When the Unthinkable Happens

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Well, maybe that was melo……dramatic, but there again when you realise that the project you have been working on since September just is not gelling because the plot is getting subsumed in characters whose numbers are comparable to a public gathering and in consequence is fading ‘neath their unruliness then you might be entitled to give vent to a spectacular demonstration of feelings.

So much for my notion of full steam ahead! Arrgh! Eeek! (and spiffle! I can’t use spiffle anymore! I thought I had invented it as a mild expletive and now I find there as 9,200 hits on Google! I dare not look up ‘Scraith’….not yet anyhow)

Thus what does the poor writer do? (Aside from ditching this laptop! Yeh….your time is gonna come you Skynet acolyte you). Why, start again of course!

Yes, this is addressed to you folk who are just starting out on a writing journey. I must tell you this sort of thing happens all the time. You should always be aware of……..hold on let me just clarify something, I am unable to help you with your devious and villainous computer and its partner in fiendishness Windows, you must seek help elsewhere, I am only qualified to supply vitriolic statements when it comes to these devices……

Ok, so back to the story going flat. Yes it happens. Watch out for the time when the writing of becomes a chore, and when you are typing you suddenly develop the need to look at something on YouTube, Amazon, Facebook, Wikipedia and so forth. Your story should be drawing you in; if it’s not it may not be working.

But have no fear, back you go to re-write, remove some characters, see how that works for you. If you still find there is nothing but figurative dust and you have developed the urge to kill off characters who really are quite undeserving of a possibly implausible fate (‘Oh why isn’t Frederik here?’ ‘I’m afraid Josie, it’s bad news. He was on his daily jog through the park when a previously unnoticed alligator rose from the lake grabbed him by leg and dragged him under’. ‘Oh but he was the only one who knew the secret recipe for the gooseberry fondue’ )…. Then maybe it is time to go back to the beginning and start again.

What you say??? But I have written some 50,000+ words! This is unacceptable! Stay away from me you-you-you…person you!!

Fear not, keep the 50,000 words. There are bound to be useful parts, some gems which can be used as a groundwork for the re-start. In fact (if the demons in your machine are suitably cowed) you might be able to Copy & Paste parts into the re-launch. Throw nothing away, it’s all investment, much can be re-cycled or re-visited and pondered over.

Yep, this is just the process I am going through now. Starting right back at the beginning. Some characters were fun to write, they stay, some were good, but just didn’t fit into the plot, truth be known they were pushing the plot out of kilter. Some were just going nowhere. One had everything going for him, handsome, roguish adventurer, should’ve been ideal for a Fantasy novel, but….sigh. (A lesson for you. Stereotypes can be trouble, they tend to have as much personality as wet paper bag- actually a wet paper bag can generate pathos, or a comic interlude, stereotypes not so much)

Ah here’s to the new adventure!!

 

 

 

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For All. Wherever. However

Light of Writing 1

Christmas day & Christmas-time. A religious festival, a great reason for an extended break, somebody else’s idea to be taken advantage of for fun and harmless indulgence. I’m ideally with the first, but truth be known also have a certain affiliation with the other two. Anyhow, wherever you are, whatever reason, I hope you are having a happy time and the day(s) will live up to your expectations.

But….. If you’ve always had happy times during this season then I am glad for you, and if that has not always been the case; how many have been there? Quite a few I’m guessing. If this relates to you, you have my thoughts and sympathies. This can be one of those times which brings unhappiness, disappointment and tragedy into even sharper relief; the feeling of isolation as everyone else seems to be having such a good time. Been there, know how it goes.

So this is for you, writer, blogger in pain or in despair. One thing which cannot be taken from you is your ability to write, create, imagine. Take to your pen, your keyboard, your talent and escape. Fly out and onwards. Soar as I have witnessed so many of you do. Do not look down, or back. Reach upwards head for the clear skies of your ability. Never stop, never doubt. Creation is the goal, your right.

And in conclusion. To all those I’ve encountered on WordPress, thanks you’re opening up whole new worlds to me.

 

 

Anyone for Whimsicality

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The resolution to write in a serious fashion was a responsible and mature one, which truth be known is not usually my outlook when it comes to writing, but nonetheless one must with all due steadfastness forge on, irrespective of the effort this will involve.

But I still wanna do comic turns!!

And don’t we all? I mean to say, there are times when you just have to embrace the quirkiness that resides within us all and give flight to that aspect of your imagination.

So I have this humble suggestion as to one way to let off the literary steam.

Write a mangled account of a period of history just for the sheer fun of it. This exercise is also useful for giving your imagination and invention a chance to run riot. In fact something of a work out.

Firstly all due credit and acknowledgements must be given to first Sellar & Yateman who wrote 1066 and All That in 1929/30 and then to the incomparable Richard Armour who between 1955 and 1962 (approx.) took up the torch and produced the ‘It All Started With….’series. Sellar & Yateman ‘s style was to poke fun at the pervious century’s imperially and bombastic minded way of looking at things. Armour while acknowledging their inspiration added a screwball humour peppered with the type of errors as a professor he had often encountered from students.

To make the project work the writer should interpret facts incorrectly, reach ludicrous conclusions, sprinkle the text with awful puns and where suitable insert a wry observation on current life by referencing the events. Of course history can be raw and emotional so choosing an era and an incident does require a mixture of tact and probably chosing one not in living memory. These are two examples from the masters…

From 1066 and All That….”One day when George III was insane he heard that Americans had never had afternoon tea. This made him very obstinate and he invited them all to a compulsory tea-party at Boston….”

