Another work in progress begins

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If you read my recent post you will know that I have an idea for another book. This time concerning a freelance assassin, or perhaps that should read avenging angel – identity and gender unknown.

So, while I work on completing the rewrite of my fantasy anthology Goblin Tales. And before I begin the rewrite of my science fiction space opera The Berserker Saga, I have already begun playing around with the opening two paragraphs. This is what I have so far:

“It was all so vivid. Not only could I see every detail. But I was aware of his deodorant and the lingering smell of his last meal, still heavy in the air. I had just witnessed the violent death of my first target, without actually being there.”

“Weeks earlier I had had the same recurring dream. Each night I came to dread falling asleep. It was always the same. A woman’s thoughts constantly invaded my mind. She wanted her husband dead. I had no way of enquiring why she wanted him gone. And yet I knew somehow or other, I must help her achieve her goal. If only to give her, and myself, peace of mind. The first thing I needed to do was determine who he was and where he lived…”

~~~

What you have just read is what we writers like to call, the hook. It is a device to gain your attention, hopefully meaning that you will want to read the entire book.

While it is only a rough draft of the book’s beginning, in other words, not written in stone. I would be interested if any of the murder mystery buffs among you are intrigued by it? Let me know by leaving a comment…

More later

🙂

Short Story Writing

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On its own is a short story important? Not necessarily. But as a proving ground to try out ideas with the view to expansion into larger works at a later date, short stories are an invaluable tool.

The trick is to always to keep it short – between five to fifteen hundred words. While you’re writing, if it’s any good your mind will automatically want to expand it to novelette, novella or even novel length.

Don’t give in to temptation. You’re writing a short story!

The main thing to remember once you’ve decided on its subject, is that it must always be brief and to the point. I know I’m repeating myself, but its a fact. How many short stories end up as novelettes when the author looses all sense of self-control?

If you believe your short story is truly worthy, hand it over to a few people to read, in other words employ beta-readers. If their verdict is favourable, the next thing to consider is whether or not to leave it as a single short story, or perhaps the first of a series or anthology, just like my Goblin Tales.

To create any story, especially a short one, you must keep you’re writing tight. Don’t get carried away with what I call flowery prose. In other words don’t feel the need to fill it with utterly pointless rambling.

Unfortunately many short stories I see these days were quite clearly not thought through before being published. To that I say be your own worst critic. If it looks and sounds like total rubbish when you read it out loud, chances are that’s exactly what it is. But don’t let that put you off. Learn from it. So get busy and write a short story.

Remember – mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

😉

Well, Its Hyperlink Time

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As I draw nearer to completing Céleste, now is the time to begin inserting the hyperlinks necessary for the e-book version. What do I mean by that? As it will be in preorder mode for maybe a week or ten days prior to its publishing date, you will still be able to take a look at the first few pages using Amazon’s Look Inside feature. The first hyperlinks you will come across are on the second page. They consist of two pre-publication reviews by two fellow science fiction writers. I will also be adding them to Céleste’s blurb on Amazon, minus the hyperlinks. After you have read what they have to say, by clicking on their hyperlinked names in the e-book, you will be taken directly to books by them I deem to be their best. I’ve done this in grateful thanks for their involvement in Céleste’s journey from idea to end product.

The other hyperlinks you will find are on page three, consisting of chapter headings. By simply clicking on the relevant chapter you can go straight to it, once you have bought your copy.

As for Céleste’s e-book price, I’m still thinking about that. One thing is certain, it won’t be any more than my usual US$2.99. Both of my fellow authors, Nicholas Rossis and Derek Haines, agree that I’ve cracked it once again with this science fiction romance. Its success or failure all depends on whether or not the reading public agrees with what they had to say in their pre-publication reviews…

More later folks,

Jack

😀

At long last, another milestone has been reached

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The significance of the burning eyes on the cover will only become apparent once you read the novella

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I’ve finally reached another important milestone during the writing of my latest science fiction work in progress – The Guardian. It seems to have taken me simply forever to reach this point. But at long last I have finally passed the magic twenty-thousand word barrier after endless rewrites, the way I far prefer to go about writing these days, over any other method you care to name. Why? Because it is how I ensure that no inexplicable turns in the storyline have occurred. Or maybe something was glossed over, (the latter thanks to Bob Van Laerhoven, who kindly pointing out a couple of missing pieces of information to me the other day, after I had asked him to read through what I have written so far) as well as eliminating any punctuation and spellign errors. Damn! There’s one for a start.  😉

Now for the last few thousand words, which like the rest of the story, I’ll constantly be rewriting as I go. Not for the first time has the story dictated where it wants to go next. This time I need to split the characters up into two man teams, which means that the enigmatic guardian would appear to have a tactical advantage over them as it is thoroughly familiar with it’s own home territory, meaning that it instinctively knows every nook and cranny, hiding place and ambush point, unlike my characters. Although I have to say in their defence that they are learning. Maybe it will be triumphant. Maybe they will. Either way I’m really going to need to be on top of my game as I now intend writing the rest of the story from each team’s particular point of view, while at the same time continuing to write it from an overall perspective. A literary challenge definitely not for the faint hearted, if there ever was one. Meanwhile I’ll continue on in the same vein until this particular novella is as error free and near word perfect as I can possibly make it for all of you.

More later

😉

As a writer, sooner or later your editor will let you down!

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They’re not pefect despite what they may say…

Face it, some editors only really care about how much money you are paying them. It is not until you become a writer yourself that you not only notice the errors that editors miss in any given book, but also how many there are. I’m not just talking about incorrect spelling, but the use of totally wrong words; things like missed spaces between a fullstop (period) and the capital letter of the next sentence, as well as either a lack of punctuation or far too much of it.

