Friday, December 18, 2015

Getting back on the wagon (and I don't mean drink!)

Jeeze this real world work lark can be a drag eh?! It has been a while since I've posted anything here, which is personally disappointing, but the pressures of the real world do sometimes have to take priority. (the downside of being an Indie author).

The last three or four months have been nothing but work, I've have completely exhausted myself, mentally and physically, and am in desperate need of the upcoming Christmas break - yay! I have tried to write a few posts, but have chosen to delete them after a quick proof read. It is a bit like writing a book, I think you need to have the head-space to be able to focus on, and enjoy, the writing - if you aint 'plugged in' then you ain't doing it justice. That's my thoughts. However, a week away from the break and as far as work is concerned, there is nothing more I can do that will improve the situation in the immediate future so my brain returns to my passion - writing. (Also fishing, but that is an escapism that will have to wait).

INVICTUS Part 1 - Introducing Richard - This story has been submitted to the Wishing Shelf Awards, and I am hopeful that it will achieve something - maybe even just a mention in dispatches - and with the finals of the Awards scheduled for May 2016, I have turned my focus to finishing INVICTUS Part 2 - as yet of no specific title. Even though 'Elementals' sits with my editor as I chip away at the cost of that, my thought process is to leverage any interest generated by my WSA entry by having the 'next' one released and out there. And, progress is starting to look pretty OK. 

SO, to kill or not to kill your main characters? This is a topic that has been quite hotly debated in many circles; one train of thought is that readers become attached to a single character and to kill them off is like ripping the heart out of that persons reading pleasure. Another train of thought is that killing off a, or the, main character(s) generates an emotional response that pushes the reader on. 

An extremely good example of a third train of thought is seen in the very latest Star Wars movie (The Force Awakens).

******* SPOILER ALERT!! ******

One of the problems with being an author is that I find myself analysing the 'plot', the attention to detail and any glaringly obvious errors - in 'The Force Awakens' there are plenty! To me this film is all about setting up the future franchises; there will be a stream of new Star Wars films I'm sure - but I won't be going to the cinema to watch them. Looking at some obvious time line indicators it is a minimum of twenty-five years gone by, the years have not been overly kind to some of the major human characters and it is quite obvious that Han Solo and Princess Leia aren't moving with the same agility as they once did; they certainly aren't as nimble as they once were - who is at their age?! So, in order for the franchise to continue making he films under the 'Star Wars' title, fresh blood needs to be introduced, whilst the old peeps need to ... well, die. It is that transitional period, "Out with the old..." etc etc. So, main characters are killed off because they have gone past their sell-by date, but the monetary aspect of the 'Star Wars' brand is too great to end it. In my opinion, this one is just a mish-mash of plots from the previous successful releases, a sequel too far, and it doesn't work (for me).

One of the other glaringly obvious failures in this film is that the technology has not advanced. Twenty-five years later and the X-Wings, Tie Fighters and Princess Leia's hairdo are the same! It's a bit like Daniel Craig's James Bond still using a public phone box to ring 'M', or Money Penny using a typewriter as opposed to a computer - it just stands out as an error, and an opportunity missed.

Anyway, the point is that killing off main characters can also bring an extended life to a successful series - but it has to be done right!


I suppose the only advice I would offer on 'To Kill off or not to Kill off.." would be, IF it sits comfortably in the story line FOR THE RIGHT REASON!

For Invictus Part 2 I am killing off one of the characters approximately a third of the way into the story, I need to because I want to generate an emotional response from the reader that will pull them further into the 'revenge' phase. At this exact moment in time I am unsure if any of the other main characters will be sacrificed for the story line or not, but I am not overly precious when it comes to characters - if they can't positively contribute to the story in life then they are taking up page space; it can be real fun from a writers perspective, it can also be both polarizing and coalescing for the readers.

I'm looking forward to the break - I want that head space freed up so that I can get back to writing. Sometimes Indie writers just can't write because of real world issues. I've learnt that it is better to take a break than force a line or two; it just isn't worth the risk of damaging a story because someone once said "Write everyday, you must!".

Anyway, I'll be back on the page soon. My little pearl of wisdom to all wannabe authors, write because you want to, because you can and because you have the urge - not because there's a deadline looming and you got to get words onto a page. Your story is your work, and once it is out there in the real world people will judge you on it; be fair to yourself and put only your best foot forward.