The Precipice Dominions- One Writer’s Journey

At the commencement ….keeping it simple.

Any time you see ‘The Precipice Dominions’.

For anyone who is new to my blog……All about my series of Fantasy novels and the misadventures in getting to where I am now….Not just in the writing thereof, but also the gremlins in Word Press, The Publishing ‘Thing’, The Marketing ‘Thing’ and so on

At the foot of this post are links to previous posts which are about this journey. There is some repetition, mostly because I am inclined to explore a subject from several angles or styles.

This series of posts also arose from the need to keep the experiences and ideas from the first two volumes fresh thus enabling a reasonably smooth transition into Vol III, which as usual does not have a plot, nor plan of a plot or anything like. One day we arrived at some location in the world of these books (usually the empire of The Oakhostian, which is sort of based on Europe, in a geographical sense, that is), something is happens; the main characters are going about their more mundane businesses and away we go; several drafts and re-writes later and something will arise….actually I have an ending; it’s the rest of the book needs work.

And I am content in this world of the books, here I visit, ponder of what might be happening, footle around with my own cover designs (just in case- must have back up plan).

The subsequent posts with be about such topics as World Building (most important in Fantasy & SF), Balancing Plot with Character development, Continuity, Rational & Rationales, Politics, Religion (you can discuss both of these from a Fantasy novel perspective without getting into fearsome arguments- well most of the time), Societies, Violence, Humour and others I’ve not thought of yet.

That’s about it for the present. Just one writer’s journey.

A Lesson Truly Learned (Learnt….whatever)

Risks and Things When Raising a Profile

Travelogue or Monologue. Something of Both

Stereotyping. Did I? or…. Did I now?….Or….No that’s Not What I Meant…Or…Oh Heck I Wish I’d Never Started This…

Writing Your Book- When The Feeling Arrives- Embrace it!

Writing Your Book-A Journey Barefooted and Treading on Glass under a Hot Sun- facing challenges you’d prefer to avoid

Writing Your Book – Main Characters (You can’t avoid them)

 

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A Lesson Truly Learned (Learnt….whatever)

 

So this is how it ended….

OK, thought I would start up a site dedicated to my series of novels ‘The Precipice Dominions’

Vol I Of Patchwork Warriors 

Patchwork (revised edition…new cover pending)…Old edition currently avaiable on Kindle…. (New edition can be supplied by pdf on request…..Commercially bad move…..Who cares?)

And the ready for publication……(cover pending) Vol II’Our Skirmishers of Steel, Fire and Lace’  (Pdfs avaiable)

And I set up a site, I spent two days (daze) setting up a site….several times…..and now reports come in from friends that the link does not work.

I was vexed sturm_drang2 But not surprised…not where computer sites which have been recently revised are concerned. I took a mature and philosophical approach…..

 

Big Raspberry

And then decided it would be best if I just continued to use this site to discuss the world and the people of the books. For these are places and characters which have taken on a three (at least) dimensional form, this is quite exciting and has lent a serious level to my writing I have not used in pervious years.

Some might say this is just overblown marketing or jottings of someone who has nothing else to do with their time and just ‘gone in too deep’ (the latter would be ironic  as this is a problem one of the characters has). For me it would be a continuation of a naartive which has been going on for some time. And as is the case with most of my posts one of the intentions is to provide some basis for other writers to ponder over when producing their own work…..Not a ‘How To..’ more a ‘Make of it what you will’

OK I’m done for the present 

Risks and Things When Raising a Profile

Travelogue or Monologue. Something of Both

So this late 60s old & married white guy walks into a bar and says:

‘Nothing too strong, I need to concentrate. I’m writing this fantasy book with three women central characters, two of whom are in a gay relationship and the other one has dark skin and used to be a serving maid-but…’

And the barman says.

‘Not serving you chum. You’ve had enough already-‘

 

What?

Well I thought it was funny… in an observational ironic sort of way.

Whaaat?

Just goes to show, sometimes you are either embracing a challenge, being hopelessly naïve or just plain insensitive.

Or.

I.

Do.

Not.

Care.

It’s my damn book!

 

Anyway those of you who are still around. Pull up an allegorical chair, and if you are familiar with my posts you will already have your note books out and pages headed ‘Interesting’ or ‘Never Gonna Do That, that Way’ or ‘????’ or ‘Like, Wow!

This is not a ‘How To’; it’s not much of a plug either. This is more of an account of one writer, writing what they wanted to write and why they wrote it.

 

Down to business.

The whole idea is actually to explain about three central characters. If these books ever sold thousands of copies the profiles and depictions might cause ructions for all sorts of reasons. This account is how one writer did what they did, how and why.  As long as you subscribe to the view that at some stage the narrative and the characters may take over from a writer who themselves does not work with a detailed plan for a book

Characters in alphabetical order of First names

Arketre Beritt. (aka Flaxi)

Young. Pretty. Soldier. Likes Girls. Conflicted. When emotional or wheedling slips into her native faux US southern accent.

