The Guardian – Another Progress Report

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Is one of these The Guardian?

As I’m halfway through writing chapter two of The Guardian, I need to take a break while I do some more thinking. Without giving too much away, I will say that at this stage in the novel there is an undeniable sexual tension gradually developing between the two main human characters – Adler and Lynne. Whether or not they become lovers, I haven’t decided yet.

I’ve just introduced a third human character Professor Ephraim Adelmann, an old friend of Adler’s. Lynne is not best pleased by his attitude towards women.

Like most of the academics I formerly worked with for twenty-five years at the University of Waikato back in New Zealand, while academically brilliant, Ephraim wouldn’t last five minutes in the real world. His speciality is ancient languages. I based him on a particular academic I have admired for years who works in the British Museum, Irving Finkel, who is an acknowledged expert on ancient languages.

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          Irving Finkel

I’m finding it difficult not to spill the beans when it comes to clues regarding The Guardian, which is why I constantly need to step back and seriously think about what I am going to say next. In the past, especially with my archaeological adventure The Forgotten Age it was fairly obvious what was going on. As a consequence it was an easy book to write. Well not this time. By hook or by crook I’m determined to keeping you guessing until its time for Adler and Lynne to encounter The Guardian.

More later…

😉 😉 😉

At the moment, The Guardian is a red pen free zone

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Is this The Guardian? Wait and see…

One of the joys of writing a first draft is that it is a red pen free zone. Until you reach the end of the story, anything goes, incorrect spelling, incorrect punctuation, even the wrong words and phrases – you name it and you will find you have added it. Beginning the first of many editing sessions is the time to take a critical look at what you had initially written over the many months since you started.

By not worrying too much about what you have written in the first draft, it allows you to get that idea out of your head and onto paper, or in my case, this laptop’s screen. Initially you can write the way you think, instead of observing the standard form of English required for the finished product. To look at it another way, just imagine that at this stage your WIP (work in progress) is nothing more than a very long letter to a friend or relative. While it tells the tale, inevitably it is a tad mixed up. Everything you wanted to say is right there in front of you. Now all you have to do is make sense of it.

The time when you have to become your own worst critic comes much later when you begin that first editing session. To achieve this you have no choice but to become totally ruthless – not an easy process when it comes to your literary toddler. But until you delete some passages, replacing them with others. Cut and paste a particular sentence, or sentences, into the correct place, or maybe even totally rewrite a paragraph or chapter, you haven’t edited it properly.

As for my new science fiction novel, The Guardian, I have finally written the core of chapter one in just 1,996 words. In it I have established the three principal characters Major Adler Stevens, Lieutenant Lynne Crawford, and The Guardian itself. All the way through the chapter, the characteristics, quirks, likes and dislikes, all part of the relationship between the two humans, have been revealed. Not so with The Guardian. All you know about it at this stage is that it watches anyone it deems to be a threat, and…

Oops almost gave something away then LOL.

Fleshing out the chapters will come much later, once I have finished writing the first draft. Now it’s on to chapter two for me.

More later, be good.

😉

There Is Far Too Much Emphasis Placed On Planning

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I know I’ve spoken about planning in the past. But like a lot of seriously overused writing crutches, it bears talking about yet again.

So many new and not so new writers insist on planning every single detail in their current work in progress almost to the point of being totally paranoid about it. It’s as if they need an Idiot’s How To Guide to be able to write. It has to be said that following this inflexible method leaves nothing to be desired. Neither does it make you think before you write. Nor does it allow you to make use of your imagination, not to mention being adventurous and therefore spontaneous. Give me research and spontaneity over planning any day.

It’s fine if you are just another hack with no imagination whatsover, ghost writing for a living. But I ask you, where’s the fun in that? Where is the creativity? Where is that spontaneity I spoke of? Where is the unique thinking?

As far as planning goes, all you really need is the beginnings of an idea. From that comes the who, why, what, where and when.

