Book Giveaway: The Alchemist of Souls (30/5/2012)

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I have two copies of Anne Lyle’s Alchemist of Souls to give away, both of them signed. Usual deal – comment here if you’re interested and I’ll select at random. I’m most of the way through reading this and thoroughly enjoying it – strong characters and a pleasing sense of Elizabethan England with some not-quite-human creatures brought back from the New World. Also was Fantasy Faction’s reading choice for May.

The copies I have to give away don’t include my very dog-eared reading copy!

MOPNOWRIMO Day 29; Sniper in a Diaper[1] (28/5/2012)

Posted in News

Target wordcount: 80000, actual words 74000

The big multi-strand climax is kicking off nicely enough and the Unassailable Fortress of Utter Impregnability in which our heroic heroes are heroically . . . well . . . barring the doors and muttering pleasegoaway pleasegoaway a lot is turning out to be quite a challenge but my antagonists appear to be up to it. Two unexpected strategies for bashing their way in already and I appear to have foreshadowed another and . . . and . . . Well, it’s working out as a denouement, which is a relief given how the rest of this has gone.

There is an inciting incident behind this series of books that was originally written as the prologue to the first one and then met the Devourer of Prologues and ended in the Big Prologue Bin In The Sky. It involved three people trying to steal a glimpse of something that had been snatched away by the Thing That Isn’t Quite Human because of it being a Secret With Which Man Was Not Supposed To Meddle. This trio has supplied my protagonist and my principle antagonists and here I am at the end of three books and the protagonist is in the right place (albeit currently imprisoned by the heroic defenders for being the Wrong Sort Of Person) and so is the antagonist and all is set up for the inevitable showdown. If this were a movie, we’d be heading into the final twenty minutes or half an hour or so where a bunch of CGI creations fight with another bunch of CGI creations and lots of CGI stuff gets smashed up and I frequently start to get a bit bored.

The story has written itself such that I have two minor characters stranded in the middle of enemy territory. Right now they almost literally don’t dare to move. Sooner or later, however, the principle antagonist has to pass by where they’re hiding. They know this. That’s why they’re there. And right now it’s so incredibly tempting to let it work. Let the hidden snipers take out the antagonist. Don’t have them fail with a near miss but let it work. Deny the story its great showdown, because in the real world it almost never happens.

I probably won’t. And if I do, I suspect my editor will object. But it IS tempting.

[1] Actually they’re not, but they wish they were because they’re stuck with not being able to move for days.

MOPNOWRIMO Day 27 (26/5/2012)

Posted in News

Target wordcount: 75000, actual words 69000

Is it just me or was this more fun last time round? The final battle has started at last. That’s something. Not sure how long it’s going to go on. A while.

At this stage in writing a book, it usually feels like being on the home straight. I’m Red Five and I’m going in, and one way or the other there’s going to be a bang at the end. It’s not usually difficult to fly these last 20-30k words. This time…

See, a part of me knows I’ve got the right characters and I’ve got the right relationships between them and it does all come together in the right place at the right time, and everything that needs to be foreshadowed or at least mentioned before someone turned up and uses it has either been written in to one of the volumes or noted for inclusion (and there are several of those). The overall timeline is finally in order, the geography well enough set, the history finally all lined up. The next week of working on this isn’t going to change any of that, and now it feels like a wasted week. I want to go right back to the start of the first book and sweep through all of them and start putting all the details right. There are a couple of reasons for this – first it’s much much easier to do those rewrites, and secondly because I want to run from the start, now I finally finally can, and put it all together properly. Oh and also I want to submit some manuscripts.

However, I won’t be pandering to that urge. In part because it’s bad practice and poor discipline and the ending will always look like it had one rewrite fewer than everything else. But also because there’s always the chance that I’ll write the final page and some character will show clutching an antimatter bomb and it will be entirely right and proper and fit with absolute perfection into the narrative and the ending, and the only trouble will be that at no point ever in the three volumes up to that point has anyone ever mentioned that the viking-esque savages happened to also have an antimatter bomb.

So no, Stick it through right to the end with that first draft.

