The Editing Beast.

Hello,

I’m currently in the process of editing a 1,000-word story for my first competition entry of the year. The competition is run by Writers Online (https://www.writers-online.co.uk/writing-competitions/open-competitions/writers-competitions-wro-wro-jun17-1000/) and the only requirement is that you do not exceed the word limit. No specific theme. Just a word count.

Now, I have previously tried to enter this competition but came unstuck as writing a story with such a small word count is tricky for me. That is until I read a recent competition winner through Writing Magazine. The story was for a Fantasy competition and was 1,642 words but managed to tell the story very well and kept me hooked till the end. Yes, it is more than 1,000 words, but it is a fine example of using your words well. See for yourself (https://www.writers-online.co.uk/writing-competitions/showcase/winner/writers-competitions-wro-wro-nov16-fantasy/dominic-bell-2).

Anyway, this has given me the confidence to try and enter the 1,000-word competition again. I found my original attempt from way back and read it through. Not bad but with a few problems and I didn’t like the end. However, I could see promise in it. So, I changed the ending and completed a re-write. Then, came the next step.

Oh, the edit. The beast that awaits at the end of most stories. The question I find myself asking is, should I feed it or let it starve? I decided to feed the beast and it just keeps wanting more! Every time I go back to my story thinking I am close to finishing it, something else comes up and I edit even more. How much does it need to be fed before it is satisfied and will let me enter the competition?

The_Beast

In my head, this is how it looks. But, it is the Beast from Disney’s Beauty and the so it’s not that bad of a picture to have in my head at the moment. Moving on…

I am happy to continue with the edit, even if it winds me up no end. I have faith in my story. I like it and want to see it through. That is what drives me forward. Regardless of the outcome of the competition (don’t get me wrong, I would like to win) I want this to be the best it can be.

With this story, it has a twist at the end. I have written twists before and have recently watched a few TV programmes and Films with twists to whet my appetite. I am trying to put some red herrings in and some double meanings. Easy a? In my head maybe but in practice, not so much. Making sure each sentence drives the story is essential but 1,000 words do not allow for a lot of driving. Once the story is written and I know how I got on in the competition, I’ll post it on this blog. Or burn it. I’ll make the decision later.

Since the last time I had to edit for a competition, which was for ages ago, I have learned a lot more and I am thankful that my persistence appears to be paying off. Things I left in the first draft, thinking they were gold, made me shudder and have been discarded. Practice does help a lot with this writing game.

Well, back to the edit. I hope you have a nice day and if you are editing, that it goes as well as possible for you.

Bye!

 

Book Review: The Bleeding Land by Giles Kristian.

bleeding-land-the-1

Synopsis (taken from Giles Kristian’s official website at http://gileskristian.com/books/the-bleeding-land/):

England 1642: a nation divided.

England is at war with itself. King Charles and Parliament each gather soldiers to their banners. Across the land, men prepare to fight for their religious and political ideals. Civil war has begun.

A family ripped asunder.

The Rivers are landed gentry, and tradition dictates that their allegiance is to the King. Sir Francis’ loyalty to the crown and his desire to protect his family will test them all. As the men march to war, so the women are left to defend their home against a ruthless enemy. Just as Edmund, the eldest of Sir Francis’ sons, will do his duty, so his brother Tom will turn his back on all he once believed in…

A war that will change everything.

From the raising of the King’s Standard at Nottingham to the butchery and blood of Edgehill, Edmund and Tom Rivers will each learn of honour, sacrifice, hatred and betrayal as they follow their chosen paths through this most savage of wars.

Hello,

I purchased Giles Kristian’s first book, Raven: Blood Eye, in 2011 for no apparent reason. I just walked past the book, had a brief scan of the synopsis, and thought ‘Why not?’ Since then, his books have been and still are a constant source of enjoyment and inspiration for me and my writing. This past Thursday, I finished reading his 4th book, The Bleeding Land and wanted to provide a review. It won’t be too long as I don’t particularly like long winded reviews. If you are considering reading a book like this, I hope that this review can help you to make your decision.