In ‘It All Started With Columbus’ Armour’s account of the same event is as follows “the colonists, who were now called Americans, which was only fair in view of what the British were being called, tried to avoid stamp tax by writing fewer and fewer letters. They became Bad Correspondents. This made the king mad, so mad that he thought up a diabolical scheme of forcing Americans to drink tea instead of coffee…”

My own endeavour came from a combination of being Catholic (by choice), recent readings of the Reformation/ Counter-Reformation period and while taking time out from such tomes reading some of the above. It is also owes something to some posts I encountered on what was apparently an on-line religious forum but tended to be a cyber-screeching match (I quit that by the way)

So in the spirit of only mangling facts and with no intention of offend anyone’s beliefs I humbly submit:

The Reformation and Counter-Reformation:

One day while walking in a field, a student Martin Luther, was struck by lightning, but survived. He soon became weary of people inferring there were many other reasons why a student would be lying confused in a field and also not wishing to risk a repeat experience he became a monk. At this time the Church had become very indulgent by making a rule which said you could do what you liked as long as you said you were sorry and paid a large amount of money to the Church. Luther thought this unfair upon the poor people and showed his displeasure by writing a version of the Bible in a very common language called The Vernacular while also by nailing nine-five pastries to the door of a church. The Church authorities summoned him to a court. Here, despite being trained as a lawyer he adopted the strange defence of standing and saying nothing. The Church lawyers naturally proved him to be an hysteric and he was sentenced to the terrible punishment of living on a diet of worms. The poor people were so outraged by this cruel treatment that they rose in rebellion. Luther confused the issue by telling them they should not rise but sit down to read his bible and do as their prince told them, while anyone who didn’t could be hung. This caused many princes to become Lutherans without asking Luther himself.

Meanwhile some peasants being very confused asked a man called John Calvin for advice, he said it didn’t matter as God knew what was going to happen, but that everyone should go to his church, just in case. Other peasants decided it would be best to listen to the Church, and to save up their money so they could indulge, which meant they had to count it a lot and this naturally led to the Counter Reformation, headed by the Church which now called itself The Catholic Church to avoid payments going to the wrong source.

Luther, probably suffering from the effects of an excess of worms decided to smuggle nuns in herring barrels. The Church (Catholic) thought there was something fishy going on but shrewdly deduced such scheme could only land him in a pickle. The Church (Catholic) was proven correct when Luther married one of the nuns, and thus was constrained by domesticity which was more effective than anything The Church (Catholic) could think of. Strangely enough these latter events have not formed the basis for a rom-com film, for as most historians agree it would be a barrel of laughs.

The questions raised by Luther have never been settled, but being modern times, these days people prefer to argue over them as Economic Issues and thus avoiding Moral Stances and subsequent cricks in the neck.

So there you go. Have fun with your own notions of how history should be read. Even post it up on your own blog.

 

An Interlude Involving A Writer’s Torment

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So the time has come.

What are you talking about???

That post last week about men writing women characters

Yehhh….Wasn’t bad, I suppose

And you remember the last paragraph?

Ummm….

I thought you’d say that! I will remind you. You were going to post up a part of this novel of ours to demonstrate……

Yes! But it needs work!

This is not the Great Pyramid of Giza. It is about 1,100 words. Send it now.20151207_192255

I’ve not finished, yet. And I have Facebook things to do.

You have posted your polemic, you have read the ones which need reading, and this also will go up on Facebook, and will no doubt make more sense than most of what you post.

But there’s that Amazon forum!

Yes I know and whereas there are worthy people there, you have a knack of exchanging views with those whose genetic base is linked to brick walls. It is a pointless exercise.

But I have that Amazon book review to do

Oh please! The last time you tried that one you were on your hands and knees amongst your graphic library trying to find a book that hadn’t been reviewed to death already…..Now get on with the posting.

But it’s not ready I tell you! The syntax is wrong!

Says the one who utters the basest profanities at Word when Verb Confusion, Reflex Pronoun or Fragment are mentioned.

But people might laugh at me.

I would consider that an improvement over no one reading anything of it at all

But I….But I have other….things to do!

Ah me! I did not want to resort to this, but you leave me no choice…..I release the characters!!!

NO! Stop shoving! Don’t you lot dare move to the front of my head! Leave my hands alone!….Stop it supine hand!…..

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Must fight this…must appeal…..Oh Great God of Procrastination, speed to your servants aid! (What do you mean, acolyte! That he’ll be there in a day or two once he’s sorted out what things need to be sorted out?)…..Oh Dark Lord of Distraction… (eh? He would help but he’s watching cartoons?)……..Dear Merciful Meekness, please (she’s doesn’t want to come out???..Oh for frib’s sake!!)…..Won’t someone help me!..Can’t fight the characters….they have my hand!…Argh! NO! Not The Send Button……Noooooooo!

Pathetic isn’t it??

And then came the extract ……

Intro: This is the meeting of three women whose volatile companionship and motivations will be a central factor in the novel. Trelli and Ferdelene’s characters and motivation have already been established. Beritt has been mentioned but only as one of a group of soldiers. This event takes place in the aftermath of an attack by pirates upon a small port town. Beritt as a ‘medic’ has rushed towards the two others following a detonation, there is a second detonation……        

 

Beritt hurt, so she supposed she must still be alive. Was that pain minor or something nasty just pretending to be small until the shock wore off?  Initially she was afraid to try to move in case she found she couldn’t, this was when training and discipline forced their twin demands upon her; work trooper! Yes, feet and toes were moving. Encouraged she drew up her legs, right knee hurt, but only through that knock against a stone when falling down. Fingers lessened their fierce grip on her hair, but she couldn’t see them! The stab of panic jolted her to the fact this was because her eyes were still squeezed tight shut and if she tried they just might open open. And joy! They did!! So for an interlude she gazed upon her hands if new to her. Everything intact and wiggled. And even better she could sit up and look about.

