More from Derek Haines. Here’s hoping it never happens!
“It could be that, between us, we’re perhaps drowning out other fresher voices.”
Now that has to be the understatement of the year by any traditional publisher. It just shows how worried they are by some Indies’ success.
If you have been following all of my posts, you will have seen in Tuesday’s post how I go about visualising my female characters when writing my books.
In it I mentioned the fact that I was still searching for a photograph, illustration or painting of a beautiful, full bodied honey blond who says Lynne Crawford to me. If you are wondering, she is my primary female character in The Guardian. While chatting via Facebook on Tuesday night to Robynn Gabel, a fellow writer, and dear friend of mine, she pointed out the blindingly obvious – why not simply Google honey blonds and see what’s on offer. Sometimes, like a lot of other writers, I get so totally engrossed with the mechanics of writing a story, that often I don’t see the wood for the trees. Following her advice, I finally found Lynne.
Here she is:
I have absolutely no idea who the beautiful young woman is. But for my purposes, what is important is that hers is the image (near as dammit) which I’ve been carrying round in my head for several months now, of how I imagine Lynne looks. Before any of you who are familiar with my description of her in past progress reports feel the need to say anything, yes I do realise that her hairdo is not Lynne’s trademark severe crew cut. This is how my hero Adler, and myself I might add, eventually want her to look. Always providing that he can convince her to let her soft honey blond hair grow that is. Maybe I’ve already pursuaded him to convince her. Maybe I haven’t. You will have to wait to find out when you read The Guardian won’t you.
Now for an update on the progress I’m making in writing the first draft of The Guardian. Yesterday morning I finally passed the ten thousand word mark while still writing chapter five. Why has it taken me so long to reach that number of words? Because with each twist and turn of the plot, I seriously need to think about it before I commit to this laptop’s screen. Plus I need to ensure that each and every word is not only correct, but also relevant. Every problem I can eliminate now, during the process of writing the first draft, is one less to worry about once I begin editing, expanding or contracting later on.
At least one thing is finally sorted out – the cover. I know that I’ve previously produced it here. But not everyone who follows my blog will necessarily have seen it. So for those who missed it, here it is:
Finally – purely for anyone who may be interested, here is my list of characters:
Major Adler Stevens – ex UK Military Police
Lieutenant Lynne Crawford – ex fighter-bomber pilot Canadian Airforce
Professor Ephraim Adelmann – speciality, ancient languages
Captain Brett Abbot – ex Royal Marines – speciality, sniping and close quarter assassination
Master Sergeant Clifford Mayhew Jr – ex US Special Forces – speciality, demolitions
Sergeant Bayla Lombroso – ex Israeli Defence Force – speciality, medic
Lieutenant Moshe Baranovichi – ex Israeli Defence Force – childhood friend of Bayla – speciality, rifleman
Lieutenant-commander Karin Haigh – ex US Navy Seal – speciality, electronic warfare (satellite eavesdropping)
Captain Phillipe Bordeaux – ex Armée de terre (French Army) – speciality, sharpshooter
Senior Praporshchik (Senior Warrant Officer) Anatole Belakov – ex Vozdushno Desantnye Voyska (Russian Airborn Troops) – speciality, Light Machine Gunner
Plus, let us not forget the whole reason for writing this book in the first place, The Guardian itself, which will remain an enigma as far as all of them are concerned for some time to come.
PS – Did you notice the hashtags in the post title? I’ve finally decided to take Chris the story reading ape’s advice to use them to help spread the word about The Guardian. Only time will tell if they work. He reassures me that they do. We’ll see…
More from Derek
More from our Ali 🙂
When it comes to the female characters in my books, I grow extremely fond of every one of them, even the evil ones. What can I say, when it comes to my fictional women, whatever they want me to say about them, happens. You would comply too if you have ever tried putting words in your female character’s mouth that you know full well she would never ever utter, or tried forcing her into a particular situation which a woman like her would never ever willingly enter into.
Believe me, when you live with one of them in your head as I do each time I write a book, for the sake of your sanity and a quiet life, you do as your character demands. If you think you are creating a character, forget it, your not. They creat and reveal themselves. All you as the writer have to do is listen to what they are saying. Having said that, before you reach for the phone to call the men in white coats to take me away in a straight-jacket, no I’m not mad. I’m just a writer.
It helps me enormously if I can either find a photograph of a particular individual closely resembling who I have in mind, or perhaps even an illustration or painting. For instance, in my best selling scifi adventure novel The Seventh Age, I needed to get a clear image in my head of the principal female character, an alien who tracks and protects the hero Nick Palmer, wherever he goes. It wasn’t until I was reading the late Mac Tonnies’ blog one day, that I came across the artwork for the cover of his book The Cryptoterrestrials, which I immediately bought a copy of, and thoroughly enjoyed reading. Staring back at me from the cover exactly as I had always imagined her, was the hauntingly beautiful face of Ithis, the androgynous alien inhabiting my mind at the time.
