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Monday, 28 January 2008

10 days? Gordon Bennett!

I love that profanity, don't you?

But anyway, it's been ten days since my last post so I thought I'd better do something.

I've been thinking about this years NaNoWriMo... mostly because I feel with a little more preparation, I could whomp the word count into oblivion. I know I can get a story out faster, I just need to find one that agrees with me.

During December, three ideas popped into my head. So every time I take a break from Pulling the Strings, I consider which I'd prefer to do. Never ask me to be a judge at anything... the competition would take years whilst I steadily weigh up the pros and cons of each entry.

The ideas are entirely different genres-

  1. One is the sequel to PtS, except less subtle horror more 'Dark Fantasy'.
  2. Another is a, for lack of a better term, a Space Opera. Its a prequel to the two other Sci-Fi projects I'm working on, and I felt the universe needed a little more development. What better way than with a prequel?
  3. The last is total 'High Fantasy'. I've wanted to try the genre for a while, but it has never aroused my interest like the other two.
Now, my decisions can be heavily influenced by my environment, and what I see or hear. Every time I come over to option 1, something happens to set me back in the Sci-Fi mood. Hopefully I'll have decided and started to develop the idea before November, but that ain't guaranteed.

I most certainly can't do more than one, because that the main reason I've never got anything finished before. I'm not one-tracked enough yet to do multiple projects for this.

Ah well... It'll come eventually.

And speaking of eventually, here's another chapter (I'm only posting one chapter this time so I don't catch up to myself to quickly)

Pulling the Strings, Chapter 5-
Google Docs
Word Document
PDF
Rich Text Format
Text

Cheers,
Mike

Friday, 18 January 2008

Meme? No opera please...

Rather unexpected, but I've been tagged to do a meme (q&a type thing) by Karen Clarke. I don't often do these, mostly because I'm boring, partly because I'm weird.

Ah well, here we go-


N.B. The formatting is having some sort of seizure, I think... and I can't seem to do anything about it. So, this post will look a out of kilter.


What's the last thing you wrote?
A covering letter to go with my CV. I wrote it fairly rapidly and then was unable to get through to the company by phone. I'd shake my fist at them, but they wouldn't see it through brick walls and over a mile of distance.

I know a covering letter doesn't really count, but other than that, it was chapter 11 of Pulling the Strings.


Was it any good?
It had better be. Otherwise I will shake my fist. And you won't like me when I'm shaking my fist!

What's the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?
First thing that I still have? I still have my Romanian language book from year seven. I sucked at it, and then the teacher left after one year. I kept it in case I decide to learn cryptography someday. My first attempt will be deciphering whatever the hell I wrote. Update due to next answer- it may be that poem. Can't be sure.

Write poetry?
I actually got published when I was at secondary school... twice. Not much of an achievement considering around 60 other kids from my school are in the same books. I still have one of the books. Although it just acts as further evidence that I'm not entirely on my trolley. Though looking at it now, it's not too bad considering I was eleven at the time.

Angsty poetry?
I'm rather introverted (although I appear extroverted... apparently quite common amongst introverts) to the point of being distant, so no.

Favourite genre of writing?
Fantasy and all it's sub-genres. I was a role-player from secondary school onwards, and it kind of clicked. But, whether I'm any good at it will have to wait until I actually finish something.
I occasionally write non-fantasy short stories, but they're awful. So don't count.

Most fun character you ever created?
I like all my characters... a bit of a problem when I've got nearly 300 of them ready and waiting. And if I pick just one, I fear the others may lynch me...
Also, I don't think my favourite has cropped up yet, his story has yet to be told...

Most annoying character you ever created?
My own personality is rather eclectic, so I've never really created a character that annoys the hell out of me. There are a few that I desperately want to get out on paper, but have yet to figure the right story for, and that's incredibly annoying. A few
will appear in my next Nanovel.

Best plot you ever created?
I kind of like my current one, but I don't think I'm good enough (yet) to make it as good as it deserves to be.
My problem is, I write on the fly. So my plots can take hard lefts at speed, but usually end up as a flaming wreckage after hitting a lorry or something. So I start again. Or, in the case of my Sci-Fi projects, start a prequel! And then another prequel!

Coolest plot twist you ever created?
I thought of it yesterday, and it's going to be toward the end of Pulling the Strings. It sets the stage for the next story. But I like the idea that my smelly old female hotelier keeps large psychopathic hunters in sealed boxes. And the real hotelier under the rug in the same room as said box. That happens in chapter 7.

How often do you get writer's block?
All the time. Or rather, I get writers diarrhoea... I have too much going on in my head that in no way relates to what I'm writing currently. And it can take days before I can think properly again. And like diarrhoea, most of the ideas stink.