Although the view was not encouraging; light brown stone dust still drifted mixing with the billows of dark hues from burning buildings, distant knots of running figures against a backdrop of sounds of collapsing and anguish.

“Oh poor little town, The Fifth Hell’s come visiting” realising her voice was a currently a croak, she took a small draught from her canteen and marvelled at how much better a mouthful of water could make you feel.

Beritt was not much schooled in mortars and their waywardness, but she supposed their missiles must have fallen short on the other side of the already damaged wall and so had made the impacts seeem a lot more impressive than they had been. Time to be about duty now. Those two figures; one still, the other quivering in sobs beneath a ragged dress.

As she rose, she encountered the narrow eyed wariness of a fox-faced character no longer still, now also in the business of standing up, right hand gripped upon a cutlass which was being slowly being pointed directly at Beritt, who hoped that was just a gesture of shock and confusion. They licked their sneering lips.

“What’s your business?”

Blaggatinian accents; Beritt felt they always made the speaker appear as if they wanted a fight, whatever you said in reply; particularly the girls, especially dusty and shaken ones. She resolved though to be on her best healer’s empathetic behaviour even if her knee hurt like scraith.

“Medician Beritt of the Life Regiment of the Imperial. Are you hurt? Can I help?”

The stance relaxed, although the wariness irksomely slackened in contempt.

“Oh a pert an’ pretty soldier- healer. I thought you was too tight an’ short on snivelling for Mummy for a local boy. Well, I’m alright, an’ don’t need your help. Ferdelene’s the name. I serve The Lord God Holubane in assisting Custodian Aragas, I do. I’ve been slicing up pirates an’ keeping this possible witch under surveillance,” she nudged the nearby quivering form.

What Beritt had judged to be a badly shaken and possibly injured woman suddenly conducted her own upwards jolt. Although the dust thick face bore trails of the progress of tears and snot, a sudden fierce blaze of angry eyes announced fear was not the only emotion here. One hand clutching a book in a way which Beritt compared with the other one’s cutlass act

“I am not,” Trelli yelled “A witch, or even a whychie! I am a victim of circumstances which no one is going to explain to me, even if I was to sit here and scream and scream myself hoarse…which I am very likely to do!!”

Beritt had often dealt with hystericals so she place a hand gently on Trelli’s shoulder.

“Imperial forces are here,” she began

“Oh I’m rescued!” Trelli cried and flung her arms about Beritt “It’s all so terrible and that blaggatinian is being horrid to me!!”

“You watch her army-girl. Look how she don’t let go of that book of hers!”

Beritt gently untangled Trelli from her neck to aid ease of breath, the medician then firmly held up her index fingers and tried to sound as if she were a sergeant.

“Now let’s all get calm,” she turned to Trelli “Your name please,”

“Trelli,” came the snuffled reply.

“Thank you. Trelli, if folk think you are important, then it’s my duty to get you to the Life Regiment. Don’t look alarmed. We only want to find out what this….errr….thing is that makes you important. I’m sure it’s all Three Hells of Confusion to you because it is to me. Yes we’re lost, but trying to find anyone in a town on fire is next to impossible. There’s a rallying point for my file, in case this sort of thing happened. We’ll head there. It’s outside of the town,”

Ferdelene leant into Beritt’s face.

“I’m responsible to a Custodian. Not to any army lot!”

Beritt’s face froze into a stern expression, on she hoped being vaguely similar to Sergeant Erzns’ when he was ordering troopers to do something no one right in the head would only have nightmares about.

“And in my experience wherever there’s The Regiment and a Custodian in proximity, then they are sure meet up on account of looking for the same damn thing! And your,” she placed very heavy evidence on that last word “Custodian can explain why he and you were observed consorting and working with parties suspected as prejudicial to the stability of the realm,”

Ferdelene rocked back a little.

“You been watching us?”

Beritt could not resist a brief wallow in triumphalism

“All the time holy-girl. Even when you were riding into town and chattering verses like you’d been given preaching time at a temple. Welcome to the grown-ups games,”

That done Beritt made to move off and smiled at Trelli.

Who in response managed one of her own.

“I trust you,” she said, not really sure if she did, but she liked this one better than Ferdelene anyway, so she stood in beside Beritt; perhaps she could find the courage to tell this soldier about the peculiar dreams and the very physical visitation by someone out of the past.

Meanwhile Ferdelene was determined to have a last word, though mostly to herself.

“Fribbin’ army! All buttons and brass bits!”

Not that it had any sense, but even so it was the last….few words

And then she loped off after the other two.  

 

Some thoughts gentlemen concerning your lady characters

2nd Dec 15 Blog

Foreword: Although this is written from the perspective of Fantasy/SF, there may be some aspects which cross over in other genres.

Fifthword: The author does not assume that he is the font (Times New Roman-12) of all knowledge and wisdom in this matter. These notions are based on 55(ish) years of reading both genres; and truth be known from being married to the same dear lady for 42 years and having bright, resourceful and determined daughters (two) and a similar-minded daughter-in-law (one)

Sixthword: It’s a long blog….’cause I’ve itching to say this for a long, long time, having read some pretty bad fiction on this score which still surfaces and makes its presence felt through the media (Sorry about that)

Anyway….

There were in days of yore when the tales were but ‘Sword & Sorcery’ that statuesque women clad in naught but skimpy bikinis (and sometimes a helmet) arm(ed) with a sword seemed to be able to travel the world with no worry of climate or terrain and showeth not the slightest blemish. Some did opt for trousers but, presumably because the woman warrior has a limited clothing budget they opted not to cover their top halves; they were also statuesque nonetheless. This continues to some extent in graphic novels of the heroic sort, only in this case the super-powered woman in a swim suit has the extra gift to be hurled through walls and show no bruises at all.

