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.

 

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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!

 

Renewed Focus. Getting things moving again.

Hello,

17543131-male-hand-drawing-focus-concept-with-marker-on-transparent-wipe-board-stock-photo

 

So, 2016 was alright. I suppose. Outside of writing, it was very good. No qualms there at all. My writing, however, moved along okay at the beginning but towards the end it faded and at times stopped completely. I didn’t feel like writing or reading at all. Makes me cringe just thinking about it and even more so when I don’t really know why I didn’t want to write. Although my November and December were good and my Christmas and New Year were both awesome, my writing and reading seemed to slow to a miserable crawl and then stop. That crawl has resulted in my last blog post being at the start of December. That’s just awful. 2017 will not end the same way. With that in mind, I’ve started as I mean to go on.

I’m committing to writing around 500 words a day and on any day I can’t write I will read. I’ve so far stuck to my target and I feel a lot better for it. Since my last post, I have finished editing what I had written so far for my Western story. It has been rolling around in my head for years and it feels good to be continuing to write it as opposed to edit/re-reading it to get myself back up to speed.

When I first sat down to write it back in March 2016, I didn’t use any notes and that turned out to be a disaster. With no path to follow, I ended up making my hero a man who hides away from the villain and nothing really planned for anyone. Lame. That quickly changed when my mighty editing pen…no, wait…fingers changed everything and gave my characters meaning and a road to follow. Now, I’m coming close to writing the twist in the tail I’ve known about for years. It’s weird when I think about it. I know the twist but actually getting up to writing it down is more exciting.

Does anyone else feel like that? When you’re about to write a twist do you get more excited about writing it than you did when you initially thought of it? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. Or just tell me I’m crazy and move on.

Hmm…what else? No. I think I’ll leave it there.

Have a nice day.

 

 

November without NaNoWriMo.

Hello,

This year, I decided not to take part in NaNoWriMo 2016 and concentrate on my writing and editing instead.

I was already thinking about a story, a prequel to one I had finished back in March this year, as a way of starting my November. That story concerned giant Rockworms and their adventures after they crash land on Earth.  Actually, that makes it sound like they’re a bunch of happy go lucky scamps looking for their next jaunt. They are a species that has been forced to leave its planet as it collapsed around them. This is all down to their King and his selfish ways. I didn’t consider a prequel to the March Rockworms story until I started to like the Rockworms as much as the humans. I managed to make one to the worms charming. Well, I think I did. Since finishing that tale, I wanted to tell his story and of how they all got to Earth and I wanted to write it quickly. With this in mind, I adopted the ‘Pomodoro’ technique. The idea being that you work for 25 minutes and then rest. I wrote for 25 minutes, keeping my face glued to the screen and barely looking away, each day and managed to finish the story within 2 weeks. It would have been quicker but a few hangovers along the way.

Once that story was finished, I moved onto some editing. Way back in March 2015, I started to write a western. I have always loved watching westerns with The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly being my all-time favorite film. I have been forming a western in my mind for some years whilst listening to different metal music on my travels here and there and walks to work. Different scenes would present themselves and then pop up again and again. Initially, I started to write it without much in the way of notes. This turned out to be a bad idea. I ended up starting well but somehow finding myself writing my hero cowering away from a confrontation with the main villain of the piece and letting his friend do all the talking for him. What kind of hero does that? Not my kind. I’m currently in the process of going back over that story and then finishing it. Taking out any parts that don’t seem to make any sense and that move away from the story I wanted to write.

Unlike most of my past writing, I have been pleasantly surprised at how alright most of it is. I’m happy to keep a lot of it but have found some absolutely random rubbish that really didn’t make any sense at all. The edit is going well so far and I’m quietly confident. Though when I finally post some of it on this blog of mine that may disappear. Fingers crossed.

So, November has consisted of one short story and starting the edit of a story I hope will become one of my favorites. See you next year NaNoWriMo.

I finish this post with a question.

What technique(s), if any, do you use when you sit down to write?

