Sunday, 30 October 2011

"I've got a bad feeling about this"

Going a bit blog crazy at the moment! Not sure how that happened, but I'll make this one short, I promise!

I've decided to try do the write a novel month thing, which is next month (November) with the plan being to write 50000 words, which is about as far as I got in my last draft. It'll probably epically fail, especially with uni work going on and the sheer amount of self-editing I do whilst writing, but I'll be posting updates on how it's going on the blog. 

Wish me luck! I think there is some way to sponser me to raise money for charity or something, but I'm really not sure. Here's the link to my page:


On the specifics of my terrible writing

So maybe that title is a little overkill, but following on from the last post, I thought I would make clear the changes I'm making to my writing style. Usually I try and mix my blogs in with general advice to other aspiring authors, but things may be a little more specific to me this time. Of course if you fall prey to the same things I do/did, you are a FOOL and should be punished... I mean you can take this advice and change your own writing too. Bla.

I'm going to choose two examples of bits from my old draft, one good and one bad.

Here is the good one:

“Thing's change,” he muttered to himself quietly. And he knew he was speaking of more than his relationship with Eradeen. With every year of his life he looked back, he saw a different man, sometimes strong, other times desperately weak. Almost a year to the day his heart had been left to die by the woman he loved, and yet only two years before he had chosen her, sweet but serious Demm, to be the one he would love for the rest of his life.

A pale tear drop fell to the bottom of the page, seeping through the paper like a sea against sand. Dearon rested his head in his hands, breathing heavily as his eyes glazed over. A second tear fell, then a third, and before he could control himself he had ripped the unfinished letter in two. The torn halves rested gently on the table, unmoving in the shallow breeze.

Yeah I know I've used this example before in the blog, and no it's not the only bit of my old draft I like, but its the most poignant example I can think of. Last post I was talking about taking out some of the 'pretty' from my writing. I didn't mean bits like this. There are a few changes I would make here though; the word "shallow" is a bit pointless, maybe the "his heart was left to die" is a bit OTT, and the way some of the sentences are laid out is a bit questionable, but really these are tiny things that would get picked up in revision anyway. It's simple, to the point, and that is what makes it elegant. No where in that last paragraph have I explicitly stated Dearon's feelings, it's all actions that give you an impression of what's going on.

Now for me to be mean to myself. I love to do that. That's why I threw up in my room after drinking too much the other night so that now I have to sit in a room that smells like... anyway, enough of that. Don't drink kids, or if you're going to, don't drink like 5 different types of drink in one night. Stick to Carlsberg...

This is the bad extract, which I think I may have actually used as an example of good revision in an earlier blog, which is a little embarrassing... Oops. It's from the very start of the book. *shudder*

“Wake up Favoir”

Half-formed memories lost their focus. He tried to remember, but couldn't. He squinted. The room was dark, lit only by candles trailing smoke into his lungs, but his eyes saw a tapestry of colours, shielding the features of a new interrogator. A lead weight in his temple pulled his head downwards. The man moved closer.

*throws up again*

Seriously, I hate that now.

Like, really really hate.

You don't see why? Let me show you.



"He squinted." Okay enough CAPS. This was just me deliberatly putting in a short sentance to add tension. But if you're going to do that, make the short sentance something important like "the door opened" or "he screamed" not "he f***ing squinted!!!!!!!!!!!!11111111111111"

"The room was dark, lit only by candles trailing smoke into his lungs, but his eyes saw a tapestry of colours, shielding the features of a new interrogator." Okay this bit isn't so bad. If you can find a flaw, let me know, I wanna rip into it so bad...

 "A lead weight in his temple pulled his head downwards." = Ian thinking "I want a metaphor!" Classic example of me trying too hard, and even if it isn't a pain for the reader, it makes me shudder

"The man moved closer." Fine this bit is okay as well. Better that the bloody squinting thing...

So I think it's pretty safe to say i won't be copying that bit into the new draft. In fact I'm re-writing the prologue without a single bit of the original in it. I tried a re-write which had some bits from the original in it, and it didn't work out so well. This new one rocks so far. It's simple in a good way, like that first extract. It gets the point across, and lets the plot, characters and dialogue work their magic. I hope. I really do hope.

BUY MY BOOK when it's published.


P.S. Very very sorry for all the caps

P.S.S. Before I go I wanna mention this blog I found. It's by a literary agent (google the term if it confuses you) and its a great insight into the world of writing and publishing, with a ton of great content.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

The inevitable "1 month later" blog post

Oh hello there blog! Almost forgot about you. Well, no I didn't I just was far too busy being a lazy student to write anything on here. Plus I had a break from my book, so was running short on things to type. But I'm back now. And back for good. Until I get lazy again. So probably after this blog post. I'm getting kinda tired now though. Although it is 2.44am...

