Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Season's Greetings

To one and all.

I hope everyone has a happy time and remains fit and well.

If you are celebrating then have fun!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Wrapping the Candy Bar

Did I say I could wrap up this scene in another thousand words?

Why did I have to bring another four baddies into the fray?

I am being particularly evil to my hero at the moment. :-)

Monday, 8 December 2008

The First Kill

Yay! My protagonist got his first kill in the candy bar scene. In fact, he's now had two kills (about bloody time too) and that really cool idea I had last night is about to enter stage left.

I can see this mammoth (at least for me) scene wrapping up in about a thousand words or so.

By and large it is the longest scene in the book, but I need to resist the urge (as ever) to go back and look at this part of the novel's structure.

It's quite possible this scene can be condensed and the chapter breaks juggled around a bit so it isn't spread over the current 3 chapters but I really need to look at things like that at the end during revision time.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Still at it!

I'm still writing that Candy Bar Scene. Although I haven't spent nearly as much time as I would have liked on it, it is starting to come together. The scene has now managed to span 3 chapters and I think I can feel a fourth coming on.

One thing is for certain, the way my story is going it is not going to survive in its current format. This scene is way to big and there is nothing else that comes close. So, I either beef up my ending a bit or I'll have to take the ideas I have for the two sequels and sling them in here and then lop off the first third of the book.

There's going to be some serious juggling going on but for now I will continue to write it as it is. Who knows, something beefy may come up. This scene has already taken on a life of its own and there are other dogfights to come - just none at the end where they may be needed.

My original intention was for the dogfight to take place in space, which it did, but my protagonist had this crazy idea that his ship would fare better against, the dozen or so ships, in the atmosphere of planet.

Did it fare better? Hell no! When things are really bad they just gotta get worse.

Then again, maybe this scene will be heavily pared down once the novel is finished and it is edited for large-scale structure.

Well, I'm hoping tonight that my protagonist will at least get his first kill...

You're probably thinking it is crazy to have this scene sprawling 3 chapters and the hero still hasn't shot another ship down. In his defense, he did have to contend (unarmed) with a very nasty autonomous killing machine, which managed to get aboard undetected in the previous scene (yes, there was one but it was so long ago I forget) and all the while the ship was plunging into the planet's atmosphere and four enemy ships are...

I'll leave it there I've just had an amazing idea.

Gotta go!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Revision Revision Revision. . .

Some pearls of wisdom from Holly Lisle:

If you're interested in reading more advice on revision from Holly then check out:

Tuesday, 2 December 2008


Over on Author's Echo Adam asks what's the Point of Writing Queries? Time and time again this crop's up on agent blogs and as Adam points out it's part of the job.

Lucky, for me, I'm nowhere near ready to start the query process, but for those of you who are but are finding it difficult check out Janet Reid's query shark.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Just Added. . .

I've been catching up on all the blogs I've missed lately and I stumbled upon a link to Why Should Writers Blog?

It's well worth reading as is the rest of the blog so I've added it to my side bar too.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008


Not been around much lately and I'd like to say I've been busy writing. Alas, I haven't, but I am starting to get back into it. In fact, last night I finished off Chapter 17.

Woo Hoo!

Anyway hope everyone is keeping well.

Time now to catch up on all the blogging I've missed.

Friday, 7 November 2008


In C[r]ash Flow (Or What Went Wrong in October in Book Publishing) Moonrat starts the buy a book campaign.

An encoraging post from Jenny over on LIt Soup on Why Recessions Are Good For Aspiring Writers.

Onyxhawke wants us to kill our darlings in Bittercon! SF/F Has Much to Atone for.

More on commas from The Blood-Red Pencil in The Comma According to Trask and Editors edit commas...and more.

And finally, in When Should I Tell an Agent X? Nathan tells when and what we should tell our agents - when we get one that is!

Monday, 3 November 2008

Have I or Haven't I...

...finished that chapter?

I needed to tell myself that Chapter 16 was over and done with just to get a completion goal (it was dragging on that long). The question is have I actually finished that chapter or not?


Well here's the deal. The structure I have chosen for my WIP is the cliffhanger structure. That's all well and good because it is genre fiction and I want it to be a page turner. My chapters, on average are about 2000 words. I think I have one chapter that is about 3000 words.

Now, I am writing my candy bar scene, and typically for me it is a large candy bar. I've hit the 2000 word mark and I've got nice cliffhanger in there too, but the scene is not over by a long shot. I can easily get at least another 2000 words out of it hence the chapter break.

So here's the all important question. Is it OK to have a scene stretch over two chapters and has anyone here read a published book that has done this?

For the moment I will continue to write the scene in Chapter 17 but I can always merge the two chapters. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks

Update: I should add that I am writing 3rd person limited. I have one viewpoint only so I can't just move to another scene then return to this one.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Finally Finished Another Chapter

That's Chapter 16 sort of finished.

It's the first chapter I've finished but still felt it needed a lot more work. It's also the longest I've taken to complete a chapter for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it's the most complex chapter I've written to date. I've stuttered and stumbled on this, struggled with writers block and wrestled with the logic of the whole caboodle.

Secondly, there's that whole real world thing that gets in the way - and rightly so!

And thirdly, I've been stuck into Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain, and I've found this text to be invaluable. It has given loads of ideas and brought my prose into sharp focus and made me realise how much more work I've got to do (as if I didn't know I had a mountain to climb already).

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Ten Second Tip

Read aloud what you've written.

Does it sound right? It's not quite the same passage that you read in your head is it?*

It's pretty nifty having an auto-correct feature built into your brain, but not so good when you are editing your own work.

*This is especially so when you've been chopping and changing using cut and paste.

Friday, 24 October 2008


It's a bit of a Rachelle Gardner and Nathan Bransford guest blog linkfest today.

First up we have Guest Blogger: Michelle Moran on How to Promote Your Book (Part 1), and How to Promote Your Book (Part 2), followed by Guest Blogger: M.J. Rose on Book Marketing

Gordon Carroll takes the hot seat on Rachelle's blog and provides us with Writing a Synopsis, Pt. 1 and Writing a Synopsis, Pt. 2.

That's it for today.

Have a great weekend!

Scene and Sequel

I'm thoroughly enjoying Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain. It's packed full of writing advice and tt's made me realise I don't have many sequels to follow my scenes.

The article I've linked to there on Advanced Fiction Writing is one I've read plenty of times too. It shows that the art of teaching is repetition, and that you can never receive too much of the same good advice.

At some point I will need to re-evaluate my copy to see if I should insert some sequels or expand the few sequels that I have.

And I finally got down to do some writing last night, but it had been so long I had to re-familiarise myself with what I'd written in that chapter so far.

Of course, that meant I didn't write any new material, just re-edited the old.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

The Amazon Runs Slow Around Here...

I ordered Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain on Friday - chuffed.

Decided not to get the other two books yet because they're still a couple of weeks away from release and I want Techniques of the Selling Writer yesterday.

Then I decided that dispatching on 20th was too long and decided to change from free delivery to express delivery - mistake.

Now I've paid £8.99 for the privilege of having the book 21st - gutted.

Well, it'll still be here earlier, but Tuesday is ages away!

And more importantly, £8.99 is a book.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Mini Post

So it's decided then.

I'm going to buy those books... Soon...

Um, well I haven't had much time to actually write as the real world has been pretty hectic lately. So I'll see if I can get the creative juices flowing now and just leave you with two things:

Adam asks an eternal writing/publishing question Why Do I Want To Be Published? and actually provides a darn good and insightful reason too.

