If you’re not feeling writing

Recently, I’ve been a bit bogged down in doing work, and cycling. I’ve had two races this weekend, both in the rain and wind; was fun, and horrible simultaneously…England, who knew?! Anyway, I haven’t really been in the mind for writing my book, which is a shame because I love it. I think it’s because I’ve been busy with other stuff (cycling in particular). However, I still like to partake in book activities, so I thought I would take the opportunity, during this hiatus, to start the editing process…for the whole thing, from cover to cover.

For those of you who are writing a novel, or any kind of piece of literature, it’s quite daunting reading back through your work. I am no professional writer, or experienced, or classic writer, not at all, but I can imagine when any artist (used as a collective) gets nervous when said person is looking back through their work…how much needs to change, how much needs to be deleted, altered, added. So, I found out that this process requires more care and attention than actually writing (whether you think so, I don’t know). Reading through there were quite a few grammatical errors (the most annoying and fiddly), and things that didn’t fit in the entire plot. For instance, in a few paragraphs I mentioned about the Plysters arriving to Praevalidus ‘tonight’. Rings a few alarm bells. Scroll down, they actually arrive the next day….slightly frustrating, but not completely cataclysmic to the book’s plot, only need to change a few words here and there, then, BAM, it’s done.

I like coherency, I like things to make sense, and work in an ordered manner. Which is why editing is so critical! (it’s probably also caused by my slight OCD), but even then, that really helps.

I’ll tell you one thing, when you look at your early work, it’s interesting to see the style of writing you had back when you wrote that specific piece, and to see how characters develop. For Anton (the mage), I needed to change quite a bit of his speech, since it didn’t quite fit in with the character I had developed further down the line.

All in all, I was worried that when I came around to read through the book, to check for errors and plot-holes,  I wouldn’t enjoy reading it…but no, because I enjoy my writing, I enjoyed reading it! Maybe this is because I’ve never embarked on a project as extensive as this before in my life, or I have low self-confidence. But one lesson I need to take away from this, in-fact all of you, is to be more optimistic and confident about your work!

You never know, you may surprise yourself!

Advertisements

‘Praevalidus’ – an excerpt from ‘A Monarch’s Gamble’

“Praevalidus, recognised as the centre of power in Pravum, the pinnacle of human creation and innovation. A place of magic, discipline, leadership, scholars and the revered Tower of Imperium.
There is no question that the Tower of Imperium is the ugliest building in the Stronghold. It is a tessellated design of volcanic rock, which towers above the sea, but is merely a stump in comparison to the other buildings. White and grey stone spiral up from the base of the tower; bleak, stern, with no windows, no natural light to penetrate the stale air that fills the hall, it holds an atmosphere where there is no space for stupidity or petulance. The soldiers trained mimic the towers appearance. Respected, disciplined and stern. They are not to be disparaged. Each swears an allegiance to the realm and thus is anointed into the order of the Guards of Praevalidus, to protect and guard the city of any threat.
The top of the tower is split down the middle, with two columns rising above the high ceiling connected by diagonal conduits. One column grey, creating a shadowed effect, and odious in stature, a column that has no place in such a world, but resembles the characteristic that all guards are attuned to discipline. The walk to the chamber is done with a padlocked blind fold, concealing any light that may enter the eyes. Blinded by thick, black cloth, the soldier must find the safest passage through tared covered, burning pillars to the top of the column. There, he or she, must negotiate a path through a dense maze of thorny branches and wooden, polygonal objects, to find a chest filled with one item the soldier will forever possess; a Guard’s Ring. A ring that embodies the oath to the House and legion Fermata, which conscribes the soldier to fight in any circumstance. If the soldier revokes the oath, the hand on which the ring situates, is truncated when conscious. The test is renowned for being the hardest, most ruthful and life threatening ritual in Pravum.
The second column tests a soldier’s reluctance and exposure to hostility. At the top of the staircase is a white, vacant chamber. A group of eight recruits enters and the chamber is filled with crawling and curious insects, which, if agitated, become hostile and venomous, if not, remain perfectly friendly. The riddled chamber disturbs and irritates the eight recruits, while wearing nothing but their undergarments. The group have to remain composed and relaxed for thirty minutes’ exposure. If any one of the eight cannot sustain their reluctance, the venomous insects become agitated, biting, stinging or infecting the recruits, leaving them to live the rest of their lives with terminal conditions or to die a slow and debilitating death. The Tower of Imperium is riddled with horrors and endeavour, but has never failed to receive recruits and produce the most illustrious soldiers in Pravum.”

