Friday, 22 August 2014

New Blog

I've finally done what I said I would and moved over to WordPress. From now on that is where you can find me and my posts. This blog is now an archive of sorts.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

RoW80 Sunday Check In

Well after missing a check in last week (thanks in no small part to a wedding reception where the best man dumped his girlfriend) I’m back on the wagon of taking part in the RoW80 Check Ins. Sadly the same cannot be said for my goals. After a disappointing few weeks I can honestly say that things have not gotten much better. I’m not sure why but it feels almost as though I fell out of love with writing for a while. I can feel that enjoyment coming back though, due in no small part to having spent the last three hours working and writing blog posts. Hopefully I can keep hold of that enjoyment, remember it and get back to hitting my goals like I was doing before.

Now, enough of me being miserable, let’s have a look at how I’ve done this week:

Post 1 blog post other than a RoW80 check in a week –   This actually seems to be one of the goals that I’m consistently hitting. Even when I was at my worst, not really doing much of anything I was still preparing blog posts and putting them up on time. It’s something that I really enjoy doing. I mentioned at the beginning of August that I was planning on sorting out my own website or moving to Wordpress but I think that for now I’m going to stay where I am. I would like to move eventually but until my monetary circumstances work themselves out I cannot really afford web hosting and all that other shiny stuff.
Progress – Excellent

30 Minutes on social media a day – I’ve been on twitter a little more but every time that I think to myself ‘Oh I’ll go on LinkedIn in a little while and check out something I saw in the discussions’ I quickly forget until the next time that I get an email. I’m still not spending 30 minutes a day on social media. Next week I plan on focusing on this goal, getting it down until it becomes second nature to do it, just like I did with the blogging goal.
Progress – Very poor

Spend 1 hour doing a creative activity each day – Yeah... not so great with this one. I’ve barely written 1,000 words a day on the Autharium project this week, something that only takes me half an hour at best. It felt briefly as though I was falling out of love with the project, I had forgotten why I was writing it in the first place and was completely focused on the end piece. That is not how you write good stories. I’m going to try to work my way back up next week but take it slow and steady so that I can get the momentum going again the week after.
Progress – Poor

Spend 1 hour doing a different creative activity each day – Again, this has been a terrible thing. I’ve spent more time watching tv than I have doing anything creative outside of working or blogging. It’s not even as though I’m pushed for time and super busy. I’m not. I have too much time on my hands I think and it shows. Once I’ve gotten the other two goals down into a habit I think I will properly focus on this one. In the meantime I’ll give it my best try but it comes second place to other things.
Progress – Abysmal

Start and try for completion of projects on the order day – This one has been fantastic. I’ve been receiving more work, and it’s been a wider variety of work as well. I’m not just ghost writing now, I’m proofreading and editing. I’m also writing book descriptions on Fiverr, something to get me into practice for when it’s my turn and getting me that little bit of extra income that I know is there in an emergency.
Progress – Great

Over all it’s been a mixed bag. Actually scratch that. I’ve been letting myself down quite a lot. I forgot that these goals are there to help me build a work ethic, to help me get into the swing of things and create some habits that will only help me improve as a writer. I got carried away and arrogant, thinking that I could do absolutely everything at once and thought of them as just goals, not a means to an end. Now I’ve realised that though I can focus once more on treating them as habit building activities, working on one thing each week more than the others until I do them all almost without thinking. It’s definitely the social media one that I struggle with the most however. I just don’t see how I can do it.

What do you think? Do you have any tips to using social media as a marketing/networking tool? Are there any social media formats that you might suggest I use? Am I being too hard on myself? Am I being too soft on myself?! Do I just need a kick up the backside and a good week of hitting my goals to get back on track? Let me know below in the comments and maybe it might help other people too.

 Created by Kait Nolan in 2010 after she began to struggle with the madness that is NaNoWriMo A Round of Words in 80 Days (or RoW80 as it is commonly known by participants) is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. In four sentences she sums up the idea of RoW80 perfectly: "We are all different and we all have different demands on our time.  Why should we all have the same goal?  The simple answer is that we shouldn’t.  If you want to be a writer, then you have to be able to roll with the punches and adapt to your changing circumstances.  If that means changing your goals when your life blows up, so be it.  ROW80 is the challenge that champions the marriage of writing and real life."
Be sure to check out other participants and how their goals are going here at the clicky list and be sure to leave a comment on their blogs to encourage them on.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Writer's A to Z: A is for Advice

For the next 26 weeks I plan on putting up one post a week, focusing on one letter of the alphabet and how, in my mind, it links to part of the writer’s world. I share some ideas, some thoughts and maybe some knowledge (although given it’s me talking that’s a bit questionable).

You can find the link to the full index on the task bar at the top of the blog and easily navigate between whichever letter you want. You can also hope back and forth between the letters with the links at the bottom of the posts. Now, without further ado, let’s begin with…

I read a lot of writing advice books on a variety of subjects; how to write a better story, how to edit, how to self-publish, how to improve the rate of writing, how to improve the quality of writing, how to find an agent, how to build an online platform. You name a writing related topic and I’ve probably read something about it. This isn’t restricted to just books though; I eat up online articles and magazine articles, squirrel away podcasts on my iPod and subscribe to dozens of different email newletters all about writing (incidentally I also save them in their own little individual folders on my account). If there is something to read about writing or self publishing I will read it. Usually I’ll save it but very rarely I’ll throw it away or un-bookmark it. I’ve begun to realise that storing all of this up though leaves me with some very interesting and important questions;

1) When does it go from reading to learn to reading to procrastinate?

2) How do I know the advice is any good?

3) What do I do with this advice?

And now, after a lot of thinking, I have some answers.

1) Learning Vs Procrastination

If I’m spending more time reading advice than actually using what I read, then I’m procrastinating. If I’m spending more time making notes than I am spending actually doing the exercises then I’m procrastinating. If I’m making notes on what I’m reading and then put what I’ve figured out into practice, I’m learning. If I write a blog post on some advice I’ve read as a way for me to understand it better then I’m learning.
It’s tricky finding that balance though. Sometimes I can get so caught up in learning the advice, making notes and trying to put it all into my head that I forget why I started looking for it in the first place. And sometimes I just want to squirrel this advice away, collecting it for the sake of collecting it or because having all of this information makes me feel as though I’m a ‘proper’ writer.

It’s a crutch really. I have the advice there and I can use it but I shouldn’t use gathering the advice as an excuse not to write. I shouldn’t turn around and say ‘well I need to read so-and-so’s book first and then I can finally start that seven book epic about a dog that goes to the moon’. That’s not how it works. The advice is there to help me when I get stuck, not to stop me getting started. So I’ve started doing something new. I’ll read some advice, some bit of information about writing or marketing. If it strikes a chord in me I’ll put it to one side, if I’m violently opposed to it I’ll put it to another side but if I feel nothing, if it doesn’t get me thinking and I struggled to even get to the end then I’ll toss it away.

