The Road Ahead

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Apologies for the silence. I had hoped to blog about our moving plans, as we thought we were finally in a position to advance. But again we have to wait. Maybe next week.

For now, here is a link to an interview with me, just published on Tasha’s Thinkings. It was a great chance to talk about myself, my writing, and most crucially… about Star Wars.

Read on and enjoy.

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TimeStorm – a review

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Time for another review – TimeStorm by Steve Harrison, which my critique partner suggested that I read to see the way that the author handles multiple viewpoints.

From a writing perspective, the technique worked well. Each chapter has the POV character’s name as the title, and sometimes this is a one-off, other times it is a recurring character. I will return to those POVs as part of the ‘review proper’.

As I read this enjoyable novel by Steve Harrison, I could feel that he is – as the blurb says – “A great fan of the grand seafaring adventure fiction of CS Forester, Patrick O’Brien and Alexander Kent.” That atmosphere is captured in the telling, without feeling over-researched.

The book was inspired by a replica 18th century sailing ship on Sydney Harbour and a question from Steve’s brother, Tony: “What if that was a real convict ship?”

From that premise came this clever tale of the crew and ‘passengers’ from a convict ship swept by a storm from 1795 to 21st century Sydney. The ‘stranger in a strange land’ scenario is carefully played out, with all the characters reacting convincingly to their dangerous situation, whether ship’s officer, convict leader, or the ‘present day’ characters confronted with something more than unexpected.

The central character of Lieutenant Christopher ‘Kit’ Blaney, is – as the blurb says – “an old-fashioned hero, a man of honour, duty and principle”, but he has human failings that make him believable. For some of the chapters, he is the POV, with chapters carrying his name.

But there are other points of view (POV), with their own chapters, and this multi-POV approach keeps the story flowing, showing different facets – some of which would normally be missed out.

Each POV feeds into the evolving plot, which had me gripped. There are two main characters – Blaney, from the 18th century, and a 21st century journalist. But the other POVs with their stories and subplots, are integral to the unfolding plot.

From the first chapter, I was intrigued by one other character, wondering how he would fit in, but sensing he might return. Read TimeStorm to discover how, but I won’t spoil the crafty twist in the tail.

For those that logged on for my post last week – Why read? – there was a second lesson in this novel: How to bookend your novel, by linking the opening and ending. But explaining more would be a spoiler.

 

Why read?

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It’s February 3rd and time for another Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly post. I may be Insecure but I’m putting aside the whining and complaining – for a few days at least.

Today I want to be positive and talk about the benefits of reading from a writer’s point of view. And by that I don’t mean just reading what you write, although as writers we should to do that a few times from a reader’s perspective.

For now, I’m talking about other books, not just for the sheer pleasure but for the lessons that we can learn. We can learn what works and what doesn’t from both great reads that keep us hooked from the first sentence, and from those shockers that are an endless struggle. In each novel there should be at least one lesson – even if it’s ‘make sure you use an editor’ or ‘flowing words are like magic’.

So what have I learned over the decades?

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Roger Woddis in 1986 – photo by BG

When I started out on my writer’s journey, my writing tutor, the late great Roger Woddis said that my writing suffered from too much ‘purple prose’. The problem stemmed from my passion for “Lord of the Rings” and the style of J.R.R. Tolkien. I was trying to emulate him without understanding the way that he used language. However, over the decades and with many re-reads, I am learning to see the master at work. And as I read other writers, I see that a writer can effectively use beautiful language without obscuring the meaning.

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The current lesson is about ‘Multiple POVs’, which is relevant since my current WIP, “Storms Compass”, tells the stories of various characters struggling to survive after a mega solar storm devastates the Earth. My critique partner suggested that I look at how Steve Harrison handles multiple viewpoints in TimeStorm”. The POVs each have their own chapter with the character’s name as the title. Each one feeds into the evolving plot, which has me gripped – so a review will follow very soon.  There is a main POV character and the other POVs add to his story.

I could go on, giving examples from books that I have read, but I want to end by directing you to K.M. Weiland, a writer whose website is an invaluable resource, and includes many articles that refer to novels and movies as examples. For instance, I am working through my character’s arcs at present, and she gives some great examples – see: http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/character-arcs-3/. This and other articles show the importance of reading other novels. The added bonus is that K.M Weiland writes novels in which she practices what she preaches, from her early novels Behold the Dawn and Dreamlander – both of which I enjoyed – to Storming, which is next on my To Read list.

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And beyond that I may be delving into the real classics like Machiavelli ‘s “The Prince” and the stories in “The Mabinogion“. We can all learn from the master storytellers of the past.

So read on dudes!

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The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. We post our thoughts on our own blogs. We talk about our doubts and the fears we have conquered. We discuss our struggles and triumphs. We offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling.

Please visit others in the group and connect with my fellow writers.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG

And be sure to check out our Facebook group –https://www.facebook.com/groups/IWSG13/

The awesome co-hosts for the February 3 posting of the IWSG are Allison Gammons,Tamara Narayan, Eva E. Solar, Rachel Pattison, and Ann V. Friend!