From Unexpected Places (Something Concerning Odd Motivations)

Inspiration and Themes

It’s another ‘You know how it goes’ . You’ve finished your latest work, truly finished. The end was reached the several re-writes, editings, and other associated efforts have been navigated. (Including the occasional episode when the book cover was being put in place, the artist adds a little something and you thought ‘Wow, I have to fit that into the narrative!! ‘ And under the spell of the image you unravel some little part……). All this attended to by one means or another your work is then made available to the public and belongs unto the Ages.

Thus, should follow an interlude of rest and repose. Working at a factory pace does not suit Creativity or Perspective. A writer should not find, one morning their writing has become a chore they feel they must do. Writing should either come from the joy or the restlessness to see ideas taking shape as words. A ‘Because’ not a ‘Have To’.

So time to look at a Fantasy idea. There might be promise there. I would attend. I started.

And stopped. Basically, although there were a couple of amusing bits, it was not working; the word ‘Re-hash’ kept cropping up whenever I read the day’s output. Ah well, something to be left for another day….

Time to revisit the Quantum Space Opera project. On to the opening chapter. There was that word ‘Re-hash’ again. Seems I had invested so much time and effort into my previous project my creativity was still running on the loop. BlogBattle challenges were welcome, making me move elsewhere, but left to my own devices I was running in that loop. The one hope I had was another word… ‘Screwball’ as in 1930s and 1940s Comedy Films, in short when stuck, look for something outside of Serious. There was inspiration here because when scrolling through the Audio Book selection of SF, and seeing the endless lists of Genocidal Aliens, Ancient Long Forgotten Evils, Another Colonial Marines / WH40K Space Marines series one phrase kept popping into my creative mind when relating to the evil protagonists…. ‘Their heads fell off’; it broke the monotony. Thinking there might be a start of a way out, I pondered on this phrase. Now obviously such a gem had to be used sparingly, or if the pace was very fast with mocking frequency. The plot still eluded me though. Even the great Robert Sheckley would not build an entire book around heads falling off, maybe a chapter or paragraph here or there but he was a master of his art / craft. No, the whole structure needed more thought. Still, it was a start.

Buoyed by this slender hope, the musing phase started, as to what would prompt such a statement and where would the exclamation or discovery fit it. Musing on such an aspect does not require a serious frame of mind; irreverently speculative would be a better turn of phrase. Such a state is of course very volatile and unpredictable. In consequence it was with some delight, although not surprise, that bursting into the musing came a small scenario drenched with very inappropriate and excessively farcical humour based on a misunderstanding in verbal translation. There were inane sniggers, for it is a fact of Male Human Nature that no matter their age, life experience, social standing or professional achievements no man ever rids himself of that adolescent streak. However, this ‘situation’ arose, the attendant, events leading up to, social interactions, ramifications, motivations etc were causing the dust of musing to coalesce. The original slender thread of the plot began to take on shape, birthed by an urge to place both comic ideas into some context. They would only be additions of course to a deeper and wider narrative, but in doing so gave some basis and inspiration for getting there. ‘The plot became the thing, wherein the comedy I could bring’ (sorry about that Mr. Shakespeare- no apologies to you Hamlet, to me you always were a royal pain)

Now the words and the possibilities are forming with some ease. Being of the ‘Pantser’ school I have not much of an idea where this particular project is going to go. But if I did, where would the fun in that be?? No, I’m just going enjoy the whole uncertainty happy in the security of the knowledge someone, somewhere, will be involved in a humorously unfortunate incident and some group with suffer from sudden detachment of heads.

Oh, in case anyone was wondering. The Quantum aspect? In comparison with starting a plot for a book, simply no trouble at all to fit in.

Here’s to Inspiration, no matter where or how the dear muse should turn up.

And I do believe I have inadvertently created a template for a book cover.