The Science of Avatar (23/5/2012)

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Dragon book winners have been mailed. Next up – Stephen Baxter and the Science of Avatar. It has science? Apparently. Haven’t read this myself but Baxter generally knows his stuff (for what my opinion is worth…!)

Usual rules apply – comment if you’re interested and I’ll select at random on Friday evening. Only one available copy this time.

MOPNOWRIMO again day 23 (22/5/2012)

Posted in News

Wordcount target: 59000. Actual words 57000.

I have completely lost sight of whether what I’m writing is any good or whether it’s rubbish. There are now half a dozen tweeks and twiddles that need to be engineered back into various scenes in the first half of the book, some of which I continue to forget when I should be remembering them and others are now being written in as though they were there all along. The result is what we, in the writing world refer to through our uniquely obscure jargon as A Write Mess(TM).

At this point I’m into the last half of the story and since that;s also the last sixth of the trilogy, the pace will be ramping up and the action will be building all the way to an end in which all the threads will spectacularly come together in a grande finale that is as inevitable as it is rewarding, or else they won’t. And in writing that section of this first draft, I will completely forget the rambling nonsense or insightful and swift yet precise character portraits of the first half. And by the end, I will have just as little idea as I do now as to whether what I’ve done is any good and will have completely forgotten all the fiddles that need to be done until I start the rewrite and look at the notes I’ve left for myself[1]

To some extent this happens every time. With the last one, it felt distinctly uneven throughout the first half too, and then settled later, and with the first half recast into that shape, it worked. At least, I think it did. The rewrite seemed easy enough anyway.

So I cross my fingers and my toes and prepare to send all my small attack craft on their final all-or-nothing mission to destroy the death star and come back covered in glory, and all the while, it’s never quite certain that Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon are actually in the story at all…

Nine days left. This isn’t going to be finished in a month this time.

[1] Things like A is going to have sex with B later. So they should act like they might at least secretly be interested in each other. Which I then forget in once scene, remember in another, and then forget again afterwards and it’s all like it never happened except for two chapters somewhere in the middle. Or the whole bit about the stuff that one group of characters are supposed to be carrying around with them that I keep forgetting they have. Sort of like the Wages of Fear where they not only keep forgetting that the nitro is there but it really does keep vanishing .

Dragins. Fooking great dragins. Fooking thousands of them! (21/5/2012)

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I wanted this to be the shout-line[1] for The Adamantine Palace, or at least for The Order of the Scales. I suppose there were some problems with putting that into Waterstones. Ho hum.

I have books to give away again, this time paperbacks of The King of the Crags and The Order of the Scales as one lot. That’s the UK editions and I will sign and line them if you want. Perfect for anyone who got The Adamantine Palace but never got around to the others.

ORDER OF THE SCALES draft coverKing of the Crags - Draft cover

[1] That’s the bit on the front of the book that says “THE LAST HOPE HAS COME!” and other things that often make me cringe. Hopefully the title and the author’s name and the quote from that nice other author who had is advance withheld until he gritted his teeth and said something.

MOPNOWRIMO target 56000, achieved 55000. Still trying to figure out where this book is going. More tomorrow maybe…

Avengers Assemble – Director’s Cut (18/5/2012)

Posted in Critical Failures

Iron Man: Right, this bit goes here and this clearly goes there.

Thor: I-Kee-A? What is this demonic pantheon?

Iron Man: And then this here . . .

Captain America: Hey, Iron man, this bit of paper you screwed up and threw in the bin, are these the instructions?

Iron Man; Yeah, yeah . . .

Black Widow: Flat-pack furniture? I’m out of here.

Hulk: Hulk too. Flat-pack furniture bad for hulk’s self-control.

Iron man: Hey, wait a minute there big guy, this needs more than one person with a brain.

Thor: Hey!

Captain America: They are the instructions!

Hulk: Hulk not think this bit fit right.

Iron Man: Trust me, it fits. And if it doesn’t fit, make it fit.

Thor (picking up Allen key): What’s this?

Arrow shooty guy: An Allen key.

Hulk (peering over Captain America’s shoulder): But Hulk not find screw A13? Why nut B26 too big for bolt D3?

