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The Way Things Are, Could Be, and the Role of Fiction

I don’t write these kinds of posts often… but, well… I just can’t not, this time…

I’m going to say some stuff that people won’t agree with. That’s fine. Say I’m wrong, I’ll listen, and I’ll consider. That’s as much as I can promise.

Amid all this rape culture media coverage (earlier in the year with the boys in the US and more recently with, shamefully, NZ’s own), I have realised that as I happened to include sexual assault in HEALER’S TOUCH it is a responsibility of my characters to deal with it in a realisitic, and hopefully healthy way.

Something I have been realising with fiction: it’s one thing to go out there and say, “Look, this is a bad guy doing bad things, we blew him up… that’s what happens when you do bad things… but, look, this good guy isn’t totally shiny, but he’s not that bad, so he’s cool”… But what about saying “Here… this is how it could be done… grow up like this guy/gal”? Just a thought I’ve been having.

It’s a tough one. Because to go out there and design a character, or three, that you think are the best role models for the world is to assume that you know best… which, well, who can?

I like to think that Jonas is a good

Read more…The Way Things Are, Could Be, and the Role of Fiction

Just keep on steppin’ And you’ll be just fine…

My (3yo) son is a not very closet Michael Jackson fan, so I have this song (amongst others) in my car…

So, for you fellow writers out there, as well as the rest of you with a dream you’re pursuing, here’s another anthem to add to the playlist…

‘Cause there maybe times
When you think you lost your mind
And the steps you’re takin’
Leave you three, four steps behind
But the road you’re walking
Might be long sometimes
You just keep on steppin’
And you’ll be just fine, yeah”

Yep, this is from The Wiz, and that is Diana Ross singing with MJ.

Other songs to keep in your bag of tricks:

Read more…Just keep on steppin’ And you’ll be just fine…

Stories have a tendency to write themselves…

… no matter how much you think you know better… you probably don’t. The story knows.

So, I’m still writing. Yes, yes, I know, I haven’t kept you updated… been too busy writing, or thinking up marketing strategies for HEALER’S TOUCH – often having to remind myself that the best marketing strategy for HT is to get WARRIOR’S TOUCH out there…

But I just felt like sharing something…

This may not be true for everyone, but for me, it really is: my stories write themselves, and if I try to go against them, I get stifled.

I’ve been reminded of this fact a couple of times recenty.

A few weeks ago I had an idea for WT. I thought “That’ll be really cool, and according to well-established story beats, a good time for that to happen would be… later in the story.” Cool, I thought. I have something to work towards.

Wrong.

I stagnated.

I kept pushing on, telling myself “Come on, write, there’s good stuff coming.” Not that I thought what I was writing at the time was terrible, or even bad. I was just struggling to find momentum in my writing.

Then I had an epiphany. That idea that I thought would work best coming later in the story could easily

Read more…Stories have a tendency to write themselves…

Going Local, Going Real

I originally posted this as an article in a Newsletter I edit…

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As writers, we’re pretty well used to interacting with “people” via text… it’s how our characters live. We write/type, and they live.

But what if the only way you intermingle with other writers is through the internet: WDC, Twitter, Facebook, G+… whatever…? Are they real? Or have you made them up? Am I real? Or are you just imagining me?

The thing about meeting up with real life fellow authors is you get to interact (gasp!) face-to-face. Foreign, I know… but let me tell you something…

Several years ago I finally discovered why I had been feeling so “odd” as I clawed my way through day-to-day life and went to work, blah blah. You see, I rediscovered my writing bug. I started penning a story. When it started to grow into something more than “just a story”, I joined WDC and combed through various websites looking for the advice and experience I needed to shape my story into a NOVEL. My best progress was made through the more personal relationships I formed both on WDC and on other sites (I found my strongest supporter on Jottify). It’s all good and well sending a review here and there and getting the odd one back, but there really is something about forming allegiences with other writers with the goal of helping each other succeed in whichever way they wish.