Motivations, Inspirations, Imaginations…And Characters. A Journey Care Less and Content

Strolling

Foreword

You know how it goes. You have this idea for a topic, and you start off. Then some allied aspect else occurs to you, which begs to be added on, which in turn leads you off down an interesting lane and somehow the original topic is behind you, round a bend somewhere and you are there, scratching you’re head wondering ‘So?… How did I get here?’

The intention was to write about World Building and how the one which formed out of my work was a place I liked to revisit, just to be there. Then the theme became something else. Here was another writer wandering through This, That and The Other. For no other reason than ‘Just Because’….

The books which are part of the post are not mentioned because there is no intention to publicise them. You’ll find enough information in earlier posts. The subjects of this post are creativity, inspiration and motivations. Anyway back to that start…

The Beginning

Sometime ago I promised myself ‘Tone down on the politics. Concentrate on the writing. Be at one with your creativity,’………………..

The next day……

Back on the soapbox or picking fights on Facebook. Will I ever learn?

Learn what? To desensitise myself against thing which get under my skin? Remove some part of me?

Well, maybe not picking on an easy FB target and ridiculing them. Maybe ‘They had it coming. Taste of their own medicine. See how they like it,’ Are not worthy and mature reasons, perhaps those sentiments border on excuses. Weighing down someone’s ‘one liner’ with three paragraphs of International Relations Theory and History? Maybe that’s showing off a bit. Overkill much?

I tell myself my political and social comments should be addressed to Word Press where generally the standard of debate is higher.

The fact, though, the political part of me, is one reason why I write fiction as I do; the challenge being to try and tone down the preachiness. A character sounding off on some political issue in the middle of an action episode sounds ‘odd’. A lesser character taking up half a chapter on observations on an injustice just spoils the narrative and detracts from the plot.

Yet there is nothing wrong with placing your opinions or views in a narrative, the characters will let you know if they think you’ve been too wordy. Those lesser characters’ two or three lines of conversation will suit just as well.

On reflection my views were one of the driving forces and at the same time a bit of a challenge to fit in neatly. I loathe the latent misogyny trying to slither back into our cultures. Thus was more than happy with Three Strong Women characters appearing. Prejudices on the grounds of race, religion, adult consensual choices tend to be a red flag, so those who embrace any or all of these prejudices would truly hate my trilogy. Sometimes a mischievous part of me nurtured on Facebook would snigger while whispering ‘If anyone hates this part. Good…they got it coming,’.

Another motivation and this is not criticism just personal taste, I did not wish to read anymore grimdark or ‘gritty’. The real world had enough of that for me. Happy endings and good folk running rings around bad folk was my intention.

In addition is a little fantasy of the whole trilogy being on a public forum where I would wait for the inevitable feeble whinge that is it is all ‘woke’, whose users are such easy targets…. (Ah but there I go again. Looking for confrontation)

Yet as I go treading into more dangerous and delicate yet related ground; it has been an observation that there is more than one way to receive criticism or even ire for portrayals of characters outside of your own social, ethnic, political, belief system grouping. This observation, and the word is stressed comes from reading commentary from those whose group is portrayed, in a sympathetic or positive light and yet is perceived by the commentator as not being the correct portrayal. My own conclusion is in this fraught world where colonialism, in the European sense has died out and the old Cold War alignments disintegrated and social norms are altering it is for many people or peoples essential their group are portrayed accurately and in a balanced, mature context. Of course my get out clause being; ‘These books take place in a Fantasy World. Not this one,’, though human natures being what they are it is unlikely this response would be seen as satisfactory. Never mind… ‘You can’t win them all,’ . And anyway folks this is a world of my characters and they led me through allowing me to explore (or was that witness?) all manner of the possibilities.

Characters eh?

One advantage, or salutary warning is once you let your characters in on the act and they start to influence you, the pace of writing picks up until the creative or speculative processes reach a velocity which leaves all caution behind. In a very paradoxical, maybe cussed mood, the lack of sales encouraged me and them onwards. We reached the ‘What The Heck’ Stage, followed by ‘C’mon Rog’. We just have to go this way, you know parts of the back story have been building to this. Remember the sub-text kiddo,’. This of course led to other directions for taking the main narratives too.