Pravum – finished map

In-between doing work, and going to go and get some paprika, I thought I should write a post, and do a bit of book stuff, since I haven’t done much recently. I’m not really in the right mood to write, so I decided to continue my map making…given that I’m supposed to be good at it (considering my degree subject). Here is Pravum, the main country in the book, where most events take place, which I’m currently focused on at the moment. I like what I’ve done with it, but comparing it with the Central and Southern Reaches maps, I’m not quite sure I REALLY like it, not as much as the other ones anyway. I tried to keep the same formatting, making it as consistent as possible, but annoyingly, because of my own stupidity, I didn’t save the Central and Southern Reaches map in a format which I could add and edit stuff (I merged the layers, so there’s no way to separate them). However, it is still an accurate representation of the book’s narrative and setting, and it also, greatly helps with writing, to know where places are, it’s really useful to plan out where characters are travelling to, how far, and how long it will take them.

pravum-merged

Weather conditions…the decider or a hindrance?

Weather, it changes, it’s indecisive, difficult to predict, and you only know what’s happening, when it’s happening. This is exactly what happened to me at the weekend. First race of the season, down in Devon. A 48 mile road race, with 79 other riders. Slightly crazy, especially when the weather isn’t completely ideal! 25 mph winds, with 40 mph gusts, made it a pretty difficult one. I’ve done the course before, and aced it! It was brilliant, and the conditions were far worse…but with less wind.

This makes me wander, the weather, in terms of battles and wars, is either the decider, or the hindrance. Of  course, in ‘Right of Legions’, there will be battles and wars, fights between people. Battles aren’t fought in massive hangers, or bunkers…maybe underground in caves, but mostly outside. So I thought of an idea, to try and make battles, and fight scenes more exciting, and wars prolonged, the weather has to change. Sometimes in favour of the enemy, sometimes in favour of the goodies. I won’t have battles always fought in gleaming sunshine, and great weather with no wind…that’s boring. Neither will I have battles always fought in the p*ssing rain, with stupid amounts of wind.

Instead, you can have compromises. Battles are fought instantly, it takes a large build-up, for each side to prepare for battle. A large piece of land, probably 20 mile squared, split down the middle by no-man’s land. The day before the wind was howling, the rain, hammering down on both camps, acute tapping sounds created by the impact of rain on exposed metal. Soldiers churning the wet ground into sticky sod and clay. More and more effort used to walk from one place to another…this it alright actually. Then, the next day, it’s gleaming sunshine, with little to no wind. BUT, the ground is still a cascade of viscous mud and water.

So, a decider, or hindrance, you decide…(excluding the quality and skill of the soldiers).

A genuinely lovely book…the loveliest! As read by the author.

 

wp_ss_20170225_0001You know when a book is good when you read it in a week…especially when that book is based in one of your favourite places in the world. In this instance, Naples, Italy. The city is mad, absolutely mad. Myself and my girlfriend went for a weeks holiday there, back in the summer, and stayed in an awesome hotel in Sorrento (to the south of Naples). I was mesmerised, captivated, and completely spellbound by it…I have never visited a city with so much glamour, pride, individuality, without care, and caring. It was a lovely, genuine lovely place (not considering the corruption and mafia), to visit. As a tourist, you have a completely different perspective on the livelihoods of people, than the actual inhabitants of said city.

Because I fell in love with the place, and strengthened my love for Italy, my parents bought me, for my birthday after I couldn’t stop talking about the place, a book about Naples, by a writer called, Katherine Wilson. The book’s title, ‘Only in Naples’, is a semi-autobiography about her life and experience with a family in the city. It is filled with mannerisms only found in Naples, attitudes only found in Italian families, and it was a fantastic read…and you know it when you can’t put it down.

I’m not one for reading autobiographies, although interesting and eye-opening, the lack of one or two primary narratives doesn’t completely encapsulate me, but this book is a complete exception! It is the loveliest, heartfelt, happy, humorous, and emotional book I have ever read! Upon reading it, it immediately reminded me of my trip to Naples, made my ambition to own a place in Naples (or in its vicinity), firmer.

