An unloveable hero? Oops…

Now that the feedback for my first draft is starting to trickle in, I am faced with the stark reality that my hero is a little hard to get attached to. Clang.

Picture 1I guess if there’s one aspect that can bring a story crashing down in flames, it’s lack of love for the protagonist. Imagine if we couldn’t care less whether Harry Potter became a wizard or a plumber? How would Star Wars work out if Luke was a complete git? And I’m not even going to think about George.W. Bush instead of Jed Bartlett in the West Wing.

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Self publishing: Self sacrifice?

Ok, so here’s a question: Can self-publishing equate to shooting oneself in the foot regarding getting a traditional publisher to take on a book?

Like most writers out there, I am eager to get others to read my work (especially considering this is my first work). I’m also keenly aware that by self-publishing I could put my book out there in just a matter of weeks. However – and here’s my conundrum – if I do self-publish, am I destroying my chances at getting a real publisher to put the book into print? Will these guys only take on work that hasn’t been previously published, self or otherwise?

Eynon_Gareth-23Part of my wish to get moving on this stems from my desire to mention and promote my work as I speak to the online community. As it presently stands, though, there is nothing for me to direct them too; hence my impatience. I don’t, however, want to jump the gun with this, particularly because my preferred method of publication would be the traditional way (probably because I’m a lazy git and would like somebody else to do most of the work for me, even if it will cost me a larger slice of the profits).

So then, a second question: Is there a halfway house where I can put a body of my work out there, without taking the plunge completely and going down the self-publishing route?

I know that self-publishing is a valid, and even preferential choice for many writers, but I would still rather have my work taken on by a publisher. So, any suggestions or thoughts on my predicament? Is anyone else in the same boat as me? Can I simply throw caution to the wind and go for it?

Thanks for reading.

Photo by Issy Mey

The Dead Rise Again: Odd places to look for inspiration…

Ok, so the title of this post may sound a little macabre and horror-show, but I’m not trying to scare you simply because Halloween is around the corner. I just want to talk a little about inspiration, that’s all.

Now, I don’t know about anybody else, but for me, coming up with characters’ names is a right pain. The principals aren’t so bad, but it’s the incidental characters that give me brain-ache.

Whilst out on a family walk, however, I happened upon an endless source of names and, from that moment on, I knew my troubles were finally over.

Wow, where is this place?” I hear you cry. Well, I can tell you, but you may find it a touch morbid.

First, though, I think I should mention that with my book being set in a pseudo-Regency/Victorian era, this bottomless well of inspiration works particularly well for me; but maybe not so much for others.

Where is this utopia of names; this cornucopia of hidden identities?” I hear you cry, once more.

DSC08468Alright then, I’ll tell you: The majority of the extras in my book are named after the dead (which is ironic really, considering it’s set in the future). Yes, that’s right: graveyards are the places I find these names and – much like the zombies in Micheal Jackson’s Thriller – the dead can now live again.

Gravestone 1Over the last year, I’ve assembled myself a collection of gravestone photographs – most of which belong to those who died pre-1900. So now, instead of scratching a hole in my bald head while I attempt to invent a Victorian-sounding name for a character who appears only once, I simply refer to my ghoulish gaggle of photos and grab a name from days-gone-by. Respectfully, of course.

Gravestone2I have sometimes wondered, however: is this actually legal? And when they make my book into a major motion picture, the credits roll at the end and it reads, “the characters in this motion picture are not based on real people either living or dead,” that wouldn’t be strictly true would it? Has anybody else done anything similar to this, or come up with other novel ways to name their characters?

Thanks for reading.

Do I really have to do all of it? What… everything?

Welcome, friends, to my new blog – I begin this way because, originally, I penned this with the intention of it being the first post; but then life happened and it’s now the third fourth post. Never mind.

To be honest, I don’t even know if I’m doing the write thing by staring to blog again (see what I did there?). My reasons for throwing myself back into the blogoshpere are because I recently watched a great Creative Live course on getting published and came away feeling hugely motivated. So, whilst still in that upbeat frame of mind, I created this blog, started a new Twitter account, revamped my email, created a new facebook page, looked into getting a website running, &c, &c. I felt confident that all this would go towards me connecting with others and maybe even selling a few copies of my book. (Eventually. When it’s ready).

Just the very next day though, after diving into my new-found pool of internet motivation and activism, I came crashing back down with a splat and began to question my newly found path to literary nirvana. The digital mire started to thicken like soup and it slowly became apparent that maybe I should be getting myself into writers’ forums; start producing some short stories to gain recognition and win awards ; write a poem; do some reviews; offer proof reading services; read, follow and comment on every single blog post by fellow writers; take a short course, take a long course, take an intermediate course and take an online course; and, of course, keep writing my second book; editing the first book; contacting agents; pestering publishers; considering self-publishing…  Arrrrrggggh.