Thor (picks up hammer): In Asgard we have hammers. And nails. Hammers and nails. This is how wardrobes are made.

Iron Man: And this bit here and we’re done . . . Not. It’s a penguin. We made a penguin.

Captain America: I really think you should have read this first.

Arrow shooty guy: (Shoots penguin) I’ll be with Black Widow (leaves).


Iron Man: I think it’s the penguin’s beak.


Thor: Loki! Only Loki  could be behind something so fiendish.

Iron Man: Behind the penguin? Because I don’t think he is. I think if you look you’ll find that’s Hulk.


Iron Man (after a long pause): Well I still think it was a penguin.

(exeunt to pub)

MOPNOWRIMO day 19: Spam (18/5/2012)

Posted in News

MOPNOWRIMO update: Target: 45000 (mumble mumble) Actual Words: 45000, and no, after mid-afternoon Wednesday there was some , er, playing Dungeons and Dragons instead. Now I have to work weekends. Meh.
I continue to know exactly where this book is going. I have no idea how it’s going to get there or why it’s doing what it’s doing. I think I’ve largely given up trying to have any say in this one at all. It seems like its aiming for roughly the right conclusion. Maybe. People will have angst. People will manage their angst by a) exchanging angsty stories, b) having sex and c) hitting things. Not necessarily in that order. At the end, a lot of angst will be resolved, hopefully by hitting things rather than having a massive group therapy session.

In the book give-away, Eric was won by an Eric, which seems fitting, even if wasn’t chosen by something related to elephant seals in the end.

Spam. Spammers and spambots, you are rarely, but sometimes funny. Apparently I have killed 46,500-odd of your comments over the years this site’s been up, but your persistence, I feel, deserves some reward. So now and then I shall acknowledge you

“of course like your web-site but you need to take a look at the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I to find it very troublesome to inform the reality however I will surely come back again.”

I feel I should respond to what is, after all, a very fair criticism:

Dear Spambot,

It is true. There are many, many spelling mistakes on quite a few of my posts. There are grammatical faux pas. This is because I inform the reality a great deal and do so at high speed with little application of critical judgement or peer review[1].

There. Other spam of note:

I’m curious to find out what blog platform you have been working with? Apparently from a purveyor of tutus.
Thanks for another informative blog. On a post from years and years ago on the crapness of a local supermarket.

…your “Diamond Cascade” page was difficult to find as you were not on the first page of search results. Yes it was, muppetbot. No site EVER pips me to top spot on that search term. Who the hell searches for “Diamond Cascade?” anyway[2]. Fuck off.

watch game of thrones episode 8 season 1 I thank you for your wise advice, spambot.
I enjoy what you guys are up too. Such clever work and coverage! Keep up the wonderful works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my own blogroll. No you haven’t. Fuck off.

Spam: A fine way to while away the minutes when you were supposed to be writing. Heh.

More books to be given away on Monday.

[1] I’m even worse at novels.

[2] people interested in jewellery apparently

Something Funny Comes This Way (another book giveaway) (16/5/2012)

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So, my sword-toting sass-talking thieves aren’t quite as popular as a certain Mr Lynch’s eh? I shall try to look surprised. Did you know we have the same editor at Gollancz? No? Do you remotely care? no? I’ll shut up about that then and get on with what matters…

The next book I’m giving away is Eric by Terry Pratchett, again in the yellow hardcover Gollancz 50th anniversary edition. Usual rules apply – post a comment here if you’re interested or else reply to me on Twitter and a winner will be randomly selected on Friday afternoon after 6pm. Which sort of makes that the cut-off for registering an interest except I might not get around to sorting it out until later that evening due to acts of gods, small children or cats. The last winner was randomly selected by the OpenOffice random number generator, for those who care about such things and I’m contemplating selecting the next one through some random process based on an as-yet undetermined behaviour of elephant seals. They must do something random, right?