Let us also remember that some editors see nothing wrong with a book’s pages becoming nothing more than solid blocks of text with no break to make it easier to read. To give you another example, some editors in cahoots with certain publishers plead the old chestnut ‘house style’ as their excuse to cover a multitude of sins, like which type of quotation marks they prefer – single, or double.

It matters little that the book you are reading was self-published, or produced by a small press or one of the traditional big five publishers. More and more these days, with each book I pick up, I’m finding errors, which any editor worth their salt should have picked up on long before it went to print. If they were threatened with the sack, or were told they would not be paid for allowing those annoying mistakes to slip by, maybe all editors would be more vigilant! Heh, a chance would be a fine thing. Or in other words, don’t hold your breath…

Before any of you reading this while professing to be an editor has an attack of apoplectic rage brought on by what I’ve just said, if you are truthful, you know deep down that in all likelihood you have never ever turned in a totally error free manuscript for publication in your entire working life, due to time and business constraints. That being the case, the editor’s credo should be more haste, less speed. Maybe you need to stop thinking about how many other writers are waiting for your services, along with how much money you charge and concentrate on presenting a quality product for publication instead. Just a thought…

Why am I bringing this to your attention as editors and writers? Simple. When a member of the general public reads and reviews a book, their opinion (which is all any review is when you think about it) won’t necessarily be about its content or subject matter. More than likely these days what it will be about are the mistakes the reader found, or thought they had.

For instance – quite often anyone who is not an American writer will be taken to task for what some Americans see as misspelt words. To them I will only say this – apart from American English (which bares little or no resemblance to the original – English English), there is also Canadian, South African, New Zealand, Australian and Indian English. To my knowledge they are the main branches of the language. Each form of the language tends to spell some words differently.

Getting back to the general public – will they blame the publisher for any mistakes found in any given book? No. To the average reader, publishers and their editors don’t make mistakes, which of course is total baloney! They’re human just like the rest of us, despite believing they are a cut above humanity in general!!!

Instead you will find that to the reader’s way of thinking, the fault lies wholly with the writer. Once again many readers cannot seem to appreciate that all you did was write the story, employing someone to edit it for you. If you as the writer are to be blamed for anything, it’s thinking that once you have written the manuscript – that’s it, job done. Wrong! Never let your editor get away with too much by not picking them up on those inevitable mistakes. Like you they’re not infallible. Between the two of you, errors should be eliminated.

Here’s a thought – if you want to improve your image as a writer, learn to edit. While your at it, employ beta or copy readers. Personally I do both. With each book I write, the number of errors has dramatically reduced. For instance, my novella Cataclysm, written last year, literally only has one very minor error – a space between quotation marks and the first letter of the first word in a sentence. If I can do my level best to eliminate all errors as a self-published writer, so can the editor you are employing.

Am I going to fix it? No. That way the author hating internet trolls, grammar nazis, literary snobs, and other assorted self proclaimed experts such as pedants and armchair critics will still be able to appear smug when writing their inevitable caustic reviews of it. You just can’t please people like that. So don’t even try. Don’t be put off over attempting to edit. It’s not that difficult. Like anything else, all it takes is time, patience and application, as well as a damned good command of the English language.

Remember this – It doesn’t matter what we do as writers, if we make use of professional support and it is less than satisfactory, we’re sunk!

😉

The written word and I

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Evelyn Waugh – Born October 28, 1903. Died April 10, 1966

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I was listening to an old radio interview with the English writer Evelyn Waugh a couple of nights back on BBC Radio 4 extra, first recorded in the nineteen fifties. He is probably best known for the iconic television series Brideshead Revisited. Towards the end of the interview he was asked if writing got any easier as he grew older. I thoroughly agreed with him when he said, “No. The older I get, the harder it is to write.”

While I’m no Eveylyn Waugh by any stretch of the imagination, the older I get the more I go through the same thing he did. My latest science fiction work in progress – The Guardian is a case in point.

Does it mean I’ve come to a grinding halt? No. Perhaps I have run out of ideas? No. Maybe I’m bored with it? No. Could it be that I’m suffering from procrastination? No.

What it does mean however is that with eight books of mine out there in reader-land for you to be getting on with, I am in no hurry to finish the ninth. Like all other serious writers, I strive to improve with each new book. Plus, writing for 8-12 hours per day, seven days a week is not the way to go about it, unless you want to suffer total burn out. Writers don’t just write. We have a life.

Daily word counts no longer matter to me the way they did twenty years ago. What does is the way I construct the words and their relevance to the story as a whole. Plus, unless I’m in the mood to write, it simply doesn’t happen.

With each chapter, each paragraph, each sentence I write, they no longer flow freely. Instead I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to say. More importantly, how I want to go about it. The fact that I haven’t written another word in my WIP for over two weeks is neither here nor there. When the mood takes me, I’ll get back to it. But not before.

***

With science fiction being my first love, I found and posted a quote from Ray Bradbury on my Face Book page the day before yesterday. Here it is:

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My sentiments exactly Ray. I couldn’t have said it better myself…

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PS – I see WordPress has decided that not only is the old Stats page no longer automatically available, but also the old familiar, tried and tested Add Blog Posts page as well! At the time of writing this post WordPress switched it back and forth between both versions. Most annoying! I don’t know about you, but I hate change for change sake. I really wish they would stop imposing upon us what they want us to use, especially when the originals worked, and worked well I might add. My biggest gripe with the new blog post composition page is that WordPress has shrunk the damned workspace!

Bah Humbug!!!

😉