With my initial brainstorming period complete, I can finally start planning the books—hurrah!
Stage 4: Creating the framework
A lot of writers go straight from idea-generation into outlining their novel scene-by-scene, but I’ve discovered that this doesn’t really work for me. There’s a big difference conceptually between the narrative—the stuff you actually show the reader on the page—and the plot, i.e. the objective sequence of what happens in the world of the story. I like to know what my plot is before I decide which parts of it I want to show the reader (and through whose eyes). Read more
Thus continues my summer of catching up on my reading, especially those (mostly epic) fantasies that came out a while ago…
*** Spoilers ahoy! ***
The Painted Man tells the stories of three exceptional young people—Arlen, Leesha and Rojer—growing up in a world where demons rise from the earth’s core every night and try to kill humans. The only things that can keep the demons back are wards: painted or carved symbols. Arlen has a talent for drawing wards and wants to become a Messenger (one of the couriers who defy the demons, travelling from town to town); Leesha is a skilled herbalist; and Rojer’s music has an Orpheus-like effect on the demons. Their stories run in parallel for most of the book until they meet up towards the end.
So, I’ve done my preliminary musing (Stage 2), and now I’m ready to start planning the book, right? Wrong. I know that in Lesson 4 of How to Think Sideways, Holly jumps straight in with creating her Sentence (what is more generally known as a premise), but at this stage I still haven’t made any decisions as to what I’m writing about. I barely have characters, let alone a plot, so I need to do some more work before I can even think about nailing down the core conflict. In effect, I’m skipping ahead to Lesson 8: How to Develop Your Personal Writing Project System—which is appropriate, since I’m now in the position to know what works and doesn’t work for me. Read more
This time last year I read and reviewed The Spirit Thief, the first Eli Monpress novel from Rachel Aaron. For some reason I didn’t review book two, The Spirit Rebellion, but I enjoyed both enough to continue with the series. In fact I picked up book three, The Spirit Eater, when I was having trouble getting into any of the new books I’d picked up—I thought perhaps it would be easier to slip into a story where I already knew the characters. Thankfully I was right, and Aaron’s book broke my reading dry spell! Read more
I recently went back to the forums of Holly Lisle’s online Novel Writing School, where I was somewhat abashed to discover I’m somewhat of a poster girl for the courses (well, I did get a three-book deal out of the manuscript I put through How to Revise Your Novel!). When I mentioned I was using the How to Think Sideways writing course materials to help me with the new series I was planning, one of the moderators thought that students would find it interesting to hear what I was doing. However I don’t just use Holly’s materials, and I thought it might be confusing to students on the course if I talked about my own methods on the official forum. So, if you’re here via a link from the HtTS forums (and even if you’re not), welcome! Read more
As has become traditional, over the next few months Mal will be tweeting a “prequel” to his upcoming adventures in The Prince of Lies. Previous tweets ran in real time, connecting us with events 420 years ago, but owing to an unexplained phenomenon that Mal is in the process of investigating, there’s some kind of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey thing going on that means his latest batch of tweets are arriving some months out of sync with our timeline. For clarity, the date at Mal’s end will be appended to all tweets.
Please feel free to tweet back to him with your questions, but bear in mind that for reasons of national security he may not be able to answer frankly or in full. Also, please be aware that Mal is being followed by @SirRobertCecil, the queen’s new secretary of state and alleged spymaster, and that any potentially seditious tweets may result in a closer acquaintance with the Tower of London. (Do not be fooled by any “page not found” messages when looking for Cecil’s Twitter account – you think a man with his influence can’t hide his activities from public view?)
Want to read the original “Mal’s Diary” tweets, the prequel to The Alchemist of Souls, all in one convenient free download? I’ve compiled an ebook version of the feed for your reading pleasure:
This week my friend Emma Newman’s second urban fantasy novel is being published. To mark the occasion she’s hidden a bunch of cool (magical?) objects on her website for readers to find, but you can steal a march by following the link below…
Any Other Name is the second novel in the Split Worlds series, following on directly after the events in Between Two Thorns. Cathy is secretly seeking a way out of Nether Society by helping Max and the gargoyle to investigate the murders in the Bath Chapter. When she learns more about the mysterious Agency which oils the wheels of life in the Nether it becomes clear that the privileged few are enjoying their existence at a price far higher than they realised. It’s time to change Nether society, but with assassins, Fae lords and revengeful fallen Rosas to deal with, can Cathy survive long enough to make a difference?
While the King of the Union lies on his deathbead, the peasants revolt and the nobles scramble to steal his crown. No-one believes that the shadow of war is falling across the very heart of the Union. The First of the Magi has a plan to save the world, as he always does. But there are risks. There is no risk more terrible, after all, than to break the First Law…