Dammit, man, it’s bigger than Crime and Punishment…


AncientTomeSmall

231,000 words, give or take a few hundred. That’s how it ended up. I started the process of writing my ‘magnificent octopus’ (to quote Baldrick) in May, but this story itself in the latter days of September, I think. Seven or eight months, over 130k words of dead-end scenes pruned, and a lot of pondering. Ridiculous, really, the lengths a man has to go to to write. And after all that, the end result is too big by an order of magnitude.

But just recall what my conditions were. Start something and bloody well finish it. And I did – well, a first draft anyway. Achievement, er, achieved.

It’s very much a first attempt at writing. It’s got plot holes, story-line cul-de-sacs, inconsistencies and is, basically, meandering. But I finished something, which offers me some hope that I can finish something else. I have learned loads (posted previously) and, I think, improved. Now it isn’t so hard to dredge a scene out of me. Now I can do one almost easily. That isn’t the problem. The problem is the ever elusive storytelling skill. That is the work in progress.

Still, if you read my ‘About’ page on here you’ll see that was the intention.

It is called ‘Apt’, and is told from the perspective of an indolent young man, and is about finding himself being forced into responsibilities that see him brought low. It is about how he changes himself to battle the realities of his world, and to save his home. He’s no hero, he’s not much of anything at the start, but in the end he finds the reluctant hero inside.

Sounds vague? Well, that’s because , (a) it is, and, (b) I am not sure how to describe it. I’m a ‘pantser’, not a ‘plotter’, so I really just go where the story takes me. If I was forced, I’d say it was a story about adopting responsibility and exceeding your self-imposed limitations. See…vague…

It is set in a fantasy world with no magic. There are no dragons or monsters, save the all too real mortal ones among us. I try to write stories featuring magic – I’ve even worked out one or two derivative magic systems, only to feel foolish writing it down. I don’t want to write children’s or ‘young adult’ stories, and whenever I try to write about magic it just makes me feel stupid. Not sure what that means…

Anyway, onwards and upwards… With a friend doing some editing on ‘Apt’, I am busy making changes, but I also have other writing irons in other writing fires, so lets see where that takes me…

The Appropriate tale – an update


Forty-thousand words. Many of them meaningless out of context, and much of the content spurious. That is the current condition of my latest attempt to string the bullshit into some sort of story.

Not bad, you may think, but you’d be wrong.

As I embarked upon this literary adventure I took heed of advice from the great, the good and the prolific. They said, write about what you know. So I did that. Or, rather, I am doing that. But the results are not fun to read. There are great swathes of text where my character (whose name, is Appertan, or ‘Apt’, because it is appropriate. I am a funny man) just bumbles around not knowing what’s going on. The character is, of necessity, something of me, although not directly. There are elements of me (the self-deprecation, the scything wit and the idleness), but I have mostly just tried to make him flourish organically, rather than try to follow some masterplan. The way I see it is that if I try too hard it’ll become noticeable.

The same goes for the locale. I have set this particular tale in a place that reminds me very much of the hebridean isles of Scotland. Why? because it’s braw. This has allowed me to use my familiarity with the environs to give the some texture without too much in the way of being geographically creative. The result is a place and a person I am comfortable to write about. And lots of rain, heather, and a baddie with ginger hair (he may not be a baddie – I am undecided).

Unfortunately, I have found the actual plot somewhat difficult to pin down. Yeah, that really IS a big problem. I have plots ongoing (revenge, ambition, etc) but am struggling to forge them into a working tale.

But you don’t want to hear my griping, so I’ll shut up for now. I have some writing to do, and I have to inject it all with some drama and verve. So…that’ll be easy then. But if it were easy it wouldn’t be rewarding, would it?

Dialoguing-off


Damn you BT. Damn your feeble attempts to connect me to the internet with indifferent effectiveness. Damn your blocking of the pirate bay, damn your corporateness (I think I just made that up) but mostly, er, well mostly the first one. STOP DEPRIVING ME OF THE SERVICE I PAID FOR.

And don’t get me started on the miraculously diminishing download speed, where it appears phantom cyber-monkeys are throttling the living hell out of some wires in a tube underground.

But, meh, I’m not really that bothered. It’s too warm to bother. Why bother, I think in intemperate misery.

Yeah, the internet keeps freezing, or becoming the wiry equivalent of an annoying dribble. When I write (and I do, despite the lack of evidence in support of that fact at the moment) I find I am forever nipping off to obscure websites to gather bizarre and, on the face of it, completely pointless spasms of information (yes, that is my new name for piles of pointless information).

For instance, how do you address a Seneschal? And then what are the ingredients required for candle making? How do you make leaf-spring suspension? How do meteors work?

I simply don’t have the wherewithal to make a note, search later and then seamlessly remember what the hell I was scribbling about and why I suddenly needed to know what the best knot for a rabbit snare is. I need instant access. Evernote (bless the damn thing. Really…I love it) can only do so much. It is simply INTOLERABLE I cannot get on the tinterwebby thing on demand. My toys are hereby ejected from my cot.

It’s either that or actually plan what I write, but forty years of evidence to the contrary says that ain’t gonna happen.

As far as the new effort goes, well I realise that I was having problems with my character development. This is not news, and I do not mean to imply that I now do not have a problem, but I am trying to amend that by concentrating on a solitary character a bit more. I borrowed strands from previous efforts, and decided that the quest idea should be less central to the story and I am also trying to address the character of the city I am choosing to set this stuff in. This is the city of Alagaunt (oh yeah, they say, that’s the name of the blog! How clever… Fade to black).

I reckon the city needs to be more central too. So I am working on less overall main characters which always helps. One has to start small, after all. Of course, this will probably all change…but therein lies the interesting bit. I get to pack the characters and city with spasms of stuff. Cool.