Tuesday, 1 November 2011

New experience

Well I've just been mighty brave. Or mightly foolish. Because I just signed up for a Novel writing Competition.

The November Write a Novel competition to be precise, run by the Office of Letters and Light Programs. The objective is to have written 50'000 words of a first draft Novel by 30th November.

Now before you say anything, no, I'm not going to just submit the novel I've already done. That would defeat the purpose and would be cheating. Instead, I'm writing a completely different novel but set more or less in the same universe. It will use the same history, races, politics etc but from a different angle. And seeing as its putting a bit of pressure on me I hope it will force me to be creative.

Which actually, it has already succeeded in. I've written just over 2000 words straight up, grabbing time during work and play, to type up stuff on my mini-laptop. This has put me slightly ahead of the game (as you have to write just over 1600 words a day to get the magic 50k by the 30th).

And this new novel is very different. Instead of concentrating on many characters, this one concentrates on only a few. Their is a bit less action, more drama. And hopefully as it progresses, a bit of investigative work too. That's the plan anyway.

And plan is a very board term and really I've started this completely from scratch. Instead of years of planning, this one just kicked off with a weak idea and I let the main character just do their thing.

We'll see how it progresses. Might even prompt me to update this blog more!

And meantime, I haven't forgotten the main Novel. 237 pages now. As I write this new novel, the old one gets updated as well (easy enough to have two word documents open at the same time afterall) and with pressure put on me due to the new novel I find little ideas appearing for the old one as well. Which I gleefully note down.

It is going well. A good start. Hopefully, with time invested, this will continue.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Building blocks

For the second time in the books life, I have printed it out. 219 pages currently (their was some trimming). Now comes the long process of working my way through those 219 pages and making it fit together.

As good as the inspiration has been over the last while, a lot of the scenes I've been writing do not fit into any particular part of the story. With the print off, I can now start looking were they can go. And also what other scenes are required to connect everything together. It also let's me see if the characters are actually interacting right and the plot making sense. I've already located a few plot holes and filled them in.

Theirs also now the opportunity to apply the skills I've learned to older portions of the book and make them read better. Certain scenes written at the start of the year do not read as well compared to more recent work.

Still getting a fare amount of time to work on Novel but work continues to get in the way. Then again its getting in the way of all social interaction so I may get used to it.

I've a feeling now that the deadline in december is attainable BUT will be tight. Theirs still so much more to do. But, I remain confident and am grabbing every spare moment to get stuff done.

It is getting there.
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Sunday, 9 October 2011


221 pages. Not including the 32 pages of background information, 16 pages of character bios, and 15 pages of additional short scenes that haven't found a place in the book yet (well, this book anyway).

221 pages of actual 'Novel'.

Question. Were did that come from?

For Months it was the occassional page written, or even 5 to 6 pages in a row if I got a sudden burst of inspiration. But this week and last week the ideas have been constantly appearing.

New characters. Revisions of old characters. New locations. New scenes, revised old scenes, complete rewrites of entire chapters. Politics, religion, military matters, economics.

In a very short space of time all these considerations have sudden risen to the fore and I find myself considering them during the most odd of times.

My notebook, that I keep with me at all times is now a quarter full. And instead of 6 separate microsoft word documents of story, characters etc, i have 10.


Well, I've a few theories.

I've been happier than I have been in a while. Much more settled, much less stressed. But then, that's been the case for the last year so not sure that's it.

Or maybe its just that I've 'been in the mood' for writing. But again, I've been in that state before and have been no were near as creative.

Do I have more time on my hands? Again, not really. Life's as busy as ever with wargaming, Socializing, RP games etc. I have the same demands on my time (not that that's a bad thing to any of my mates reading this blog. You guys are cool).

Thinking on it, I think the main reason is this. I'm becoming a writer.

Odd thing to say considering technically I've been writing for the last year. But I mean getting properly into the mind set of a writer. Thinking, deeply, about the book. What would character A do in situation B? Would they use item C or Item D? How would they react to character E? Suddenly, ideas cascade into each other. Forming scenes and interactions.