2) Is It Any Good? : Checking the Source

It can be hard to know whether or not the advice that you’re getting is actually any good. So many people try to make quick money by copy and pasting a bunch of information they found elsewhere and claiming it as their own. Sometimes they don’t even read through what they’ve got. Advice all comes back to the source, the person who you have gotten this advice from. And there are a surprising number of quick steps that I take sometimes to check whether or not the advice I’m getting is actually worth the money I’ve spent to get it or the time I’ve spent reading it. Sometimes, if I’m in two minds about whether or not to actually look more closely at the advice I’ll use them too.

Firstly you need to figure out if the author actually knows what they’re talking about. This one is easy, you just have to do your research. If there’s even the tiniest bit of doubt about whether or not the author knows what they’re talking about then it’s time to get stuck in. Dig around the internet and check out the number of books that they have out besides the one that you have. Read the reviews of these books; see what others have to say and whether they found it useful or not. Even a simple Google search of their names will throw up all kinds of information that will shine some light on whether or not they are reliable and credible.

Secondly check to see if they practice what they preach, whether the advice that they give you is something that they do themselves. For writing guides it might be harder to see but then again writing advice is anything but one size fits all and how a person writes can often change from book to book. If it’s marketing advice dig around and check whether the author has any of the things that they encourage you to put in place, such as a Twitter, a blog and a Facebook page. Also make sure to check how recently they were updated. If it doesn’t seem like they do then step back because the red flags are flying and the alarm bells are ringing.

Mostly though, when it comes to accepting advice from new sources, it’s all about what your gut says. It’s fairly easy to separate the books by those who care about helping people from those books written for the sake of making money. Your instincts, the same instincts that drive you to write or read or knit or do any of those hobbies that you love and make important life choices, will steer you in the right direction. All you have to do is listen to them.

3) Putting Advice Into Practice

There are a lot of different ways for a writer to put the advice that they read into practice. The best way though is to simply do it. If you read something, a technique that another author uses and it interests you then just try it. You have nothing to lose. If it doesn’t work for you then it doesn’t work for you, just put it aside and move on. Remember writing processes and techniques are not one size fits all but you never know what will work for you until you try it. There is nothing wrong with trying and failing. Thomas Edison after all said “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Trying is learning and learning takes time. It’s as simple as that. The only way to actually fail at using advice that you read is to not use it at all. Advice is there to be used, it wants to be used. So use it.

Another thing to remember (and this is something that I occasionally forget) is that you don’t have to stick to advice like glue. And this applies to all advice. The clue is in the name, it’s ADVICE, not actual rules. In the (badly quoted) words of Captain Barbosa, ‘they’re more like guidelines than actual rules’. There is not some form of writing police that will appear and take away your pen and paper if you don’t follow the advice you’ve been given to the letter. No one is looking over your shoulder, judging you for how you use the advice. That’s all behind the scenes and no one really pays too much attention to what goes on behind the scenes. If you use a piece of advice and tweak it, no one is going to judge you. Writing advice is not set in stone and one book won’t work for everyone. The best books on writing advice are those that express this and remind you again and again.

A Few Things To Remember

Advice, of any kind, is there to give you somewhere to work from. You can adapt it, alter it, change it to fit you. Sometimes advice will be something that you may never have thought of for yourself but that actually works really really well. I’ve discovered this so many times that I’ve lost count. I’ve also learnt that how I use the advice can change and develop over time. Sometimes I’ve used a method for quite a long time and then suddenly it doesn’t work for me anymore. And that’s the thing to remember. Writing advice is about learning, finding possibly new ways to hone your skills and improve your writing. And as we learn we develop and change. Who we were when we read one piece of advice is not always going to be the same person when we read the same piece of advice a few months or years later. Advice leads to learning and learning leads to growth. It’s as simple as that.

So What’s My Advice?

The most important piece of advice I can give you about advice is; “Don’t be afraid of reading writing advice but remember to use what you’ve learned” and “Just Write”.

You always need to remember that these books exist to help you but more often than not their primary objective is to make the author money. Please don’t be put off by this and refuse to read any more advice but please remember it when deciding which books to buy. Some people out there really do want to help writers develop and you can usually tell this by their writing style or whatever else they have (such as a podcast or a blog). Sometimes I get my books from blogs that I read; the author creates compilations of their posts and extends them a bit more to create whole books about writing (such as Chuck Wendig or David Gaughran). Some books I’ve gotten from writers who do podcasts on the subject and I know practice what they preach and have the number of books published to prove it (for example Johnny B Truant and Sean Platt of the Self Publishing Podcast fame).

Others you can tell aren’t in it for the money but because they love writing (I’m talking of course about Stephen King. After all, let’s face it, he’s got so many books in so many different media that he doesn’t really NEED more money.). These people have written these advice books because they want to help writers, they want to make the craft that they are a part of greater and more welcoming for everyone and they want to bring the magic back into story telling. Or they just want to help people avoid the horrible cock ups that they might have made as they were starting out.

But just in case you’re wondering about what books I would suggest, those I know are written with the intention of helping writers rather than making money (although it is a handy little bonus) here they are;

These are all the ones that I’ve read. I know that many writers have other books, full of writing and publishing advice out there, but I’m only recommending books that I have actually read. There are a lot of books out there full of writing advice and my best suggestion is to look for yourself.

Incidentally I’m also planning a series, reviewing books on writing (expected at a later date) but more on that some other time. For now I hope that you’ve enjoyed this, the first post of my Writer’s A to Z and keep an eye out for B next week.

But what about you? Do you have any advice about… advice? What’s some of the best writing advice that you’ve ever had? What has stuck with you and what has just seemed wrong? Let me know down in the comments and who knows, it might spark off another post one day.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

WiPpet Wednesday: Locked Up

It’s that time of the week again, that’s right, it’s WiPpet Wednesday. This week I’m sharing some more of the Autharium Project with you all. I really do need to come up with a new name for the story, one that I can actually use when I start searching for a cover artist and when it comes time to hit that publish button. After a week or so of making no progress I finally sat down yesterday and wrote almost an entire scene. That’s about 1,531 words for this particular scene. Now I’m not going to show you all of it, that would be silly. But I thought that I share with you the first part. I think I’ve done quite well with the world building here and the reader starts to see the kind of society that Kaya and her crew live in, or rather have escaped from.