Maybe the final result would seem to some a vainglorious mash-up of genres, sub-genres and styles. And there would be no argument from me. In my defence this is what happens when the driving forces within you set the imagination in movement and in turn you feel confident enough to let the narrative take control.

Should the whole work come to public attention and there is consequential criticism of the plot line, characters and result, let it be so.

For I had far too much fun putting the whole together to regret. (apart from those stupid persistent typos and a few instances of getting the names wrong- sometimes you can be too indie).

And now I am learning restraint and economy on a monthly Blog Battle*, which is as much fun being very instructive, while keeping my interaction of Face Book to a minimum.

*

BlogBattle

https://bbprompt.com/

Musings on an Aftermath of Writing.

Reflective(Allegorical image by the way)

Some of you will be familiar with the opening of this tale.

Commenced I suppose from 2015, maybe, (although there were myriad false starts) and completed end of 2021. A fantasy trilogy written without much respect for the apparent ‘Rules of Writing’. And that was that. Completed.  Like any writer there were all sorts of ideas, whispers of ideas and the like swirling about. The same characters a few years down the line? Maybe the next generation, their children? A few experimental paragraphs suggested; it wasn’t going to work, not now anyhow. The scene was as if I had spent some time with this varied group, recorded these parts of their individual and joint narratives and now a parting of the ways was taking place, all by mutual consent. There was this singular notion any further novels would be intrusive into their lives. The conclusion was almost as if I had indeed strayed upon another fragment of Creation and had been a mere observer. Time for us all to move on.

The obsession to craft three volumes had been, of course unobtrusive. At the time, simply three basic ideas with plots and sub-plots spinning out all weaving into a pattern of cause and effect. The warning how obsessive I had become was the evening I flew into a rage because Kindle would not accept the download of the final cover, normally the solution would have been quite simple, but when Obsession takes hold anything that gets in the way in a foe…right?….Well no, wrong. Toxic.

Anyway, with the whole project completed and ‘Out There’, a calm settled. The urge to read books rather than listen to audio versions returned. An experiment to paint emerged; by numbers I add, because my perception of colours is rather variable; seriously an adult paint-by-numbers is a challenge, with tiny, tiny patches and titchy, titchy numbers therein; fun though and to be worked on at a leisurely pace. Finally there was the focus to stop trying to take up Quantum Mechanics as a serious interest, the maths and the terminology are beyond my capabilities. Back to History reading and in consequence looking into International Relations and the attendant theories. (Yes there are graphs and data but only for those who have made it their Life’s Work or intending to do so, a working knowledge of what is what is sufficient).

Does that mean you have quit writing? Some may ask. No, comes the simple answer. The Muses still flutter around me (or poke me in the back, if thus inclined). The frenetic side has evaporated. There is an idea to work a series of posts from way-back into a neater format and set in the same realms of the trilogy
Aureyborealice, A Fable in Several Parts…Part I

And there is  https://bbprompt.com/

Which supplies a monthly prompt for short stories and is quite a buzz to join as well as read.

There is a weight lifted though, the notion it was all for fun and relaxation was a flaw in perception, I was in deep. Of course being in deep is something a serious writer should be to embrace, but when you start to live with the characters, muttering phrases of possible conversations to yourself, going over and over in your mind situations, not being able to truly focus on anything else other than the day-to-day living and ‘Your Book’. No, maybe not. It maybe necessary for the true professionals with a contract but for the rest of us; the rest of the world needs to come in.

Maybe therein is the true reason why I’ll not be going back there. Even though it was fun at the time.

Writing eh? You love it. You can’t leave it alone. But it is as well to have boundaries.

