Archive for December, 2008

What can be said about week five? In terms of writing, not very much at all. I probably managed a total of 1000 words total for the week.

I suppose though, given that it was Christmas, then there is some excuse for that. A week with no writing though has thrown me somewhat. I’m trying to sit down and write again but it just hasn’t clicked yet, and the next couple of days promise to be a little busy as well.

New Years is just around the corner, so hopefully it can provide a fresh start.

Oh yeah, I’m experimenting a little with the theme for the webpage – it may change a little and things may move a bit but hopefully no links get broken.

The other thoughts that were going through my mind during the long drive to my parents place (as referred to in a previous post) were on the current publishing climate and the pulps.

By all reports the current publishing industry is in trouble, like most other industries at the moment. It hasn’t been helped by poor decision making – such as giving ridiculous six and seven figure advanced to ‘famous’ people for stories that normally wouldn’t see light of day or trying to squeeze too much profit out per book, far higher than historically normal – as well as a host of other issues.

The upshot is that they aren’t really taking chances on new, unknown authors, are cutting staff and other options that are making it increasing hard for new authors to break into the market, no matter how good they may be.

They want you to be established to take you on, yet how do you get to be established if they won’t take you on? Its all a bit catch-22.

This all got me thinking back to older times, to the days of the pulp magazines.

The age of the pulp magazines was from the 20’s to the 50’s, when they all but died out. Their height was in the 20’s and especially the 30’s – during the Great Depression.

This was no coincidence. The pulp magazines were exceedingly cheap, printed on cheap wood pulp paper, using cheap printing and cheap authors. They were also pure escapism – in a period of such depression it gave people a cheap outlet to escape the woes of the world.

While the storied contained within were not always of the greatest quality, they served as a launching pad for many notable authors and characters – Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan/Barsoon), Robert E. Howard (Conan the Barbarian), Robert A Heinlein, Frank Herbert (Dune), H. P. Lovecraft, Fritz Leiber & Isaac Asimov all contributed to the Pulps.

The pulp magazines declined when WWII came along, due to paper shortages, resulting in a rise of costs amongst other things, and by the 50s they had almost disappeared. With them went the largest outlet for sales of short stories, and authors had to turn novels for the msot part.

They never completely died – there are a few examples around, though not to the extent or the recognition of the glory days of the pulps.

It would seem to me now that there is a chance that we could see a resurgence of the pulp magazines, or at least a facsimile thereof.

While we aren’t heading to a repeat of the Great Depression (or at least we hope we aren’t), we are heading into hard times. People will want cheap forms of pure escapism, as they did in the 30s. Upcoming authors, and even established ones, are eager to be read, to become known And the internet provides a means of distribution and recognition. Could this mark the return of the pulps, and a return of the short story, not the mammoth door stoppers we have come to have foisted upon us?

I would like to think so – I may even have a shot at setting one up myself if I knew a bit more about the process.

Anyone else have any thoughts on it?

Musical Interlude

Posted: December 27, 2008 in musical interlude
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Two more bits of music for this interlude, once more continuing the playlist from Galaxy News Radio from Fallout 3.

Andrew Sisters & Danny Kaye – Civilisation

Cole Porter – Anything Goes

A return

Posted: December 27, 2008 in General
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Well, I’m back, as Sam states at the end of the Lord of the Rings.  It was a bit of an adventure, except for, eg, ringwraiths, magic rings, elves and what not.

Would like to get back into the writing, given the complete lack of it this last week, but the next 2-3 days promise to be still just as busy.

It wasn’t a complete loss writing wise.  Though I got nothing done on Winter Wolves, something odd did happen.  It is a bit over three hours driving to my parents, though this time it took slightly longer.  There I was, driving along, mulling over things and unbidden a short story popped into my mind.  It was an non-serious Sci-Fi with a fair bit of dry sarcasm tossed in, not my staple fare.  I still have no idea where it came from.  The drive took a bit longer than normal as I stopped a few times to make notes – I had a couple of notebooks with me just in case.  All up made around three and a half pages of A4 notes.  Just need some time to sit down and write it up properly.

There were some other thoughts that came during the drive, but they will require a seperate post me thinks.

Merry Christmas

Posted: December 24, 2008 in General

That time of year is now upon us again, and as such I shall be disappearing for a few days to visit the family as normal. Ergo, no new posts until I return. There will be when I get back though.

Merry Christmas all, and have a safe and festive time.

A Restructure

Posted: December 21, 2008 in writing update
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So far I’m about 12,000 words and three chapters (plus a prologue) into the rewrite of the synopsis and I have decided to do a restructure of the plot to date.

Seems a bit abrupt given how early I am into it, but on looking at what had been written to date, it didn’t quite seem to work in the order it was written in.

It started off with a battle – nothing wrong in and of itself – except in this case it seemed to be in the wrong spot.

So I am starting off by scrapping the prologue and folding it into the new Chapter One. The old chapter one will have a part in the new chapter one, but will mostly be in two and three. The old chapter two will mostly be the new chapter one, with part in the new chapter two, while the old chapter three will remain mostly in chapter three.

It will need a bit of editing to get right, but I feel it will flow much better when done.

How long is a novel

Posted: December 21, 2008 in writing update
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I guess that is one of those question that, like how long is a piece of string, has no real answer, yet is a question many starting authors ask themselves. At least I know I have.