Randy Ingermanson has finished off his series on MRUs.

Both of these are well worth a read. Enjoy!

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Writing Books

So it's decided then. I've narrowed down the reference/writing books I want to get.

The Elements of Style
50th Anniversary edition, which comes out in the UK on 28 Nov 2008 (thanks to Adam over on Author's Echo for pointing me in the direction of this one.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms
, although I'd like to see if I can get a hardcover copy.

And finally the one that I really can't wait to get my mits on: Techniques of the Selling Writer
by Dwight V. Swain.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

It's Working! It's Working!

I have my first follower!

Normal service is resumed tomorrow :-)

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Followers Trial

It's new! It's shiny and it's another excuse for me not to struggle with my amazing dog fighting scene (this is the slowest scene I have ever written or not as the case may be).

Drum roll please....

Followers now on the sidebar - yay!

OK, so I'm risking huge embarrassment by having zero followers - hence it's a trial only.

I'm too frightened to even look.

Stuff Editors Do Not Like

Some gold from The Blood-Red Pencil on Things That Drive an Editor Crazy.

And, no I'm not going to hunt through my manuscript to see if I've made any of these mistakes - I'm waaaay beyond that now. I'm just going to pray that I'll remember this kind of stuff when the time comes to revise.

Oh hang on there's one...

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Shout Out to The Blood-Red Pencil

I was out all day yesterday so I didn't have time to post, but I was thinking this morning about what I could post about to gear me up for posting next week. It occurred to me that I had had a lot of time to follow my usual blogs, but one that I did go to was the The Blood-Red Pencil.

So this is an unashamed advert for The Blood-Red Pencil. here's a quick run down of some of the more recent posts.

Tired or Fresh? The use of Clichés in writing - and they're not all bad!

The Spice of Variety covers style editing, and Don't Talk Like That covers dialogue.

The post about Reference Books came perfectly for me. I have been considering getting books about writing for quite a while. I bought one about 15 years ago that i though was quite good at the time, but since I have really got stuck into writing and learned so much recently I now know it is well a bit rubbish. It was only a cheap impulse purchase from WHSmith so no worries. Anyway, I haven't spent much on reference books because the Web is crammed with info on writing. I had considered Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain, and it is still on my list, but now I need to add The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms.

Why are these books on my list? The
Techniques of the Selling Writer covers MRUs extensively and I've found MRUs very helpful when structuring my writing, and The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms is rather more than a thesaurus, (I usually use and it explains subtle differences in word meaning and connotation.

Also on my list is a style manual, but I'm not sure which one yet.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Fridayitis is Back

I know, I know I've been scarce. What better way is there to be?

I feel kinda guilty actually neglecting my blog like this. I've been busy to say the least! There's so much to do when you find yourself out of work. All those forms to fill out just so your family can live, but hey, we can all take heart from J K Rowling, and even though she is a phenomenon even among best selling authors she (according to some commentators) earned £3 million A WEEK last year. Wow! Let the good times roll!

The current MRU series from Randy Ingermanson is now in full swing.

Congratulations to Editorial Anonymous as on Oct 1st they were Blogger's Blog of Note.

Just a short one today - have a good weekend.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Comma Hunting

I've had a week away from the blog, but I'm back.

There'll be no Fridayitis today as it doesn't make much sense to have two Fridayitis posted articles posted consecutively.

Now, I was going to take the weekend off as well but I've just come across this on the The Blood-Red Pencil. I have always tried to follow comma rules quite rigidly until a few comments from a critique partner put me right, but I still think I adhere to them too closely or do I?

I will resist the urge to go comma hunting tonight. . .

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Fridayitis (The All New Sunday Edition)

I can see I'll have to rename this feature 'Sometimes Friday Fridayitis' or stick to doing Saturday and Sunday editions. Too much real world stuff going on for the last two days to be able to post, so we have the belated edition (again).

Okee Dokee so what's been happening?

Well, it's all doom and gloom... publishing is no more!

New York Magazine leads with The End (this as usual has been pilfered from Nathan Bransford's blog - his commentary can be found here.

And Galleycat asks What's A Summer Without Harry Potter Look Like?

Joshua Palmatier over at SF Novelist has put together the Plot Synopsis Project II , so if your at that stage with your manuscript (some writers actually start with the synopsis), or want some practice and guidance then get over there!

In Stocking Books, The Rejecter covers some of the vagaries of buying, selling and stocking books, and it's Rejecter's first post in an age!

That's it folks

I'd say have a great weekend but it's almost over - cya next week!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Struggling to Eat a Candy Bar

My fear of getting things wrong struck down my writing fingers over the last few days. I have been searching for information regarding navigation in space, in particular, referencing in-system astronomical bodies during combat manoeuvres. Can’t find the kinda thing I am looking for though.

I remember reading something in The Lost Fleet: Fearless where Jack Geary refers to an axis plane that referenced the star in that system, but I can’t remember whether it is relative to the ship or other planets or even the apparent centre of the galaxy. I can’t imagine it’s the centre of the galaxy as that isn’t something easily recognised in the heat of battle, so it has to reference something within the system. The search continues, but I can see I’m going to have to dive back into Fearless again to get some keywords to use for my search. Otherwise, I’ll be stuck on the candy bar forever!

Anyway, on my travels I cam across Astronomy for Science Fiction Writers, which has some nice articles on it.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Resist The Urge to Edit, Re-edit and Edit Again

Whilst pottering through some old emails this morning I came across some that I had sent home from work. I used to do this as a reminder to do something or in this case, I sent myself some hints and advice on writing that I had discovered that day.

Anyway, the two emails that caught my attention both centred around them same words: "as" and "while". One was concerned with "as" only and was a link to I killed an AS in the Absolute Write Water Cooler forum, and the other was concerned with both words because they tend to signify telling rather than showing.

Of course, I had a quick look to see how many occurrences of "as" there were in my last completed chapter and in my first chapter. There were too many! And, whilst I only had a cursory glance some of the occurrences could have been written better.

I’m sure I’ve looked for this word in my manuscript before, but it’s a style rule that I’ve recently learned and recently forgotten! Much as I’d like to eliminate them now. It will crop up again in rewrites, and I’ll have to re-edit, so I must resist the urge to go "as" hunting until the first draft is finished.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Write When You Can

I didn't get much time at my PC yesterday so I took a notepad and pen to bed, and instead of reading I outlined my Candy Bar Scene. Finally - yay!

A timely reminder for me that I should be Writing Every Day, just in case I suffer from a Lack of Writing Time.

Monday, 15 September 2008

The Monday Evening Write-up

So I'm there. I'm doing the candy bar scene. But, it's still not outlined! I've written a scattering of words to get into the scene. It's building nicely, but I'm not there yet.

I expect, what with all the real world stuff that still has to go on in my life that it'll be finished sometime towards the end of this week.

Excellent post from Jessica about Moving the Plot Forward. As usual well worth a read, and sage advice from Nathan about Not Getting Caught Up in the Rush.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Candy Bar Scenes

Yipee! I’m there. I’m ready to write it. So what now? In fact, what is a candy bar scene?

First, let me define a "candy-bar" scene. It's one that you're just itching to write -- something sweet enough that you can dangle it on a stick in front of yourself so that you can say, "When I've done these next three chapters, I'll get to write that one.

Yum yum – good enough to eat.

But first, I need to outline. This one scene I outlined minimally in comparison to all the others, so now it’s time to go into a little more detail as this scene will be quite complex and I’ll need to get it straight in my head before I start writing.

