The Write Side of Life: Work In Progress Update – Chapter 1

So, in my last post which you can read here, I talked about how I was working on a new project. I thought that what might be cool is if I did a chapter by chapter update of my progress on this new project. It should give you an idea of my writing process and also, let you come my journey to, hopefully, becoming a fully published author with a novel on book shop shelves and everything!

I described what the new story is in the last post but if you’re thinking that’s TL;DR, then here it is again:

Star-blade (working title) tells the story of a crew of scavengers working aboard their ship, The Fury, scratching out a living by selling junk they find on wrecks of old starships. When they come across a mysterious old derelict that could finally be their big score, they unwittingly unleash an evil that spreads across the galaxy. Years, later in a bid to make amends, the crew of the Fury, undertake a mission to deliver a weapon that could destroy this evil force and end years of war. However, there are other parties that want the weapon, some for revenge, some to rule and they will stop at nothing to get it.

There you have it. I won’t be going too much into plot details in these updates other wise, you won’t ever read the finished thing and nobody likes spoilers!.

So, how have I gotten on? Pretty well actually. Another repeat from the last post is that I’m trying to write the first draft by hand. There’s a few reasons for this. The first is that I tend to write quicker this way. My typing skills aren’t amazing and I find I have to stop and think every now and again and then find my place on the keyboard again. With a pen, the work just tends to flow more. If I stop to think of a word or how a sentence or paragraph will progress, my pen stops right where it needs to be.

Secondly, I’m actually getting twice the work done. The approach that I’ve adopted is to transcribe each chapter into word, after I have finished writing it by hand and before I start writing the next chapter. When I do the transcription, I make revisions to what I’ve written by hand and  voila! My second draft is also being created. Lovely.

The other reason I’ve decided to hand write is so that I have something more tangible, than just typing onto a screen. Even if Star-blade never sees the light of publishing day, at least I will still have a physical book in one form or another. Also, in my day job, I work with computers all day so it’s nice to be producing something and not staring at a screen the whole time that I’m doing so.

Anyway, writing the first chapter seems to have gone pretty well. I actually finished transcribing it last week and I’m currently pressing on with Chapter 2. I’m really happy with how Chapter 1 looks as well. It sets up a few varied characters, and gets them into trouble straight away so you get a sense of the wringer they’ll be put through. Don’t worry, most of them will get a happy(ish) ending, possibly….

One thing I’ve noticed with this chapter is that it’s much longer than my story openings usually are. I’m not sure why that is. It could be down to the fact there are quite a few characters and I tried to give them all an equal voice. It might be that I’ve possibly over described some of the action but it’s no biggy as I intend to fix that in the next edit. For now though, it’s onward and upwards with Chapter 2. I’ll let you know how that went soon.

In the meantime, thanks for reading!

Tim

 

 

 

 

 

The Write Side of Life: Reader Questionaire

I saw this on a rather wonderful blog I found today called The Bookie Monster, which you can find here. It looked like a fun little exercise and I thought it might give you the chance to learn a little more about me. So here goes:

1. What is your favourite book?

This is a question I’ve been asked a lot over the years. I’ve given it a lot of thought, and came up with two. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Shining by Stephen King. The reasons being are that these are the two books that sparked my love affair with books and also the reason that I wanted to become a writer myself. Maybe one day I’ll get to tell such imaginative and well loved stories.

2. What are your goals? For the year? For your life?

For the year, I want to get my blasted manuscript finished and ready to start submitting to agents. I hope that by 2016, I’ll have a big pile of rejection. For life? Well, doing this writing lark for a full-time career would be nice but that’s just a pipe dream.

3. Are you a writer? If so, tell me about your work.

Yes and, erm read this blog?

4. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Somewhere hot and sunny with a beach and with free-flowing whiskey.

5. What was the last movie you saw in the theatre and was it worthwhile?

Big Hero 6 and yes it was. One of the best animated movies I’ve seen.

6. I’m curious, are there any books that you’ve tried to read and simply couldn’t finish? This is a no judgement zone. 

There are but I’m not going to name them. I don’t feel that would be fair to the authors, editors or publishers that created them. They work extremely hard to get those books out there and into the hands of readers.

7. Are you currently working on a new book/project right now? If it’s secret, you don’t have to tell me about it. If so, however, I hope it’s going well.

