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The Spaghetti Monster Method of Writing: A Blog Hop

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Blog Hop Rules:

Answer the four questions below, link back to the person who invited you, and link to the people who will be posting the following Monday.

 Pay it backwards

I was tagged by Jae Erwin  ( who was tagged by Andrew Baker) but I’m afraid that I am a fortnight late with my part of the blog-hop, because real life got in the way. Not much to be done.

 Pay it forwards

I also haven’t been able to ask the people I am tagging if they want to do this, because a really flaming useless internet connection got in the way. Setting fire to my ISP might be something that could be done about that.

So if you aren’t up for this, people, don’t worry. It’s a bit of a cheeky ask. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to put up your own answers to the question on Monday the 19th of May).

Oh yeah, Colin F Barnes and  Fran Terminiello are my chosen victims

[Edit: I have since had time to ask them and they have said yes, but I kinda liked the reflection on my ISP’s shortcomings, and giving them an out, so I am leaving this up here 🙂 ]

You can now curse me. Whoa now, I said curse not sacrifice a flaming goat.

 The Questions

 1. What am I working on?

Right now I have three projects on the go. The second half of ‘Kinless’,  which is a Mainstream Fantasy novel in two parts, a collection of SF Short stories  under my TF Grant pen-name, and a collaboration with Colin F Barnes called ‘Hollow Space’, again under TF Grant, which is a Space Adventure (the best kind) and a blast to write.

Kinless Book Two of Two should have entered editorial a month ago, but April was a nightmare, so I’m not quite there yet. Apparently they once had to lock Douglas Adams in a hotel room to finish something or other. If anybody wants to do that for me, I’d be much obliged, but it would probably be best to take out the mini-bar first.

I have a whole host of other projects lined up ready to go once the Kinless roadblock is out-of-the-way. Five more Shonri stories to knock into shape, an SF Serial (about a soldier who is haunted by a technological ghost, tortured for his dreams, and then the universe implodes) and a bit of cyberpunky crime-solving fun with Lucius Blake and his self-aware robot companion Felix, who likes to wear a black panther-shaped combat chassis.

All queued up and waiting. Plus some other stuff, but this is getting a tad long so onto the next question.

TL:DR lots of stuff.

 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Not a clue. Next question … awww do I have to? Awww c’mon, give a guy a break. Oh alright, so very not happy about this.

First of all, my genre is Speculative Fiction, the full range, from Sword and Sorcery Fantasy to full-on Science Fiction weirdness and everything in between. I love it all, I read it all, I write it all. I’m not driven by trends, or marketing, or even sales. I just write.

Mainly I write character-driven ensemble pieces with a plot that works (at least I hope that is what I do, it really isn’t for me to say all this. Ah…) My intent is to write character-driven ensemble pieces with plots that work, but whether I achieve my aim is up to the readers to say not me.

My stuff can be dark and gritty without (hopefully) verging into torture-porn, it can be romantic and passionate without (hopefully) verging into doe-eyed drivelling, it can be cynical and idealistic at one and the same time, because life is complex and writing in imagined worlds should reflect the complexity of the world in which we are actually forced to live. (The universe is a git like that: where’s my freaking hover board and chainmail mankini?)

It’s about people, they may be warlocks or witches, thieves or cops, warriors or combat drones, but they are still people trying to get through all the crap I throw their way and survive — not all of them manage it, but they do try really hard not to die, because people are funny like that.

TL:DR ask the readers not the writer.

 3. Why do I write what I write?

Why not?

Next question.

Oh for god’s sake, you know I don’t like talking about this arty-farty stuff, it brings me out in hives.

Simply put, I write what I would like to read. That’s it really. I’ve been reading SF&F for nigh on 40 years now. Like most writers I will read pretty much anything in any genre, but SF&F is my first love and I have always been faithful to her — more or less.

And what I like in a story: is a story that works on as many levels as possible.

So that is what I try to write. I see myself as a craftsman not an artist. In fact, I think calling yourself an artist and worrying about stuff like theme and meaning is the number one cause for writer’s block. Just say no and then just write good stories that work. Now get off my couch, it’s time for my mid-morning nap.

TL:DR I write stuff because I like writing stuff.

 

4. How does your writing process work?

I’m a spaghetti writer.

Yeah yeah, all right.

I’m a pure pantser (a seat of the pants writer). I start a story with pretty much no idea of what it is about or where it is going. I may start with a scene in my head, or a character, or an idea, but it’ll usually only be one of the three. Any more than that and I generally freeze up like a car-blinded rabbit.

Sometimes, I’ll simply choose a genre and see what happens. ‘OK, lets write some Cyberpunk/Military-SF/Barbarian Fantasy/some-how-weird-can-I- go.’ Because I like constraints, it helps get the juices flowing. (It is so,  weird is so totally a constraint, maahnn.)

I write the very first draft without a clue what is going to happen next, I truly just make it up as I go along. I throw words at the page and see which ones stick, like throwing spaghetti at a wall to see if it’s cooked.

However, the further into a story I get the more I know about the characters and the world and therefore the more the ending comes into focus.

Because I’m a pantser, I like structure and generally use my version of the 7-act structure, because it is what comes most naturally to me. I can generally tell whether a story is a novel or a short within the first few hundred words. If I am still introducing stuff, then it’s probably a novel.

Pantsers need structure because otherwise we can witter on forever and have to cut chunks of story away because it has absolutely no bearing on the plot, which is a tad wasteful.

Then comes the fun bit, the revisions. I love revising. I love revising to my own notes, to my beta-reader’s notes, to my editor’s notes, to my copy-editor’s notes, or even to my proof-reader’s notes. This is where I shape the story, this is where I make the damn thing work.

I am not averse to retyping an entire novel just to get the voice right. In fact in multi-POV stories I pretty much always retype the POV arcs as separate pieces so I can give each individual POV character an individual narrative voice — though I try not to make them so different that the story loses the flow. The flow is what I strive for, I want words to flow into words, scenes to flow into scenes, and the story to simply flow into the reader’s head like ideas melting into dreams.

I also outline the plot between the first draft and the second draft, because it makes it easier to see the story as a whole.

TL:DR My process is write, revise, revise, revise, re…they take it off me and publish it. It’s a process, it may not be a good process, but it’s certainly a process.

 

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