These days male writers are advised to put aside their dream girls, keep their sub-conscious thoughts right there, try not fit a female mind and body into a male personae and think of their female characters as might expect them to be. You should have realised by now that women come in all shapes and size and not just in the physical sense.

Of course you can have a tough and hard-faced woman character, but think about the real life equivalent, do they have to actually act like men? Sure it’s comparatively easy to write about the male type you’ve met them, you might like to be one. But the tough woman? You can’t assume that they have to have a vocabulary that would make a barracks blush or spit, be carelessly flatulent, ogle men (or women), drink guys under the table or arm wrestle drovers .The toughness might well be inside, from a bad life, it might be their nature. They may look and act like some fellow’s version of a receptionist or demure milk-maid and they might not know how to handle a weapon, BUT, they keep their heads and take the hard choices when things get rough.EG:

“Thealene grasped the sword in both hands, raised it above her head and with all her determination and strength brought the blade keening down to bite straight through the main rope. The slender bridge bereft of its principal anchor swayed under the panic of six men suddenly deprived of balance casting them all down the ravine into the torrent below.

‘Maken!” screamed Jose and then to Thealene “What in five hells! You killed Maken!!”

Thealene stood contemplating the drop and the furious waters below, she turned and handed the sword back to Jose, she was still breathing hard from the effort but her face held composure.

“The arrow in Maken’s leg, Jose. He never would have out-paced those trackers. They’d have slaughtered him and still had time to over-take the two of us” she shrugged “ One cadet and ladies-maid? What could we do against them? This way we’re still alive and carrying the message and five threats are done,” she caste one hand to the ravine.

“Hells! Have you got a heart girl?”

“I suppose so, something is beating in my chest and hurting for Maken. One day this will catch me up and I’ll have to dance with nightmares. In the meantime I’m glad we are alive and still running. We must move now,”

Ok that’s not going to win anything other than earn twenty re-writes, but you see the point. Who was the tough one? Who made the call and accepts there will be a price to pay, but still gets the job done?

Now what is beauty? ‘The tall and beautiful lady of nobility’. ‘The pretty and pert serving girl’ ‘the shy retiring maid,’ (with her head perpetually lowered?- perhaps she’s worried about her shoes). All very nice I’m sure but… What about the kindly nature, the quick wits, the sense of humour, the irrepressible independence; the fund of knowledge, the intense, the strong unfailing faith, the sense of justice? These are just as beautiful. You can depict a less than celebrity looking woman and gifting her with any of those will make her just as attractive.

The warrior? Ah the fighting girl, cousin to the tough woman. She does not have to be Wonder Woman-esque. Nor in the Red Sonja mould and let’s not get started on Power Girl/Woman. Her height is not that important, her skills are. As for her mode of dress make sure the poor girl has the right sort of clothes, which are likely to be very worn, probably dirty and tailored by experience to suit a battlefield and not for a pack of adolescent males (of any age). Because she is the warrior does not mean she has to be the Alpha of the pack. One who ascends to an imperfect leadership over the course of a narrative is more interesting. To have her turn up one day with strident voice, unflappable self-belief, excellent riding skills, and a perfect plan for every situation, at best it comes across as pandering and patronising in the misguided view that she will a fine role model to women readers who will instantly love your work (and more fool you!..readers get annoyed by perfect characters). At worse the reader will be hoping this paragon falls off of that night black steed of hers and remains concussed for the remainder of the tale to let more believable folk get a word in sideways.

Romance & ‘Naughty things’- Well, yes folk are folk, and they might well forge an attraction with another and they might if they get the chance, sneak away into a bed, hayloft, deserted part of the castle or tent which for some unaccountable reason everyone else leaves alone. Yes that’s part of life and in its right context; fine. But, be very careful. Don’t have your women hanging about waiting for the ‘right man’ who (inadvertently, I hope) tames their restlessness while he carries on being the complete loveable klutz from start to finish. Don’t assume a tough fighting girl has insatiable..eh… appetites; she might have, but give her a good reason- perhaps she reckons she’d going to die someday, so what the heck- but make it background. Try to avoid a couple having a fit of speed dating and disposing of garments in but a few pages, where’s the tension in that? And anyway what are they going to do for the rest of the book, go sneaking off at every opportunity? (You read them, right?). It might be amusing at first but I would suggest a fair proportion of the readership might be asking ‘Oh c’mon kids you’ve got to rest sometime!’ or more sourly ‘Uh! Lucky old you two!’ and secretly wish some event separates this over-heated pair for at least one chapter.   (And while we are about it, try to avoid the dry humourless and literally minded stalwart woman who finally realises what she has been missing all the years….any reader can see that one rolling along from the first line this mobile staute speaks)

The Femme Fatale: Well once you let one of these into your plot they are just going to write everything themselves. Everyone loves them and cheers them on. You can have them stamp on puppies and they get away with it. BUT supply them with very quick wits, a sense of humour and a good reason for doing what they do. This is vital, it may be a conviction to maintain the stability of the realm at all costs. It could be that nasty childhood, but craft that carefully; too much pain and logically they would be so damaged as not to function. They may be ambitious, that always works well. Doing it all for the love of a man tends to relegate them as subordinate to him and not as interesting. Doing it to protect a family, now that’s a complex mix.

Age: Well not everyone has to be late teens to mid- twenty somethings. But age relates to the context of your tale, so deploy it logically. Not all old women are wise. Not all young ones are spirited.