I’ve never read laughed out loud at a book before, but this one had me in many fits of laughter, one on the train home (which was kind of embarrassing, but I didn’t care). It’s filled with multiple experiences of Katherine, her opinions of Naples, and her reactions to the Italian way of life, and just makes you realise how culturally diverse they are! It is filled with sincere (truly sincere, there were a couple of times where I wanted to have a little weep) encounters, and many, meticulous descriptions of the delicious Italian food, making your mouth water, considerably. It’s not like your typical love story, where there are two characters that have a bit of a hubbub and then eventually get back together, no, it is a true, love-story, that can happen to anyone! And that’s what makes this book a wonderful, enchanting, and adventurous series of events!

A real page turner! Fantastic!

only-in-naples

Pravum – the Central and Southern Reaches

Instead of writing, I thought about making a map of the main story plot would be a good idea. As a geographer, I love maps! They’re awesome and tell so much in such a finite space; and this map is no exception! Beneath, is a map of the Central and Southern Reaches of Pravum. Many of the places have Latin names (a beautiful language), giving cities and places meanings, relative to the way the book is formulated, and how these places have come into being. Praevalidus (the centre point of the book somewhat), means ‘Great’, (I know, it’s not very creative), but in the land of corruption (Pravum), Praevalidus is the great city and stronghold that the population looks/used to look up to. The scale of the map is based on how long it would take for a cavalcade to travel to and from places. So, averaging a pace of 2mph (walking), it would take roughly 40 days to get to Mountain Fall from Praevalidus. This is the main part of Pravum, with the Northern and Western Reaches being published soon.Pravum - Southern & Central Reaches (better).jpg

I know it seems strange, and slightly odd, for a writer to be producing this kind of thing, but sometimes I like doing something different, which also helps with the development of the story, but it does make writing a hell of a lot easier…especially when you’re writing about travelling and timescales. I’m quite fastidious about that sort of thing, making sure that events fit properly in the time allotted to them. This certain piece of work (on an unrelated note) took around an hour to make, first drawing the entirety of Pravum, then scanning, then splitting it, enlarging, then printing, drawing over it in a pen, then scanning….and the process goes on and on. Many parts to writing are, unfortunately, laborious, including scanning, but you have to admit, if it wasn’t for the boring parts, you wouldn’t appreciate the fun and exciting parts as much…especially when I added filters in Photoshop to make it look even more awesome, and like you’d find it in a book, or a map in the book’s time setting. The map, unfortunately, doesn’t include the Casbian Sea (to the left of Praevalidus), as I ran out of space…and forgot to include it. So, stroke of genius, I’ll put it into the western reaches map!…also forgot (rookie error, and stupid on my part since I’m a Geography student) to put a north arrow…North is up, east is right, west is left…and south is…well…

‘A Monarch’s Gamble’ – Prologue

“The city was in chaos. Innocent people running down the streets in their undergarments, faces lined with blood, broken arms flaying about, screaming children hurrying about, lost and without guidance, for their parents are either dead, or trapped in the barraging crowds, escaping the incoming soldiers. They rampaged, and raged in the city, tearing down doors, breaking windows, finding the enemy, and killing without question. Innocents could not be distinguished from the enemy, and many were slaughtered by the swords of power and unquestioning….

This was coordinated and unified. The people responsible for organising this militia had done well, thought Antares Ruk, the man responsible for the order of the city; an impossible task. Dalimaey, although seemingly restless and dangerous, was an integral part of Pravum’s wealth, receiving many trade ships, and distributing goods to the Northern Reaches, sent from the south. It would be a while before standard procedure could commence again…

…A group of soldiers, dressed in scruffy, poorly constructed armour, stormed through a suburb. They wore rounded, battered helmets, with a single piece of metal, centred above their nose, attempting to conceal their face. Swords unsheathed, and primed, pounded their way through the street. Breaking into homes, knocking the large, barricaded doors down, finding crying children being protected by their mother, hiding in the corner, anticipating their deaths…

…In the house with the lady, and her impounded skull, a little boy ran out from under the stairs, who saw the commotion from a relatively safe distance, far enough not to be noticed, went over to his mother, tears streaming down his face. He sat by his mother, the blood oozing out from her head, her right hand bent the wrong way, cried, and sobbed, wiping his runny nose from snot. Sitting there for no more than five minutes, he heard shouts and screaming approaching from his right, and decided to run, and leave this place for the better. He shot up, the tears stinging his eyes, ran to the fractured doorway, turned left and scarpered.”