To avoid her being ‘alpha’ as ‘characters with an answer for everything can be irritating, she is a soldier way down the ranks, only gets told what high command thinks she ought to know, grumbles a lot; as a result of her battle experiences is in danger of slipping over the edge.

She likes girls. So what?

When you first meet this blonde, short and pretty ‘medician’ (think medic) you might believe, ‘Oh a kind, caring sort. How nice’. Then as the journey progresses, you gradually get to see her troubled side. A short blonde pretty girl tearing into someone’s face with their teeth does make for good contrast.

Southern accent. I like southern accents. Again so what? Anyway it’s part of the back story of the land of the Empire where things take place. It’s also fun to juggle with words, as long as you try and limit the use. It’s handy in that when she is being random stiff and formal she tends to speak without her accent (unless she’s being manipulative- oh she’s complicated person). ‘Flaxi’ is Karlyn’s name for her

Karlyn Nahtinee (aka Kitlin)

Uncertain of age but passes as ‘young’. Has her own logic. Doesn’t like boys. Has several ‘powers’. Athletic. Talks with a mangled London accent. Possibly not human. Uncertain ancestry was washed up on a shore.

The origins of Karlyn started long before I knew of Harley Quinn or Chyna (Farscape) and I was not going to be deterred, no sir. Even though I will be doomed to comparisons or stealing.

She is comic and irreverent, most of the time. Volatile and yearns for stable companionship. Displays an innocent emotional side when it comes to relationships. A number of contradictions; initially appearing scruffy and unkempt can be elegant and at times frighteningly regal and aloof, this hints to her possible past, which unfolds throughout the books.

A fearsome warrior, with a moral code, ‘they threaten me or mine, I kill ‘em’.

Her accent relates to her time spent in the large and morally questionable city of Elinid which is a complete steal on London and mode of speech is shared by a group of lesser characters. Again it’s fun to mess about with English, particularly as Karlyn makes up her own words, to the extent of mangling people’s names as a form of address.

Overall because she is who she is she cannot be categorised. Unlike her lover Arketre who is basically a trained soldier. ‘Kitlin’ is Arketre’s pet name for her.

Trelli (aka Whychie aka Trelyvana Waywanderer)

Young. Attractive. Trained Housemaid/Servant. Black-skinned. Orphan. Unwilling recipient of Powers. ‘Whychie’ is Karlyn’s fond name for her.

One approach in fantasy is having a character who did not want to be chosen for anything, anyhow, anywhere. Trelli as a babe was an orphan. She was raised in a sort of convent in a benign environment and found a job in a respectable household. She had spent five years building up her career of being the reason why The Hendrechan Family (her employers) could rely on their home being run very well. Because of their younger son’s dabbling in unsanctioned powers she now has these, and it takes a whole Vol I for her being sort of reconciled to them, even then because she is steeped in conventional and respectable ways is still wary of being tempted into evil ways. Still learning. Has given herself a ‘professional name’ to deal with ‘important folk’.

Because of her upbringing and her employment she is normally level-headed although being a normal person can get irritable and also has a tipping point. Has no interest in tracing her ‘natural parents’ as she feels she would have nothing in common with them.

If these books ever made it to the audio book stage I would ask if she could speak with a slight French accent, as she has grown up in land we would think of as southern France and probably came from the area now thought of as sub-Saharan Africa…..There’s no way I would try and impose any accent on her narratives!

 

The Parts Open to Criticism and Working With Them.

 

A Military Girl (in a military world)

Within Fantasy (and SF) it is often the case any major woman character  involved in the business side of warfare should be Dry, Humourless, Very Efficient but with a vulnerable side just waiting to be opened up. And very predictable. Either that or they walk about being very stiff-necked and a foil for the central characters. Not so Arketre. She is from very low ranking beginnings and comes from a rural rough ‘n tumble background. It seemed to make sense she would grumble a lot at not get told much of the picture and although trying to be orderly to begin with, once left to her own devices tends to be a bit of a loose cannon. She has been through trying times, hence her propensity to get very dangerous when in battle, survival of her and hers being paramount. Although inventive is more settled when getting direct and plain orders. Her contradictions make her somewhat free of stereotyping. When it comes to romance, she has a bit of mischievous and fulsome past.

 

The Wacky One

Maybe it’s just me but it seems when I see something Manga-ish on TV there’s always this wacky character, usually minor and with a big nose or a lot of facial hair; Karlyn is none of those.

Nor is she devil-may-care, always generous of heart while dismissive of authority and possessed of a constantly quick mind or amenable buffoonery. This works in small doses but in a central character of 400+ pages soon grows ‘old’ and worse irritating. She has, literally her bag of tricks, has ‘powers’, is nimble, tough and deadly; she constantly chatters away displaying a skewed idea of the world. And just when you are settled down with that, there comes a cold, aloof side to her, which probably harks back to her origins. Because she is uncertain of where she came from and why she is very vulnerable when it comes to personal relationships, devoted to those close to her and is easily hurt. In short you can never be sure what she will be doing on the next page, never mind chapter. Because of possible ease by which a reader will be able to identify her with High Profile characters in other realms it was important to distance her, this was not easy. I might have failed. However when I write her I am not thinking of any comparisons. And this is good enough for me.

