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New baby

Thought is the parent of the deed, as Thomas Carlyle put it. So today I went out and bought a G4 iBook (a refurbished Panther model, thus saving over £100 on the price) 😀
I can see it will take some getting used to; I’ve only driven a Mac on a handful of occasions in the past 25 years, and not at all in the last five.
I also bought a copy of “The Reckoning: the Murder of Christopher Marlowe” by Charles Nicholl; a bit of Elizabethan intrigue should set the old imagination racing!

Good technology

If I’m going to be writing 2-3000 words a day, I need reliable technology that doesn’t interfere with the flow of words. I currently have 4 options:

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Period films

Another CWIL meeting, another Jacobethan shopfest 🙂 This time it was music and movies: a CD of Dowland songs and DVDs of “Shakespeare in Love”, “Stage Beauty” and Kenneth Branagh’s “Henry V”, courtesy of a ‘3 for £20’ offer 😀


By happy coincidence, someone at work is selling 2 tickets for a trip to the Globe Theatre on the 24th, which I had previously failed to sign up for in time. It’s to see a production of “The Winter’s Tale” in Elizabethan costume (tho’ not one of their all-male productions, sadly). Of course I snapped them both up, so Richard and I can go.

Stocking up

Before tonight’s CWIL meeting I combed the shelves of Borders for non-fiction books for my research. In the end I bought 4 paperbacks: “English Society 1580-1680” by Keith Wrightson, “The Age of Shakespeare” by Frank Kermode, and “The Tudor Housewife” and “Pleasures and Pastimes in Tudor England”, both by Alison Sim. That should keep me busy for a while!

All’s Well at Kentwell

Yesterday’s expedition was very productive of research material. I took lots of photos of the Tudor portions of the buildings and of the farm animals (Tamworth pigs, Norfolk Horn sheep, etc). The guide book turned out to be rather basic, but between it and my memory I think I can piece together a good enough floor plan for use in writing.


Since the “30 Days” technique makes world-building on the usual fantasy scale pretty much impossible, I have decided instead to select in advance a period that interests me and research it intensively during the pre-writing period. That way, my subconscious will have plenty of material to draw on when it comes to the actual writing. The period I have chosen is roughly 1550-1650, mainly because one of my favourite bits of previous writing was about a group of strolling players. It’s a familiar setting for fantasy fans, but just different enough from the standard medieval world to be interesting, especially if I include gunpowder (which often gets omitted from fantasy worlds regardless of their “historical” period).
As it happens, we were planning a trip into Suffolk this weekend, so I have arranged to include a trip to Kentwell, a Tudor manorhouse with lots of reconstructed interiors and farm buildings of the period. This will give me at least one potential location; if I exploit the “crucible” concept fully, it might even be my only location!


I’ve been giving some thought to the question of originality. Publishers and agents say that they are looking principally for originality, but in fantasy at any rate, there seems to be a lot of pretty unoriginal stuff being published: epic multi-volume tales of action and adventure still dominate the bookshops’ shelves. Some highly original books do make it into print and get glowing reviews, but whether they successfully launch the writer’s career is another matter. I think it more likely that what editors and agents are really looking for is just a fresh spin on the familiar; something that will appeal to the hordes without being a tired re-tread.

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Although not part of the “30 Days” method, I have decided to use the preparation period to do some background work. The method allots only two days to developing an outline before embarking upon the actual writing; two days to brainstorm characters, plot and setting! This might be OK for contemporary fiction, but a fantasy novel needs a lot more preparatory work. It would be very easy to churn out a novel set in a generic quasi-medieval world, but that’s not likely to catch the eye of editors and agents.
I have also booked two weeks off work in October, as I suspect I will find the intensive schedule both tiring and a distraction during work hours. Besides, I have to use up some of my remaining holiday allowance before Christmas or lose it entirely.

A Fresh Start

It’s a sobering thought that, after nearly thirty years of writing, I still haven’t finished and submitted a novel, never mind having had any fiction published. I don’t relish the prospect of spending another thirty years being equally unproductive – drastic action is needed!

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