Marketing – A Cautionary Observation

On the subject. This afternoon I had this experience, there is no other way to describe the event. It was not a bad one, nor was it one which opened up a brightness which illuminated a pathway to a certain level of success. This was more of a certain type of epiphany, an enlightenment on the subject. Let me explain.

Firstly if one should type in Google ‘Marketing My Book’ in 0.70 seconds the dear old programme will proudly announce it has located ‘About’ 8,150,000,000 results, which suggests there are more items on the subject than there are people in the world: currently estimated at ‘About’ 7,874,965,825. Therefore using a certain skewed logic it could be fatuously argued that everyone on the planet has an opinion on how to Market A Book.

It must therefore be argued in the Writing process that Marketing and views on Marketing are topics of some importance; possibly second only to How To Write A Book ( Google records 14,360,000,000). And therefore a matter which should be taken with a degree of seriousness, maybe not as much as writing itself but certainly deserving of attention. Although I did encounter an advice pamphlet some years back and geared to the self-publishing sector which had the sub-heading ‘You’ve written your book. Now comes the hard part- Marketing’

Anyway on a personal level, making an effort to view the issue in a far more mature and constructive manner and having noticed an article on how to use Instagram to assist, it seemed only correct to consult this. I began to and was quickly drawn to a sub-topic of using hashtags as a means to promote your work. This was written in a confident, informative and intelligent style, obviously the writer had experience in using Instagram hashtags to further their own efforts and there was much which made sense; although I was struggling to make the necessary connection with advice and the intentions swirling about in my head. At this stage my attention should have been given to this lapse; the warning sign that my concentration was not correctly attuned. But onwards, ever onwards, maybe things would be clearer. Sadly this was not to be so.

There was a harmless enough suggestion on hashtags. This one revolved around the hairdressing industry and as an example for a hashtag which people could relate to used ‘hairstylemens, this was a example which was obviously well-founded and whereas may not be blindly used could be a good foundation or ‘food for thought’. Errr….not so.

You would have thought a 70 years old with several unsuccessful books would have stopped here and given the topic some thought in the hope of sales improvement. No, instead my eyes fell on the last six letters, flashed the signal back to the brain which promptly translated this hashtag into Hairsty Lemens and aside from the sniggering which would have been more in place with myself 55 years ago had me thinking how I could build a book around someone of this name, was ‘Hairsty’ a nick-name or their true first name and should it be pronounced as ‘Hair-sty’ or ‘Hair-stee’ ?

The sad point here is that whereas there may be some cause to celebrate the imagination of a febrile brain, such gyrations of perception do nothing to further the cause of making previous efforts known to the public. It is actually essential to adopt a serious and structured approach to some sort of Marketing, albeit in a ‘Garage Band’ sort of way, it would at least get you, maybe 4 figure sales. Therefore at what ever stage you are in your work consider some approach to Marketing, though be warned about those who claim to assist you professionally, there will be those genuine and hard-working folk who will do their best, for a fee of course, it’s a business after all; regrettably they work in a jungle replete with opportunists who talk a talk but have no intention of walking even one step of a walk. There is a great deal of free advice out there take it on board and invest some time in the processes.

Hairsty Lemens may be amusing company but they will not help you sell even one book.

Meanwhile on Kindle:


Restless

Sailing Ship

I must go back to a narrative again, to follow the Muse’s eternal cry

And all I ask is my laptop and an idea to guide me by

(Thank you John Masefield for Sea Fever)

You finish one project, it’s taken you quite a while, you’ve experienced all the varying emotions, you’ve fought through the ‘Why Am I Bothering’  fug, you’ve edited or negotiated editing, all typos etc have been sought out, a book cover was navigated you have striven with marketing  and finally the work is ‘Out There’ . Then you might think to yourself ‘ I deserve a rest,’

Of course you do

And yet to visit another nautical bit of plagiarism from a jolly yarn.

