Great a Monday! I’m up early to do some writing. In the shower I remembered that I actually have a short story that is not working a market – i.e. I have had a rejection for it, but I haven’t sent it out anywhere yet. I had some very good and detailed feedback on it from Stephen Theaker at Dark Horizons, so I really should act on the feedback, see if I can make some edits and send it out. That will by my first priority today.
I also need to work on the development of the characters for my “War Veteran” story (this is the working title at the moment). I now have the historical background traced out enough for me to get into the meat of the story. I am sure I’ll need to go back and work out some elements further, but I have enough to be going on for now. First up I think I need to give names to all the main characters. I find that if I don’t do this I will end up writing some notes on the main character and have to refer to other characters he interacts with as person X, or The Wife, which although this is perfectly helpful, does dispel the aura of the story somewhat. As the writer, even I need to suspend disbelief, so filling in some of these details early really helps.
I have also synchronised files across my home PC and laptop.
I’m hoping to do a bit more now before work and then continue at lunchtime and then maybe this evening. Time is always a problem!
I want to keep a record of what writing I’m doing each day and also plan out what I need to do next, so this blog will act as a journal of this activity. This will also allow me to comment on how I feel my work is going.
Often I’m not actually going to be writing each day. Even with short stories there’s a fair amount of preparation required, such as the background setting and working on the characters, as well as planning the structure of the narrative and editing. So, a daily blog, I think might help keep up the writing skills on a daily basis. In a book by Michael Legat, which I was skimming through recently, the author recommended keeping a daily dairy as a way of getting into the habit of writing. This is what I intend to use this blog for.
Primarily the blog is intended as a blog, a log of activity, not as a way of getting an opinion across to a larger audience or for generating income through referrals or advertising connected to reviews. At some stage I may link the blog to my personal website. But first I need to sort out the content of that website. I have a domain name ready to go, but nothing else!
I submitted a short-story to this new fantasy magazine recently and, although the story was rejected, I received some very useful feedback on exactly why the editor didn’t like the piece.
This I find is very rare indeed and I hope that this is a conscious policy on the part of the magazine. It can often be very frustrating to receive a story rejection when the only comment is that the piece is not right for the magazine or didn’t engage the editor.
So congratulations Beneath Ceaseless Skies – I hope your publication is a success. Maybe if I take on your feedback I might get a story published there one day!
I’d recommend visiting the website – the artwork and design are both excellent.
Another page on my Stupor Mundi site published, this time looking at the subject of Magic! All the content here is taken from the book by Kieckhefer – its basically my notes of the examples he provides.
Magic, according to those who dwelt on such things came in two main flavours in the Middle Ages. Natural or occult magic was based on special properties of natural occuring things, for instance magical properties of certain herbs or animals etc, whereas demonic magic was specifically the summoning of spirits for evil.
How magic was viewed in the Middle Ages is a fascinating subject. It was believed to be real and quite dangerous. Richard Kieckhefer’s book Magic in the Middle Ages is a brilliant introduction to the subject area and I recommend reading it. As well as introducing the background to belief, it also traces the classical, celtic and germanic background to magic in Western Europe, as well as looking at Arabic and Jewish sources. The development of a clerical underground and the developing persecution of witches is also covered.
For me however, the most useful aspect was just to get a reliable source of possible examples of how magic was practiced in the middle ages. I’m currently working on stories set in a historical context where the characters use, or attempt to use magic, so I found this book invaluable. Although it’s an academic text, it is not dry or dull at all.
What makes a battle or combat scene exciting to read, and what makes it drag on or detract from the narrative?
This was a really interesting topic and I wish I’d had more time to look at it. I really liked the cover of War and Peace that John put up there – good work!
At some point I’m planning, for my own writing skills benefit, to anlyse this in more depth – particularly writers such as Tolstoy and Martin. Interesting that a number of other bloggers on the round-table mentioned Abercrombie and Martin – I endorse those opinions unreservedly.
I found this story about the perils of Warcraft yesterday. Quite funny. I don’t play Warcraft, but it captures well the perils of becoming too involved in anything at the detriment of your loved ones.
Mcsweeneys is an online literature mag – mainstream/literature from what I understand – that I have just started getting a feed to. This is mainly because I want to develop the amount of poetry I’m reading. Why? Well, I was reading Damon Knight’s classic Creating Short Fiction
again for the umpteenth time and he recommends that all fiction writers should be writing poetry to improve their own style (use of language, rythmn etc). I used to write poetry when I was a young ‘un, but have fallen out of the habit, but I can see where he’s coming from, so I thought I’d re-engage.
Also I think it’s a good idea not to get stuck reading only SF/F all the time!
I was recently asked to participate in a round table discussion on sex in SF/F hosted at Grasping for the Wind.
Several bloggers were asked:
In SF&F, should sex be included in the narrative or not? Should there be different standards for its inclusion in young adult or adult literature? What should those standards be? What are your personal standards and why?
This is a follow-up to my previous post on using a Wiki to organize writing work. I’m personally not sure it’s going to work for me. The Tiddly Wiki mentioned last time only allows for editing on screen and not adding other documents, so although it looked nice I decided to look at some of the other Wikis out there. I have found that you basically need to pay a corporate style subscription fee if you want to post any reasonable amount of content – i.e. over a GB.
Having had a mess around with one of the Wiki platforms I actually doubt that it will add anything over having an organized file system on PC and making sure I back up important documents.
So looks like this was just a big red herring to prevent me getting on with the actual writing!
I came across a blog for writers that I hadn’t seen before – called Writer Unboxed. At present it’s featuring an interview with Joe Abercrombie on the craft of writing. I haven’t had the chance to read this yet, but it looks interesting.
I noticed that they had a section on the site about Research and here I found an interesting post about using Wikis to organise the writing a novel. It’s quite an obvious thing really and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before. Currently I store all my files in a folder on my PC and then back up the most important either on a file sharing site (but don’t share the files) or a USB card. However, a Wiki is something that you can customise to use as you wish and the great thing is that you have a more user-friendly web browser means of seeing your work and navigating to different things rather than using a Windows file manager system.
I’m going to give it a go and see. Will probably start off with PB Wiki though as the tiddlyWiki suggested on Writer Unboxed doesn’t seem to allow for posting actual files – you have to do all your writing in the web browser, which won’t work for me.