Reading Thoughts, and Visiting an (Extremely Possessive) Old Friend!

READING NOW

‘The Gathering Storm’ by Brandon Sanderson (Book 12 of the ‘Wheel of Time’ series)

ONGOING THOUGHTS

The one thing that was regularly levelled at the series was how it seemed to get too involved in the micro-management of the characters.  Yes, the evil is seeping is back into the world, we understand that is affecting everyone.  The cast of central characters is large, without even looking at the first- and second-level supporting characters.

It is still there, but Brandon is doing a wonderful job in balancing the scale.  There are still the first- and second-level characters, but putting them into scenes together instead of giving them their own sections does not make it seem so much like padding.

Enjoying it so far, but there is still over three quarters of the book to go (200 of 824).  Brandon is proving that his choice to complete the WoT series was a very good one =)

– X –

I admit that, due to other tasks having been set, my ‘Big Project’ has been sorely neglected.  Efforts to find a readable and study-worthy copy of Avicenna or Galen’s medical manuals have been fruitless, and caused the complete stall of Chapter 4.

The purpose of my short stories was to give a break from a stalled project, and hopefully connect the neurons through another outlet.  ‘Mune and Mura’ helped to a degree, as ti got me through ‘Big Project’ Chapter 3 and up into Chapter 4.  OVCC#9 got started, and was going great guns until ‘Sayeh and Zia’ popped into my head once Chapter 2 was completed.

And now that OVCC#9 and S&Z are being juggled, the brain has (somewhat) unconsciously returned my focus to the ‘Big Project’.  The weather data tracking is now up to Book 6, and the brain is doing everything it can to keep me focused on getting all the locale weather data up to date RIGHT NOW!

This was a slightly long-winded way of apologising again for my Muse trying to throw many balls at me to juggle.  The data tracking will be completed tonight, in time for the Easter long weekend.  Four whole days!  My solemn vow is that there will be a scene from both OVCC#9 and S&Z posted by the end of this long weekend, and I will do my utmost to get some scenes ahead so my stalled brain does not cause lacking posts.

– X –

Post 146.  Five more to go…

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Welcome!, and Curse you research-induced Writer’s Block!

Post #138.  13 more to go…

I have two new followers to my site.  Thank you to hollisplample and aristaeverettjune for your vote of interest =)

Looking back at when the last posts were made for ‘On Venusian Cloud Colony Number Nine’ and ‘Sayeh and Zia’, realising that it has been over a week (8 days) and just under a week (6 days) for the other is disappointing.

The reason for this is due to a virtue distorting itself into a vice.  It has been mentioned that my orderliness is a good thing, and something that I keep to in an attempt for it to flow into the story and make it a cohesive whole.

Orderliness has demonised itself by stopping me moving on until I complete the next scene (Chapter 4 Scene 1) of OVCC#9.  The flight, including stop-overs, between Geneva and Bangui is almost 19 hours.  The previous post mentioned the various places the flight passes over, and I feel that this diversity should be described well in the first scene of the new chapter.  The changes in scenery help flesh out the cultural and environmental differences to Barney’s homes, mentioned frequently but not yet seen.  It also helps to set up the arrival at Bangui, with its environmental diversity similar to two worlds. One Barney is uncomfortable in, and the other the epitomy of his comfort zone.

Once this block is worked through, the new characters are there, waiting to be introduced and fleshed out.  A niggling issue is whether the sense of foreboding is enough, as only one person has been affected so far, and they are in a coma.  Chapter 4 Scene 2 will be the exact half-way point of the story, so maybe that is a good place to start the carnage.

Once that is done, I can get back to Susa and the impending arrival of the renowned merchant and hopeful suitor, Yafeu Babafemi.

I apologise for the delay in these stories, but I promise that everything is being done to ensure that the quality of the writing is on the up and up.  Thank you for your patience =)

Story World Focus, Real-World Research and Game World Feel

As mentioned in the last post, I am now writing Chapter 4.  Having completed Scene 1, the realisation has hit that I know next to nothing about agriculture as a whole.  The set aim of writing 1000 words a day is being defeated by the need for research.  You can research what sorts of foods are grown in an area, but that is all well and good if the current locale has bounteous supply of the materials for it.  When your planned city is surrounded by mountains and deserts for close to five hundred miles in every direction, you need to know a bit about agriculture and how you could possibly make that city exist.

