For Writers…The Paths Before You

The other day through a coalescing of feelings, reading old blog posts and considering the allegorical map of my work over the past ten years a post concerning the experiences, emotions and elements which drive of A Writer formed.

I have to admit to a measure of gratitude and a smidge (a small smidge) of pride at the response. There was definitely a sense gladness at having contributed to the collective swirl which is the WP writing community.

However

For there is always ‘An However’

Of course being A Writer one piece is going to agitate the Writing part of your being, concerns would bubble up.

Could I have phrased ‘that’ part in a clearer way?

Was there repetition?

Did ‘that’ part need qualification?

You know the sort of experiences, irrespective of how much positive feedback you get, you still fret and fidget. You wouldn’t be A True Writer otherwise.

Anyway, preamble aside.

Another issue appeared into my head.

Which Way. Alone or In Team

One of the many topics/aspects of writing which are relevant to your calling and even career as A Writer and so here is:

The Path You Choose.

The question arises after you have set about writing your work, revising it and attending to some editing and you have a ‘finished’ work in front of you. This ‘finished’ work is not necessarily a completed novel, story, poem or factual work it may well be ‘a part’

Before I conduct you along to much more mystery it is necessary to consider an excellent post raised recently concerning Bad Advice given to new writers. I attach the link for you to read and consider. Then I will move along

9 Pieces of Bad Publishing Advice New Writers Should Ignore – by Anne R Allen…

It is at this stage you stand where the roads branch out into misty places. To stay A Writer you will be taking one. Fear not this place is generous for there are myriad side-tracks at which point you can change from one path to another. None are wrong. For all are You, however no longer A Writer, now it is You, The Writer. For we are at this place of choice.

(For a while on I will be using ‘I’, because my choice is an example of going in one direction. This will be written without favour for one side or the other, will not advise you to go one way or the other. This will be written in the style practiced over 40+ years of working in the UK Civil Service, detached, reporting of a situation.)

Choice

I normally work alone. Independent of anyone’s advice or guidance. To pretend in doing this I have some admirable heroic element and an aura of Rugged Individualism would be on my behalf preening arrogance and insufferable vanity. I am practical enough to understand this is down to my own stubbornness at taking any advice in general and on my writing in particular. This is how I work. A place with space to engage with my characters, I like to examine the day to day human foibles and quirks not just the dramatic ones associated with Fantasy. A central character is just as likely to stumble out of bed in an ordinary sort of tizzy, forget where they left their shirt, stub their toe and find they have misplaced their hairbrush as they are to fight valiantly against heavy odds. Matters might never reach a clear conclusion….often they don’t seem to in Life. A wise and experienced editor or beta-reader might well throw their hands up in horror when they find this happening all over the book as it would be breaking up the narrative. I doubt if I would argue with them, I would respect their judgement, but I wouldn’t act on it. For me  the way I wish to write requires me to put these interludes in, the characters grow in my eyes, anyway and since I am the one writing it is how it has to be.

For me.

I have to accept this limits the chances of selling copies of my work. If I can’t work with people at this level I could be missing the first level as to how good my work is for the public in general. Well there is a paradox to be sure. I would like to have my work known, but I won’t seek out advice. Possibly a very bad move. Something I live with. For I must write the way I want to. There again many people write the way they want to and still have the ability to work with editors, friends, beta-writers and so forth.

So. Me. Hopeless case. Probably.

OK out of the First Person Single and back to the world of A Writer.

Layer Upon Layer

No one has to take a firm and unmoveable stance at every level or turning in their writing. Common sense, 45 years of marriage and also 45 years of working in the public domain indicates to me there will always be levels and areas of compromise which give freedom for a writer to maintain their independence, while taking on board advice and suggestions.

The challenge which faces You, The Writer is which way you feel you can go and what you wish to have from your writing.

As a profession. Of course we must leave aside the laughable notion of ‘riches’. There are many folk who make a living from writing, which is quite another thing and they will tell you is a lot of hard work and pain to get there. True there are a very few who hit the target with relative ease, whether they can keep that going is another matter.

You may just wish to write, because you want to, but understandably you would like to have folk know you are doing it, maybe in the upper reaches of three figures or possible scraping four figures would be nice. That’s all you ask for. Just a smidge of recognition. No more.

And there are between the two, those variable levels of emphasis.

Evidence suggests whichever of the two you take would be advised to reach out for some level of support to get wherever you are going.

Common Denominator

Whether you work alone, or whether you are able to work with others a few sensations or experiences will be encountered in either.

There will be measures of sacrifice. Either accept do as you wish and maybe never find out how well you are writing. Or understand people are always ready to give advice, in most cases this will be well-meaning and useful, and you will have to change some of your work.

Nothing is simple. There is no magic day when you create your work at the first try, place it into public domain and it promptly draws attention. No matter how much we all would all like it to be so.