(I’ll save outlining for another post but suffice to say some writers outline some don’t. I’m an outliner, but my mistake with outlining this novel was I did way too much)

I knew there was going to be a dogfight, I knew the major events of the dogfight and I knew roughly how many ships it would involve. Except there is more now, as I have someone else, another group involved but they may only bit part players in this book; they may never be seen again. Who knows? I’m not even sure yet whether they are pirates, privateers or more likely some kind of faction that I haven’t thought up yet. If they are a faction then they are more likely to make an appearance in a later book, so right now I think they are a faction.

But, right now they are going to throw a spanner in the works, they are going to come in and cause a problem for my main character then cut and run for it when they realise the heat that’s following him. Of course, they’ll slow him down just enough so that the bad guys catch up with him.

What’s the point in all this if there is already a dogfight going on? Well whenever I am brainstorming scenes, I always ask what the worst thing that can happen, and hey presto there’s be some kind of system failure – that may well happen too!

Be evil to your hero!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Fridayitis (The Saturday Edition)

Welcome to your weekly dose of all things publishing...

Randy Ingermanson is umming and arrring about his next series of posts. It seems he is having trouble deciding whether to post about MRUs or voice. Pop over and add your weight to the comments here.

Over on The Blood-Red Pencil Velda Brotheron writes a snappy article on Beyond Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation.

Nathan Bransford - Literary Agent is Thursday's Blogs of Note! Yay!

Overnight Success Takes 2 to 10 yearsAgent Kristin reminds all us wannabes that there is no such thing as overnight success. Of course, there are some (rare) authors who sell their very first book and become overnight sensations, but even here, that author would probably have been working on that manuscript for at least a year.

That's it for today s the Blogger editor is still messing me about putting is silly CSS styles that have to be removed from the HTML

Anyone know what causes this?

Have a great weekend.

Friday, 12 September 2008

No Fridayitis Today

I'm having a few problems with the editor for blogger at the moment so Fridayitis will appear tomorrow.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Magic Number

OK so I didn't hit a thousand words...

But, I did hit around 600- and, I did another 200 or so before the school run this morning...

Rubbish! :-p

Update: I managed my 1000 but a day late :-)

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Losses That Add Up To Something

OK. So, this is my first day out of work.

It doesn't feel like a day off or a holiday, It feels different, it feels like I have lost something, or something has been taken away from me, and now I have a big gap in my life.

Well, I have plenty of things to fill the gap, not least of all my family and my writing, but it still feels strangely sad. (It actually feels like I've broken up with someone I cared about, but have fallen out of love with - if that makes sense).

I need to store these feelings and use them in my writing at a later date. And, right now, I need focus. First a goal - a thousand words today.

Let's see how I do.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Last Day in Work

It's my last day today!

So, I will now be posting from home rather than work.

For Live Journalers mood: sad :-(

To pastures new... (this post is getting a new tag called cheese I think!)

Anyone who hasn't checked out the links I added yesterday please do, as they are excellent sources of information.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Just Added

In Straight From Hel Helen Ginger, a freelance editor, book consultant, and writer, provides insights on Hiring an Editors and other industry related info. She also contributes to The Blood-Red Pencil where editors take the mystery out of book manuscript revision.

The Monday Morning Write-up

Whoo hoo! I’m onto Chapter 15 which should put me around half way through my novel, but it doesn’t... A rough guess is that it'll be at the 30,000 mark at the moment, but I think the actual word count is a little more than that. I’ll have to check it out tonight. So, I’m still only just over a third of the way through my planned number of words.

The reason I'm on Chapter15 rather than 14 is that I kinda cheated actually. I decided to split my manuscript into 3 acts or, as I’ve named them, parts I, II and III. The first split occurs at during Chapter 7, which is a comparatively long chapter for my book. My main character’s circumstances change significantly half way through that chapter, and will again change significantly between Chapter 18 and 19. So I split Chapter 7 into two shorter chapters of around 1500 words each.

Now, that leaves another 7 to 10 chapters for my manuscript to reach its final conclusion, which meets my aims of around 30 chapters for the finished book.

I had a-heart-in-mouth moment when I thought I’d lost some of the work I’d written that evening. No biggie – it was only about 500-600 words, but let that be a lesson to me to backup more frequently!!!!

Friday, 5 September 2008


Moonrat tells us why we should never submit unagented to publishing companies, and just like buses, where you wait for ages and ages and then two come along at the same time, Rachelle Gardner gives us her spin on the same topic in Ask the Agent: Query Publisher or Agent?

In Query Stats by Word Count Nathan discusses query sweet spots, and in his follow up post he tells us the Things he Doesn't Need to Know in a Query.

Gary Gibson, over on White Screen of Despair, asks if the electronic book market in the UK is doomed to die?

The Bookseller reports Waterstone's e-books open for business and also reports on a new way to self publish in writer publishes work through Twitter!

In Gloomy News (TM) Waterstone's sees summer sales drop.

In Not so Gloomy News (TM) US book sales hold up - just.

That's it for this week. I've got a big a few days ahead of me, where I decide whether my future is with my current employers or whether it's time to make a clean break, so whatever you're up to this weekend have a great one and enjoy your writing!

Thursday, 4 September 2008


Rachelle Gardner has written a great post on The Agent Process. One of the questions asked here are about formatting a manuscript.

The format I use can be found here courtesy of Holly Lisle.

Now, there are loads of correct ways to format a manuscript, and probably many more ways to incorrectly format a manuscript, but I never knew that double spaces after a period were frowned upon. Guess what I am doing tonight? I love find and replace...

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

You Know You Want To...

Some great advice from Randy Ingermanson: The Wrenching Truth About Wannabe Writers where he discusses what wannabe's (i.e. me) need to do to improve their writing.

I've been lucky so far, because my critique group have been quite kind to my work. In fact so far, I have been my own biggest critic. Unfortunately my group, which is an online group, has petered out. I think I'll try and finish my first draft before attempting to join another group.

Incidentally, for those who have not experienced a critique group, just reading someone else's work, and looking how to improve it, really opens your eyes on how to improve your own work and that's without having someone cast their eye over it.

Critique Groups for Writers is a good place to start.

Things To Do And To Make You Do It

Excellent post on Author's Echo about writing influences and the actual influence they impart, and also (I have to link to this because it is simply superb) The War of Art, I, II, III, IV, V and VI. This really struck home with me last night, to such an extent that I wrote a lot more than I would have otherwise. This is despite what I said in yesterdays Strike While the Iron is Hot. I really should have updated my cv yesterday too. So I'm gonna have to do that in work today.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Strike While the Iron is Hot

I've been mulling over a post on The Challenges of Writing 3rd Person Limited, but I've not yet committed pen to paper (as it were).

This is probably one of the best reasons I can think of for posting from home rather than in work. By the time I am ready to post from work I usually cannot remember that amazing idea I had a few days previously, or if I can the ideas just doesn't seem as good because I have forgotten some important or stand-out aspect of it. Sometimes it's simply because the amazing idea just wasn't that amazing to begin with.

On this occasion though I think I can do justice to a post on writing perspective, certainly on this perspective because I am over a third of a way through my novel and I had already worked out what aspects would suffer by choosing that perspective in the first place, but I am also acutely aware of the immediacy it brings to my character and his set of circumstances.

What I am rambling about today is I that want to do that post well, and not slam it out on a lunch break, or worse during training. The training I am undergoing at the moment is just a refresher, as it is role I have performed before, but I have to at least look like I am listing to the trainer LOL.

