Czech Mate – early moves

 

Any creative writer who is honest will admit that it would be nice to make it big, but while we wait for a movie producer to call – we continue to work, honing our craft.

Blog posts made by our fraternity are wide-ranging. Depending on how things are going with the Work in Progress (WIP), it could be a post about how the previous book is selling (or not), ideas for the new one, a review on somebody’s book, or many other topics.

If it’s a promotion, it might be shouting about the latest idea, or trying to push it when the work is done, and it’s available. I thought it would make a change to talk about a new novel in those introductory stages of its life.

 

How did I come up with the idea for my latest?

This is the year I retire, and our son, Andrew, (who lives in Amsterdam), got in touch a few months ago and suggested that we had a father and son reunion to celebrate my special year. We’ve both seen a lot of Europe, although he’s seen more than me. I was delighted when he said Prague was our destination for a four-day stay. I decided I’d write a story using the Czech capital as a backdrop.

Within twenty-four hours (and an early morning cycle ride), I had considered romance or thriller and had a basic idea for my plot.

What came next?

It took less than two days before I had my working title, Czech Mate, and I began creating my main character, a Scottish artist called Bryce. As my morning cycle rides were conducted each day I considered locations, action sequences, other characters, and crucially who were the good guys and the bad guys.

I dedicate a notebook to each of my projects and this one was no different. When I went shopping with my wife, or we went somewhere for a day out, my Czech Mate notebook went too. I listed names, ages, nationalities, and a few personal details for each new character.

What about research?

Google is good, but, in mid-September I flew from the north of England to Prague in the Czech Republic, to meet Andrew, who had flown from Amsterdam.

Andrew is a keen photographer with an eye for detail, so when he was setting up his tripod, I had ample opportunity to take pictures, make notes, and gain a ‘feel’ for my surroundings.

To us, streets, restaurants, pubs, theatres, galleries, churches and regular tourist attractions are not simply places of interest, they are ‘subjects’, or ‘locations’. For four days we were both able to indulge in our chosen passions.

Prior to the trip, I spent hours reading up on the history of the Czech Republic and had several pages of notes on people, places, and political events.

How did I follow up my great trip?

Since my return, I’ve written four thousand words, invented a few action sequences, and worked out who is good, bad, or on the fence. A few locations will be in the UK which will help to balance the story.

What about character detail and development?

I’m presently filling out my characters’ details as I let the early part of the story rest. Each person will have a date of birth, a physical appearance, a profession, an allegiance, a background, and certain skills. No, not all detail will be brought into the story, but it’s important to create a rounded character in the author’s mind which helps to develop the character for their part.

When will the story be published?

I aim to have the basic storyline completed by end December 2017. Like all my projects, it will be printed and left aside for three weeks, or perhaps a month. During that time I’ll work on something else. There are three main projects in my stable at present which is healthy, because they will each be allowed at least three weeks between drafts.

At present, I’d like to see Czech Mate being published in the spring of 2018.

As always, thank you for taking an interest in my work and my words. All feedback is welcome.

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Beyond The Law – The Trilogy

The trilogy is completed with the publication of Beyond The Law: Consequences.

My character Phil McKenzie aka Hawk, was born in an experimental poem in July 2008. Due partly to the nature of the writer’s craft and to the evolution of a story it has taken until now to complete this trilogy of novels.

Novel - BTL - Formation - 220216The first book Beyond The Law: Formation (originally titled Beyond The Law), was intended as a standalone when published in 2013, but as I received feedback it was plain to see I should develop the idea and the characters.

In the second story, Beyond The Law: Retribution, in order to maintain balance and credibility I took the story beyond the streets of Glasgow, and introduced more characters on both sides of the fence which separates good from evil. I continued with the aspects of the original story which had appealed to many readers.BTL Retribution

It will come as no surprise, to bring a successful story to a close is a difficult decision, and no less difficult than how it should be done. I spent many hours considering how to further develop characters and what might become of them in a final story.

As an avid reader I am aware of the empathy felt for the heroes in a story, and in particular an ongoing story. Who should die? Who should live? How will the survivors if any move on?

Novel - BTL 3 ConsequencesUntil I read feedback on Beyond The Law: Consequences I will suffer a long wait.

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Sincere thanks goes out to Anne Francis Scott and Sarah Stuart who performed the task of beta reader for me, and gave me plenty of useful, insightful feedback. Every point highlighted and each recommendation was appreciated. My intention was to accredit these two fine authors in the front pages, but as many writers will be aware, the ‘cross-contamination’ of author names in Amazon can be lethal to all concerned.

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I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to Aimee Coveney of AuthorDesignStudio who designed all three covers for this trilogy. In each case Aimee provided a variety of solutions based on my brief. We worked together as she took my initial vision to what have now become established and successful covers.

