Monday, 30 July 2012

New Worlds

Summer didn't quite last a week but at least we got a few days of sunshine to help prevent a country-wide epidemic of rickets come winter.  With this Monday being decidedly chillier than the last, there was no sitting outside for me today.  Yep, it was back to fluffy socks and hooded jumpers.  Probably a bit excessive for some people but I have been reliably informed that I am in fact a corpse.

The cooler weather did give me the opportunity to type up all of the long-hand work I'd done during the sunnier days.  This managed to perfectly illustrate one of my main problems with long-hand, though: an inability to track my word count.  As is my habit, I appear to have waffled, to the extent that I now need to do some major cutting on chapters two and four as well as the previously-mentioned chapter one.  *sigh*  I hate cutting.

I've also recently starting doing some research for elements I only touched on in book one - namely, witchcraft.  I'm not going full-on Harry Potter, wands and broomsticks.  Although my novel is obviously still fantasy, I want to have the story grounded in the idea of history.  It's easy to do, really - to simply imagine that all that talk about witches and magic hundreds of years ago wasn't down to ignorance and superstition.  To think what if it was true, in some form, and the stories simply got distorted over time.  I love that idea.  There are just so many possibilities.

Building up my own mythology is something I'm really trying to work hard on.  It was easy enough in the first book to gloss over the details because the reader was discovering as much as Rhonda was - that is to say, very little.  Now, my characters need to gain knowledge.  They need to start learning how to gain the upper hand.  And in order for that to happen I need to make my world strong.

It's something I've always admired about the great fantasy works - how those authors (Rowling, Tolkien, Lewis) are able to create such vivid, complete worlds.  We never see it all in the novels, but you can still feel that the details are known, that they're there, just beneath the surface.  I want to do that, to create a world so rich and so solid that it feels real.

Not a difficult goal at all...

I feel exhausted already.

Monday, 23 July 2012


I sat outside in the sunshine for a few hours today, my extravagantly large hat keeping the sun from burning my face.  It was bliss to finally feel warm again.  Having spent so much of the winter - and a large chunk of the 'summer' - being perpetually cold, I can't express how great it was to feel the sun heating me right through to my bones.

I'm like Superman, except without the awesome powers, ability to save the world and the underwear over my tights.

I always find I'm more in the mood for writing when it's sunny.  Really, I'm more in the mood to do anything when it's sunny, which is probably one of the reasons why I've felt so unproductive these last couple of months.  Of course this desire to write can be a little problematic in that the sun is, naturally, outside and my computer is not.  I therefore end up writing it all long-hand.

I have no problem with the good ol' pen and paper - after all, it's not going to crash on me, is it? - although it can sometimes take me a little while to get round to writing it all up on the computer.  But at least these little bits get some extra editing, as I transfer it from one medium to the other.

The first third of book two is not all that coherent at the moment.  I'm still writing bits and pieces rather than doing it in a linear (sane) way.  Right now, I'm trying to fill in the blanks.  And of course this fill-in-the-blanks thing would be much easier if I was at my computer with the rest of what I've written so far, but as covered above we have the problem of the sun not being located in my house.

I worked on some scenes for chapters 2 and 4 today.  This seemed like a reasonably sensible choice give that chapters 3 and 5 are already done.  But what of chapter 1?  Well, it has now gone from being woefully sparse to now having too many words, so I'll have to do some significant editing on that to get it up to scratch.  Oh dear, why do first chapters always give me so much trouble?

Here's hoping that the sunshine will last at least a little while longer so that I can get more done.  As my horseriding instructor put it today, I appear to be solar-powered.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Why I should never answer the phone

So right now, I'm the most embarrassed I have been in a long time.  It is not a feeling I enjoy.  This is why I'm such a hermit, I reckon: because I'm too much of a twat to be released onto the general public.

My tale of woe isn't writing related, but I'm going to talk about it anyway in the hopes that - like talking to some sort of silent therapist - it won't plague me for the next several months, reducing me to a puddle of embarrassed goo.  It's not even that much of interesting story.  It's not really interesting at all.  But given that I spend too much time in my head - and not always in an enjoyable way - I figured I'm going to air the angst anyway, regardless of its entertainment value.

