I was intent on writing a full thousand words today but…
I shall catch up later in the week.
I was intent on writing a full thousand words today but…
I shall catch up later in the week.
I am terrible at planning. I’ve said this before, but no matter how detailed a plan of a book I write, within a couple of chapters, I’ll have veered away from it into the dim and mysterious shadow lands of improvisation. Hell, ironing out those gaps is what editing is for, right?
Of course, occasionally that means I’ll write myself into a corner and it will take me a while to get myself out of it.
In the case of The Delta Children, that first roadblock has hit me about 20k words in. Id managed to get all my characters into a reasonable position to start a conflict, but the catalyst for that conflict was being distinctly unforthcoming.
Thankfully, my old adage of a jigsaw puzzle became appropriate again. I was sitting in work, and my brain woke up from its week-long state of fuzziness and began pelting me with ideas like a kid pelts a house with eggs on Halloween.
So, the ideas were there, but then came the necessity of getting them down on the page. I wasn’t sure how to get the whole world turned against the Deltas, but inspiration came from one of my wifes TV habits.
Bex watches the news pretty religiously, and more specifically in this case, she watches Channel 4 news. C4 news is hosted by thr legendary Jon Snow, (no, not that one. This one knows plenty,) and the presenters tend to have a rather… Combative style when it comes to interviewing government figures.
So, taking a leaf from their book, I wrote an extensive scene of an interview between a news presenter and a government representative dealing with the fallout of the Deltas escape. It was a pretty difficult scene to write, mainly becausw it is all dialogue. There was no quantifying action or statements in between the speeches, it basically reads like a transcript of the dialogue between the reporter and the government rep.
I’m actually really happy with the scene, enough that I may revisit the characters further down the line in the book. It was a definite challenge, and one that I enjoyed immensely, but more importantly, it will lead straight into the setup for the next major event of the book.
And that is something thats going to be straight out of the James Herbert side of the playbook.
Occasionally, I go dredging through my stories folder on google drive, and find fragments of stories I’ve started but not continued for whatever reason. I thought that I’d share one with you. It’s a rough cut, but maybe you’ll find something to like.
The silent man crested the hill, his boots kicking up spurts of dust from the landscape. He reached for his water skin, shook it slightly, testing how much remained inside the toughened leather.
“You need to find a source of moisture, Jericho. I’m detecting a possible source two kilometres to the north.”
The man named Jericho glanced up at the cloudless sky, a mute frown flashing briefly across his face. Far to the west, an airship was working it’s slow way across the sky, it’s gondola hanging beneath it like a pilot fish shadowing a shark.
“Any signs of life?” He thought. If he concentrated,he could detect the slight glimmers of energy as the machine searched for a response.
“A couple of travelers, nothing more.” There was a pause, a fraction too long to be unintentional. “Best get moving if you want to get there before dark.”
“You’re lying to me, Solomon.“
“No, I’m just not telling you the full story. Get moving, Jericho.“
He shrugged, and began the trudge towards the oasis.
Charlotte dipped the bucket into the clear blue waters, lifting it clear of the oasis. A mischievous smile crossed her face, and she upturned the bucket over her head, drenching herself in the cool liquid.
“Charlotte, stop wasting time and get over here!” came a stern voice from the caravan.
“Sorry Pa!” She grinned and refilled the bucket, carrying it over to the wheeled house. Her father looked her up and down, one eyebrow raised.
“Couldn’t resist it, could ya?”
She blushed slightly, and set the bucket down next to the hob. Her smile faded as she glanced towards the shaded bedroom.
“How is she?”
“She’ll be better for water. Away with you now, Feed the mules, then yourself.”
She nodded, and walked down the steps towards the front of the vehicle. She opened up the hatch at the front, wincing as sweet-smelling steam hissed out of its black innards. The crater-dragons heads popped out, and she grinned.
“Alright, you rock guzzling devil-mules. Who wants feeding first?”
The dragons chirped, and leapt over the edges of their compartments, scurrying towards the bricks of coal she poured onto the ground. Fed and contained, the little crater’s body heat could power a caravan like theirs across the desert in days, rather than weeks. Charlotte adored them. She leant back against the side of the caravan as they chomped down the raw coal, occasional flickers of flame escaping their mouths.
She glance up towards the horizon, and frowned. Riders were approaching out of the haze.