So, first things first… let’s go and do some research on soil.  The lengths one must go to to ensure that there are no gaping holes in the mechanics of their story world.

– X –

An unfortunate side effect of my old thumb drive refusing to work was losing research on the companies I had applied to for a job.  I had a phone interview for a job back in November, and I had downloaded annual reports and written down notes to prepare.  Unfortunately, I did not get considered for the role past that phone interview.  I kept my typed up notes on my old thumb drive, and threw out the written notes.  Step forward two months, and another role appears with the same company.  Applied for it, had another brief phone interview but this time managed to make to the next stage of interviews.  Here is hoping it goes well, because the company sounds awesome and the medium- to long-term opportunities with them are just as good =)

All I need to do is do all that research again!  Aagh!

– X –

A trio of games I have played in the past are the Metroid Prime games.  After a combined 40 hours of playing, I have almost completed the final game.  The feeling of playing the games is peculiar, as the first two were designed so the protagonist is going solo into a foreign planet to defeat the bad guys.  But the third… there is interaction with fleet commanders, soldiers and other bounty hunters as well as the bad guys.  It gives a much greater gravity to your actions, as you can see that these bad guys exist outside the planets you visited in the first two games, and they will go attack the rest of the universe if they stop you.

Basically, I feel more scared playing the third game than I ever did playing the first two.

– X –

Back to researching soil… it is actually quite interesting.  I must be weird =P

Writing Goals, Intriguing Ideas and Reading List Revamps

JUST FINISHED

‘The Legacy’ by R.A.  Salvatore (Book 8 of the ‘Legend of Drizzt’ series)

VERDICT

A very enjoyable read, as is the standard from Mr.  Salvatore.  It provided an enjoyable tale, planted new ideas for the ongoing series, while also linking back to past events.

JUST STARTED

‘The Gold of Cuzco’ by A.B. Daniel (Book 2 in the ‘Inca’ series)

– – – – –

It is a full week into the new year, and I have kept to my 1000 words a day so far.  I have finally managed to complete a first draft of Chapter 3 of my big project.  As this has blocked my progress for a considerable amount of time, I am indulging in a slight sense of accomplishment.  Now it is on to Chapter 4, and to the family looking after the agricultural side of things.

– X –

One of the ideas that interests me greatly is evolution.  The concept has the almost impossible task of trying to explain how we came to be what we are today.  A favourite rebuff to any person making a pointed observation of something’s bad aspects is to ‘blame it on evolution’.  The decisions of our ancestors made all those years ago played a small part in the ongoing task of improving the species.  Looking through Wikipedia landed me on a section entitled ‘Evolutionary Psychology’, and it provided a most straight-to-the-point description of what those in the field believe.  It states that ‘much of human behavior is the output of psychological adaptations that evolved to solve recurrent problems in human ancestral environments’.  There is so much possibility in such an idea for any aspiring writer to work with, it is amazing.

– X –

Due to my reading aims from my previous post, the Excel spread sheet containing my past and future reading list needed to be realigned.  Having done so, I have found that I would not need to buy another book for the rest of the year.  There are 23 books in my bookshelf to be read, which would require a record-beating year of book reading to cover in one year.  Mix that in with a day job, my writing, and other real-world items, it is extremely unlikely that such a lofty ambition will be realised.  However, I do so love the look of a stocked bookcase, and try to support the local bookstore.

So, the revised list of book purchases this year are:

‘A Memory of Light’ by Brandon Sanderson (The final Wheel of Time book… hard to believe it’s finally here!)

‘The Silent Blade’ by R.A Salvatore (Book 11 of the ‘Legend of Drizzt’ series)

‘The Spine of the World’ by R.A Salvatore (Book 12 of the ‘Legend of Drizzt’ series)

‘Sea of Swords’ by R.A Salvatore (You guessed it! Book 13 of the ‘Legend of Drizzt’ series)

‘Fractions:  The First Half of the Fall Revolution’ by Ken MacLeod

‘Divisions:  The Second Half of the Fall Revolution’ by Ken MacLeod

‘Ready Player One’ by Ernest Cline

‘Glasshouse’ by Charles Stross

‘He Walked Among Us’ by Norman Spinrad

Finding that one little bit of information…

JUST FINISHED  :               ‘Periar Council of Prime’ by Jackson Lee Brown

VERDICT               :               An enjoyable read, despite needing some polish.