The Ordinary Person Who Never Asked for This (and their race)

The fact that Trelli had black skin, evolved with the book. Originally this character was going to be a daughter of the family, but the narrative never worked, kept turning into a continual damsel-in-distress. A valued servant/housemaid was far more likely to, being organised, level-headed with their own sense of purpose and mildly conservative. Having ‘witchy’ powers imposed on her would be a challenge and also a burden.

The location of her home town suggested a cosmopolitan environment and the lack of comment about the colour of her skin confirmed this, it also enabled a layer in the portrayal of place where being civically respectable and orderly was a paramount quality. That, Arketre doesn’t comment on race suggests she also grew up in a multi-racial background or has grown used to people coming in all ‘shapes and sizes’. Karlyn’s initial problem is that Trelli displays ‘Whychery’ powers, something Karlyn is supposed to be against, even though she has some herself. Eventually this is reconciled.

In the narrative the complexities faced by the major characters and senior support characters are such that no one cares about race. For some its simply a way of identifying a person or their possible place of origin. Once in Vol II racism rears its vile self out of a swamp of ignorance only to get slapped (literally) down and that was a means to demonstrate Trelli’s growing physical robustness, the confidence of Arketre and Karlyn in her ability to look after herself (and a smidge of romance- handsome over-protective fellow, y’know the sort )

Trelli is therefore a person, who happens to have a black skin. What is more important in the narrative is Trelli coming to terms with the responsibility and liability placed on her shoulders, the importance of her in the dynamic of the three and her learning to cope outside of her previously safe environment.

Romance (and Sex)

In the initial early drafts there were all sorts of romances; tragic, standard, comic and any premutation, and they all fell very flat and seem to drag characters in all sorts of direction which were not part of the flow of the story. In one theme, only thought thank goodness, Karlyn is gay, but Arketre assures her ‘her secret is safe’….urrgh! (It’s what happens when I don’t have enough chocolate).

When the idea floated in out of the narrative that Arketre might well be gay, for no other reason than ‘because’ an attraction and deepening feelings with Karlyn became seamless. Of course the notion would leave the whole work open to an accusation  making lesbian women appear volatile, extraordinary, and ‘peculiar’. To which I have to say, this is a Fantasy work, folk live in a world far removed from are own, if they appear that way it’s because they are reacting to their environment. One is a soldier under strain. One is from an extraordinary background. You do not act ‘normal’ in those situations and anyway what is ‘normal’?

And of course, elderly male writing sex scenes between young women……just don’t try and defend yourself man. You have not got a hope. What can I say? I do like romance in my books, this couple are have fallen deep for each other I tried to portray their tender, caring sides in love scenes.

 

Group Dynamics

Having two (white) in love with each other and a third (black) was bound to cause issues and a certain jarring of the work, unless I went deeper into how people ‘work’ and remember my days of employment.

The central factor is the power; call it Ethereal or Stommigheid this is bonding the three women; this itself is a complex matter and it is never made clear whether it influences them or they as a trio or as individuals influence it. There is also a conjecture that even without it, they would bond anyhow. Originally Trelli is targeted as a source of concern by both Arketre’s commanders and Karlyn’s idiosyncratic mentor Meradat (think Inquisitor without all the usual tropes, predictable clichés etc), which is how they all meet.

Initially Trelli is terrified of her new situation and being ‘captured’. Arketre is sympathetic, Karlyn hostile. When later on Arketre gets ‘Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann’ on Karlyn, the latter finds Trelli is a source of friendship, through the confusion of The Ethereal. The first book lays down interactions of the three. Nominally, Arketre being Army is in charge, Trelli however by practice of her profession can be a strong influence, sometimes being dominating. Karlyn doesn’t get to lead but is a natural catalyst.

Both Arketre and Karlyn rely on Trelli for stability, the former because she is unsettled by the Ethereal/Stommigheid and as Karlyn is subsumed in it, Trellis is the reliable, understanding patient mentor in dealing with the proximity. Arketre in return being roguish is encouraging Trelli to take her careful steps into the raw outside world. Trelli understands Karlyn and why she is who she is, and Karlyn mentors Trelli in the deeper aspects of this power. Karlyn and Arketre are still in their honeymoon interlude, but are battle-hardened enough to be practical, Trelli sensing things troublingly deeper in both women is content and relieved they have each other. Having two rather physically tough folk near her gives Trelli a confidence to find her own feet in the changing world and develop her own life outside of the group

When one is threatened, the other two are there swiftly. When the three combine in battle so far they have proven to be unstoppable. Without one the others would be somewhat lost and much weaker in the struggle against malevolent forces.

Thus are the Patchwork Warriors, the Skirmishers of Steel, Fire and Lace loose upon a world, in battle against forces malevolent. As individuals they are who they are. I am still learning about them myself

I offer this therefore as one author’s journey, no more, no less.