Anyway, the point! Big, scary news here...

I'm rewriting my book!

"What? But you were really happy with your draft as it was Ian, why oh why oh why would you do such a thing??? WHY DAMMIT WHY???" Wow, chill out man. You need some medication or something.

Well, I was really really happy with the way the draft was going, to the extent that I could have quite easily carried on with it, and after revisions and stuff got it to a standard where I would be happy sending it to a publisher. But that would have been the easy way out. And it will end up a better book because of this rewrite, the reason for which I shall explain some time around...

So basically there are three main reasons I decided to do this.

1. The world has changed.

When I say world, I mean my book world. If you have been reading my previous blog posts, you should know I've been doing quite a bit of world building recently. I've been making up religions, date/time systems, and all other random things to make everything feel a little more alive. As well as that, because of the section of the book I was writing before i stopped, I got thinking about the technology level of the world a bit more.

Here's a mini spoiler for you folks...

There is a nation in my book called Sion, and Sion for reasons not revealed right away is very advanced in terms of technology. They are also incredibly secretive. They impose a sort of North-Korea-esk policy on people going in and out, but even stricter. There language is coded, and changes all the time. They're paranoid basically. The reason for this is that there income as a nation is provided by the slow relinquishing of technology to the outside world. So this got me thinking...

Why don't I make some of their technology really advanced for a fantasy setting. How about some more of this advanced technology being relinquished to the rest of the world than I had originally envisioned. How cool would it be to have a fantasy book with swords and shields and... electricity! Because the rest of the world basically doesn't know how to invent things because they just rely on Sion, how about they have this amazing resource  but have only been granted basic inventions like light bulbs and stuff. I could go on, but you get the idea.

So rather than it being a fantasy world that fits quite comfortably into a real world era, I'm shaking things up a bit. I'm making it a bit more all over the place, and a bit more unique. All the while I will also be focusing more on things like the religious aspect of things, and general cultural differences. These are some pretty big changes, but I'd say they're not enough to warrant a complete rewrite. I could fix these in revisions, but...

2. I want a change of writing style.

More specifically, I want a simpler writing style. Some people can make words by themselves sound amazing. It doesn't matter about context always, they can write about boring things and make them sound super. But I can't. Well, sometimes I can a little. But only if I really try hard. And am lucky.

The problem with this is that I kept trying hard, and it created inconsistencies. Some bits I would have got lucky and they would sound great, other times it felt a little... forced. If writing style had a graph, I would have a line going all over the place. Sometimes high up, sometimes low down.

I haven't started reading it properly yet, but I had a glance at A Game of Thrones recently. I loved the TV series. But I was really surprised when I read the first page or two of the book with how simple the writing was. There were no fancy metaphors, alliteration, or any other things that people say make writing "pretty". It was straight to the point, and most importantly, it "flowed". Now I don't know about you, but I would trade off those occasional amazing sentences to get a book that flowed with the writing style. So now I'm writing in a way I know 100% I can do, that isn't jarring and lets the plot speak for itself. It's still got elements of "pretty" in it, but they're never forced, not if I can help it.

So now the argument is getting a bit more compelling, but you keen people surely remember me saying there were three reasons a while back. So here we go...

3. I've started stepping on my own toes

I actually can't think of an example of this specifically, but its just a general feeling I've been getting recently. I kinda feel like now everything is a bit more developed, and the plot is moving in ever so slightly different ways to it was going to move before, I'm sort of trying to fit in things from before I don't want to fit in just to make everything work well. It's sort of like *tries to think of analogy* drawing a circle. Oh yeah this is a good one.

You start at a random point on a piece of paper, and draw a circle. But you stray a little to one side. The pencil slips a little bit. You can't just force the line back into where you intended it to be now, or the circle would have a little jutting bit in it. You have to keep going with what you've got. What you end up with is a circle, but not the one you were planning at the start. It started and finished in the same place, but the rest of it is a little out. This time I'm going slow, thinking ahead, and making sure my circle is perfect.

I'll be honest, there are a bunch more reasons I can think of. But those are the main ones.

And if I'm going to do a rewrite, best do it now whilst i don't have the pressure of finding a publisher or getting the damn thing actually finished.

But most importantly, and the secret super hidden fourth reason I want to rewrite my book is that I want it to be super amazing. Not just super. Not just amazing. Super Amazing.

That is all.