To catch you up, Kaya has broken into Crown Haven’s dungeon, managed to make her way to Marrick and make her escape. It was all a trap though and the ‘lovely’ Arnoth Bay caught her and her crew and put them on trial before the Council of Elders. Understandably, as pirates, she and her crew were sentenced to hang until Bay stepped in and offered a deal; they get something for him and they take their chances fighting in the civil war plaguing the Empire. Kaya, naturally tells him no and now they’re stuck in the dungeon, arguing amongst themselves about what to do.

“We don’t even know what the Oracle looks like!” Keiran cried “It could be absolutely massive or the size of a thimble. It’s a death trap taking on this journey,”
“It’s a chance to live,” growled Carrock “A chance for us all to live and go back to our lives,”
“Go back to the front lines you mean,” Carter said, “Or did you miss the bit where Bay said we would be sent there as cross bow fodder should we succeed? We aren’t going to come out of this alive, whichever choice we make. Taking this mission is just postponing the inevitable,”
“At least on the front lines we know what we’re dealing with,” Cassie said, glaring at Carter “We have a chance there! We can fight and we can survive long enough for Bay to forget all about us,”
“You mean the men will have a chance to survive,” Carter said dryly “Or did you forget that women don’t have a place in the Empire’s military too? You won’t get to serve on the ships, you’ll serve at the ports, spreading your legs for whichever pathetic flier has enough silver to line your master’s pockets,”
The cells descended into shouting and yelling, much as it had done for the past two days. It was the eve of the hanging and Kaya had grown tired of the constant talk. Marrick was a little better, able to sit up by himself now but it made little difference, he would soon be swinging from the gallows just like the rest of them. Kaya watched as her crew grew more and more irate. These men and women were not made to be confined, to be locked up within four walls. They were meant to roam free, like the mountain eagles. The confinement, the constant threat of death and the promise that was dangled before them was so tempting but so dangerous, were all wearing thin on everyone’s nerves.

And then, right on cue, came the whistling and slow footsteps of Arnoth Bay, for the third time that day, the arguments died down into silence.

As always this is completely pure and unedited, exactly as I wrote it yesterday. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what’s there.

Is the world building nice and subtle enough? Is Carter being a bit too mean? Do all my characters sound the same (because that’s something I’m a little worried about)? What do you like about it? What do you hate about it?

Let me know down in the comments and keep an eye out on Friday for a new Series of posts that I’m starting.

Friday, 8 August 2014

The Three Act Structure: Act Three

Three weeks ago I started a series about the Three Act Structure, a writing structure, no THE writing structure, that is commonly used by writers everywhere. If you’re telling a story, reading a story, or even watching a story, in any media it’s likely that it’s there. Not everyone uses one, not intentionally, but it’s one of those key plotting tools that helps you plan your story and helps with revisions. And most of the time it sort of comes along through intuition. Sometimes you don’t even realise you’re using one.

As always what I write is not fact, it’s just how I see the Three Act Structure from what I’ve read. If you want to find out about the Three Act Structure just search it on Google and you’ll find plenty of results. My first post in the series was an introduction of sorts, my rambling view about what the Three Act Structure, as a whole, is in my mind. My second post was an in-depth look at the key plot points that I use in my First Act. And my third post, surprise surprise, was about the occasional swamp known as the Second Act. This week though I’m looking at what can be one of the hardest acts to write...

Act Three!

Why Should I Care About The Third Act?

The Third Act is one of the most important parts of your story. Then again I’ve said that about all three Acts. But I’m super serious this time. The Third Act is where all your hard work, all of the hard work of the characters, comes together and creates a big explosion that leaves the audience gasping for breath (metaphorically speaking, not literally, that could lead to lawsuits and we can’t afford those). Everything that you’ve spent weeks, months, maybe even years, working towards has finally come together and born fruit. You wrap everything up, satisfy the audience’s questions and then, if you’re writing a series, smack them in the face with another question. Either way this is the end and whether or not you want to publish your book you should be proud that you’ve reached it.

What’s The Third Act All About Then?

The Third Act is that final milestone in writing a book, it’s where everything comes together and explodes (sometimes literally) and your characters (and readers) finally get some closure. But throughout the Third Act you need to keep amping up that pressure, raising the stakes higher and higher than they’ve been raised before, putting more on the line for the characters to lose. And then let it all go in a way that the reader finds enjoyable and plausible. Or you could be a really evil person and just not give them that and have everyone die at the end. (I’m looking at you George R.R. Martin.) Questions are finally answered, plot points are finally done and everyone gets their happy ending (most of the time). If this is a series of books than the seeds that you planted back in Acts One and Two begin to sprout and you leave some sort of a cliff hanger that gets people to keep reading.

What Goes In To The Third Act?

So know you know why the Third Act is there and why it’s so important, let’s have a look at what goes into Act Three (at least in my humble opinion). Some of these points have different names that they are known by but it’s clear what exactly goes into each at first glance. As usual I want to look at each one a little more closely. But first a quick list of what the plot points are;
  1. Revelations 
  2. All Seems Lost 
  3. Self-sacrifice/Symbolic Death 
  4. Final Showdown aka Climax 
  5. Denouement/Epilogue

At the end of Act Two you would have had a huge obstacle come up, just when your characters were starting to get along once more. This obstacle is defeated in the beginning of Act Three and to be honest it could just hang around for a while if you wanted it to. But whatever happens, Act Three starts with some...


After everything that’s happened in the second act, where it looked like your characters would never pull together to defeat the Big Bad of their story it finally looks like it might happen at last. You start to think that maybe things are going to work out for them and they’ll get their happy ending right? Right? WRONG! This plot point is where things start to go tits up (if you’ll excuse the expression). The revelations of big secrets, and I’m talking government crumbling secrets here, or the start of an attack threatens to once again drive our characters apart, even if it is because the good guys have just seen the size of the enemy’s army and wants to run away. It sounds similar to the Division plot point in the Second Act. It is really but on a much larger scale. These revelations threaten to pull everything apart and I mean everything, not just our merry band of adventurers. Comparing the arguements and division that spills from these secrets to the previous arguements is like comparing World War 2 to a toddler’s tantrum, ie. They may both come from a similar source but the results are a hell of a lot worse in the first one.

The key here is that you are building up the tension, getting ready for the big climax and putting the key players and problems in place. Things cannot look like they’ll go right for our heroes, the reader needs to seriously doubt that they’ll succeed or even start shouting at the page/screen for them to just turn around and run away as fast as their little legs can carry them. This doubt only makes the next plot point more powerful, when....

All Seems Lost

This is another high point of tension. There might be a few scenes before it for decompression, in fact there should be if you don’t want your readers to have a heart attack but once again the tension needs to go up ANOTHER level. Exactly as the name of the point says, everything needs to seem lost. The heroes are nowhere to be seen or they’re on the other side of the country, someone is seriously injured or they can’t find the key to the dungeon holding the alchemist that can save them all (you can tell I write fantasy can’t you). Whatever the problem is it’s got to be BAD! They have to risk losing everything. In fact, if you’re feeling particularly evil you could write two endings from this point on, making it very clear that everyone could end up in a dead gooey mess. Of course you scrap the bad ending once your done but having the idea of how things can go wrong can help you see how things need to go for the happy ending while keeping all of that juicy tension and doubt.