One day the random number is going to be chosen to be equal to the number of typos I later see in the giveaway post. One day…

I haven’t read Eric so I can’t speak for its virtues, but it was selected for the Gollancz 50 so I assume it’s good. Don’t say too many nice things though or I might decide to randomly select myself and keep it :-)

MOPNOWRIMO update: Target by new-plan-that-should-still-see-me-finished-by-the-end-of-the-month-honest: 40000 (but we all really know it should be 65000) Actual Words: 39100ish, but given I’m writing this mid-afternoon, there might yet be more. And also curse you trip to Tescos because we ran out of toothpaste…

Started the day with a sex scene. The next scene waiting to be written is a sex scene. Is it spring or something? Sometimes when I look in the sky I see a strange hot yellow ball thing that I have a dim memory of seeing before in some previous life. I think it must be an omen.

I’ve noticed a thing (trying to help the rest of you writers here): I’ve taken to going and doing some exercise some days first thing in the morning before I write, a little bit more than the usual re-arranging the DVD shelves or the old D&D miniatures. It’s becoming a consistent enough observation to convert into a theory – after a decent spree of physical exertion, I write more and faster for the next few hours. Is it better? I have no idea but I DON’T CARE!! Really not. That’s what the rewrites are for.

Look about those random numbers (you know who you are) – STOP IT! I was a mathematician once and I’m halfway to building a random number generator in my head to generate the method for generating a random number differently each time. It’s going to be dice now, OK. After the elephant seal thing.

MOPNOWRIMO Day 16: Helter Skelter (15/5/2012)

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Wordcount target: Sod this not-having-a-plan lark. Strictly 60000 by now but I used to work in an industry where no deadline was ever met if we could possibly help it and re-planning consumed 90% of the available resources (more if we were doing particularly badly). So it is and always was 35000, right.

Words written: 35000 (which tells you I re-baselined my plan today, doesn’t it).

Two weeks ago when I was writing the first chapter of this, I had an idea that this story was a straightforward action-adventure, the culmination of a battle for racial freedom and personal identity that was going to be resolved by lots of macho shouting and speech-making and hitting things with axes or plasma bombs or whatever else came to hand. With a nice satisfying resolution in which the Forces Of Bad(TM) are soundly beaten (despite it being touch-and-go right to the end) and the hero maybe gets the girl or maybe, for a slightly tragic twist, dies nobly in the Last Stand That Saves The Universe and gets to have his savaged body[1] wept over a little before all the Ewoks come out and the celebrations begin and there are fireworks everywhere for no apparent reason (did the Ewoks have firework technology? I think not. So what, some bright spark of a rebel logistics officer sat there and thought I know – assault on the new Death Star? Better bring some fireworks just in case?)

Apparently I was wrong. Apparently this is a story about two people who desperately want to be together but somehow neither can quite give the other what the other wants and needs without compromising what they believe in. With all the other stuff, too. If the Laser-toting Deathknights are absent for the next few chapters, that’s because they’re off getting basic training in relationship counseling and when they come back, it’s going to be with cups of tea and comfy chairs. Sheesh.

Sometimes, when the opportunity for a good run at this comes, I’m laying down 2000 words an hour. I dread to imagine the quality of it, but right now, I just need to get to the end of the damned first draft so I can find out what this story is actually about. Please?

[1] or the sub-atomic particles that used to be his body, in the case of plasma bombs

More Book, More Thieves, More Swords! (14/5/2012)

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The Lies of Locke Lamora competition winner has been been chosen and notified (provided she gave the right e-mail address). Today’s offer is The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice by yours truly. Not so much banter, more foul-mouthed rhyming slang. Take your pick…

thieftakers apprentice cover

As before, comment here or reply to me on Twitter for a chance to win. Entries will be taken until the end of Tuesday and then there’ll be another book up for grabs. A Pratchett, I think :0

For those who asked, winners are chosen by random selection. I ask one of my little people to choose a number.

MOPNOWRIMO Words written: 20500

Free Books! Thieves! Swords! (11/5/2012)

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The Fenrir competition winner has been been chosen and notified (provided he gave the right e-mail address). This weekend I’m giving away a copy of the Thief-Taker’s Apprentice Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch. This is the very yellow hardcover Gollancz 50th anniversary edition with an introduction by Joe Abercrombie.