I’ve only covered the general characters as some of the more ‘exotic’ ones such as the ‘Ethereal’ tend by their nature to be subordinate to the environment of the world you’ve created and are worth a blog in themselves.

In short women are people.

All I’ve got to do now is take my (A) Confused and swept up by events serving maid (B) Violent and religiously mystic wanderer (C) Trained military medician (healer) and get them into the scene where they become one group annnnddd make it convincing.

(Will you guys at the back stop shoving! Yes, I know girls…..sorry….I didn’t mean to call you girls in that generic term….no, I didn’t think you were a man, Girl (B)!- Oooooh she’s been trouble form the start!!!)

Some Thoughts on Turning Your Supposed Weakness in Assists

24th Nov 1

 

From reading the many interesting posts and comments I was relieved to find that many folk have misgivings about their styles, motivations approaches etc It would seem, therefore, we all have our judged that these are weakness, and woe- thrice-woe that we shall never, ever be good writers, we shall be less than the dust beneath the chariot wheels of far more talented folk.

Well that’s one point of view.

However, consider this: (Just using the Fantasy writer’s world as analogy). Iron is strong and makes blades and axes, and if you are set on making a point, ugly crown and thrones, but is no good as a currency because it is common and also tough to knock into a titchy delicate detailed shapes. Gold is rare and soft and is cool for making coins to bribe folk and hire mercenaries with. It is also handy for neat crowns and to craft into fine gifts for fine ladies, but if you have a sword made out of it, and in consequence strike your foe’s helm then you’ll end up with a helm shaped sword; you are also on the business end of an iron sword and out of the story-end of chapter-scoot.

From the above illustration it can be noted that two elements have different advantages if put to proper use. So let us consider these ‘weaknesses’ and see if it’s not just a case of putting resources in the wrong places.

As explained previously I have a problem with villains; I don’t like them, personally don’t like them, pathologically (in a mild way) don’t like them. In my previous books they were clowns, buffoons and incompetents set up for a fall. One guy (evil magician) always got his spells wrong; he was assailed by two major characters who in a shared frantic fit for possession of a secret device tore off his trousers; later on it is recorded he was arrested by the local lord for the local crime of Not Wearing Trousers Sufficient Unto Your Status. That might sound (faintly) amusing in small doses but on reflection the recurring theme of demeaning villains in three 100,000 word novels would wear a bit thin. (I seem to recall there were three instances of trousers being lost in embarrassing circumstances). Thus the problem is- if villains (and their henchstaff) are an issue then how can this be turned to an advantage?

Consider history and warfare for example. Take the 18th Century wars of Succession, arcane arguments by the big powers over who they wanted to be ruler of another country. On the face of it there were no actual villains; no Hitlers or Nazis. Yet there were dreadful acts carried out. One of our British heroes Duke of Marlborough, victor of such battles as Blenheim and Ramillies also conducted ‘The Rape of Bavaria’ a deliberate ravaging of that land to force the Franco-Bavarian alliance to battle- today it would be a war crime, which illustrates the theme that in war dreadful acts are carried out as simple policy. I therefore used this basis for my current project, no one grouping is actually evil and villainous, they are simply driven by the urge to see their plans fulfilled. I channel my incapacity to portray deliberate evil into highlighting a more pressing question, what are we prepared to do to achieve our ends? (Incidentally, there are some nasty folk in the project but these are more the opportunists and survivors at the bottom end of the ladder, the ones you can have a bit of grudging understanding for).

The other issue I have is being possessed of a tendency to a bizarre or downright juvenile imagining of historical events (when alone my audio book time is punctuated by mutterings of ‘urk’ when a king or noble dies; anything to do with Edward The Confessor is plagued by me whispering ‘I confess’ or ‘It wuz my fault’…and not helped by frequent reading of the classic British work ‘1066 and All That’)…..(This tendency dries up the closer events reach the present; distance the anaesthetic )

This quirk was let to run riot in previous work, and might have seemed tremendous fun at the time, but again in another bout of reflection might be wearing to readers who are thirsting for a plot to surface amongst all those disorderly goings on. But what to do with that streak?

From sundered personal experiences and reading of many witnesses’ accounts of war humour is a part of human reaction and behaviour; the release of tension, the way to process the horror of the situation. Under stress we make jokes which might appear inopportune, but only as our way of handling something threatening to overwhelm us.  I use this in the current project; most of the narrative is conducted from the point of view of the folk caught up in events; the principal movers and manipulators are shadowy figures with minimal input in terms of dialogue. The main characters therefore have a feeling of lack of control, and so that theme of humour as dealing with events comes in. Add to that The Clash of Personalities. What happens when personalities clash?…..Insults!!….And what do we encounter sometimes with insults….humour. Therefore I will weave humour into the story in all forms, of course keeping it under control will be important- nothing worth doing is ever easy; where’s the fun in that?

The suggestion is for you to exam the aspects which you feel are weaknesses and consider them in a broader scope. Think of them as facets of the way you write and develop your stories, consider ways in which they can be put to other uses. Just a couple of notions:

I create too many charactersSuggested way to look at that– Our experiences in life involve interactions with many people, are you picking up on that? If so maybe if you write them all down you can return and see which ones you prefer to use and have others as ‘extras’ on the ‘lot’

Truth Be Known I Can’t Do Plots Suggested way to look at that- Maybe your strength lies in dialogue and the observational. Perhaps you have strong empathetic side to your nature. I understand there are novels which are narratives alone that equally demonstrate Life. There are books of short stories dealing with encounters, incidents and their conclusions. Go with your writing inclinations and see where they lead you.

