What I Have Been Doing

I’m sure you’re all dying to know how my writing is going.

Oh. Well, I shall tell you anyway. Aiella has been pretty much finished; it’s been edited through twice (by me, not being able to afford pro editing) and is now in the hands of kind people who will rip it to pieces … There is still a doubt as to the optimum ordering of the stories, but other than that (and whatever the readers throw up), it’s done.

I don’t want to publish it yet, though, as I’d like there to be a sequel ready to follow it as soon as possible. So, this is what I have been working on. Sequels are always a problem, it’s that Difficult Second Album Syndrome, but this one has some peculiar issues all of its own.

I do have a plot sketched out, and if I say so myself it’s not bad, as plots go, but there is a long way from three lines of outlining to a fully formed narrative. This is actually my second go at a sequel, as the first was abandoned after negative reader reaction. In that first attempt, the story opened with the death of the main character, Aiella herself. This was, to put it mildly, unpopular. Quite a lot of this story ended up being folded into Book One, with our heroine re-instated and entirely alive. So far, so good.

The plan was to then use as much as I could of Sequel Attempt One in Sequel Attempt Two, but this is proving difficult. Aiella still being very much alive has changed the whole tone and dynamic of the sequel, and also robbed it of its unifying theme. I’m having trouble coming up with a replacement line to hang the story on, a focus as it were.

Um, not explaining this very well, but I don’t want to reveal any spoilers. People are still reading Book One. (I hope). But, in essence, the death of Aiella and the consequences thereof formed the emotional thread that ran through the heart of Sequel One; although dead and buried, Aiella was a constant presence in the life of my new MC, who was driven to find out the secrets of Aiella’s life, a quest which drove the plot.

Now, of course, Aiella is right there, and all the secrets have been discovered long since. My new MC has a new name, home and family, but is otherwise the same character. Except that now the MC has no focus for their life, and I as the author have no handy line to hang successive scenes on. It’s all a bit wishy-washy, and to tell you the truth I’m still hankering after that first story, which had all the depth and power this one lacks. So it goes.

So that’s what I’ve been up to.

(As for my other work in progress, I’m afraid the Huldrasaga is still stuck where it was, and for much the same reasons. I have a plot outlined, but what the story doesn’t have is a heart).

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Huldrasaga : Update

The current Work-in-Progress has reached a critical juncture. I have managed to incorporate quite a lot of the various disconnected ideas I scribbled down two years ago, and created something approaching a coherent narrative, and also begun the process of weaving a sub-plot into the main story line (I wrote the sub-plot as one straight-through story, almost a little novelette, and of course that won’t do at all). Of the remaining disjointed pieces flapping about at the end, it is now a question of a) which ones to keep and b) of those, where they fit into the storyline, and then add some more connecting tissue to bed them in. There is still one unresolved bit of plot, a thing that ought to have consequences but as yet doesn’t, and I also ought to perhaps make a day by day timeline so I can hang the bits of story on it and get the pace of events right, but other than that I will soon have caught myself up, and will be able to lay down new story to carry the plot(s) through to the end. Progress 🙂

I find myself re-writing lots of little bits as I go along, because two years on and having more-or-less completed one novel I think – I hope – I’ve got better at this writing lark, and have a better eye for what works and what doesn’t. I believe that I’m even (whisper it very quietly) beginning to get a feel for how plots work …

I’ll leave you with this rather brusque dismissal from Frida the goose-girl:

“Don’t you like people, then?” Frida frowned. 
“No,” she said shortly. 
“Oh. Why not?” Frida’s frown grew deeper.
 “Right now, it’s because they keep asking me stupid questions.” 
Even Gorm could take a hint like that, and he beat a hasty retreat back down the hill.

Evening, all. Mind how you go.

Books for Fantasy Writers

What books should fantasy writers read? Well, any books they like, actually, and the more the better, but what I am getting at is what books might help us to be better writers? Here are some ideas for books I have found useful, broken down into categories for your comfort and convenience.

But before I do, can I just say that if you want advice on the building blocks of novel-writing, and are intimidated by the jargons used in works of literary advice, or are perhaps new to this whole writing a book lark, hie you at once to Jesse’s Studio, where the estimable Jesse Stuart has just such (excellent) advice laid out in clear and easy to understand language.

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The Return of the Huldrasaga

This weekend I have laid Aiella aside, on the grounds that, pending any further reports from beta-readers, it is as finished as it is going to get, and also I’ve had enough of it for now.

Instead I have taken up my other work-in-progress, untouched for nearly two years, to see what might be done with it.  The Saga of Gorm the Less and the Huldrafolk (hereinafter referred to as the Huldrasaga) is actually the older work, having been started about five or six years ago now. It is a fairly conventional comic fantasy, trying hard not to be a pale imitation of Pratchett, set in a fantasy Northlands very (very) loosely based on Norse sagas and mythology.

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The Pathless Wood

I’d like you all to have a read of this and tell me what you think. Is it properly creepy, or does it need a bit more chill?

Let me explain. This is an inset story in Aiella, and replaces the original version, which was a) not very good b) somewhat derivative and c) irrelevant to the setting.

To set the scene, Aiella and Dartea have been commissioned to escort young Lady Talia D’Inverno on a secret trip across the mountains, and they take the first part of the journey by boat up the river. Our heroines soon discover that Talia is what Dartea describes as a ‘flouncy little whatsit’, spoiled and arrogant, and a sore trial of their patience. One night they camp in a forest glade by the river. As a form of mild revenge for all the trouble Talia has caused them Dartea decides to wind her up by telling a creepy story.

It is an evening in late summer, it’s getting toward dark, the trees stand tall around them, seeming to move slightly in the haze from their campfire, and this is the story Dartea tells:

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