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

 

Pencils and notebooks out time folks.Victorian writing

Here is another delve into my writing career (the word for me in uncomfortably close to ‘careen’). For you to take note of, or…if you so wish to say ‘Nah…I wouldn’t do it that way!

For those of you who have been familiar with my blog know full well how much of a problem I have with THE PLOT. This item coming down the list of priorities in my writing. Characters- no problem, narrative not so bad, humour- loads of it.

Plot?

Hmmm.

Anyway, as alluded to in my previous post having completed the first draft of Our Skirmishers of Silk, Steel and Fire I began to address THE PLOT. And in doing so a suspicion was finally confirmed.

Not only had my characters started to influence my writing, as in the previous volume ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ Book Cover 9

(See Amazon Kindle “Of Patchwork Warriors” by R J Llewellyn)

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I wish he wouldn’t do that

where they had snatched a sub-text and turned it into an entire facet of the plot; in this case they had taken hold of the whole durn book.

It’s not that I mind them having their moments of glory, adventure, romance, humour, clever schemes and narrow escapes, after all it is those aspects which give a book its flavour and zest. The issue in contention here being they felt inclined to fill every corner up with how they saw things and coped with them, BUT not allowing me to explain WHY these things were happening. Or if I did get a sentence in, matters came across as hurried and ‘Oh By The Way’ the empire is falling over and the emperor has gone vicious for no apparently good reason and I appear to have lost three minor characters who were to have conveyed certain major plot elements. Either that or there was only enough space for some other lesser characters to gather and engage in cryptic or enigmatic conversations.

(At this stage I should point out to new readers; it is my opinion I do not create these characters, they exist in another part of Creation and by some wonderous osmosis we have tuned into each other. You will appreciate I have a mixed blessing here.)

At first there was a problem of shoe-horning in ‘facts’ of the current geo-mystical-political situation in the world of this story. Some characters were unhappy at having bits of their own favourite business cut out and tried to be awkward in obstructing the flow of the narrative. Then there was the issue of avoiding the dire ‘Let me explain’ in which one previously minor character stands up and proceeds to suck the oxygen out of the flow by explaining some history or process with all the verve of a bad lecturer in economics; some successful authors get away with this; I’m not successful.

So stern and tough-love measures had to be taken, being the one who knew the world in which these stories were taken place I contrived to throw in events which I knew would fit in but were surprises to the characters. This did cause some flummoxing amongst the cast, so much so they quite overlooked me cutting out chunks of their personal activities and speeches. As is the case in normal life, they had to deal with the random and unexpected.

Since the narrative was now back in my hands I started to inject the themes encountered in history, not events, themes. Reading of political and military histories suggests there is a constant unpredictable factor be it natural such as weather, unknown folk rising suddenly, or established subordinates thinking ‘I Know Better’ and going off on a tangent; in addition you must also consider bodies of folk who have not read or forgotten the script. There is a military adage that no plan survives first contact with the enemy; thus the notion of some all-power (usually grinning) who until the last chapter is two steps ahead of the hero(es) goes straight out of the window.

In this novel there are Patchwork (ooohh, where have I heard that word before?) alliances which are fragile and not based on trust and no one is really in control of the situation, because no group really wants to work for another group. This gives an air of uncertainty and makes for interesting situations, hopefully the reader will as all writers hope ‘want more’.

This comes with its own set of problems.

For a start off it’s necessary to make sure every character is an individual but none of the lesser ones steal the plot in some unexpected way.

Secondly there should not be too much plot and sub-plots lest the reader eventually thinks….Uhh? and finally……Hah! Who cares!…..

Thirdly, structure. Even in chaos, there is structure. In writing this part of the series I ask myself a hard question. Would the background stand up to an historian’s scrutiny as a possible series of plausible events?

Jerk
Err?

Still, nothing worthwhile in writing comes easy. At least it shouldn’t.

So far, so sort of good. There has been a lot of alteration and some deletion of banter and ‘business’. However, the atmosphere of crisis and varied approaches to it is starting to seep in; it is meant to seep in, all being well this series is a long haul (heck I’m only 67, plenty of time). And the central characters?

They are struggling to keep balance and focus (Well apart from Karlyn, but if you knew her you would  not be surprised. This said she is not going to be allowed to scamper and giggle through the whole lot; even if she is difficult to rein in).

In conclusion.200px-Advokat,_Engelsk_advokatdräkt,_Nordisk_familjebok

Never be afraid to let go on a tight narrative. Life is not ordered, predictable or convenient, so why should you story?

Re-rewrites, Highlights and Reality-Bites (A journey through writing of The Skirmishes of Lace, Steel and Fire-Part II of a Fantasy )

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Re-rewrites, Highlights and Reality-Bites (A journey through writing of The Skirmishes of Lace, Steel and Fire-Part II of a Fantasy )

WARNING: Some images you may find disturbing 245px-1271754717_william-e.-gladstone

(No, not that one!)

Some writers understandably hate doing the rewrite. I can see their point. They’ve put all their effort into forging this narrative together, worked hard and heavy through all manner of issues and had to squeeze out the time to write amongst all the other demands made by Life. Victorian writingThen, what to they get as a reward? Typos, syntax problems, holes in the plot, main characters not coming alive and that’s before we even start to think of listing all the problems.Me

Me? I enjoy a rewrite. Taking the journey with the characters, knowing where they are going, how they are getting there and all the fun which goes with it.WIN_20180727_19_28_15_Pro

Hold on! What did I say?WIN_20180727_19_28_44_Pro

Look again sunshine!

