Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A few thoughts on novel series

Looking through my lists of books (written, part-written and to-be-written) and the series they belong to, at least in my mind, got me thinking about the very fluid way that we use the word ‘series’.

More often than not it’s used to describe a set of books linked by a character and a storyline (like for instance, Harry Potter). Other times it is used as a way of describing a group of books set in a particular world or ‘verse’ that share a common theme and sometimes share characters (Such as Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series). Other times the series in question is an amalgamation of the two, one over-arching theme involving the same characters showing up now and then or all of the way through, but each individual book has its own storyline that links to the bigger picture (take The Saga of Darren Shan by the author of the same name). Personally I like that kind of series the best.

A lot of my books, or ideas, or partially written manuscripts are series. For some reason I think of characters or a storyline that is just too big for one book or I want to explore the past of other characters that isn’t really gone in to within the main book. That’s what happened with the Darkling Watch. The trilogy is set in a ‘verse’ as it were and there are other books within that same verse that either draw from characters in the trilogy or are influenced by elements that I have only scrapped the surface of.

The Chronicles of Geniania (that name needs work I know), which now also includes P.L. (previously o.S.a.M) is more a series of standalone books that are set in one world and now and then characters from one story may make cameos in another.

I don’t know what it is about series but I tend to prefer reading them, to reading standalone novels. Maybe it’s because inside it feels like maybe it will never end, I’ll get to keep seeing these characters living their lives, making mistakes and falling in love for the rest of my life. Or it might be that with series there’s that promise that all your questions will be answered within the other books eventually, as long as you keep reading.
I feel like it takes a lot of work for a writer to write a series. Not only are you charting the plot of each individual book but somehow, usually, you’ve got to make sure that each book links to another and that all questions are answered eventually. A writer has to stick to their characters not just in one book but in many. They have to make sure that characters don’t develop a completely new personality half way through the series. Most important is the amount of skill needed in their writing to make sure that their readers keep coming back for more.

Maybe I’m being overambitious, starting with a trilogy within a series or even setting most of my books within one series or another. It may drive me mad, it may make me want to crawl under my duvet and cry or take up chain-smoking some days. But it’s a challenge and I do so love to be challenged.

Monday, 7 January 2013

RoW80, Round One; Goals

Well once more it is the start of a new round of RoW80 (A Round of Words in 80 Days for any newcomers out there). More importantly it is Round One, time for a fresh start and time to set some new goals. First though I have a few thoughts, more ramblings, so I just want to get them out of my head and on to paper as it were.
I didn’t do overly well last year. I set my goals either too low and was easily able to reach them or I set them just right but didn’t bother. Chronic laziness is a problem of mine but I want to change that which is what I’m trying to do with this year’s goals. So... here we go again:

Writing Related Goals

1) Edit ½ a chapter of Darkling Watch; book 1 a week.
Darkling Watch is my baby and I need to get started on actually editing it seriously if I want to publish it. I’ve made a good start so far but I want to go further with it and so I need to knuckle down and get to it. But more on that another day (Yes, I say that a lot but I promise I will get on to it more another day)

2) Write one Feral Diary entry a week.
I only have about 7 entries left to write for the Feral Diaries and I want to get it finished so I can begin editing again. Ideas are already forming in my head for how to edit it and how to write the next book. To do all of that though I need to finish writing the first book which won’t happen until I sit down and put my mind to it.

3) Plan the web-comic idea once a week.
Yes I have a new web-comic idea. No it will not become a novel this time. This idea is really best suited to illustration format and because I’ve always wanted to create a web-comic and keep it going this seems the best route to take. So I’ll be trying to plan at least part of it once a week.

4) Write a chapter of Project Labolai a week
I need to finish Project Labolai soon, it’s been almost a year since I had the initial idea and although I have changed it quite a bit I want to get it written and ready for editing before the year is out. Maybe even before this round is over. We’ll have to wait and see though, it may be that it gets even bigger than Darkling Watch.

5) Complete WriYe challenges.
I need to explain about WriYe, something I plan to do next Monday but suffice to say that the event (for it is an event) has a lot of different challenges running throughout the year and I want to try my hand at all of them, although some interest me more than others. You’ll be hearing about WriYe throughout the year though so don’t worry about that.

6) Blog 3 times a week
I fell apart in December and barely blogged. I didn’t know what I wanted to blog about or I just couldn’t be bothered to write. Now though I spent the last hour or so planning out the timetable for my blog posts so that I can begin writing them tomorrow or even once this one is done. This way I can have actual blog posts up without having to worry about writing them on the day. Once they are written and edited then I can schedule them to go up when I should. I’m trying to be organised you see.

