Sunday, 27 October 2013

Game of Thrones


Well this has been a week where Real Life (TM) has gotten in the way of writing.  Monday it was take the car to Aldershot for its annual service and MOT and like a new lieutenant with a compass I managed to get myself lost.  The cause; transposing two digits when inputting the postcode for the directions.  So a simple hour an a half journey took three hours.  To add insult to injury the train back took two hours. Needless to say I was exhausted by the time I got home.  All my American friends will be sniggering about now, but trust me forty miles in Britain is not like travelling forty miles in the States.

Writing wise this week was a disappointing 3549 words, as effectively I only manage two days of sitting my butt in a chair and typing.  Still this means another chapter written and I'm very close to starting act four.  Running total now stands at 63,041 words.  Hopefully next week will be better, but next week I have to get myself back down to Aldershot to pick up my car.

Finished watching Stargate SG1 hurrah!  Season ten ended with a time travelling story that was actually very good as it had real consequences for one of the characters.  Stargate: The Ark of Truth the first movie was a neat wrap up of the Ori storyline that would have been told in a longer form had there been a season eleven.  Unfortunately, Stargate: Continuum the second movie was another time travelling story that felt a bit like old rope to me as everything is neatly tied up with a paradox  that loops back on itself.  The performances were all well and good, but the story just felt like it was going through the motions.

Reading wise I've just picked up George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones.  I didn't have three dragons to pose with the books, so you get two plush kittens and Norbert the dragon instead.  I'm not an avid reader of epic fantasy, but I really like the HBO series, so promised myself I would read the original story it was based on.  I like the writing style, very engaging.  By the way it may take me some time to read all of this series.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Lion of Comarre & Against the Fall of Night


Four weeks ago I reported that my writing total for Ghost Dog was ahead of the curve compared to the same points during Bad Dog and Strike Dog by about ten thousand words.  To my chagrin I now find I'm two weeks behind at the comparable point, which means twenty thousand word behind.  Such is the vagaries of writing, that or my general ineptitude.  This weeks total was respectable enough though with 6,723 words put down, which bring the running total up to 59,492 words.

So some angst about being useless and perhaps I should seek out a career in shelf stacking, but on the other hand Ghost Dog shows me I can write multiple books and that my writing style is growing.  Whether or not anyone apart from me, my partner and the plush toys will like it is another matter.

This week I re-read Arthur C. Clarke's The Lion of Comarre and Against the Fall of Night, which I have in a Corgi edition that contains both stories.  I really wanted to re-read Rendezvous with Rama, but no longer have a copy, as I was looking for inspiration for some scenes involving ancient civilizations that I need to write.  Anyway, not the best character writer in the world, but he certainly knew how to think up big ideas, and like most SF fans of my age, one of the big three that I read avidly when I was younger.  Moment of geekness; I just edited Wikipedia as they failed to list The Deep Range on his page, even though the novel has its own page.

Nearing the end of our Stargate SG1 original series marathon this week.  Season 9 actually got better as it went along and the end of season finale was very good leaving everyone in jeopardy.  Just started season 10 and so far I've really been enjoying watching the show.  Perhaps not as good as season 6, but it runs it a close second.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Control Point


This has been a difficult writing week as I've struggled to get the words out of my head and down onto paper,  metaphorically speaking, given that everything is digital bits on my computer.  So I found myself at the end of this week having only written 1,518 words in total, which is an appallingly low amount from getting myself stuck by not knowing what to write.  Given that I've outlined the plot and know what is in each chapter, for definitions of know that mean the probability wave is not collapsed, but the choices are known, this is kind of a way bad situation to be in.

I then went into angst mode, never a good thing to do, and wondered why I seem to be in my editing head space, rather than my drafting head space?  I even rewrote a chapter that my alpha reader said was good, but lacked action, or plot development, even though the characterization was good.  Rewriting takes as long as drafting and doesn't necessarily add many words to the end product.

