Fallen Warriors – What is it all about?

As best as I can remember, I had the idea for Fallen Warriors during a church service, where something said triggered off a series of thoughts about a story where Christians were like superheroes, using miraculous powers. Originally I thought this would make a great movie or TV series with lots of action and the miracles taking centre stage.

I started writing and the characters kind of took over. While the story certainly starts with a miracle, I found the real story lies in how the characters each react to what has happened.

The central character in the story is Emma Hunter, a young woman with her whole life ahead of her, who enjoyes clubbing and partying, whose life is cut short when she dies at the start of the book… She is brought back to life and this then started to intrigue me. What would that feel like?

The story of Lazarus being raised from the dead is familiar to many Christians, but the story gives so little detail and no insight into what it felt like for Lazarus to hear Jesus commanding him to come out of the tomb, to be wrapped in grave clothes and finding out he’d been dead for several days. I wanted to explore this through Emma’s experiences and the direction of Fallen Warriors started to take a different turn as the story became more about the consequences of miracles, especially for people who had no previous experience of them.

If you would like to try Fallen Warriors out, here’s a free sample:

The final proof!

My final proof copy of Fallen Warriors arrived! Well actually, two copies (not sure what went wrong there…)

The blurriness on the font on the matt version has been fixed and the corrections have been made to the interior. The paperback version is ready to go! I’ve ordered 100 copies from the printer (five of which will have to be sent to the British Libraries), leaving 95 copies available for sale.

I’ve had four pre-orders already from friends and need to figure out how to take orders through this site. For now – if you would like to buy a copy, use the contact form on this website. The price will be £9.99 per copy including postage for anyone in the UK. If you live outside the UK then contact me giving your address and I’ll send you a quote.

Fallen Warriors has 35 ratings and 21 reviews on Goodreads with an average rating of 4.7.

Character Led Scripts

Following on from yesterday’s post, David Robinson used Gustav Freytag’s pyramid to discuss the expected story arc in most scripts and novels. Some useful explanations of this are here and here.

David performed a couple of sections from scripts he has written to allow us to examine the script and the characters being portrayed. We, as the audience, shared our different conclusions about the characters which was useful to understand how important it is to take time with scripts and novels to create real characters, who have layers to them which can drive the story forward.

Ultimately, the audience, whether sitting in a theatre or reading a book or watching a movie will take more pleasure from the experience when we have thought through our characters.

  • Who are they? Honest, uncaring, cruel, devious, kind, passionate, boring… However we reveal our characters they can add nuance and depth to the story.
  • What is the setting? The names we give our characters can place them at a particular point in time.
  • What is the location? What is our character doing there? Do they belong? Are they out of place? Are they remembering other events in different locations, if so – are these likely locations for our characters to have been?

If at all possible, write out a backstory for your characters and their description. This can be added to at any time during the process as thoughts come to you or as you research and may provide a rich source for you to draw on as you write.

I found the day to be useful in thinking about how I am tackling the sequel to Fallen Warriors. The first novel was very much a character driven story, each person dealing with their own inner demons, the character journeys often driving the story forward in ways I hadn’t expected.

It was also really encouraging to be able to meet with so many writers who are each going through similar experiences and to be able to encourage each other. If you would like to find out more about the Association of Christian Writers and find out about membership and events you can do so here: http://www.christianwriters.org.uk/

Finally, David told us about The Watermill Theatre in Newbury that runs the Raising Voices critique service, reviewing scripts for a nominal £33 fee. Details can be found here: https://www.watermill.org.uk/raising_voices_2017

Also, if you are in a good mood, or perhaps even a funny mood, you might be interested in entering the ACW Comedy Writing Competition, to be judged by David Robinson. The theme is Bringing a Little Sunshine and they are looking for comedic sketches (maximum 1000 words) or comedic poems (maximum 24 lines.)

Details are here: http://www.christianwriters.org.uk/competitions

The difference between scripts for theatre, film and novels

Continuing on from yesterday’s write up of the Association of Christian Writers day where David Robinson was speaking on performance writing for the stage, film, television and radio…

David led the day very much as an interactive workshop, involving us as he discussed script writing, getting us to act out short parts, and ultimately asking us to write parts for specific characters to combine into a play.

He asked us to think about what is different between scripts for theatre, scripts for film and novels.

