And Thus Is Completed The Narrative

One novel. Daughters of Circumstances. Arbiters of Consequences. (Being Vol III of the Precipice Dominions ) 234,927 words.

(And so follows a discourse with someone who might mean well. They are actually possessed of existence only in my head, because I suspect my answers and the way I would deliver them would drive a normal person to exasperation and the temptation to throw objects at me.)

Person:234,927 Really? Were so many words necessary?

Me: Yes. It’s the last part of a Fantasy Epic Heroic Trilogy. And those sorts of books have to have lotsa words in them. Complain to George R R Martin, not me…By the way there’ll be more if I put titles at the start of each chapter…all 84 of them…there’s a foreword, a prologue and an epilogue too.

Person: Yes, even so should you not have thought it wise to employ a strict editorial regime?

Me: Nope. There are the induvial stories of the three main characters, their interactions as a trio, the love story between two of them, the geo-political world-building you always get in a fantasy/SF work, sly digs at some parts of the genre and the less flexible of the readership, war, romance, rom-com, comedy, satire, politics and more world-building. Ya don’t fit that into 100,000 words without leaving a reader scratching their head at some stage. (And you’ve gotta give the supporting characters their space too, so folk realise they are people)

Person: Be that as it may, dear writer, if you were insisting on embarking on a work of such length should you not have sought out someone to help you with that? Proof reading, alpha-, beta- and editorial reading folk.

Me: No.

Person: That is a rather arrogant response, even foolhardy.

Me: What would be foolhardy would be trying to convince me to change even a sentence. I am fearfully territorial and a self-publishing indie-writer. I would only make the poor soul(s) who took up the task miserable. Reading my books is not compulsory, so I’ll take the hit.

Person: I am afraid I don’t understand.

Me: That’s OK. You shouldn’t be expected to, until you’ve tried writing for years. And then you’ll get it….although you still will reserve the right to say behind my back…… Weirdo…..

Person: But you spent….like how long on this work?

Me: That’s a bit of a toughie…..I guess two, it tends to get tangled up with the two previous volumes. I think the whole effort has taken five years, or so.

Person: Won’t you be…well…disappointed…if they do not sell in substantial numbers?

Me: They’re wrote an’t they? Two are Kindled and the last one will be. They will be out there. I’ll do another editorial stint on the first two and maybe make a bit of a fuss on some media corner about their existence. I can do no more.

Person: If you don’t mind me saying so, you have approached the subject like one of ‘follys’ rich English folk had constructed back in the 18th & 19th centuries.

Me: I repeat. They’re wrote an’t they? People can come and read them if they want to.

Person:……………………………………………………………

Me: I guess they must have gone. Oh well. Back to putting numbers on the chapters and experimenting with titles for said chapters while I await a cover.

Oh my! But I do love writing!!

Violence in Fiction

The intention of this post is not actually  about raising the profile of  my trilogy nor the last part of it; the project and its characters are merely the anchors for some thoughts on the use of Violence. Bear in mind this is written from a Fantasy perspective so if you are a reader/writer of other genres you may feel some of the points need tweaking. Feel free.

Fantasy, particularly ‘Heroic/Epic rely on large swathes of violence as there will be Wars and there will be Battles, which considering Human History has to be a given. War is part of us whether we like it or not. Somewhere along the line in response to the Opposition or Villains of the narrative the central character(s) will take up arms, several times in fact maybe leading up to one climatic battle, when all may be resolved or some part left unsettled for future tales in a series. Once upon a time in much popular fiction there was a simple sort of tale when Good vs Evil had Evil defeated and that was that, which was about as Fantasy as you can get! Folklore and Legends actually produce a more realistic overview with morally ambiguous central characters and tragic endings. These days there are many Fantasy series rather than stand alones, either one theme such as Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn

Mistborn

Or very complex interactions in which very few nice folk ever appear (and if they do, they don’t live long)

Game of Thrones

All are replete with unavoidable violence, the authors’ mirroring Human history and maybe their views on society in general. Joe Abercrombie being particularly adept at tales dealing with the very gritty, dirty end of violence in which sometimes ‘Fantasy’ hardly rears its head. Take for instance.

Best served cold

Being intentionally set in a land similar to 16th century Italy and nary  a rune or magic staff in sight- nor anyone you would wish to invite over for an evening. The central character (on the cover there) is not a nice person at all, but there again she does not have an idyllic back story.