‘Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November* in my soul [a few more ‘whenevers’ have been omitted Melville being Melville ] …….. then, I account it high time to get to my paper and laptop as soon as I can’  

In short. Do writers ever rest? Did not one plot have away in its unused corners threads and motes which begged examination? Was there not a minor character whose shadow would dog your heels and whisper possibilities? On some journey, be it physical, of the imagination, or amongst the other tangles of human consciousness was there not a murmuring of creativity beginning to coalesce?  Or did something just come into a writer’s head, a modest literary version of The Big Bang?

Ever wonderous, and tortuous is Creativity, calling you on. Embrace the Restlessness, it requires you to fulfil.

Would we have these feelings any other way?   

*Actually those are qualities which make November my favourite month. It marks the finality of the Summer’s assault on my senses – I know, singular. Anyway it has set loose my own restlessness- two projects are beckoning. One SF which requires a dip in Quantum Physics and Mechanics and might take some time (Quantum and Time, now there’s a paradox in the making). The other, that’s a follow on from my previous work, a generation later, and I have not the faintest idea what the plot might be, but one of the Muses is insisting I get writing. Ah good ol’ stream of consciousness, what little nuggets might there be amongst all the silt which will come forth from the dredging. 

  

 

Show Don’t Tell

Writers starting off, floundering a bit, wondering which way to go or reflecting on whether they should or should not continue will be aware there is something approaching an article of faith which is: A Writer Should Show Not Tell’

Just out of whimsey, as it were, I typed in ‘Show not Tell’ on Google and the busy little search engine proudly informed me that in 0.84 seconds it had identified 2,210,000,000 hits. Now how many of these actually refer directly to the subject of writing I did not venture to examine. If for some unaccountable reason I were to seek out each and every hit at the fanatical pace of 5 seconds per hit it would take approximately 350 years for a single person. Since this does not take into account all functions necessary to physical and mental well-being, what might happen to human culture and environment the effort seems somewhat unnecessary. A dedicated team of 1,000 might complete the task in ten years, although the attrition rate would probably be prohibitive and result in the organiser being actively disliked. Suffice it to conclude a lot of people have a lot to say on the subject.

It is only fair at this juncture to admit, yet again, there is within me a not so latent flaw which persistently inhibits any possible success; this being as my wife wearily reminds me ‘You will not be told’ . Thus if anyone even intimates to me how my writing should be done, at best they receive a politely vague comment and communication withers. Therefore there is a certain bias in this post; my apologies.

Considering the number of hits again. It cannot be denied that amongst all the comments and advice on the subject there has to be a certain diversion of view as to what constitutes ‘Show’ and what might be thought of as ‘Tell’. From this, taking into account all other Human responses to ‘Subjects’, ‘Beliefs’, ‘Outlooks’ and so forth, some of these diversions would be quite strong, if not, one fears verbally ‘violent’. Now whereas the proponents can have a thoroughly cathartic time arguing with each other and suggesting their opponent is displaying ignorance or heresy on the matter, none of this is of assistance the poor help-seeking writer, who at times, battered and buffeted by storms of advice must feel something akin to a literary sea-sickness.

One equitable solution for a writer experiencing problems in this area, would be to turn their back on the various advice books, columns, posts and writing exercises to simply read (or listen if they have a taste for audio books) thus be witness to a number of published writers at work. The choice should be very broad and should steer from the very successful who are sometimes indulged by the publishing process because their name ‘sells’. Far better to seek out those of more modest achievements who still need to rely on every bit of their art and skill to keep their audiences.

This is not a suggestion the writer should try and copy styles, more a question of absorbing the various approaches and bringing them to their own style. Because, I daresay when the various Show Don’t Tell  advisors visit books there will be levels of disagreement as to where Show or Tell started or finished at one particular part and whether either should or should not have been used.

Writing is a constant learning process, with a vast panorama of ways and means by which the writer reaches the conclusion of their work. Far better to absorb an empathy with Show Don’t Tell than to struggle to attain it by some dangerously close to mechanical process.

Keep on writing. No matter what.

