Tag Archives: Scotland

Yiga Clan

I seem to have one character who I wanted to have a laid back personality but this seems to have made him come across as a complete arse due to the circumstances involved in the story.  Sadly he’s one of the main ones and the person he’s being a complete dick to is the other main character.

I have the Mother is the missing girl fresh from discovering her daughter has not returned home one evening alerting the local police officer in this sleepy Scottish village. She’s obviously in a major panic but he insists on taking her to the station so she can give him more information. I suppose the idea is that he takes his job seriously but hasn’t really ever had to deal with missing children in his career so far. Reading it back though it seems like he’s blindly following protocol until the mother actively speaks up and accuses him of wasting time.

When I was planning this story I originally tried to add in a suggestion that it was the police officer that killed the child. I almost wanted that to be the red herring for most of the story but then it dawned on me that I wasn’t writing a murder mystery so this whole thing was completely unnecessary and that aspect was dumped quickly not long afterwards. He’s therefore gone from possible killer to guy who means well but whose intentions are sometimes misplaced really quickly.

The difference between the two gives a certain tension to a scene but there’s still currently something really ‘off’ about the relationship between my two main characters.

Still, another 1000 words down today.

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Spitting Rainbows

Speeding past the 27,000 word marker and feeling that I’ll probably be around halfway once the 30k marker goes past so not that long. I started this whole thing in early March 2017 thinking we’d be looking at getting a first working manuscript in about six months. This original plan also had a target word count of 75k. If I hadn’t revised that slightly I’d now have about a month to write 55,000 words.

I would currently be going completely round the twist.

I’m also noticing that the book is split down the middle as far as quality goes. When I write about the strange stuff, the aliens, the other worlds, the shifts in time then I think I’m doing okay. When I write about the ordinary events of a tourist town in Scotland then it comes across as really dull. I could really do with ironing this out.

I might do a post soon giving examples just so you can see what I mean.

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Wrestling With Werner Herzog

24,000 words.

An amount which seems like so much but also, at the same time, seems to little as well. It’s not even halfway.

I am firmly at the stage right now when the whole thing seems like a complete misadventure. If I’d have written this as a ninety minute script then I’d probably have done a first draft by now and be onto rewriting a second version. I’d have typed THE END at least once. It would have existed as a full text. I would currently be thinking about how to pitch it as a small, easily made sci fi movie.

Instead I am far too deep in to quit now, I’ve already described all the locations we’re going to visit (a symptom of this story originally being designed to be an easily filmed ninety minute sci fi movie) and I have one character who was only added to the planning stage to provide a small chunk of comic relief actually now having a fully blown part of the story that does seem to make him the most human of all the characters.

Also, if I’d made the script then there would be no guarantee that anybody would pick it up. At least as a book I can publish it myself if needs be. Trust me, the outside world is getting the chance to read this one somehow.

Which is strange because he’s almost all alien.

Such are the people I’m dealing with here.

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A Mythological Enemy

The chapter from Hell is over, long live the next one.

Finally I’ve reached the end of a chapter that will probably be first on the list for future rewrites being as I was bored writing it so heck knows how dull it would be for anybody to read. On occasion the fact that I had originally thought of this as a feature film comes through and it results in sections when it all feel a bit too ‘visual’. Whilst this kind of stuff would look great up on screen, perhaps with some music over it, it doesn’t translate well to fiction. Having the character of the missing girl’s Mother return to the house she lived in when her daughter vanished is great in theory. I wanted her to go in thinking that she would connect with happier memories contained within this building. As her time there goes on however she discovers that the building is now in a state of near ruin and is covered in graffiti referencing the fact that most the townspeople had an idea she had killed her own daughter. The word ‘Murderer’ in painted across the front door in red letters.

Now comes the turning point of the story so far. In various dark corners of the house there are patches of what might look at first glance to be spider’s webbing. It contains small stone like pods in it though. Her Daughter, who unknown to her Mother yet has returned, has a small ring of these things just underneath her skin. The chapter kind of snaps into alien stuff fairly quickly.

In fact, here’s what I ended on.

Morag had to leave. She about turned and paced across the landing towards the top of the stairs. She gingerly went back down the steps, taking them as quickly as she could before putting her feet back in the hallway and pacing out of the front door. She navigated her way through the long grass of the front garden before taking a sharp turn out of the gate down the street. She didn’t want to look back any more, she warned this house to be forgotten now. If it crumbled into dust tomorrow, taking everything with it, then she’d need to prepare herself not to care.

