16 October, 2015

Books Can Have Soundtracks Too

I have now discovered my new novel's soundtrack. Mostly System of a Down and Smashing Pumpkins. Now the words will flow.

This song does a great job of engaging with my book's themes and ideas. (I guess you'd have to put that the other way around, given that this was made ten years ago but... ahem...)

I'm a very musically oriented person, and I have extremely varied tastes, from Beethoven to Prodigy, but at heart I'm a grunge fan, which means metal, goth and punk are all perfectly acceptable. The subculture's music of the 90s was varied enough in tone and form that I find that generation (and I was really as young as one could possibly be to be part of that wave) generally has a pretty open mind to new sounds. Except most of us hate pop music, which is really just symptomatic of being raised by a powerful subculture.

Anyway, it's dark, gritty music for me, and sometimes blasting out a song, or grabbing my guitar, is exactly what I need to put myself into the emotion of a scene and get my words flowing. My only problem is that it seems to me like the industry wants everyone to be One Direction. I want to be Nirvana, and I'd settle for Marilyn Manson or something.

As for the choice of soundtrack, who says tragedies can't be angry? The things that make us sad should, when prevalent functions of society, make us angry too.

10 October, 2015

Plotting Phase Complete

I've plotted out my next novel, Forget Me Not. It's about a brother and sister struggling to survive in a world that's torn itself apart. It's not exactly post-apocalypse. We wouldn't need an apocalypse. I forget who it was who said this before me, so I'll just go ahead and say it. Our society has no implicit morality. You can argue that's fine, or even a good thing, but it remains true that any such society is two losses away from tearing itself apart: food and shelter.

So that's my book, in extremely brief form. Ideas are simple, and cheap. The rest is nuance. So if the idea sounds crap to you, well... I can only hope, like, really hope, you read it anyway, because the book might surprise you and frankly I need an audience. Buy my book!

What's hard is, I spent so long writing in first person close POV for Paint the Angels Black that I'm struggling finding an authorial voice for this next book. It takes a while to get into the characters, know what they sound like, what it feels like to be them--various things you need to know/feel to write good prose, in my opinion.

First drafts are sometimes quite "bitty":

This happened.  Then this happened.  Then this other thing.

Once you get into the character, that wanes, and nuance starts coming out. I find the best thing to do is ask myself what my main character's immediate desire is in the scene. What they feel deep down, how they define themselves and the way they look at life, I've always found very easy and natural to keep hold of. I'd even argue that's what made me want to write in the first place. But what the character wants in a given scene, on the small scale, is another matter. Holding onto that is the only thing that makes the words bash their way out. I just hope it doesn't always feel like bashing! What was that word again...? Flow. Yeah, that's the word. And you can't force things to flow. You have to let that happen. So why does the fact I know that have no bearing on my day?

Flow, you bastard!

02 October, 2015

Where's My Elephant!?

When you let something go untouched long enough, it becomes the elephant in the room. That illusion of difficulty is probably the best life lesson I've ever acquired, so I'm posting now in spite of that elephant. My study's not big enough for the both of us.

Meant to post this ages ago.

I had interesting news from my agent about my first novel, and it put me in a bit of a slump. I've worked like crazy since then, but when I feel far away from having books out, I wind up feeling like I'm just wasting your time by asking you to read my blog. Who cares what I have to say, right? I don't even have a novel out, yet. I know that's not the right way to feel, but sometimes I can't help it.

Anyway, my test audience loved it, all fellow writers I know loved it, and my agent thought it could still be better, and I should set it aside for a few months. After much soul searching, I decided a few months wouldn't hurt. Perhaps looking at it later with a clearer mind will reveal some things I can't presently see, so I got to work on another book.

I wish I had some wisdom to impart about any of this, but the truth is, I don't. All I know is, I'm really quite prolific, and rather than spending another year rewriting the old book, I'm going to spend it writing three new ones. And I'm going to start writing on the blog again, too. I'm sure my number of followers is modest now by comparison to two months ago when I last posted. Two months in internet years is almost a life time. I don't mean to imply my readers are fickle; just that there's a lot of choice out there. I'm not sure why you're choosing me at present, but I'll keep writing. Perhaps by watching my noobish, aspirant experience you'll get something useful for your own journey. I honestly hope so, for both our sake.