On Getting Your Work Noticed (Just an Observation)

The end of an edit / re-write beckons; approximately 11.5% of some 248,000+ words left to ‘listen’ to and ponder over. Word is not happy with the weight I have placed upon it, pretending to lose the Dictionary additions, altering margins and spacing at random intervals, changing the Spellcheck to another language, failure to comprehend any literary constructs apart from business speak; the usual protests against an unprofessional artistic use of its programmes. BUT my trusty memory stick is ever at my side reminiscent of a faithful hound, lest Word pulls its most evil of tricks and crashes the whole work (which it dallied with back in July).

Thus this will conclude a work in three parts which will in total tally up 600,000 + words and has taken somewhere around six years to complete. A time in which edits, proof-reading and re-writes were all done within my own bubble. Thanks to Amazon Kindle and the free-book promotions I guess about 30 folk have Volumes I & II downloaded and a big thanks to those kind folk who also purchased copies (probably about 10 sales). If Volume III bumps the totals up by 33% that might be in line with my expectations (based on the previous performances). Sometimes those figures were disheartening but were unlikely to be the sole cause of the low mood, more symptomatic of a general lassitude, my late father used to refer to this as ‘being at the bottom of the wheel’. Outside of the central character of a mid-twentieth century swashbuckling or ‘happy’ musical film, who does not experience these times?

At this stage a writer facing such results will have reached a crossroads of some sort of another. Their outlook will be dependant on amount of the effort they have previously put into their marketing, networking, assistance, outside editing and beta-reading to name but a few of the preparation and research strategies available to them.

For some despite their very best and diligent efforts in these areas, their work still fails to gain recognition and a despondency sets in. This is very understandable. They may well decide writing is not for them and seek other paths. Whether this was the right choice or another promising writer was lost to the caprice of the market, we will never truly know; this sort of judgement belongs as it were ‘to the ages’.

For others there can be an analytical response, they shrug (after a period of flushing out the disappointment) and ‘go back to the drawing board’. Maybe, they think, the work needs some tweaking, nay complete overhauling. Records of advice: friendly, editorial and beta will be consulted, the work re-read (a painful process at times) and the writer returns to the battle carrying out that very delicate balancing act between others input and how they, the writer, wishes the narrative to go.

Some will decide, they do so love writing, but maybe they chose the wrong genre or wrong style of narrative. They start again, maybe using the very bare bones of the first work. This happened to me, twice. First attempt was grim, bloody (and also unreadable). The second attempt, set in the world of my current books at an earlier time was comedic satire, the volumes are now a source of folklore and history in the current works. This third is a mix, one might say real as can be found in Fantasy. 

I stood at the crossroads and looked back over my shoulder. Had I utilised any of those aforementioned strategies and resources in my journey. Yes, but due to the vagaries of life met with three sources whose advice or commentaries were not to my liking, and hereabouts there are some strong opinions retained on their competencies and ability to use perception, but we shall move on. I was glad of the observations and reviews by Audrey Driscoll https://audreydriscoll.com/  Berthold Gambrel  https://ruinedchapel.com/  and Rachael Ritchey https://rachaelritchey.com/ Each gave support, advice incisive and constructive and was taken on board in future efforts. Those who indulge in throwaway criticism would do well to stay away from me, their comments get analysed, critically…yes one is not supposed to indulge so in kicking back at a bad review…. I have nothing to lose, there would be ramifications for the throwaway reviewer.  

And there came the decision. If my work was currently not surfacing into public attention amongst the many thousands of efforts by unknown writers and my approach to all the strategies and resources was idiosyncratic, nay even shambolic and I was using the massively populated medium of Amazon Kindle, then what was there to lose in going my very own way? The books could be recorded for the public to find, there would be some gratification there, and at the same time all creativity, imagination and experimentation could be utilised just for their own collective sakes. Thus I gave vent to all manner of writing about varied circumstances, maybe some had no business being in a book seriously put together with sales in mind as a benefit; some might send editors and beta-readers into much head-shaking or saying ‘WHAT???’ Let it be so. I have enjoyed this veering off at tangents, exploring issues narrative, and it is all mine.