The reader should no longer doubt that the characters will fail, they need to know that the characters will fail. The ideal feeling here is that your reader wants to throw the book away and go do something else (possibly cuddle a bunch of puppies or bunnies) but they also want to know exactly how badly the characters screw everything up. They keep reading not because they think there’s still a chance that the heroes will win but because they want to know how the heroes fail and the consequences. Of course this is a very difficult thing to pull off and it’s not always necessary for it to be completely gut wrenchingly painful but it helps. And then things just keep getting worse as you go into the next plot point and it’s all about...

Self Sacrifice/Symbolic Death

That’s right. Someone dies. Well ok, not necessarily although it can be really really fun to kill of your characters in horrible unspeakable ways (trust me I’ve done it and it was actually a wonderful source of stress relief). But in all seriousness, this is yet another high tension moment, preferably sprinkled with a little bit of relief to take the edge off. Your characters have to sacrifice something, whether it’s their morals, their favourite sword, their innocence or yes, even their life. Something has to change, a death of sorts, before they can go any further.

This means that as your characters get closer and closer to the big battle scene, that final climax, they’re going in weaker than they were before (even if they didn’t think that was possible). They’re bruised, they’re battered, they’re scarred emotionally physically and mentally, they’re going to need therapy for decades if you’ve been an evil author (again looking at you Martin!). And they’ve done it all by choice this time.
But what this sacrifice or death has to do is seal their determination. It gives them that little extra push to beat the bad guy, flips that switch inside them from ‘for the greater good’ to ‘now it’s personal’. They have something to prove and they don’t want the sacrifice to be in vain. So all fired up they head off to the...

The Final Showdown

Did you read that in the action film voiceover guy’s voice because I did. The final showdown is exactly how it sounds. It’s the big climax, that big fight which sends the Big Bad running off into the night for good. Things have fallen into place, the tension is soaring and stuff’s going down. You can be a cruel person and have it all over quickly and simply but most of the time that’s considered an anti-climax and it will show in the reviews. In a comedy that would work but for most other genres it doesn’t really pull its weight and again readers will want to beat you with a big stick. There needs to be a struggle, the reader needs to think, even for a split second, that things aren’t going to work. You can have everything fall apart and all your characters end up dead but you need to remember that there’s a special place in Hell (or whichever realm of punishment and torment you believe in) for people who do that. It’s not nice, I hear they make you listen to Justin Beiber over and over.

You need to remember that not all your characters have to make it. In fact it’s better if they don’t sometimes and your readers are left crying in a heap on the floor or go fetal in a corner. Some of your characters, including main characters, should survive, most of them really if you can, and the characters that do die are usually side characters that people get unusually attached to or one of the main characters (again R.R. Martin seems to ignore this rule and does what he wants). This is the big wrap up point, where all the plot lines begin coming to a close and that tension is released as the Big Bad is vanquished. The characters might not come out completely unscathed but that’s all sorted out in one way or another in...

The Denouement

This is the epilogue. It can be as long or as short as you want it to be. This is the chance for you and your readers to wind down after the big battle scene. It’s the point where the characters clean up the wreckage of the last battle and start pulling themselves together again. They’re changed and the reader is changed but usually there’s some hope that things go back to normal. The characters celebrate and grab normal life once more. They get drunk, they get married, they party like they’ve survived the end of the world (which let’s face it, they sort of have). However they choose to let go of all that tension, it’s a chance for the reader to do so too before they put the book aside forever or until they want to read it again (either works).

This is also the final point where you wrap up all those little sub-plots that were left dangling. The hero gets the girl, the heroine gets the guy, the hero gets the guy, they have a big orgy, whatever! The characters find happiness and get ready for their ride into the sunset and their happy ever after. It’s also sometimes the place where writers like to stick in a few seeds for sequels, leaving one or two sub-plots unresolved or the seeds that were planted earlier begin to bloom. However you wrap things up is good and it’s all up to you. Just don’t leave the promise of a next book if you don’t plan on writing it any time soon. There’s nothing more evil than that (except maybe Hitler... maybe). If you’re only vaguely considering the idea of the sequel then don’t leave too many open points, just one or two things that weren’t wrapped up quite too well, for the reader to grab on to in the next (potential) book.

So there we have it. Act Three in a... fairly large nutshell. With the tension going all haywire at every point in the third act you can see why writing the Third Act can be done so quickly, the action and tension drives the writer on, makes their fingers fly over the keyboard as thought after thought flows from their minds to the page.

So If It’s So Easy To Write Why Do So Many Writers Struggle With It?

Look at all those spikes of tension, the ups and downs and downright torture that writers put their characters through in those last chapters! No human being can write so much tension for too long. It can become emotionally exhausting, mentally exhausting, hell, physically exhausting as your fingers try to keep up with your brain. I’ve written incredibly tense scenes for the climaxes before and when they’ve been done, even though the book isn’t quite finished I’ve had to ignore it for a few days, writing took that much away from it. Knowing how draining writing can be, understanding that writers draw the emotions and feelings of the book from themselves you can begin to see why writers often have to take a break from writing, why it can take so long for them to return to editing or start planning the next book. Just as a reader is exhausted reading it and needs a nice lie down, the writer becomes emotionally wiped and literally cannot spare any unnecessary emotion. They can’t wring out anything else, not even for their families and friends in real life, they are drained! They have to take the time to refill themselves.

And that’s it for this series. It’s taken a while, an entire month in fact but I’ve proven to myself that I can finish a series of blog posts with the right amount of planning and outlining, just like with writing a novel. I hope that you’ve learned something, enjoyed reading or simply wondered why I’ve not been committed yet. Whatever you take away from this I hope it’s something positive and that you can put what you may have learned into practice. And who knows, maybe I’ll have another series up soon.

But what do you think? In your opinion have I summed up the key points of the Third Act well enough for you? Are there any bits and pieces that I’ve left out? Have I gone into too much detail? Which points do you follow when you’re writing? Which leave you the most exhausted? The most energised? What do you want me to write about next? What part of the weird and wacky world of writing do you want my deranged perspective on next time? Let me know in the comments down below.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

WiPpet Wednesday: A Darker Side of the Heroine

Here we are, another Wednesday, another Work in Progress. I actually quite enjoy doing these to be honest, it’s nice to get some feedback from people regarding my writing, especially which characters they really like.

