They Think It Is All Over…

Firstly, apologies for not having been around for some time. I have had a few trying months, and I had to move home at the end of last year, the circumstances being rather difficult. Things are more settled, at least for the time being. I’ve been trying to regain my energy, as I’ve been spreading myself rather thin in recent times. Sadly, it has meant letting this blog grow dormant. I hope to rectify this, step by step.

However, it does not mean I have been completely idle. I have still been writing, and have been making some progress. Once the current novel is finished, I intend to take a lot of written material, including said novel, and create five or so books from it. This will be a work in progress, as I need to take the time to detail everything. One complication is the fact I have had to change computers, which I will have to explain at some point. Happily, I have now installed Scriviner on my new machine, and worked out where the serial key is. So, I can now – at last – access my databases again.

While i am taking the time to finish one project, and conduct a massive editing session, I still need to work out what I am going to write in November, for NaNoWriMo. Yes, I am already thinking about my project for 2017’s National Novel Writing Month Challenge. IU have some ideas, but need to focus on what I want to exactly do. It might be a whole new project, so then I am not restricted by existing chronology and such.

I will try to produce an update, when I have come up with an answer to this.

Also, thank you all for your patience in my absence. I intend to start posting more regularly.

Enter The Night (Part Two)

This is a continuation of what I posted back in March. All of this should be regarded as first draft sketches.

Part One: Enter The Night (Part One)

Samantha couldn’t believe what had happened there. Promises to help her out had meant she had ended up drugged. How hadn’t she seen that coming? And why had she even trusted that weird guy in the first place? Then she had ended up wandering round that party, trying to work out where she was, and how to escape. Then there was that short little hellspawn. The baby faced drunk…Samantha didn’t want to think the words she wanted to use to describe the little intoxicated bob cut English whore. Well, she was guessing she was English from all the television and film she had seen with English people in them. She had been taken off to a bedroom – how big was that mansion, exactly? – and then had been tied to the bed with silk scarves, and a padlock and chain shut around her neck like a freakish necklace. Then that girl slid away, ranting and raving away, talking about her family. That much Samantha had been able to work out.

Then she had to work out how to escape from the scarves binding her hands above her head…

Of course, her cousin had appeared, and was clearly quite different. And didn’t like her, either. He had untied her, and then tried to seduce her… until her temper broke, and kneed him hard, growling menacingly in the process. Samantha frowned at the memory. Why had she growled at him like that? Even baring her teeth, which knowing her luck, had bits of food or something stuck in her braces. those things were annoying her, she knew that much. Typical she had to end up with really crooked teeth.

In any case, that had sent him fleeing, as best he could wit the pain of her kneeing him hard. She remembered breathing hard, the thought of tearing through the mansion, and destroying anything and everything she could get her hands on. It had taken several moments to compose herself, focussing on the pain her teeth were suddenly giving her. It had a habit of happening to her, when she felt extreme rage. Red mists shrouding her thoughts. What was even more embarrassing for her was having to remember the clear, searing urge to tear into people’s throats and… she wasn’t quite sure what she would have done next. In all honesty, she didn’t ever want to know the answer.

Something was clearly messed up with her, for certain…

But not as messed up as that rich family.

Trying to leave that mansion had been a challenge, because she hadn’t wanted to be seen by the bunch of degenerate weirdoes. Weirdo. She had a habit of using that word a lot, thinking about it. But what she had seen in their basement – and how had she managed to end up so lost she ended up there? She didn’t know. But she had noticed the guy she had kneed amongst the assembled crowd, wearing the same dark red robes as the others.

What she had seen next…

The girl with the bob haircut was guided to the altar. Samantha felt her face flush with blood as she remembered the state that girl had been in. She had to be about the same age as her, and… what happened next was all partly her fault, too.

She had seen the stumbling, insensate girl to the stone altar, and watched with mute shock at the large hooded men lift her, and place her flat onto the stone slab. The girl tried to move and get off, the struggle pacing faster and faster, in keeping with Samantha’s own heartbeat. Her body trembled harder and harder as she strained to keep herself hidden, when they started speaking loudly some mumbo jumbo, and then started pulling out a large wooden knife – from what she could make out from the gloom – and started to plunge it to her torso.

The act was too much for her. Despite herself, she found herself racing forwards, her anger gripping her in a vice-like grip. All she could do was watch as her vision gained a reddish tinge, and she was barrelling forwards, wanting to simply tear the men into large hunks of blood spurting meat. The more the crowd tried to stop her, the worse the Red Rage became, and she was there, getting faster, stronger…

She must have been given drugs. It was the only way she could explain it all.