For me, the best things about Giles Kristian’s books are the battles scenes (really well described. Using most if not all the senses to put you right in the heat of the battle) and the dialogue (solid mixture of humour and relevance so that no word is wasted. EVER) and The Bleeding Land continues this trend.

As the synopsis above shows, this book has a lot going on. A country at War and family are torn apart by it. The characters, mainly Edmund ‘Mun’ Rivers and little brother Thomas Rivers, become the main points with their family members and war comrades providing good quality support. Each main and supporting character is allowed to grow and develop well and at no point did I feel that any of the characters were there just to make up the numbers. Each character had a use to move the story along and help another or their own character’s story.

The scene is set very well to allow this to happen early on. You are introduced to the River’s family and the impending conflict of the country around them. This all builds to the Civil War beginning and the brothers taking opposite sides (Mun fighting for the King and Tom fighting for the Parliament. I won’t tell you why). Once this happens, the story moves along and does not allow the Civil War around it to engulf it, keeping the River’s family at its core very neatly. Along with the men of the River’s household, the River’s women are very well represented with the mother and sister of the family, Mary and Bess, shown as strong characters in their own right.

The battle scenes throughout the book are very well described and again using all five senses, helped me to drop into the battle. Sometimes, I smelt the odours of War far too well for my liking. But, that just shows in my opinion how good an author Giles Kristian is. In particular, one of many Battles, where the Rivers women, having been left to defend their household whilst the men are away at War, become part of the War as the parliament ‘rebels’ fight to take their home from them. This spans a few chapters and is not just about a battle. There are many other things going on which made it so compelling.

The only downside I could find was that some of the descriptions went on for too long and I found myself skipping past them. In most cases, it was the descriptions of the clothing that each character was wearing. Though very clear and informative, I felt that these could have been shortened to keep the pace going.

In conclusion, a brilliant read with rich characters and a good story, I would recommend this to anyone looking for an action adventure and historical fiction novel to read. You will not be disappointed.

 

The West has been won! Well, I finished my first western story so close enough.

Hello,

After a long time, I started the story 23rd March 2015 which makes my head spin, and a few distractions (hangovers, restarting this story, writing another story) I’ve finished my first attempt at a western entitled ‘Outlaw Torn’.

My favourite genre of film has always been the Western. The sheer amount of them on TV growing up meant I was never left wanting for something to watch at the weekend. And whenever I found a Western to watch, my Dad had ALWAYS watched all or some of it. I remember liking the dialogue and how effortlessly cool the hero’s, and some cases the villains, appeared to be or were. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is my favourite of all time but I can sit down and watch most. Some of my other favourites include the original and remake of True Grit, The Sons of Katie Elder, The Alamo (Both), Open Range, Rio Bravo. Tombstone. I could go on. And I intend to. Seraphim Falls. Unforgiven. The Salvation. Appaloosa. Stagecoach.

These and much more have helped to shape my own story. In my head, a wanderer moves from town to town, searching for work, a bed, and to forget his past. One town comes upon him, over a hill, and his past finally catches up with him.

I have enjoyed writing this story but throughout I had the most difficulty writing the gun fights. I have each fight in my head clear as day but getting the words right to convey this proved a challenge. One that I had fun with but at times it was like trying to swim through cement. How many times can I say Shoot, Bullet, Hammer, Fired, Loaded and Gun before the reader and myself get bored? I did eventually find other words but the process of doing so took AGES. On some occasions, I barely wrote anything due to the frustration it caused me. Typing ‘The End’ on this one was amazing and relief all in one.

I also worried about the characters and ensuring that each was given enough time to show themselves and to evolve or devolve through the story. I do this all the time. But then I remembered…

It is the first draft. You can iron out the creases in the edits.