This post may not make much sense, but the actual Prologue is 10 pages long, and I couldn’t really put that all in…let’s be honest that would be a bit ridiculous. For those who have read my previous posts (mainly the exclusive content), will know that this excerpt has replaced the previous prologue…which is far better than the original, a great deal more. The prologue sets the scene, story, and back-story very well, cleverly making the reader (I hope) think about the things that are said, the people involved. I wrote this last night, and was so excited while writing it, I didn’t realise it was 10:30, when I should have been winding down for a good nights sleep.

The big 100k, and counting!

It’s taken long enough, lots of commitment and determination, but I’m here, finally at the 100,000 word mark, at 329 pages of writing, and things are really moving now! I’ve been working a lot on my degree recently, and getting some big cycling miles in, which is why I haven’t had the time to write, plus, I’ve been reading a lot, constantly trying to inspire myself to think of new, and grand ideas to put in my book. The review I posted on Saturday, of a book based in Naples, even though a semi-autobiography which I read about three weeks and a book ago, has also helped with some inspiration for some characters. Some focusing on their pride, love for their children, and to uphold their traditions and beliefs.

‘Right of Legions: A Monarch’s Gamble’, has hit a landmark point, with the two most powerful families in Pravum (Plysters and Fermatas) coming together to discuss the terms of the new Plysterian monarchy, to replace the governmental powers that are already in place. Whether it will work out is another question, but the main focal point at this current point in time, is the opinions of the characters, towards the opposing ideologies. With both families having advisors that are very passionate about their beliefs, and family traditions; writing it is incredibly fun, but also difficult. I need to make sure that you know, when you come to read the book, that you can tell the characters are incredibly passionate about their city, but also to make the treaties seem believable. You can’t write about how a family is incredibly strong-willed about something they believe in, and then sign a treaty, condemning them to be dictated by a bullish family, whose experience with leadership is minimalist compared to that of the former, is fine.

At the same time, as I’m about halfway through the chapter after the negotiations, writing about the two wives of the two family leaders, discussing things that aren’t necessarily important, I couldn’t help, but naturally write about their opinions of the Plysterian monarchy, and Maria’s (wife of Davos, head of the Plysters, leader of the family creating a monarchy), opinions of her husband, and her love for her children. There was one bit of speech which actually felt, genuinely heartfelt, and I felt sorry for a character I had created. It may sound slightly silly, but it’s true. I genuinely felt sorry for the position she was in, and Kerri (wife of Isaac Fermata, guys negotiating with the Plysters, trying to create an alliance and treaty between them), whose outcome, won’t be great, I felt even worse for. Just a purely innocent (word highly hyperbolic), conversation between the two, made me think about their story-lines, and it made me upset a little. I love writing about characters, especially if they’re interesting, and have a large part to play, but also because they’re parents, and I can imagine my mum saying some of the stuff I write.

Now, refer back to my book review (read it if you haven’t already), the lady in that book, I could clearly imagine, not because of the basic, realistic descriptions, but because of the mannerisms. The way in which she dealt with situations, spoke highly of her beliefs, the adventures, and arguments with her husband, her embracing an entirely new culture, made me realise how similar Kerri and this lady were in character. I must specify here, that I started writing my book way before I read ‘Only in Naples’, so I must confess, and be completely truthful with you, I did not base Kerri on the main character from the book, lets clear that. So, when writing this specific scene, made me realise, think about, and view characters in a different perspective, looking at the position they’re in now, in relation to what will happen in the future…in some respects, its very cheerful and compelling, in other respects, it’s quite upsetting, and shocking, which I’m not looking forward to. I suppose I feel this for most of my characters, the few that I don’t are either: a. boring, or b. I’ve thought about them too much. Which brings me to sleep…and lack of!

You’d think, as a Uni student, my life is quite lax, and easy. It’s far from..especially when writing a book…because I couldn’t go to sleep last night, as I kept thinking of ideas for the series, and making sure they fit…why I started thinking about this at half-past midnight last night, I do not know…because I needed to get up for 10am to meet a mate, to go cycling. I just love thinking about it, what’s going to happen, what’s happening, and how it all fits together! It’s such a wonderful thing to think about, and I love it dearly!

To finish off with, enjoy this piece of awesome music, which I have found a great love for when writing!