Write fan fiction?
Nah, not really. I may do in the future, but it'll be because I'm using some RPG setting or something... Although, that Romantic Dark Science-Fiction Urban-Fantasy Lovecraftian-Horror Autobiographical Anthropomorphic Cold-War Slash Neolithic Thriller Epic Anne of Green Gables/Ghost in the Shell Spaghetti Western is pretty tempting...

Do you type or write by hand?
I'm trying to write my current Nanovel by hand, which may be part of the reason it is going so slow. I type at up to 70 words a minute, and hand write about 30wpm. But it was a valiant attempt to peel myself away from the computer. I type everything else though. My handwriting is awful.

Do you save everything you write?
No... that would leave evidence. A number of my characters were actually born (metaphorically, obviously. I didn't literally give birth to several adult figures before my GCSEs. I was too young.) whilst I was at secondary school. I burnt what I wrote back then. It was atrocious. And now the characters have evolved beyond recognition to what they were back then.
So in a sense, I save the characters, but not necessarily the writing.

Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?

It tend to be the characters... as I said above, I revamp and rebuild the characters until I'm satisfied with them. Occasionally they're nothing like how they began.

What's your favourite thing that you've written?
It was a pun I wrote at the end of a mock-up radio play for GCSE English- "Sponsored by the Teachers Union: It's good to chalk."
It was the worst gag I have ever used, and it brings fond memories. Is it obvious I'm prone to nostalgia? As for actual writing, I keep coming back to a pet project called 'The Zombie Hunter Diaries'. Which is basically a surrealist diary which as much humour (which includes puns and the earlier mentioned double entendres) as I can muster (which is why it's been sat on my hard drive for nearly a year without an update). And it has a moral about not doing drugs... or rather it will do when I finally finish it.

What's everyone else's favourite story that you've written?
Well, considering most folk have never even seen most what I've written, the best reception I've got was from the first few chapters of Pulling the Strings which I posted recently. Which is good! Because that means I can only go up! My plan is fool proof...

Do you ever show people your work?
No... It doesn't happen, except in the case of Pulling the Strings. But, seeing as I have no intention of getting published (yet), I'll be making most of my stories available online anyway. So I'll probably post a lot more. I lack the confidence to do so, though perhaps posting more of my work will help with that. We'll see.

Did you ever write a novel?
Yeah... if you count that I've written over 100,000 spread over 9 different projects... It's novel sized, but if I glued it all together it wouldn't be coherent. I have 9 projects on going, so I haven't got 'novelist' under my belt yet, but I've got a good start.

Ever written romance or teen angsty drama?
No... but that doesn't mean I won't. I get confused with people, so writing romance doesn't come naturally to me. So I tend to avoid it. But, although I won't write a romance novel, I intend to attempt to include romance in my projects in the future. A word of warning now- it will not be spectacular. Expect it to suck... badly.
Now I've lowered your expectations, I can't go wrong!

What's your favourite setting for your characters?
Slightly in the future (a couple of years or so), because it allows me to write a little bit of fictional notable history without creating my own alternate time line. But if Monte Carlo really does disappear, I'll be in trouble... I tend to make locations up, since I'm not very well travelled, but they tend to be set in the English speaking West, since that's what I know most about. Though I've never been concerned too much about accuracy... I write fantasy.

How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Hmm... I read this Meme on Karen Clarke's blog, yet I failed to foresee this question... 9 projects. Two fantasy, five sci-fi (one superhero, one time travel, three space opera), one horror, one surrealist comedy... and those are the ones I've started.
Once I've developed a few more characters, that number will probably increase.

Do you want to write for a living?
No... I'd never get any exercise. I'd lose all my weight through stress and insomnia instead. I need something a little less imaginative.

Have you ever won an award for your writing?
*comment deleted for being too sarcastic*
Seriously, though. I've got to finish something first.

Ever written something in script or play format?
Yeah... that's... oh, project number 10. It involves an evil pineapple and Santa getting bitten.

What are your five favourite words?
Creationist Evolutionist Secular Agnostic and Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosises (its the plural of a condition caused by the inhalation of a fine silica dust. Commonly seen in miners. At 49 characters, it's also the longest technical word in the English language).
The first four are how I describe my religious beliefs, and the last is my drunk test- if I can still say it, I'm not drunk. I've yet to reach that stage of drunkenness.

Do you ever write based on yourself?
Yes, all the time. Not in the sense that the hero of every story is a tall, overweight bespectacled geek with no social life and a beard made of spring steel, but in the sense that every one of my characters is an exaggeration of one of my many personality traits.
My personality is so eclectic that few people have ever known the same me. It makes me hard to gauge, apparently.