Even if you endeavour to seek a middle ground of semi-indepenance you run the same track

Ending

The choices are yours.

Both carry elements of risk. Both carry the danger of one form of rejection of another. And this cannot be avoided. You yearn to be A Writer. You are willing to take the chance either way, because the words will not stay there in your head or heart, they are bursting to be free into print.

And so unto yourself say

‘I will,’

This is sufficient to raise fire unto your cause and your course.

I wish you well

About Writers…Slouching through the Mire.

 

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About Writers…Slouching through the Mire.

Some things have to be said. Not in an upbeat way, nor in a method as if lecturing a group of new students. Somethings require airing not as a rallying call or a rousing appeal to follow things’ my way and all will be well’.

Some things need to be warned about.

If a writer doesn’t go through the following experience they are either very lucky, blessed, not telling the truth, or not writing properly.

Of course I am writing about those dread episodes when everything seems either pointless, hopeless or fearful. (The latter turns up after success and the writer fears they will never better that).

These demons come in various forms; for instance either in a slough of grey despondency when even opening the cover of the laptop seems to be a supreme effort, OR the sharp pain when you happen to spy someone else’s (never mind who) success which appears to you to have come out of thin air (being in this state of mind you are of course not being the least bit rational). There are of course other variations on this theme. All coalesce into these similar themes

I can’t write (sometimes this has ‘anymore’ added on)

Why do I bother writing?

In such wretched countries the last things you want to come across would be either

A cheery rallying call to never mind all will be well in time (‘Are we talking centuries here?’ You ask)

A bright and peppy post telling you how to get on and get yourself noticed AND how serious a business marketing is ( At the first juncture you have a sarcastic image of yourself dancing frenetically on a high building hurling copies of your work at the folk down below while crying out ‘At least read the damn thing!’; at the second juncture you either are so scared at the seemingly hopeless prospect that you hide under a table OR as snarling at the writer’s post you make it known you have been doing this and do they think you a drivelling idiot- by now you usually are drivelling, though in frustrated rage).

By some monumental effort of charity and spirit you do not lower yourself to the gutter by being spiteful at anyone who has posted up their first success, you manage a ‘like’ and maybe if you’ve got your favourite brew just write (sic) you squeeze out a ‘Well done you’ because despite everything you are feeling you actually mean it, only you wish some of that would come your way.

It has to be acknowledged, said, enunciated, lamented and admitted that in general for the vast majority of writers of blogs, tweets, stories, novels, factual works and any permutation the odds are stacked heavily against you. The mixed blessing which is the Internet has enabled many folk to be able to put the electronic version of pen to paper. In fact I wonder if writers out-number those who read but don’t write in any form. Thus amongst this oceans of talent, polluted by sewerage of hack-writers, hate merchants and fabricators is anyone going to notice you little wave or splash?

‘Ah me,’ you say sadly, or something of the general equivalent.

At this stage some folk say ‘Writing is not for me. Anyway I have been wanting to do….’ Whatever it might, and away they go to do whatever and feel released of the weight and live happier lives. Which is a perfectly sensible approach. It’s much better to have tried and say, ‘I have been there’, than to ponder of ‘What might have been’

As for the rest of us. Us who cannot let go of the urge to Write, who feel restless and unsettled unless words are being put to paper or the electronic equivalent. Us who despite all previous past evidence simply will not let go and opt to carry on despite the fact of feeling sorrowful and wondering if there will ever come a day when we can rise at the sunny dawn and with light breakfast and a gladsome heart pen another contribution for a waiting public.

If you count yourself amongst these serried ranks you must evident be A Writer. The creative urge runs deep within your blood, stirs as part of your spirit, roams your restless mind and simply will not let you go. Irrespective of the results or lack of them you will forge on for one more effort. You are determined, in a dogged way. You believe you have something to say and will not be stifled. It is how you are. You are fated to be this way. You will not let go.

There are some lesser mortals who mask their soulless ways by applying what they delude themselves as being wise and witty words such as ‘Every person as a book inside of them and in most cases that is where it should stay’ or ‘Insanity is trying the same thing over again and expecting different results’. These dry and vapid folk know nothing of the ceaseless urge to create and are to be ignored, pitied or simply sneered at. Their cousins ‘Though Who Would Be A Critic’ and have never tried to write anything other than what they may consider ‘harsh truth’ are equally pointless in their efforts. Between them and their professional mentors these folk have done more to stifle creativity down the ages than even the strictest of authoritarian regimes. Ignore them all. True it is not easy. Ask any writer who has actually broken the barrier you yearn to and sits in the public domain.

So back to you, unknown, doubtful and weary.

You will sigh, you will feel dispirited, you might not produce anything for weeks.