When it came to writing my recent novella Cataclysm last year, the story has two strong feminine characters, Arianna a beautiful example of the third gender, who the hero Gilbert Briggs, falls head over heels in love with, and her nemesis Taliva, another member of the same Apex race as Arianna whose ancestors are responsible for creating mankind, as a docile slave race in the novella. In both cases it helped when I found two particular photographs. The one I used for Cataclysm’s cover depicting Taliva, is actually a photo of a mannequin.
The other photograph which I came across while looking for an image that said Arianna to me is this one. The fact that the beautiful human being pictured is a real life Arianna, is neither here nor there.
On the other hand when it comes to any of my male characters, I don’t need any form of visual representation. I find them much easier to come to terms with. All I need is to get their various physical characteristics, character traits, faults and prejudices etc firmly fixed in my mind for the duration of the write.
As for my current work in progress, The Guardian, when it comes to my latest heroine I’m still looking for a photograph that says Lynne Crawford to me. So if anyone knows of a photograph, illustration or painting, depicting a beautiful full bodied woman with honey blond hair in the form of a crew cut hairdo…
In the meantime the picture I currently have of her in my head will have to suffice. Not to worry. One day soon I will eventually find a representation of her, just as I did for all my others, hopefully before I’m halfway through writing my WIP.
Wise words from Derek Haines
My blog is listed here among others. 😉
How much wood could a woodchuck chuck
If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
As much wood as a woodchuck could chuck,
If a woodchuck could chuck wood.
If you are of a certain age, chances are that you learnt that tongue twister in primary school, just as I did back in the nineteen-fifties. It is a perfect example of the overuse of specific words, even though in this case it’s just a fun thing for kids to learn and to attempt to recite.
Many emerging writers tend to rely on a limited vocabulary, even though most words have perfectly acceptable alternatives. How many times have you seen specific words endlessly repeated in the first book written by a new writer? Either that, or their incorrect versions.
Chances are you will come across examples of words when writing, which while sounding similar when used in actual conversation between two people, are completely wrong in a given instance within any piece of writing.
Note to self – hmm, a lot of words beginning with ‘w’ in that last sentence. Must watch that. Damn, there’s another one!
If you want an example of similar sounding words think about there, they’re and their. They all sound exactly alike. But in each instance they have a totally different meaning. Even simple words we all use such as and, can and do become seriously overused by most writers. I’m no different in that regard. I’ve even been known to start a sentence with it on occasion, for example the one word question – “And?” But only during a conversation between some of my characters.
What I’m about to say, I’ve said in previous posts here on my blog. But just for you, here it is again – once you have written that first draft, go back over it many times during its edit phase. Make sure that one of your editing sessions is solely dedicated to deliberately finding alternatives of those words you are so fond of using.
How? Use the synonym function incorporated into your writing software in conjunction with a dictionary and thesaurus. Even better, why not rewrite certain sentences using completely different words, that convey the same meaning as the original one?
Before some of you feel an attack of righteous indignation coming on, and are thinking of going on the offensive, I am fully aware that I have used several words in this post more than once. In this instance I am completely justified as I’m merely pointing out that every one of us needs to pay heed to the way we write.
In short folks, do your darndest to avoid using certain words too often. Damn, there are two more – your and you’re, to and too. Allowed is yet another example of a word that sounds the same when spoken even when spelt differently. Its cousin aloud has a completely different meaning. The list is endless. Is it any wonder that so many people find the English language hard to come to grips with?
Next, I would just like to point out something to all of the various types of literary cowards who insist upon hiding behind pseudonyms, such as a number of the armchair critics, pedants, grammar nazis, literary snobs etc, who inhabit the darker recesses of the Internet, each of them purporting to know far more about the written word than most writers. None of us likes a smart arse who deliberately sets him or herself up as a critic.
To all of the above – I can only surmise that what you appear to be suffering from is the literary equivalent of penis envy. Remember this, apart from being counterproductive, jealousy tends to feed on itself. Never forget that. It’s the only reason I can think of for why you deem it absolutely necessary to be so vicious towards not only the newcomers, but also seasoned writers, whether Indie or traditionally published?
First of all, may I suggest that you get over yourselves. Secondly, instead of endlessly criticising new and seasoned writers, by issuing those interminably boring, often repetitious one and two star reviews you are so fond of placing in the public arena, in your pathetic attempts to destroy a writer’s reputation, as some of you still tend to do on Goodreads and Amazon (you know who you are), why not actually try to write a book yourself. Maybe you already have, which probably accounts for the way you behave. But go on, give it another try. Far better to occupy your time by writing a book. Once you do, prepare yourselves for when it is torn to shreds by your fellow trolls. In other words, I’d think long and hard if I were you before you feel the overwhelming desire coming on, to rubbish someone else’s work.
Like most writers, I always refrain from reviewing some books, especially those written by new writers, if they did not succeed in gaining my full attention by drawing me into the story. Believe me when I say that it’s always better to do that, rather than to publically condemn, and by definition, earn yourself a reputation as yet another vicious troll. If I ever feel the need to offer criticism, its usually in the form of advice done privately, well away from the gaze of the general public, either by email or when chatting to writers on Facebook.
You should try doing the same…
Well that’s enough for today. It’s back to my current W.I.P.