Archive for January, 2010

When I started writing my current story I had no plot. In fact I had nothing. I just sat down one day and started writing in an effort to see what turned out. Now that I am returning to the story properly, I looked through the various plotlines trying to work out how to mesh them together. In the end some were set aside for use another day leaving just two main plotlines. It took some thinking and pondering of ideas to figure out a way to mesh them properly so they connected and told a single over-all story. It has breathed some fresh life into the story, now that I know where it is going and how it will end.

A trend of late in fantasy stories seem to be to churn out large volumes containing literally dozens of plotlines that seemingly have no connection to each other beyond being in the same setting. In the long run, ten books in, they may connect, but in the current book they may never meet.

If you look at Lord of the Rings, it had three main plotlines. The first was of course Frodo and Sam. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas made the second and Merry and Pippin the third. There were other, lesser plotlines – such as Gandalf, Eowyn, Boromir and the like – but they wove in and out as needed. Those three main plotlines kept touching on each other even when they weren’t connected and in the end of the story they formed the whole story.

If you look at the late Robert Jordan and the current Stephen Erikson on the other hand, they stuff their novels with so many plotlines and characters that it is a struggle to keep track of them all – especially when a book can go by in which the plots followed never once met up or even mention each other. They are like two or three different books cut apart and then pasted together.

I think initially that was a way my current work was going – but I have since changed it. Yes, there are other stories of other people I wish to tell in that setting, but I won’t mash them all up together. Instead they will follow separately, hopefully, in their own work so that their stories aren’t lost amongst all the others.


A Blast From The Past

Posted: January 15, 2010 in General
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Back in the day when I was young, one of my favourite TV shows was Danger Mouse. On a whim I looked it up on youtube last night and was surprised to find just how awesome it still is.

Here is one of the episodes – The Hickory Dickory Dock Dilemea – made even more awesome by a Doctor Who reference.

That didn’t last long.

My initial plan was to choose one novel plot and work on it until it was done. However after just a few days I’ve changed my mind as to which one it’ll be. last time, I promise – and if I do it again, feel free to give me a virtual clip around the head.

I hadn’t actually really done anything with the first idea, so I guess it doesn’t really count, or so I keep telling myself.

I’m switching back to the novel I started towards the end of last year and for a short while made great strides in – 30,000 words in seven days at one stage. I was rereading it and realised it wasn’t too bad, which was what prompted the return to it. Of course I wrote what exists of it so far with no plot in mind, so this time around with more of an idea of what is happening I can fix a lot of the errors that that caused to crop up. I am also planning on cutting some plot lines out and narrowing the focus – maybe those cut plots will reappear in a sequel if it ever gets that far.

Here is the opening of the story as it stands to date;

The herd thundered across the sweeping plains, crashing through long grass that swayed and shimmered. It rippled in a faint breeze that carried with it a hint of chill. Hooves churned up damp soil made moist by the early spring rains, rains that had brought vibrant life to the grasslands after the long, hard months of winter. Stallions, mares and foals, the herd swelling in size with each passing minute, raced backwards and forwards, crushing the grass into the earth in the wake of their passage. Clods of earth were thrown up in their wake, leaving scared patterns in the earth and their raucous, joyous cries echoed loud above the pounding of hooves that caused the ground to shudder as they raced.

To the pair of men watching the herd from the top of a gentle sloping rise that dominated that part of the broad northern plains, the patterns left behind by the herd were at first seemingly random. As they watched though, they began to take on form the longer the herd streamed onwards, swirls within swirls, smaller packs breaking off from the main herd to trample the ground in certain places before flowing back into the herd. They were leaving behind a complex, interwoven pattern, the fresh earth standing out dark against the untouched grass around it.