In any case she had ended up at the altar with some sort of wicked-looking large knife, and was ready to start sinking her new knife into anyone she could get to. Then came the moan. Something that was bone-rattling. She remembered seeing the group of blue glowing people floating about, with the leader rising up from amongst them, a black and white striped… something as a garment. Had it been male, or female? Samantha honestly couldn’t remember. Not that it had mattered, because the sight of them had the force inside her turn aro9und, and then flee as fast as possible out of the building.

She groaned at the memory. She was so mentally crazed.

Still, she still had that knife, and it was wicked awesome.

But it still didn’t change reality. As much as she wanted to deny what she had seen, it was pretty clear that the freakshow in the basement wasn’t a bunch of rich people getting their thrills from playing voodoo orgies. It was very, very real. More than that, since that night, she’d been seeing things. Or rather, people. Well, certain people. She couldn’t explain it: it was as if she had a blindfold removed, and could see the world better for what it really was. And she could see the creatures masquerading as humans. The leaches. She’d confronted one in San Francisco. It had been very shocked when she had boldly stated she knew what it really was. It had been weird gripping his throat. On the one level, it was warm and pulse-pounding with nerves, but beneath it all, she could feel what he truly was. Dead. A mockery of nature. That’s what they all were though, right? Those like him. And then there were those three weirdo owls, staring down and watching then all.

The confrontation had made her bare her teeth again, as if something primal was prompting her. Maybe it was her having braces or something, because he had ended up rather disturbed by what she had done. Which was good, because her teeth had hurt something fierce – again. Maybe it was some sort of way for her to know if there was something freaky wrong about her?

Mind you, what was freaky wrong was just how she was simply accepting it all. Okay, it was making her scared – which was why she’d used that bottle of cheap bleach, and had tried to use it to turn the thick coal strands of her hair into blonde – but she wasn’t about to have a mental breakdown or anything. Thankfully, she travelled light, and still had her rucksack. Because when she’d been in that mansion, she’d managed to grab a huge wad of cash from one of the studies, before she had managed to get lost in the basement.

Still, it was worth having been in Chicago, because she’d gained a lead, one that had led her to this pier, and the town that had it. It seemed her mother had moved to the place a few years back. She couldn’t work out why. Still, after that mansion, and the general types that had seemed to know her, was it a massive shock?

Samantha decided to turn, and walk off the pier and back into the town. She needed to work fast and find her momma. Before all the weirdoes caught up with her…

Where Have I Been?

It has been quite a few months now since I last made a post. People will, no doubt, have wondered if I had given up, or something else had happened. Well, things have happened, and continue to do so. But let me talk about the events I’m in a position to talk about.

A combination of a rough, tough NaNoWriMo last year and the Writing Group I started attending had seriously affected me. The way things were in the group was such that I was changing what I was doing, the way I was doing it. I ended up losing all momentum – and motivation – for the novel I had started in November, and was even starting to subtly hate writing itself. I was trying to produce pieces that were going to tick all the boxes for the group, and the more I was doing that, the more I was worrying about if a piece would be acceptable, or might cause problems.

It escalated to a point where in April, things became rather interesting. A simple comment from me ended up with a massive row, where I was suddenly finding myself on the defensive. It got worse when the piece after that was another politically charged item, which shouldn’t have been read at all. She had let her boss see it, and they had made half of the long poem get struck out. Once that had happened, the whole thing fell apart.

So, I was not in a right frame of mind, after having gone through one set of debate about the Second World War. I was then hearing all about the Jungle in Calais, because she had volunteered to help out there, cleaning up the place and trying to assist. Because of the first argument, I made another comment… and again there was a large debate. And since both times I was effectively on my own, it meant that I was trying to defend my position and opinion, against a tide of opposition. I’m certain someone could have made the whole thing into a quite interesting story, if they had been there in the corner, taking notes.

In any case, I have not gone back to that group, and hopefully will find ways to make sure it stays that way.

As for the novel, that has been a long, torturous journey. Because of all the feedback on pieces read out, I ended up doing quite a bit of editing and re-working, all the while still writing it. A cardinal rule broken, and one I do not wish to break again. I have learned to be wary of releasing pieces that are not concluded, unless it is a serialised story. They can be a great source of fun and entertainment.

Thankfully, I’ve been doing Camp NaNo.

I have been in two great Cabins, and we all motivated and stirred each other on. I even managed to restart writing The Coven, and slowly it moved forwards. Tuesday, I finished it, a work that stands at 118,822 words. I wouldn’t have done it without them, and am go glad to have been in those Cabins. I can only hope and wish many successes upon them.

I’m hoping to get this Blog less dormant, and I’m trying what to do with it, exactly. I might well post up pieces of writing, to show readers what I’m working on, a sort of sketchpad, if you will.