Do what I do. Sit and think about it long and hard while doing something else entirely. This blog post is a classic example. I was thinking it through while writing a bit more of the first chapter of The Guardian earlier today. But before you planners out there who by now are bristling with indignation say anything, remember that there is a fundamental difference between what you do and thinking about what to say.

Once you have a vague notion, make a few notes about where the story will take place, how many characters, their names etc. There is no need to go into great detail. From my point of view, as far as planning is concerned, that’s it! There is no need to continue. Instead, start writing.

If you want to use a specific location, research everything you can find out about it before you begin to write. The same goes for the nationalities of your characters. Each nation, even ancient ones, has its own peculiarities which inevitably become typical character traits. Remember, research, don’t plan!

Take my tip. Forget about planning out everything. If you plan then you already know where and how the story will end. Inevitably you will write to that conclusion. It’s far too restrictive and therefore predictable. In fact it guarantees to kill off any ‘out of the box’ thinking which is a basic fundamental to all writing, necessary to keep your readers guessing. I far prefer to find out what happens next as it occurs in any given moment in any story I write, just like my readers will when they eventually read it for themselves.

How do I achieve this? First of all keep the number of characters to a workable minimum. Get to know them by clearly establishing who they are. How? By letting them talk to each other. Listen to them. Put yourself in their place for any given situation. Then all you have to do is ask yourself what they would do. It makes no difference whether or not they are good, bad or indifferent. Sly, honest or dishonest. Handsome or ugly. Old or young. Male or female. The point is that you as the writer must know each character inside out before you begin to engage them in anything more than conversation. Why? Because you need to know their strength’s and weaknesses before you put them into a situation that may prove detrimental to their health.

Of course if you intend killing them off at some stage of the proceedings, it doesn’t really matter. Which is a pity, as by now you have invested a lot of time, effort and thought in getting to know them. Most writers do kill off the odd character or two. That’s fine just so long as they are not the principal ones. In other words your heroes or heroines.

In my new WIP, so far I have just three characters. Like all of my recent books I prefer to listen to them before writing from the point of view of each one. One is a typical by the book ex British Army officer. The next is a no nonsense veteran bomber pilot, formerly in the Canadian Airforce. As for the third, it is The Guardian itself. The only thing I will say about the latter is that it’s been around for several millenia.

PS – I almost forgot. As of this morning – Saturday the third of January 2015, I’ve written 1,310 words (three pages) in the first chapter of The Guardian, slow by most writer’s standards. But not so, if like me, you want to produce a work of fiction that keeps the reader’s attention from page one until the end.

More later.

😉

Keeping Track of Those Characters

The Time Before Map

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In addition to the progress report yesterday, here is a little more on the subject of updating Glob’s Tales.

Have you ever wondered how any writer, let alone myself, manages to keep track of however many characters we may employ in each novel, or in this case, anthology? Purely for your interest, here is the almost full compliment of characters for Glob’s Tales, and my brief notes about them, in no special order. When you are dealing with so many, believe me, you need notes like these with the key points about each one.

