It is pretty common for any of us to be accused of taking life too seriously sometimes. Well the same can be true or our stories and especially our characters. Sometimes people can be just plain silly and that applies whether they are a little girl, a teenage bloke, a mass murderer or a Methodist. All right, maybe not always the last one, but most people, okay?
The question for the author is are they brave enough to allow their characters to be people?
What is the difference between a mythical creature and any other invented creature?
This deep philosophical problem is possibly more important to the reader and the author than either might necessary realise. It might govern whether the creature can walk or not, can talk or not or even just survive.
Write about what you know about. This is the first bit of advice anyone gets when they first start trying to write a book. But does that mean write about the commute into town? Or perhaps the type of school you went to? Maybe about how you learned to drive?
For me, the real advice is to write about WHO you know about.
I know not everyone uses Word for writing a novel, but a lot of people do. So here are some very basic tips that might come in useful for those starting out on the novel writing mountain.
I am not talking about your muse, whoever he/she is (oh, I would love a muse!), or the bloke you saw sitting on the train, or the dead tortoise you tripped over, I am talking what you surround yourself with.
Sustenance, flavours, moments of joy. What is yours?
As much as I enjoyed Lord of the Rings and even Eddings' Belgariad, I was always puzzled by the fact that when the heroes won the war, what the people ended up with was an absolute monarchy with no votes and no say. It may have even been Feudal. So, if we are lovers of democratic rights, should this appear in our writing?
As I work my way to an important battle in my current book, I am pondering over how much build up I should have before swords are drawn and the blood-bath gets going.
It is an interesting puzzle because it brings home the emotional response to war and death in a way that just shouting "go" doesn't.
I hope I often write well and that my work reads well.
Just occasionally I am extra proud of a line or a phrase or a short section; it is not that it is especially beautiful or uses clever words, but it just works.
There is nothing better than sitting down and reading through your own writing, polishing it while revisiting the joys and the heartbreak, the intrigue and twists hand in hand with your characters
Writer's Block is one of those things that we love to talk about. It always comes up in author's interviews, it often a plot line in some corny US TV thriller, and it constant complaint all over Twitter.
But is it real? Has the entire concept of Writer's Block simply become a cult?
I am wrestling with my teen characters, it appears. The book is set in 1976 in North London and involves a bunch of sixteen year olds starting a band.
Being a sensible fellow, I am basing it on me at sixteen in the 1970s. I swore, got angry, wrestled with contentious issues and was a pain. And I also swore. Did I say that? I REALLY SWORE!
Warning: Contains Swearing.
There is a ton of advice out there about how to plan your novel, develop your characters and generally get yourself organised.
But what if you are not just writing a book but an entire saga, a series, a trilogy on steroids? How the hell do you plan that? This is what I have learned....
Developing great characters is the most difficult part of writing, in my mind, and is one of those things that both agents and publishers latch onto quickly. It is inconsistent, though, and I have had agents say "Your characters are weak," and "At least the characters are really strong," all about the same characters!
So, ignoring agents entirely, here are my thoughts on not how you write about your characters, but how you find them in the first place.
One drawback of working on a series of books in a make believe world is that I find myself constantly trying to think up names for places and characters.
Really, I could use anything, but something inside tells me that I need to think it through a little more than that.
Whatever the publicists tell you, writing should always be primarily selfish - if you are not writing for yourself, then what is the point?
Part of my fun is letting myself fall into the trap of a sub-plot or an aside; a little journey away from the main thrust.
I have decided to clean up and release the OneNote notebook template I use for planning Novels.
OneNote is perfect for this kind of work and is now free - how kind.
As a bloke, unless I decide to write a book exclusively about men, I have to write female characters. But sometimes men are criticized for not really understanding what a woman is, let alone being able to get to the depths of the character.
Is this fair? Can a man write a convincing female lead?
Trying to get dialogue perfect in any kind of writing can be hard work and is something I often fight with, even though I love doing it.
In my mind, dialogue should be natural and flow, which probably means it is not natural at all. What a conundrum!
Start your journey on the world of Dirt today with this FREE standalone short story.
Yona is a slave, held in a cold, lightless room in the North Hoar Ridge of Bind. When she and her friends have the opportunity to escape, they are helped by an amazing, huge beast that carries them across the continent.
The audiobook has been with us a long, long time. From the very early days of radio, we have enjoyed sitting back and listening as the words wash over us. But there is a huge difference between a well read presentation and one that lifts you to a new plain.
Careful use of HTML in book descriptions on Amazon KDP can really make your book stand out. Here is a simple guide plus a FREE online editor to make life a little simpler.
However nervous I am, I love that moment when books arrive, hot off the press!
I have been slaving over Dirt for the last year, and the first four books landed with a thump on my doormat a couple of hours ago. So, what next?
If you are publishing a book, your first port of call is probably Amazon KDP. However, you may with to make your book available on other platforms too.
Publishing through Smashwords will give you access to Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo and lots of other outlets. But the set up is a little different to KDP.
Unless you are creating a surrealistic world with floating rocks and see through mountains, the chances are that your fantasy world resembles our own in many ways. It has oxygen, is in the "sweet spot" around the local star and people attempt to eat three meals a day.
Writing DIrt has included lots of interesting research about our own world, which has taken me by surprise.
When the alarm goes off the brave writer is faced by a number of choices. Most of them revolve around caffeine.
January 2016 and after a lot of hard work, I have now released new covers for series one of my massive fantasy saga, Dirt.
New dragons, new maps, new backgrounds and a stronger, richer feel. All are now uploaded, though they may not show up immediately in all areas.
I have been using Grammarly for a little while now and it has been a mixed experience. Although the online editor is well reviewed and the Chrome plugin is useful, the Word Plugin has some serious issues and is probably of no use for the serious writer. I am now using StyleWriter 4 with better results.
Imagine the scene: A train station in the afternoon in some forgotten town in the USA. The café is quiet, the only sounds are a gentle muttering from an elderly couple and a chink-clink as an aproned waiter polishes the ancient, stained tea cups. A woman, displaying a qualified level nervousness, stands in the doorway and bites her lip. The Author EM Kaplan is about to meet the character from her acclaimed mysteries; Miss Josie Tucker.
As we celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death, I cannot help but think about how his writing and his approach to the human condition influenced fantasy writers around the world - including me!
It would seem that even when the characters in a story are safely distant in another dimension, they can still find their way into the mind and soul of the author; with or without permission. Perhaps this is the fault of the author; if you insist on creating a machine that allows your characters access to your head, maybe you should not be surprised when they use it. Isn't that right, Roslyn?
I am mulling over a new project that is in a completely different direction to any of my existing work. Not sure if it will happen, but if it does, it will be in collaboration with a very bright, interesting mind that I have recently got to know.
But what it is like to collaborate?
When I wrote The Stink, which is set in North London in the seventies, I really couldn't tell a tale about people living then without confronting the political climate of the time. I am not talking about who was Prime Minister or what policies the main parties had, but the politics of the street and the culture; how we dealt with one another.
Politics doesn't have to be in books for kids, but when it is there in the environment, the writer should deal with it, not hide it away. Young people deserve better than pretending it doesn't happen.
During October 2016, Amazon KDP, the publishing system aimed primarily at independent authors, has been running a promotion called Powered by Indie. The aim is to promote the world of the Indie Author and, probably, sell more books. So, this is just a short piece about what I like about being an indie author.