You are a writer; you are possessed of this gift and its drive. Of all the wonderful facets which accompany those twin jewels. I humbly suggest, sit yourself down with pen and paper and your brew of choice (no my love, I did not put more than three spoonfuls of sugar in my tea….ok I confess they were heaped spoonfuls) list your perceived weaknesses, then ponder on the nature of those, are they weaknesses, or are you simply trying to covert iron into currency and gold into swords?

What The Heck! Just Write it

Full steam 3

 

Fore wyrd(sic):  This post is an insight into the kind of writer who tends to the chaotic approach. The writer feels it only fair to state that he does not wish to encourage others to follow his example. After reading this you may wish to go in quite a different direction. As a result you may well be published. This post is therefore within the remit of the overall theme of the blog.

Salutary warning to self, don’t spend fifteen minutes trying to think of a snappy or profound title for a blog post; it leads to Googling and Wikipediaing about things which are currently not the point which is on the theme of forging ahead.

Ideas on situations, characters, circumstances, plots (Second warning to self… don’t forget that) and motivations come tumbling out at present. The current Fantasy Genre sort of encourages you to do that. In the hands of the talented it can be breath-taking. David Gemmel was the master of taking minor often seemingly hopeless characters and as the narrative progressed building them up to heroic proportions. To cite just two currently writers; Brandon Sanderson & Joe Ambercrombie create numbers of characters which if the books were films would have the credits rolling for an extra two minutes and they still manage to give even the least of them some colour.

Some of us are, however, in danger of creating an old fashioned telephone directory or Who’s Who in the world of Svzvundelphx (…Google says the search did not match any documents….) and end up with a glossary at the end of a book, which has been suggested to me by others indicates that you have literally lost the plot.

However when faced with an incident of taking fifteen minutes to think up a title for a post, then the best strategy, for me is to drive on ahead, put the whole lot down and afterwards go back. See what worked or didn’t, editor out, round off, in the meantime.

Time to review.

There is the custodian (think Inquisitor) who is grim and purposeful and a religious dogmatist. He wants everything to be proper, and no sinfulness, he lectures everyone he meets but kills only those who try to kill him. I tell you, he just he writes himself.

There is the rogue who is good with using the Ethereal, but as the narrative moves on is still pretty harmless, he’s going to have to shape up or die nobly and be replaced by a minor figure,  less heroic but more gifted exponent of The Ethereal who is currently being rescued, agonising a lot and warning of Doom

There are the firm but fair military intelligence service folk of the Empire who are fitting into their role of dependable warriors trying to keep stability. The problem there is they are in danger of being composed entirely of thoughtfully wise strategists, noble, daring and damaged veterans or ever-joking unflappable troopers. They’re going to have to be shaken up or I’ll be writing like a diluted Tom Clancy.

Then there is the group who think they can really make the best use of The Ethereal, and some foot soldiers who have misgivings. That’s fine’ sept that we’ve not really met the leaders of ‘the group’, just the foot soldiers who are all good sorts and that can’t be good for the narrative, after all we can’t have two lots of nice military guys going about the place. Where’s the tension?

Now we’ve recently met the Other Folk who don’t use The Ethereal, don’t subscribe to any known religion but a pretty useful at manufacturing the sort of missile weaponry you’d meet in the 18th Century. Their motivation is going to have to sharpen up. So we could have the ones who use The Ethereal vying with The Other Ones for influence at the Imperial Court by showing who has the best weapons. (Note: Have to work in some nobles into the narrative….not too many)

Working for the Other Folk are a bunch of unpleasant pirates who are rascals, but know who to get things done, particularly their commander on the ground. They present possibilities; so far they’ve been crossbow fodder in the last chapter. (No, there are no evil fanatics. I can’t stand evil fanatics. They are from cliché central and either grin a lot, kill peasants who can’t fight back, trap heroes with suspiciously consummate ease, or worse talk at great length, they have all the appeal of the guest at the social gathering who hogs the karaoke machine and does dreadful Elvis, Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart or Sinatra)

The last grouping are the real problem, it’s working out into a trio of young women thrown together by circumstances. One the innocent who gets caught up in it all, the second an unhinged type who’s not turning out as comic as she should’ve been and the third, a type of medic from the military security service. Male writers should be careful with their principal women characters; taller than average alpha types who seem to only be able to fight in skimpy swimwear are just plain silly- even if they are graphic comic icons; ones to have an answer for everything at any given time can be very annoying after a while (be honest); those who hang around waiting for the central male character to turn up so they can argue with and then fall in lurve with him are predictable and you are left feeling they would have wasted away from melancholy if he had not turned up; those whose cuteness, chirpy cheerfulness mixed with a rebellious streak grate such much that apparently they give the reader the urge to wish them dead by a rock fall- or so I was told by my one reader. So my three need a lot of work.

Thus spending too much time trying to nuance that this stage is going to slow everything down. Time to charge ahead and see how it goes. No dobut there will be a lot of pruning. Now what about that plot??? (The innocent girl accidentally come into contact with forbidden and danger knowledge and at the present most everyone else is after her, but at some stage they are all going to have to concentrate on what the one group are going to do with The Ethereal????)

Yes, this is certainly going to look very different when it comes to the editing, revision and suchwhich.

And thus …..Shouldn’t I be agonising and staying awake at night over the flow of the narrative, the development of the characters, the rationality of the plot?

Perhaps I should, but there again I wouldn’t be having fun.

For and To All You Writers

Light of Writing 1

Sometimes the words just come out raw and will not be tamed (For The Innocent-Wherever they are)

Today is an Aftermath, our neighbours across ‘The Channel’ are hurting; the usual shared right to light-hearted rudeness about each other’s cultures evaporates in the images of the slaughter of ordinary people going about their lives. And the memories come back of the other mass killings around this world of ours, at schools, on holidays, in markets, places of worship and a bloody myriad of unexpected locations. The bodies, the screams, the blood, the agony of the injured and the relatives and friends. Once again the sights of the combination of the organised and the frantic to save and comfort. Humanity at its best and worst.