Suddenly I'm looking at my scenes and thinking 'that sentence is too long' or 'she wouldn't say that'. Then I'm reading over others work and thinking 'I like the way he describes that' or 'I can just picture him doing that.'

I find myself critiqing in my head others stories, both professional and amateur. Sounds aggrogant in the extreme (especially considering the two horrible spelling mistakes I've just made. Yeah, I'm dyslexic so Microsoft Spell checker is officially a gift from God in my head. Accept in this case when I'm typing this from my Blackberry. Sorry.).

But its not about thinking my work is better. Its about thinking how I can improve my work based on what I think of theirs.

Its coming together. And I'm enjoying it. I love writing this book and I have a good feeling about it. I love the characters the situations I've been able to put them in. Even if this never gets published, I'm glad I started it.

We are still on schedule to finish the 1st Draft by end of the year. I hope the inspirations will continue.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

I hate the word 'said'

Yes its been a while but for good reason.

I've been hammering away at the Novel, with 185 pages now written and a whole raft of scenes and chapters written or at least planned out.

The problem is this. The word 'said'.

This cursed word is cropping up all over the place and I'm having damntable difficultly getting shoot of it in any which way.

The issue is that a lot of my scenes start as dialogue. Literally just dialogue, often between just two characters. Its only afterwards when I go through it again that I flesh it out, describing the scene and the characters as well as the context of the scene.

All this is all well and good. But the pigging word said continues to just creep in!

The solution is resolving itself slowly but surely as I go over those old scenes and get the old thesaurus out. But still, I'm annoyed at myself on relieing on it in the first place.

Meantime, am still on schedule for finishing the 1st Draft by Christmas. Stay tuned.

As hopefully next time I'll maybe put up a scene or two. We'll see.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Thursday, 28 July 2011

I love dialogue

Well found out two things. First, I can indeed email from my phone to update this Blog, so will be taking full advantage of this.

And secondly, I love writing dialogue.

Sounds like a very general thing to say but its true. Looking at the characters I've created so far and the interactions between them, Dialogue has become the thing I most enjoy writing. Plus depending on how I write the dialogue can do wonders for figuring out just what this character is like without having to go into a detailed description.

For example, one of my characters is something of an upper class snob. Thus, instead of going into too much detail about his manners or even what he's wearing, I'm attempting to communicate this in his dialogue.

Without giving too much away I've taken inspiration from the character of Neil's in the series Frasier. Think of that what you will.

Despite these 'good' revelations I've only got doing a little on the Novel this week due to an event I'm running this weekend.

We're now up to 114 pages now plus more background pages. First 2 chapters are looking a bit better and I'm starting to refine the character interactions more (due of course to said discovery of 'the fun of dialogue'). Plus think I'm starting to write better and more interesting descriptions. Time will tell once I start to post some of them up here. We'll see.
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Monday, 18 July 2011

Testing times

Very brief kind of update as this is a 'test' of bloggers email capability. Can I email blog updates in other words.

Hopefully, I can as it would be a good excuse for procrastination via yet another electronic meduim.

Meantime, just a little word on progress. I'm starting to tighten up 2 particular aspects of the Novel. Vocabulary and grammar. The two main 'tools' in my writing tool box that need the most refinement.

Its all very well producing good story / characters etc but it means nothing if the descriptions make no sense or are just plain boring.

Thus I'm working my way through what I've got and 'correcting' were I see correcting is needed. Technically I should be doing this in the 2nd draft but. Well, damn it I can't help it! Must. Correct. Spelling!

Still, means once I do start posting up aspects of the work at least it'll make sense and I'll be slightly less embarassed by it.

We'll see.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Sunday, 17 July 2011


Time.  Plenty of it around, yet i never seem to have any.

Thats the problem with writing a Novel.  You need time to do the writing.  Time to check over paragraphs, construct character backgrounds, figure out were character A is going to go and how they'll meet up with Character B for Situation A in location Z.  All this takes time!

Unfortunately (or Fortunately, depending on your point of view) i'm a very socialable person.  Time, is thus, not something i have a great deal of.  I spend time meeting with my friends, with my family.  Going to events (birthdays, Weddings, Team deathmatchs).  Organising events (birthdays, weddings, Airsoft Skirmishing events).  And generally, being human.  Heck, a lot of the ideas that are slowly making their way into the Novel come directly from these activates.  Without them, a lot of the characters would have nothing to do.