Have you guessed I have nothing to really post about today? Yes? I thought so. I didn't get anything done last night and I might not be able to commit to doing much tonight either arrrggghhh, (hold it together - hold it together, just write a little so that you can get your fix) but I have cool things going on in my story at the moment and I want to write it (now) so who knows.

Monday, 1 September 2008

The Word Felt is Banned!

With A Few Things Writers Can Learn from Harry Potter Editor Cheryl Klein provides an excellent advice on the craft of storytelling.

One of the things I learned from this speech was that the word felt is banned! Well not really but it should be used very much in moderation.

Cheryl goes on to say

When I'm reading manuscript submissions, I'm always alert to the use of the word "felt," especially in the first ten pages Because if you-the-writer are having to tell me how your character feels, Then that probably means you haven't succeeded in getting me in the character's head So I'm not feeling those emotions alongside the character And I read books precisely to get out of my own head and emotions Into the experiences and feelings of these imaginary people.

Of course I took another look at how many times I'd used felt in my first chapter. Needless to say I won’t be posting that info here LOL, but in my defence, I checked one of my earlier drafts and found I had used the word half as many times in the more recent draft, and I think this is because a critique partner had mentioned that the sample I had provided lacked human level emotions, so of course I went and overdid it on the rewrite.

I've revised Chapter 1 now and in and most cases I have rewritten the offending line completely, some I have replaced felt with seemed and in others I've left it completely alone because, in some cases, it is perfectly alright to have that word in there! I mustn't loose site of the fact that any art is subjective and that the word felt would be perfectly Ok for some, but not in the quantities I had used it.

The Monday Morning Write-up

Ok so at least I got some writing done whilst on paid leave.

I finished Chapter 13 properly. I thought I'd finished in the middle of last week, but even through it’s a first draft it needed a little more work.

I've read a couple of books by Alastair Reynolds recently and his work has been inspiring. So much so that there are new plot points kicking off as well, bad things that will happen to my main character. The first one is introduced and largely avoided in the scene I am writing at the moment but there'll be more to come later on in the book.

I've also become conscious that I need to a do a little more world building, again thanks to Mr. Reynolds. One of my critique partners had commented that there was a little to much scene setting in my first chapter so I made a conscious effort to tone it down a little and to weave it in a bit more seamlessly, but I think it is time to start weaving in some relevant history of my universe and some of the politics of that universe. I will most probably slip in the relevant stuff now and then go back to my earlier chapters to see if there is anything I can slip in which will raise questions with the people who read it and anything that will move the plot forwards.

There are certainly organisations in my universe who need more fleshing out.

So, I've done a bit of reading, a but of writing and I've spent time with my family. All in all I've had a pleasant time since my last post.

Hope you all have enjoyed whatever it is you've been up to since my last post.

More later :-)

Back for a bit...

Hey I'm back!

I'm in training at the mo.

Still very unhappy with being forced to work a different role but I'll try and keep the real world related posts to a minimum.

I'm seriously thinking of completing this (re)training for 3 weeks and then leaving, but in order to do that I need to find alternative employment. I should get days paid leave followed by a months pay for redundancy, but that is very big step for me to take. I really can't face going backwards in my job.

Not nice.

If I do leave here then I think I will start posting from home 'cos I do like doing this blog, and certainly like reading other blogs to do with publishing and writing.

Anyway I'm gonna do at least one proper post today.

In the meantime what have I missed? What's been happening?

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Last Post...

For a while...

Apologies first because this post is not about publishing. It is about the real world, and in particular my real world.

I'm on (unexpected) paid leave for a little while, as things have changed slightly in work.

In a nutshell, my role has been outsourced. I, along with my colleagues have been offered an alternative role albeit at a reduced salary.

To put it mildly, I am not happy about this but it does at least take the pressure off looking for alternative employment. I know that, in the organisation I work for, I can at least have a fixed day off each week to attend college, although I have not done this for a few years for a number of reasons.

Anyway, training for my new role starts on September 1st. I am on paid leave until at least the 28th. I do not expect to be in work between the 28th and 1st, but if I am then I will certainly post.

Until then, take care and enjoy your writing.

Hwyl fawr am nawr!

Fridayitis (The Saturday Edition)

Did you know that AAR is the Association of Authors’ Representatives and is an organization of literary and dramatic agents that sets certain guidelines and standards that professional and reputable agents must abide by?

You did? Oh well I didn't, that's why Jessica over at BookEnds, LLC put together A Publishing Dictionary. Very handy it is too.

As ever the source of great debating Nathan Bransford has an Open Thread! It's all in there, from basic plot tropes to questions about the Curtis Brown website (I won't link to Curtis Brown website as there's not much there atm).

A gloomy post but one that's worth reading anyway: Does It Have a Pulse? Ellis, Scalzi, the Death of the SF Short Story, and Some Comics. There are few error's on the page, one is corrected in the comments and the other is a reference Star Trek 3: The Voyage Home (it would have been Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock, which was released in 84. Although I think the author is getting confused with Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home (1986), which was better received than Star Trek 3, and I'm sure did better in the theatres. (Sorry I'm geeking out a bit here...)

And to round off, a not so gloomy article from Bookseller.

That's it for a while

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

This just in...

The Wannabe Scribe goes into meltdown with a thousand fold increase in hits.

Wow, you should see the hits since I made those changes to the sidebar. I think I took a few servers down after make- whoa there. Did I really say that out loud?

No! you typed it you muppet!

You can get back to the Q&A from last Thursday you fiend!

Anyway, enough wishful thinking, check out Adam's post for some great advice on strong verbs.

I'm off Thursday and Friday, so Fridayitis will be Saturdayitis (if I remember - I will try - honest).

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Juggling Elements

Well things are looking up for the site. I had some good news today that relates to the real world, which means that I will be able to continue posting for the foreseeable future.

With that in mind I am going to start building the blog up a bit, albeit slowly. To start with I've rearranged some of the sections on the side bar. Hopefully moving up all the interesting stuff, like Writing resources and other blogs, will entice more of the occasional visitors to stick around.

I hope you like the changes.

Monday, 18 August 2008

The Monday Afternoon Write-up

I hit upon a neat idea this weekend. As I was referring back to previous chapters to make sure my characters use consistent terminology, I realised how handy it would be to not to have to do this. I decided to create a little document - just in notepad, called What Does Aydan Know? (Aydan being my POV character).

It's a simple text file which lists chapters and with each chapter there are a few lines which note what Aydan has leaned in this chapter. As the writer, I know, or should know, everything there is to know about my little universe. My main character, on the other hand doesn't, and I need to be careful what my main character says and does so that he is consistent.

So far it has been quite useful, already I've spotted a mistake whereby Aydan and his companion Kynn nearly swapped preferred makes of weapon. This would have been a complete pain in the ass if it had been allowed to continue unnoticed through the rest of the manuscript.

I'm at 1900 words for this chapter, and while I was not overjoyed at how it was progressing, this morning I managed to get a little more done and filled in some blanks that has really fleshed it out a bit. Also because I have been writing in drips and drabs lately I've been easily distracted and I can't say I have achieved an awful lot, but it really kicked off just before I left work, so much so I was nearly late. Now I know that when I write next (as long as it is today or tomorrow) I should be able to pick up where I left off.

The word count for this chapter is in the right ballpark. I'm not sure yet quite where I am going to end it, it might reach about 4000 words, it really depends on which cliff-hanger I choose to end it with.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Fridayitis (Yay!)