Atral Hekaras reined in his shaggy horse at the top of the rise, his long-faced companion not far behind. He stared down at the running herd, and the intricate yet inexplicable patterns they were forming across the plains, both marvelling at the complexity of them and intrigued by the meanings they held that were unknown to him. The scent of newly arrived spring was strong all around him, with vivid, newly blossoming flowers dotted amongst the tall grasses, growing thickest along the top of the rise that he stood upon. Bees buzzed, darting amongst the explosion of flowers that lay before them, the sounds of them mingling with the hissing of the breeze as it swayed amongst the grasses. The sun shone bright in a clear, almost cloudless sky, yet the breeze that played across them swept down from the north and carried with it the memories of winter that was cool to the skin. Mountains dominated the northern skyline, towering and broken, clawing at the sky, clouds clinging thick upon their hidden peaks and their shoulders clad in a heavy white mantle of snow.

From the mountains, a number of streams went their way through the grasslands, shimmering ribbons that glistened beneath the blazing sun which fought with little success to rob the air of its chill touch. Fed by fresh melt water, the streams surged forth, tumbling into each other one by one until at last, further south, they roared onwards as a raging river that fed the plains before at last they met the sea that lay out of sight to the west.

It may have been spring already, Atral reflected as his dark, fur-lined cloak flapped out behind him, but this far north the weather could change without warning as howling storms descended with terrible fury down from the mountains.

Even though I knew Mass Effect 2 was being released just around the corner (as in just over a week now), I hadn’t been paying it all that much attention.  I enjoyed Mass Effect 1 and am planning on getting the sequel, but as matters stand at the moment, I’m going to have to wait until it comes down in price to be able to afford it.   So there wasn’t much point in looking at it too much or I’d just torture myself.

But something I did stumble across (and alas had me looking into the game more than was good for me) was the following video showing who is doing voice acting in the sequel.

Martin Sheen.
Tricia “Number Six” Helfer
Michael “Colonel Tigh” Hogan
Carrie-Anne “Trinity” Moss
Michael “Worf” Dorn

And Adam “Jayne Cobb” Baldwin. No one knows yet what part his character plays, or if you can have them as a team member, but if they are you know I’m going to have them permanently on roster. Teaming up with Jayne Cobb? You betcha.

And here is the trailer for the game.

One of the interesting things about ME2 is that you can import saves from ME1 and events that transpired in it affect the ME2 game. A character dies in ME1? They aren’t around in ME2. The choices you make at the end of ME1? They carry over – so the council may be dead or alive.

Only two of the six original team members are available to team up with again – Tali and Garrus. Its a shame that Wrex can’t be a team member, but given what can happen in ME1 with him, you can see why.

In preparation for when the game does come out, I am working on a couple of saves, getting them set up perfectly to export over.

Playing the game again makes me want to work on some SF stories again one of these days. Many years back I came up with a SF setting that I have planned to write in for some time, but it has always been far down the list of things to do. Maybe one of these years I’ll get back to it.

Some More Doctor Who Treats

Posted: January 8, 2010 in General

Just a few more videos of Doctor Who related material.

The first is a sketch from the 2007 Comic Relief featuring Catherine Tate and David Tennant. Its a bit meta in relation to Doctor Who, but the funnier for it. I must admit that when Catherine Tate was announced as being a companion of the 10th Doctor, I was a little sceptical at the time, but I must admit that that opinion changed during the course of her time on the show – and I was a little sad at the way her character departed the show.

And now for something completely different. No, not Monty Python – it is still Doctor Who related. The Doctor Who theme on electric violin. If anything sounds like a Chaos Noise Marine, then it is this.

We are a few days into the year already and time for a brief update on what is in the immediate works. So far I am off to a slow but steady start, having hit the 1K minimum daily goal each day. Once the ball gets rolling that will pick up to better figures.

Right now the goal is to finish off three stories that are in the works for the Pure Escapism range of short stories.
Also the rough drafts are coming along for two as yet unnamed stories. The first is in the Primal Tales setting, the sequel to The Hall of Black Trees, and picks up on the story of Braega, Tudhala and Alia. The other is a follow up story to Ray and his Human, which I never expected to write more about, but another idea came to me, featuring the rather common SF trope of green alien princesses. Of course, this being a rather non-serious setting, things don’t go as expected.

There are a couple of ideas floating about for the next part of the story of Nhaqosa the Minotaur, but they are waiting until the other three are done before they get a look at.