But the way i'm reading Stephen Kings: On Writing, it looks like a writer leads a far more solitary life.  He, or she, needs time to themselves to figure out all of the above 'writing' requirements.  I had figured this already even before starting writing.  But to see it in plain text, written by one of the worlds most successful authors, forces you to think on it a bit more.

This has given me pause for consern.  i want to write this novel.  But not at the expence of my friends and family?  not something i'm prepared to sacrifice on what is, for me, just a hobbie.

The solution as manifested itself, rather simply.

Make the Novel the number one priority in ones own life above all other 'hobbies'.

Thus time is freed up but not at the expense of my social life.  I can still head out to the pub with mates, and simply write up on the Novel another night.  I just won't paint that particular wargaming model, or play that particular computer game, or even purchase that particular Airsoft Gun.  I see this arrangement as no bad thing.  The wargaming Models will always be there, the Video game is always going to run on the Xbox.  And their certainly not going to stop producing Airsoft Guns any time soon.

And once the First Draft is done (hopefully within the next few months.  Decembers the deadline of sorts.  I say 'of sorts' case you think i'm being optimistic) I can celebrate by doing one of my other hobbies and not feel as if its cutting into my Novel Writing Time.

Suddenly, time is available again.

Speaking of which, better get back to it.  I have this evening to myself (after not feeling at all well earlier on) and intend to take advantage by doing that 'writing' business I keep talking about.  Hopefully some more ideas will come to me tonight.  And I might even post them up here!  if their any good.


Wednesday, 13 July 2011

And so it begins

Hello internet.

This Blog is an opportunity for me to bounce ideas off you in regards to the book I'm writing.   In addition, this will be a place to vent frustrations or indicate progress. To complain of writers block or to brag about a particularly good idea I've had. To be somewere to indicate that, yes, I'm actually making progress. However good or bad.

For those who don't know me, or what this is all about, allow me to enlighten you.

I'm writing a Fantasy Novel.

Don't get too excited, as despite that rather grand statement I lack a great many writing skills to put the idea to paper. But I am learning.

I have the plot and I have a whole lot of characters already crafted. The vast background to the World of this Fantasy story is likewise built, providing the bare bones to the tale. Ready to accept the flesh.
But putting flesh to those bones, to make the story a living, breathing thing for people to behold, is the difficulty. I lack the critical abilities of writing dialogue and description to make this work.

I must learn these skills as well as others, if I am to succeed. This Blog will hopefully chronicle my successes, or failures, in this regard.

The first step to correcting the above deficiences is reading two particular books.

The first is Stephen Kings: On Writing. I've just finished the 'biography' part of this book and I'm now getting into the part of actually 'writing'. Direct and to the point, Stephen King's writing on writing has already given me a lot of food for thought.

Quotes such as "let the characters dialogue tell the truth" and "don't overburden the reader with overly detailed descriptions" have struck a cord already and made me take a good look at what I've already put down on paper and, shall we say, correct it.

The second book, is oddly, the second book in the 'Song of Ice and Fire' series by George R R Martin.  Yes, 'Clash of Kings' is the other book being read in my spare time.  I had previously finished reading Mr Martins first Masterpiece, 'Game of Thrones' (finished just before the TV Series aired) so I now have Clash of Kings and the rest of the series to complete reading.  Afterall, if your going to learn, learn from the best.

Exceptional and unique characters, a vast rich world and fantastic detail.  All qualities i hope to introduce to my own attempt.

This is not to say that these are the only books i've taken inspiration or schooling from.  I've likewise read a great deal of Terry Pratchett's novels ('Night Watch' and 'Feet of Clay' being particular favourites), as well as the wonderfully titled 'How to be a writer' (makes sense) and 'How to get Published'.  I think i can safely leave it up to you to figure why i read them.

Anyway, thats the introductions out of the way.  Over the next few months, stay tuned for updates as I craft this thing.  Characters, places, items and plot.  All will appear on here one by one.

Lets hope they make sense.