As with many forms of fiction Fantasy is replete with its own set of genres and sub-genres and in the overwhelming number of works there will be violence of some sort, which since we are dealing with in some form either ambition and/or malignant forces, to repeat is bound to happen. How is this dealt with has many options and variations, from Good eventually triumphing to the very nihilistic someone walking off into the sunset in a devastated landscape, in which evil lurks under a rock (beloved of the writers of comic books/graphic novels and horror movies)- why people think the latter is entertainment is beyond me there are plenty of ‘live’ examples in the world we live in.

Anyway since the post has gradually, as it must, drift into my opinions of the subject this is where I use my own characters to ‘sound off’ (Actually I am fairly certain they do exist from in another part of the Universe and probably in another segment of Time, thus  they have a great influence on my own views)

Heroic Fantasy loves kingdoms and empires which since the setting is usually based in semi-classical or Middle Ages to Renaissance  settings is only natural. History indicates both could be quite robust in carrying on but were prone to their own shares of less than dynamic rulers who were propped up by systems or cliques of self-interest. Thus The Oakhostian. As an empire it is composed of princedoms, city-states and other set-ups. The current dynasty started off with one  fellow who seized power by being physically ruthless against other nobles and the the emperor, albeit in a surgical way, so no rampaging. His son was more inclined to secret police and espionage. Neither bothered the mass of the population as the mass of the population didn’t bother them and both sides saw that as fine. The third in line was more easy-going, affable, with a gift of selling himself and his ideas, and knowing which side to play and when, he also appreciated women a lot and died when as gamboling about with his latest squeeze he fell into a fish pond, knocked his head on an ornamental statue  and drowned. The fourth in line is too young for the job, nervous and doesn’t make decisions. There are of course vested interests big and small. What I did want to create was something far from perfect. An environment  in which an great deal of compromise, morally elastic actions and pragmatic activity went on, most folk just wanting to keep the whole thing going and get by as best they could, because there was always the danger of the Unknown breaking out (Either as demonic forces or the catastrophic ill-use of a nascent power known by various names, commonly Ethereal of Stommigheid)  Thus in some respects mirroring post WWII Europe in the latter half of the 20th Century.  In this empire Violence being contained in the local law and order problems, the spats between princes, princes and their own nobility and the occasional uprising by one group or another. These can be ugly, but since they occur ‘somewhere else’ most folk don’t worry about it. Which I feel is sadly ‘business as usual’ and fairly realistic.

Like most Fantasy series these days, you’ve got to be ready to produce something of maybe 200,000+ words per volume and have a whole world peopled by an entire cast. In fact this is half the fun of it. Since this is not my own web-site for dedicated readers in their thousands (ahhh, per chance to dream). I will only concentrate on how the three central characters individual approaches the question of violence.

In alphabetical order:

Arketre Beritt: From somewhere which might be similar to parts of the Southern USA. Brought up traditionally rural, in an attempt to find a direction joined The Devoteds (like Nuns) however with a tendency to be disruptive and a girl-chaser, by a long standing   agreement was sent to the LifeGuard. This was originally supposed to be the Imperial Guard but is now a state within a state. Initially she was trained as a medician (think medic).  To begin with she appears the nice, little fair headed, eager helper in a file (unit) but as the saga continues and she is exposed to persistent violence she reveals a more deadly side to her nature, killing without compunction, partly as she sees her duty but also in her own urge to deliver retribution. This is of concern to folk she is close to, lest they lose her to a pathway into nothing but violence. Her close friend Trelli is most adept at warning her and under her influence Arketre will display her healing skills and a rough diplomacy. She is something of one type of ever present soldier, conflicted between duty, rage and a softer side. Being in a steady relationship with Karlyn supplies another anchor. She is at her most stable with Karlyn and Trelli otherwise she is a person of War, although looking for a way out at any cost as long as Karlyn and Trelli are not harmed.

Karlyn: Originally with no memory of her past, only her recent life of being washed ashore from a ship. She lived in a city before venturing out on her own mission to strike down evil by burning down places at random. She, has an affinity with the inflammable, talks to and clambers above trees empathises with most creatures, has a very esoteric sense of smell and adept at finding and navigating pathways out of the conventional world into different realms. As the saga progresses it is found she is of another species of Humans, The Shadow Lords, was sent on a scouting task to the world of Humans but it transpires was ambushed by malevolent forces. Initially very scatty  and askew I was somewhat alarmed at how parallel she could be with Harley Quinn and together we had to work quite hard to ensure folk knew she was her own girl…Or actually two as at times her previous noble identity (Lady Maighdean Ardea )takes hold. She has no problems with killing, although being far swifter and precise than Arketre and only as a response to a direct threat, once the threat is dispatched, that is that. Fallen sweetly in love with Arketre and a friend verging on bossy big sister to Trelli. Her principal concern is staying with Arketre and not being drawn back to her family, quite at ease with punching her brother or cousins from trying to make her.