Guess what...? It's Friday and I didn't forget.

Fridayitis is here whoo hoo!

So, what's been happening this week?

First up, Randy Ingermanson has An Interview With An Agent, in this case Chip MacGregor. It's a role play and Randy is assuming the role of Tom Clancy pitching his first novel.

Do people, authors especially, really still do this?

Nathan, as ever, has a stirring discussion on his blog about Author Websites and You Tell Me: Do Author Blogs Sell Books?

That's it for this week. I'm off the weekend, so I'll be back on Monday.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Baby Steps

Q. Did I get any writing done last night?

A. Yes! Yes I did!

Q. Was it much?

A. Um... No not really.

Q. How much was it?

A. About 200 words or so...

Q. 200? Just 200 words?

A. Yes. Baby steps. It's hard when you haven't written for a while.

Q. Why?

A. It takes time to get the creative juices flowing, and you can be distracted quite easily.

Q. So, was it worth it?

A. Absolutely! What a dumb ass question! The small steps I made last night will keep things ticking over. Already I have ideas of how I can improve, not what I wrote last night, which was largely editing and finishing off a scene, but what I wrote several days ago.

Q. Are you going tell us then?

A. Tell you what?

Q. I ask the questions here! That's twice now.

A. That wasn't a question.

Q. Oh shut up!

A. That wasn't a question either.... Hey wait a minute! You're me, you can't talk to me like that!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Progress or Lack Thereof!

No luck on the writing front.

This means I haven't written anything substantial, other than this blog, for at least 4 days! (gulp)

This is going to end (as it were) tonight.

Tonight, I am going home after work where I'll have tea (dinner - for anyone reading this outside of the UK) and then I am going to spend a whole hour, yes, one whole hour writing.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

More Writing Every Day

Yes I should get back into The Habit of Writing of writing every day but I can't! :-/

Last few days have been pretty busy, but at least it is easier to post. The Blogger buttons and WYSIWYG editor is working OK for me today. I'm sure I'll get Chapter 13 finished sometime this week!

So if anyone is in doubt that as writers we should be writing every day please read another post on it above, from Tate Hallway.

Monday, 11 August 2008

More Writing Resources

I’ve just added more Writers Resources taken from Kelly McCullough’s post on SF Novelists.

Kelly has kindly, and rather handily, produced an index of useful writing articles on Wyrdsmiths. His indexes include Making Light, Miss Snark and Wyrdsmiths, which incidentally will be added to the author’s blog list shortly.

Well worth checking out!

BTW Sorry if this looks a little bit pants or bit broken on some browsers, the WYSIWYG editor doesn't seem to be working, so I've coded the HTML manually and I'm a bit rusty!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Fridayitis (The Saturday Version)

Here it is finally...Fridayitis!

At the risk of sounding even lamer: I forgot it was Friday yesterday. Oooops.

On the plus side it looks like the blog list is working OK today. I think I'll leave that alone from now on.

Agent Kristin gives her tips on dressing for writing conferences ('tis the season after all).

Nathan provides us with a day in the life of an agent at a writers conference with his RWA Recap ('tis the season- oh wait I already wrote that), and sticking with Nathan he's compiled a list of FAQs, which are well worth reading if you're planning on querying him.

In Why La Telefono is not your ami Janet Reid tells us why it’s never OK to call an agent if 1. you’re not a client and 2. not confirming a mailing address.

That's it for this week. I'm in Mon-Fri next week, so all things being equal, there should be new posts on those days.

What Happened to Fridayitis (again)?

I dropped the ball again.

I'm gonna give some lame excuses now.

Yesterday in work, which is where I post from, I had no systems access for over six hours.

I'm not going to go in anymore detail for fear of it sounding even lamer.

So today there will be another edition of Saturday Fridayitis.

I've also taken the decision to drop scheduled posts on my days off. This is because the amount of writing I've been doing lately has dropped, which means I have less to write about on here, and there are some circumstances in work that might lead to the blog going on an extended hiatus.

Anymore on this and I'll let you all know.

coming up soon Fridayitis!

Friday, 8 August 2008

Minor Writing Update

I got a few more words out of Chapter 13 this morning. I’m pretty sure it was another hundred or so, I can’t really remember as I didn’t have lot of time.

There’s plenty more to come too, because at the moment I just have talking heads, so there’s plenty of detail to add, which will bump the word count up at least 200 – 300 words and then all mayhem breaks loose. Yay!

Blogging Problems

I've been having an issue with the blog roll on the side bar.

Frequently the last update time does not show, and it doesn't matter how many times I go into the layout and re-save the settings, I cannot get all 3 blog lists to show the last update time at the same time. Nuts!

I have added the title of last post, for now as this at least seems to work and still shows the last update time on all 3 blog lists.

*Edit: I take it back! It's not bloody working at all. I'll have to look into this again. :-/

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Chapter 13 Breathes

Hoping goes a long way!

I managed to get about 300 words or so out yesterday evening. Didn't have any time at all during the day, but the important thing is I resolved two small stumbling blocks in the scene I was attempting to write.

Now that I've written it I've upped the ante and we have another obstacle to thwart the protagonist's progress, and there's a lot more trouble to come. Yay!

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

You Can't Buy the Whole Bookstore

In his latest post, Randy Ingermanson continues his Q&A on pitching at conferences. Here's a little gem of an analogy for the whole Author/Agent/Editor thing:

In exactly the same way, when you go to a bookstore, you will probably “reject” the vast majority of books in the store. (I.e., you won’t buy them all.) In “rejecting” them, you are not saying they are all bad books. You are merely noting that you have limited time, energy, and money and you can’t buy them all. You’ll buy the one or two that pleases you most, and there will be a bit of luck involved, because you can’t evaluate all 100,000 books in the store. You just can’t. Likewise, in looking for an editor or agent, there’s a bit of luck involved. If you catch them on the right day and you happen to be the best thing going at the moment, then you have a chance.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Lack of Writing Time

Well, by the time I'd finished with the real world yesterday it was time for bed, and this morning the real world took my precious writing time, and then I had to go to work :-/

Tomorrow is another cliché, but I am off, and although most of my day will probably involve travel to see family, I will be able to snatch some time to read more of The Prefect (excellent stuff) and there is always the evening. I have high hopes!

Anyway, we'll see how it pans out.

Monday, 4 August 2008

The Monday Evening Write-up

A little late today, but better late...

Not a tremendous amount to report on today.

I'm onto Chapter 7 of the rewrite using MRUs. Yay!

I have also (finally) started Chapter 13, and already the plot is taking a detour from my outline. Yay!

This makes it more interesting to write because the outlining thing became boring ages ago. I'll definitely be writing a little bit more off the hip, when it comes to the first draft, and little bit less outlining in the future.

All this came from dialogue. It's amazing how dialogue can spice things up and ruffle a few feathers. I've also discovered something new about my protagonist. More yays!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

The Write Thing to Do?

I had originally scheduled this post for my day off on Wednesday, but I haven’t done a decent post today so you can have this one early :-)

Diana Pharaoh Francis has followed up on Write Every Day with Carving Out Time to Write. It's always worth mentioning this, and I know I've blogged on it very recently, but it's a topic that comes up very often, simply because I am not managing to write every day.

I'll write most days, but if I could get away with it I would write every single day. Why can't I write every day? I try, but the real world intrudes. Hey doesn't everyone say that? Yep and me too!

I write in odd spurts, though I haven't tried to get up early to write yet, but that's just because other people from my real world will think I really am either reading or writing all the time, but it's not true! I do other things as well like er... um... you know loads of things.