And then the urge starts up again and once more the words started to bubble up, from deep within, the writing begins again. You are drawn out of your comfy little retreat.

You would wish it could be a lot easier, less painful, more hopeful.

But you cannot, will not stop.

Not you The Writer.

One day you may break through, even in a small way and for you this would be a happy time.

And I will celebrate for you.

Until then as you must slouch on, movement is progress.

Accept this is the way you are; it makes you an individual.

Never take your pain and frustrations out on other writers, it is beneath you.

Continue to write and never destroy your work for you never know who the Ages will view you.

Always Write. For it is in your nature.

‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ Third Edition- Released

Set up on Amazon Kindle with its new cover.Of Patchwork Warriors

Of Patchwork Warriors

This edition is now out on at least Amazon UK & USA.

Although the story essentially remains the same, there have been a few alterations to dialogue and description in some focal parts of the narrative. And possibly this time the accidental typos, & transcriptions will have been minimised to just the number you come across in professionally produced publications.

For those who have not read this book it will be available for free to your kindle for five days commencing 5th May and ending 9th May ; reviews of any sort would be appreciated.

Anyone hereabouts of course can have a copy sent as a Word Doc, or pdf (or ‘pud-huff’ as we say in our house) just send me an e-mail to nnqp1863@yahoo.co.uk

It is therefore intended to be the last time I look at this volume apart from occasions when the manuscript is read for purposes of continuity in later volumes, or if someone who has read either edition asks me a question.

Thanks everyone for all your help, support, encouragement and example.

Frib! I’ve enjoyed the whole thing.

Just waiting for a cover for Vol. Two

In the meantime Vol. Three is starting up (I have an ending, or maybe a sort of middle, but as for the rest…your guess is as good as mine- my version of slalom skiing , on a foggy day)

A Novel: ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ A Re-Launch of the Re-Launch

World Building: Fantasy-Lands, Nations & Administration in ‘The Precipice Dominions’

World Building. ‘Powers’ In ‘The Precipice Dominions’ Series

Fiction and World Building

The Precipice Dominions- One Writer’s Journey

 

 

World Building. ‘Powers’ In ‘The Precipice Dominions’ Series

Setting the Scene

In the last post I wrote a brief overview of some of the challenges a writer will encounter in world building. This post is an account of my own experiences.

Once again I stress this is not a How To….. This was a great deal of fun putting together and honing, thus has more in common with someone’s account of a strenuous holiday. It is hoped the enthusiasm will seep across and encourage other writers to experiment in their own style, at their own pace and in their own direction.

Basic Strategy (employing my own weaknesses or inclinations)

My own imagination does not sit still on a facet for very long and so jars with my experience as a UK Civil Servant leaning for a requirement for order. To avoid these two quarrelling and getting in the way of My Muse ( delicate fellow at best) the world of my stories needed to have a degree of flexibility to aid the narrative. To help me here I called in the part of me fascinated with history, science, the history of science and the social approaches to science, religion and so forth, while trying to avoid detail. The lessons taught to us on the great panorama of Creation from cosmological scale down to the quantum, along with our own jagged historical paths were enough for me. For I needed an easy background to work with, one the narrative could dip into. The stories would centre on a group of individuals the web of relationships and personal challenges, around this would be their various ways of dealing with their world, survival and getting whatever job thrown at them done. This was complicated enough. The detail of the world had to be background.

Sleeves Up Times

Firstly I took this World of ours, or maybe a world so similar as to be nearly indentical. In a cosmos of 14+ billion years in age and at least 50 billion light years in size (I think) the situation of two very similar worlds would be perfectly acceptable; just think of the number of possible worlds in Time and Space. Whether it is this world, or another is not to be answered, great upheavals have distorted the deep historical record. The events take place after a great deal of history has passed. You might care to call it a future of our World, if you care. It is all very open. Again this gave me a great deal of flexibility, as I find rule books somewhat constricting. (my civil service career was a troubled one)

Inviting Cosmological Nature In

The event giving rise to the particular circumstances of this world was to introduce another possible aspect of Cosmological Nature. This I named The Ethereal. Whether it simply arrived in the area of this world or resulted from some incautious physics experiments is lost in various upheavals over thousands of years. Its actual nature is also kept somewhat vague. To take advantage of my own impatience and weakness in sticking to this sort of detail I relied on our current perceptions. This strategy was based on the premise of our own knowledge of physics, chemistry, weather, geology and so forth still being in an area of constant investigation. We simply do not know everything and nor do the folk of these stories. There are no tomes of all knowledge (forbidden or otherwise), lots has been written, about lots of bits and that is that. Just like today.

Powers and Utilities.

