Absence, Exposition and Pitching

Pardon my absence dear reader. I have been busy, I promise. It’s what everyone says, I know, but the truth is that I’ve been deep in the revised draft. Day and night! Well, at least when I can and I’m not bingeing on Altered Carbon and it isn’t half term for my little boy and I’m not nearly cutting my finger off on a baked bean can…..

It was the Branstons baked beans. It amazes me that in this day and age there are still cans without ring pulls. Lesson learned – always cut the lid off completely.

So, in honour of my wonky finger, I thought I’d stick Dr. John up there as his”fickle finger of funk” has been on my mind of late (I believe that he had it shot off and surgically reattached.) I’m hoping that it will heal up straight and wont effect my guitar playing too much. Hell, Tony Iommi lost the tips of his middle and ring finger and he did alright…..

But enough of that. I thought I’d get back in the groove with a quick update on how things have been going.

Hunting Down Exposition With An Orbital Laser

So, well into draft v3.1, going through my work with a fine tooth comb, teasing out the snaggled prose and working out those little narrative knots. It’s slow going but I’ve found a great amount of reward so far and I think it’s much richer, and it’s in part thanks to the advice I was sent: how to make exposition my bitch.

I received this under the premise that I would find it interesting and useful. The result so far? I’ve been fascinated by the exposition that I have found, and while it certainly didn’t destroy the story, there is little to lose in cutting it out. It sounds strange but removing sections of exposition did little to really deflate the progression of the narrative, and even better, once you know it you can tease it in with references and flash backs and characters remembering that time when this and that happened. Overall, the process has been a great workout, both educational and satisfying.

The funny thing is that when he says remove the back story, well, that’s what I did and it turned into a whole book, the one that I’ve just written a pitch for…..

Pitchapolooza 2018

So I had a go at writing a pitch for my book as the Book Doctors (in conjunction with Nanowrimo) were running Pitchapolooza 2018. Twenty pitches are randomly selected, critiqued and voted for. The winner gets an introduction to a publisher suitable for their manuscript.

Might as well give it a shot right?

I worked tirelessly on iterations of this and then repeatedly sent them to my partner who was busy at work, asking her thoughts on this version and that. Her response was pretty much always “too wordy?”. Every time.

But it helped me. I tried to boil it down again and again, editing and reducing until it retained the flavour without the bulk.

(I mentioned this in a comment on the Book Doctors video about the pitch – they replied with: “You’re partner is a smart woman. Excellent advice!”)

Anyhow, I just want you to know that I’m thinking of you here! You, the reader, checking a copy on the bookshelf because I know you don’t have much time and you want the nitty gritty in under 200 words or else you might pick something else up.

So here it is!

Welcome to Asclepius, trading hub for more than a hundred worlds…..

When a smuggling operation is busted two petty criminals must find a new way to recoup their lost investment. Shale wants to sign up for a prospectors ‘dive’ but her best friend isn’t so sure. Unimaginable riches might be theirs, or at the least a quick death if they’re lucky.

Meanwhile Harlech Truckle, leader of the Birdeaters, makes plans for another illegal shipment or else face the displeasure of his mysterious benefactor. But just what is it they’re being asked to bring in, and who’s toes might they be stepping on this time?

As the consequences begin to unfold, a street hustler, a possessed automaton and a hapless warehouse technician will be drawn into a spiral of duplicity and revenge while in the shadows of the Shining Spires there are those who’s designs had yet to be fully understood…..

Red Star Rising is the first in a series of exciting, modern pulp fantasy novels set against a backdrop of lost epochs, cosmological improbabilities and strange destinies.

So, what do you think? Needs some work perhaps……? Damned if I know. Hell, it was harder to write than the damn book is!

The Future?

With that all out the way I want to say a little bit about future posts – yes, I actually do have some sort of plan – and while I don’t want to say much more, I should put up a post about Alter Ego’s in response to JA Allen’s post and the comment I made. Hope to see it within a fortnight.

I also have a sketch for a pair of world building posts that I’m rather excited about, but – yes, sigh! – it’ll be consigned to the vagaries of the crystal ball as to when those will appear.

So, for now, I’ll sign out and wish you all well.