I cut the grass!

Really though, there are loads of real world things that need to be dealt with routine basis and then there's all the random stuff too, so snatching 20 to 30 minutes here and there can work quite well.


Another minor post...

I've finally added Subscription Links to the side bar.

Just Added

I've just started a new side bar: Other Wannabes - a list of other bloggers who are in throes of trying to become published.

The first blog is Author's Echo by Adam Heine.

There'll be more added to the list soon, just as soon as I find 'em!

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Falling in Love With Characters

I've not able to do much this week, but one of things I have managed to tackle is a rewrite of Chapter 6. Regular blog readers will know I'm currently in the process of revising the first 11 chapters of my novel using the MRU technique. A how-to can be found in Writing the Perfect Scene from Advanced Fiction Writing. Anyway, there are two characters here that appear only in this chapter, which is such a shame as they are so likeable. I enjoyed creating them and writing them, and I thoroughly enjoyed revising them too!

There is, of course, the danger that minor characters can steal the show. Although there's no danger of these two reappearing anywhere else because they've been written into this location, and are stuck there for all eternity - muhahahahaha. No really! They're two crew members of a stellar liner, and there's no likelihood of them popping up anywhere else. Thankfully.

It is important to have something likeable about characters you create, especially if your character is the protagonist, and is someone who wouldn't ordinarily be the sort of character your readers are rooting for.

Even villains should have something your readers can identify with. Think of Ernst Stavro Blofeld from the James Bond films, he loves fluffy white Persian cats! Ahhh - how sweet. He's not all bad, and therefore not one dimensional, which is something that as writers we must strive to avoid, if we want our stories to be publishable.

Friday, 1 August 2008


First up from The Bookseller is the mildly amusing story of The Claude Glass by writer Tom Bullough, who was wrongly named as the winner of the Wales Book of the Year award, the book is apparently "flying off the shelves". Good luck to him!

Also according to Bookseller: Bookshops resist high street slump which is good news, although sales are definitely down, some commentators are suggesting, they're not as bad as some statistics suggest, and reports a strong second quarter.

Ex-Helix writers have set up Transcriptase to host reprints of their work. The site has word from the following authors:

  • Elizabeth Barrette
  • Beth Bernobich
  • Maya Bohnhoff
  • Eugie Foster
  • Sara Genge
  • Samantha Henderson
  • Janis Ian
  • N.K. Jemisin
  • Vylar Kaftan
  • Ann Leckie
  • Yoon Ha Lee
  • Margaret Ronald
  • Jennifer Pelland
  • Vaughan Stanger
  • Rachel Swirsky

That's it for this week's edition of Fridayitis.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Writing Mistakes That Annoy Readers

At the risk of being repetitive here is another link to Nathan's blog, You Tell Me: What Are Your Pet Peeves as a Reader? where he asks his readers what they hate most in books.

It is well worth reading the comments section, just as a reminder on some of the mistakes that are made by well known authors, let alone novices. Keep in mind through, these are pet peeves and won't necessarily alienate readers. I'm certainly guilty of some of them, but not to the extent (I hope) that would irritate any of Nathan's blog readers if they read my partially completed manuscript.

Whoo Hoo!

I've just been told my books have arrived today.

I can't wait to get stuck in to The Prefect :-)

And I've got The Ghost Brigades to look forward to.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Clichés in Query Letters

Well worth checking out is Nathan Bransford's post on Stock Phrases. It all stems from his post on Can I Get a Ruling?: "Coming of Age" and Dead Clichés, and how these need to be whittled out of queries wherever possible to avoid rejection.

Nathan goes on to point out that he wouldn't reject a query on those grounds alone, but that's not to say others wouldn't if it were their pet peeve. However, the main point of the post is to ensure authors write their queries (and their books) with as much originality as possible.

Well worth reading, as usual, especially if you are getting to the stage where you are ready to query agents right now.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Reading to be a Better Writer

I've read rather a lot of books lately to help with Bishop's Move (WIP).


A lot of writing advice centres on reading loads, and writing loads. It made a lot of sense to me, and I made sure I read plenty of books out of genre too. However, the books I read out of my usual genre, whilst they have broadened my horizons, didn't help me as much as the books that fell within the genre that I want to write in. I think that I need to read maybe 5 books in my genre and 1 book out of genre. Seems like a good ratio to me anyway!

The books that really helped me to kick things off, and these were the first books I read in genre for quite a while, were Jeff Somers' The Electric Church and The Digital Plague. Excellent books. I picked these up as they had a strong religious element. (Nothing like Phillip Pullman's books.) no, these were where a cult had a very strong, menacing influence, and in Bishop's Move there is a strong religious movement, that gains momentum through the 3 book series I have planned.

Then I picked Stealing Light by Gary Gibson, simply because I fancied it and because it is Space Opera, and I haven't read Space Opera for ages.

Next up was another fancied Space Opera in Old Man's War by John Scalzi. He's a new(ish) author and one who has made a quite few waves with his books so far. It was inevitable I would read them at some point, and they had been on my radar for quite a while, so it was a book that I wanted to read sooner rather than later.

Finally, the last book I picked up was Jack Campbell's The Lost Fleet - Dauntless. I wanted this because I have a few space battle scenes and it seemed logical to read some Military Science Fiction. It certainly helped and I certainly enjoyed it.

Next (still waiting for this one) is The Prefect by Alastair Reynolds. I've been putting off buying this for a while because it has been described as a detective novel in space. Not my kind of thing, and because it is Hard Sci-Fi. Now, I kinda enjoyed the Red Mars and Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, but some of the similes he used made me go 'ugh' and 20 pages of rock collecting? That was a bit too much, although I will read Blue Mars just for completion's sake.

Hopefully, The Prefect will come soon. I'm looking forward to it for loads of reasons.

1. Alastair Reynolds is Welsh - yeah I know that's kinda childish, but hey, who cares?
2. The detective stuff should help me with parts of Bishop's Move because my protagonist has to do quite a bit of detective work himself.
3. I get all excited when I buy a book (yeah I know that's kinda childish too, but it makes me happy!) especially when it's a book that's going to give me something to noticeably help me with my own writing.

On the radar for me at the moment is John Scalzi's follow up Old Man's War - Ghost Brigades. Year of the Hyenas: A Novel of Murder in Ancient Egypt by Brad Geagley, and if I like that, Day of the False King: A Novel of Murder in Babylon. Also, Troy: Shield of Thunder and Troy: Fall of Kings by David Gemmell.

I love anything to do with the Ancient Greeks and the Trojan War, and I have an ulterior motive for reading the 2 books by Brad Geagley because Nathan Bransford is his agent. Apparently it’s quite a good idea to read books that have been represented by a prospective agent to get a feel on whether to query them or not.

You’ll notice there is a lot of Historical Fiction in there. One of the benefits of reading out of genre is discovering new genres that you enjoy, and Historical Fiction is definitely a genre that I thoroughly enjoy.

So, these are the books I've enjoyed recently, what have you enjoyed?

Anyone care to comment on what books have helped them with their writing, and why?

Monday, 28 July 2008

The Monday Morning Write-up

Word count this weekend = 0

Things achieved this weekend = 0

A bummer of weekend by all accounts! Admittedly there was some real world stuff in there like work, but that's no excuse.

Better luck this week :-)

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Writing With Emotion

How is this done?

I've had an emotionally stressful few days, and writing during this period for me was impossible. I believe I can use the feelings and memories of these emotions to write better, but damn, I can't write when I am stressed.

