Saturday, February 24, 2018

Weekend Writing Warriors February 25

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/

Continuing a scene from my first book, Ghosts of Innocence.

Shayla has stolen the identity of a newly-appointed senior public servant, and infiltrated the Palace in disguise. She has previously fallen foul of her new boss, Mabbwendig ap Terlion, Master of the Emperor’s Domestic Household, and is confronting her again in the cavernous staff dining hall. Mabb has been tormenting a series of unfortunate individuals among the hundreds of people crowding the hall.

=====

A waiter removed Shayla's barely-touched plate, and returned with a dish of mousse molded in the shape of a swan.

"Is it always like this?" Shayla asked Jojo.

He frowned. "She normally picks on more people, but her barbs cut unusually deep tonight."

Mabbwendig looked up from her plate. Her eyes roved across the sea of faces like a hawk surveying a meadow. "Time for music, I think." Her face creased into a smile. "Tanya."

Jojo groaned under his breath. "Poor Tanya, not again."



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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Chaptering

The Ashes of Home is into its final rounds of reading and editing. I’m at the stage where I’m kinda thinking how many more times do I have to read this thing? Let’s just get it off to the book designer!

However, my pre-publishing process this time around included a new step that I’ve not gone through before - and almost forgot about in the excitement! Inserting chapter breaks.

I’ve talked about this approach a couple of times before, where I’ve written the draft as a series of scenes without bothering too much how to break it up into chapters. It certainly paid dividends during rounds of edits where I’ve been able to easily move things around and even insert whole new threads.

Now I’ve got past that point, and decided the text and order was settled, it was time to break the story out into chapters. This proved an interesting exercise in its own right. I flipped back and forth between my scene summary list and the actual text, looking for suitable chapter units.

It was a bit of a back-and-forth game, trying to ensure chapters were logically coherent, and not too long or too short. There were some points where I felt a natural chapter break should occur, and I tried to work around those.

While I was drafting, I broke the text into more scenes than I strictly needed to. Anywhere there was a natural potential break, I put in a scene break. Some of these I ended up rolling together - with a regretful sigh ... yes, this would have been a great cliffhanger, but the real chapter break comes just a little later. Let’s not make it too disjointed.

While I draft, I divide the manuscript up into a dozen or so separate documents for ease of editing and navigation. I have always expected those major divisions to also signal new chapters. In this case I surprised myself  a couple of times by continuing chapters from the end of one document into the next. I don’t think I’d have even considered that possibility before.

I even did a couple of last minute scene order swaps at this late stage. It’s surprising what a different perspective on things like flow you get when you take this aerial perspective.

One last thing I noticed, which I really didn’t expect, was a lot of pleasing patterns and symmetries in the point of view switches within many chapters ...

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Weekend Writing Warriors February 11

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/

Continuing a scene from my first book, Ghosts of Innocence.

Shayla has stolen the identity of a newly-appointed senior public servant, and infiltrated the Palace in disguise. She has already fallen foul of her new boss, Mabbwendig ap Terlion, Master of the Emperor’s Domestic Household, and is confronting her again in the cavernous staff dining hall.

Shayla was forced into upstaging Mabb at the start of the meal. Skipping ahead a few paragraphs, Mabb is making her displeasure felt.

=====

From time to time, Mabb's voice rose above the hubbub. "Yama, hair looks like rats' tails."

A wide-eyed girl looked like she'd been slapped. She stared at Mabbwendig, lower lip trembling. A lustrous river of immaculately-groomed hair hung to her waist.

"Shave it off." Mabb waved her hand dismissively. "Farouk, rose beds in Fountain Court are a disgrace. Tomorrow, you personally inspect and groom each plant. Emperor must have beauty to look on while he works."


=====

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Ward or wards

I’m looking for opinions on this stylistic choice.

I’ve always written ‘towards’, ‘forwards’, ‘upwards’ etc. with the ‘s’. In critiques on The Ashes of Home, there were a few spots where critiquers picked up on this and said it was incorrect.

I’ve never given this a thought before, and certainly never had anyone question it, so I did some research. Grammar sites seem pretty consistent in saying that both forms are correct, but there is a preference for dropping the ‘s’ in America and keeping it in Britain and Australia.

Most of my sales tend to be American so I decided - with some reservations - to go with the flow and dropped all the ‘s’s. Now I’m re-reading, it sounds plain wrong to me. I believe I’m going to revert back to what sounds natural to me, but I thought I’d also sound out some opinions on your preferences as readers.