DJC

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Kat’s Manuscript Revival and the Denouemont

Greetings Reader,

Last week I mentioned that I was working for the Council as an ‘electoral canvasser’, the goal of which was to visit homes and verify the names of the residents against the electoral roll. According to the handout I received it’s an “interesting and rewarding job”. Mmmm hmmmm…..

It’s also a lot of walking.

Well, chasing up people who haven’t filled in their Council paperwork wasn’t the worse job I’ve ever done – at least I’m not sitting in an office – the last time I did that I got harangued for “making [the job] look too easy”. Surprisingly, menial labour and data input wasn’t exactly a challenge compared to my lunchtime spent creating the original material for my current project.

Back to the canvassing. I’m working a road and I come upon a housewife with her little boy and I introduce myself – she asks to see my I.D. card and I explain that although I sent the Council a current photo they seemed to have given me an I.D. card with my old picture on it (three years younger, no beard, long hair). This conversation drifts into topics like centralised computers and the inefficiency of bureaucracies, how the left hand doesn’t talk to the right hand (Council departments don’t seem to share and correlate data). When I explained that I was a part timer and my real job was writing fantasy it turned out that she too was a fantasy writer. We talked for about an hour (all part of customer service right?) and she explained that her manuscript had been dormant for a two years.

She’d let it rest and then just couldn’t get the impetus to go back to the beginning and start over on it. It can be tough, and I don’t doubt that it’s a common problem for writers the world over, to know that your work isn’t finished after putting all that effort in.

As I near the denouement of the draft, that grande finale! I too can feel that spectre hovering in the shadows. I’m sooooo close, one final chapter to shape out of the wet clay of my imagination etc etc….. But I know it’s not the end because there’s always more work to do despite my confidence in my own writing. It’s going to need to go through some rewrites, to be edited and proof read, to be checked for consistency and tightened up before being re-editted and rechecked. It’s just something that’s got to be accepted.

Of course, there is help at hand in the form of YouTube videos. Take the one I’ve posted below for example. It came up randomly in the side bar and after I’d given it a watch I took a section of my own work for a little test drive. Sure enough, there was tightening up to be done.

The question of whether your work is ever finished might be another matter entirely, but we’ll never arrive at that question unless we go back to the beginning and start over.

And this was what I hoped that Kat did,  that she got that old manuscript out and resume work on it. I’d like to think that our chance meeting was one of those moments where a random event or meeting might turn you around or inspire you. After all, who knows what masterpieces lay in the raw material that’s been stashed under a bed or that are lingering in digital purgatory, just waiting to be rediscovered?

We certainly shared the opinion that there were some real turds out there that had actually made the shelves, so if we believe that we can do better, why not give it a shot. What have we got to lose, right?

DJC

Editing and One Bad Line (Glimpsing Glimpses)

So it’s been a bit of a stalled week in working terms. Not a huge amount of editing done on the book at the moment as I’m trying to crack the the back of this particular hump. They come and go, and I’m thinking that the beginning parts of the story are perhaps a little more underdeveloped because they’re closer to the original draft, whereas the later parts became more developed as the ideas unfolded. Fingers crossed.

Perhaps the most mind numbing element of having to do all this editing and rewriting is that you end up reading your own work repeatedly, to the point that you just feel so tired you shut down and go and do something else. That’s what ousted me from the cafe and I went home where it was hard to get anything more done.

One piece of advice that I heard on editing your own work is to read it to yourself out loud. Apparently (I haven’t tried it just yet) it helps you to discern whether or not the sentence works, especially if you’ve been going over and over it until it feels like your brain is melting. I’ll certainly be giving it a try when I’ve finished the chapter I’ve been working on as its had a lot of edits and needs to be checked for how well it flows.

And as I said, it was a bit of a slack week work wise, but I did catch up some books that I wanted to read. Working my way through some fantasy series I came across an example of editing gone wrong, and this is not meant as disrespect to the author as I enjoyed his work. No, it was just this line jarred me hard:

“He could scarce blink without glimpsing some shredded glimpse of their ordeal.”

Given how huge this guys work was, there’s going to be a bum line somewhere, and as a writer you can’t be too careful about editing. Hell, I’ll probably be reading my own work for the tenth time and still find lines like this that aren’t right. It’s also probably a reflection on the fact that writers are expected to do their own editing more and more as the publishing industry looks to cut costs. It seems that these days, no matter what you do for a living, you have to make more effort than ever. So, edit edit edit.