And then there is the novel. I have come down to a decision at last – it’ll be the as yet unnamed Australiana fantasy setting mentioned previous but most likely with a lot of steampunk elements thrown in as well. Rather over the top, but it should be fun. Trying to finalise details and then it’ll be off with the first rough draft.

First Trailer For The Next Doctor Who

Posted: January 3, 2010 in General

With the airing of the second part of The End of Time, the curtain has been drawn on David Tennant’s time as the Tenth Doctor. Now it is the time of Matt Smith as the newest, Eleventh Doctor. It also marks the end of Russell Davies as being in charge of Doctor Who, and Stephen Moffat taking over. Given he is responsible for the best episodes of the New Who (Blink, The Girl in the Fireplace, The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances) this can only be a good thing.

The BBC have released a short trailer for the upcoming season on Doctor Who and it looks to be a lot of fun.

The Weeping Angels are back!

Of course, as with every other time the Doctor regenerated there are those complaining the show is ruined. Ruined! The Doctor changes – that has always been the way of it. I much preferred Eccleston’s 9th Doctor to Tennant’s 10th but it didn’t stop me watching and enjoying the show. And for those complaining that the preview shows The Doctor firing a gun and hitting someone and complaining that is is un-Who, go back and watch through the various Doctors. They’ve used guns and fought before. Despite the Tenth Doctor being a technical pacifist, the very first time we meet him he fought a sword duel and dropped an alien off the top of a spaceship to his death. Give Matt Smith a chance and remember – he won’t be the last Doctor either.

After last years effort, I’ve decided not to make nay new years resolutions this year, but instead set some goals I’d like to achieve. Okay, there isn’t much of a difference, but goals don’t feel as binding as resolutions. At least that is what I tell myself.

1. Write every day.

I find writing a bit like rolling a stone – once you’ve got it up to speed it rolls along, but if it isn’t moving, it takes some effort to get it rolling again. Stopping for any amount of time is a dangerous thing. One day becomes two becomes a week and before you know it you haven’t written in months. I may need to change my schedule a bit by doing some writing first thing in the morning before anything else. The goal would be to try an aim for a minimum of 1000 words a day. In theory it shouldn’t be too hard.

2. Stick to a novel and finish it.

Last year I worked on at least four different novels, and not surprisingly none got completed, even though a lot of writing got done. Two of them had the first draft completed. The problem was I kept moving on, getting new ideas and wanting to work on them. So this year I plan to choose one story and see it through to the end before starting a new one.

3. Write more short stories.

Last year I did manage to write a fair number of short stories, but quite a few of them were reworking of previous draughts and ideas. This year I want to pick up the output. What I’d like to see is trying to get a new short story written every fortnight (though one a week would be nice.) The stories would mostly be expanding on the current storylines, of Nhaqosa the Minotaur, the Cahuac Cycle, Cara’s Choice and Primal Tales, but with additional ones making an appearance.

4. Blog more.

The last couple of months saw little in the way of blogging done. I’d like to pick up the frequency of posts, and to make them more interesting. Also to comment more elsewhere on other blogs and forums, and also to twitter a bit more – though for that I’d have to learn to blather on a bit more.

News coming out of New Zealand is that Peter Jackson, best known for bringing us the Lord of the Rings movies is know Sir Peter Jackson, a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

New Zealand had scrapped knighthoods from their honours list back in 2000 when the previous government was in power. Their new conservative government has since reinstated it and Sir Peter Jackson was made a knight in the first New Years honours list since they reinstated the title.

Australia also scrapped the title, but there is no move to reinstate it, so there is no chance I’ll ever become a Knight, alas.

How Did I Miss This?

Posted: January 1, 2010 in General
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As I may have alluded to once or twice in the past, I’m a bit of a Doctor Who fan. Looking forward to the second part of the 10th Doctor’s last show and the beginning of the 11th Doctor’s show this year.

It is therefore something of a surprise that I hadn’t run across this video earlier – Time Crash, a short video featuring the 10th and 5th Doctors for the 2007 Children In Need Special. It took TvTropes to alert me to its existence.