This week I’ve returned to the Autharium Project (that really needs a new title) and we take a visit to Crown Haven’s lovely neighbourhood dungeon. Captain Kaya has finally managed to track down the wayward Marrick (who you all loved last time) and they’ve gone to get him out of whatever trouble he’s in. Of course, being pirates, she and her crew haven’t exactly taken the front door. But when they get inside they begin to realise that all is not as it seems and it’s definitely going to be harder to get Marrick out than they expected and we begin to see a darker side of our heroine.

She rushed through and knelt by Marrick’s head, gently brushing the matted and bloody hair back from his face.
 His eyes were bruised and battered, one so purple and swollen that he could barely get it open. The skin had split, leaving a line of blood to trickle down one cheek and a oozing mass of black clotted blood filled the wound. His nose was swollen too, bent out of shape like it was broken. His lip was split down the middle and bruises covered his face. Some were yellow and green, telling the tale of strikes made days ago, others were purple and black, only hours old. Marrick tried to sit up, grabbing at Kaya’s hands but he was too weak, his body too damaged for him to be able to.
“You shouldn’t have come,” he whispered quietly, his voice thick and rasping “It’s what he wanted.”
 “He doesn’t know I’m here,” Kaya whispered back, stroking her hand through his bloody hair

“We’ll get you out of here.”

“We’ll get you out of here.”
 She slowly climbed to her feet and rounded on Malcolm who had drawn closer as she had tended to her injured friend.
 “What did you do to him?!” she hissed.
 Malcolm didn’t answer, he was gazing at Marrick with shock on his face, the blood drained from his features leaving his skin an ashy white colour.
 “I didn’t do this,” he said slowly, horror in his voice as he shook his head “I had no idea things were this bad, I swear. Bay took him to a room, said he wanted to have a little chat. I didn’t know he was doing this to him.”
 “If I find out that you had any part in this…” she said. She suddenly reached for Malcolm and pulled him close, hissing in his face “I swear that I will kill every person that you love and make you watch,”

There we are. I hope that you like it. Is it mysterious enough for you? Do you want to know more about this Bay chappy? Are you getting the hint that Kaya and Marrick are more than good friends? (Hint: they are) Who is this strange Malcolm chap? Will they manage to get out? As usual let me know what you think in the comments below and please, don’t hold back.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

RoW80 Sunday Check In

This last week has been not so great. For some reason I hit it hard last week and then have had very little success this week. That’s ok though, my goals are all about building habits, not just hitting a word count each day. People say that it takes 3 weeks to really build a habit and I’ve only really focused for one week. So I’m not going to let it get me down, not as much as it did the week before last. Instead I’m going to chalk it up as a learning curve, write off this last week and try again next week. I’m going to keep things simple, make sure I take my time and focus on what I’m doing when I’m doing it rather than always focusing ahead. But enough of what’s to come, let’s look at what I’ve done;

Post 1 blog post other than a RoW80 check in a week –   I did this one. Normally I post two, one on Wednesday and one on Friday. I missed Friday’s post, the last post in my three act structure series because I had a migraine and couldn’t face using the computer. But I did do my WiPpet Wednesday post so I’m happy with that. Progress –  Excellent

30 Minutes on social media a day – Once more this has been slacking a little. I’ve been tweeting and posting on LinkedIn, commenting on blogs and responding to comments here. But I’ve not been spending my 30 minutes each day. I need to improve this, focus my attention and figure out where I’m going to be social each day. Progress – Improving

Spend 1 hour doing a creative activity each day – I’ve not been writing this week, not a single word on Autharium Project. It still needs a name, it still needs a cover, it still needs to be written. So overall this one has not gone well. Progress – Completely terrible

Spend 1 hour doing a different creative activity each day – I have done some outlining on my webcomic idea this week, I’ve been working on the Feral Diaries read through and edits. I’ve also done some sketching which has been really nice to get into. It’s not been every day though but it has been done. Progress – Needs Improvement

Start and try for completion of projects on the order day – I’ve slowly been working away at my projects, completing work and getting more. Hopefully, so that I can build up more work and actually afford the hosting fees (more on that later), I will be focusing more on gaining further work this week. Progress – Improving

Overall it’s been a meh week. But I’m really not sad about it. I’ve tried, I’ve failed, the important thing is that I’m going to be getting right back up tomorrow and trying again. It’s when I stop trying that things are going to be bad. And looking through how I’ve been doing, the goals that I’ve been consistently hitting and the ones that I consistently fail, I can see where I’m strong and where I’m weak and how I can change that.

My goal about posting twice a week seems to be one of the goals that I am consistently reaching, in fact I think that I’ve reached it every week this round so far. I’ve even started to post more than the twice I was aiming for. I’m going to keep it as is for now though as I’m planning to relocate my blog and my updates after a receiving a lot of advice regarding establishing my own website that supports website, particularly from the wonderful and friendly Tammy J Rizzo (another RoW80 member who’s blog you should definitely check out). So that’s the big thing in the pipeline for the month of August, hopefully things won’t go too horribly wrong.

In the meantime, between sorting out website copy, photographs, all kinds of bits and pieces that need to go on the website I’ll be plugging away as usual with work, writing and editing. I’ll more than likely do a series of posts about how it is setting up a website for those people who, just like me, don’t really know what they’re doing. And hopefully, by next week I’ll be partway there and hitting more of my goals.

What do you think? Have I let myself down terribly after a brilliant week last week? Was it something that you expected? Does anyone have any advice for setting up a blog slash website? Anyone know of a good hosting plan that supports Wordpress? Do you have suggestions and advice for time management? What should my rewards be for when I hit each goal each day?

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

WiPpet Wednesday: A Peek at the Feral Diaries

Hey guys, it’s Wednesday again and you know what that means! WiPpet Wednesday. But first let’s have a bit of a catch up.

Everything else in life is going swimmingly, projects are getting worked on, blogs are getting prepared and clients are getting their orders. Things slowed down a little in comparison to how productive I was last week and I am a little sad about that but I knew that there was no way that I could keep working at that pace without a small break. I’m not used to it, I’d burn out. But I have to keep plugging away and no matter how much I’d love to just sit and do nothing I know that I’d end up bored and feeling guilty for not making the best use of my time. So I’m slowly chipping away at my To-Do list. But enough about that. Let’s move on to something that you’re actually interested in;

WiPpet Wednesday!

