Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Me v The Plot

This is how much of last week felt!! Writing had been going well, I was 20,000 words in to the first draft of the new book, and then I looked at my plan and thought, "Oh. I appear to be writing another trilogy!"

I had far too much plot for the book! Thus followed a couple of days (or more) of plot-wrestling, with all aspects insisting that they couldn't possibly be cut and just had to stay in, while I wielded the red pen, trying to excise them from the plot...

By the end of the week, the plot and I were more like this...

Maybe I'll write up the cut strands into short stories and share them with my newsletter subscribers. If you've not yet signed up, I'm currently giving away a free novella - a prequel to The Guardians of The Realm trilogy. It's only available to newsletter subscribers and is about what happened the first time Aeron met Aegyir. Don't miss out!

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Want a free book?

Aeron's Fall

It was all going so well. As one of the most senior warriors in The Realm, life couldn't be better for Aeron. 

But then millions of people started dying Outside - Earth, as you call it.

Something old... something evil was stirring again.

Aeron was determined to stop it, before it could wreak havoc on The Realm.

If she failed, The Realm could be destroyed.

If she succeeded? She still might lose everything.

Find out what happened when Aeron took on Aegyir, the first time they met.

I've just finished "Aeron's Fall" - the story of what happened the first time Aeron met Aegyir. It won't be available for sale anywhere as it's an exclusive book for my newsletter subscribers only.

Already a subscriber but haven't had it yet? Fear not, it's coming in this month's newsletter!

Not a subscriber yet? Sign up below!

Want the book, but you're not sure about the newsletter? Well, the newsletter only comes out once a month, and it has bits about what I've been up to over the month, book recommendations, special offers, and news about upcoming books (and events in non-covid times!).

Okay. While I have your attention, can I ask anyone who's read any of the trilogy if they would leave a review, especially on Amazon. Reviews help other readers choose which books to read. They also help with the visibility of the book in Amazon's algorithms - the more reviews there are, the more visible the book and so more people actually hear about the books! An author can also only sign up with some of the better marketing groups if they have a minimum number of reviews. Seriously, without reviews, the books are invisible. So please, if you've read any of my books, could you consider leaving a review? It doesn't have to be long - even just "Loved it!" or "Great book!" is enough.

Thank you.

Hope you enjoy the free book!

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Saving The Cat...

Last week, I said I was sailing in First Draft Lake. Unfortunately, I got blown back towards The Great Sifting River because I didn't like how the book was starting.

Now, because I'm a planner not a pantser, I don't always write a book in order. I have a general idea of the structure, and if I can really 'see' a scene that's later on, I write it, knowing that it will almost certainly be in the book, and probably roughly where it is, and that I can fix lead-ins and exits in the first edit, to smooth out any rough junctions. I use Scrivener to write, and so I create a separate document for each scene. These are really easy to move around, if I change my mind about the order or structure. I normally spend a decent chunk of time getting this basic structure into some semblance of where it might end up (though things always change between writing the plan and writing the book!).

That's not what I did this time!

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Here be monsters...

I've drawn a (terrible!) map of how writing a book goes for me (click on it to enlarge it). It starts with the Fountain of Ideas. This represents that glorious time when anything is possible in a book and no ideas are too daft. It's "play time" when my imagination gets to run mad, and ideas chase each other and twist and morph into new plot lines. It's a heady time. It's where I've been for the last few weeks.

Eventually, these ideas all flow into the Great Sifting River. Here, plot-lines peter out because they either don't fit in with the rest of the book, or just don't have the legs to carry them on. It's also where some plot-lines grow arms and legs and decide they want to be a whole new book on their own. And there are some ideas that just won't leave and inveigle their way back into the plot, invited or not.

After this, comes a giant lake: First Draft Lake. This is where I am at the moment, and where I will be for the next few months! And indeed, here be monsters. Some days it's all plain sailing through the lake - scenes come together, plot lines zing and all is right with the world.

And then there are the days when the giant monster that lives in the lake leaps up and chomps its way through a whole scene (or plot-line) leaving it in tatters and you don't know whether to mend it or leave it to sink and die.

Coupled with that are the Strong Winds of Change (not yet illustrated) which blow the plot off course, steered by unruly characters who think they know best (they usually do). Navigating a path between the Strong Winds of Change and The Monster can be a challenging time.

There was an interesting article out this week, talking to various authors, which found that most authors 'hear' their characters. I certainly do. I listen in on their lives and they have distinct voices. I can see them and the scenes they're in, in my mind's eye, as if I was watching them.

I once posted a cartoon about the characters wrecking a plot, and another author got quite stroppy with me and said that the author is in charge and the idea that these characters are anything other than a construct of the authors mind, is daft. While I accept that the characters are a construct of my imagination, I can't agree that I'm always the puppet-master and they only do what I want! When I'm in the flow, a scene can gallop along and it just feels right with where it's going. Often though, it either introduces things I hadn't planned, or ends up in an unhelpful place, miles from where the original plot is. I generally go with these flows. The scene is almost always better than if I try to cram it into the 'plot box' I had in mind.

Writing the first draft is often described as the author working out what the book is actually about, and I would have to agree. It's the author telling themself the story and it's quite a fun place to be. But I know what's coming after this... Once I've found my way through First Draft Lake, I'll be into The Mountains of the First Edit - the seemingly impassible, soul-sapping region which takes the book, pulls it all apart, exposes the holes and the patches and (eventually) fixes them. I'll amend the map when I get there!

Until then, I shall swim in the First Draft Lake and try not to be eaten by monsters.