Folk can utilise The Ethereal in many ways; a force to move or destroy things, a type of communication and means of travel are the most common. Some folk have an inate ability, others uses complex, usually portable devices. Those wise and honest practitioners are the first to admit, these days they are wary of it. Whether it affects folk or folk affect it is also a complex matter subject to debate. In addition its presence has given rise to realms and pathways which occupy nearly the same place in Time and Space, some easier to access than others. It will also act in its capricious ways; like the weather.

Volume One Of Patchworks Warrior opens with a brief account of recorded history of the world and The Ethereal. Officially it is view with hostile suspicion and titled The Stommigheid (one dictionary I encountered inspired links to the Danish word for ‘folly’- I do a lot of that taking another language and its English equivalent then mangling it- lots of historical precedence). The State-within-a-State The LifeGuard name it The Astatheia, which has connotations of a warning (and I’ve forgotten where I stole the root for that from). The convent-like Libratery to indicate their independence are still terming it as The Ethereal. There are various regional terms none of which are complimentary. There are independents known as the Jordisk (another managing of Scandinavian this one for ‘Underground) and are best viewed as hackers; these having no single viewpoint but operate outside everyone’s laws. In addition there are a collection of crusty guilds collectively known as Mechanicals; these are home to cussed, conservative but inventive folk who believe the only safe way to harness this force is by solid, dependable (usually large) machines, they tend to grumble about and dismiss everyone else in particularly the Jordisk who they feel take too many short cuts . To add to the general variety and confusion, the empire in which these tales are based has officially banned the use of this power; except that all the official organs of the state have to use it to get their tasks done. All these views, contradictions and hypocrisies gives the power an unsettling quality, similar to our ambivalent views about nuclear power (as I write this it suddenly occurs to me where I got the notion from- without nuclear power’s history or detail of course!)

So there is a lot of talk and action involving this power, along with some theorising but very little of the latter. In fact the only time there is great detail arises in Of Patchwork Warriors when a conflicted captain in the LifeGuard, Dekyria is writing up a treatise on how he sees this power affecting the three central characters and speculating on whether they in turn affect it. It is therefore left up to the reader to gain an overall picture from the conversations taking place and descriptions of actions taken by individuals. A learning curve if you like.

Conclusion

This is one way to go about World Building. You may decide you have a better idea. You could think ‘This is not for me’. I am quite content with that.

In the next post I will talk about the politics, local, institutional, geo-political, religious, etc, etc, etc

Fiction and World Building

Fiction and World Building

Introduction: The Commonality of Writing

Whenever a writer embarks on a tale they are to a certain extent world building. If the story takes place in our ‘Here and Now’ this usually involves taking a scene familiar in day to day life and creating a small world of characters and fitting them in. Therein are many difficulties and challenges all of their own; authenticity, atmosphere, credibility (even in wacky comedy) and all the factors which go to making a narrative whose background the reader can relate to in some way. Therefore in most forms of fiction story telling there has to be an element of a credible creation. Something the reader can comprehend even if this is that situation is completely bizarre.

Otherworldly

When addressing SF & Fantasy this takes on a global and even cosmological scale.

There are those in SF who are versed in taking science facts or speculations and melding complex scenarios in which adherence to some laws of a physics must be adhered to. Others would have a broader view and leave the detail ‘as read’ while concentrating on the social implications (something I can relate to). There will be writers who will tend to ignore physics, some succeed because they have written a very compelling narrative with vivid characters.  Whatever path is chosen there will be a lot of hard work to make the story readable.

Fantasy and Its Own Requirements

Fantasy might see an easier option with a temptation to have wands waved and spells uttered. Whereas in some scenarios this works quite well, again if the narrative is compelling. However if handled sloppily it fails, the reader will know the writer has not been trying. Fantasy requires a certain measured approach and a respect for what might be possible and impossible in the world in question. If this is not adhered to then characters are leaping around the place at their own convenience and all suspense, tension and interest fade. If you are doing parody or satire, this might work even there it’s a tough call and requires a great deal of effort in honing the humour otherwise it comes across as just plain lazy. (a luxury only some established ‘names’ have got away with, I daresay due to the demands of publishers).

In some cases the writer has manage to meld sf with fantasy in a rich and complex scenario while at the same time inserting laws of physics and chemistry. My favourite example being Brandon Sanderson’s ‘Mistborn’ series.

A writer must bear in mind their own limitations, inclinations, weaknesses and strengths when going about this as these will have an unconscious bearing on the creation, after all you will be doing this in your own image (as it were). Of equal importance is the universal maxim for all writers…Remember Who You Are Writing For. By all means have fun but remember you would like someone to enjoy the result.

Fantasy is my own preferred choice. I have a smattering of understanding of some branches of science and this would cause me, personally a  great worry when writing SF just in case I was making some fundamental error. Fantasy gives me more scope to indulge my own peripatetic imagination, while mixing a smidge of science in.

Where this led me will be the subject of the next post.

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)

 

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