Stop the Bus!

I was rolling quite happily down the word avenue, crossing paragraph plaza and boom! Or actually more like, creaking and a pop as the tyres came off. My editor has suggested she wants to delve into the MS for Children of The Glyph a little more, which is horrifying.

After my previous report from Hannah, I was treated to an exceptionally well-worded instruction on how my structure is typically 1980’s claptrap and I needed to learn to write better. It was nicer than that, but effectively that was the essence.

I have learned a lot since then and I feel that I’ve got it in my grasp. It’s still wriggling, like a large hairy caterpillar, but whilst it’s tickling my hand to let it go, it’s so fuzzy I want to show it to my friends. Ahem.

The structural delve will take another two weeks. So we’re still going round the houses on other projects. It will be fine. Crazily, the current situation is having the effect of giving me more time than usual to crack on, but I’m still stuck in the first half of Rebellion of Mars – now 50k re-written and only 53k left to do! Yay!

Urgh.

Fortunately, the editor has told me that the story so far is vivid and exciting with lots of potential. This is good, (not now Jocko!) because this fits the thread I’m hearing. Three editors have said the same thing. I’m honing the method, sharpening the tools.

Wait – anyone seen a large caterpillar?

Stay safe adventurers! 🙂

Breakthrough

Well, it’s not an advert for the Queen song, but you check it out, it’s good and pertinent!

I’ve been ripping apart Rebellion of Mars and reading through the report of my Editor, Hannah. She gives a lot of great guidance about Protagonist Agency. This is important, because instead of being a victim to circumstance, it makes the Protag an actor under his own power.

This does two things.

Firstly, it makes it more interesting to read and write, building character connection with audience and author. We can start to root for them, to feel as they do, hope for them and see what happens.

Secondly, it allows for better set up and payoff – the character takes an action, it has logical consequences and thereby builds momentum for the story as well, increasing pace and keeping those pages turning.

So, the third draft, kind of, is underway at the moment. I can feel the story is now unfolding into the way it wants to be told, as opposed to the way I wanted to initially tell it. It’s a bit m ore natural and presents more options to me, but the Protag character has shifted slightly, so I’m trying to nail him back down.

It’s all swings and roundabouts folks!

In other news, I’m waiting to hear from my other editor, who is due to send me an interim note tomorrow about how she’s finding Children of the Glyph, which I expect back with a complete report on 03 April. Getting close now.

Stay safe, take care and try to keep going adventurers! 🙂

Dingle Dangle

Watching the news is making me ill – no, not from this bloody awful bug going around, but the absolutely infuriating reporting.

We get it, you want views, you want clicks, you need to win the ratings war, but for so-called professional writers, some of whom would look down on “Common-garden folk” like yours truly (because he has to self-publish, don’t-you-know, couldn’t get an agent, don’t-you-know, fah, fah, what, what) are doing the unthinkable.

They’re playing Dangling Participle Bingo!

“But Arron!” I hear you (probably not) cry, “what is this terrible faux pas, which has fired thy wrath and driven you from your Chaises-Longues?”

Here:

“Walking through the kitchen, the smoke alarm was going off.”

– Some fool

This sentence literally means that the smoke alarm was taking a stroll – and there are many like it in the news today. The reason is to try and drum up emphasis, drama, to heighten the tension and I’ve done it myself. (Horror!)

And they are all doing it.

But it’s like the Red Pill from the matrix. Once you see it? Once you truly recognise what you’re doing, it becomes obvious. You can’t not-see it. Read that sentence again.

Do you see how it looks backwards now? Did you have to read it twice?

“The smoke alarm was going off as he made his way through the kitchen.”

Better? Of course it is, not only was the example backwards, it was dull as the crud on the side of a bus. Now we have a bit of drama and it’s that valuable golden ticket:

It’s easy to read.

Try to spot a few Danglies (you know what I mean!) yourself and try it out. Don’t be afraid to shout at the TV.

“See that? Dangling Participle. If I wrote that in a book, Hannah (my usual editor) would tear my arse off.”

Arron Owen (don’t-you-know, fah, fah, what, what).