What character have you created that most resembles yourself?
Me. The diary writer in 'The Zombie Hunter Diaries' is actually a pretty close representation of myself, except a little more dense. It's certainly how I would act in the case of random kitchen utensils appearing before me in a zombie outbreak.

Where do you get ideas for your other characters?
Gah... erm, from everywhere. I actually start with a setting and a rough story, and maybe a couple of characters. As I develop the idea, other characters just pop into my head. They could have come from anywhere. Some of the characters don't even belong in the story I'm thinking about (hence my large database of characters), but they have a barely noticeable link to the characters that do belong. After I get the other characters though, it becomes a case of smashing them to pieces and rebuilding them into something that might be worth writing about. Then I take ideas from absolutely anywhere. From people I see on the street, to the lamppost outside the living room window that keeps turning off. I'm a little too here-there for my methods to make any real sense. They sort of plop into place...

Do you ever write based on your dreams?
Not any more. I don't dream very often any more, which actually disturbs me a little. But my last dream involved me attempting sudoku, which isn't particularly interesting for a story. I balls it up though, got two 9's in a column, right at the end! I had to start all over again.

Do you favour happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers?
A mixture of all three. In a single ending go sad>happy>cliff hanger. Keeps the reader on their toes. Actually, I might try that... I haven't written a proper ending for anything yet. I've got a cliffhanger waiting, but the mixture of emotion? Hmmm...

Have you ever written based on an artwork you've seen?
All the time. I frequently trawl sites like conceptart.org and gfxartist.com, not just because the stuff there is awe-inspiring, but because occasionally a painting will appear that sparks an entire idea. I used art as inspiration all the time whilst running RPG campaigns.

Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

Always. I'm okay with slang and contractions, but my spelling has to be perfect. I have spell checkers running in the background to pick up mistakes on the fly. Although I'm fed up of being told Scunthorpe should be spelt 'Xanthippe'.


A quick edit- I've just spent 30minutes checking this post over for mistakes... A frequent occurrence, unfortunately.

Ever write something entirely in chatspeak? (How r u?)
Almost never. I hate chat speak. My text messages are constantly spilling over into another message because I use proper spelling and grammar. I'll only ever use partial chat speak under duress. What concerns me most is that I actually know someone who
speaks chat speak. Instead of laughing he'll actually say 'lol'.

Entirely in L337?
Anyone who uses or speaks (there are a few) '1337' and takes it seriously needs to be beaten with a stick. It's moronic.

Was that question completely appalling and un-writer like?
There is no such thing as a stupid question. There are only stupid people. Unless of course you look at a 4x4 grid and ask "How did you get 16 again?" (This questions and others similar was frequently asked at
UNIVERSITY. By the members of a class my course was lumped with for Quantitative Research Methodology).
Does music help you write?
Definitely. Music, like all art, is a form of storytelling. Except mainstream pop, and teeny-bop. Those genres sound like a broken record.
Although the music itself doesn't promote a good environment for writing, Power Metal contains some epic stories that are severely over looked. Just listen to Nightwish, an operatic metal (sub genre of power metal) group from Scandinavia.

Quote something you've written. The first thing to pop into your mind.

"Today two more items, Mr Hatchet and Mr Shovel, appeared in my back porch. They appeared rather- second hand. So I pulled out the Mr Muscle and started cleaning. Later I had a game of Mr Bucket and watched Mr Men on the television. The rather pleasant period was unfortunately interrupted by a rude, and rather loud knocking at the door. An unwashed and foul visage of an old man stood there, asking for my brains. At first I thought he was the taxman, but then I realised no taxman I knew wore a woollen sweater in summer. "

There... done. And because I'm not sociable animal, I don't know enough folk to tag. I have a couple in mind, I don't think the latter reads this, so I'll have to pluck up the courage to ask them to do it. I would be interested to see the answers given by Anna Scott Graham and S.Y. Affolee.


Hmm... I miss playing tag. Even though I was usually the last to be 'it'.

Cheers,
Mike


Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Interesting source of inspiration...

Though not an unusual one, I expect. I've been trawling through the Internet Archive, and found my way to its Old Time Radio section. I found a good Orson Welles series called The Lives Of Harry Lime, about a con-man who is always on step ahead of his rivals/the law. The quality of the plot is unusual for its time (considering it was a 30-minute radio broadcast in the 50's, a time of Pulp Adventure).

Though it's unlikely to help me with my current NaNovel (if I can still call it that), it may be a small help with my construction of plots in the future.

And speaking of Pulp Adventure, I've finally managed to obtain copies (electronic, unfortunately, from the same source as above) of a few Doc Savage novels. I've only ever read The Man Of Bronze, and have always wondered why this way of writing hasn't really been modified for more modern expectations.