JUST STARTED   :               ‘The Halfling’s Gem’ by R.A.  Salvatore (Book 6 of Legend of Drizzt)

Have stalled a bit again at Chapter 7 Scene 2, but that is mainly by not having to time to exclusively focus on it.  Looking for jobs tends to distract you, but at least there’s promise on that horizon =)

The first five chapters of Book 1 involve teams of delegates arriving to the country’s main city after some time away in other important cities.  The one question that kept bugging me was “How long did they take to get here?”.  The distances to these cities, and the landscape between there and the main city, have been known for a long time.  It is an important piece of information, since other characters will travel one of these paths in the third quarter of the story.

A series I taped a while ago remains on the recorder, as the information for my story that it contains is beyond awesome.  I focused on Episodes 3 and 4, as they are the most pertinent to the story.  I decided to watch Episode 5 for some reason this morning.  The cities it speaks of inspire mine, but it is based 200 years or so after my planned setting.  But early on in the episode, it said exactly what I needed to hear:

“Caravanserais were spaced 30 to 40 kilometres apart, the equivalent of a day’s travel.”

Cue girly squeal of glee.

I now have a basis for the timing of moving around my world.  It will have to be manipulated, if only to make the story flow nicely.

It is amazing how just one seemingly insignificant kernel of information can unlock something much greater =)

Making Use of Wisdom and Helpful Links

After considering the points that George RR Martin made in the article previously mentioned, I will be making a point of writing the chapters when the motivation hits.  In trying to keep the writing chronological, I forgot I had done non-sequential chapters (Book 1 Chapter 4 Scene 1, Book 2 Chapter 1 Scene 1) already!  What is more embarrassing is that I wrote of the two scenes in a previous blog.  Naughty!

The basis for Chapter 4 Scene 1 has been written, which involved the introduction of another character.  The pacing of important character introductions will (hopefully) not be overwhelming, as Chapter 1  involved two main characters and five supporting characters.  I think it should be fine, as in the last book I finished reading (‘The Final Empire’ by Brandon Sanderson), one scene revealed 4-5 main characters in one fell swoop.  Each character then had one-on-one time with the main character, which helped their development, alongside the scenes with the team ringleader.

The character introduced in Chapter 4 gets more dedicated time in the second quarter of Book 1 (Chapters 6-10) , but I needed to find a way to reveal a prominent aspect of his character.  I happened upon a show called ‘Ancient Megastructures’, with the episode about a citadel in a real-world country inspiring one of my story world’s countries.  There was one particularly awesome part, focusing on an architectural aspect I knew of, but not its name.  With the aspect’s name, I placed it into Wikipedia.  The article noted this particular aspect appeared almost concurrently…  in two countries within my story world’s inspirations!

And with that, I finally have the piece of information I needed.  He will recognise something by another name, which will lead to the revelation that will be his first major character development.  His next major character development will be a prominent aspect in Book 2, and will strongly link him to two other main characters =)

Wisdom From A Master… Take 2

I want to work my way past Chapter 3 Scene 1, but it is just not coming together.  I know what I want to achieve with it overall, but I am mentally blocked.

All the while, the ideas for later on in the book are flying around in my head.  I was lucky enough yesterday that I had a moment of clarity, and the ‘origin story’ I had needed to give some sense to the country of Book 1 finally coalesced into some semblance of order.

Through Wikipedia, I happened across a recent interview on Adriasnews.com with George RR Martin, the esteemed author of the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ series.  Some of his words perfectly encompass how writing feels:

“I do not write the chapters in the order you read them.”

“I mean, you are sitting down and you wait… the story just comes to you and you follow its needs.”

That is what my writing feels like most of the time.  You do your research, you have the ideas in your head, but they are like jigsaw puzzle pieces in a wind tunnel.  They are blowing around everywhere, you grab some pieces… but they are not in the right sequence.

It is comforting to know even the well-known authors have similar problems when it comes to the flow of their thoughts.  It would seem writing is like creating the puzzle pieces, and then putting them all together later on.

Another blogger from my corner of the universe, who happens to be the wife of a high school acquaintance, also mentioned this phenomenon in her recent post.  I especially enjoyed her summarising thoughts.

PS:  Apologies if my putting links in the first instance of this post caused any grief with system securities.