I just answered the phone.  Not something too extraordinary, you would think.  Something any normal person would be able to do without making a complete idiot of themselves.  Well, to start with I, for reasons best known only to my unconscious mind, answered it in a stupid voice, assuming it would be my father calling from France.  Then joy!  It was indeed my father, allowing me to give my pratishness full reign over the course of the conversation.

Except of course that it wasn't my father.  The horrendous static had in fact disguised the voice of the caller to the extent that I assumed it was my father but was in fact one of my father's friends (who I've met perhaps once), a fact I only realised when he asked to speak to my father.

Needless to say, with my face now glowing hotter than a non-British-summer sun, I hastily concluded the phone call, opened my door and screamed my embarrassed woe to my brother.  So now I will never leave the house, answer the phone or look at another person ever again, just in case it is this friend of my father's, who know doubt wonders what sort of idiot my parents have raised.

Ugh.  Okay.  Rant over.

Do I feel purged, light as a feather, free from the burden of emotional turmoil?  Well no, not really.  I'm pretty sure I still feel like a twat.

On to less angsty subjects (that which I had started writing about before my ill-conceived decision to answer the damn telephone) - the writing thing.  The actual purpose of my blog, rather than it being a vehicle for my self-obsessed ranting.

I think I'm going to have to write myself a schedule, for both Hide and See and its as-yet-unnamed sequel.  Talking with Natasha, a friend from the MA, I gave myself two targets ending with '...and I aim to get that done by the end of August.'

Admirable goals, to be sure, but looking increasingly unlikely if I don't get my arse in gear and spend more time writing and less time being an idiot.

Progress for my writing has always gone better when I've had a strict schedule to follow so I'm thinking that I should stick with what has worked in the past.  I intend to finish the first third of the sequel's first draft and I need to start sending begging letters out to agents for book 1.

I know which option sounds more terrifying.  Yes, that would be Option Number Two - the one which gives me more opportunities to make a complete arse of myself.  Not that that's particularly difficult.  Clearly.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Wishing for Thursday

I am returned from Dublin, with The Warlord's Legacy unread but a few partial scenes for Hide and See's sequel either typed or handwritten in various places.

(I really need to start thinking of a title for the sequel.  I can't keep calling it 'The Sequel'.)

I was disappointed with The Warlord's Legacy (as you can probably tell from the not-having-read-it-thing).  I only got to the beginning of chapter three and gave up.  In the short amount I read, I think we'd been in at least four different points of view, and none of them were particularly engaging.  The main character (as I judged from the blurb, not from the actual novel) didn't seem all that likeable.  I know characters need to have flaws but this man just seemed too unappealing for me to care about.

Therefore, I am sorry, but this is going back on the shelf.  Maybe I'll pick it up again at a later date when I'm in a more charitable mood!

I'm happier with the few bits of writing I did during my holiday.  There isn't much, but what I did I felt reasonably good about.  I also might have finally found the beginning of chapter one!  Hurrah!  Although knowing me, it will change drastically by the time draft three or four eventually comes around.

I also had an idea about how to keep my new world ordered in my head.  The fortunate thing about Primary-World fantasy fiction is that I don't have to create an entirely new reality, but there is still plenty of lore I need to keep track of, especially in book two (and book three should I ever get there!)  I'd hate to make a mess of it so I'm going to put myself in the proverbial shoes of my characters, and keep note of it the way they do (although there'll be more colour-coding in mine, I think).

It's all felt a little hectic since I got back on Saturday.  I spent Sunday trying to catch up on everything I missed - it's extraordinary how many mundane little things need to be done after just a week away - and yesterday and today I had training days at work.  Tomorrow is volunteering as usual but Thursday... ah glorious Thursday!  How you beckon enticingly to me from the future!

Thursday I will finally sit down with my notes and figure out just what is going on.  That's the plan, anyway.