I’m now trying to plan and outline for November, when a new novel will be started for NaNoWriMo. It’ll be exciting, because one thing I’ve done is change my Home Region. I feel that a different group – one not obsessing on word counts and beating other Regions, is more what I want.

Hopefully, this will serve as an update, and hopefully the first of a number of new posts made.

The Writing Program Interrogation…

As people know, I use an old, basic writing program, to keep track of things. One nice thing about it is that asks questions, and these are great to mull over for your story.

I’ve been collating them over time, and creating a list of them. I’m putting up the list, to hopefully help other people:

  • Is it ever too easy for your protagonist to get out of trouble?
  • Does anything in the story make the reader work too hard?
  • Does your story tell the reader too much?
  • Are all your story’s important questions answered? Are the answers delayed as long as possible?
  • Does the story leave any important loose ends?
  • If your story is a first-person narration, does the narrator’s voice seem real?
  • Are your protagonist?s or narrator’s motives clear enough? Leave some dots for the reader to connect, but not major ones.
  • Is all the dialogue in your story grammatically correct? If it is, perhaps you should change it to make it more realistic.
  • Does your opening line grab the reader’s attention?
  • Make sure your story begins with a gripping first page. If it doesn’t, change it.
  • Does your story have flashbacks?  If the flashbacks do not serve important plot purposes, then rewrite them or get rid of them.
  • Is the ending to your story genuinely likely or possible?
  • Is your narrator’s voice consistent?

I can see me work on some blog posts on these, and try to expand them with my thoughts on the matter. Still, it serves a useful reference point for people, so I’m happy to share it.

Preparation, Preparation, Preparation That Hits The Limit

I’ve been neglectful (yet again) of this blog, and hope that one day, I’ll be able to get to squeeze in more time and opportunity to create more posts. I enjoy it, but with various other things happening, it gets forgotten about a bit too much for my liking. But that is for another blog post…

Back in June 2015, I ended up writing a blog post about preparation and planning. This is a sort of revisiting, because in the Cabin for the April 2016 Camp NaNoWriMo (one of the things keeping me busy, but in a good way,) was the comment “I tend to have issues planning ENOUGH if that makes sense. I never quite make my final word count because I run out of story.” This is an interesting problem, from my view. I’m not sure how to fully answer it, either. But I’m willing to give it my personal thoughts, because it might just produce something that can help someone.

The first thing I think of with this is the issue of word counts. After years of bumbling along, and making literary messes, I’ve come to the conclusion that how long a story is supposed to be determines quite a few things. I now regard short stories as episodes in a television programme, and novels to be like films. I think I have touched on this before, but I’ll go through it again, because it connects in with what I’m going to say a bit later on.

To summarise, I regard every hundred words in a short story to equate to a minute of screen time, and every thousand words in a novel to equate to a minute of cinema time. By looking at it in that way, I then have a basis to gauge the length of the story, and thus work out how long I want it to be. This visualising is important, because then I can sit down and think about how much needs to go in, to make it get to that limit. From there, I can decide on the location, and see what research I need to do to get it right, and what interesting details I can learn about the place that can help build the atmosphere of the story.

Take Odessa, Texas, as an example. This is a city of 1000,000 or so people, in the middle of the desert. It has a nearby city it is a huge rival to in terms of American Football, their teams doing quite well for themselves in the leagues. (The Permian Panthers was the idea for the television series Friday Night Lights.) The city also has a meteor crater (which was part of the group that crashed with the Arizona crater meteor,) a replica Globe Theatre, and a replica Stonehenge. It also has connections to the Bush family, if memory serves. Suddenly, from what I have just outlined, you can start to get ideas, because there are some really nice features that could really set things in the story in terms of tone.

I also consider the characters as well. How many will be needed to get to that limit? How do they all interact with each other, and how does that spark chain of events? If I need to, I’ll go and add a character or two whilst writing the story, to add more depth and potential to it. In a sense, the characters are like threads waiting to be woven into a tapestry: each strand adds to the colour and variety of the whole. Not only that, but pull away a thread, and the whole tapestry could unravel. Life is about the events that spark off from the encounters with people, places, knowledge and realisations, when you think about it. And this follows true for story weaving, too.

Of course, it can sometimes turn out that you have managed to get the end, but failed to get to your target. For me, that is no issue at all. It them means I’ll go back through, and try to see what I can do to add to it. Have I described all the characters fully? Have I described all of the locations? Is there any minor or trivial characters than should be expanded on, to help benefit the story? Finishing under the word target isn’t a crisis; you have finished the story, and thus can build on the structure some more.

This should serve as a helpful start to people. I’ll probably end up coming back to this topic, and adding some more in another post, when I have come up with more to say.

Oh, and Happy Easter to all of my readers. May you all have a great and wonderful weekend.