Make of it what you will.

Stereotyping. Did I? or…. Did I now?….Or….No that’s Not What I Meant…Or…Oh Heck I Wish I’d Never Started This…

 

Stereotyping. Did I? or…. Did I now?….Or….No that’s Not What I Meant…Or…Oh Heck I Wish I’d Never Started This…

Introduction

Currently, mostly for better, sometimes for worse, we have more opportunity for self-expression. The ‘worse’ aspect is the amount of filth, hatred, lies and self-righteous indignation being spouted out on social media displaying hideous levels of ignorance, even by those who claim to espouse enlightened views. Give me a regular bigot over an intolerant liberal any day at least with the former you can get straight down to the argument and not have to wade through distractions on the grounds of alleged ethics, contradictory bombast, fashionable buzz-words, and painfully obvious self-righteous indignation. With free expression should come responsibility….a word these days which it seems should only be applied to others.

Anyway as usual I have digressed, but only slightly, sort of. Because this post does walk hesitantly on the borderlines between the justifiable, the questionable, the excessive and the downright hypocritical.

Trouble with those borders, they are prone to shifting, as do the myriads of factors which make up the weather. And like the weather too much of one sort can be harmful to our survival, although in this case the survival would be artistic.

Currently as the fourth paragraph takes shape I am wondering whether I am in the process of producing an erudite opening statement or simple procrastinating. Ah me, thusways without anymore endeavours at rhetoric time to step in.

 

A Walk Through The Minefields of Writing Fiction.

Gender. Race. Religion. Politics. Social Groupings. Humour. Violence. Sex (didn’t want to disappoint some of the readership there).

Any of those by themselves contain enough combustible material to illuminate a social media site to nova proportions, even when the hapless author was writing with the very best of intentions. Here and now we may as well ALL admit it; we all contain a capacity to be not just be offended but to seek out reasons to be offended. If you have yours under control and just rage at the most obvious injustices, bigotry and hate then I salute your maturity; otherwise, c’mon guys, you and me know the guilty secret, we all get a kick out of it.

Meanwhile for the innocent and well-meaning fiction writer there is a charge which will get levelled at you straight away.

The charge will be because you are not one of the ‘whoever/whatever’ you are writing about you are stereotyping. As with most reasonable criticisms there is an element of truth buried deep within. AND to be fair this is something the writer has to grapple with. HOWEVER when taken to excess this would limit me to writing about retired married Caucasian males in their late 60s resident in the North East of Wales (UK). I hasten to add there is probably a wealth of material in such a theme and some very good books could arise….But not from me. I write Fantasy Fiction and am wont to throw lots of elements into the mix, for me writing anything else would be, to say the least…not very good, and meandering.

This initial accusation can give birth to portrayals being ‘demeaning’ ‘offensive’ or ‘typical view from a….’ (fill in the character-type and then the ‘type’ of the writer, you’ll get the idea).

Should the writer be trying to avoid this and miss a step they can be accused of ‘pandering’ by creating an ‘alpha’ or ‘saintly’ or ‘magician’ or ‘too perfect’ Annnnddd if they try and balance they risk getting slammed from both sides.

I tell ya folks…

You.

Just.

Can’t.

Win.

You can’t please everybody and since you are an ordinary human being, whereas you might get a hundred ‘likes’ and ‘favourables’ those three or four ‘dislikes’ ‘angrys’ and ‘kritiks’ (sic) will really sting you off of your game.

Like most good causes, subjects which started off with nobles aims and clear projections get side-tracks and distortions added in because of The Human Factor in its multitude of forms.

Somebody somewhere will not like something you have written on some sort of grounds other than your style of writing.

 

Down in The Shelter Prior to Starting.

OK, you and I are probably never going to create works whose portrayals will be argued over in the columns of prestigious newspaper or causing massive flurries through the Social Media-verse. And yet, fragile creatures that most writers are, being aware of these controversies can hamper, stifle and even frighten a writer into not producing their very best.

So what are we going to do about it? I say ‘we’ because I am proud of the struggling writers who finally get into print, ok maybe the genre is not for me, but heck they have got there, and for me that is a victory for us all.

 

(Pause fer thought: Here’s an example of the problem I am writing about. Look at me using military phrases ‘minefield’; ‘shelter’ ‘victory’. I am willing to bet if this was a popular blog someone somewhere would object to at least one of those words, for some reason or another…..I could write the objections myself…and that’s before we get onto those angry at ‘the theme’ )

 

Back to the ‘We’ and the ‘What’.

Remember, unless you are going to try and write about you own group which when you take into account age, gender, social grouping, race, religion (or not) etc, etc is going to be narrow (ish), you will always be writing outside of your comfort zone and will likely to be making assumptions or be seen to be trying ‘so hard’ not to be so. Accept you will upset someone, somewhere, sometime. The important aspect is try not to antagonise. (unless you are being deliberately provocative, if this is the case you had better have a pretty good balanced ethical reason otherwise I will be in the kicking line.). Nor patronising by giving the character all the goodies. Therefore just do the best you can…. as simple as that.,

In doing the best you can, try and familiarise yourself with the whosoevers you are writing about. This does not mean you ostentatiously try and hang out with them and ask stupid questions like ‘How does it feel to be….’. That is painfully offensive and patronising. There is enough material out there written by folk of the various groupings (and don’t forget those groups do cross-pollinate) for you to get a general idea to break down your own assumptions.