As before, comment here or reply to me on Twitter for a chance to win. Entries will be taken until the end of Sunday and then there’ll be another book up for grabs.

MOPNOWRIMO Words written: 20500

MOPNOWRIMO Day 11: Character Drives (10/5/2012)

Posted in News

Wordcount target: Apparently writing an number down and then crossing it out and pretending that I’m pretending not to have one doesn’t count as just letting it happen at its natural pace.

Words written: 16500

I feel like this novel is roughly back on track. Taken a third of a month to get there but I might yet finish before the end of May. Meanwhile the fallout continues. I can see the characters who took over the previous volume fading right back into the background. This is maybe no bad thing, but so far they’ve shown no interest having any of the limelight whatsoever. Meanwhile the abandoned wife of my protagonist has snatched a chapter for herself and is greedily demanding more. This is a little awkward since her position has always been that going off adventurin’ is all irresponsible when you’ve got family to look after, and while there may be place in the genre for a domestic drama on the trials of single parenthood in the middle of a war, this novel isn’t it. Or at least it wasn’t supposed to be. Laser-toting Deathknights it is,then – don’t think I won’t!

Meanwhile my protagonist is drunk in a corner feeling sorry for himself because no one wants him and another secondary character has turned up who I suspect will make a similar bid for extended air-time. But this is all good.

The thing, I think, that went wrong, was this: I had my story arc all lined up. I didn’t give much thought to the characters because they were established characters from a previous volume. I reckoned they’d take care of themselves. And they did, and it wasn’t compatible with the story I’d set up for them and so the story was broken right from the start. Should have given some more thought to what I’d done to my characters and what that meant to them. This is what I mean when I say things like “my characters didn’t do what I wanted them to do.” Even though they’re basically my puppets. Mumph.

Other news: I’ve seen the draft covers for the re-issue of the Memory of Flames trilogy and if you’ve been following Gollancz on Twitter then they’ve given a glimpse of them too. I’ll wait until the final versions are ready but they’re going to be delicious.

I’ll put up the winner the winner of the Fenrir competition tomorrow, along with the next book up for grabs.

Free Books! Fenrir! Vikings! Werewolves! (9/5/2012)

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Round about now The Black Mausoleum should have been coming out, and due to my own personal immense cock-up, it isn’t. Here’s the blurb and the cover art.

TBM back pageTBM front cover

I feel the need to make amends. So between now and the middle of August when The Black Mausoleum finally comes out, I’m going to be giving away books. Every week there’s going to be one paired copies of The King of the Crags and The Order of the Scales (for those who read The Adamantine Palace and then forgot to get any further) and something that isn’t mine. Here’s the stash as it stands so far:

Stephen Baxter: The Science of Avatar (trade paperback)

MD Lachlan: Fenrir (paperpack)

Anne Lyle: The Alchemist of Souls (signed paperbacks)

The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings Enhanced Edition (xbox 360 version)

Gene Wolfe: The Book of the New Sun (Gollancz 50 edition)

Dan Simmons: Hyperion (Gollancz 50 edition)

Terry Pratchett: Eric (Gollancz 50 edition)

Scott Lynch: The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gollancz 50 edition)

Patrick Rothfuss: The Name of the Wind (Gollancz 50 edition)

Others will be added to the list, depending on how it goes. Every time there’s another one up for grabs, I’ll wait a couple of days and then choose at random from anyone who’s raised their hands either. The next time a book goes up, I’ll say who won the last one. If you’re not in the UK then I’ll still pay the postage but it’s going to get shipped by surface mail and take ages because damn but that airmail shit is expensive.

First up is Fenrir by MD Lachlan, the is the sequel to Wolfsangel[1]. I haven’t read Fenrir yet because I’m rubbish at making time for reading stuff, but Wolfsangel was the dog’s bollocks (well, the wolf’s bollocks). If you like your vikings and werewolves dark, bloody and dangerous, you’ll be pushed to find better. Shout now if you want it! For nothing! I’ve only got one copy of this but if you miss out, it costs less than a packet of smokes to go and buy it for yourself.


