Tuesday, 16 October 2018

'Hero' is getting a girlfriend

'Hero' is the name of the little chap who sits on my desk and who acts as a bit of a Muse for me. I blogged about him ages ago. He usually sits on the thirty-minute sand timer I have on my desk, though occasionally, he gets moved about. Most of the time he's brandishing a sword.

Anyway, for a variety of reasons, but mostly just because I like it, I've bought the female version. She too comes with some spare hands (and feet) and a selection of accessories. Her accessories lie more in the guns, knives, daggers, and more guns area than the laptop, book and pen section of Hero's box of tricks.

Hero's box of hands and accessories
(no, not creepy AT ALL)

Picture of the accessories for the girlfriend, from the website I ordered her from
(Hero may have met his match here...)

Why do I want to have them on my desk? To be honest, I just like Hero there, and I'm also getting back into sketching (which is, after all, the original purpose of the figures - as artists' models), so having two figures is useful. But actually, a lot of the time, I just chat to him. Or his presence reminds me that I should be writing, not browsing through Twitter or Facebook! Occasionally, I set him up as a Muse for a scene I'm writing (swords definitely handy here) to help with description and to prompt my imagination.

Anyway, he must be working as I'm already almost 20k words into the first draft of the new book! Maybe more on that, next week!

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

I've finished the first draft!

Phew! This draft of "book 7" (actual working title is "Aeron Returns") is finished! This is the middle book of a fantasy trilogy that I've been working on, on and off, since 2014.

Of course, just because I have a first draft doesn't mean the book is finished. No, I still have work to do on it, but the skeleton is all sorted and most of the muscle and sinew is there. I still need to do more editing before it goes off to beta readers, and another heap of edits, polishes and a proof-read when it comes back from them and the professional editor, but the hardest edit is done.

For me, the writing process runs a bit like this:
Have an idea
Write loads of notes about the idea and come up with a germ of a plot
Plan out the plot
||: Write
Change/tweak the plot :||
  → Come up with a zero draft
Go back through zero draft and sort it all out until I have a decent first draft
Go through it again and sort out all the over-used words and the craply written bits
Send it out to beta readers
Fix the issues they come up with
Send it to a professional editor
Fix the bits they say are wrong
The zero draft of this book was what I had at the start of September. I was coming back to this book after a long time away from it and I thought it would take me forever to get it from tangled spaghetti to first draft. I always find this is the hardest edit to do, but also the most satisfying one. Just over a month ago, I thought I might never untangle it and whip it all into shape and wrote "Help! Please send chocolate!"

But, these characters have been talking to me and telling me their stories for years now. I see so much of their lives that have nothing to do with the book (and sometimes write them down in a separate file, just to get it out of my head). I spend all day (and sometimes night) with them. Getting their stories to make sense is enormously satisfying! Some characters have had more time in the spotlight, some less. Some have died and some been saved. Things I'd been struggling with dropped into place. It's been a tough few weeks, but, boy have I been enjoying it.

Anyway, next for this is to put it aside for a while, before finding and killing all the crutch words and the bits that are crap. What will I work on while this is 'resting'? Planning the final part of the trilogy, of course!

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Tuesday, 2 October 2018


I love doing research for my books. There's always a slight worry that my Google searches look very dodgy, but on the whole, I absolutely love doing the background work for my books. This could be general research (like my scrapbooks - looking for the perfect location for a book, or images of people for characters etc) or it can be more of the nitty-gritty (what is the exact wording of a police caution?).

I've seen a couple of posts recently about writers using mood boards (see here and here for a couple of examples). In essence, the scrapbooks I make are like mood boards, with pictures pasted in and notes scribbled all over them (I wrote here about my scrapbooks). I sometimes keep electronic versions using OneNote, but not as commonly as I have physical versions. I've found that printing things off, either on to A4 printer paper or on to sticker sheets and sticking them into my notebooks works the best for me.

That kind of research all happens near the start of a book. What I've been researching recently has been a combination of of fine details about things (sunrise and sunset times on particular dates; castles in Cumbria; geology of various rocks), and looking for images of long leather coats for men that you could conceal a sword under (that don't look like either the Gestapo coats from 'Allo 'Allo, or something from The Matrix). Today's slightly random search was for "blank autopsy body diagrams". A couple of weeks ago it was "sociopolitical repercussions of Spanish flu" & "what colour boxes are used for paper recycling in Cumbria?"

Every day is a school day...

What's everyone else been up to recently?

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