Saturday, 13 October 2018

How to write your novel...or not!

Phil Collins sang about not being able to hurry love. You can’t hurry plots, either. Well, that’s not strictly true. You might be able to put a plot together in three minutes flat, but fleshing out your characters, their interaction and how they affect the overall story will take longer. Sometimes much longer. Some how-to-write-your-novel books make this process seem quick and easy, but that isn't the whole story (pun intended).

There are hundreds of books about how to plot your novel, together with timelines on character arcs and the like. I have never liked the by X%, your character should be doing this and your story should be at this point approach because it seems too mechanical to me. Flowing water is not a ten second soundbite repeated ad infinitum. However, because I was interested in the concept, having never done it, I did attempt to write by formula and ended up being unable to enjoy my writing for a year or write anything I felt could be read by anybody else. 

 
It’s a confidence thing and very few authors - by which I mean 95% of us - have so little confidence in their writing that they will try something new just in case it throws up a different approach that they like. Such open-mindedness is healthy, but what it highlighted for me was that I knew, either by practise or instinct, that my method of writing worked best for me.

While I do accept that there has to be structure to the book you are writing, I also believe that sticking rigidly to a you must do this by this time approach might teach you a lot about how to put x thousand words a day on paper/keyboard but you may also end up with a confused, bloated, perhaps stilted book that has no flow or logic to it.

So, what do I advise? There are so many ‘how-to’ books on writing out there that lead this cynical writer to believe that some do and others teach. That said, many how-to authors write fiction as well, so my first advice would be to read the reviews of those books and then download a couple and judge for yourself. I am assuming (dangerous) that these authors write their fiction using the guidelines they champion in their how-to books. If so, check that out while you are reading the book. Does it grab you? Are the characters fully formed, true to themselves or generic and shallow? Does the progress of the action seem forced or, in the down chapters (can’t have ups without downs), are you bored?

Then read a book you truly enjoy - it might easily be one written by a how-to author. I am thinking Stephen King here. How does that author hit the highs and lows? And, most important, even vital, is the rule that if you don’t agree with what they say, it does not mean they are right and you are wrong. I am again thinking Stephen King and his rule about adverbs. Chips/fries can be very bland without a sprinkling of salt. 


I have always put my instinctual approach to writing down to the fact I am musical and know a lot about structures of symphonies and the like, having studied the subject since I was a child. The great Edward Elgar taught himself to write symphonies by copying a Beethoven symphony structure, down to the number of bars and how each theme was developed. It worked for him. Deconstructing a book you admire might work for you.


You can read more about April Taylor here:

 
 

Saturday, 6 October 2018

The Self Destructive Urge to Tell the Tale

The writer Maya Angelou talks about the compulsion to tell the tale. It’s something that most writers will relate to. But there is a downside …

Would you swap your life’s fabric for a five minute opportunity? Hornsea Writer, Penny Grubb explores the issue HERE.


Sunday, 23 September 2018

The Anatomy of a Book Cover

There's no keeping a good woman down, and across on her blog Linda Acaster has been writing about the more esoteric elments to consider when constructing a DIY cover: How A Book Cover Does Its Job


Finding suitable images is the least of it. But there are plenty of tips and links to help, and no need to own image manipulation software, expensive or otherwise.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

New Cover: Scent of the Böggel-Mann

Linda Acaster is revealing a new cover for her stand-alone short, Scent of the Böggel-Mann.

The blurb has been updated, too:
Some lots are best left in the auction room.
Elaine haunts auctions held in crumbling country mansions, dreaming of a find to make her and Gary rich. A plain wooden shipping trunk has no key to its iron-banded locks but is far heavier than it should be. What might it contain?

Some lots are best left in the auction room.

Mainstream publishers regularly change the covers of their titles: to re-brand the author, or a series, or to edge a title further into its genre ‘look’. Scent of the Böggel-Mann is aligned with the Horror genre, something readers should pick up in a single glance. It could hardly be Chicklit, could it? And it would make a very odd cover for a Crime/Mystery novel.

This is how covers work. They act as fast tags to the type of story to be found within. With a book cover, 'a picture paints a thousand words' has never been more true. 
The title is on wide distribution at an entry level price of 99p/99c, available from Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Nook, and Smashwords for all formats.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Reading and Writing Historicals

What are you reading?

Lately, Linda Acaster has been reading "faction". This is the art of fictionalising recorded facts about real people, usually now dead, to give an insight into their life and times, written in such a way as to challenge the reader to discern the fact from the fiction. 

It's not a sub-genre of the historical novel that she's normally drawn to. As she maintains in her blogpost, no matter the amount of research undertaken, no writer is going to get all the details correct.

But does it matter? And why the sudden interest? Check out her blogpost to see if you agree.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Launching the Last Book in a Trilogy.


For the past three years, Hornsea Writers member, Stuart Aken, has written a novel each year for his Generation Mars series. The words ‘science fiction’ may put off some potential readers, but the series is much more about relationships and human potential; there’s even some romance in there. This year, he’s finished the trilogy with ‘Return to Dust’. 

The series follows the lives, trials and triumphs of a group of selected individuals, initially called the Chosen, sent to Mars to begin a human breeding programme in the hope of preventing the specie’s extinction on Earth due to catastrophic climate change. Scientific advances, and those in the technology that follows such progress, ensure they have success in their prime purpose. But it comes at significant cost and involves many battles.