Life Goals

1) Exercise 3 times a week
A friend and I are both joining the gym. I want to get in shape, I want to be able to run and wear clothes that I like and I just want to look good. Right now I have a figure but it’s a bit blobby around the edges, like a woman shaped wax figure that’s been left on top of the oven and melted a bit. So exercise it is. Plus, it’ll give me time to think out plot points I’m stuck on.

2) Apply to universities for Masters
In 2011, just after I graduated I got accepted onto a Master’s course at my university. I had to turn it down as I couldn’t afford it then. Now though, I want to try again. Although I won’t be returning to North Wales I plan to do a very similar course at a local university and commute in. To make that happen though I need to actually apply AND get a job to pay the fees and travel costs. So it’s a goal.

3) Read one book a week
I enjoy reading but too recently I’ve stopped reading as often as I could. Sometimes I go an entire month without reading a thing. I want to change that so I’m setting that goal. Considering that I do a RoW80 check in post once a week I think it works as a measurable goal really.

4) Stay off the cigarettes
I quit smoking on Wednesday. Now I just need to keep away from the cigarettes once the quitting aids ends and I’ll be a happy bunny. Already I can feel the improvement to my health; my mouth doesn’t taste like something died in it when I wake up, I can run up stairs again without getting out of breath, everything tastes better and I can smell properly.

And those are my goals for Round One of RoW80. What do you think?

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

2013: Looking back and looking forward

So, it’s the New Year and I realise that I have been incredibly rubbish at posting during December. I’m not sure why although it may have something to do with my incredible bout of laziness that struck me during that month. Either way, I intend to remedy that this month and for the rest of the year, starting now.
I want to look back on the last year. I was considering addressing each of my resolutions and saying how miserable I failed in them but then a very smart person told me to look at the successes, rather than the failures so that’s what I will do. So...

1) I finished the first draft of Darkling Watch, a project, or rather THE project that helped me realise that I wanted to be a writer and share my stories with everyone. I managed to get it finished and even began the editing process.
2) I wrote the complete script for a web-comic. I never began drawing it past the thumbnail stage but I wrote it, I edited it and I was happy with it, for the most part. And then I turned it into a novel instead. Yeah... I’m still not sure how that happened but the fact is I managed to finish something. 
3) I got my writing organised. I managed to find a way to make myself write down all those amazing ideas I was had, sort them out and keep track of them. The system isn’t perfect yet but it is much better than it was. So I see it as a success. 
4) I got some very valuable work experience under my belt. Although I didn’t get paid for it I got lots of experience and something new to put on my cv. Plus, I also learnt that I could write and work at the same time without any real damage to the quality which is always a plus. 
5) I lost a bit of weight. Not much and not as much as I could have hoped but considering I didn’t really change my lifestyle I’m still quite happy that I managed to lose some. Now instead of looking 5 months pregnant I’m just chubby. For me that’s a vast improvement.

And that is the key success of 2012 for me. They’re not many and they’re not all that great to other people but for me they are important and I’m glad that I looked back on them. But now, for resolutions for 2013;

1) Lose some weight and get in shape so that in the possible event of a zombie apocalypse I won’t get eaten. I’m already looking at joining a gym, I’ve got an exercise buddy and it’s looking good right now. 
2) Quit smoking. I tried several times last year, with sheer will power but each time something would happen and I would fail. But now I’m taking advantage of the schemes on offer by the NHS and I’m using New Leaf, nicorette lozenges and patches. My first official start day is tomorrow and my last cigarette was at around 3pm this afternoon. 
3) Finish editing and release Darkling Watch Book One. It’s been over a year since I started that novel and I want to edit the first book and have it on sale on Amazon by September at the earliest. A lot of work needs to be done on it though and I’m hoping that I can push myself to do this. 
4) Reach my RoW80 targets. Last year I struggled and I’d stop trying and posting. Whether this was because I was lazy, I’d set my targets too high or they just weren’t measurable enough I don’t know. This year though I plan to set them and reach them. AND actually keep posting about them. Fingers crossed. 
5) Be an adult. This doesn’t mean being boring and growing up. To me being an adult means taking responsibility for myself and that includes finding a job and moving out of my parents house. I’m fed up of having a tiny room and having to go into town each week to sign on to JobSeekers. So I’m determined that whilst my work experience is current enough I will apply for jobs left right and center and hopefully find one. 
6) Start and maintain a webcomic. I know that I made that resolution last year and I did quite well with it until it came time to draw and then I grew to dislike the script. Hopefully that will be changed this year, especially with the new idea I’m working on. 
 7) Complete WriYe. I’ve set myself the word target of 400,000 words by the end of December this year but more on WriYe in another post.
And that is that; my successes of 2012 and my aims for 2013. I don’t know if I will achieve them but I hope I do. Keep an eye out on Sunday for my RoW80 target post and as always
Keep Writing!