Jericho approached the water hole quietly, his hat shadowing his face from the harsh sun. He glanced towards the east, where the airship was still making it’s ponderous course towards the cities. He envied their ease of travel. He had to rely on a solid pair of boots and a much-patched water-can to survive out in the wastelands.
He reached the oasis as he sun was rising towards noon. A caravan was sat by the cool waters, a couple of men lounging on fallen log benches that some helpful soul had cut over the years.
“I don’t like this, Solomon.” The wanderer noted.
“Nothing to like, old man.” The machine in his head noted.
As he moved towards the waters, the men looked up at him with disinterest. Solomon ran their facial features against his database swiftly, coming up with matches.
“Carl Donovan and Elias Mitchell. Known brigands. No threat to one with your abilities, Jericho.“
“Afternoon there, friend. Pleasant days to you.” Donovan said.
Jericho nodded to him, and headed for the cool waters. Donovan frowned.
“Hey, I’m talking to you, pal!”
Jericho turned, his eyes cold steel beneath the brim of his hat. He raised one hand, noting how Donovan instinctively dipped for the gun at his belt. He paused, allowing the man to calm down, then opened his mouth, and tapped his knuckles ion his throat.
Donovan frowned for a moment, then his jaw dropped as he realised the stranger’s meaning.
“Yer a mute? Can’t talk?”
Jericho nodded, a rueful grin crossing his face.
“Aw, I’m sorry friend. Didn’t mean no offence.”
Jericho nodded again, then gestured towards the water.
“Feel free.” Donovan said.
The tall wanderer headed for the water, and stripped down to his underwear. Scars covered his body, signs of a man who had survived plenty of fights. Donovan spotted knife marks and the puckered flesh of bullet holes.
“I don’t like this guy.” Mitchell murmured to his comrade. “He smells of trouble.”
“And you smell of horseshit.” Donovan snapped. “Just keep yer eyes open and your hand close to yer gun. We’ll deal with him when the time comes.”
“There’s a third man in that caravan, Jericho. He’s holding the family hostage. Theres something else as well. Some odd biological signs.”
Mentally, the wanderer shrugged.
“This ain’t our business, Solomon. Don’t try and make it so.“
“We know these men are brigands. We know there’s a family in there. I’m detecting a man and two women. One of them’s damned young.“
Jericho rolled his eyes.
“You’re determined to get me involved, I take it.“
“I’m a justice engine, Jericho. This is my programming.“
The wanderer sighed.
“I’ll wait for an opportunity. At least that way I can finish my bath.“
So, since muggins here forgot to cloud save the latest version of The Delta Children before coming away to the deep south, I’m stuck blogging instead -aren’t you lucky!
I mentioned on my previous blog that one of the authors I was aiming to influence the book I was John Wyndham. One of my formative Cbooks when I was young – thanks to the influence of my dad – was Day of The Triffids. You wouldn’t think a book about giant man eating walking plants with poisonous stingers would have such an influence on my life, but it was the first time I read sci-fi that didn’t deal with spaceships, and big star battles… Anything outside the traditions trek/loowars pantheon really.
Wyndham’s work is… Very English. It’s almost quaint, by modern reading, in some of the ways it phrases things but its still a relatively subtle way of writing that focusses much more on interpersonal relationships and the way the characters work with each other. I’m not trying to make big sweeping statements about governments or write metaphors for great historical events, I merely want to tell a story. Admittedly, now my characters are out in the world, I’ll have to flesh out the politics of their version of Britain.
On the other side of the influential writers coin, there’s James Herbert. Herbert was very much a horror writer, with books brimming with gore, action and sex. As a 15 year old lad, I’m sure can see what interested me about them. But the other side of Herbert’s books was his use of perspective. He frequently left his main characters sides in order to spend a few pages with bit part characters who fleshed out the world, almost like little short flash fiction pieces inside the overall context of his books. It was a technique I played around with in Order of Britain: Stone of Madness, and its tremendously fun to use.
So there we have it, two very different styles, and I intend to be influenced by both of the. Tea and biscuit horror, as it were.
Ironically, I started this post on Tuesday, but since my little sister was getting married in the middle of it all, I kind of got caught up on other things. Congratulations to Joe and Becky!
One of the problems I’ve had so far with The Delta Children is figuring out exactly what kind of audience I’m writing for. With the Out of the Void books, its been a lot easier – urban fantasy is its own audience, and they’re relatively easy to pitch, as it were. Werewolves and wizards can sell themselves with little difficulty.
