Saturday, October 31, 2015


I mentioned writing the other day didn't I ?
I feel there's a novel or few in me wanting to get out. Tomorrow sees the start of NaNoWriMo month or National Novel Writing Month. It's a challenge to write a 50,000 odd word novel inside a month. I have it on that list as something I want to do someday.

I have 2 modes of writing that I do normally. The first is this blog. I try for a conversational style, where I attempt to make each post a conversation between me as the writer and you as the reader. I try and anticipate the questions that you're asking as you read and to provide answers. I attempt to keep you engaged in the post, so you come back for the next one.

I hope I do ok in that, although I don't get much feedback on what I write. What feedback I do get is hugely appreciated. Whether it's a like on the Facebook, a chat about what I've written or a "Good post" "Great post" from some very lovely people. The April Fool post got a lot of chuckles when I showed it around the office.

The other form of writing is quite different. It's the report writing I'll do at work. This writing is far more formal and structured. It's Formal English far more than Conversational English. But at its heart again, I have to keep the reader engaged and I have to ensure they keep up with what I'm talking about. That means not diving immediately into the detail. It means warming up the audience before hitting them over the head with something very heavy.

Yep. Death By Powerpoint.

But yeah, I see too often where senior people have forgotten how to brief what they know to others who's buy in they need. I have a saying I live by : "If you cannot explain something in the simplest possible language, you do not truly understand it". Buzzwords are bad and turn off people's attention.

The key thing is knowing what level to talk at.

I read so many books and the better science fiction books share one major narrative theme. They will have a character central to the plot which will have very little idea of what's going on. Iain M Banks (RIP you are missed) did this multiple times in his Culture novels, where a non Culture person took up that position of reverse narrator. The character would have the situation explained to them and in doing so, the author was explaining to the reader what was going on.

Other authors like Terry Pratchett would refer to what you know of this world to make comment and humour in their writing.

That gets me back round to NaNoWriMo.

I'm not going to take part in it this month, I don't have a coherent enough idea of a novel which I would want to write. I have several ideas for a core theme of a book but here's what I think of them :

Post apocalyptic Earth - interesting but it's done loads. How can I make mine believable and different ?
Space scifi - this is the story I want to write. But ... how to make it interesting ? I think it would follow what I've been doing in Elite but ... that's a cathartic activity for me and I don't think anyone looking in on it would be interested.
Magic fantasy world.

And a couple of other themes. How come I don't think the space stuff would be interesting ? Firefly was a fantastic series and I think I would follow that analogue. Or there's the legendary Blakes 7, where they are fighting a guerilla war of survival against a despotic galactic Federation. Dark Matter is an interesting world developing, where the galactic situation is dominated by corporations rather than a government.

But that's other people's stories. Mine should be uniquely me and in a style that I think other people would read. And then come back to read later.

I've just finished reading Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. He's an author who writes stories that could be quite interesting. Science that gets your attention. Drama that should hold the attention. However ... his lecturing style gets in the way of keeping you focused on the story. Other authors lose your focus in other ways, by having very complicated things going on which you can't keep up with.

That's where keeping it simple is a really good lesson to remember. I'm watching Doctor Who at the moment, there's a huge amount of backstory for that but the key to it is The Doctor, his companion and the TARDIS. And a bit of magic too. Star Trek was about the ship and the crew. Firefly was another ship and the crew with lots of magic coming in from the crime and misbehaving.

I think there are stories in me that are the equal or better of some I've read. But there is that factor of having a cracking beginning, a middle that holds your interest and an end that comes at the perfect time in the story. A lot of stories I read lose you in the middle or misjudge the ending. The conclusion is either rushed or it drags out too much.

Yep. No NaNoWriMo entry for me this year, although I am very curious to know what would happen if I started writing. Where would the story take me ? Would be it readable ? Could I end up being a JK ? Ha. Not likely. But I think I'd be better than even a legend like Arthur C. Clarke because I hope I'd hold the interest of the readers more than his books have done with me.

I need to read more to get more ideas. And not just fiction ! That post apocalyptic scenario idea has a protagonist and friends living on a boat, which would end up being just another character. That boat would translate across into a space situation as well. Just need to avoid getting lost in the details.

Because it should be about the story and the characters that live in that story.

I'll have a try at it someday, although as a wise little person once said "Do ... or do not. There is no try."

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