(for anyone still following the ongoing failure that is MOPNOWRIMO: day 10 wordcount target 40,000; words written 14,600)

[1] Dark, bloody and dangerous – Me; Simply the most exciting, visceral and deeply imaginative writer of fantasy working today[2] – Adam Roberts

[2] Apart form me, obviously[3]

[3] Although Adam may have neglected to mention that at the time.

MOPNOWRIMO again day 9: Back to the Beginning (8/5/2012)

Posted in News

Wordcount target: 35000; words written 10500

A case of going backwards to go forwards, having moved the resolution of the protagonist’s core dilemma back into the previous book; but that’s done now. Most of what I have now is an extensively rewritten version of the first four chapters I wrote last week. It still slightly bugs me that the first three chapters read like an extended prologue and lets-remind-ourselves-of-the-important-bits-of-what-has-gone-before but perhaps that can’t be helped. It bugs me slightly more that I’m already seeing warning signs that this book is going to be even less centered on its nominal protagonist than the last one. However, neither of these are necessarily bad things and it’s early days. What matters most right now is that the words are coming and the (a) story has started to flow.

I’ve been wondering over the last few days why I’ve had so much trouble with getting started on this month’s project and why the last one, by contrast, went so smoothly. I went back and read through the posts from those opening days, looking for any hint of fumbling for the story and that was how I remembered that last time I’d cheated by writing the opening three or four chapters quite slowly in odd pieces of spare time over the previous month. There’s a lesson there. Now I’m left wondering how important it is.

MOPNOWRIMO again day 7 (6/5/2012)

Posted in News

Word count target: <sounds of tumbleweed> Words written: Look! A squirrel!

The last couple of days have been more about February’s project than this month’s one. Amazing how it had a perfectly good ending of its own and left such a bomb waiting to go off. And much thankfulness that it’s not too late to change. So the last project has a new chapter to deal with that and this month’s project can get on with it. Changes the tone of the last one a little but fits quite nicely, although it’s a fine balancing act to get one particular secondary character right. Final rewrites for that one in June and then July (hopefully). Work on May’s project restarts properly on Tuesday.

Sometimes a book is give a soundtrack, sometimes it acquires one all by itself. This and this. A touch overblown? Yet this is what it wants.

MOPNOWRIMO again: Day 5 (4/5/2012)

Posted in News

Wordcount target: La-la-la- not listening, Achieved: Possibly none.

I realise at this point that in the denouement of the previous book (February’s effort), I’ve written myself into a head-on collision between the two driving motivations that have kept my protagonist going up to now. He’s spent years trying to get home. Having finally achieved that, does he stay or does he immediately walk out again to try and save a friend? Irritatingly it’s take a week of writing scenes and chapters and bits of chapters almost all of which have rung hollow to realise that I’ve put my protagonist in such a bind that I need to make a fundamental choice about who he is and it’s going to be a choice whose consequences ring through the whole of this story. The last time he abandoned his family to “do the right thing” he was gone for far too long. Does he do it again? Which is it that actually matters more?

I think I have my answer now. A curiosity in getting there has been how little the rest of the story has mattered to making this decision. It’s obvious (to me) that the two choices lead to very different stories but that’s as far as any thinking about it goes. I’ve written two books with this protagonist and the only thing that really matters is that he does what it feels that that character should do. I could make it easy for myself by rewriting his wife into a bit of a wet blanket across the series, but I don’t feel inclined to do that either. I also find that I’m not at all keen on starting a book with this dilemma and the choice he makes. It feels more like an end than a beginning.

So where I’m now at is this: The previous book needs an additional last chapter, probably a rewritten version of the second prologue I’d written for this one. May’s project pretty much has to start again from scratch. Some of it can be salvaged. A talk with the editor is also needed just to make sure that my new planned direction for the last book in this little series doesn’t make him run around screaming NOOOOOOOOooooooooo!