Perhaps I'll try Pulp Adventure this NaNoWriMo. Hell, I'm going to keep trying different genres and styles until I find one that agrees with me completely.

Cheers,
Mike

P.S. I usually focus around the various (numerous, stupid quanities of) fantasy genres (which include Sci-Fi and Horror, and Pulp Adventure), because they seem to click with me. I may try something else in the future, but for now I'll probe this gargantuan genre until I decide perhaps it ain't for me after all and move on. Then I'll read Anne of Green Gables. And then everyone will be sorry... ;)

----------------
Now playing: Harry Lime 51-11-09 - Art Is Long & Lime is Fleeting iTunes
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Double entendres!

I hate double entendres. They can be a useful comedic tool (which I occasionally employ), but when I'm writing something serious, I spot them far to easily.

For instance, when writing dialogue spoken by the old woman running the decrepit hotel, I've got interjecting- she coughed again, which she followed with a wet hawk. Meaning she cleared her mucus-y throat.

But I'm so tempted to say- and by that I don't mean a moist Merlin. And by that I don't mean a damp icon from Arthurian legend. And by that I don't mean something Guenevere kept in her bottom drawer.

And it goes on... (sorry about the Guenevere gag, but I'm still in Carry On mode. Carry On Dick is on tonight!)

I've hit a muddy patch on the road to novel-dom anyway, so I'll take another break and try again when my creative juices are flowing a little more readily. Today has been looking grimy anyway (overcast, slightly cool but stuffy at the same time...), not the most pleasant atmosphere.

Cheers,
Mike

Friday, 11 January 2008

Summary

For those who haven't read the chapters online yet, here's a quick summary-

I've so far written 10 chapters (the first 4 of which are online, links below), so I'm far from finished.

The tale is a horror set in a fictional dying Lincolnshire town called Tullton-on-shaw (Shaw being a fictional river running along side the town). This town suffered a major loss when its prime industries- the engineering and steel works- went bankrupt and closed down, causing rampant unemployment that the area could not support. A politician by the name of John Thyme managed to heave Tullton onto crutches so that it may limp on by managing to secure a new hospital (general and psychiatric) in the town.

That was 20-odd years ago. The population now stands at below 2,000 and falling. Only a few essential businesses remain, a couple of pubs, two (decrepit) hotels, and of course the hospital. The hospital itself is running on skeleton staff and is under threat of closure.

A man resembling the image of Doktor Shnabel von Rom (the beaked doctor of Rome, the 'traditional' image of plague-time doctors wearing beaked masks and thick cloaks) has arrived in the town, and seems to appear whenever anything goes wrong.

One of the residents of Tullton, Victoria Bancroft, a synaesthete, has started to hallucinate. Words float in front of her eyes, speaking to her, and seem to respond to her and what she sees. The words begin when she first sees the Doktor, and eventually direct her to the mystery of the disappearing population. Residents have not been seen for days, and others are seen wandering in a trance like state muttering about 'wrong numbers'. She, and two other residents go searching for the elderly owner of the local General Store, and get caught up in it.

Two visiting psychology lecturers discover they cannot leave the town after their rental car suffers a mystery breakdown. Just after seeing the Doktor, and a set of numbers written on the
car window, that seem to be written all over Tullton.

And then there's the problem of Ersatz. A brawny mystery who's quite obviously off his trolley, in a violent way. He hunts the Doktor with such zeal that anyone nearby will likely be seen as an enemy.


It's not 'blurb' quality, I know... but hopefully it'll stir up some interest.

If you want to read the first four chapters (more coming up), the links are available here-
Chapters 1 & 2
Chapters 3 & 4

Any feedback would be appreciated, but it isn't obligatory. And you're allowed to be harsh. I'm not easy to offend.

Cheers,
Mike

Thursday, 10 January 2008

"I want my lipped flanges!"

Sorry about the title, but I was listening to a vintage radio comedy sketch show "Beyond Our Ken" this morning... the quote above was uttered by Kenneth Williams (Not the Ken of the show's title- that was Kenneth Horne). It's been making me laugh all day.

A quick update, seeing as it's now... this morning (0045).

I've finally got round to carrying on (no pun intended), and have finished chapter 10. Although I'm keeping an eye on my word count (I do all the time, no matter what I'm writing), I'm not going to bother making a fanfare of it. I'm going to use chapters as milestones instead.

But anyway. Victoria has been described, the Mystery Letters are being a little more chatty, and the second of the main antagonists has been introduced.

I'm too tired to do the next chapter (I started just a couple of hours ago), but hopefully I'll be writing away tomorrow.

Cheers,
Mike