So there I was, at 8pm (in the UK) quite pleased I’d notched up 2,900 words and a post. Tomorrow was going to be another productive day, and then the news came in, at first ominous and scant ripples, building over the hours into a torrent of horrid facts.

Sometimes distance is an anaesthetic; try as you might you still can’t stop the generalisations. ‘Oh dear, another bombing in Pakistan, such a shame (but it’s always been like that y’know, ever since Partition)’. ‘Oh no Syria, Iraq, such a mess (but what can I do?’) ‘Oh my God another school shooting in America (I don’t understand)…..And you carry on about your business. But this one was close, and pulls you up and brings all the pain and suffering from all those other incidents you hoped you had consigned away back home. So I just leave the arguments aside and mourn those who have and are still suffering, where and whenever.

And what is the worth of continuing to write my novel on this, another day of pain and suffering in The World. Am I justified in taking to my keyboard and letting lose my imagination? Should I not be taking up a cause? Should I be doing nothing but only mourning and reflecting. What can I do?

I can write.

It is what I do. Maybe not very well. Probably will never even get onto a bookshelf. My pride and ambitions are not the issue here. The time for making light of the matter is on hold. It is time to write; writing and placing the words out there, if it is only unto our electronic ethereal of the Internet.

If we do this with a good heart, be it to inform, entertain, inspire, or share in the community of writers. If we do not give way to the lure of Hate, Ignorance or Fear. If we let Compassion, Tolerance and Respect be our watchwords. If we write just for the sheer love of writing, bringing forth the words because we yearn for them to be free, because we feel a joy in writing, then in a small way do we honour those dead and maimed, for we are keeping alight the flame of creative art which all ordinary folk delight in. We express the Human’s spirt of creativity. WE work for the joy of it. WE stand, we do not cower, lurk, or snarl out of dungeon dark places of ignorance. We speak in the languages of Light and Conception.

Do not feel you must compare yourself to those who go out into the world to strive to make it better in physical ways in dangerous places. They have their calling and you have yours. Some will return and fired by passion and eloquence will take to writing themselves. But there will be others, fatigued and looking for rest and relaxation who will seek out the evidence of the world they started out from and will need your input, as will their loved ones who worry about them.

So carry on then with your wonderful posts, display your uplifting energies. Play your part in keeping the world alive, colourful and warm.  Write because you can. Write because you must. Write because, just because.

Light of Writing 2

(Ending with a special mention to the many inspirational posts on Facebook intent upon deflecting anger and hate away from those whose cultures are tarred and sullied by acts of ignorance and fear.)

To all of you best wishes and good luck in your undertakings.

Roger

Away with the distractions!!!

stop footling 1

Note: Although this might seem a slightly disturbing conversation the writer has been categorised as as sane as any writer would care to be and is allowed to drive, use kitchen implements without supervision and cut branches off of trees, in mild weather.

Distractions…..me??????

Yes, you, or should I say Captain Prevaricating Wanderer. From now on it’s going to be tighter, see. You’re going to have listen up, see. You gonna do it my way, see.

Why have you slipped into Edward G Robinson mode?….Oww those mental thwacks to the frontal lobe can really sting y’know!

Would you rather me do a Drill Sergeant out of Full Metal Jacket?

Heavens t’Betsy no! There are ladies on this site, and I may have my failings but I will uphold to good old fashioned British standards of decency don’t-cha know. I will therefore listen. See how I metaphorical sat upon the floor legs crossed and folded arms resting lightly on my knees

Thank you.

Now the last two days have showed promise. 11th November we clocked up 2,088 words and yesterday 12th November  we reached 2,845. Now we know we’ll have to go back for proof-reading, editing, continuity and deleting the inevitable ‘What The Earth Was I Thinking About When I Wrote That Bit?’ parts. But never mind the story has to be completed, so we know what has to go, etc, etc. I’m sure many sculptors don’t worry about the finer details they commence a work of art, only as they near completion

We don’t know any sculptors

Don’t interrupt I am being allegorical

You don’t look a bit like her….Owwww!       

As I was saying, bear in mind that we are full retired from paid employment and we have a full day to use, let us have you with no more frittering. You must take adhere to the following:

Firstly: When listing to the music on the Playlist There shall be no drifting off into daydreams as to how you might have performed it in days of yore. Nor shall you sneak any more looks at Live performances on YouTube, or Wikipedia for artist biographies. This is writing time being using up

Secondly: There will be no more casual visits to Amazon (.co or .com) to see if there are any bargains on graphic novels, nor will there be re-arranging on the ten Wish list we have. You will not gaze longingly at any of the said novels and suggest that buying just one more will stimulate the creative process; there are more than enough on the five shelves. Transfer gazing time to reading time, but do not let gazing impinge on writing time.

Thirdly: There will have to a moratorium on the hobbies. You always start them, then lose interest after a while and since you have five half-finished projects, you shall take on no more and you will be methodical about those started and not wander into them. You will attend to and finish said projects in a proper way (1 hour a day will be allotted).But the writing takes precedence.

Fourthly: Whereas writing polemics in the name of just causes on sundered forums maybe very cathartic and comfortable  with an identity as a mid-60s retired male this should now be restricted to one passionate diatribe per day and take up no longer than 30mins. You will not scroll the forum to seek on glowing comments of approval for that is vanity. It will make you slip back into your mis-understood as a writer mode (Oooh I never do these days….Ha! Sure you don’t!).