Looking around, the answer varies depending on who you ask. Some say 60-100,000 words, others 100-150,000. It also does vary between author and genre. Some tend to the shorter, while others, most especially fantasy, tend to the epic (in the truest sense of the word), clocking in at quarter of a million words or more, large enough to bludgeon someone to death with. Oft times a story could be told in 100,000 words yet still weigh in at 250,000, in book after book, reduced to a turgidity of shallow, endless characters and plots that no longer make sense, and the only reason they see light of day is to cash in on a name or because of contractual obligations (which, ironically, was the name of a Monty Python album), and should be allowed to die peacefully, but continue on and on, rather like this sentence.

For myself, I am often guilty of over planning things, to the point that they interfere in the doing of the plans. I like to work to a set target, of a set number of chapters. I have always had in mind a target of a prologue (though that is falling from favour) and twenty one chapters, each of around 3-5,000 words, preferably 4000, the chapters split into three parts, the start of the story, the middle of the story and the end of the story. A lot of advice I have seen is not to worry so much about the length, but just write until the story is done. My mind really doesn’t work that way. Hopefully that screwy brain-wiring won’t cause problems for me.

Musical Interlude

Posted: December 21, 2008 in musical interlude
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Another musical interlude for you to enjoy, once again from the amazing sounds of Galaxy News Radio from Fallout 3.

Roy Brown – Butcher Pete (Part 1)

Bob Crosby and the Bobcats – Happy Times

As reported earlier, the first day of the forth week was somewhat of a disaster, but since then things have picked up and I got back into the swing.

The beta draft of Winter Wolves is under way, fleshing out on the recently completed synopsis. The last four days saw around 10500 words done on it, up to part of the way through the third chapter. It will need a polish up once done, but I am happy with the way it is coming along, even with my normally fairly pessimistic outlook on my writing.

These last four weeks I have gone past 50,000 words written, which, when though about, is a decent amount. Almost a short novel in length, just not the composition.

Next week. As some may have noticed, next week is Christmas. This means my writing next week will be all but non-existent. Between last minute shopping and a few days up at my parents with the family I doubt I will have much time to write. I may print out what is done so far and review it while away, but that may be the limit of it.

I am almost certainly going to experience some form of withdrawal while away. I have noticed more of late an itch when I am not writing, a need to be writing, even when doing other things I normally enjoy – reading, watching movies, even playing games – and as a hardcore gamer that is saying something.

For this, the second, Author’s Review we are going back, way back to a very old book, The Histories, by Herodotus of Halicarnassus.  The Histories was written around 440BC, which makes it about as old as I feel most mornings.

Herodotus is said to have been born in Halicarnassus, an ancient Greek city that lies in what is present day Turkey, sometime around 484BC.  He is often regarded as the ‘Father of History’, due mainly to his writings of The Histories, a record of his inquiries, but has also been called the “Father of Lies’.  The debate on which he is has been going on almost as long as The Histories has been around.  Those for the latter debate the veracity of his tales and claim he fabricated much of his work.  The former point out to his methodical way he went about collecting his materials, testing their accuracy to an extend and them compiling them in a narrative.  Many times in the book he presents several accounts of of an event, then writes what he believes was the most probable.  He travelled extensively around the known world in a bid to write more accuratly.

The Histories are considered the first work of history in western literature, and concern the Greco-Persian Wars fought in the 5th century BC.  These wars included such noteable battles as Marathon, Thermopylae, Plataea and Salamis.  Herodotus states the reasoning for his writing of The Histories right at the start; Herodotus of Halicarnassus here displays his enquiry, so that human achievements may not become forgotten in time, and great and marvellous deeds – some displayed by Greeks, some by Barbarians – may not be without their glory; and especially to show why the two peoples fought with each other.

It is not just a book about the wars though, for Herodutus touches many subjects in the book, of the peoples of the known world, of the nature of the world and the status of sciences as were known during his time.

I first came across The Histories in college, when studying ancient civilisations.  Those from the USA call university college, but from where I went to school, college was the last two years of high school.  Here endeth that lesson.

I liked the book a lot, its rambling style touching many subjects, its glimpse into a world long since gone, and its inspiration.  I had read prior to that another ancient history, History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, and both had a big influence on me.  I have always been a history geek – I wanted to be an archaeologist when I was only five.  Such matters do come out in my writings, or at least the world creation behind my writings.  The history needs to work, make sense, and above all, advance.  Have you noticed how in many works of fantasy that they seem to be perpetually in a state roughly akin to the middle ages?  They never go forward and they never seen to have advanced from, say, the bronze ages, to there.

That does irk me somewhat, and as a result in the world of Sharael that does not happen.  There is a bronze age period, with a somewhat mapped history, characters, planned events and the likes.  Given the influence of The Histories, the Illiad and Odessey and the Peloponnesian Wars had on me, the style of writing for that period of history in Sharael is slated to be different than in more later periods – check out Cahuac and the Sun short story for an idea of what I mean.  I do also have plans for a book in the style of The Histories and the Peloponnesian War detailing the events of the bronze age wars between the Maedari and Chelosians, but that is more of a vanity project for the future.  Hopefully after I get established.

If you enjoy history, it is a highly recommendable book, and for everyone else, read it anyway.  You may just enjoy it.