Have fun playing Dingle Dangle (Participle) Bingo! 🙂

It’s Away

Well, we’re here. The editor has taken control of my manuscript for Children of The Glyph and it will be returned in three weeks with the verdict of its current state.

I was quite nervous about letting it go, maybe imagining that it’s similar to how a parent feels to giving their child to the first day of school – albeit a very watered down version of that. It took me fifteen minutes to get the reply email the right tone for sending the document off.

Silly, I know.

I hope it’s good, or better than my previous efforts. I regret this will probably be the last time I actually use an editor like this as if I can’t get it right by now – after nearly a year of trying to write professionally, I obviously can’t get my head around fundamental concepts of what people call the “craft” (I really don’t like that word) and should maybe re-evaluate my plans.

It wouldn’t be the first time.

So now we wait, but being idle is not an option. I am still struggling with other projects and hope to wrestle them into coherence before too long.

Have a profitable day travellers and I hope you’re all doing well! 🙂

Week In, Week Out

Well that was a pretty stiff week for my calendar. We’ve been doing so much here I haven’t even had time to say hello to everyone – including any new followers I picked up – hello there!

I know there’s a flu going around and I hope you’re all doing well and that this thing passes quickly – but there’s so much of it in the news and elsewhere, that I wanted to try and keep this as a small area of sanity, so that’s all I will say.

I managed three whole days where I got down to business and am still hitting Rebellion of Mars – I know, it’s boring to you, but it has to be done. Despite my best efforts, I failed to get Children of The Glyph out last year, but I’m hoping it will all come together soon and maybe I will have two novels out this year. Kind of exciting, kind of crazy.

About par for the course on this blog.

Have managed to reformat another 11,000 words of RoM, but it’s hard going – I’m having to do a lot of re-write and make a lot of style choices about protagonist motivation and agency. I have a feeling whole swathes of the book will be scrapped and replaced, but if it makes it better or tighter, then it’s worth it.

Anyway, that was my literary week fellow traveller let me know how yours went below and have a good one this time around! 🙂

Slogging It Out

Well that was gruelling.

No, not a 25k run. Not a forced march over the freezing mountains. I salute you if you have done either of those things though!

No, Part One of Rebellion of Mars has now gone through Second (proper) draft! I had to re-write so much of it, the ‘S’ letter on my keyboard is starting to wear off! If I rub away any more we may start to have problems!

Thank you everyone for bearing with me as I beat myself over the head with this keyboard, because we’re about to launch into Part Two, which is the main trunk of the book. Thankfully, ideas that were planted as seeds in the first draft are now germinating into plants this time around. Threads are coming together to weave the tapestry.

The Part Two of any book is a sizeable block and should be twice as long as the beginning or the end – in a full novel. You can play with this a little for pacing of course, but the ratio should be kept in order to keep things balanced.

So, 23k words down and 50k to now polish up.

It’ll be alright, I’m prepared to sacrifice a few more keys. And synapses. Synapses are important.

Anyway, that’s it Dear Reader and Good Follower – keep blundering over the hills and far away! 🙂

Still here!

I apologise profusely to everyone, I haven’t posted anything in a few days – I got a couple of posts up, but they weren’t great, so I binned them.

Quickly then, my Dear Readers and Good Followers, the time of March, the Ancient Roman Feast days of Martius, have stolen upon us, although I think sometimes it has been a long time coming…or it feels it, maybe because I just want to smash my face in with my keyboard.

My editor will soon be calling for my Children of The Glyph manuscript and I’m leaving it alone. She can have it and make of it what she wills. I’m also struggling with Rebellion of Mars. My God. What a grind it is. I have still not pushed past the first eighty pages of re-write.

So much has to be changed. This is the issue with Point-of-view discipline. Please, please don’t make the mistakes I have – if you’re scanning this and want to start a novel and have no experience whatsoever of writing, get a book about it and read first.

Play with your writing as well though – start small with 500 word snippets, or even less – there’s a whole category out there called Nanofiction and Microfiction. Play with your POV’s, draft small and work your way up to a novella.

Control your novellas, then go up to a novel.

