Stupor Mundi files organized and backed-up

Re-organizing the files for Stupor Mundi has taken longer than I thought it would. It was actually quite a big job to go through all the files and see what should go where. One of the longest parts of this was actually taking files down from my 4shared account and saving them on my hard drive. But now I have complete copies of everything on both my laptop and desktop, as well as back-up copies on a usb stick and soon hopefully on Skydrive (files are currently being uploaded!).

More information on Frederick II.

5 Pages a Day of Translation Achieved

I’m pleased to say that I managed to do five pages of translation from HuillardBreholles yesterday, thus achieving on of my targets! It definitely felt like things were moving faster than before. I’m aiming to do a couple of pages this morning and then work on re-organizing my files. Might use SkyDrive as I am finding 4shared increasingly unreliable, plus Skydrive now allows for 25GB space!

More information on Frederick II.

Ill for Stupor

I have had a bad head cold for the last two days, so productivity has been slow even though I have been at home. My head feels rather fuzzy!

I did a couple of pages of translation from Huillard-Breholles yesterday. Ideally I think I need to be going at 5-10 pages/day to get through it. I’m hoping that as I keep doing it my knowledge of French improves and things speed up.
I’m going to have a go at doing a couple of pages now I think!


I spent some of the weekend working out where I should start on the Stupor Mundi project. My conclusion is that I should concentrate on the most important sources first. In the past I think I made the mistake of starting outward and working in, so trying to build up a complete understanding of the period by reading secondary and primary texts connected with the period but not directly on the subject of the novel. I’ve decided to deal with my primary sources first and then read elsewhere if needed.

So my first priority is the biography of Piero della Vigna by Huillard-Breholles. This is in French so my first job is to translate it.
After that I want to look at the poems attributable to Piero and the other poets of the Sicilian School, I think this will provide a good indication of how they thought. My current reading points to more sophistication in some of them than one might think for that period.
Following on from that are things like the Constitutions of Melfi, the letters written by Piero not covered in Huillard-Breholles, the hunting treatise of Frederick, and then probably the biography by Kantorowicz, especially as he and his descendent are characters in the book.

Stupor or Not?

I’m on the cusp of a potentially big decision here. I am seriously contemplating just going back to the Stupor Mundi novel project rather than continuing with short stories. I think I have developed and learnt as a writer in the last few months, and this could help me with the novel length project I would really like to do. 

The things I fear though are the degree of research and preparation required. My biggest phobia for this project seems to be that I have committed myself to do research in some areas that are almost impossible at the moment. The reason being that the sources are in languages that I don’t speak, read or write with any fluency. 
Should this be a barrier? As the story is fiction and quite fantastical in nature does a truly well-researched approach matter? Yes and no I think. I would like to know more to help me with providing some better character detail, but the difficulties might outweigh the benefits. 
I have started looking at the plot again for Stupor and had some good ideas to develop it, so we’ll see how these get on. Meanwhile I’m trying to guage what research is really necessary and how difficult this might be regarding the language of the source material.

Breathless Assassin: starting to plan

I was going to start on War Veteran again now that I have done the first draft of the Easy River to Success revision. I like to wait a few days before going back to the whole story and reading it through. But when I sat down I really started to feel conscious that there was something missing from my preparation. The story is a satire on the common fantasy tropes. So far the main satire I have found is the Michael Swanwick book, Iron Dragon’s Daughter, which I haven’t read. I think I ought to first.

So instead I went back to another story that I started planning just shortly before War Veteran. It’s called Breathless Assassin and its about a character who can see the future or read people’s minds and believes that he can stop assassinations of people who might be of benefit to mankind. I must have sat at my desk this morning for thirty minutes before things started to click into place. I started thinking more about the character and why he would be in the situation he’s in – he’s been invited on the inaugral voyage of a spacecruiser – this is not a scifi story by the way, and I had to think why this might be the case. 
So I’m looking forward today to doing a bit more research on surrealist art, mental health and also coming up with some basic information about the other passengers of the spacecruiser and the crew. Should be fun?

Todays Plan: 15th December. Finish Easy River?

I didn’t do an update yesterday, but I did manage a bit of planning – again regarding the cult of Arax. This was all on paper, so didn’t even turn the PC on to do. Sometimes this works better, and I don’t even feel the need to commit it to an electronic document.

This morning I started into fleshing out the detailed synopsis for the last scene. It worked quite well and I’m about half way through. So I should finish it today. Also I need to check whether my other stories are all with markets and what the status of these are. I have a strong suspicion that there are some gaps!

Update: 13th December. Brief Storm

Quite a lot to do on the home front today, and now its the evening I doubt I’ll do anymore today. However, in the half hour I did have I brainstormed some ideas for how Arax’s religion works and I think I have a few basics. He’s going to be the God of False Promies. Anyone who’s ever had their hopes dashed and their ambitions ruined can pray to Arax, and he’ll take vengeance on whatever caused the hopes to be dashed.

Update: 12 December 2008. Synopsis for last scene of Easy River

The use of the synopsis in planning was discussed at the writers’ circle meeting on Wednesday. I thought I would try this to help me get the rest of Easy River to Success writen. I’ve done this today. Did about 300 words, which I hope to turn into about 1000+ words for the last scene, to leave me with a story just under 5000 in total. The process seemed to work quite well. It can help you work through what you need to cover in the story and where you bring in different bits of information. Also showed me where I need to flesh out some more detail of the setting before actually writing the narrative. 

The test now is whether this makes actually writing it easier. 
I still have the problem of coming up with the details of how the nascent religion of Arax actually works. I haven’t had too much inspiration here yet!

Writers Circle Feedback

I attended an informal session of the writers’ circle I belong to last night: Verulam Writers’ Circle.  I received some feedback on the first scene of my story Bird Talk. The feedback seemed to be positive, which was pleasing, and the other writers in the group seemed to be interested in the content as well as the style of the story.

What surprised me was that they thought I should turn it into a longer piece. Maybe a novella, as I had started out as if it was going to be a longer story, building up the characters, setting the scene etc.  I thought this was a fair point as it is quite a long story, over 8000 words.

I think I may do this, however, the story’s with a magazine at the moment, so I’ll wait to see what their feedback is first. Suggestions were that I could develop the social conflict/political side of the story, with the magical element running through it. Also some allusions could be made between medieval and modern times regarding the use of belief to control people and the hysteria of the witch-trial, like in the Crucible.

This does give me a dilemma about my writing strategy, as it seems I naturally want to write longer pieces, flesh out the characters, but I feel I only have time for short stories. So what to do?

The easier option maybe to actually try to get better at short stories, and this may need some further studies of good stories to see how I should be doing this.


“Bird Talk” has been published in Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #33

“Bird Talk” is also now available to purchase as a separate story via Smashwordsand Amazon.