Is there anyone who can?

Is there anyone here able to block out real life totally and just get on with it?

Saturday, 26 July 2008

What Happened to Fridayitis?


I forgot. I was in a bit of a rush on Wednesday and I totally forgot to post it.

Sorry. Instead here is a sort of half a Fridayitis - it's Nathan's publishing news roundup, and as ever, it's good stuff to boot.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Writing a Synopsis

What is it about The Dreaded Synopsis that so many writers have a problem with?

I've not had to write one yet, and if I wrote one now I don't think I would be under the same pressure as if I were to write one for an agent/editor when submitting a novel.

I see lots of posts by agents simply stating that we are professional writers, and there shouldn't be a problem writing a synopsis, and yet so many of us have a problem with this.

Thankfully it'll be quite some time before I need to write a synopsis myself and hopefully it will be a breeze. LOL I'm a dreamer!

Thursday, 24 July 2008

The Story So Far...

This week, as regular blog readers will know, I've managed to complete Chapter 12.

I'm happy with that because the last few chapters have really picked up the pace, and with the next few chapters, I intend to pick up the pace even more. I've very nearly completed the rewrite of Chapter 5 using MRUs. In fact, by the time this auto posts I should well into the Chapter 6 rewrite.

I am off today and tomorrow, so after I’ve done real world stuff I am hoping that I will spend tomorrow (Friday) bringing Chapter 13 kicking, and screaming into life.

Though I'm not superstitious myself, does anyone else have problems with writing Chapter 13? My chapter 13, at least the way I've outlined it anyway, is straightforward plot wise. So, at this stage I don't foresee any issues.

Perhaps we'll see on come the Monday Morning/Afternoon Write-up...

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Blogging Problems

Had a few problems with the side bar today. The Publishing Blogs section didn't have the last post info, and wouldn't load any blogs when clicked.

Easy enough to sort out though, I changed the settings, then saved it, and then I changed the settings back and saved it again.

If anyone reading this has their own blog with the same problem, hopefully the above sequence will fix it.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

More mistakes!

On Friday, Agent Kristin posted her most recent article on Beginning Writer Mistake (Take 4). This one is about info dumps, and how they can sneak in without the author realising it.

Well worth reading.

Unfortunately, it also looks like the last instalment of this impromptu series, for the moment. As for my line edits last night, there weren't nearly as many mistakes as I thought there would be. I had a feeling that I may have overused a couple of words, and I felt I was repetitively explaining the technology involved. When I went back over it, I hadn’t used the words quite as often as I had thought, and the explanations were appropriate.

I think I felt I had made the mistakes simply because of my closeness to the project, and because I had been writing that particular sequence for what seemed like ages.

It's good to take a step back sometimes and try to look over what you've written in the same way as a critique partner would.

Monday, 21 July 2008

The Monday Afternoon Write-up

We lost the Monday Morning Write-up last week to Not the Most Productive of Days.

Fortunately, this weekend was much better in terms of productivity.

I finally finished Chapter 12, although there are a few tiny edits I want to do this evening, and I'm about halfway through Chapter 5 rewrite using MRUs.

Oh, and I finished Old Man's War by John Scalzi, which has now moved into my Last Good Read section

Good stuff all in all :-)

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Some Good Links...

SF Novelists is well worth a read. (Its one of the links I've added to the Author Blogs sidebar recently).

Recent posts of note include: Write Every Day, Write in spurts and Not Writing, which are posts on how Diana Pharaoh Francis, Simon Haynes and Kate Elliott hone their writing skills. How writing works for them and how they overcome writers block.

Whilst we are on that note Holly Lisle has written two articles on the subject on her Forward Motion website. These articles are also well worth reading.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Chapter Length

Ok so what is the correct chapter length?

I've being trying to keep my chapters between 2000 - 3000 words in length. Some chapters have come in just under this, and some have slipped over.

Regular blog readers will know I've just finished Stealing Light by Gary Gibson, a book I really enjoyed. In Stealing light, Gibson's chapter length varies quite considerably. I don't have any word counts but there is one very short chapter which is just two pages in length. That puts it at about 500+ words assuming 250 words per page, and tet, another chapter was easily about a tenth of the book.

Gibson's longer chapters dealt with major events, and his shorter chapters were just small, but important scenes.

What does this tell those of us (like me) who agonise of the correct length of a chapter?

A chapter needs only be long enough or short enough to deal with the part of the story it conveys. A chapter is after all a collection of related scenes, and the length of the chapter is completely arbitrary. The best part of all this is that it is completely up to us, as the authors of the work, how long a scene or a chapter is. Yay!

There are some excellent articles on scene creation on the Web but the I find most useful are Holly Lisle's and Randy Ingermanson's.

Any thoughts on this? How long are your chapters?

Friday, 18 July 2008


First some sad news: Publishing News will publish its final issue on 25 July.

Nathan Bransford is all excited, and has just posted the mini-review of his new Kindle.

BookEnds, LLC gets in on the act with Out of Control Clients and the continuing rumblings about Moonrat's experience with a boorish author. Also on BookEnds Jessica reveals How Much to Tell when querying agents.

Agent Kristin's blog has been covering a few Beginning Writer Mistakes that she's stumbled upon recently, and Titles: Another Writer Mistake?

Continuing on the mistakes front: Rachelle Gardner on Rants and Ramblings has listed the mistakes Making it Easy to Say No.

And finally, The Rejecter has been fairly quiet of late so I thought I would mention her most recent post Amazon Rankings and Ice Fishing, which covers author obsession with Amazon's ranking system.

Have a Great Weekend!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Finally Some Work Done

But not much...

I made some small, but significant progress with Chapter 12 last night.

I had about an hour spare, and I managed get some plot points moving along in the right direction. I'm quite pleased actually, because I have sowed the first seeds of doubt between my protagonist and a stranger he has met.

There's still a whole lot more work to do on this chapter, but I'm pretty confident it will be finished this week. Yay!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Not the Most Productive of Days # No 2

It doesn't look like I'm going to have much time to write this week.

So far, it's been a washout and it's a shame as I've been champing at the bit.

I've hit upon a few ideas while at work which I want to get in motion, and I've noted them down, so I don’t forget, but I'm just not getting that wedge of time I need to get into my flow.

I may get some time tonight but then again I may not. I've stuff to do in the real world and it has to take precedence.

If I don't get the time though I am most definitely going to make it available on Thursday and Friday, and I have the weekend off.

So here's hoping Chapter 12 will be finished this week.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Cool List of Blogs

Last night, on SF Signal, I came across a list of SF and Fantasy authors who blog.
I've added it to the sidebar along with a few choice links from the site.

Conference Season

It's well and truly conference time in the US and Randy Ingermanson is running a Q&A session on his blog, about pitching.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Not the Most Productive of Days

Well yesterday wasn't as productive as I'd hoped.

I was hoping to finish off Chapter 12 of my novel, which incidentally has the working title of Bishop's Move, but I didn't. I did however, resolve a problem with that particular chapter. Yay!

I have two important conversations, along with a dogfight (the dogfight slipped it's way in unintentionally), and I felt the pacing was a bit up and down. What I had previously was battle, then a conversation - interrupted by a dogfight, followed by another conversation. Initially, I had the conversations in different order (in fact, I had just the one conversation), but I wanted a little banter, and some cat and mouse, in the first conversation, and it helped somewhat if the 2nd conversation took place first.