At this juncture let me say this is not an attempt to mask vanity with an air of assumed artistic superiority or the self-indulgent woeful stance of someone ‘suffering’ for their art. No this is just me, writing as I write, for a particular  purpose, and because the whole project will not let me be until it is concluded this way. To put it another way for those starting out or those having doubts:

Writing about my approach as one you should follow is not the reason. It would, quite frankly be irresponsible for me to contend this is worthwhile way of ‘doing things’. Not so, the above words are tailored to illustrate my position and current view of my own work. For advice on the matter of publishing, please, please seek out others. Going Complete Rogue is generally a bad idea. 

As long as the writing does not mask an agenda promoting Hate, Intolerance or questionable politics I wish everyone well with their writing. Published conventional or self-published, the writer’s efforts are to be celebrated, another record in the great endeavour writing, another statement ‘I was here’.

That you strive at your work with the conviction you have as much right as any to do is enough for me.

Meanwhile, nearly a year after the original narrative of Daughters of Circumstance. Arbiters of Consequences was completed, still working on the final ‘publicationable’ document? But of course.  

And Thus Is Completed The Narrative

Another Launch (Persistence Doesn’t Always Pay, But It’s Satisfying)

Musings on Writing (Another series). Important Reactions to Use on Suitable Occasions

On Deciding Which Place To Be

I suppose it may have been the Summer again. Or to be more objective my attitude to the summer season. The heat, the bright sunlight, long daylight, activity even muted by Covid; these do not suit me. Of course at 70 one should not wish life away, years, months even days should not be squandered and yet winter draws me ever on.

Summer brings out the worst in me, particularly this one had me in a very combative mood and willing to engage in arguments on social media, on all manner of topics, just because. All very undignified and not the least bit profitable  There was an effort not to smear this mood all over WP and keep it where it belonged – FaceBook. Hence my general absence from WP

Happily there was a smidge of constructive dignity still working within. This, of course being attention to my own writing project. If you have followed my blog you will know about my ragged progress and less than serious approach to marketing 

Another Launch (Persistence Doesn’t Always Pay, But It’s Satisfying)

Just for Marketing and Giggles- The British Approach

Just for Marketing and Giggles II (The team conference)

Although the last volume of the trilogy was in theory completed one year ago, the re-write process beckoned. This, personally is an enjoyable stage, aside from the obvious corrections, tinkerings and checking continuity in all its manifold ways, there is the joy of realising the overall intentions were surviving the necessities of a narrative. On this particular jaunt there was an urge within to re-visit the previous two volumes and work through them one last time to ensure they led in a sort of cohesive manner unto the third. Thus 2021 has been a year in which three large (If you are doing epic fantasy ‘large/long’ is something of a requirement) volumes were aligned. Yet another series of re-writes, I like to muse over the situation that should these books ever achieve noticeable sales status how early purchasers could brag they have ‘first editions’ and argue the case for the writing or narrative of those. A writer whose history does not contain even the words ‘some modest success’ should always keep an element of whimsey in their head (either that or take marketing and allied disciplines seriously)

On the whole the process has been yet another enjoyable and enlightening process. AS WE all know Word has many failings. Yet Read Aloud along with the ability to shift entire chapters around like chess pieces do carry their own particular appeals, also a sense of The Unexpected. In the case of the former this would be the sudden lurch into another gender’s voice, like some intrusive boor blundering into a conversation you are having with a friend, while Word throws up a frantic yellow bar warning in a woefully inadequate attempt to deny all culpability. When it comes to the latter shifting portions of the narrative might look fine at a particular juncture, but they could have a tectonic effect in The Continuity much further on down; by then the original revision is so embedded into the narrative it is necessary to give way to the impetus set in place back at at Chapter Fifteen and amend with much vigour to the events laid out in the first (or second) draft at Chapter Fifty-One. These are something of a melding of the Artistic, Imaginative and above all Inventive in the business. Some folk enjoy crosswords, siduko, chess or card game puzzles. for me the challenge of the re-write is the thing.   

