How much artistic license do I employ?

Battle-of-Stamford-Bridge

That is my current conundrum

I’m at the stage where I’ve begun writing about the second of the three battles in my latest historical adventure Autumn 1066.

While I have the facts, or should I say what is assumed to be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I’ve mention previously, the only account was written by a scribe fifty years after the battle – someone who in no way could ever be classed as a reliable, let alone impartial eyewitness.

At best the facts are sparse. At worst, woefully inadequate. While the fate of the historical figures involved is largely accepted by historians, what isn’t known is the fate of the ordinary participants in the battle. Because of the lack of written documentation, I now have to use artistic licence to give a flavour of what I believe they went through. This is the time where I begin the story within the story. For it to work, both the fictional and the historical stories must now blend into one, yet be separate in my mind as I write.

Surely that is a given I hear you smugly cry. I agree – it is. But, and its a big but, what I must be careful about is that the inner story does not wind up taking over at the expense of the historical. That is not so easy to do, and will require a lot of discipline on my part.

Why did I choose to wait until the second battle? In truth I don’t know. Except, the first battle occurred before my fictional characters enter into the story proper. Maybe once I’ve reached the conclusion of the first draft, that may change.

Well I’ve got a battle to write. More later

😉

Men – please pay attention!

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Scarlett Johansson

The other day, purely to prove a point to myself, I deliberately posted the above photograph of the American actress Scarlett Johansson on her Official FaceBook Page as an experiment. As I have always believed, a considerable number of males using the FaceBook site, in general are not necessarily interested in written posts. Nor pictures of other people’s kids, holidays or pets, come to that. I’m sorry ladies, but there it is. While you love seeing them, most males don’t…

So far the photograph has received well over eight hundred hits, likes and comments from men across the planet. By comparison, I’m lucky if one of my blog posts gains twenty hits even though the number of people following this blog is 636.

What does it say about the average male using Facebook? It tells me something that all woman already knew. When it comes right down to it, we’re all suckers for a beautiful face. In other words we’re utterly normal. I’m no different to any other mere male where female beauty is concerned.

Before any of you ladies feel the need to remind me, I’m familiar with the old saying – beauty is only skin deep. There is another specifically for married men to remember – you can look but don’t touch! Even you ladies have to admit that she is a lovely looking example of womanhood.

Because she is the highest grossing actress in Hollywood, what she is like to live with is anyone’s guess. While looking at various photographs of her on FaceBook, a few words immediately spring to mind. One is demanding, the second is fiery, and the third is diva…

A thought just occurred – my normal blog posts are lucky to get more than a handful of likes or hits on FaceBook. Maybe in the future I should add a photograph of a beautiful woman to the version of my posts sent to the site if I want other men to read them.

I wonder what the chances of that happening are? Slim to none I’d say.

😉

Employing new characters

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To my fellow writers I do apologize for what I’m about to say. But for the sake of the non writers among you it needs to be said, if only to confirm your thoughts (if you had any that is) on the subject of fictional characters.

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If there is one thing all writers love to do, it’s to come up with characters specific to their book’s needs, as and when required. In my latest work in progress, the historical adventure Autumn 1066, I have a mix of characters from the historical events that actually occurred, together with fictional ones.

While once again working my way through what I’ve written so far, the one type of fictional character I didn’t have need of until now was a villain, or in this case a pair of them. So its time to add a scheming priest and a wolf-coat to the mix. If you want to know what a wolf-coat is, I’m not about to explain it to you here. Instead I suggest you look it up. Whether or not you the readers think they are the type of individuals I’m suggesting here, is entirely up to you to decide.

I have yet to decide whether or not either of them will survive. Because they’re fictional, only the storyline will determine their ultimate fate…

What you have to remember is that when writing any story, the author has the ultimate power of life and death over his or her characters. We determine our character’s fate, who they are and their purpose for being. Regarding the two new characters, like all of my other fictional characters in the book, their part will gradually unfold as the story progresses. And before you ask – no I’m not going to reveal what I have in store for either of them, nor for that matter will I divulge anything about any of the other fictional characters. In other words – THERE WILL BE NO SPOILERS.

On a more serious note, the one thing I must not change in the book, no matter how tempting it might be, is to alter what actually happened to the historical characters. To do so would be foolish in the extreme.

The time for all of you to find out what happens will be when you purchase a copy and read it for yourselves.

I’ve decided that this book will initially be published as a paperback. Why? Read Derek Haines’ blog post for an explanation of the subject here.

To give any new work of fiction a fighting chance, means that those who normally harshly criticize any book that appears solely in ebook form, must initially be denied the chance. As Derek says, a paperback version of any new book always stands a far better chance of gaining favourable reviews. When the time comes to publish the ebook version, they can always be included as a promotional tool. After that, what the trolls say about the ebook version will be seen as nothing more than sour grapes on their part by the general public.

