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: Harper Lee, A Tribute

‘Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy.’ To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Ask any writer, reader or lover of books and I bet they will be able to reel off a list of authors and books that have shaped their lives.

I am no exception. My parents tell me that from a very young age, I devoured books. Quite literally at first as I was only a toddler and my first instinct was to pick up a book – usually upside down – and stick it in my mouth.

As I got older and realised exactly what books were for, my love affair intensified.  At school I worked my way through the wonders of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. When my reading ability grew I moved away from these and started finding myself getting into trouble for reading the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz (apparently, these books were too old for me and I shouldn’t have been reading them but that’s another blog post for another time). They are all authors who I still love. You’ll always find me first in line when at the book shop when there’s a new Stephen King book released.

But when I started my first year of GCSE English, I was presented with a book which – I say wholly without exaggeration – changed my life. It was the story of two young children living in America’s South in the 1930’s and their perspective on the case of a black man being tried for the rape of a white girl; the black man’s lawyer is their father.

I don’t need to tell you of  course, that the book was To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Like me, most people’s first exposure to the book was during English at secondary school. I know that because of this, because of being forced to read it at school, a lot of people have bad memories of the book. But for me there are only good memories.

At it’s most basic, To Kill A Mockingbird is quite simply a wonderful story of the experiences growing up and being confronted with adult situations at a young age. For me however, there was something more. The way Lee wrote of all the characters- from the boisterous, ever curious, Scout Finch to her stoic, Everyman, hero, Atticus Finch- made them all feel completely alive and real to me. The way she uses descriptions of the hot stuffy weather in Alabama to emphasise the growing tensions in the town made me believe that I was actually reading something more than just a fiction, that this could have been a real place.Of course, it would be remiss of me not to mention how Lee perfectly bolts on a ghost story to the proceedings with the sub-plot of the mysterious local town legend, Boo Radley.

Into all of this she deftly interweaves life lessons that are relevant to all children growing up around the world today, not just in the 30’s. This is beautifully illustrated in the quote at the top of this post, about how we should preserve things of beauty, not spoil them in any way.

It was all of this and so much more, from Lee’s poetic prose to the the way book shifts effortlessly from  a being a heart-warming coming of age tale, to shocking thriller to uncompromising look of the state of a nation divided and back again, that lead me to the decision that more than anything else in the world I wanted to be a writer.

Now, I know that the stuff I write, Sci-fi and Fantasy could not be further removed from Lee’s work but it was all things I have mentioned above that made me want to give it a go. I strive to write as well as Lee did and I constantly find myself going back to my now very dog-eared copy when I am in desperate need of inspiration. Something that happens quite often.

The other thing that I am grateful to Harper Lee for is that because To Kill A Mockingbird was so different to what I usually read that I went out seeking other works in a similar vein. I found I wanted to learn more about that time period and so started researching which led me to a love of history and, in a round about way, blues music.

As I write this, I feel guilty. I feel guilty for a number of reasons. One is that I still have Go Set A Watchman on my ‘to be read’ pile (I’m going to rectify this over the coming weekend).

Another reason is that even though I love this book so much and believe it is such an important book, I don’t feel I have ever championed To Kill A Mockingbird enough. I should be shouting about it from the rooftops, handing out copies to complete strangers in the street.

If you’ve never read it, I implore to go and get a copy and spend some serious time with it. If you read it at school and hated it because you had to write essays about it (something I loved doing BTW, but then again I’m a huge nerd), I beg you to revisit it. Read it without burden and through fresh eyes. It may change your life.

I shall be going back to it tonight and raising a glass in memory of Harper Lee, in thanks for the effect she’s had on my life. I hope you enjoy it to.

REST IN PEACE, Harper Lee (1926 -2016).

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Tim