Lessons? A few. First thing is, maybe if you write a few opening chapters and your story is already feeling lacklustre, maybe that IS a time to stop and rethink instead of the usual advice I’d off to simply keep going no matter what. Plans don’t survive contact with the enemy, but the lack of any plan survives even worse. And the problem I’ve hit here isn’t a first-in-a-series problem, it comes from trying to write a story with established characters and an established world already locked into place by previous volumes. Maybe that needs a different approach. Maybe that DOES need more of a plan. You might have thought, on the whole that’s I’d have figured that out by now. Slow learner again, I guess.
Reset time. I’ll redo the ending to the previous book this weekend (fortunately I still can – I’ve tried throughout all my books never to completely lock one volume of a series down until at least the first draft of the next is done). On Monday we start again. From scratch.

Also Aaaarghswearswearswearswear.

MOPNOWRIMO again: Day 3 (2/5/2012)

Posted in News | Uncategorized

Wordcount Target: 15000 Apparently I don’t do these any more, Achieved 11400

I think I managed to pass a good half an hour renaming the prologue to be chapter 1 in order to spare it the Devourer of Prologues and then changing it back to being a prologue again, standing proud for the truth of what it is. Actually the real truth is more that the first four chapters (or three and the thing called prologue) are actually the prologue. I could call them an overture and set them to music. Yes, that would waste some more time and be quite a diversion from writing the rest of the book.

Also I have some copy-editing to do. See, that’s useful, that is. And important. And a really good excuse for not having met today’s wordcount target (that I don’t have any more because I’ve been told). Or would have been, if I’d done any of it.

Truth now though: Yesterday, is became unambiguously clear that the plot for which I had such a nice synopsis, was dismally failing to survive even the first skirmish with the characters I’m now left with from February’s effort. The protagonist and the embryonic rebellion that he was now supposed to lead have parted company. Neither want anything to do with the other, thanks very much. They haven’t even parted on good terms, although at least we’ve managed to avoid a custody battle over the secondary characters. Under the circumstances, I think I did rather well to write anything at all. Fortunately, this wilful running-away from the plot is something I’m completely used to from my D&D days and I have a many ways of hurling the plot at wilful parties, most of which involve wrapping it around a +4 exploding half-brink Of Doom and lobbing it.

Protagonist thinks he can just go home to the quiet life, does he? The elegant and sophisticated way to deal with this, of course, is to work with the character’s existing motivations and make adjustments to the rest of the world so that those motivations now seamlessly direct him to his or her intended place in the story such that it seems from the outside afterwards like that was what you always meant to happen anyway, duh! Protagonist just wants to go home? Fine. Let it happen and move the story so it unfolds on his or her doorstep. Protagonist just wants to be with his or her lover? Excellent! make the lover go to where the story happens.

The less elegant and sophisticated way is to take your protagonist’s entire life, family, homeworld, ideology, religion, circle of friends and their families too, and crush them into fine dust under AN UNIMAGINABLY VAST ARMY OF LASER-WIELDING DEATH-KNIGHTS until the only possible motivation left is to go beat the living shit out of whoever did it. Like in Star Wars, maybe, or Gladiator except with more lasers.

Subtlty? Or Deathknights? Hmmm.

MOPNOWRIMO again: Day 2 (1/5/2012)

Posted in News

Wordcount Target: 10000, Achieved 7400

That thing that I always tell anyone who asks never to do? Going over and over parts of the first draft again and again trying to get them just right instead of getting on with the rest of the story? That.

In my defence, maybe that rule doesn’t apply quite as strictly when we’re talking about the general subject matter of the opening chapters. As in totally throwing them away and doing something different. So that was what I did today. Prologue gone, new one written (and a much better one, I think). Chapter one survived unscathed, mostly because I couldn’t bring myself to look and just assumed it would still work. Chapter two substantially re-written but from a different viewpoint and incorporating parts of the old prologue. Better but still not great. Chapter three started.

Wordcount target seriously failed, but my therapist tells me I should take a couple of weeks off from having hard-and-fast targets and just write when the mood takes me.  HA HA HAHAHAHAAAAA!!!

What’s done feels as though it’s in much better shape than what came out yesterday, so I try not to let the wordcount bother. What DOES bother me is that the original synopsis for this book had my chief protagonist becoming a hero/leader of the rebellion, whereas the previous book largely failed to establish this and it’s clear from just the opening chapters that the rebellion doesn’t want him and he doesn’t want it. So, er… what was this book about then?