When breaking down your own assumptions try not to shoe-horn a type of character in, just because you want to prove you can write about ‘that sort of person’ or they ‘look good’ in the narrative. Try that and oh my, you really will be heading for a lot of trouble…..unless of course you are writing something wildly comical and even there can await deadly traps for being offensive and stereotypical. Fit the person in naturally, where you would expect them to be, which truth be known would be a lot of places. You don’t need to force them in.

Once you have eased in a possibly ‘sensitive material’ character (which could in some febrile corners of society could be anyone irrespective of age, race, gender, orientation, beliefs etc, etc) into your narrative then do not try and have them skirting about trying to be perfect, or exceptionally empathetic, witty, brave and all good things (see above ‘goodies’)….OR…fall into another trap of trying too hard not to make them so, so they end up as a spare villain. Give them depth, let their purpose and motivations. Then defend them and their inclusion against all comers outside of the book. They are a person, who happens to be…… (fill in your blanks)

 

No One Gets It Exactly Write (sic) for Everyone, Everytime, Everywhere, Everywhen.

Being plain about it; to reapeat.  Do your best. Meld your characters. Check yourself from time to time to see if they are fitting in naturally to the situation you are writing about. Avoid a preachy style if you can (unless you really don’t care what folk think; it’s your narrative kiddo. What do I know?)

 

Conclusion

Sounds like one of those ‘How To’ pieces yeah?

[Whoever writes those is not going to win either.

If they are famous, many will be the sceptical person who will say ‘Oh fine. That might have worked for you…BUT…..(and then they go off on a tirade)

If they are not famous (let me get my mirror function on this laptop), then folk will say ‘Ha! If that’s the case, how come you are not famous?…..AND….(then they go off on a tirade).]

Just accept folks, if you write, someone is not going to be happy with what you have written. (When you think about, that could be pretty cool because it means you have reached a wide audience…Whooo-hoooo. Embrace it!!)

In the next post I will endeavour to illustrate my own journey and justifications in getting from conception to written…..an act which will have its own pitfalls.

 

On Reaching a Place You Want To Be

Writing.

These days: when you see the word do you think of steep mountains reaching above the clouds, wastelands stretching beyond the horizon or lonely bleak shores lapped by cold seas and stroked by chill forlorn winds?

Before you started out it all seemed to promise much fun, redolent with pleasant spring and summer locations. Of course there would be challenges. Naturally.

And here you are. Weary. Discouraged. All those spring and summer places struck by a cold unforgiving winter.

It happens. It’s not you.

Thus this is another essay addressed to folk who feel they are getting nowhere with their writing. Here I will add my regular rider. This blog is the last place you should be if you want to seek advice on being published or making your work well-known. This writer is hopeless (and hapless) at such things. Here is where we talk and write about the basics which allows you get reach such the fortunate situation where you have to plan for publishing and readerships.

For the new writer a season’s worth of effort will lead them to the inevitable associations with:

Frustration at thoughts not forming into words

Refusal of plots or characters to behave

A sudden drought of inspiration

The misery of believing whatever they are writing will never be as good as…..

The horror of reading the first draft back to themselves. With typos, syntax, holes in plots and failures in continuity all combining with malicious glee to assail the confidence.

Problems with staying power and not drifting off to look at YouTube.

And those are only the first tranche of challenges.

Small wonder there is many of promising First Draft lying in a draft, gathering whatever. Or even worse is tragically out of disillusionment lost to a shredder or fire.

Been there, lived there, ached there, drunk bitter wines of envy too.

And yet, despite it all…

Just for this interlude, I am in a Happy Place.

Now those of you experienced in writing will be think ‘Shush…don’t.. .Not out loud’ Yes, I appreciate I am just begging for The Writing Muse to empty something allegorically unpleasant all over me and from a great height too. And I don’t blame other fellow writers in the weeks ahead to be saying, when things go wrong ‘You had that coming. Damn fool thing to say! You should know by now,’

Of course you are right, however this interlude of writer’s joy cannot be helped.

Two books in a series completed just the way I wanted them to be (let’s just not talk about typos write (sic) now). All is needed are the covers, which are in process and not in my hands this time.

Finally the narratives came together smoothly, the main and the principal support characters are satisfied with my interpretations, everything which needed to be put in is there. You can read one book and finish there, you could read the two books and be satisfied everything has ended there as far as you are concerned….never mind the other two which are in the metaphysical pipeline.

Yeah…yeah…never mind the typos already!…(Anyway Grammarly and Word are often not in agreement)

Uh?

Oh yes, sorry, I forget some of you might not have read earlier posts.

