Wednesday 30 August 2017

Chapterless Writing

This is something I've mentioned before, but I thought it might be worth its own post to talk a bit more about my writing process. I've got a bit of a funny relationship with chapters, I don't work with them in the same way that others might. Basically I will write one long first draft (with breaks) and it might not be until the third or fourth pass that I put chapter divisions in. What are the benefits of this approach?

  • It helps me follow the flow of the story more easily. Our lives don't have breaks, it's just one continuous onslaught of events, so it also allows the characters to come alive.
  • Once I've refined the story a bit, I can see where peaks and troughs occur in terms of pacing and that helps delineate where chapters start and end.
  • Although I've started to introduce a bit more plotting, I'm still a pantser at heart and writing one big block of text allows for various diversions without worrying about how they're going to affect chapter structures.
  • The action can be reordered as required to create chapters of roughly equal length, although I don't think this is as hyper-important as ensuring that each chapter works as a self-contained unit.
  • I haven't yet gone to the step of publishing a book without chapters, although the majority of Terry Pratchett's books appeared in this way. The advantage of this approach is that it doesn't allow the reader to pause for breath and hopefully they'll keep reading for as long as is practicable.

What's your relationship with chapters like? Do you write in chapters from the start or is it a secondary consideration?

Tuesday 15 August 2017

What is speculative fiction?

Today, let's have a discussion about what can be one of the most slippery subjects - genre.

Observant readers will have noticed that I recently decided to call myself a speculative author. I was thinking about why I might have done this and what it all might mean. Certainly I never set out to restrict myself to any one genre - previously, I had labelled this blog, quite generically, as "about writing". But I don't think of speculative fiction as a genre, more as a way of looking at the world - or other worlds. Of course, it can hold a whole gamut of genres inside it - including science fiction, fantasy, horror, steampunk, even romance (anyone want to read about the love between an android and an abandoned server?) - so as far as I can see, the field is wide open.

For me, writing is about the imagination - what can't be seen or doesn't exist (as yet). I'm not that interested in writing about the contemporary world. When I did, with my novella, I introduced the sci-fi-ish element of surgery to alter one's personality - so it was contemporary with a speculative twist. Calling yourself a speculative author is liberating rather than restricting, I think. The story possibilities out there are endless. I also think what we read can have a big influence on what we write, more than we sometimes realise. At the time of writing my book, I was reading a lot of real-world thrillers, so that became the kind of story I wanted to tell. However, I didn't really pull it off effectively - that kind of book requires a certain rhythm and intensity to work and be, well, thrilling. I've found a lot of great authors recently working in the speculative realms, many right here in the blogosphere, and it's rubbed off. In my recent work, I've mixed up the action with more descriptive passages that aim to immerse the reader in the world. With a contemporary thriller, the readers are already in that world. You're not going to spend that long describing an alleyway with a couple of overflowing bins in it. People already know what that look like.

So all in all, I didn't set out to choose this speculative journey, but I'm loving it and looking forward to seeing where it takes me next.

What about you? How important is genre and branding to you as a writer? Do you think choosing a genre is a conscious or unconscious process, or a bit of both? What does speculative fiction mean to you?

In other news; just a heads up that I've halved the price of Black & White to $0.99 during the preorder period (so it'll go back up to $1.99 after release). You can find it here: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Smashwords / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

Thursday 10 August 2017

Goals Update August 2017

Hope summer is treating you kindly. For many of us, next week means back to school, including at the Wilford household. It's going quick, and we're trying to make the most of whatever sunshine we get.

I'm a bit late on updating my goals for this month, after being slightly set back by having our internet cut off. As part of the non-stop construction of new housing in my town, a digger rather overzealously sliced through an underground phone cable servicing over 100 properties. But happily we're all back up and running for now. So time for a quick recap on my July goals to see how I did.
  • Add 20,000 words to WIP.
Managed 15,000; hit a bit of a snag that I'm still trying to work through. This month, I'm not setting a wordcount goal but simply aiming to finish the draft by the end of the month. With good luck and a following wind, I'm confident it's doable.
  • Continue working through CP notes for book 2 and come up with ideas to address significant plot points.
I've made an overview and have a lot to think about. This is going to be my focus once I finish the draft of book 3.
  • Continue promotion campaign for launch of book 1.
This is going pretty well. I had my cover reveal on 31st July and was heartened by the response, especially as this was my first self-designed cover. Thanks to all who commented and tweeted. I also finally took the plunge and launched a Facebook author page, where I'll be sharing snippets and short pieces of news. If you're on Facebook, please like and follow here. I'm also experimenting with Twitter by posting quotes and nuggets of info. I have several ideas outlined for my blog tour and will continue to work on posts this month. My blog also got a new look. For this month, my big thing is to get my newsletter launched. Stay tuned for that!