I am. It isn’t secret but as I’m still working  a lot of it out, I don’t want to go into too much detail and commit myself to things within that project that might change. Suffice to say, I’m working on a book, a couple of competition entries and also making this blog something successful and worthwhile.

8. If you could live in any of your favourite books, which one would you choose?

That’s a tough one as many of my favourite books have aspects that would be amazing to experience and others that would be downright terrible and horrifying. I guess as long as I didn’t have to go to anywhere like Mordor or the Lonely Mountains, Middle-Earth would be fun.

9. Are there any book-to-movie adaptations that you think are just incredible? That you absolutely hated?

Obviously, The Lord of the Rings absolutely nailed how you adapt a book as did the film version of To Kill A Mockingbird. Ones I hated, well the film of The Road was a major disappointment for me. It was like they kicked out the main themes of the book to include more bloody violence which was only really hinted at in the book.

10. What do you look for in a book that you want to read?  What’s the first thing to capture your attention?

Even though you’re never meant to, I do judge books by their cover. If it’s got a snazzy illustration or a dragon, it will get my interest. I then tend to scan the first couple of pages and see if I get hooked.

11. If you’re an author, what do you do when you first get an idea for a book?

Scribble it down, and then lose the bit of paper I scribbled on. Or failing that, jot in a notebook or on my phone.

12. How do you feel about different genres? Romance? YA? Sci-Fi? Poetry? Do you have any favorites? Any least-favourites?

My favourites are SCI-FI and Fantasy but I will give anything a go. Hell I’ll read the back of a cereal packet if that’s all that’s at hand.

13. If you could meet any writer in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?

Stephen King so I could steal his mojo and become an amazing author.

14. Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?

Both. Depends on the subject matter.

15. Are there any characters that everyone loves that you can’t stand? Or vice versa?

Not that I can think of. Those Night Garden things bug the crap out of me.

16. What do you like to do besides reading/writing?

Watching movies, TV and Football. Also some outdoors stuff such as rock climbing and hiking. I also have a fondness for classic cars, not that I can afford one.

17. If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?

Being an all round good guy would be nice.

18. What is your favourite guilty pleasure book?

I don’t have one as I’m not ashamed of any of the books that I like.

19. Do you have a reading goal set for this year? 

Currently just to keep recording them here and read lots more than last year.

20. Tell me anything about yourself that I haven’t asked. Random fact. Weird human trick. Whatever.

My favourite food is sausages.

There you have it. If you like what you’ve read, have a go yourself and either answer the questions in the comments or link to your own blog in the comments. I’d love to see how your answers differ.

Thanks for reading.

The Write Side of Life: What’s in A Name?

So, when writing fiction, your characters are going to need names right? Of course they are, not only does it give you the single most essential piece info on who they are but they are also pretty damn useful for distinguishing who is doing what in your story.

With that mind and also thinking about the fact that you, dear reader and I both have names,  and that we call other people by their names; you would think it would be pretty damn easy to come up with some decent names for my characters, right?

WRONG!!!

You see, the big thing for me when thinking trying to come up with a character name (and I’m sure this is true for other authors out there) is that the name I craft have some meaning behind it. Sure, I could just buy the ‘ Penguin’s Big Book of Futuristic/ Fantastical Baby Names’ (BTW I’m pretty sure that ain’t a real book and I just made it up. Any prospective parents out there, don’t go trawling Amazon for it. Just pick ’em from Game of Thrones instead!) but then I would just be assigning my characters arbitrary names. Sure they may read well and roll off the tongue but, for me at least, a character name should be so much than that.

If done well a good character name can give so much more information about who that character is. You can use regional names to give a clue as to where your character is from, or their lineage; You can use historical names to again give the character some lineage but also as a clue to what type of person they are; Certain names carry very obvious meanings to them which you can use to speak volumes about your character. If you are writing particular kinds of Sci-fi and Fantasy you can go off the rails and make-up crazy sounding names that can, if done well, add to the world building of that story.

And this is where I tend to struggle. Einstein once defined stupidity as the act of repeating the same action over and over again but expecting different results each time. And that is what coming up with names can sometimes be like for me. As I predominately write Sci-fi and Fantasy stories, I do have the luxury of being able to make up completely new names but this is also where the problems arise. I, like Einstein’s stupid person,  come up with a name, think it’s great, write it down and immediately think ‘Man, that sucks’: Then lather, rinse, repeat until I’m ready to throw my computer out of the window.