These are fantasy novels y’see. Mash-ups of humour, romance, war, crime, traditional fantasy ‘stuff’, politics, bits of observations, smidges of satire. Lots of characters weaving in and out. Heroes, of course. About 3 to 4 years in the making (with a back story of 30 years of terrible mistakes). Write, re-write, re-re-write etc. Launch, re-launch.

There is a very high probability these works will not even cause the least of ripples on the horizon. There is an even higher chance of obscurity. These are chances every writer with a minimal profile has to accept could be their fate. And I have written often that unless you are hoping to make a living out of writing this does not matter.Just a Smidge

What does matter is these books are together and they have turned out in a very satisfactory way, for me anyway, my own series

The Precipices Dominions

Volume I – Of Patchwork Warriors. On Kindle; edited twice and now ‘Revised’ . Just waiting for a cover.

Volume II – Our Skirmishers of Steel, Fire and Lace. Waiting for a cover, and then ‘launch’

Volume III-To be started- Working Title : Adjudicators from The Mists

Volume IV- To be pondered on- Anchoring Title for the thoughts: Saviours in Blessed Oblivion (it’s meant to be very opaque)

And Game of Thrones; Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie to reference a few….these an’t. That is all I should say- we shouldn’t give out spoilers.

The reason for this post is the moral, therein.

Follow your initial nascent spark. Never give up. Keep on writing and re-writing. Let no one suggest to you otherwise. Never expect fame nor fortune, even those small sorts where your followers/readers number; say 750 and you make enough to buy (ooooh I don’t know; a new laptop?). Just write, write for its own sake, write for your soul and your heart’s sake. Rise up onwards, create and set sail your craft. It is enough for you to have there, in a public domain a finished work which you can point to and say ‘This is mine,’

And if someone should say, one day:

Well, one of the many things which kept me going, was this series of blog posts about writing by this guy Woebegone- wonder whatever became of him?’

That would suit me fine.

Writing Your Book- When The Feeling Arrives- Embrace it!

Firstly to the new writer, just starting out.

Yes, you’ve made progress on your work, but suddenly you are assailed by a whispering dread. ’Is it worth all this time and effort? What happens if someone reads it and doesn’t like it?’

If those sly words haven’t reached you yet, they will.

Follow me as I turn to writers of some experience, not all of it good.

Hi folks. I have a new writer here who I’ve scared a bit about the ‘D’ word. Yes, I agree with you, would that ‘doubt’ were banished from the lexicon of the writer’s experiences, but what can we do? We’re all human and apart from the most obnoxious egotists we are all prone to it, being part of the human composition.

Let us consider not those tendrils curling about your creativity in an effort to stifle your efforts. Instead let us consider those signs pointing out you are doing your level best.

I Really Must Catch Up On Everyone’s Blogs….Sometime, Soon

This one needs addressing promptly because it is the most challenging. You’re reading this  thus you are in the blogosphere. You read them, your write them. You form bonds with other bloggers. You like their posts and you get to ‘chat’ with them, exchange views, support, ask questions and so forth. You might do this on a daily or other regular basis. And then one day you suddenly drop off the radar. Why? Well you know don’t you?

Yes, you are caught up in your writing. The time you have available to ‘tap’ the keyboards have been inexorably taken up with your latest project. It’s not that you don’t care about these folks, got bored with them, or become selfish. Oh no, you have been drawn into your work, deep. There is exploration on plot, motivations, characters to be attended to. Re-writes, checking for typos. You try and snatch some time on WP to let folk know you are there and well, for you know the dear genuine folk will worry if you are not around, it’s that sort of good community. Meanwhile it is back to your work, for this has become the principal attention of your creativity. Within the part of you which is the writer a spark has ignited, one beyond the usual chemistry of writing. You are now in the centre of the  writing equivalent of the nuclear fusion process which brings in birth a star. And here you are. Your writing has ascended and drawn you upwards. Embrace this, the future of your valuable work is calling you.

Hey! How Have You Guys Been? I Missed You!

You finally find the time in your day to sit at your laptop and pick up where you left off. You want to speak with your characters, you’ve been thinking about them all day, wondering how they will react to your latest idea. You want to know if this will work for them. You’ve missed their approach to life or been worrying how they’ve been coping. There are various views about characters taking hold of the narrative from a writer or whether they should be kept under control. Whichever viewpoint you take if you are engaging with your characters to the point, they are not pieces on a gameboard or out of cliché central to move along the Plot Above All Else, then they are alive and they are vibrant. Work with them for sometimes you just have to listen to them.

Are You Feeling OK?

Yes, it can be a bit disconcerting for the person who happens to be in the same room as you. They are sitting there working on some craft project, doing a jig-saw, reading or attending to their own laptop, you are ‘tip-taping away when suddenly from your direction they hear a sibilant ‘Yesssssss!’ and notice one of your fists is clenched and shaking in what can only be described as a gesture of triumph. Then there will be the occasion when odd words spring from your lips such as ‘Alll-right!’ Got—-It!!’ ‘Rock AND Roll!’ or other such random and statements unconnected to the current surroundings. There might even be a gentle laugh followed by ‘Oh yeah. It works,’ or even nothing apart from the laugh.

