Thursday, 24 April 2014

A Minority Report

By the power of Castle Grey Skull, sorry I mean the European Union, I now find I belong to a minority.  I woke up thinking I'm British, only to find I'm Cornish. Oh how we laughed and cried at the news in our household after breakfast, what with my partner being born in Cornwall, and my mum being Cornish.  I wonder if I will have to wear the Cornish flag on my clothes to identify myself now? 

We are so grateful to be labelled as part of a new minority that we are thinking about going out later to celebrate the good news by buying a Cornish pasty to celebrate.

PS: I have a weird sense of humour and find this very funny.  YMMV.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Log 2014 20th Apr: Source Code as Palimpsest

Singing Sunday, Sunday while the tune turns into writing Monday is Sunday this week.  I'm a day late in posting my usual weekly update on what I've been doing, watching, reading etc.

The reason for this is that yesterday we spent a day with friends having a lazy Sunday playing games (Ticket to Ride), eating snacks (yummy finger food), and watching movies (Source Code and the 47 Ronin).  It doesn't get better than that.  A big thanks to John and Rita for inviting us, and a shout out to Hilary, Trevor, David and Charlotte, Mark and Gwen, and Stuart for making us feel welcome.  Hopefully get to do that again some time soon.

Today I finished reading Wireless by Charlie Stross.  It's a collection of short stories ranging in length up to novella.  It shows both his strengths and weaknesses as a story teller.  Charlie is very clever.  Probably far too clever for his own good.  This means that he writes himself into plots he can't get out of, because of the cleverness of his ideas.  He is in my opinion a better story teller when he is constrained by the setting, which is why I prefer his Laundry and Trader series more than his space opera.

For me, once Charlie goes outside the box he is so far left field that blue sky thinking is left behind in a vacuum.  This sucks the plot into a singularity it can't escape.  In particular Palimpsest, which funnily enough has the same plot problem as Source Code had as a movie.

I had not seen Source Code when my novel was compared by one of the T Party critiquers as  Starship Troopers meets Source Code.  So getting to watch it yesterday was good.  I liked the story, but, and the but is the important part of my statement; it tried to be too clever.  In the case of Source Code it has a moment of what my partner would call satori; a perfect moment to end the film.  It would have been elegiac; a little sad, but perfect.  The film then continued and presented a more upbeat ending, which in turn was twisted into a rug pulled out from under one's feet into a far too clever by half paradox.

Palimpsest reminds me of All You Zombies by Robert A, Heinlein.  The latter is a time loop story about gender identity, or fluidity if you prefer, whereas Palimpsest is about the fluidity of personal identity when there are multiple copies of oneself.  I think that Palimpsest is perfect as it is and doesn't need to be made into a novel.  However, if Charlie does go ahead and expand it I shall be drawn like a moth to the flames and have to read it.  I just hope that it doesn't lose the moment like Source Code.

On the work front I've been working my way through act two, going back and adding a couple of small scenes to act one of my first novel, which is now running at 91,800 words.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Log 2014 13th Apr: Ender's Game

Ender's Game; a very popular story, turned into a film garnished with conflicted responses; not so much about the film, but about the author.  Originally a short story published in Analog magazine, Orson Scott Card later expanded it into a novel in 1985, and winning the Hugo in 1986. Card has since added sequels to the original story of children trained to be soldiers, including a side spin-off series.  The film is what I like to think of as the best bits version of the novel, except that would suggest it left out the bad bits of the novel, which it doesn't.  However, it does leave out a lot of exposition that gives the reader some context to put Ender's life into perspective.

The film does have some wonderful special effects that realise the battle room where Ender beats the Formics, and is well worth watching just for that.

Reading wise I'm still working through Wireless by Charlie Stross; a collection of short stories and novellas. All good, but I find that when I read short fiction when I come to the end of a story I want to put the book down, unlike a novel when I come to the end of a chapter and want to read more.

Moving on.

This week I've managed to do three different drafts of act one of my novel.  The first draft was based on two very detailed critiques from T Party members Nigel and Colleen.  The second draft incorporated the majority of the other points made by Caroline, Hilary, Jehangir and the other writers who critiqued my work.  While the third draft included some style edits from a couple of the other writers who commented.  Currently the third draft is being given the once over by my Alpha reader, and then I have a late T Party critique from Vivien, to work through, who did a thorough job of giving the story the once over too.

I've also been talking to Clive, one of my Beta readers, who came around for a curry on Friday night.  That was very productive conversation, and he is looking forward to seeing the next novel, which is good news for me.  Brian, my American Beta reader remains a stalwart supporter who has given me some unique perspectives on the writing process that I cherish.

So I end this week having done mostly editing, which is like writing, and my log tells me I've written 1,122 words, but I can only account for -255 and +514 of them.  It's the one area where Scrivener doesn't quite manage to keep track of work, given the fact I put out three act one drafts that all hover around the thirteen thousand word mark; after editing three thousand words out of the submitted draft.  Still mustn't grumble, and more importantly I have an article coming out in the next issue of Miniature Wargames.  Woo-Hoo!

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Log 2014 6th Apr: T Party Critique

Yesterday was my first T Party workshop critique; of act one of my first novel.

It has left me feeling agitated and slightly shocked, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a thing.  On the whole the comments were fair, if harsh, but necessary tough love; coming from the writers attending the meeting to the writer submitting her work for critique.  It is hard to sit through criticism and listen to one's work being taken apart.  However, quite rightly clunky dialogue and too much telling needs to be brought to my attention so I can eliminate all the instances where they occur in the novel.

What caused me to become agitated was some of the other things said regarding show not tell, where I am left trying to square the circle to address the comments made, without inserting info dumps to tell the reader the answer.  I also made the mistake of not making it clearer to the reviewers that this was the first act of a novel, and not a short story, therefore causing confusion (which is a bad thing to do to someone who is reading one's story where one wants constructive feedback).

So thank you one and all, and remember I'll be back.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Log 2014 30th Mar

I've been away for the weekend, down in Brighton seeing my godson, whose mother is the Comms Officer for Brighton town council, and who was involved in running the Gay Marriage press coverage.  All her hard work meant the press roadshow ran smoothly.  Me, I got to play with my godson and his sister all weekend.

On the writing front; The first of the T Party writers group feedback critiques are starting to come in.  I've only looked at one so far, and will need time to process what has been said.

As for writing this week I managed to produce 5,194 words.  Other than that I have little to say really, apart from having had a lovely weekend in Brighton.