It’s not so much the thing itself, as the complications you have to worry about.
I might be talking about anything from Auto-immune diseases, to moving houses… But, because I happen to write novels…
It is novels I was referring to. You’d never have guessed, would you? And that is partly because I am all over the place. Sorry. That’s me, and I suspect most successful novelists. We get there in the end… but the complications that develop… well, they can make it hard, and of course, they can make the story.
‘I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition’
“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!” (Monty Python)
As an example to writers of how to use surprise… and fear, and ruthless efficiency and an almost fanatical devotion to the pope. And spiffy red uniforms…
Okay, so unless you’re doing an erotic novel called the handmaiden’s tail… maybe not the spiffy red uniforms. Read more
I’m working on a story… wait, no. I’m working on three stories. Okay, maybe I’ve started and stopped on about seven, but I keep coming back to two stories?
I’d say my muse has ADOS (Attention Deficit… Ooh! Shiny!), but I’m terribly afraid it’s just me. Other people talk about writing to market and checking off the lists of tropes they’re going to use, and I’m over here going “this isn’t working because… I need a second POV? Do I have to go back and rewrite half the scenes? Or am I adding a second plotline in? No, no, bad brain. Just keep going forwa… okay, fine. Wait! I agreed! Why are you trying to throw a different story at me instead of the one I want to work on?”
Not that any of you know anything about that, eh?
Sarah has mentioned the importance of “reader cookies” – those genre allusions and tropes, or better, tropes turned upside down, that keep the reader happy as he goes through the book.
But what happens when you get a book that’s nothing but cookies? How long does that keep you happy? In my case – not very long.
I recently came across a case in point, a comic novel written around the Norman invasion of England in 1066. You might think that’s not a great subject for comedy, but the writer pulled it off… sort of… tongue firmly planted in cheek, in the style of 1066 and All That, but applied to fiction. For the first few chapters I kept chuckling at the irreverent views and up-ending of conventional wisdom, reading specially good bits aloud to the First Reader. Read more
Next post, I’ll do a link post of sites with information on copyright (good, bad, and ugly) and related resources. However, that takes time I did not have last week, so I want to look at resources for authors, especially books that I have found useful.
Important caveat: these are books that I have found useful. Not all books work for all authors. Guides for people who do genre fiction (thrillers, romance, sci-fi and fantasy) might not work so well for people who write literary fiction, and vice versa.
I’ve just seen the cover-roughs for SHAMAN OF KARRES, and it looks good. It was always going to be hard to impossible to follow in the direct footsteps of James H Schmitz with these books. I made an effort but I’m not pretending I succeeded. Still, the appeal of old-fashioned space opera seems to go very much wider than the fans of James Schmitz. We seem to have added a whole new generation of younger fans, who are now reading the original books. And the point is: if not me, then someone else. They might have done far better… or far worse. But, essentially, me is what the readers got. Read more
A commentor here observed that the Merchant and Empire books are set in a small world. It’s an interesting observation, and one that deserves some thought, because a lot of fantasy and sci-fi books seem to sprawl. They cover an epic-worth of territory, sometimes by design, sometimes just because it seems traditional.
But not all stories need sprawling worlds. Some books, even novels or series, fit better in a small space, a human or other person sized space. Which is sometimes difficult to do.