(1) Do you think it odd when you see ‘towards’, ‘forwards’ etc. rather than ‘toward’ or ‘forward’?

(2) Do you expect the author to be consistent - all one form, or all the other - or does it depend on what sounds best in context?

The reason for (2) is that some contexts seem to beg one form rather than the other. e.g. I would say “He ran forwards” but “He looked out of the forward viewport”.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Weekend Writing Warriors January 28

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/

Continuing a scene from my first book, Ghosts of Innocence.

Shayla has stolen the identity of a newly-appointed senior public servant, and infiltrated the Palace in disguise. She has already fallen foul of her new boss, Mabbwendig ap Terlion, Master of the Emperor’s Domestic Household, and is confronting her again in the cavernous staff dining hall.

Mabb has just ordered food to be served, but the senior waiter is clearly expecting something from Shayla/Brynwyn first. Note - Shayla first met Luke Frendis in an earlier scene, where she surprised everyone in the room by showing Brynwyn’s deeply religious side.

=====

The slap of Shayla's hand on the table broke the silence. All faces turned towards her as she stood. She knew what Brynwyn would do here, what Luke Frendis was waiting for, but her stomach knotted as she thought how Mabbwendig might react.

"Are we all swine at a trough?" Her voice carried to every corner of the room. "Is gratitude so impoverished here?"

She bowed her head and clasped her hands in front of her. Without waiting to see if anyone followed her lead, Shayla said, "From sea to cloud to rainfall, from field to crop to table, we take from the earth and we give back to it. In the circle of life we are united, and we offer thanks for the life-giving gifts brought to our table today. May the nourishment of the body nourish the soul."


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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Weekend Writing Warriors January 21

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post eight to ten sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.
http://www.wewriwa.com/

Continuing a scene from my first book, Ghosts of Innocence.

Shayla has stolen the identity of a newly-appointed senior public servant, and infiltrated the Palace in disguise. She has already fallen foul of her new boss, Mabbwendig ap Terlion, Master of the Emperor’s Domestic Household, and is confronting her again in the cavernous staff dining hall.

=====

Mabb's nostrils flared, but Shayla had not quite given her cause for a public reprimand. Instead Mabb clapped her hands and shrieked, "Food!"

Shayla recognized the senior waiter, Luke Frendis, standing behind Mabb's table, looking like he'd bitten a lemon. The serving staff watched Luke, clearly waiting for his signal. His eyes were on Shayla; he tilted his chin slightly at her.

Dammit! What's he playing at?

The silence deepened, broken when Mabb twisted her head around and yelled, "Scriven! Start serving." Spittle flew from her quivering lips.

=====

Sunday, January 14, 2018

A minor dilemma

One of the online groups I hang out with is doing a group read. I recently downloaded the book they’ve selected and started reading.

I am struggling.

The book is riddled with issues - incorrect grammar and punctuation, inconsistent formatting, and (a more subjective issue) it feels over-wordy, like there’s a lot of fat and fluff that could be trimmed out and tightened up without detracting from the story. I would say this book is a long way from being ready to publish, and I have a feeling the author has never sought genuinely independent critical or editorial feedback.

This all makes it a slog to read as my eye trips up over multiple issues on each page.

However, the issues do seem to be consistent, so I guess the author has been diligent in his own editing. It’s just that he clearly wasn’t diligent enough to actually learn how to (for example) punctuate dialogue correctly.

Yes, I remember having to look up and re-learn a load of long-forgotten rules when I first started writing, but it just seemed a natural thing to want to do in order to express myself clearly.

And, I have to say, I believe there is actually a good story underneath all this distraction.

So, my dilemma is whether or not to say anything to the author.

On one hand, I feel he’s doing himself a disservice. If he were aware, especially of the technical errors, they’d be easy to fix and he’d immediately have a product that didn’t look so obviously amateur. Plus - and this is an entirely selfish reaction - a part of me is angry because this is an example of why self-publishing has such a poor reputation. Every book that gets published with such glaring issues makes it more difficult for all Indies to be taken seriously.

On the other hand, it’s a free country, he’s not breaking any laws, and he may be perfectly happy with his book and how it’s doing out in the marketplace. It’s really not for me to step in with unsought advice.

And then again, I notice these kinds of things because I’ve been so immersed in the writing world that a misplaced period or wrongly capitalized word leaps out and smacks me in the eye. But what about the majority of readers out there? Do they care? Would they even notice? Does it really matter?

So, what would you do?

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