Trelli (aka Trelyvana Waywanderer): In Fantasy terms Trelli is not unusual, there she was an ordinary housemaid (later self-promoted to Housekeeper, if anyone asks her) when due to the son of the household’s research into ‘The Ethereal’ forces, she was inadvertently inculcated with its energies. Thus she can knock folk over, tackle those using Ethereal for evil purposes, learnt how to fly (in an eclectic way), travel between realms and sometimes influence minds. She was initially very suspicious of this, particularly as it manifested itself in red and blue aura about her fingers, causing her to wear thick gloves or tuck her hands under her armpits in an attempt to avoid folk noticing. Whereas she has come to terms with this circumstance, she is constantly aware of the potential corrosive effect on her character and thus to possibility of loosing destructive forces; she is therefore ever wary of any external or internal influence to lead her down such a path. Of the three she is therefore the least willing to launch into battle and even then is restrained, unless in direct conflict with the demonic forces (The Zerstorung), in which case as it is a fight to the finish she has no qualms. Due to the encouragement of her two friends she always has a tendency to resort lesser forms of physical violence when provoked. Through her friendship with Arketre and Karlyn and the mutual reliance which is fostered within the trio she is able to navigate a pathway through conventional experiences with little trouble.

It is my usual inclination when writing to give the malignant forces a very hard time, since if there is one thing I find irritating is the self-satisfied, monologuing, god-complex villain whose perfect plan is only foiled at the last chapter either by supreme sacrifice or some sudden burst of amazing whatever. My own narratives tend to be influenced by my reading of military histories and the fact there never is a perfect plan, that things go wrong and its the folk who make the least mistakes who usually come out on top. Thus no one in my books ever does things adroitly, it’s all about that catching of the other out and either then pummeling them, or skipping out of the way to come back for another shot. This normal lack of over-arching competence in situations allows the trio of central characters to escape some of the more excessive fates and experiences seen in other books (Note: As these books are self-published for their own sake the characters and I reckon we can between us get away with this as much as we please- look upon it as a sub-sub-genre Fantasy-Heroic-Feel Good )

Violence or the threat of it is ever prevalent and sometimes the central characters in particularly Arketre are the instigators. As stated earlier, the backdrop of the narrative is an empire under threat external or internal  so this is to be expected. Whether the use of violence is as necessary as the characters (or I) see it remains very much up to the perspective of the reader. Whether the central characters come across as likeable people is also left up to the reader to decide for themselves. Personally over the years (since about 2014) I have grown quite fond of them, seeing them as people of their time and circumstance, dealing with matters as they see fit and in general authority or those they work with or for having to catch up with the trio as individuals or in various combinations.

Therefore Violence exists. When using this in fiction the responsibility lies with the writer and to an extent the reader as to whether the levels, perceptions and morals of the usage are acceptable. Personally I use it a great deal, and dear reader don’t expect the villains ever to walk away from it.

Inspiration…The “Wow! Where Did THAT Come From” factor

Warning:

18862009-3d-people-man-person-with-warning-sign

This post contains comments and statements which some people may find offensive, even shocking.

Whimsey 5

“How dare he?”

“Wot?”

“Don’t complicate the issue my darling,”

Disclaimer:

Sorry to disappoint but that does not mean obscenities or remarks concerning or describing intimate Human physical interactions.

170816142101-john-kelly-reaction-president-trump-speech-orig-alee-00000110 Hmmphh…cop-out

(Nor a guest appearance by Miss Flirty Singles).

Flirty Singles

Introducing Miss Singles

 

Willya  with Topic already!!Portrait Angry older man screaming on white background

 

OK then.

Inspiration.

Overview

There are many forms, some we know will fire us up and we use them, although we should use them in moderation lest we wear them out as a source. Not that a walk in Nature’s bounty will ever wear old, but sometimes can be a beautiful distraction and totally destroy the grim mood you were setting yourself into the right ‘that challenging’ piece.

And there are times when some just do not work. The new ones you wish to try out. The ones you think will be certainties to get you in a mood.

One of the ten thousand which did work.

