Monday, 31 March 2014

My Writing Process - Blog Tour

Louise E Rule has tagged me in Blog Hop, whereby we discuss our different writing processes. I know Louise through the modern miracle of social media that is facebook. Louise is a reviewer and an Admin in the Review Blog, which I have the pleasure to be a member of. In addition Louise is the author of the autobiographical Future Confronted, a heart rending, but ultimately life affirming, account of a deeply emotive subject.  Louise is currently embarking on a work of historical fiction. You can learn more by visiting last weeks' Blog Hop Here.
So now, picking up the baton, I will attempt to answer the questions we have all been posed during this fascinating blog tour.

1. What am I working on?

I'm currently working on a Flint and Steel, Fire and Shadow sequel to my debut novel The Sun Shard. At present my WIP has the working title of The Dead Gods, but this may well change. It takes off where The Sun Shard left off in a fantasy world, where the prehistoric, modern and mythical freely mix. Whereas its predecessor was a boys' own rollicking yarn, recounting a story spanning a few weeks, in my WIP I'm attempting to introduce more background information, both in the characters' history and the technology and political structure of the different cultures I'm attempting to describe.
In the second half of The Sun Shard I had to switch from one POV arena to another but managed to keep them in chronological order (mostly!). I had two different expeditions journeying to the ultimate showdown with the enemy, one by land and the other by sea. In my WIP I now have more threads from the very start but this means that I have more scope to describe different lands and peoples as well as the sheer pleasure of creating and introducing new characters, both good and bad, or maybe even a bit of both.
I have also had a piece of flash fiction accepted for Felinity a Steampunk anthology, which is due to be published by Kristell Ink soon.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My F&S,F&S is a different fantasy setting; not the usual high fantasy of Elves and Dwarfs, or even straight forward sword and shield action. Instead, the dominant civilisations are roughly comparable to our C17th period in history but the available technology has been taken to greater degree of sophistication. So in this universe ships can be powered both by sail and with huge clockwork engines. Battles are fought with both flint axes and matchlock muskets. While the science of black powder alchemy rubs shoulders with the magical and mythical. Oh and I almost forgot to mention the mammoths, which are ridden to battle by Neanderthals, or the Flint Folk as there are known.
It could be described as Clockpunk, a sub genre of Steampunk, but I like to think that it cuts its own path. So far I'm over 20 chapters in but even now I can see at least one more book taking shape, after this one, before the story is fully told.
I recently experimented a little and wrote 3 chapters as a father recounting his peoples' history to his daughter. I think it worked really well and neatly concluded that story thread.

3. Why do I write what I do?

The simple answer would be because no one else does. There's a saying that everyone has at least one novel in them and I've always wanted to write since my teens. But life got in the way, as it tends to do, and it remained as a teenage whim. I wrote a little poetry for my own amusement but that was it as far as creative writing was concerned. On FB I got to know a lady called Paula Lofting through a mutual interest in Pre Norman conquest history. Paula was in the process of writing her first novel on this subject Sons of the Wolf and I found the whole writing process she was going through both fascinating and inspirational. When her book was published I read it twice and thoroughly enjoyed it. Her experience of writing reminded me of that whim I once had. Later I took up reading GRR Martin's Song of Ice & Fire series and my love of fantasy was refired by his brutal realism. Like many of his readers I was in limbo awaiting the next instalment, while the Game of Thrones TV series continually catches up rapidly. I had devoured his fantasy world and needed something to fill the void it left, but what?
I know it sounds corny in the extreme, but my own writing began with a dream. I awoke with a vivid image in my mind; a scene that featured in The Sun Shard and around which the whole story developed. I discussed it with a work colleague ( a very talented artist in his own right) and he told me, in no uncertain terms, to get on with putting it to paper.  I started writing and I found it satisfied my hunger created by Mr Martin! Time that I once used to spend playing computer games was now spent writing. I couldn't stop, I became frustrated when I wasn't working on the story. It seemed to almost write itself in fact, unfolding on the screen in front of me. I was just the one tapping the keys! Writing is a reward in itself; the perfect escape from the reality of the humdrum 9-5.

4. How does my writing process work?

I think its true that if you spend too much time in the planning, the writing just won't happen. Personally the more I write, the more I immerse myself in my universe and the more ideas come my way. I have a rough plan where the story cycle is going, its the filling in the blanks that I thoroughly enjoy. There is nothing better than when the words just flow. Sometimes it's like I can't write them down fast enough. I love the process of creating characters, giving them little quirks and foibles, and inventing names that have cultural similarities amongst particular tribes and peoples. I love my characters, but sometimes the story demands that they die (sometimes quite brutally!), which can be genuinely upsetting!
I've been told that I describe landscapes and scenes quite well. I try to show the reader what I see and write, in what I like to call a cinematic style. I like to think my mind's eye is a camera and I pan from the distance onto a given scene. I suppose it is a tad unsophisticated but the more I write the more I learn.
I tend to write whenever the opportunity arises, mainly in the evening when the kids are in bed. If I can I will write a little during my lunch break at work. Most of my email traffic are segments of chapters sent to myself from different computers! I usually aim to produce a chapter of 4-5k words a week. I do like slotting in a larger chapter occasionally when certain events in the book are reaching a conclusion (such as a battle) before picking up the pieces and continuing with the story.
I wrote primarily for my own enjoyment and for that of a few friends, but after failing to find an interested publisher, I was encouraged to self publish on Amazon, and in the main its been a good experience. Using fantasy pages on FB I advertised and ran promotions, to get my name out there and see what people thought of my story. That people downloaded it was a humbling experience, but that it got positive reviews and people genuinely looked forward to a sequel was amazing. It proved quite popular in the US, although with the size of the target audience the term is somewhat relative!
Although set in a fantasy world, some elements demanded research, such as nautical terminology and the use of matchlock muskets. As well as lists of characters, I had to create a chart to ensure that the tide times and phases of the moon were correct with the chronology and location of different characters. Such details may have gone unnoticed by the reader but to ignore it seemed like cheating!
The Sun Shard does need a re-edit, before I again embark on trying once more for the Grail-like quest of finding a publisher.
But in the meantime my characters demand that their futures are written. I'm sure its the same with all writers, but it still amazes me how real your characters become. Considering they are merely the products of the firing of the imaginer's synapses; I know their appearence, their mannerisms and accents, even their future hopes. Isn't writing fun?

Now its time to pass the baton, and you're in for a treat. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce the esteemed Glenn Scrimshaw, whose blog can be found in this galactic quadrant; over to you Glenn.

Hello, I'm Glenn Scrimshaw and I class myself as a drunken storyteller due to the fact that I use the whisky writing method. I write what is hopefully comedy Sci-Fi and fantasy and I'm as surprised as anyone that not only did I get published but people seem to like my daft little stories.

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