Fifthly: Your time as an Amazon reviewer hath passed, it was fun while it lasted but demographics have spoken, Amazon is no more all about books and books alone and stop buying them so you can post up a review (and please stop getting ‘stuff’ off Amazon Vine just ‘cas it’s there) Accept that you will settled around about the 1,000th and while we’re about it stop tormenting those poor sad trolls who have naught to do with their lives but post artificial ‘negs’, you are above all of that. You have had your day. Just post the occasional review on a book you feel motivated about.

You’ve stopped….Is there a Sixthly.?

I’m working on it.

Oh frib!

Now that’s better. You using created words out of the story, keep think……

Ah-ha: Sixthly….No daydreaming about things when you could be using the time to think on the narrative.

Have you finished now? Can I ask a question?

Of course, as long as it is not flippant.

What about time spent on WordPress?

(aside: Oh for the Love of Brandon Sanderson!)….Look! Have you noticed that the posts on the said site are about…wri-t-ing?

Err….yer…Thwack!…..OOOOOw!

Then learn!!

Can I go back to writing now….I feel a frib lot safer doing that…..

Now you’re getting it!!          

Reload and re-cycle

Recycle 1

Edison is reported to have said something along the lines of “I’ve not failed I’ve just found 10,000 ways which don’t work”. Well that’s good enough for me!

So starting out afresh on this new Fantasy project.

Firstly….I am very much in awe of writers of the real world, they paint the most elaborate and vivid pictures with Reality and often with only a relatively sparse number of characters. Just how do they do that? Melding a story within the constraints of Normality? I’ve read and enjoyed such work; the production escapes my undisciplined outlook. So back to Fantasy where I belong. And before progressing, it must be stressed this judgement relates to me and me alone, no comments on other Fantasy writers who for all I know may well be producing works in all sorts of genres under all sorts of names.

At the risk of stating the obvious Fantasy often requires creating a world with its own laws and natures. Once that is sorted there’s the next step of possibly putting in place a social and political structure to explain why all is happening. Then if the work is going to be a novel length and possibly extend into more one volume there might be a number of central and minor characters to bring the world to life……Can be quite a task.

I’m not bothered about that because of my re-cycling a large amount of unsuccessful work. Now at first glance this might seem to be a bit of a folly, on the understandable argument that ‘If it didn’t work last time what sort of ‘furshlugginer’ idea is it to use again?’ Well, imagine breaking up a derelict house, scrunching it down to bricks, stone and chunks of cement, now the result would seem to be quite a useful lot of foundation material….yeh? Shovel it all into a great big hole (or ‘ole if you hold to some styles of UK pronunciation), and away you go re-building.

The original works were set in our future in the aftermath of some undefined catastrophe. The location was in a broadly 16th Century European setting, the possible cause of the calamity was through the unwise use of a force of Nature known as The Ethereal. This still permeated the world and although officially repressed was in common furtive use either by those who held a natural affinity or by ‘mechanical’ means. The basic plot involved three folk who unintentionally became involved with a struggle against a number of other contenders set upon political domination, visceral destruction of oppositions, or control of The Ethereal either as a weapon or means of progress. This was set against the backdrop of various responsible parties trying to keep a comically ramshackled empire in one piece on the basis that it was the least worse option at the time. The whole narrative was told in a broadly comic, knock-about, slightly bawdy, screwball fashion with a couple of romances, a few serious interludes and a lot of commentaries on history and the current political situation thrown in. It was fun to create, edit, proof-read and get out there through Lulu. But working in a bubble and with no foresight as to how this was going to impact with the public does not make a sound programme for success; ‘Full steam ahead and damn the torpedoes’ does not always work.

With the emphasis is on serious, more show not tell and just some comic undertones the new endeavour the narrative takes place in a further future. The basis being that for as yet unclarified reasons, attempts at keeping everything under control had failed and there had been a near disaster. The empire was still intact but study or use of The Ethereal was now much tighter. The central characters have been consigned to legends (and the name is being changed- various factions have their own pet names).. The current plot is that some are trying to make genuine progress with The Ethereal for the good of the world; others meanwhile suspect they are going about it the wrong way and are anxious to find out the Hows, Whys, Wheres and Whens of this effort and there are others who just wish to put a very definite and violent stop to the whole thing. As in typical in the normal world there are no sharply defined lines of who is right or wrong; there are those on all sides out for their own personal aggrandisement while some at the sharp end will begin to have doubts about the leadership at the top and odd alliances will be formed. Most of the characters are the front-line workers or foot soldiers of the different factions, except of course the traditional innocent swept up in events. The larger power politics will have to be brought in at some stage.

The economy of this approach is to transform the events and results which I experienced in the writing of the previous works into the narrative and converting a lack of success into a ‘disaster’ in the world. The errors in my approach become themes in the back story. The books themselves will feature as obscure tomes considered either legendary themselves or sets of near incomprehensible ramblings by various folk. My familiarity with the world allows me to concentrate on working on a better style of narrative. Thus I take rubble and shovel it into a foundation (and figuratively make sure it is bedded down firmly)

Currently I am working through a first draft to see how this pans out, having settled down to the business in all seriousness two weeks ago; total words so far 30,000+. It seems attractive to set a target of 100,000 approx. with plans for future volumes. At some stage of course it will be necessary stop to back-track for continuity, tightening and (sigh I hate this bit) editing out some parts, but so far, pleased to report…..it’s fun!!…Onwards

(Current playlist for music to write by extends 150 tracks at 9.7 hours- recently incorporated the stunning evocative and invigorating album ‘Sexwitch’ (UK- Bat for Lashes in combination with Toys)- I wonder if I can sit down and write for the whole length of the Playlist- wow that would be something!!)

Here to make other writers feel good about their work