Working on the third in the series ‘The Precipice Dominions’     Website

The Precipice Dominions

 

in which the politics of various major players (but minor characters) are to play a big part. I thought to myself. ‘I need to get into the vibe here. I need to subsume myself in the literary way this is done. Yes I’ve read factual histories political and military and know how things can go but translating that into a fictional narrative which is interesting to read…..Errrrrr….not so much’

I know what I need, says I need to check out ‘Game of Thrones’ again, all that actions and dirty double dealing. Not to try and imitate the style but just get the sniff of the atmosphere. And there was the problem.

Warning…warning…warning…..

horror

I don’t like the books. I find them……

Dull.

GOT 1

Hear him the *%’&! out!!

Sgt.Hartman

I have tried to read them, I have tried to listen to them on audio book and still end up muttering ‘Get on with it!’

Yeah. OK. So complain to someone. Contact WP and state there’s someone out there who is definitely wired all wrong. Either that or he is little read, hardly known writer and as such as sour a month old lemon left out in a damp summer (thought of that one myself)….

Don’t care. Can’t help it. Not my scene.

BUT…says I…

Watch the TV series says I, maybe you need to see moving images (NO! Not the naked ladies, already. I’m 68 fer pity’s sake! Nothing new there and hormones an’t what they used to be! Anyway it’s all like….clump-clump onto centre stage- pause take off clothes-flaunt-flaunt-flaunt….Yeah-yeah). Now where wuz I? Oh yeah watch the series….I started. Then the DVD player broke. I got a new one. I started watching something else. Never felt the need to find out exactly how Sean Bean got shoved off the mortal coil. Nor what his sons, daughters (did he have daughters?) and other folk got up to. And another DVD set gets put to one side for another day…..

Like Zero-Inspiration.

Back at The BOOK.

Writing. You know when you get into the muddy part. When the fertile ground of your muse gets inundated with a downpour of Life which turns all that creativity into a sludge you find yourself plodding through. There I was, plod, plod, plod. Necessary back-story. That blasted polly-tiks bit…..Oh yeah and get the villains into three dimensional beings…..Pfffffffff-fFFFFIT like all that hard slog man!!

Then whilst in a supermarket I chanced upon a stock of the Supergirl/Arrow/Flash series 1 sets brand new and at reduced prices. Someone in marketing somewhere had a wheeze. Marvel films were doing so well, so let’s get on the bandwagon with the very successful ‘Arrowverse’ collection of series Arrowverse An Explanation

I’d tried all three before, didn’t click and thus sold them. This time, maybe because they were cheap (£7 in UK money), give Supergirl a second chance; my older daughter and her two liked it…Ah what the frib!Supergirl

This is not stellar TV in terms of drama. You couldn’t truly say it is spectacle. There’s not the grit of the lamented Netflix ‘Daredevil’ ‘Luke Cage’ or ‘Jessica Jones’ series. If you watched ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ or ‘Smallville’, you’ll get the idea what these are about. However at this stage in my writing and general viewing habits, there was action, clever lines, lots of personal interaction, in fact just the sort of ingredients I had been forgetting. My own narrative, plots, and characters were nothing like those encountered in ‘Supergirl’, mine do not stop off in mid-fight to discuss moral issues with a villain, and yet the whole layout did jog my muse, and anyway when riled Supergirl is quite vicious in a set to.(like Arketre Beritt…..see ‘Precipice Dominions’ )

It occurred to me, I had been looking in the wrong direction, instead of ploughing through stuff I thought I should have been producing I should have been concentrating on the themes the other books worked with. Basically ‘How does the person down the ladder deals with all of this?’ and ‘How do the actions of a few small folk affect things at the top?’. A quite unrelated TV series brought me back on track. And set in line a whole new train of thought about the three central characters and the world they live in. Suddenly I was thinking, ‘Think of The Heroes here’; ‘think of the air they breathe’ ‘think of their world’……’Just how dangerous is that environment to the supposed villains who are invading it’.’Turn the usual theme of the evil stoppable hordes, sweeping all before them on its head’……Hey! I’m out of the sludge. The sunshine of Inspiration is warming up the ground again. I can move.

Conclusion

Never mind the fact that this writer can’t get on with the ‘Game of Thrones’ world in any shape or form. Don’t reflect on a guy in his late 60s watching super-hero TV series. That’s not the point here. The issue we are dealing with, is:

You never know where, when or how inspiration will come along and fire you up. When it does grab the feeling and hold it tight and close.

Keep on writing people. Make me proud.