Dialogue. We need to understand that directors and actors will both put their own spin on our dialogue. A script may go through several transformations as it passes into other hands. Scripts of course, are mostly about dialogue, but this can tell us something useful about our writing. If you prefer to write dialogue and your stories have almost no description, perhaps you are missing out on a calling to be a script writer… If a play lasts two hours, that is two hours of mostly dialogue. Consider pauses and beats when writing a script. Those words that you felt would take only a few minutes to say might lengthen in the performance of a good actor, or even shorten as urgency is used.

Balance. How much should the script direct what happens on stage? Should the actor walk on from stage left carrying a bowler hat, or just walk on stage… Lighting, set… All can be directed from the script or left for another to decide or perhaps both…

Set and Cast. While a novellist can change scenes all the time and make the cast as diverse as desired, the script writer has far more limitations. Scripts for stage that require too many set changes, or that require props, backdrops that cannot be carried may never be taken on due to cost restrictions and impracticalities. The same goes for cast. If it will cost too much or be impractical to use the number of actors the script requires, it may never be performed. Scripts for Film or TV also have to consider the same limitations, though perhaps at a different level.

Exposition. The audience need to know quickly who is who and any relevant backstory. The novelist can explore backstory in depth, can cut and change or use flashbacks at any stage. A stage play has much tighter limitations. Shakespeare was an expert at using soliloquy to overcome this and give important detail quickly to the audience. Think of the length of a typical scene, maybe 20 minutes, think of the length of the whole show and when intervals need to occur…

The final section will be posted tomorrow…

A Christian Writers look at Script Writing

I’ve been a member of the Association of Christian Writers twice, first back in the nineties until I left the UK to work abroad, then for the last couple of years, but have never attended any of their events… until this weekend.

I had the opportunity to travel down to Newcastle for their writers day with David Robinson
who was speaking on performance writing for the stage, film, television and radio. David has extensive experience as an actor and was Artistic Director of the Saltmine Theatre Company. He is co-founder of Searchlight Theatre Company and has written many stage plays including Mr Laurel and Mr Hardy, Woodbine Willie and An Angel’s Delight.

His theme for the day was developing character led scripts, something I found really useful as I’m still working on the plot for my Fallen Warriors sequels.

I’m going to split my write up of the day into several posts. To start with, David gave us a friendly ice-breaker – what books, plays or films would we, as writers, take to a desert island…

I found myself jotting down titles suggested as people explained how the selections had impacted them and as I’ve never read most of them!

The Frogs by Aristophanes – Struck by how relevant this was to modern society.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte – A strong female character who took control of her life.

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller – Such a powerful story.

The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster – Despite being published initially in 1909, this short story/novella could almost have been written yesterday, so prescient about the impact technology has on our lives today, the way people have changed communication with each other.

Goodbye Mr Chips by James Hilton – Describing the process of change.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

And in case you’re wondering, I decided on Robinson Crusoe as a book and The Martian as movie… For me it would be all about survival and getting off that island!

More tomorrow!

Day 50 – Half way through the 100 words in 100 days challenge

I’m half way through my self-imposed challenge to write 100 words a day for 100 days.

You’d think it would be easy…

I’m beginning to get an appreciation of what the life of a daily columnist must be like. A need to come up with a set amount of words day in and day out regardless of what else is going on.

I’d lost track of how many posts I’d written, but fortunately checked yesterday and realised today is half way.

To be honest, I’m struggling.

The last couple of weeks I’ve found myself slipping in my commitment to write tomorrow’s posts today. I’ve been posting late in the day and have not been able to keep a focus on what I would be writing next.

That has allowed me to come up with some posts I wouldn’t have written otherwise, but it is not developing the discipline I want.

If you’re interested, here are the high level numbers:

Over the last 24 days I’ve published another 11,308 words. That’s 2,000 words more than in the first 25 days! My average has gone up to 471 words a day from 410! I had wanted to write less each day, but in general, am not managing it.

However, one post in particular really bumped that number up: 10 ways to fail at publishing and marketing your book was 2,172 words. If I exclude that post, my total and average are very similar.

I’m now working as a full time writer and had planned to have written 15,000 words towards my sequel to Fallen Warriors by this time. I’m only at 4,165… The planning is taking me longer than I’d hoped. I should have expected it. I’m adding characters and am trying to plot out two novels instead of just one. I will keep on persevering!