Now usually I go with something from the Autharium Project but this week I decided to give you a preview of one of my other Works in Progress. Now I’ve mentioned it several times and in fact if you go to my WiPpage here on the blog you can see exactly how many books there are in the series, or at least how many I intend there to be. That’s right, this week you get a look at the monstrosity that I’ve been working on for over a year, since 2012 in fact; Feral Diaries. Now the name’s not set yet but I do have a rough cover. It’s the editing that’s taking the longest but I’m slowly powering through and it should be ready for a rewrite by the end of the summer. In fact I’ve set that as a deadline right now in my little diary. 
As you can see I have no life in October
By 26th October the edits and read through will be complete and I will be ready to begin the rewrite (which incidentally is already looking like it’s going to be a big one). 
So... where are we in the story? The ferals have begun to emerge, the violent aggressive and animalistic victims of a mutated vaccine, and the British government have no idea how to handle it. Our hero Hannah, isn’t too scared of the Ferals, at least not at first and then she meets one.

I saw two Ferals chase down this poor man. I hadn’t realised that they had spread this far but apparently I was wrong. As they were chasing this man they were snarling and growling at him and each other. I never thought that a human throat could make those sounds. It was like what I’d heard on the Animal Channel as lions and hyenas brought down a full grown elephant. The Ferals caught the man and seemed barely out of breath. As they brought him down and started eating him he was still alive and screaming. I could hear his bones crunching and the wet sounds of meat being pulled from his bones and chewed. I had trouble sleeping that night and for a few nights since. Nightmares have plagued me ever since. It was horrible to watch but I couldn’t turn away, like a car crash. Just thinking and remembering makes me shake and shiver. I’m not ashamed to admit that I lost my lunch, there and then, decorating the slabs of the town square with multi-coloured chunks of food. I went home quickly with the acidic tang of bile settled deep in the back of my throat. I barely saw the soldiers surround the Ferals and put them down. I heard the shots though. They aren’t so unusual now.

This is completely unedited, I’ve not even put in any of the notes that I made doing my read-through. It’s discombobulated and rambling and I know that it’s going to need work. This is just one small passage and you can see what’s needed, you can see how much editing and rewriting I have ahead of me. There are hundreds more passages, each as bad as this one, that I need to fix. If you want to see how much worse things are in some of the other entries you can check out the entire index of entries that I've put up so far over on Live Journal.

But what do you think of that passage? Does apocalyptic fiction draw you in? Is it nice to see a change from the usual zombie fiction? Should I focus more on the people than the Ferals? Can you think of a better name for human beings that have reverted to their basic animal instincts? As always let me know in the comments below and I’ll get back to each and every one of you.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

RoW80 Check In: What a Change!

This week has been a complete U-turn in comparison to last week. I’m not longer feeling so down, my productivity has peaked again and I’ve been getting so much more done with my writing that I thought I would be able to. More importantly I’m enjoying myself again, feeling that passion for writing which drove me to take up the pen and the keyboard in the first place. This week has been a week of discovery and rediscovery for me. I’m waking up earlier, sleeping better and getting so much more done. I discovered that I’m more productive in the mornings, not long after I first wake up about 7:30, that I like to take a two hour break for lunch to recharge and that when my parents come home from work I tend to meander in what I do but by 8pm I’m usually back at the computer working.

For the first time since I started this round I’m actually doing stuff that is on my goal list without having to put it on my daily to do list. I’ve made my goals into my habit, pretty much as I hoped to do. Without even meaning to I take part in social media, using it to build contacts and spread ideas as I lay on the sofa during my breaks. I write more often and for longer than I need to. I’m making major progress on a lot of things and I’m just so happy. But enough about how I’m a happy springy bunny in comparison to last week, let’s take a look at how my goals went;

Post 1 blog post other than a RoW80 check in a week –   I’ve actually begun to post twice a week now, on Wednesday with WiPpet Wednesday and on Fridays with my 3 Act Structure series. It’s amazing to me that without meaning to I’ve created a schedule and I’ve already got a bunch of posts lined up for the weeks to come. Progress –  Excellent

30 Minutes on social media a day – As I’ve said already I’ve been doing this without realising. I’ve been commenting on LinkedIn group discussions, talking to people on Twitter and I’ve also made more changes to my Facebook page. It hasn’t gone live yet though, I’m still waiting to sort out my profile pictures before I do that. Progress – Major improvements

Spend 1 hour doing a creative activity each day – Most days this week I’ve been either writing for the Autharium Project or jotting down blog post ideas. Sometimes I’ve even been writing the posts themselves, getting them ready to for editing and then publication. I might not spend a complete hour on one project but I’ve spent an hour doing something creative, split over different things. As long as I keep the productivity going, for me, that’s all that matters. Progress – Excellent

Spend 1 hour doing a different creative activity each day – I’ve actually managed to do this properly this week, every day I’ve been either editing or outlining. I’ve discovered that I prefer to edit with the tv on in the background, giving me something to listen to and watch between edits. I usually do this in the living room, with the family around so I can actually be near real people for a change instead of sitting in all on my own in my room/office. Hopefully I can keep this up into the next week. Progress – Excellent

Start and try for completion of projects on the order day – I’ve had a big project come through with my freelancing this week, as well as a few enquiries that I’m chasing up to see if there’s any work to be had there. Although I’ve not managed to complete the projects that I do have on the same day as they were ordered (5,000 words is a lot to write in one day on one thing) I’ve begun to write them as soon as they were ordered, meaning that I complete projects quicker and the money rolls in. More importantly I do my work on them before I do anything else. Progress – Excellent

So that’s it. This week has been great for me in terms of productivity, work ethic and general happiness. I go to bed tired each night and sleep fantastically. I don’t feel guilty for spending time away from the computer because I’ve actually done more of what I was meant to do that day and I can do the rest when everyone else has gone to bed.

On a side note I’m considering moving this blog over to Wordpress. Blogger keeps messing up the formatting on my posts even though they display fine on the preview and I’ve just been hearing a lot of good things about Wordpress and have for a while. I started this blog back in 2011 and I didn’t really know much about the blogosphere and which hosts were better. I just chose the one that my friend suggested (incidentally she’s since relocated to Wordpress and is now encouraging me to do the same). I also didn’t know what I would blog about at the time, just going with whatever caught my fancy, hence the meandering posts if you read through the archives. Now though I know, I have a clear idea and I’m torn.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. If I do move the blog over I’ll probably bring all the posts from June onwards over too, as well as any really useful ones that I made in the past. What do you think? Should I stay where I am? Or should I move? Do I risk losing the 6 followers I have on Blogger by moving to the more commonly used Wordpress? Is Wordpress as good as I’ve heard? How would you go about switching the blog? And don’t forget the goals progress. Am I getting too ahead of myself? Do I need to slow down or run the risk of burning out? Have I been too optimistic in my view of what I’ve achieved this week?

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Three Act Structure: Act Two

Two weeks ago I started a series about the Three Act Structure, a writing structure, no THE writing structure, that is commonly used by writers everywhere. If you’re telling a story, reading a story, in any media it’s likely that you use it. Not everyone uses one, not intentionally, but it’s one of those key plotting tools that helps you plan your story and helps with revisions. Sometimes you don’t even realise you’re using one.