There’s social struggle here, the consequences of greed and selfishness, the injustices of gender and wealth inequality, and the rewards of truth and compassion. The first two books, Blood Red Dust and War Over Dust, are based mostly on the red planet and deal with the setting up of a colony in difficult circumstances, the expansion such opportunities inevitably provide for the wealthy and commercially acquisitive, and the conflicts that inevitably occur when the profit motive envies the idealists. This final book looks at the threat of overreliance on technology and sees the settlers returning to an Earth much changed but at least habitable. Here they face new challenges and must deal with an enemy powerful enough to threaten the existence of all life in the solar system, and maybe the entire universe; an enemy they’ve unwittingly created.

Return to Dust’ is due to be launched in both digital and paperback versions at the science fiction, fantasy and gaming convention, Fantasticon 2018, in Cleethorpes, on 1st and 2nd of September. Stuart Aken will be there, helping on the bookstore and signing copies of the new book. He’ll also take part in a couple of on stage discussion groups relating to writing and the creation of fictive worlds. Why not pop along and join in the fun? You can get tickets here, or just come on the day and pay on the door. As Stuart would say, ‘Enjoy!’

For more information on the series, and the author’s other work, visit his website, here.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

The Dummies’ Guide to WHAT!?!

For all that the Hornsea Writers number several crime writers and several How-To guide writers amongst their number, this is one title that no-one would have predicted.

That said, it is not a Hornsea Writers’ publication as such, but a member of the group, Penny Grubb, was asked to write the Foreword for this collection. As she says, she hesitated before accepting the task, afraid that an anthology devoted to female strength might be more of a worthy collection than a good read. But that concern soon evaporated. Forget worthy, and hold onto your hats. This is a collection that packs a punch from page 1.






Available now but not officially launched until the FantastiCon extravaganza in September, The Dummies Guide to Serial Killing and Other Fantastic Female Fables introduces several new authors alongside some seasoned professionals.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff

For the historical novelist, primary sources are always a bit like finding your way through a maze. We are, in effect, looking back and reading what we would reasonably expect to be accurate. But, of course, this isn’t always the case. The old adage says that history is written by the winners and, for the most part it is, even today. Just look at the non-reporting of some events such as demonstrations and especially the number of protesters, against the policies of a sitting government.

When it comes to the mediaeval period, primary sources are not abundant. In the first of the new Gideon Rooke series, Loyalty in Conflict, I am writing about the events in March 1470 surrounding the most obscure of the battles in the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Empingham, sometimes called the Battle of Losecote Field. Despite spending almost a year researching this book (and being side-tracked quite a lot) it was only recently I found out the battle allegedly lasted a mere 45 minutes with Edward IV overcoming the Lincolnshire rebels led by Sir Robert Welles. This despite the king having less than 8,000 people in his army whereas Welles was leading a force of just under 15,000.

It is at times like these that reading the various sources, primary and otherwise can lead to utter confusion. More than one source says only Sir Richard Welles (Robert’s father) was beheaded whilst kneeling between the two armies, so that Robert could see Edward IV meant business. However, in the contemporary account Chronicle of the Rebellion in Lincolnshire 1470 edited in 1847 by John Gough Nichols, it clearly states that Sir Richard Welles and Sir Thomas Dymoke were both executed whilst kneeling between the two armies. Other accounts have Dymoke being executed in Stamford, but they are not written by the man on the spot at the time.

So I will go with this unnamed chronicler, who, although he is unashamedly on the king’s side and calls Edward’s traitorous brother that weak and worthless prince, George, Duke of Clarence, was there at the time. His account also tells of a servant of the worthless Duke of Clarence being found dead on the battlefield with a convenient casket of letters confirming the treachery of Clarence and the Earl of Warwick (usually known as Warwick the Kingmaker). What a convenient find.

More recent accounts throw doubt on whether the casket of letters ever existed at all and assert that it was propaganda for Edward to prove the treason of his brother and his cousin. And in the intervening 548 years, we have only to think of the Hitler Diaries, the casket letters of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the diamond necklace letter to Marie Antoinette, to know that this kind of propaganda still prevails.

The dilemma of trying to wade through thousands of words to get to the truth may at first glance be a cause of difficulty to the writer who wants to keep the history as true as possible, but it also provides that lifeblood called what-if? This is one of the most enjoyable aspects of planning a novel. The oooh moment: if he does that, I can make X do this. And, if you can cite a source that confirms your assertion, so much the better because it might just have happened the way your novel plan wants it to have happened. If it doesn’t, the answer to critics is But it’s fiction.

So, gentle reader, if I decide to accept one account and not another, you will have to accept that if my fiction meets your fact, my fiction will win.
 
April Taylor


You can find out more about April Taylor here: Twitter  Amazon UK  Amazon USA

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Holiday or Research? Down into Grime's Graves

 
Holidays. Some people laze on sun-drenched beaches. Linda Acaster ventures down Neolithic flint mines. 

Collect your hard hat and join her and hubby as they fight their way through Thetford Forest, Norfolk, to descend 30 feet into Grime's Graves - or at least "Pit 1" to view the narrow galleries where black flint was prised free with the aid of antler picks. And a lot of sweat.


Saturday, 19 May 2018

Early Summer eBook Promotions

Kindle image from Free-Photos ex Pixabay.com under CC0 Licence
The sun is out, the sky is blue(ish), so drag out the lounger, settle yourself in a sheltered spot, and read.

What? Run out of ebooks? How could you?!

Today on Linda Acaster's blog is just the place to stock up your Kindle, and each title is only 99p / 99c. 

No, not just her own, but a whole field of Romance in all its sub-genres, and so much Fantasy & Science Fiction you'll need a whip and a chair to keep it all at bay. 

Why bother? Just buy a few, reach for a long, cool drink, and turn off the phone for the weekend. You know you'll feel better.