I can’t do all of this. It’s impossible. But then I feel if I miss out just one aspect, that could be my downfall. Therefore, the only people to ever read my book will be my dad and my father-in-law (and perhaps a few polite friends).

It also seems that everybody else is managing to do all of this, so why can’t I?

So, if anyone reading this has experience of any of the above, then some honest advice would be most appreciated. Thanks.

Oh yes, and I’ve been told to always finish with a question. Ok then: does anybody out there actually partake in every form of publicity/connection/media, &c? And, if they do, when do they find time to actually write anything? Answers on a postcard please…

Thanks for reading.

Dark and Stormy: but great fun.

Hello, friends.

I read a really cool blog post the other day that talked about a writing exercise where you compose a paragraph that begins with, “It was a dark and stormy night.” The author of the blog had actually gone on to write a dark and stormy (but nonetheless very good) short story from it, but I decided to stick to the paragraph.

Foggy Farm copy

I have to say that I found it a most enlightening experience. In the fifteen minutes or so it took me to write this, I came up with a bizarre scenario and have no idea where it came from. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the exercise and shall look for more such things in the future, being as I am completely self-taught in the writing department – apart from my english teachers at school that is. It was also liberating to use so many exclamation marks in such a short space: Normally, I can’t stand the over-use of this powerful piece of punctuation, but I felt that it worked here.

So anyway. Here’s what I came up with..

It was a dark and stormy night. Which was odd, because it had been a dark and stormy night when I went to bed. And it was still a dark and stormy night at… what time was it anyway? Oh dear. It was nine-thirty in the morning. Where was the sun? Where were the cars, the streetlamps, the people? Come to think of it, where was Mrs Peabody who should’ve been sitting on her porch sipping tea and watching the world slip by. Where were the twins who should’ve been scooting along on their way to school? Why was there no sun? What had happened? Oh no. What was this? What did it mean? Judgement day? Catastrophic climate change? An alien invasion? I knew it. You see? I bloody well knew it. I told them in the dayroom only last week that the end of the world is nigh and they laughed at me. Ha ha! Now I bet they’re laughing on the other side of their faces! This is it. We are all going to die. I told you, but you wouldn’t listen! I told you! I told you! I told y… Hey. Hold on. Who are you? Why are you in my room? Let go of me. Ow! That hurts, take that thing out of my arm… Actually. Don’t. That’s quite nice. I think… I’ll go back… to bed now. Ah look: What a lovely bright and sunny morning…

Does it work, or is it just a little odd? Of course, odd can be good sometimes. If anyone knows of any other short writing exercise like this, I love to hear about them.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. In a slightly related matter a fellow blogger put this link in the comments box. It’s very funny. Just thought you should know…

Photo courtesy of Issy Mey

A Sample Edit? Don’t Mind If I Do, Thanks…

Welcome, friends,

Editing 1I’ve just sent my first ten pages off for a sample edit to be done (for free, I hasten to add) and I have to say that it was the best non-spending of money I’ve ever not spent.

First of all can I say thanks to Jon from Editing For Authors who not only did the work, but also offered some very encouraging words about my book and its concept. He was also most prompt and very professional.

I always knew that an edit is needed, but it was amazing to see how these pros find all the stuff we, as writers, should find but don’t because we’re too wrapped up in the creative process – or something like that.

Editing 2

I’ll finish off by reaching out to other fellow first-timers out there. Get one of these done. No matter how good you think your work is (and, naturally I knew mine was perfect) there is still plenty that can be found by a pro. Plus it’ll improve your stuff, and that can only be a good thing.

So that’s it. That’s pretty much all I wanted to say.

Finally, though, can anyone come up with and ideas of how I can get this done for free? I’m skint at the moment. How about blackmail? Threatening letters to the editors? Selling my soul? My body…?

P.S. If you fancy reading on, I’ve included a short before and after example papagraph highlighting how the simple things make such a difference (changes highlighted in red):

Before…

His ship was a mess and he found himself surveying the carnage splayed around him with an unfamiliar feeling of impending doom. His solar sails were in tatters; his rigging was shredded and hanging limp in several places; the ion propulsion drives were phasing in and out of consciousness and half his complement of neutron spike cannon were either destroyed or now dripping with the parts of what once were their guncrews. He had absolutely no idea of what to do next, except to run and try to prolong the moment that an inevitable closing broadside would send them all to hell.

After…

His ship was a mess, and he found himself surveying the carnage < > around him with an unfamiliar feeling of impending doom. His solar sails were in tatters; his rigging was shredded and hanging limp in several places; the ion propulsion drives were phasing in and out of consciousness; and half his complement of neutron spike cannon were either destroyed or < > dripping with the parts of what once had been their guncrews. He had absolutely no idea of what to do next, except to run and try to prolong the moment when an inevitable closing broadside would send them all to hell.

I know differences aren’t huge, but it’s the small things that matter, eh?

Thanks for reading,

Gareth