Count them up.  😉

***

Glob – oldest of the Goblins, leader. Has an ash staff tipped with a magic Emerald to summon Yathle the Wyvern. He loves to read ancient chronicles.
Byz – simple minded, apt to wander off if not tethered. Plays reed pipes, loves playing with spiders, snails, worms etc.
Mous (accident prone) always substitutes z for s. Prone to sulking often has bitter arguments with his best friend Make.
Neo – severely cross eyed, extremely bad tempered, love’s Miranda with all his heart. Makes an excellent mead and is responsible for manufacturing their willow bark boots, sewing them together using a bodkin and thread made from the best spider silk.
Make – Pipe smoker, portly; normally content with his lot. Loves honeysuckle flavoured tobacco. His most prized possession is his bestest briar pipe. Often despite regarding him as his best friend he accuses Mous of stealing his possessions.
Limberespan Van der Graff (Lim) – a distant cousin of Glob. On the run from a convict gang
Grizweavil Bragsbill (Brag) – mountain goblin archer and overseer of the gang Lim escaped from, intent on killing him.
Giath the Minotaur – set free from beneath goblindom by Byz forgetting his promise, never to play the tune again. A mythical beast from the underworld, who lives on the other side of the barrier. He is freed by Dill and rampages through the world. The humans living beyond goblindom’s magic barrier are dying in their droves.
Dillfeather Fairglorn (Dill) – a mountain goblin, who raids the nearest human settlements. Fierce and warlike.
Artemus Wainpin (Mus) – goblin Shaman, seeks help from the brothers and Yestin to combat Dill.
Monkwig Gribblehang (Monk) – chief of the mountain goblins
Miranda – Mica’s old mare, the love of Neo’s life is totally infatuated by the old cross eyed goblin. Her heart beats faster whenever she senses him close by.
Agnitha – Mica’s beautiful wife, daughter of the village shaman Yestin
Ylesse – daughter of Mica and Agnitha, dotes on her goblin uncle Neo
Mica – Humin and friend of Glob and co
Verig – Humin warrior
Cantor – Humin warrior
Jasper – Humin warrior
Manx – Humin warrior
Bejuss – One eyed lisping raven with a deformed beak always says me for I.
Yathle – wyvern, and her two sisters, Maeve and Iolanthe. Black slit pupils set within mesmerizing golden eyes, armoured head, similar in shape to her distant dragon cousins, snakelike tail with vicious barbs, metallic coloured scales, thick and powerful legs, two toed feet, armed with razor sharp claws – friend to all Goblins. Main weapon – fiery breath in the form of bolts of fire. Always comes to their aid when summoned with Glob’s Emerald topped magical staff. Lives beyond the edge of the world. Wyverns are the mortal enemy of griffins.
Ariadne – Yathle’s cousin
Brilith – Plump, kind hearted, white witch of the East
His Esteemed Magnificence Obadiah Fingletook, Grand High Goblin – lives in the ancestor oak with the mother of all goblins, arrogant, childish, loves admiring himself – lazy.
Hermione Fingletook, the mother of all goblindom and the real power in Goblindom
Yestin – village shaman and father of Agnitha, grandfather of Ylesse
Crellen – Black arts wizard, teacher of Cazophen
Morweth – White Wizard, friend of Brilith
Lox – friendly female wood elf
Boggis – near sighted one eyed mountain troll – wicked, partial to snacking on goblins after fattening them up. Lives in a cave in Stone Mountain.
Slyth – griffin, friend of Bejuss
Garr – griffin Slyth’s brother. Griffins are the bane of all goblins – terrible creatures who think nothing of ripping off the legs of the goblins they catch.
Kilycke – black dragon
Grimefleet Binglenook (Bingle), the last elder goblin survivor of the battle of Blaxhorn, the war between good and evil fought between the Black Wizard Crellan and the product of his evil experiment to produce a compliant halfling Goblin/Humin – Persephone Witchclaw. Bingle lives to the south of the valley. Neo loves him dearly. Deaf as a post, bad tempered and almost blind, Bingle uses a carved snail shell as an ear-trumpet. 200,000 years old. He still wears the traditional sombre brown clothing common during The Time Before.
Grimsdyke Mugwurzle (Mug) northern plains goblin – purveyor of seeds. Upright, honest as the day is long. Large wart on the end of his nose sprouting five black hairs, thick animated bushy eyebrows – weather-beaten countenance – doesn’t appreciate a joke, nor mead. Jet black eyes. Uses ‘thee’ and ‘thine’ for you and yours.
Smikewhistle Pontigle (Pont) – goblin tailor
Grassnit Thimblefoot – Hermione’s chief scout
Figblaster Cornshuffle (Fig) Bearded mountain goblin – bounty hunter – gruff, frightening acquaintance of Neo’s
Fleetwood Cranberry (Cran) quick change artist, sly, devious, extortionist, thief and robber
Peesmold Grifflemew (Mew) goblin sage and leader of the wise council- friend of Bingle
Gropewort Winglemite esquire (Wing) aged plains goblin- toothless, cataracts – forgetful – always says ‘at yer service and so forth’ whenever he introduces himself.
Spindlenook Winglemite (Nook) – Wing’s pipe smoking younger brother. Tarred platted pigtail, long silver grey beard, smokes Elderberry flavoured baccy. Nook spent his whole life in the goblin navy on the great river, rising to the rank of captain. One eye, one arm, one leg.
Piemite Sweedlenewt (Mite) – travelling storyteller – 1’4″ tall
Pigwort Minkclaw (Mink) – ex miner who ran away. Blind and dumb – dying from the toxic effects of Crellan’s mine
Grythle Snickweed (Snick) – mountain goblin mercenary – employed in the pressgang for Crellan’s mine
Broglik Cantfurgle (Brog) – plains goblin mercenary – another member of Mordern’s band of thugs
Mordern Bigsnook (Dern) – plains goblin and escaped felon. Leader of the pressgang – sly, devious. Presses you into service.
Snailwort Dewthorn (Dew) – goblin seer. He predicts the future via his massive throbbing bunion.
Oliphant Wiseblat (Oli) – rogue plains goblin. Murders and robs all across Goblindom
Morag – queen of the humans accepts the help of Goblindom
Olin – human chief, son of Morag. Sees Bejuss as either Huginn, or Muninn – Odin’s raven messengers.