I told myself this throughout writing the story but ignored my own advice a lot. More so than any other story I’ve written. Maybe it’s because it’s a story in my favourite genre and I want to do it justice the best I can. But, if I did end up publishing it, someone is bound to find fault with it. Even after all the combs in all the world going through it. Maybe I don’t need a haircut. I’ll just pull my hair out rewriting the thing.

maxresdefault

Thank you for reading and have a nice day.

They did warn us after all.

(Extract from a story I recently completed. It is about giant Rock Worms from outer space looking for a new home. And Earth might just be what they are looking for…)

“Maria? Are you okay?” Shouted Joseph, inside the mass of rubble and chaos that a rock worm had caused just minutes before. Their former office was slowly crumbling around them he rose to his feet with a shake and a moan. He stood and checked that he had his wallet, phone, and keys without realising they were not of much use anymore. The internet on his phone did not work and he jabbed and pressed until giving up. He heard something rustle not too far away and remembered Maria could be in danger. His fingers caught in the rip at the side of his green hoodie and he cursed under his breath. Numerous small cuts covered both of hands and only now did he notice the dull pain they produced. He took a step forward and what remained of the building swayed underfoot.

“Joseph…I’m here.” Maria said. He turned quickly and felt the floor buckle again. Her pixie cut brown hair was the only thing above the rubble. She struggled and managed to stand up and dust herself off. They both turned to see a huge gap in the wall nearby. They both moved towards it but again the structure moved. Joseph held out his hand and counted slowly down from five. Maria took quick breaths to ready herself.

Sprinting over the broken wood and pieces of rock, they jumped out and onto the pile of debris outside. They managed to run down the pile before jumping as far away from the building as possible. The small quake ran through the floor as the building died in front of them.

“How are you feeling? You know…considering.” Joseph said. Maria jumped into his arms and kissed his neck. She pulled away as he winced in pain.

“Sorry. Force of habit.” She said.

“Don’t be sorry Maria, I can be the man you want me to be. That girl from the bar, I was just talking to her.”

“How can you be thinking about that? Look around you. The world is coming to an end and you’re still fixed upon something I told you I wasn’t bothered about.”

“I was only talking to her about the football that day…”

“Just….stop. Be quiet. We need to figure out what to next. Are you okay?” She said. Touching a few of many small cuts on his neck and hands.

“If they were all one cut, they would match that beauty on your neck.” He replied. Moving her shirt collar down slightly. “It looks worse than it is. Not too deep at all.”

“It doesn’t feel that bad. It will make a cool scar.” She said.

“I bet. Maria, I am not that selfish. And I have looked around me. Look at all the rock worms have done. Bloody government, why not just give them a home? They may have been helpful to us as well. I hear some of them are fiercely intelligent.” He said as he surveyed the piles of concrete, brick, glass, plastic and whatever else that made a building forming small mountains across the landscape. The mid-morning bright and clear sky showed Manchester for what it has become. Many buildings were still intact but more were reduced to rubble. No traffic or trains could be heard, which allowed them to listen to their own heartbeats with clarity.

 

Feedback Request: A story based on public transport and giant alien worms invading earth.

Hello,

Now, I’m always on the lookout for new ideas and usually, they just hit me from out of nowhere. As they always do. One day, an idea for a story came to me on the Tram on my way to work. This involved, for some reason, the Tram, and the Rockworms, which are one of the villains from the seminal Xbox game Gears of War 2. Combining these I found myself formulating an idea involving alien Rockworms invading Earth. Obviously. Not being sure exactly what would happen, I ran with it anyway.

So, the following is the first page of the first draft of the resulting story ‘They did warn us after all.’

If you have the time, I am interested in what your thoughts are on my work in progress. Also, if you want to, I would be happy to provide my thoughts on yours.

They did warn us after all.