Oh Frib! I’ve done it again. Gone and literally lost the plot.WIN_20180727_19_28_27_Pro

Y’ see this can be a bit of a problem when you are having so much ‘fun’ with describing all the adventures, banter, relationship interactions, personal hopes, fear and so forth, which you decided would be vital to brining the characters alive (Or in my case, help them travel from their world to ours).Handel_GF
The book now reads like a series of unconnected sketches and vignettes, as if it were some sort of comedy skit show with moral message.Illustration from 'Le Theatre' magazine, 1900s (litho)

Dearie me. All these lovely folk wandering from one circumstance to another and surmounting all manner of problems. And there’s no plot to indicate as to why they are doing all these things! Melodrama -idiot manOK a few minor characters turn up and make ominous statements of heavy portent then vanish again and someone leaps up with a seriously dangerous weapon, be it physical or ‘magical’ (crude word, it’ll have to do) only to be cleverly defeated, but sadly this does not make for a plot.

I had a sneak of bad feeling, WIN_20180727_19_28_23_Prowhen at towards the end of this volume the central characters were left stalwartly together basically affirming their friendship, loyalty and love to each other then effectively saying to the whole world ‘Bring It On’ to go riding off into, literally, sunrises.

Yeh that’ll work……If it was a Musical.
300px-Witchcraft_at_Salem_Village

So it is time for some serious crafting. Time for a serious discussion with myself….WIN_20180727_19_28_18_Pro

Here is the work. There, over there are bits of the plot. Now, go through the whole thing and weave those bits into one long thread which should run through the book.

But I might lose some of my favourite little vignettes.

Well that’s too bad.

This is not as much fun as it used to be.

It’s because you are taking things seriously.

Oh My! This means hard work!

Do you want folk to read the fribbin’ book or not?Lavery_Maiss_Auras

If you put it like that….Confrontation

And there we are everyone. Remember never lose sight of your plot. InventionsIt may change a bit, could even do a complete lurch in a way you did not expect.

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Whatever, but at least keep it on the horizonrunning training

 

All the best with whatever you are currently working on.

 

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

‘Of Patchwork Warriors’: The Chapter Seventeen Incident- An Appeal for Discernment

Good day to you all at The Word Press City!! It’s really nice of you to take the time out of off your own projects and efforts and listen to what I have to say.

Firstly I’d best introduce myself, I’m Merklin Silc, brother of Grenaww, known to you folk as MR Silc. He takes care of the family business, that’s the trading and a few family emporiums whereas it was decided I could best serve our hometown of Elinid by endeavouring to gain a seat the City Council, which currently it is my honour to do so. Between us, I feel we are contributing to the city which gave birth to us.

You don’t meet me very much in the books. It’s not my role to be there. How could I hope to emulate those heroics and efforts of the other characters?  No, here I am happy to be in the background to serve by ensuring things go smoothly for all the communities in our colourful city. It’s so rewarding to help people and to enlighten them as to the complexities of the running of a big city.

But even if you are involved in mammoth tasks like that, you should never think yourself too above the ordinary day-to-day business of those ordinary folk who are the very foundations of life. So when one of my brother’s employees came to me to express concerns over what could be seen either as a minor commercial effort or arguably a civic drive I just had to take time out.

It involves these very difficult transactions between Your World and Ours in the matter of writing books. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I know absolutely nothing about how the whole things work. Such as how our folk get into your novels, or who has control of which part. I am simply proud to see we have a measure of co-operation going on in what is the area of The Arts. I do wish I had more time to spend appreciating them, but the demands of office are many and continual.

However, regarding the problem. The author of this book ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ by R J LlewellynPatchwork

a writer of determination and perception is quite the valiant independent, something I feel you will agree we must all salute. Sadly in striving to attain his goals certain errors arose. Personally, I do not feel they were very important, not when you exam the circumstances. For has he not given away many copies and those sold were sold at very low prices? Some might be annoyed at the duplication of a chapter, I would say to them ‘Mistakes were made. But lessons were learned’. I have had a chance to discuss with worthy experts the methods of transfers of information between our world and yours, and I am quite satisfied the minor errors arose through the implementation of the forces of The Stommigheid which as you realise by now are very complicated. The matter will be rectified, and a new edition will be launched by the end of what you can a month.

In the meantime, to prove his generosity and good-will if I may use his name, Roger, has allowed the current flawed copy to be given away free for the next two days. And may I say, this is typical of the spirit in which he writes. I have read something of his, as you call it, blog and he is a fellow who strives for every writer to have their say, a true champion of the cause. Something as a public servant I truly recognise.

I’m sorry but I will have to leave you now because there are matters of council business which will not wait any longer, this is the burden you’ve got to shoulder….

Sorry….just bear with me, a message has arrived……Hmm…

Well, well!! This is a surprise! It would seem we will be getting to know more of each other. I’ve just had a message from Roger, it seems he wishes to feature me more in the later works. Now that is a surprise! I’m quite stuck for words!! It really is such the honour!! I can’t think why he would want to do that, just well…I shall do my best.

Good wishes to you all

Merklin Silc

(Councillor of Elidian City, Chairman of Civic Ways and Means, Secretary for Fiscal Appointments, and Advisor to Guild of Notables. Entitled Honoured Citizen. Civic Worthy by Proclamation and Indentured Friend to The Distressed)

Don’t forget now….

Patchwork

 An Author’s Concerns

‘Ullo Everyone! It’s proper ‘Patchwork Warriors’ time!!

Mr Silc wants to have a few words about ‘Of Patchwork Warriors’

‘Of Patchwork Warriors’ Wigran Hendrechan explains something of the forces at work

‘Guess y’all kin call me a Patchwork Girl’ LifeGuard Arketre Beritt reflects.