallels her two comrades she has a more ethical dimension to cope with. Not that matters are any easier for Karlyn and Arketre whose actions are decisions are always overlaid by their emotional and physical love for each other. They, all three are facing the ramifications of actions by several agencies and individuals, who themselves are linked in some case.

Yeh, great fun. The challenge is to keep the whole business fairly easy to follow. No one cares for a book which has them going ‘Huh?’ Confused person on Brexitand then flipping back through a few chapters to find out who was what, doing which then. Nor do they like to read a narrative interrupted by a brief resumé of that character’s actions another few chapters back. Lavery_Maiss_AurasNope it all needs balance. AND making sure the central characters aren’t swamped by everyone else’s business.

In fact, at times writing this novel seems to have parallels to writing a history. The basic facts have to be there, the important characters must be given their full due, but attention must be given to those lesser folk who turn up and spoil everything AND there are always circumstances outside of any player’s control; usually weather. (smart folk should always take into account weather, it happens)

This makes for a degree of flexibility too, as you never know who will rise to the occasion and who will get overwhelmed and fall out. The only spoiler I have three is the continual presence of the three centrals Arketre Beritt (solider), Karlyn Nahtinee (adventurer and enigma) and Trelli (Professional Name Currently Trelyvana Waywanderer, and she’s regretting choosing it. The Everyone of the saga).

The best part is, there I am wandering about the house doing my share of chores, when suddenly I get a ‘Hey! ‘They’ would do ‘that’. Of course ‘they’ would,’ interlude, which was not planned, but bubbled up from the whole brew.

I just love writing by the proverbial seat of my laptop. The first draft was OK, but now the real fun has begun.

So I thus end with a familiar refrain. You can think about this approach. You can shake your head in sad despair at my hapless ways. You can recoil in horror and sprinkle your laptop screen with sacred coffee (or tea) at such heresies. Your choice.  Just do me one small favour.

Keep writing. Never, ever give up on your writing.

Wishing you Good Journeys People!

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

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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

 

 

 

  

 

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!!