As I’ve mentioned before, though, I’ve never written SciFi before. Its new ground for me, and I struggled for a little while as to exactly who it was aimed at – mainly in terms of age group.
Initially, one of my main influences in my story ideas was John Wyndham, author of The Kraken Wakes, Day of The Triffids, and most important significantly, The Chrysalids.
The primary difference in The Delta Children, of course, is that the changes to the children are very much created by humanity at large, with the four Deltas having been created for the intention of military exploitation.
I have started to settle into the story and adapt to my characters in the recent words, but I’m coming to the point where the characters are moving out into the broader world, and I’ll have to establish the government and world in general.
The main things I’ve had to think about thus far, though, is language and violence. I’ve tried to maintain a policy of minimal swearing, but sometimes it feels natural for the characters to use bad language, either in anger or in insult. The problem is, the instant you do that, it upgrades the story from being something you can aim at a teen audience to one that’s aimed at adults.
Weirdly, I think that a lot of my thoughts were arising from the fact that my characters are children themselves. The oldest of the lead quartet is sixteen yearanold, and these kids have been raised in a secure facility for their entire lives. In an odd way, I think I’m a little protective of them.
It may get darker from here. There are strange places for the group to go.
So, it’s weird, but I’ve been at this whole “Writing Books” thing for nearly a year, and so, its time for an ebook sale!
For a limited time only, until the 31st, the three omnibus editions of High Moon Rising: Volume One, Order of Britian: Volume One and High Moon Rising: Volume Two are knocked down to $1.99/£1.51 each!
Its weird being a writer sometimes. There are times when you know you’ve written something good, and you’re happy when you finish it, but you love what you’ve come up with.
And then, as a writer, you spend ages and pages trying to recapture that feeling.
I’m a bit like that at the moment. The Delta Children is such a massive departure from anything I’ve written before that I’m busy trying to find that place in my mind where it all works. The last time I truly had that feeling was when I was writing Order of Britain: Stone of Madness, and everything just seemed to come together to make something that just worked.
Which wasn’t a bad feeling for a book that featured death by suicidal pigeons.
So yeah, here I stand, trying to find that feeling again. When I say that writing is addictive, I mean it – and the withdrawal is a sod!
Like my time spent learning to drive, and like when I tried to pass the cycling proficiency test, I’m struggling to find the right gears when it comes to The Delta Children.
I don’t dislike the story or the setting, but shifting from Victorian Era fantasy to near future science fiction is a big leap for me, and whist the concept has a sound has, I’m having the odd moment where I’m struggling to fit the pieces together. What I’m trying to do is stick to my usual policy of “when a scene gets boring to write, shift perspective,” and that seems to be working for now.
My main problem at the moment is that whilst I know what the endgame will be in this book, the steps in between aren’t very clear at the moment. In a more action driven story, that isn’t as much of an issue, but I’m trying to be a bit more thoughtful with this piece.
you’d think I’d have thought this through before I wrote eleven thousand words of prose!
I was going to take a break in between my books. After I finished Call of Herne, I was going to have a quite couple of days, catch up on some of my Anime backlog, maybe play some videogames.
But no. Like some insidious creepy crawly thing, the idea of The Delta Children began to weasel its way down inside the back of my skull, itching away like the ear-bugs from Wrath of Khan. I’m 4000 words into the bloody thing.
One of the biggest parts of starting this book has been moving the action back to a modern setting. All my previous stories have been set nearly a hundred and thirty years ago, whereas The Delta Children is near future. It’s a bit of a mindset change moving from one to the other. At the moment, most of the characters are in a very sealed environment, and I’m starting to get the story moving,
Soon though, I’ll take them into the wide world. And then things will get… fun.
Well, my poll closed earlier today, and it was, frankly, a landslide victory for The Delta Children.
And not that it was obvious beforehand who was going to win or anything, but I started writing the book yesterday when it still had 82% of the votes.
I will concede, it wasn’t the result in was expecting. Of the three concepts in the poll, Delta Children was the only one that wasn’t fantasy. Thankfully, its also the most developed concept of the three, so that has actually worked out quite well for me. The Damned Beneath was the most recent one, and was still a very nebulous idea, whereas Sky Trenches is an interesting idea to me, but I’m not entirely sure which direction I would have taken it in.
So, there we go. At least we can say that democracy has worked once this month.