***

PS – How many did you count? This isn’t all of them. Just the main ones.

Only ten more tales to go.

🙂

“Man, the novella I’m working on is so emotionally draining.”

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What we’re talking about here is one writer’s admission that whether she realises it or not, she is finally getting totally inside the heads of her characters. She is a dear friend from across the pond in the US State of Kentucky.

She said to me recently while we were chatting on Facebook, “man, the novella I’m working on is so emotionally draining.” To which I replied, “Congratulations, you are finally allowing your characters to take you over.” Meaning that in effect she has stopped trying to dictate what her characters get up to, by following a preconceived plan, to become a reporter of her character’s every move as they write the story for her.

Untill you as the writer first get to know and believe in your characters, no matter whether they are good or bad, how can you possibly expect your readers to do the same thing when they read your book? In a lot of cases these days, so many characters in books are one dimensional to the point where I have to wonder why the author of the book included them in the first place. In other words, unless you invest all of you’re time and energy in your main characters, in effect they are nothing more than peripheral to the story. The concept cannot be taught no matter what some may say. To achieve it you have to allow the story to write itself. Yes it is emotionally exhausting. That’s the way it should be for the author of any book.

My friend has finally emerged from the chrysalis stage of her career, to become the writing equivalent of a beautiful butterfly. In other words, a fully fledged writer.

I’m so proud of you Mysti Parker, so very proud. 😀 xx

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Click on Mysti’s picture to go to her Amazon page

 

 

Progress Report 11

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That should read – Do Not Disturb, Editor At Work

Well folks, hopefully you will be pleased to know that I have now completed eight chapters, or 18,177 words in thirty five A4 pages. Chapter eight has proved to be a real challenge as I have moved well outside my male comfort zone to introduce the beginnings of a highly controversial love affair involving the principal character, Dr Gilbert Briggs.

Who he has fallen in love with, and why, will have to remain a mystery for now. Sorry about that, but I love teasing you. To write about Gilbert’s love affair, I have drawn on the way I met and fell completely head over heels in love with the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, back in the nineteen sixties in South East Asia. She was a Montagnard named Mai. (You will note that I did say ‘was’. Both Mai and our four month old son, John, were killed in a bombing raid while I was away.)