After a while a patient and astute companion will realise you are simply expressing delight that amongst all of the words you are producing there are some passages which you are particularly enthusiastic about or proud of.

We all have to admit we are plagued by worry over parts of the book and if left to our own devices might be tinkering with the thing for decades. However if you do encounter yourself lapsing into one of these episodes of vocalised joy, you should realise you are certainly on the right track. Those nagging little parts might just well have to be steam rollered over. If you are connecting this way with even one small part of your work you are mining your true potential. Keep on keeping on.

So What? I mean, Like So **** What? You Don’t Like It? This Is Me Not Caring! 

This may be a ‘just me then’ interlude. However I do feel it is worth voicing. There are many useful, cogently constructed and intelligently helpful posts, blogs, even books about what to do and what not to do when writing. I accept this to be so.

However where my teeth start to bare (I picked up the habit from one of my characters Arketre, fierce person when provoked), hackles rise and fists clench in a not happy way is when would be krit-tiks, folk who never wrote anything apart from snark and the literary fashionista start to pick, pry and come up with cliched or lazy commentary which proves they never read the whole thing, or it offends them(Hah!). Where I dig my heels in and snort derision or scratch my head around above my left ear and say ‘yeah, yeah’ is when someone tells me my work is ‘interesting’, but……..

In short, if you have written it, it is yours. You did a damn good job to get it completed and if some part of the world doesn’t like it, or not understand it, you cannot be held responsible for their lack of comprehension.

If you believe your work has the right to be put out there in one form or another. Then, you dear writer are cookin’. Advice is one thing. Guidance is helpful. As for the rest…LIKE I (bad word) CARED!

Might not sell books, but it will ensure you get your book completed.

 

Therefore fellow writer, if you are experiencing one or more of these , you are on your way and more power to you. If you are not, well keep on they will turn up sooner or later.

Keep writing.

The world might well be waiting for you.

Writing Your Book – The Environmental Issue.

Writing Your Book- The Plot Thing

Writing Your Book – Main Characters (You can’t avoid them)

Writing Your Book-A Journey Barefooted and Treading on Glass under a Hot Sun- facing challenges you’d prefer to avoid

Writing Your Book-A Journey Barefooted and Treading on Glass under a Hot Sun- facing challenges you’d prefer to avoid

Whereas this post will be about the problem…ok MY problem… with writing sex episodes, this can also be considered as a parallel journey with other passages which are challenging or uncomfortable for the writer.

So once more, notebooks out for entries in your personal Guides to Writing, under sub-sections  (1) Oh man and I thought I made problems for myself (2). Note: Do not do this. (3) Ah, not just me then.

You don’t have to include sex episodes in a novel, personally I feel they look quite weird in some books, but since there is a great deal of sex going on around the world you cannot say the topic is irrelevant or to say in books suitable for adults there are some it cannot fit (fit?) into. When writing in the fantasy genre a portion of your readership are likely to be muttering…’Aww c’mon. Get on with it. It’s gotta happen!’. My own personal response is ‘Will you guys be patient!’

Now if you have been following this blog on and off you may remember my own surprise in ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ at Karlyn and Arketre falling for each other in a big way. It took a few re-reads to realise this had been bubbling in the background, and well after being through danger, destruction and facing death more than once, when they’d finally found a patch of peace and quiet, feelings were bound to be made known.

‘Oh great’, said I. ‘Here I am yet again 67 year old male writer in Problem City…This time lesbian love’….’Oh sure’ says some readers ‘Of course it’s all to do with the plot and sub-text…Yeah, right!’

{Perversely I am so glad I self-publish and am terrible at marketing thus limiting my potential readership and having to explain myself to hundreds}.

Whereas part of me was saying, just lead up to a tentative kiss, close the door on them, then just step away for a day or so, another part of me was saying. ‘An’t gonna work old son; these are a pair of intense folk with their whole pack of contradictions and currently unexplained back-issues. You need to see the detail through as part of their journey. Anyway some readers will say…’Ah-cop out!’ if you don’t’

I complained a lot to myself but by now the book itself and the characters were weighing in. They used that sneaky argument. ‘Challenge yourself!’ all I could reply with was ‘But…but…but,’. They laughed and resorted to, I thought, a rather unnecessary and vulgar analogy with the American use of the word.

Fine! I mean you can research stuff for crime novels, or SF, or military, or…But…Oh my!

At this stage panic set in. What if this part of the narrative ended up contrived and forced? Suppose there were incorrect assumption made? Suppose I got into Cliché Central?