“Maria? Are you okay?” Shouted Joseph, inside the mass of rubble and chaos that a rock worm had caused just minutes before. Their former office was slowly crumbling around them he rose to his feet with a shake and a moan. He stood and checked that he had his wallet, phone, and keys without realising they were not of much use anymore. The internet on his phone did not work and he jabbed and pressed until giving up. He heard something rustle not too far away and remembered Maria could be in danger. His fingers caught in the rip at the side of his green hoodie and he cursed under his breath. Numerous small cuts covered both of hands and only now did he notice the dull pain they produced. He took a step forward and what remained of the building swayed underfoot.

“Joseph…I’m here.” Maria said. He turned quickly and felt the floor buckle again. Her pixie cut brown hair was the only thing above the rubble. She struggled and managed to stand up and dust herself off. They both turned see a huge gap in the wall nearby. They both moved towards it but again the structure moved. Joseph held out his hand and counted slowly down from five. Maria took quick breaths to ready herself.

Sprinting over the broken wood and pieces of rock, they jumped out and onto the pile of debris outside. They managed to run down the pile before jumping as far away from the building as possible. The small quake ran through the floor as the building died in front of them.

“How are you feeling? You know…considering.” Joseph said. Maria jumped into his arms and kissed his neck. She pulled away as he winced in pain.

“Sorry. Force of habit.” She said.

“Don’t be sorry Maria, I can be the man you want me to be. That girl from the bar, I was just talking to her.”

“How can you be thinking about that? Look around you. The world is coming to an end and you’re still fixed upon something I told you I wasn’t bothered about.”

“I was only talking to her about the football that day…”

“Just….stop. Be quiet. We need to figure out what to next. Are you okay?” She said. Touching a few of many small cuts on his neck and hands.

“If they were all one cut, they would match that beauty on your neck.” He replied. Moving her shirt collar down slightly. “It looks worse than it is. Not too deep at all.”

“It doesn’t feel that bad. It will make a cool scar.” She said.

“I bet. Maria, I am not that selfish. And I have looked around me. Look at all the rock worms have done. Bloody government, why not just give them a home? They may have been helpful to us as well. I hear some of them are fiercely intelligent.” He said as he surveyed the piles of concrete, brick, glass, plastic and whatever else that made a building forming small mountains across the landscape. The mid-morning bright and clear sky showed Manchester for what it has become. Many buildings were still intact but more were reduced to rubble. No traffic or trains could be heard, which allowed them to listen to their own heartbeats with clarity.

 

 

Close to the end, I have been thinking about you for years.

Hello,

cemetery

The end is near. I’ve wondered when the end would come. Would it be soon? Would it be later? Would it be…ever?

To explain, my current story, a western about a drifter finding his true calling and a new life away from his past, is almost finished. The ending of the story has been doing cartwheels around my head for years. I have played out every second of it and I’m finally close to the point where I can write it.

At times it has been tempting to rush through and skip past the important parts of the build-up to the end. Just write less in-depth chapters to get to the last one. But why do that? That won’t help me at all? I tried to convince myself to rush but I could not and it has definitely been the right thing to do. Even though I’ve wanted to get to this point for a long time, running through it instead of walking and enjoying the surroundings was not an option.

To stop myself from running, I took in my surroundings slowly by ensuring that each character was represented well enough in the beginning and middle so that they would have a part to play in the finale of the story instead of seeming like they just turned up. I hate movies and books that have some characters that don’t really have a place. If they weren’t there, who would care? Leaving the reader wondering why they should care about their fate. Currently, how big of a part each will play is not clear. In total, there will be around fifteen characters taking part in the gunfight/brawl/slugfest/carnage that will be the end of the story. Fifteen? Hmmm…that seems like a lot now I think about it. I have all of their names but they haven’t all come together in one scene yet. This should be fun.

I have always liked writing fight scenes. Like I said, it’s been on my mind for a long time and I know every gunshot, move, and quip that will go into it. This all leads me to a question…

Have you ever had to write a scene with a lot (say fifteen?) characters involved? If you have, how did it go and was it what you hoped it would be?

Right, best get back to it, have a nice week!