 

 

My Pros and Cons and Tips for NaNoWriMo 2016.

nanowrimo-2016

Hello,

As you can probably tell, this is a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) 2016 related post. I have taken part in three of the last four having decided to miss one year as choosing to edit instead of writing 50,000 words for 2014. I considered taking part again this year but I managed to consider it far too much and now I have nothing prepared. I will, however, be doing a mixture of editing and writing throughout November as a substitute.

This year, I wanted to provide some (hopefully) helpful information for those of you attempting to write 50,000 words in one month. That number does sound a lot and it did to me when I first tried the challenge in 2012.

When you break down that number across the whole of November, it gets a lot easier to take in. The figure (rounded up as the exact figure is daft) of words to write for each day is 1,667. If you decide to commit to 2,000 words a day, that allows you 5 free days to do whatever you like with. I recall assigning those days for hangovers myself.

I only found writing 2,000 words to be a daunting task when I had no idea where my story was going. For the first 2,000, I planned what I was roughly going to write so I could at least have an idea (it is the first draft after all so I didn’t worry too much about getting it right first time) beforehand. After the first 2,000 were written, I planned the next 2,000 and so on. The plans I made were usually just a few paragraphs or even less as a rough outline. As I got into writing the story I discovered that when I knew where the story was going each plan and 2,000 words became easier.

On some occasions, I managed to write more than 2,000 because I was in the middle of an important scene. It was either a heated discussion between the quarrelling villains of the piece, or the hero’s in some cases. Or some back story or a battle scene (there were quite a few). All of which I could not stop at just the 2,000 because I found myself either in the middle of a sentence or that I wanted to finish at natural point (usually the end of a scene or a chapter) before finishing for the day.

Making sure to write at least some if not all of the 2,000 words a day was crucial to help me calmly reach the target and to not lose my sanity. Some days I managed just shy of the whole 2,000 but made up for it in the days after that. Other times I didn’t come close. Let me show you what I mean through a small scene involving me and my too laid back attitude to the word court in 2012.

Wednesday. “I don’t feel like writing anything tonight. I’ve been working all day and can’t face the laptop anymore” (This equals one day without writing 2,000 words)

Thursday. “I’ll just play one game of Pro Evolution Soccer on my Xbox. Then I’ll start.” (Another 2,000)

Friday. “My head hurts. Too much beer. Cannot write today” (Another 2,000)

“Okay. It’s Saturday. What’s my word count? Including today I’m 8,000 words behind! How can I write so many in one day? It’s the weekend! I’ve used all of my hangover days! HOW!!!”

On that Saturday, I ended up writing 6,000 words and then adding an extra 500 words to the next few days until I had caught up with my target. I kept to my plan for 2013 and 2015 and avoided the above, which made the challenge easier to handle.

The Pros of completing NaNoWriMo 2012, 2013 and 2015 were that I had three partially finished novels that I could work on to finish in future. I have since completed the 2012 novel but found that the 2013 novel will need to be started again (I now hate that it is written in the first person) and the 2015 novel is going to be a lot bigger than I thought and requires further planning. Without NaNoWriMo, I would not have discovered this about two of my stories.

NaNoWriMo also helped me to find discipline whilst writing. Since 2012, I have been able to commit to word counts per day to finish a story as I am able to use the same planning I used for NaNo on all my stories ever since. It allowed me to get down on paper (laptop) tales that have been spinning in my head for years. It is a great feeling to do so and to finish. When you do finish, I suggest buying a t-shirt or something to commemorate the achievement from the official website (http://nanowrimo.org/). It’s your own trophy and it helps to ensure that the fine people who organised the whole thing can continue to do so for years to come.

The Cons of completing NaNoWriMo? In my case they were:

  • My back hurt a little bit more.
  • I lost some sleep.

That’s all I can think of. I lay flat on my carpet after each days writing for about 10 minutes and that helped my back. I slept longer on weekend mornings to catch up on sleep.

I hope that this has helped you in your quest to conquer the NaNoWriMo challenge. Good luck and make sure you have some fun in the process.

Goodbye!