Making sure no one was looking over my shoulder I tentatively perused the ‘Erotica’ section of Amazon, somewhat uneasily selecting sub-genres and so forth. Sampled a few ‘see what’s inside’,s and thought….’Huh! And I was worried about Cliché Central?’ So I checked the reviews (yeh I know not the most reliable source, but what’s a guy to do?). It was then the ‘OK kiddo, we’ve gone this far. It’s download time!’. So checking up on reputation of authors and taking a few more reviews a few 0.99p’s were invested in downloads. I concluded that there was a flourishing market for women writers writing erotica for other women involving women with women. Wow what a relief! Not just adolescent boys and drooling sad men! I’d been overthinking the problem. (Well, be fair it was a reasonable overthink, I mean I’d spent years readings, Heroic Fantasy, history and politics, some things passed me by!)

That sorted. The next issue was, to use the old adage ‘There is a time and place for everything’. Let’s keep this rationed (to the reader I mean, what characters get up to off the page is their business), not prurient because this is a Fantasy-genre novel and let’s give context.

In the first volume, their first intense interlude happened at towards the end of the volume and seemed to introduce a certain element of closure or new horizons. Since this was not ‘just physical’ (OK, so I did listen to Tegan and Sara sometimes when writing, anyway I happen to like Tegan and Sara’s music) there could be sensitivity and romance included. This also allowed me to introduce the slightly roguish element of Arketre’s character as she, in a nice way, seduced Karlyn, who in turn showed another facet of her vulnerable side and in turn there was Arketre’s tender caring side.

Somewhat concerned I released Vol 1 with flag warnings all over the place. Although not flooded with purchases (so what?), not one came back tearing at me for some contrived, male-slavering soft-porn…. Whew!

Vol II. Obviously, this relationship was now set into the narrative. The question was now should the sex episodes continue to be written in? The first answer, well since there had been one in Vol I it followed ignoring them in Vol II might look ‘odd’ as if I’d tip-toed away. I did have some advantages here.

In the first case the two had fallen in love with each other, secondly because they were in the first flush of this relationship, ‘they couldn’t keep their hands off each other’, as the saying goes; this however was not a problem as the fact could be mentioned in asides, reflections and general banter.

Graphic and open description would be restricted to intense situations. I used two episodes both to highlight Arketre’s anxiety  when dealing with The Ethereal / Stommigheid as well as to underline the commitment they had to each other. First: when in a haunted wood just when they were getting snuggly in a tent they were attacked by ‘ghostly creatures’ Karlyn performs a powerful, emotive, exorcism (and sets fire to one), Arketre wants to get out of the wood, ‘like now’. In the dawn’s light Karlyn draws Arketre into back love-making which I tried to illustrate as two people deep in a tenderness of love; erotica with flowers if you like and showing Karlyn as not simply Arketre’s goofy side-kick. Second: the other instance followed an episode where the two had been apart for a very intense ten or so days and at the first chance Arketre positively pounces on Karlyn which is briefly described and to make way for a bit of mischief along the lines ‘Oh we were just exercising’ feeble excuse when Trelli walks in just as they have got decent. She turns this around gently teasing them later on; this also demonstrated Trelli was no longer in awe of the pair and was not the shy retiring prissy flower some may have assumed she was.

And Trelli?

I have to blame Arketre here. Being a soldier with a series of encounters to her name she was quite insistent that Trelli have her own ‘fun’ time too, after all she’d earned, it yeh? (Characters can be so pushy not just with their own parts either).

Wigran, the cause of her abilities, was out of the mix. Trelli was still angry with him, by now he was involved with another and also still a bit scared of Trelli. The poor girl was not getting much chance to hang around with men for long term relationship. What did develop was when Trelli was re-united with Arketre and Karlyn in a new place; she encountered Lord Osavus the son of a Grand Duke. Now I admit to writing in a sudden mutual attraction and ‘sparks’. There again this was taking place in a land close to war, folks emotions were heightened; Trelli was becoming more her own girl, to this young fellow she not only appeared exotic, but much than a ‘silly young thing’. He was being ‘gah-lant and respectful to her and she did like this sort of attention. The dynamic was I admit old fashioned; she in his strong manly arms, welcoming his embrace, her first experience of men, he being a measure reverential and considerate to her entranced by this mysterious woman with ‘powers’. But after all she has been through Trelli deserved a ‘nice’ time (Arketre insisted)

This interlude allowed more character development and insights. Arketre encouraging Trelli (Arketre does carry a contraceptive mix around with her for others and as a dark reminder of one consequence which can happen out rape); Karlyn being quite hostile to Osavus in her protective side of Trelli and suspicion of men’s motives with women. Interludes between any combination any combination of the four providing more depth while taking care to ensure these weaved into the ongoing main narrative.

On reflection when working the re-write and re-reading this post I have realised in taking on this challenge and settling it into the narrative allowed for more opportunities to explore the characters and their relationships to each other. These having ramifications upon other episodes within the tale.

Here therefore is something to bear in mind when quivering on the edge of a challenge or for an uncomfortable part of the narrative. Keep calm. Keep mature. You never know what else will open up.

Keep on writing folks.

Writing Your Book – The Environmental Issue.

Writing Your Book- The Plot Thing

Writing Your Book – Main Characters (You can’t avoid them)