In a dark recess under the stairs another pile of dust landed in the webbing below. If anybody had noticed it they would almost certainly have thought it could have been a spider’s web. Perhaps then they would have investigated further and discovered that the web was nothing like the thin, delicate thread of any arachnid. It was thicker and faintly blue. Gathered amongst the network were small, hard, light blue stones. Each of them pulsed and throbbed to an unheard of rhythm. One of the stones then fell from the strand it was held in and landed on the bare wooden floorboards. It then liquefied, oozing outwards as if reaching out for help. Before long it was like a tiny star, arms reaching out and pulling itself along bit by bit.

A second one soon followed.

Well it had to end on some kind of intrigue didn’t it? A woman wandering around a derelict house wasn’t exactly going to provide such kicks.

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When The Blight Is Heavy

I’ve been occupied elsewhere recently, the book hasn’t had a lot of a look in for the last few days. I’ve either been working or preparing for the recording of a podcast episode we’re doing this Tuesday. Not helping this situation is the fact I seem to have a heavy cold for the past few days which I hope is in the process of leaving me alone now.

I’m grinding my way through this chapter whilst constantly thinking there will be far better on the immediate horizon. The character of the girl’s mother has no clear reason to return to the town. If her life was going so well in the city she moved to then why on Earth is she spending these few days going back to the place she couldn’t wait to see the back of. When I was planning all this at the start of the year this detail felt inconsequential but it’s become ever more critical the further I get into it. As such she’s currently just walking around the town and revisiting old places. It’s great by the fact I get to write about her memories and give a backstory that way but it’s also really bloody dull in places. It’s reflecting really badly on her character as well. She’s a pain to write at the moment and it’s part of the reason why I’ve stalled a bit.

I’ve done another small chunk tonight (about 200 words) which I started at around 10pm. I’ll get some more done tomorrow night as well but then it’ll be Thursday before I can have a good swing at it through the day.  It’s time to get back to work.

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Cave Monks

I’ve been looking back over the book in the last couple of days. Nothing as far as a serious edit goes so far because that’ll probably come at the end. I am however struck by one thing right now.

It’s obvious that I was thinking about doing this as a film before it became a book. Everything is broken up in ‘filmable’ parts.

One of the best things about writing fiction again after many years of writing scripts is that I’m not worrying about how a producer would be able to get whatever it is I’ve thought of up on screen. If I have something in mind and I can describe it then I’m good to go. As it happens so far though I’ve still restricted myself to only a few locations and not many action sequences (the last chapter with our policeman character discovering and running away from a very strange presence coming up from the sea by the beach is an exception). Perhaps it’s good that it’s a fairly tight story in that sense but it does feel like I’ve been describing the same three or four places for a long time now. Two characters are about to have coffee and a frank discussion at the aforementioned American themed diner in the town and that’ll be a totally new location so at least that’ll be a change. I have a strong mental image of these places almost to the detriment of going anywhere else.

I didn’t originally have a location for this story. I knew it was going to be in Scotland but I wasn’t sure where exactly. This was until I went on holiday last summer to a small town in Fife called Pittenweem. We stayed in a flat that had a view down the street towards the harbour and out to the sea beyond that. There was a brilliant feel of a small Scottish town alongside a rich vein of strangeness. I spent a couple of nights walking around alone once the sun went down as Jamie the policeman does in the book. It’s this place that I’ve got in mind when I’m writing such location as the harbour and the beach.

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This was the view from the living room window.

The only problem at the moment with the location is that it doesn’t yet have a name. Every single ‘Scottish sounding’ place name I’ve thought of seems to already been taken.

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All The Way To The Moon.

The end of the difficult chapter, the proper introduction of our alien being and a tap on the shoulder when one character is least expecting it. Chapter ten is now in the book.

Well of course it’s in the book…

…you know what I mean.

I’m currently still messing around with timelines. There’s two in the book covering events from ten years previous and the girl’s initial disappearance and then the present day with her return. I’m using the same characters but flicking back and forth between the two. Sometimes the same character will visit the same location but ten years apart from each other. Certain character’s recollection of past events might differ from what actually happened. I’m trying really hard not to make it a complete mess of confusion but it seems okay so far. I’m trying to lay down markers that determine time such as buildings changing.

We’re up to 17,200 and still knocking on.

In the meantime, a view from the desk. That’s the moon up there somewhere.

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Cactus Water

I did what any sane thinking and responsible person would have done when faced with a slowdown in word count.

I jacked the whole thing in for three days. This included a lot of video games being played and the first episode of the American Gods TV show watched.