Now, if your still reading, you may be wondering how I get any writing done. Well I do actually come up with names, eventually. Here’s how I do it:

Research

If I’m wanting to use an existing name, the first thing I do is Google it. I check out where the name originally came from and what meanings it has attached to it. This way I can make sure that it fits to how I want to portray that character and not contradict with who they are. It’s also a useful thing to do if you are using regional names. For example, you don’t want to assign a name to your Chinese character only to find out it’s a Japanese name.

Say It Loud

This may sound crazy but it’s true. I do this both with existing names and names that I’m making up. If the name sounds right when spoken, if it just rolls off the tongue, then the chances are it will look good written down too. Also, if the name sounds good it will be memorable, and everyone wants their characters to be memorable, don’t they?

Alliteration

Again, it may sound crazy but it is true. Try playing around with some alliteration when naming your characters. It can be a fun exercise and you might end up with something that stands out. Think of some the great characters Marvel have come up with who have alliterative names; Reed Richards, Victor Von Doom, Pepper Potts, Jessica Jones, Stephen Strange. I could go on but I won’t.

So there you have it, that’s why names are important to me and also how I come up with them.  The reason I have written this is because I’m currently banging my head against a wall trying to come up with a main character name for my current project. It may sound like a bit of a first world problem, and it probably is but hey we all need to vent.

If you’re having similar troubles, or have name suggestions that I can steal you think might inspire me, let me know in the comments below or through the usual social media gubbins.

Thanks for reading.

The Write Side of Life: The Whys, Whats, Wheres and Whens

Having checked out my site stats for this blog recently, it occurs to me that I might get a bigger readership if I actually post regularly.  So, in light of this rather obvious epiphany, I’m bringing back my ‘Write Side Of Life’ title. I set this up with a view to regularly talking about my writing process and maybe giving out some hints and tips along the way. Im going to attempt to do a post under this  title every week. It might not be the most amazing thing ever published to the net but hopefully you’ll find something interesting along the way.

To kick things off, I thought I’d talk about a few questions that everyone who writes will get asked at sometime in their life, be they a rank amateur such as myself or a bestselling novelist, adored the world over; why, where, when and what do you write?

Let’s tackle these in reverse order shall we? That means ‘When do I write? The simple answer is whenever I can. Not being a full time writer who does this as a day job, means that I have to fit my writing around my actual paying the bills job and my responsibilities at home. I write whenever I have some spare time; be that when at home with nothing to do, if I get to work early, lunch breaks and like this post is being written, on the train going to and from work. Which leads quite nicely into:

Where do I write? Basically, wherever I can. My laptop at home, my work computer and even my mobile phone, which is where this post is currently being composed (that’s my excuse if there any grammatical or spelling errors *winks*). I still go to good old pen and paper which I always carry with me so really, I guess the real to where do I write is everywhere.

So, now we know when and where I write, you’re probably now wondering What do I write?
As you’ve possibly already gathered, if you’re a regular here or follow me on Twitter or Facebook, I mainly (attempt) to write Sci-fi and Fantasy stories. They are, for want of a better phrase, my bread and butter; my go to genres. And it isn’t just in my writing. They’re the main genre of the books I read, the films I watch and the t-shirts I wear. I do, however, try to not confine myself to these genres, as maybe obvious from the short stories already posted on this blog. I think for creativity’s sake that it is always good to step outside your comfort zone. For example, the writing competition I am currently working on an an entry for, is for crime thrillers. I ve never written one of these before so am relishing the challenge, although my entry does have an SF element to it but I believe its always good to bend genres if you can.

This brings us to probably the hardest of these questions to answer and that’s why I saved it until last: Why do I write? There’s probably about a million answers that I could give to this; over active imagination, boredom, dream job of being a full time author but really the simple, most straightforward and honest answer I can give is because I have to. It’s hard to explain but in my head ( and I guess this also ties into having an over active imagination) I feel like there is all these stories, or ideas for stories, all boiling away, bustling and fighting each other for space and sometimes it feels like if I don’t get these stories out they might actually drive me insane! I know, rhat probably sounds crazy too but I can’t really think of a better way to describe it. I’m sure other writers and creatives probably feel something similar but they could most likely express it more eloquently than I (I’m good with fiction but talking about myself is a mess).

So there you have it, the why, whats, whens and wheres of my writing life. It might not be the most insightful thing you read today but hopefully it was a little bit interesting and that you now know me a little better.

Until next time, thanks for reading.