As always what I write is not fact, it’s just how I see the Three Act Structure from what I’ve read. If you want to find out about the Three Act Structure just search it on Google and you’ll find plenty of results. My first post in the series was an introduction of sorts, my rambling view about what the Three Act Structure, as a whole, is in my mind. My second post was an in-depth look at the key plot points that I use in my First Act. This week though I’m looking at my favourite Act...

Act Two!!

But What Is The Second Act?

The Second Act is the meatiest, juiciest part of the story. It’s where the pain problems happen, it’s where there’s the most character development and the tension is constantly changing, taking the reader on a happy joyride that keeps them turning the page. The Second Act can be as long or as short as you want it to be. There can be three obstacles for your characters to overcome or there can just be the one, or there could be ten (but that can get a little boring to read). It’s all up to you.

For some reason though a lot of people have trouble with writing the Second Act, even planning it can leave them scratching their heads in confusion. More often than not the Second Act in many stories, particularly those from beginner writers, can be weak and rambling. The writer forgets to include the rising and falling tension, to put obstacles in their protagonist’s way, or puts so many in their way it starts to feel like a ‘one thing after another’ story (kind of like the end of Return of the King).

Image courtesy of this site

Why Is It So Important?

This Act is all about character development. The characters start to change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst. Their development isn’t quite complete though, that comes in the Third Act (but more on that another day). More often than not the character develops in slightly the wrong direction. But however the character changes, why the character changes, is all explained, or rather shown, in this Act. By the end of the Second Act there must be a clear difference between how the protagonist and other characters were when they first appeared to how they are now. Their attitudes, their ideas, their goals, all of it will have changed in some way. And it needs to be most of the characters that appear regularly who change, not just your protagonist or things could seem a little flat.

The Second Act is also about conflict. In the Second Act the obstacles come from all over the place; the protagonist can be their own worst enemies and cause more problems than they fix, the antagonist can keep throwing problems at them to keep them distracted from the real problems, or another person could come along and stir things up a bit. The protagonist’s goals crash up against the goals of other characters, the bad guy’s goals conflict with the good guy’s goals. They have to fight things, overcome things, even overcome their own problems. The Second Act is all about fighting and overcoming and sometimes it keeps happening and happening, repeating itself over and over as the characters head towards that final showdown in Act Three.

So What’s In The Second Act

Now, there are dozens of plot points that can be included in the Second Act, hundreds of ways that your story can go and any number of repetitions that can be made. But I have 5 points that I use when I’m planning my Second Act, 5 points that I try to hit when I’m writing. They are;
  1. New Situation
  2. Transformation
  3. Unification
  4. Division
  5. Crisis Hits

You can probably see that things get worse then get better and then suddenly get worse and worse. You’d more than likely have a couple of ‘nice’ scenes in between some of the more high tension scenes, something to help the reader calm down. But that’s your choice, for now let’s get into a little more detail with each of these points.

New Situation

This is where the protagonist is forced into a new situation and has to adapt to it in order to overcome the obstacle that blocks them from their goal. Usually this obstacle is introduced in at the end of the previous Act and the protagonist has to take a step into the unknown before they can properly overcome the obstacle that stands in their way. Ideally they should only fail once, when trying to use what is familiar and comfortable to them, and then succeed using new knowledge that they’ve gained. Too much failure can be annoying and repetitive for readers and writers alike. After a certain point it’s no longer telling a good story but more like flogging a dead dog in front of a bunch of school children; painful and scarring. While it’s true that sometimes readers love to hate the writer, having them actively despise you for something like that is a little bit pointless and only George R.R. Martin can really get away with it because he seems to enjoy being hated.

But yes, back to the topic at hand. This is an excellent chance for character development with everything being shiny and new for them. They can have their views of the world challenged, be forced to question everything that they once knew or even just learn to do something that they’re really crappy at. The character needs to change a little bit, move away from who they first were in some way, whether good or bad. Whether this change is good or bad remains to be seen but the change needs to happen in order for them to overcome the obstacle that’s in their way. That happens at the end of this plot point and leads smoothly on to...


Like the name of the plot point says, this is all about change. The character changes noticeably here, for all sorts of reasons. The character develops and alters to fit a new mould that they have either created for themselves or that has been pushed upon them.

Also this is an excellent point to shove in those extra sub-plots; that romance line with the girl next door, new characters who want to be where the protagonist is or want to help the protagonist get to where they want to be. There needs to be conflict there though, forcing yet more change as the protagonist adapts to these new experiences. They can be mini obstacles in themselves, things that force the characters to develop as people in order to overcome them. These are little things that continue throughout the rest of the story and the series if that’s what you’re writing. This could be the perfect place to plant the seeds for the problems of the next book. They don’t need to be big or obvious but they can be there. Of course all this changing and growing can lead to...


This is the point where, exactly as the name suggests, the characters unify, coming together to fight the most important fight of their lives (at least so far). This can be done by them either talking through their problems (although this can be a bit boring if it’s just talking without any tension), fighting it out and getting over it or being the bigger people and putting aside their issues to focus on the big picture. Usually it’s the later, the characters coming together despite what they might think of each other in order to overcome whatever the big problem of the story is. There can (and should) still be a simmering resentment and anger at each other though, just below the surface lending an extra facet to all of their interactions. However they come together, all that matters is that they have done it and plan to stay united no matter what.

It’s also generally the point where the main character finally invests in fighting the problem and being the part of the solution. Sometimes they can be practically giddy at the thought of it, might believe themselves ready to take on the Big Bad, even if they actually aren’t. Or they can still be completely unsure but know that it’s something they have to do. This is often the stage where the protagonist’s biggest character flaw comes into play, sowing seeds that come to fruit in the next plot point. Which is...


Yup that’s right. You’ve just got all your characters playing nicely together when suddenly they start fighting again. Isn’t that just the way? Yet another obstacle appears, the group separates and everything seems that little bit harder to overcome. It all links together really. Secrets or resentment finally boil over and the characters are driven apart, overwhelmed with negative feelings for each other. This division can create a problem, another obstacle in the way to their overarching goal and because they can’t work together and play nice they just can’t get over that obstacle. It threatens to be the end of it all. Sometimes it can even be the obstacle which causes the division. Even though they get past it eventually, another problem comes up and because they’re too busy being mad at each other they just can’t crack it. This threatens to become an ever repeating circle, obstacles driving them further and further apart and the reader might seriously start to think that they will fail.

This is where the story really starts to pick up pace. The tension is gearing up towards the final confrontation and our characters are beginning to realise that they really weren’t as ready as they thought. In fact sometimes this can be where the protagonist loses all hope that they will succeed, doubts every single move that they make, but will keep trucking through because that’s what has to be done. And eventually, when they stop behaving like big babies they reunite and finally beat that problem, cheering like heroes and the reader’s there cheering right with them. Things start to look up for your characters and the reader starts to believe that the characters might actually succeed. But then...