It wasn’t writer’s block because I knew where the story was going to go and I could write it but it was reaching a part which was always going to be a difficult job to do. This is the first chapter in which there is something clearly alien in the story. It’s perhaps a bit of a tonal shift to go from matters of guilt and regret over never finding a lost child to getting some kind of creature added to the mix. It has to be right, it has to be handled well and that pressure to pitch it correctly is probably what had me running for the hills.

I actually went back to it today and deleted the opening of the chapter entirely. It was far too inward and just prattled on about what this particular character was thinking all the time rather than what he was doing or where he was going. It did cut off about two hundred words of the total but I’ve since made them up again and then some. It might not be perfect but I feel I’ve gone through the tunnel on this now and the light is shining on the other side.

I’m now on the 16,200 word mark. More shall follow tomorrow.

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Spoileriser

I was actually out last Saturday night, in a bar, amongst other people. It’s a very rare set of circumstances. After attending a local wrestling show I ended up in a pub as one of my workmates was there with his friends celebrating his Birthday.  I didn’t really know the rest of the group but one of them instantly said “Is this your novelist friend?”.

They asked about the book and I gave them a few details about the start.

“A woman returns to her old home in Scotland ten years after her daughter’s disappearance. Her daughter then returns to the town having not aged a single day and thinking she’s only been gone five minutes”.

I’m putting it down to the drink but everybody around the table seemed interested. Then one asked the obvious question…

“So what’s the ending?”.

In my head I was thinking ‘Don’t start talking about alien abduction in the middle of a pub on a Saturday night’. What came out was ‘You’ll have to read it when it’s ready then won’t you?’. In retrospect, this was probably the right choice as they then proceeded to ask if I was actually going to publish it.

The answer is obviously yes.

So my question of the day (and feel free to stick your 2p, 2 cents or whatever currency you use in the comments section) is how much of your story do you tell people in advance if they ask?

 

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The Church Does Not Sell Beer

Remember what I was saying about characterisation? How my main characters don’t really seem to be coming alive right now but the peripheral ones most certainly are. It’s a really bad balancing problem that seems to mainly be affecting the Mother right now. She’s just floating around the town trying to come to terms with her daughter going missing. I really need to add some bulk to her description also.

Here, as a contrast of sorts, is the opening of Chapter 9 which gives a proper introduction to the guy who runs the local shop.

‘Robert adjusted his glasses to get them straight again on the bridge of his nose. He had only been in one fight in his life and it had ended with a direct, square smack to his face. The had fallen backwards with the impact and been forced to visit the local hospital to have them snap his nose back into place. Robert had worn glasses since he was young and blamed every ill fitting pair on this one incident.

He lugged the great pile of newspapers from outside the front door towards the shelves at the front of his shop. The thin, wire like string dug into his fingers leaving him with red marks across his knuckles. Slowly he began to empty the papers out to the dusty shelves. This gave him the ideal opportunity to look at the front page headlines of the local press. Another sheep lost and more arguments at the local council. His eyes rolled upwards in disgust. People would still come in a buy it as some kind of unspoken duty, read it for two minutes and keep it under the sink in case they need to wrap anything for the post.

Robert expected the same list of people in the building today at the exact same times they were usually here. There would be the early risers, coming down the hill on bicycles before propping them up outside and coming in for the usual chat. They would talk about the weather, who had moved in to the town lately, how many fish the boats were carrying back in each morning and possibly a short while discussing the local football team and how they should certainly be signing a striker to set the foundations for their rise up the ranks of Scottish football. He’d go through this pattern about four or five times each morning in the same order of people. Sometimes they’d branch off depending on what had happened to them on the way here but, from experience, Robert found that it was difficult for anything of note to happen to anybody who woke up at that time of morning.

He wandered over to the door and flipped the sign over. Sure enough, after a few moments, the first bike was propped up alongside the outside wall of the shop and the first customer came wandering in.

Yes, the weather is lovely isn’t it?”

Well maybe a little too warm”.

At least it’s not snow”.

Plenty haddock out there now?”

Probably a striker so we can score some goals”.

They would then merrily march out of the shop, newspaper under the arm and bag of tobacco in hand. Then they would be replaced five minutes afterwards with somebody else who would have the same conversation with a different jacket on.

Yet Robert loves the regularity of it. He just about knew everybody’s names in this town and the continual stream of standard talk made the moment when somebody would lean across the counter and whisper ‘I didn’t tell you this but…’ all the sweeter. The Church might have been on the other side of the harbour but most people would come in and admit their sins to him. Also, the Church didn’t sell beer.’

Now why the hell can’t I do that with them all?

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