Aimee is now a member of the team at a new venture called Bookollective.

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As always, I thank you for taking the time to read my post. Now, how far have you reached in the BTL story? If you do take the journey, please consider leaving a review.

Tom

Beautiful People

Jan 1986 - CopyOne of the joys of being a creative writer is forming a person from imagination. It can be a short, spectacle wearing, ginger-haired Londoner who depends on the support of a walking stick.

It could be a 21-year-old girl, with blue eyes, long dark lashes, and auburn hair that almost reaches her waist. Her favourite outfit might be T-shirt, Daisy Dukes, and training shoes.

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Whatever the age, background, profession or appearance, it’s up to the writer to portray what is required for the character in question.

I like to create good-looking characters, although I’ve found it necessary to give birth (metaphorically speaking), to big, bald, muscular men who have a livid scar near the left eye, and a serious issue with people defying them.

On occasion I’ve created a quiet little woman who slips from scene to scene practically unnoticed. March 1985 2

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Why have I decided to write about this aspect of writing?

I had a review not long back which suggested that my characters were all too good-looking. Well, I’m sorry for populating a story with such characters, but sometimes that’s just the way it goes.

Forgive me dear reviewer, whoever you are. I didn’t have a picture of you to use as a character description!

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Have you ever been reprimanded in a review for creating people who are too attractive?

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Have you ever been asked why a certain character has a certain idiosyncrasy?

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While I’m here today, I thought I’d bend to demand and prove that I can draw the male form as well as the female.

If you don’t like the look of the people in the drawings that accompany this post, I’m really sorry.

One of the sketches is a self-portrait … not!

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As always, I thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings and rhetoric, and for leaving any feedback.

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Resources – Shopping Catalogue

This, like my other ‘resources’ posts is aimed mainly at the writing community, but might still be of interest to fellow readers.

How does a shopping catalogue assist in writing?

Which would be your story's character?

Which would be your story’s character?

Let’s look at a scenario, but not one from a book – a scenario that portrays the writer, and in particular the novice writer.

The screen is filled with the description of a scene that the writer decided would be a good start to the new chapter. Great. Now, unless the people concerned are in a nudist colony or are on the telephone, logic suggests that the reader might want to know what they look like – and how they are dressed.

I know from experience that the words can flow and everything looks good on the screen, or in some cases on my Moleskine notepad. A quick revision suggests that I have issues imagining the scene now, because I don’t actually know what these characters look like. I did when I wrote the passage, but now, no mention of age, hair colour, eye colour, complexion, outfit.

There was a time when I would stare at the screen and perhaps make some idle notes about those details I’ve just mentioned. That then took away the pace of my thought process and dented my confidence in what I had written.

Prior to writing a new character now I write them a brief bio which gives them an individual appearance and a background. Their taste in clothing can be quite diverse, but they must have an outfit to start with – enter; the shopping catalogue.

Let’s say somebody has a ‘walk-on’ part in a story and you have their position all lined up, but you need to give a description – enter; the shopping catalogue.

Perhaps it’s the actual characters that are causing the delay in producing words on the page – yes, enter; the shopping catalogue.

Do you now see where I’m coming from here? I thought so.

In summary, a shopping catalogue presents the writer with ready-made, anonymous characters of many skin colours, ages, hair colours, physiques, many age groups, and of course both sexes.

It also provides us with clothing, footwear, accessories, jewellery, household goods, toys … and so on.

Did you look at the heading to this post and think, he’s joking?

Well, whatever you thought, perhaps now you’ll realise I wasn’t joking – and more to the point, you might have become a convert to the idea.

Today I really must visit some blogs. I’ve been spending so much time building characters from my catalogue. Seriously, I have been writing on a daily basis recently and I sometimes focus only on the plot I’m working on and lose the plot to everything else around me.

Until next time, thank you for dropping by.

 

The Art of Letting Go – a review

41o0Nt-NySL[1]This is a well-developed book, from the clever title and front cover, to the ending. Characters come alive as you read each small detail unfolding.

The imagery is vivid and enables you to sense the atmosphere of the various meeting places. The dialogue is so natural and well written, you can imagine the voices.

The technique of creating each chapter from an individual character’s point of view is used throughout to great effect. I first saw the method used in, ‘The Clifton Chronicles’ series by Jeffrey Archer.

I respect any writer who works at their craft by researching sufficiently, and that comes to the fore in this tale of intrigue and suspense. One minute you think you know the truth, but in the next character’s point of view, you start to doubt your own theories.

Chloe has created within this story, a small world for her characters to inhabit. By the time you reach the end, you will believe it exists. Kudos, Mrs. Banks.

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Chloe will be making a guest appearance on this very blog in just a couple of weeks.