The first solution then, was to swap them chronologically, but this did not resolve the pacing issue. To resolve the pacing issue, I have initiated the two conversations simultaneously, with one of the conversations finishing quite early in the scene, and the dogfight, between the protagonist and antagonist, starting in the middle of the conversation.

This keeps the scene pretty hectic but with the sort of pace I am looking for, and then a nice chill-out sequel before things kick off again. Here's hoping this chapter will be finished in the next few days after work

Now, a question for the (few) readers that I have, what sort of problems have you faced with scenes, and how have you resolved them?

Please use the comments section.

Don’t be shy! :-)

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Finished Stealing Light

I finished Stealing Light by Gary Gibson yesterday. Yay! Very highly recommended.

As an aspiring author, I felt there were places it could have been better crafted. The book was written in 3rd person with several viewpoint characters, and on the whole it was very well written.

There was only one occasion when I had to double check whose head I was in, and at times it slipped into omniscient narration to describe epic events (although this was handled very well with a change of scene).

The only change I would have made would be to the last scene, which I would have left out. I thought if the ending had been left on the previous scene it would have been more powerful, but hey I'm just an aspiring author and Gary Gibson is published, and doing very well indeed.

Good luck to him, and I'll look forward to the reset of this series.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Progress and Stuff to Read

Today and tomorrow I’m hoping that in between real world stuff I’ll get the chance to write.

I’ve been champing at the bit to get my story moving again so, rather than concentrate on rewriting my previous chapters with MRU’s, I am going to a little rewriting and a little writing.

In practice, this just means I’ll do maybe a half a chapter rewrite, and then concentrate on writing new stuff.

At the moment, I am in the middle of rewriting Chapter 5 and writing Chapter 12.

Hopefully this will make it feel like I am actually achieving something.

I am also hoping to finish off Stealing Light by Gary Gibson, and move onto either Old Man's War by John Scalzi, or Dauntless (The Lost Fleet, Book 1) by Jack Campbell.

Can’t wait!

Friday, 11 July 2008


Guest Blogger Angie Fox, over at Bookends, invites you to comment about what you have discovered about your writing voice, and in the Non-hypothetical Response to the Hypothetical Question, Nathan Bransford discusses why he cannot give a straight yes or no in his responses to queries.

Rachelle on Rants and Ramblings has an interesting discussion on Craft vs. Story.

Lyons Literary LLC answers a readers question on whether it's OK to do Revisions While On Submission.

And finally, Publishing News looks at the continuing row over age ranges for children’s books.

Thou Can Have Thy Protagonist in Thy Motivation Unit

Following on from Thou Shalt Not Have Thy Protagonist in Thy Motivation Unit...

It seems you can have a reaction that is, in effect, a reaction to a reaction as in Sam’s MRUs taken from Advanced Fiction Writing's Blog.

This is good so far, but now you’re worried about the sentence that follows: “The all too familiar agita churned.” This is an emotive Reaction, but what is it reacting to?The answer is that it’s reacting to the POV character’s own interior monologue. So it has to come after the interior monologue. You’ve got the emotive response in the only place it’ll work.

Interior monologue being a potential rational thought and therefore a potential reaction in itself.

I've been struggling myself with the fact that it must be possible for the protagonist to react to internal thought. For instance, remembering something important that they had forgotten to do.

Seems only logical. Well, some of the parts of the information, in the articles, I've posted about obviously stuck with me more than other parts.

Most important of all is the fact that your character does not appear anywhere in the sentence, either by noun or pronoun. This is especially true while you're still a beginner, getting the feel of this device. For example, you do not fall into the trap of writing, “Now, Brad saw the red Jag pick up speed,” etc. The reason you shouldn’t do this is that it’s very, very easy for the inclusion of any mention of your character in a motivating sentence to transform said sentence into one of reaction; or, at least, to mix the whole thing up to the point where there’s a feeling of clutter to your sentence.

Dwight V Swain

I've quoted this before, but see the important stuff about being a beginner? Well that's me. I'll have to try and keep the protagonist out of the Motivations but where he is in there I'll have to extra vigilant it doesn't end up being a mix of Motivation and Reaction.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Follow Your Dreams

Guest Blogger over at BookEnds, LLC is Stacey Kayne, author of The Gunslinger's Untamed Bride.

She writes about the challenges she faced as an aspiring author, and how she started out. I think all of us, who aspire to become a published author, can relate with her advice, and you can read her post in full here.


Yesterday was a my day off, though I spent a lot of the day living in the real world, I did check over my previous MRU revisions on my manuscript. And, (apart from the biggie in page 1, paragraph 1, line 1, and word 1) it was all pretty much clear. Phew!

Then I noted down the major scenes of my Sci-Fi short, which is woefully bad on re-reading. The story is there though. I'm going to have to work out the PoV to tell it from, and I think I'm going to go with the baddie, but I'm not sure yet. There are only two main characters, and right now it is 1200 words, but I think it should be nearer the 5000 mark.

I'll have to sit down and have a good think about it.

The rest of my spare time yesterday was spent reading Stealing light by Gary Gibson, which is excellent so far.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Short Stories

I've decided to start scheduled posting so that I can effectively post everyday (one of the keys to a successful blog apparently). Anyway, I'm not in work today so this is my first scheduled post. Yay!

Should I carry on banging about MRUs? Nah. Much as I love to post about them (as a recent convert), there must be other things I can post about...

I've been thinking about dusting off my one and only Science Fiction short. A story I wrote a long, long time ago. It must be at least ten years ago. I'm going to give it the MRU (damn! I knew I wouldn't be able to do it) treatment, and apply everything I have learned about good writing recently. I'm getting quite excited by it actually, as I think it could be quite a nice story given the chance to shine.

Step one is finding though! I've got a rough idea where it is, so it should be too hard to track down. I may even start posting snippets.

We'll see.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Get it While it's Hot

Jenny over on Lit Soup has a post stating what sort of books she wants to see, so if you are writing anything that falls along those lines then submit!

Thou Shalt Not Have Thy Protagonist in Thy Motivation Unit

Most important of all is the fact that your character does not appear anywhere in the sentence, either by noun or pronoun.

Dwight V Swain

Well, silly me. If I didn't have my main character mentioned in the very first Motivation Unit. This is the first Motivation Unit that also happened to be not just the very first paragraph, not even just the first line, but the very first word!

Yes, this is the Chapter I've just completely rewritten using MRU's... Methinks I have a but more work to do.

Monday, 7 July 2008

The Monday Morning Write-up

Finished the rewrite of Chapter 2. Yay!

Chapter 2 was definitely easier. I'm on the search for more info on Motivation-Reaction Units. In fact, I've done a bit of digging around this afternoon, and unearthed a few more handy links.

On More Writing, there is a sizeable excerpt from Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain. Everything I've read about MRU's and Swain has been positive. So I've decided to pick up a copy of the book. Not sure when I'll be able too, as I've just splurged on three books from Amazon.

There are many Top Ten lists of Mistakes made by writers on the Web, but this one covers the mistakes that are most likely to slip through revisions and critiques. Recommended.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Just a Quickie...

Finished Chapter 1 in MRUs. Yay!

Won't be long before I finish Chapter 2. Strangely, this chapter has not needed so much editing. I think it is because there were more obvious Motivation/Reaction splits. There was more going on in this chapter. There are people for my protagonist to react to. In Chapter 1 he was pretty much on his own, and it was a lot more difficult to spot the units and to separate them.

Or was it that I had gained more experience as a writer and that chapter was better written? Not sure on that, I'll have to see how the edits go on the other chapter before I decide on that.

The Jury is out.
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