Looking at whether people are actually reading this blog is useful:

The fact is that the spikes I’ve seen in page views are all due to publishing information that’s useful for other authors (that big spike in the middle also due to the 10 ways to fail post…) I’m glad to share this, but longer term, I come back to the big question, who I am writing this blog for?

I’m feeling more and more strongly that I want to aim this blog at readers. That I want to write posts that will encourage people to want to read more of my writing. I wonder if that means posting more flash fiction, but also sharing short stories, or even teasers, the first page of a story to encourage people to buy or sign up to my mailing list to read the rest.

Of course that would mean writing more short stories and I’m not sure I’m there yet in terms of being able to do that. At least not until my next novel is complete.

I am planning to publish some book reviews over the summer and have some other posts planned, so will be working with that for now.

Onwards and upwards!

Day two in the author’s house…

Let me start by saying I’m not planning to spend every day from now on recording the minutiae of writing a novel. I wanted to hold myself accountable through this blog and that’s the purpose of this post.

A week ago I posted my regimented writing plan. If I stick to that plan, I’m certain to complete at least one draft of 100,000 words in four weeks of writing. If I’m writing…

As I always do when I finish a contract, I wrote up a to do list. A list of all the things I’ve not had time for during the contract. There is always a conflict between what I want to do, what I need to do and what I feel I have to do.

On top of family and work related responsibilities, I spent a large part of Tuesday and Wednesday finishing off a final edit and format of the print edition of Fallen Warriors

Yesterday evening, after two days where I imagined I might plot out two novels – and managed only to begin that process, I put that dream on hold and started writing. This morning I continued writing, reasoning that I might need to explore the characters’ stories further before the overall plot of the book becomes clear.

I wasn’t up this morning as sharp as I wanted though and haven’t kept to my regimented plan. Today I’ve been working on preparing for a meet the author event I’m going to be part of in September. Tomorrow I may have to switch off my phone!

On the positive though, I went for a short run today, my first attempt at exercise in over a month. I wrote 2047 words in 225 minutes spread over the whole day. I’ve developed a new character, well, three of them actually for a story that may run across both sequels.

I’ve failed to meet my target word count, but there’s always tomorrow and each day I write is one day closer to realising my goal of publishing a sequel to Fallen Warriors!

Act One, Scene One

Well, I finally went and did it… I’ve written the first scene of Fallen Warriors Season Two and if I say so myself, it’s pretty good!

I confess, I still don’t have a full plot, just a vague outline, but I felt this evening I had to make a start as otherwise I could waste a full week trying to figure out what happens next and for everything I’ve written up to now, there has always been an element of the story determining the story.

So, if you enjoyed the first Fallen Warriors novel and are wondering when the next is coming out… It’s on it’s way!

Sharpening my axe

You’ve heard the story of ol’ Abe Lincoln who allegedly said that if you need to cut down a tree quickly, the first thing you should do is spend time sharpening your axe.

All being well, I’m planning to spend tomorrow (my first day of writing the sequel to Fallen Warriors) on the writers equivelant: plotting, gathering my notes, brainstorming, mindmapping and generally trying to set out a structure to guide me as I set out to write two novels in two months.

Maybe I’ll actually spend some time writing, but I’m sure that I’ll get more done over the next weeks if I’ve got a plan to follow than if I’m constantly struggling to work out how to connect everything together. I’ll let you know how it goes…

Proof Reading for Dummies

So here’s my dummies guide to proof reading…

Take a book, start at the beginning, read slowly until the end and make a note of every mistake you find.

Simples…

Except… It’s really, really difficult when it’s a book you’ve written!

At some point I’m going to have to start paying a professional to proof read my novels. Until then there is no other option but to rely on the kindness of friends who have an eye for punctuation and grammar and spelling; and also to pick up my own book… Again and again and again until I’ve read it so many times that it’s almost stopped being my story and just become words on a page.

Tell you what though, the advice to start at the back of your book and read each page in reverse order does help.

Also, getting a physical proof copy printed up makes a big difference. I noticed a space where it had no right to be, fifty pages in. I must have read that passage a dozen times on screen, but seeing it there on a physical page, it stood out like a… Well, like a space invader… Please don’t shoot me 😉

I’ve heard that reading your book out loud is also a good technique. I’m not quite there yet with that one, but for some passages it has been useful.

How do you ensure your book is as free as possible from those irritating typos?