Crisis Hits

This is the big point, that boiling point, right at the end of Act Two where it’s do or die, things are going down and it’s not really clear if all of your characters will make it. It isn’t THE Climax though, the final confrontation between the good guys and the bad guys, the Big Bad versus the White Hats. No, that moment comes later, in Act Three. This is like a practice game, the match a team plays to get ready for the final game. The stakes are still high though, the other team is still tough and they still have important things riding on the match but it’s not The Match.

Don’t get me wrong though, this is an important point. It’s a chance to show that the characters have grown, that they are one unit once more and that they can kick serious ass. It’s that point in any chick flick where the leading lady puts on her big girl pants and starts making those changes that she’s been hoping someone else would make for her. This can be the point, when yet another obstacle comes up, that the protagonist and his band of merry men pull up their trousers and decide that they’ve had enough and they’re going to ride out and face it head on. This is the Turning Point, where characters have changed, mostly for the better, but they’re not all the way there yet and they’ve got this next obstacle to overcome in whatever form it takes. Whatever the reason they take it on and come out the other side, bruised but not beaten and ready to enter...


But that’s another post so keep an eye out for it soon, where I talk about Act Three and all the lovely gooey bits that go into it as you wrap up your story and finally get some closure. Maybe you’ll understand why some writers suggest starting from Act Three, knowing the ending before going to the start. Perhaps it’ll shine some light on why you felt so drained after finishing your book and explain why so many writers have to take a break after finishing a book. Finally you might see why so many writers take so long to finish even though they have the first two acts complete. Whatever you might learn I hope that it’s useful.

I hope that this post was useful too. Maybe it’s got you to think about the Second Act in a different way, given you some ideas to get over the dreaded second act slump or just fired you up to re-plan yours. Whatever you take from this I hope it’s something positive. Let me know in the comments below. Are there any points that you think still need to be included? Do you think that I’ve focused too much on some points and neglected others? Do you use a completely different structure for your second act? If so would you care to share? Is anyone actually reading this? Let me know and I’ll try to get back to each and every one of you.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

WiPpet Wednesday

So it’s Wednesday and I know that last week I did a RoW80 check in and a bit of WiPpet Wednesday. Well this week I’m just doing the WiPpet Wednesday instead of both. I think that two check ins a week is a little much, it’s only been like three days since I last checked in and while things are going a little better I don’t think it’s enough to really count. Plus I don’t want to keep bogging you all down with progress updates all the time instead of doing something fun and useful for my posts.

But I did enjoy the WiPpet Wednesday part. It was great to get even a little bit of feedback that I got and see what people think of what I have for the Autharium project so far. So without further ado, here is this week’s WiPpet. It’s about 400 words from a little further in and the story’s moved on a little more. We meet a somewhat sinister character, two very loyal friends and Kaya the pirate captain and leading lady of our story. Not everything is as it seems though and secrets are being hinted at. So far Kaya’s travelled to a port city to try and find the wayward Marrick who didn’t turn up when promised but she and her friends have been followed by a mysterious hooded figure. After laying a trap they have the man on his back. Keiran’s gotten to close though and the hooded figure just tried to slice his face off; that’s where we come in;

Kaya acted quickly, drawing her own sword and tapping it hard, flat side against the man’s elbow. He dropped the blade and swore, clutching his arm to his chest and glaring up at the captain from beneath his hood. Kaya tipped his chin back with her blade, forcing him to look her in the eye. She sucked in a surprised breath as the hood fell back to reveal shaggy blonde hair, piercing blue eyes and a strong stubble lined jaw.
 “So which of you do I have the pleasure of talking to today?” she said dryly. “Jareth or Gareth?” 
The man just smirked at her, dimples appearing in his cheeks and he laughed through his nose. 
“Jareth it is,” Kaya said. “What do you want?” 
She dug her sword harder into his clavicle, turning his smirk into a frown of pain. He didn’t move away though, didn’t try to break free of the blade. He just leaned backwards, propping himself up on his elbows. 
“Who says I’m Jareth?” he said eventually, glaring at Kaya with hatred. 
“Gareth has more dimples,” Kaya said and jabbed him with her blade “Now answer the question. What do you want? Why aren’t you at your master’s side?” 
“The Commander is a little… preoccupied at the moment shall we say?” said Jareth “He has made a new friend and is trying to find out a little more about him before he decides whether to keep him around or not,” 
“So you thought that you’d what? Slip free of your leash and come to pay little old me a visit for old times sake?” Kaya said sarcastically. 
“No.” Jareth said, looking at her in challenge “I came to warn you.” 
“Warn her? Warn her of what?” Keiran demanded to know, interrupting the conversation “You follow us, try to stab me and then want to warn her of something. What game are you playing?” 
“You should not take me trying to stab you too personally,” Jareth said, “I tend to try and stab everyone I meet.” 
“What are you wanting to warn me about Jareth?” snapped Kaya, losing patience. “And why?” 
“I owe you,” Jareth said simply “You saved Gareth’s life and I owe you for that. Now I have come to repay my debt,” 
“Bay would kill you for this,” Kaya said harshly “What’s your real reason?” 
“That is it,” Jareth said with a shrug, “Take it or leave it,” 
“Wait Bay?!” Enora cried, grabbing Kaya and forcing the other woman to look at her “Bay as in Arnoth Bay? Commander of the Air Navy and enemy of pirates everywhere. He works for Bay and you know him,” 
“Oh she knows us all very well,” Jareth said smoothly “Do you not Kalanya?” 
“Don’t call me that,” hissed Kaya, shoving her blade against his throat. “Don’t ever say that name again. Kalanya is dead and buried. I’m Kaya now,”

As you can see Kaya has a bit of a secret past that not even Keiran and Enora, two of her closest friends, know about. For the record Jareth and Gareth are twin brothers, one’s more psychopathic than the other but that’s not saying much. As for Bay... he’s the big bad of the story, or at least it looks that way for now. So what’s Jareth come to warn Kaya about? Who is Kalanya? Why on earth does Kaya know Jareth and Bay and what made her leave her past behind? I’m not totally sure yet but I’m sure that it’ll all be revealed in time. This was pure and unedited first draft prose, no polish, no second read-through, nothing. It has come out exactly as it was in my brain.

As always let me know what you think in the comments belo.? Is there lots of lovely tension? Are you wondering the same things that the characters are wondering? Who do you see as Jareth? Personally I see a younger version of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, (the guy who plays Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones) as Jareth but that’s just me. I always try to respond to any comments I may have and I really enjoy hearing from you all.