After that I tried rationalizing my mood and lack of productivity down to visits to my rheumatology consultant, the subsequent blood test, and having a flu jab, which a lot of people report as making them feel unwell.  Not to forget two visits to the dentist and doing my bit for World Mental Health Day at Imperial College London, which you can read about here.  So a busy week.  I also haven't been sleeping well, and by that I mean worse than usual, due to the noise from the builders working on the exterior of the block of flats where I live.  All of which seem like good reasons to me for a lower work output.

However, yesterday I had an epiphany where I realised that I had written my characters into a situation where they would have to do something stupid for all the wrong reasons, and that I needed to go back and rewrite an earlier chapter.  Doing this will allow me move some of the things that I described earlier in the story and put those events in a different form in a later chapter.  This will allow my heroes to make what looks like a good decision for all the right reasons; of course this will later turn out to be the wrong decision in that it leads them into jeopardy.  Plot problem fixed and Scrivener makes it so easy to do this.  I now have thirty one chapters outlined and I feel good.  This doesn't mean that the writing gets any easier, but at least I know what I need to write now.  Current running total stands at 52,829 words.  On reflection I had this self same problem previously; to me it seems to indicate a process on the learning curve that I have yet to master.

Reading wise I finished the book Control Point by Myke Cole and was left with mixed feelings.  On one hand I think it's a very good first novel.  It kept the pace of the story moving along quite nicely, and I like all the secondary characters.  About the only criticism I would make is that I would like to have seen some more humour in the dialogue between the characters.  However, I didn't like the main character who I thought was a whiny idiot.  Also, the mix of traditional fantasy tropes within a military SF story didn't completely float my boat.  The teaser for the sequels though did start from the consequences of the heroes actions, so Myke Cole clearly has thought through his plot, which I like.  So if you like military action set in a fantasy world this is likely to be something you'll want to read.

Finished watching Stargate SG1 season 8, which in my opinion has the worst end of a season finales of the show with a Deus ex machina time travel story called Mobius.  The acting and dialogue were good, but having the episode end with the characters not having to go on the mission just sucked.  YMMV.  Season 9 is just okay, which is sad because it has both Claudia Black and Ben Browder in it, both of whom I love from Farscape and therefore the show should be better than just okay.  Claudia steals every scene she is in and brings life an vitality to the cast, but it feels too much like old rope to me.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Writing Log 131006


This was a short week work wise for me, because I spent Monday catching up with stuff I normally do over the weekend.  Therefore this week I only managed to put my butt in the chair for four days to produce 5,822 words that brings the running total of my third novel  up to 51,295.  Not as much as I would like to have written, but for me targets are guidelines, so no real grumbles on this front.

Saturday I went along to a writers group critique session, and sat and listened to them do what they do, which was most interesting.  I'd been told that such events were quite critical, but what I observed was largely constructive, so assuming that they'll take my money I'm joining them.  To some extent this is going to be my new social group to fill in for the lack of a job where I meet people to talk to.  So all good I think.

On the watching TV front we are still working through Stargate SG1 and have just started season eight.  Season seven had what I think is one of the best end of season finales the show ever did.  It was the one where Anubis attacks Earth and the SG1 have to use the lost Ancient defense base to defeat the big bad.  All very satisfying with the X303 Prometheus and X302 fighter footage up against Goa'uld death gliders and Al'kesh attack ships while Ha'tak motherships rained fire down from orbit.  All deliciously over the top action.  Season seven also had the very moving two-parter that features the death of one of the series reoccurring secondary characters that was very well done.

One rant about the show and this is about the treatment of Samantha Carter and the writers effectively making her into the Black Widow by having all her relationships end in terminal situations.  I know that Daniel and Teal'c both lost people and O'Neill's whole story arc centers on the death of his son and separation from his wife, but Samantha is just the crash test dummy of relationship difficulties.  One could almost imagine it was as if they could think of no other way of developing her character.

Reading wise I've just started Control Point by Myke Cole, but haven't yet finished it, so I feel it's too early to comment, so I'll come back to it next week.  Off now to have a Lazy Sunday afternoon, hence the Zombies song YouTube link, and enjoy the autumnal sun coming through the windows of our flat.