Another goal for this month is to beta read a friend's new book. I've made a start and I'm already intrigued.

And finally, I was delighted to receive an excellent review for Black & White from the lovely Darla M. Sands. Check it out here!

How are you doing with your goals?

Wednesday 2 August 2017

IWSG August 2017

Time once again for our monthly gathering in which to share our insecurities to do with the writing life. Yes, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted as ever by the inimitable Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosted by this month by Christine RainsDolorah @ Book LoverEllen @ The Cynical SailorYvonne Ventresca and LG Keltner!

This month's optional question is: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

I'm just going to keep this to a discussion of my own work - I've no wish to blast anyone else and the thing that irks me the most when reading is excessively poor editing. I'm happy to say I've not come across any book that falls into that category for quite some time!

No, I think I'll stick to my own particular foibles. Some of these are certainly current insecurities - like not getting as much writing done as I would like. At the moment, I'm working a job where I start at 6am - so I get up at 4/4.30 to do my writing done. If I'm too tired to get up then, it obviously limits what I can do. Something else that I still do - and this is actually where I'm at right now - is getting stuck on a particular plot point and being hung up over it for days (or weeks, although I'm hoping that isn't going to be the case). Sometimes, as with now, it's a matter of logistics - how exactly something is achieved. I need to get over it, write a placeholder solution and come back to it in the edit. Why does that feel like cheating? It's a draft, the most important thing is just to get through it.

I'm really near the end of the last book in my trilogy, but that ending feels like it's taking forever to come. I've had this feeling before, but maybe it's magnified because this is a much larger work that has occupied a significant proportion of my life. Getting everything wrapped up neatly is a giant balancing act. Maybe I'm also reluctant to let go, but of course I won't be - there's a lot of editing to come in the future.

I could probably think of other peeves, but I don't want this to become an extended diatribe! There are other IWSG posts to read here. If you haven't already done so, why not join? You'll get a warm and fuzzy feeling of fellowship as well as many other benefits. Speaking of which, let's turn to some really cool news...

Show Us Your Writer Insecurity!

Are you proud to be an insecure writer?

Then show us!

On Wednesday, October 4 (IWSG Day), post a photo of yourself (or your alter ego) with any of the IWSG swag or with the IWSG logo. Then leave a comment that day at either the IWSG website’s post or the IWSG Facebook post directing us to your photo. (All blog, Facebook, Goodreads, and newsletter members welcome, but photo must be posted on a blog or Facebook to qualify.)

The IWSG site admins will visit each one and pick the top three. Why? Because there are cool prizes involved:

Third place – EBook of A Change of Mind and Other Stories by Nick Wilford, eBook of The Remnant by William Michael Davidson, eBook of Cling to God by Lynda R. Young, eBook of Already Home by Heather M. Gardner, and eBook of Dragon of the Stars by Alex. J. Cavanaugh.

Second place – The entire eBook collection of the Totem series by Christine Rains, eBooks of Princess of Las Pulgas and Sliding on the Edge by C. Lee McKenzie, audio book of CassaSeries by Alex J. Cavanaugh, eBook of Black and White by Nick Wilford, and your choice of eBook from J.L. Campbell.

Grand prize winner - IWSG website interview, IWSG newsletter spotlight, IWSG pinned tweet for one week, C. Lee McKenzie's Featured Follower for the month, the IWSG Goodreads book club eBook for October/November, a short chapter critique, and a pair of IWSG erasers.

We have some great IWSG swag – pens, mugs, magnets, erasers, etc. Proceeds go to fund the upkeep of the IWSG site. Check it out here.

You have two months to prepare – show us your best insecurity!