Then one day, for some reason I forget, I decided to seek face-to-face writing groups in my area. I learned of two. One I had to contact someone to get the details, the other one had all the details online, so I just rocked up. In both cases, it turned out to be the last meeting for the year before a 2-month break. The one I had to contact someone about was alright, but I never heard anything about things starting back up the following year, and I ended up not following it up, because…

The other one

Read more…Going Local, Going Real

Novel Factory [Software]

So I’m beginning work on Book #2 of the “Weapons of War Trilogy” (current title … what can I say, I am rather attached to it). I’m trying out the beta version of the upcoming writing software “Novel Factory“. It’s challenging, because I don’t naturally work in such a structured way. And yet it’s very helpful, because that structure is exactly what I need to help me create a quality follow-up to the first book.

Novel Factory Screen Shot
I love the fact that you can link several images with each character

I learned a lot working on that first book. I learned from Larry Brooks about story structure – midpoint reversals and plot points, etc – and Randy Ingermanson about the Snowflake method of developing an idea through to a publishable novel, and I have learned TONS of stuff from Janice Hardy, from various methods of writing strategy through detailed how-to’s when it comes to reducing passive voice and writing dialogue and the like.

The Novel Factory Software combines a lot of those ideas and helps the novice writer (or the semi-experienced with heaps more yet to learn) apply the theory. It still leaves a lot of room for the writer to do their own research, but it even helps a bit with that, with a “Resources” section with links to where you can purchase well-known writing advice books. But it basically guides you through the Snowflake method, while also getting you to think about the major plot points. It even gets you thinking about Scenes and Sequels (Heads and Tails in the software) … It’s really rather cool. The more I look at it, the more I can see it being incredibly helpful.

Another feature I really love – because I thought about doing it for my first novel but didn’t get myself organized enough to do it – is that for each character, it encourages you to write a mini-synopsis for each scene re: what each character is up to. To me, that is a really good idea. As I said, I wanted to do it the first time around, I just got lazy. But this makes it so much easier – I believe it automatically links the scenes a character is in to the character’s profile so you can then go and make notes about what that character is doing at the time.

Novel Factory Screen Shot
Multiple images per character, and scene-links that allow you to really delve into each character every step of the way

I haven’t actually started writing yet, I admit, but that is because I don’t have the story worked out just yet. I have a couple of scene ideas, which are evolving as I think because of other ideas that have cropped up – and changes I made to the end of the First Book, which affect character knowledge at the start of Book Two … probably for the best.

The one thing I have requested is a bit more of a sandbox area. I mean, I love the organizational structure of the software. But I am a partial-pantster. I need a little space to just play. Also, whenever I delete scenes or sections, I always keep them. So I need a place to move them to. We shall see if that shows up in the final edition of the programme. I have played with yWriter and Scrivener previously (Book 1 was greatly developed in yWriter and completed in Scrivener). I made the switch to Scrivener because I liked the flexibility it offered me to design my own work area. Well, actually, the main draw was that I could build my character profiles and link as many photos as I wanted … (Hello, Novel Factory … you do that too, you say? Hmmmm). The total freedom of structure in Scrivener did lead to my files getting rather messy. I actually have three Scrivener projects leading to the final version of my story. Although, that’s not really a reflection of the software – that’s how different some of my versions were … They were so different I had to basically start over.

Anyway, this post is turning into a bit of a ramble, and bedtime is fast approaching. I just wanted to toot the horn for this new piece of writing software. I think it shows a lot of promise.

Officially done

The final draft of what I am now calling “Healer’s Touch (Book 1 of Weapons of War trilogy)” – trilogy being expected, but tentative until I nail down a few more details – is done and submitted in a competition to, hopefully, win a critique.

I have also forwarded copies to two willing beta-readers.

So the plan is to try not to look at it for the next 4-6wks. I may look at it for the sake of:

1. studying it for structure so I can learn from what I’ve done and hopefully do things more efficiently next time

2. making notes re: character details/timelines so that I have good reference material to go on with

I have several other things I can do instead:

Read more…Officially done