All I will say at this stage of the proceedings is that the object of his heart’s desire is not at all like Mai. In fact, I doubt that there are many books in existance which involve the kind of person Gilbert is attracted to. Mind you I may be wrong. I haven’t checked.  😉

As I feel that I’m about halfway through the story (at the moment, it looks as if it will be a novella), before I go any further its high time I did a full line by line, paragraph by paragraph edit, even though I have been constantly editing as I go. Besides which, I need to check out each chapter in its entirety, adding things which hadn’t occurred at the time of writing, as well as subtracting others that contribute nothing overall to the story so far. The other thing I need to do is look at each chapter as it stands. It may be that I might find the need to amalgamate two chapters. Only time and careful editing will tell.

As I have said previously, it does contain a certain science fiction element. But the further I progress, the more the story dictates what will happen next. There is now no doubt that it has developed into a full on adventure. That’s the beauty of being flexible about adding various elements to the mix. Sooner or later one will become dominant over the rest. By doing this major edit, hopefully it will ensure that the story will become, as far as is humanly possible, a troll, armchair critic and pedant free zone. When I’m happy that I have brought the story to its conclusion, I’ll do another major edit.

PS – In the future if I decide to add a few more chapters, it may well wind up as a full length novel.

More later.

😀

Progress Report 10

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Could this be it, or is it yet another Red Herring?

Well folks the word count now stands at 15,333 (29 A4 pages). I’m at the beginning of chapter eight. Things are really hotting up. I have included a love interest with a difference (note I did say with a difference) for the primary character Dr Gilbert Briggs. Not that he needs the distraction, or so he says. Hah – yeh right Gilbert. Pull the other one, its got bells on it mate! All I’m saying about her for now is that her name is Arianna, and she’s an absolute stunner.

Before I got too far along I decided to make a ‘Table of Contents’ page with hyperlinks to each chapter, enabling you to go straight to any chapter. Unfortunately its not the same process as adding hyperlinks for my other eBooks on Amazon. So I had to ask my good friend and fellow writer Derek Haines how to go about it. In response, he sent me the link to a ‘how to’ video –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpB9hmlgeU4  If you have wondered how to do it, click on the link and take a look for yourselves. Just remember that the version of MS Word he uses for the demonstation is old. I halved the number of steps he takes to get the job done with my up to date version of Word. Once you have done it for the first chapter, its dead easy to remember each time you add another chapter.

One other thing – To Hell With The Trolls! This one will not only be in paperback, but also eBook. But if your hoping to get a free copy, I’m sorry but because of the trolls it ain’t going to happen. Nor will the eBook be priced at US$0.99 either. I’m thinking somewhere around US$3.00. That way, if they want to tear it apart in their usual way (one star reviews), they’ll damn well have to buy a copy like everyone else. Once again, sorry about that folks…

More later.

😀

Progress Report 9

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It might even be here. What might?

Well folks, the word count now stands at 13,119. Or if you prefer it, twenty-five A4 pages. I’m still working on Chapter Seven. While I’ve added those two extra characters I was talking about in Progress Report 8, I’m still trying to work out how I draw one particularly nasty individual out into the open – the second of the new characters. There are so many ways to achieve this. I just have to decide which is the best scenario, considering my main characters and the way they react when it comes to any form of danger to themselves. To that end, progress in this chapter is slow. But, I’ll get there.

This story is definitely dictating how it wants to be written. So far I have broached two highly controversial subjects, Religion and Sexual Identity, within the context of the story. My character’s views on both thorny issues are guaranteed to upset some thin skinned people out there who are easily offended. All I will say is that they/you need to remember one thing. When you read this novel, it isn’t reality. It’s nothing more than a fictitious tale. That’s the beauty of fiction. You can ask questions, or suggest explanations for practically anything you care to name, without it reflecting your own personal beliefs and prejudices. Some individuals forget that when they read a book.

With all of the clues I’ve given you so far, do you think you know what the story is all about yet? Maybe they’re not clues at all. Why have I used photographs of various cityscapes for each of these progress reports? Could they be Red Herrings? You’ll just have to wait and see, won’t you. Even some of the categories listed below this and all of the ‘Progress Reports’ could be nothing more than Red Herrings.