Walking while writing

I was walking back from my girlfriend’s house this morning, usually I’d be listening to music, but unfortunately, my headphones broke last week, and haven’t replaced them yet. What do I do instead of listening to some groovy tunes? Well, I’m writing a book for one, so might as well think of some content to put in it; be it character, scene, romance, items, you name it. In this particular instance, it was a scene that will occur in the second book. Why the specificity? Well, due to actions of certain characters, and the way the series has been planned out, I think it’s fair to had some specificity to create clarity…oh I like that!

This scene was between two characters (one male, one female), who, yes, are technically romantically involved, but are part of rival families (kind of). One character (female), is married to the enemy of the male, however, her family is a sworn allegiance to the male. Behind the scenes (which you will know about), there’s plans to overthrow the king, as events that have happened, haven’t gone to plan, so the logical thing to do is try and overthrow him, particularly when it’s personal.

It’s something that I like to do, quite often, since it’s probably the only time where I can think of nothing, or something of a particular interest. In this instance, it was between two characters, family allegiances, but one married to the enemy, creating tension, and everyone likes a bit of tension…apart from when I get carried away when thinking about my book, walking, and start to actually talk what I’m thinking, creating some odd looks by the people around me…yes that did happen, and quite a lot of the time when I do think about my book, walking to places, I mime or speak what is happening; while people look at me as if I was slightly insane.

Just annoying that I think of great speech and scenes, and don’t have my notebook with me to write it down…dammit!

Travelling in a fantasy world conundrum

From the title of this post, I’m probably right in assuming that you’re thinking that this will be some deep meaningful post about feelings, and you’re sort of right in assuming that. In the book, there is war, fighting, death, blood and gore, but there is also happy moments, and romance, and the building of relationships, both romantically and as friendships. I was out cycling today, doing something called a chaingang (basically a long sustained effort where the group takes turns to be on the front), it was 32 miles of hell, not including having to ride to the location where the group met up, and where we stopped for a coffee and rode back (total 62 miles). But it occurred to me that I was riding with a bunch of strangers, of whom I had only met once (last week), but seemed like I had known them for much longer. So I pondered and thought about why this is, and yes, the answer is seemingly obvious, a shared common interest. The lads I was riding with were friendly and welcoming, all with their own goals, but all respected one another’s goals, and unconsciously would help others to achieve those goals. Now, you’re probably wondering, “well are they going to come and help write your book? edit it?”, well, obviously no, I would have to have known for a lot longer to even tell them I’m writing a book. But talking to them, riding with them, made me wonder, this is how friendships build in real life…yes, but it can also be applied to fictional writing!

Life is the best inspiration for writing, you may not know it, but there is a main plot (you), sub plots (people around you), and other main plots (your friends, spouse, girlfriend, family etc). I have four characters, three of them are good friends from knowing each other for a long time, sharing common interests with each, but the friendship is also helped by the fact that the families/houses/legions are sworn allegiances. They’ve travelled together, hunted together, run riot and generally been cheeky children for the early part of their lives (I mean, who isn’t? No body’s perfect). But one thing stands in the way, one thing that most people (I feel), don’t appreciate in modern society, which is transport. See, in the time ‘Right of Legions’ is set in, the main types of transportation are; horses, sailing, walking, and, in some rare instances, flying dragons…but that won’t happen for some time I’m afraid to say. So, planning out the book, part of my bible is the drawing of my world (which I need to edit slightly…and will be posted up), as families, and legions live far away from each other, occupying sub-kingdoms, maintaining their legions, causing visiting to be difficult. Thus, when my three friends (the fourth comes along after…or now if you’re talking about current writing rather than the back story), meet, they’ll be meeting for what?…the third, fourth, fifth, time in their lives…I’m making it sound like these characters are only friends with people from other legions, rather than within their own legion and city, but, you see my point?

Currently, at University, one of my best friends, of whom I met at college, who taught me a lot and helped me figure out who I really was, went to university in Wales, about 150-200 miles from Southampton. Luckily, however, there is a direct train from Soton (shortened Southampton) to Cardiff, but, if this was medieval times, it would take me about a week (maybe a bit less, or a bit more) to go and see him, rather than a 2 and a half to 3 hour train journey. Meaning, when the time comes, about 5-6 chapters later on in the book, I’ll need to ensure that the characters’ relationships are a believable, strong friendships, rather than saying ‘(name) had been friends with (name) from when they were 5’ or whatever. It’s about building that relationship between characters, and character profile, so when the time comes that something happens to any of them, then you’ll be upset because so and so died, and, most importantly, that so and so have lost a good friend.