17 June 2010

Should Nina Swift be written in the Fisrt or Third person?

Today, on WriterInTouch.com, I have posted two versions of the same first chapter from Nina Swift and the Sky God (working title). As I said in a previous blog, I am unsure whether to write the book in the first or third person. Both seem to have as many arguments for as against. Basically, I am too close to the work now to make a rational decision. So I thought I would take it to my readers and put it to the vote.

The first person version of chapter one can be viewed here.

The third person version can be viewed here.

Once you have made up your mind as to which you prefer, you can vote by answering the poll on the left of this page.

Please help a poor confused writer. Perhaps I should wish, ‘Good luck,’ to Nina.

11 June 2010

More about Nina Swift and the SkyGod

I was originally going to write a second Mervyn Bright novel, a sequel to Helium3, but I have been persuaded by my three daughters to have a heroine instead. This fits nicely with a story idea which has been mulling around for a while, which, although still sci-fi/fantasy, is set in earth’s near future so there is a lot more familiarity for the reader.

I’ve also decided to follow the old maxim of writing about what I know, not in terms of subject matter or technical expertise, but in emotional and relational terms. So in many ways Nina’s story will have more of me in it.

Like Mervyn Bright, I have given Nina three companions, because with three you can push each character to the boundaries of friendship and end up with a community. This will not only give the story more opponents – friends being Nina’s first level opposition, but give the whole novel a strong ‘buddy story,’ feel, which I hope will result in lots of fun. There will also be three main opponents who, although linked together in a hierarchy, will also be in opposition to each other, so lots of drama. Now more BOS.

07 June 2010

Summer Mornings

5.00am on summer mornings is a good time to start writing. I can get a good few hours solid writing in before the children wake for breakfast.

The working brief for ‘Nina Swift and the SkyGod,’ is complete: that means I have the story, characters, plot, reveals, and key scenes all mapped out. It has taken several months to get to this point. The first draft is underway, though, I’m still undecided whether to tell the story in the first or third person. What I have decided to do is write the first couple of chapter one drafts in both the first and third person and put them both up on Writers In Touch to see what an audience thinks.

In the light of John Truby’s ideas (see previous posts) I have modified my writing process to be more prescriptive up front and less prescriptive for the first draft, now making the second draft into the expanded scene brief. So, in brief, the process goes something like this:
· Story ideas & characters
· Opponent’s and protagonist’s motivations, needs, and desires
· Character and opponents’ conflict patterns
· Major reveals and reversals
· Scene brief
· First draft
· Second draft as the expanded scene brief
· Third draft
My aim this time is to have no more than three drafts of the entire novel, rather than the six drafts that I had for Helium3, and to complete it all by the end of the year.

It has been a while since I embarked on the writing of a novel. Since then I have learned an incredible amount about the crafts of writing and story telling. I am really excited about this new novel. All that is required now to make it work is plenty of BOS (Bum On Seat) – in other words, hard graft.

I shall be making the most of the light mornings that remain to me to get well into the early drafts.

21 April 2010

The Anatomy of Story, by John Truby

This is the book I have been searching for – after only a week, I have read it cover to cover twice and it is already well thumbed.

Every page is jam packed with technical information on story construction that is robustly evidenced - there is no flannel here - John Truby is truly a master of his art.

I realised a while ago, that good writing is less that half the battle, being able to craft a great story with great characters is what really counts. I have never been comfortable with the three act structure and in the Anatomy of Story, John Truby shows how these limitations can be overcome to create original, organic stories that play to the writers strengths.

It is always said that a writer should write what they know – here Truby shows how this can be achieved in terms of the characters, and how the characters’ personalities’ drive the story and story conflicts.

I cannot endorse or recommend this book highly enough. If you only have three books on writing on your shelf (I have six), make sure the Anatomy of Story, by John Truby, is one of them.

The question is, what should the other two books be? Any Suggestions?

14 April 2010

08 April 2010


Inspiration has hit for a new fiction project.

I had a vague idea and while conducting research on the story structure and fantasy world I came across a u-tube clip of the most amazing transport design being tested in model form. This design turns all previous designs on their head. If I can find the video again I will post it later.

Suddenly, my mind latched onto this innovation, expanded it to extremes and the whole fantasy world just fell into place giving me a unique world setting for my story.

All I need now is a transendant story line and my children's fantasy thriller is on its way.
That's the hard work done - all I need to do now is write it.

23 March 2010

Helium 3 Tops Best Seller List!

At the time of writing, Helium3 is the most downloaded Children's Book on Smashwords, the third most downloaded Young Adults Book and overall, is Fifth in the SmashWords Top 100 – the third most downloaded novel.

The current ebook promotional campaign has catapulted Helium3 to the most wanted list - it's a good feeling.

And is doesn't stop there, the graphs on the left show a slow, but increasing download rate - success is breeding success.

Smashwords aren't yet able to provide analysis data, but an analysis of hits to this page, via Google Analytics, shows that the areas of most activity are, not surprisingly, North America and Europe in equal measure.

A new review from a South African reader says, "This book is impossible to put down, very entertaining. I would recommend this book to anyone."

16 January 2010

Help - my characters all sound the same

Do you ever read your characters’ dialogue and think, ‘why do they all sound the same?’

The ideal is to read a piece of dialogue involving multiple characters, with no identifiers, and still be able to tell who is saying what.

Your characters all need to speak with different voices. This is something you should include in your sketch of each character: what do they sound like, how do they speak, when/why do they speak, what phrases are unique to them, how do they construct their sentences?

One easy trick, is to use different grammar for different characters. Even something as simple as using long sentences for one character and snappy sentences for another can work well is used consistently.

Deliberately misusing grammar can carry a big impact, particularly in defining character, but only if the rest of your grammar is religiously consistent. A difficult trick to pull off, but something which can really grab your reader’s attention, without them even knowing why, if used sparingly – use the trick to often and it just looks like bad grammar.