Well, If you will excuse me, the story won’t write itself you know…

More later

😉

A thought has just occurred…

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…no, wait a minute. That’s not strictly true.

I’ve been thinking for several years now about why today’s generation don’t read as much as my own did, and still do come to that?

For instance, why do so many of the one, two or three star book reviews on Amazon and other internet book sites, often written by ordinary members of the public, focus on how any given writer approaches dialogue between characters in particular? Why is it that they they feel obliged to go on the offensive?

I believe I know why. Today’s generation relies heavily on visual images such as in films, on television, and even via the Internet, particularly channels like YouTube, for any story to have a chance of gaining their attention.Think about those annoying video clips some writers are forced to put out by their publisher in the vain hope of attracting prospective readers?

If you want a for instance, I’ll give you one! Think about how today’s generation believe that a book’s cover is all important, and not the text! They want to see pretty pictures not words! Think about why so many writers offer up their latest work’s cover for scrutinization across all social media platforms these days? Once again in a vain attempt to attract today’s generation, that’s why!

Quite frankly I can see a time in the not too distant future when illiteracy becomes the norm unless today’s generation buck up their ideas, starting with losing themselves in the pages of a book!

My friend and fellow author Bob Van Laerhoven reminded me of how vital the cover is these days, when he asked me the other day if I had thought about the cover for my work in progress Autumn 1066 yet? Even though we were both joking about it, we know that for it to sell, it will either need a scantily clad buxom young Saxon or Viking female, or a muscular Saxon or Viking warrior in his prime on the cover for it to even be considered by today’s generation! Whether we like it or not, PULCHRITUDE IS WHAT GAINS ATTENTION AND HOPEFULLY SELLS BOOKS TODAY!!!

It’s my contention that because of the highly visual age we live in that today’s generation have completely lost the means to emerse themselves in anything written down, such as a book, unlike my own generation who were brought up on the written word. In other words quite literally they must have everything spelt out for them visually.

Then there are those individuals who when they come across written dialogue, apparently consider it a foreign language. The following example is the rough draft of one particular short piece of dialogue from the story I am in the process of writing, in this instance involving two eleventh century Saxon thegns:-

What do you think Beadurof?” Colby wondered.

About what?”

The shapely hips on the comely wench yonder. Hey Aldred, we’re glad you brought your beautiful niece with you. Oh and just look at the way her hips swing? Not to mention how her shapely rear quivers as she walks. Very desirable, don’t you think?”

Aldred bit his tongue as he fought hard not to smile. Because of Cynric’s tender age and slender build, his nephew could so easily be mistaken for a young female from behind at a distance. Smirking, he briefly glanced in his direction. Cynric’s face flushed bright red with anger at the good natured jibe by one of Aldred’s oldest friends.

“If she gets cold sleeping on her own tonight or any other night, I’ll fight you for the honour of protecting her Colby. I’ll keep her warm, providing she lets me have my way with her that is. So what say you my beauty?” Beadurof replied with a grin on his face as he blew a kiss in Cynric’s direction…

So, did you imagine the scene while reading it? No? Then you are a lost cause…

As a member of today’s generation, its incumbent upon you to tell the rest of us why you find it so difficult to do the same damned thing when reading, instead of wanting it spelt out to you on a silver screen? Seemingly it’s something today’s generation are incapable of!

It would appear that for them to be able to understand the above example at its most basic level, requires that they actually hear the characters speaking, and not via the medium of imaginary voices in their heads. Plus they need to be able to see the characters portray their facial expressions and both their physical and emotional reactions.

I have only this to say on the subject – wake up idiots! What you want is utterly impossible to achieve in a book. Reading a book requires your participation as well. All you have to do is use your imagination! For your information the difference between a book and a visual interpretation of a story via a film or television script is that the former asks you to engage your brain, or if you prefer it – your mind’s eye. Whereas the latter does not. In that instance, all you need to do is to sit in a vegetative state in a darkened room eating popcorn while staring at the silver screen!!!!

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Lastly – I’ve been accused of being overly fond of description, in particular by one of my more vocal peers in the past. You know who you are. 😉

In my defence, I only ever do that when creating the back story. I’m about to disappoint the particular individual once again, when I tell them here on my blog in front of witnesses (metaphorically speaking that is) that my historical adventure Autumn 1066 will be no different. Without a descriptive background constantly running throughout the book it just won’t work. So, you can either like it or lump it while eating your Païdakia my friend.

Rant over. Now I’d better get back to it. First things first – I need another cup of coffee and a smoke…

😉

Long before Jean Luc Pickard was even thought about

I wonder how many of the millions of Star Trek fans worldwide realize that the Shakespearean actor, Sir Patrick Stewart, OBE, aka Captain Jean Luc Pickard once played Vladimir Ilyich Ulanov (Lenin) in the 1974 star studded BBC mini series about the collapse of the Russian Empire – Fall of Eagles? I used to sit glued to the spot when it was on tv…