Far be it from me to stop you going all out (because I am all over the place with this stuff – but if I was starting again, I’d at least think harder on it), you might be the one to hit it out of the park (to use a euphemism from across the pond) but do so intelligently, because the world is full of wood-burner stoves that stay lit without anyone chopping logs…

Anyway, that’s it for now, have a good day adventurer! 🙂

Blood, Sweat and Foiled

Just a quick update from me today.

I’m hitting Rebellion of Mars really hard, but getting nowhere fast. It’s pushing the boulder uphill because it has to be re-written almost completely. I’ve changed the character motivations, made things a bit more proactive and have some ideas how to heighten tension, but I’m not sure it’s working, and in the background I can hear Hannah poking me.

You’ve got the potential for a really slick sci-fi novel here…

Hannah Grego, Professional Editor.

And so I’m afraid to F&%^ with things too much. So, another worry to add.

Still having trouble finding work or landing a gig and I’m on the clock. I’ve read in places that you should be able to support yourself for two years to set up your writing career and I’m nearly at the nine months mark now. Things just keep getting in the way.

Anyhoo, am hitting the manuscripts (that’s another “Writey” word, authors call them manuscripts even though I am headbutting a keyboard and filling pixels, but I digress) and we must go forward.

Running out of time? Good. Means you get to work faster.

In the style of Jocko Willink, Former US Navy SEAL

Have a good one! 🙂

Cardboard Cutouts

More Character rambles today folks as I’m in the mood.

When I first worked on Rebellion of Mars (used to be called Librarian Chronicles) but I had to change it as that was the name for a sci-fi rom-com series, I had a protagonist called Sean Egan.

He was dutiful, professional and cared for the men under him, he was flawed by circumstance and held back by principles rather than being any great crack in the glass. He wan’t boring, he was a killer, a leader but overall, he was a reactive Protag (oh, look at that “writey” word! Someone get me a black turtle-neck and a Chaise-Longues!) always responding until the last phase when he hurtles forth. He was an honourable man.

Now, fast forward to Children of the Glyph. Ben Mason, the Protag (twice in one post!) is a merciless murderer – and he is a murderer/borderline war criminal. He is tied to his past and to his troops, like Egan is, but this guy is not a just a rough diamond, this chap is a broken man with vengeance in his hands and the will to use it.

I thought, when I was first constructing Mason that he was just like Egan, so I was forced to make him different. In doing so, I plumbed depths, found what was not just flawed, but what was wrong.

What happened? What made him like that? Why is he doing what he does?

Did you ask that about Egan?

Of course you didn’t. Reader Voyeurism demands this interest. Reader Catharsis demands the depth. The deeper the flaw, the better the redemption, the better it feels – so I’m told.

So, whilst I’m re-writing, it’s time to scuff Egan up a bit, but not too much – the guys are different sides of the same coin. (I have a few thoughts on supporting cast too, but they can wait).

Anyway, that’s my tuppence today, have a good one! 🙂

Love Me, Love You.

Seeing it’s Valentine’s Day, let’s broach the subject of how I personally handle romance.

Before we do that – let me tell you Dear Reader and Good Follower, you’re all very special to me!

If you didn’t reach for a sick bag – well done you 🙂

That served two purposes – firstly, I was sincere – thank you everyone, secondly, romance scenes can get…problematic very quickly. How you handle this is up to you of course, it must fit your genre. If you’re writing erotic fiction, you need it hot and steamy, but if you’re writing about war, you might want to pitch it more to emotion, to evoke the desperate necessity of two people connecting.

Personally, much of my stuff is implied. It’s not difficult to make it like this – most young adults and grown-ups know how it works, person meet significant other, they stare at each other longingly, then there’s nudity and cuddles.

Notice how I said nudity. Even the description is demure, divorcing this moment from something that’s quick and dirty. This is the language I think should be used to consummate the relationship of two parties where the love is meaningful and evocative to your reader.

Alternatively, if you’re after pulse-pounding sexual freedom, you can just get nekkid and bish, bosh, it’s a soapy shower scene. See that difference?

Fit the tone of your human interaction to your scene, plot and character and fit it to your genre.

And for God’s sake, don’t write 5 pages of drivel about how soap runs down the crack of somebody’s…knees (don’t be afraid to subvert expectation, sex sells, to be fair – but it has to be right!)

Have a great day Lovebirds! 🙂

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