The Third Volume nears final (only three re-writes) completion, the artist who did such stunning work on Volume Two’s cover is on the case.  Skirmishers  So maybe the final work will see the light of Kindle by the end of the year.

Ah me, this is where I should have been spending more time than was spent. Three volumes completed, a joy in itself. But soft, I have tarried long enough. Time to break camp and set forth on the final clime up the last 35,000 words.

Daughters of Circumstances. Arbiters of Consequences.   (Being Volume 3 of The Precipice Dominions)

I do love this happy burden.

You, The Writer. They, The Characters. And The Blurring Lines

Blog posts, articles and entire books have been written about how a writer should approach the creation and maintenance of characters. Then there is the other industry where folk examine famous works of literature and the characters therein from all sorts of angles; along with the motivation(s) of the author.

So then.

When you have passed the toe-twiddling stage at the water’s edge of the sea that is your project and are now wading out, determined to swim to the other side…

Opinions please:

At some stage is there part of you in one or maybe a few of the characters, reflecting various personal moods, views and the rest of the complexity of the average person?

Or.

Is there a little secret part in which you indulge in living through the character’s life. A place you can go to to shake off the usual frustrations of the daily life? Be someone else

Or.

Are you The Supreme Being of the world, moving everyone around as you see fit on a Four-Dimensional chessboard?

Or.

Having introduced these folk  to a narration are you now running after them waving a document and crying after them ‘Plot! Don’t forget my plot!!’, only to have at least one of them turn around and smiling benignly say ‘But dear writer. Have you not read the sub-text? Do keep up,’  

Or.

Is it a case of a combination of all or some of the above?

Musings on Writing (Another series). One Other Benefit of Being Inside Those Characters.

There is a collection of viewpoints around the idea that a writer of fiction involving action (in its broadest sense) should not spend too long narrating the internal workings of a character particularly when they are engaged in being ‘active’ as it detracts from the flow of that particular interlude.

This is a worthy point. I have read a war fiction where one member of a gun team recounts in two long paragraphs the entire experience of an injustice done to his father while said team member is loading ammunition into the gun, as a very large tank bears down on said team. He was either a very quick talker or it was a very slow tank; the reactions of the the other team members were not recorded. I leave it up to you how you would feel about being partnered with this voluble and probably slowest loader in the army. And yet the book was commercially published and part of a successful series, in which similar diversions took place. We have entered editorial ‘Go Figure’  territory. 

That said internal dialogue or observation from a third party standpoint do play their part in building up tension, in the right context. Such as the journey to an ‘active’ scene; be it physical, verbal or emotional. Or the interlude where the writer and reader are sharing a ‘How does the character get out of this one?’ / ‘What will they do next?’ 

Overall this is a topic which could cover several posts and numerous discussions; leading off to whether ‘that action’ is necessary as it detracts from the character who has become more interesting than the original plot and other compelling  sideroads.     

To go back to the original point though. This can be a challenge when there is more than one major character and a couple of minor characters of some importance. Although angst heavy inner monologues at every turn should be avoided, when scenes involve interactions or individuals taking decisions some internal ‘splaining’ is necessary. (Which is why some books are longer than others).

At the end of the day; chapter or book there is that Other Benefit.

After all of the effort of going into motivations, clarifications, and justifications, after digging deep into presenting the character(s) and all the rest of the sweat….

You can develop a reasonably good sense of self-analysis for those times when things are just not going your way and learn to ride / surf / glide through them. (Although if you have been writing fantasy, a sense proportion about carrying large axes or double handed swords is advisable).

Learn from your characters, some of them are pretty shrewd and thoughtful folk.