More later, but only if you’re good.

😉

Progress Report 8

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It might even be located here…

Well, I’ve just finished outlining Chapter Six. Things are beginning to get complicated, or should that read –  the plot is taking on a life of its own dictating what will happen next? I’ve just inserted yet another Red Herring. I had no choice, the plot demanded it, so there! That’s the fifth one to date – I think. You’ll have to take my word for it for now. The word count now stands at 11,232.

I have to admit it, I’m really having fun. Thinking about it, I’m in totally new territory in that I have temporarily departed from the way I’ve written up to now. This book is completely different from my normal practice of writing books that I personally want to read. But then again, even though that is the case, it is intriguing enough to hold my interest. That may sound a bit screwy as I’m its author. But my fellow writers out there will understand (I hope).

Sticking with one writing formula doesn’t necessarily compute. There is a tendency for you’re writing to become stale. Let’s face it, as writers we’ve all felt like we were producing fomulaic stuff from time to time haven’t we? With six mostly successful books under my belt, it’s time to experiment. What have I got to lose with number seven? Nothing. Either it appeals, or it doesn’t. The point is, I’m thoroughly enjoying writing it.

I chatted with Chris, aka The Story Reading Ape yesterday. As you may know he is a dab hand at making book covers for a reasonable cost that won’t break my bank balance. I sent him an email spelling out what I was looking for this time. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with.

At the moment I have three, no make that four, chief characters. Besides the main character Dr Gilbert Briggs, who is English, two are New Zealanders like myself. In fact they’re based on two friends I worked alongside during my days at The University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand. I use pure ‘kiwi’ when either of them speak. The fourth is a ‘god’, or is he? You’ll have to wait and see. I’m about to introduce two more characters in the next couple of chapters, not necessarily human.

In the past I’ve published ‘snippets’ of one or two of my books here on my blog. Sorry folks, with this one, the more you are curious about it, the better. How will it be received? Well, that’s in the lap of the gods, if you’ll pardon the pun. Earlier in a previous ‘Progress’ post I said that it has a certain science fiction element about it. While that’s true, think of various myths and legends from the past concerning gods. Some of them are involved. No, I’m not telling you which ones.

😀

PS  – I’m taking a well deserved rest until Monday morning. Meanwhile I’ll continue cogitating over whether it will be an eBook, or a Paperback, or both…

A Writer’s Secret Desire

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As writers we all write for the love of words and telling tales. We all say that we don’t really care if no one else likes what we write.

Really?

Yes I love writing with a passion. Yes, writing is everything to me. Yes, I enjoy the feedback I get from those of you who have read any of my books, whether it is good, bad or indifferent. At least the vast majority of you took the time to see what makes me tick as a writer.

Like most writers I know, I do not include any of the following in that last statement – Trolls, Pedants and Armchair Critics. Each of those groups are nothing more than self-important fools who believe that they know more about words than the average writer does. A lot of what they say when they attack any writer, in particular Indies, is down to professional jealousy, and envy of your modest measure of success, when you consider that in some cases, they are writers themselves.

As writers, be honest. Wouldn’t you just love to have at least one book that made people sit up and take notice of your endeavours? I know I would. With each book I write (at the time of writing this, I’m busy with my seventh), I like to kid myself that this one will become a best seller. I thought that when I wrote my fantasy anthology back in 2012.

Despite critical acclaim it wasn’t.

So with this latest one well and truly on the way (the word count now stands at nine thousand and I’ve almost finished outlining Chapter Five – almost), here’s hoping that it finally breaks through the invisible barrier that all books struggle to navigate their way through. I’m not asking for much. Just to be able to say that one book of mine was a best seller.

Is that asking too much? I honestly don’t know.

One thing I do know, the book I’m currently writing will create controversy, maybe even anger towards me among certain elements within society. Do I care? Do I hell as like. If I make you think when you read it, then I have done my job.

😀