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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Give and Take, the novel – progress

Jany 1987 2 - crpdI recently produced an article to provide some insight for my reasoning behind writing an erotic novel, so I’ll try to avoid repetition.

I have my reasons for writing this article, and those reasons are not related to promoting the story, or erotica as a genre.

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At various times in my life I’ve courted controversy, and although I’ve never done so for the sake of it, if I believe strongly enough in something – I will stand by my decision.

This new venture is one such case.

I’m privileged to be a member of the Indie Author Support and Discussion group (IASD), which in my opinion is the best author’s support and discussion groups on Facebook.

I feel qualified to make such a bold statement because I’ve belonged to several such groups, but nowhere else is there a sense of belonging, friendship, family, camaraderie – and yet there is still feedback and support delivered with sincerity and integrity.

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What is the relevance of the IASD to my new book?

I started a thread to say that I would be taking an idea suggested to me, to the next level. I told the masses that I was intending to go a step up from my erotic short story anthology Coming Around – to a full length novel.

I received initial feedback that to some might have been enough to throw away the whole plan, but I like to believe that I’m made of sterner stuff.

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Why was some of the feedback strong and negative?

I posted my first three drafts here on my blog, as I do with all my work. In the first chapter one character receives physical abuse from another character. Note, I do not say it was the male who was the abuser, and I do not say ‘minor’ abuse, because as anyone who has been a victim will tell you – abuse is abuse!

Yes, as a victim of verbal and physical bullying – I’ve been there.

Okay, so if you’re still with me, let’s take a closer look at my idea, and thank you for holding on for the main gist of this article.

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Yes, in the first chapter the male lead slaps his girlfriend’s buttocks, and though it might offend a lot of people, it is a way of life for some, and I believe a realistic opening to my story.

“I’m offended by that type of thing,” I can hear across the ether.

Okay, then please don’t blame me for the wrongs of others. I am not glorifying abuse – it is a fictional storyline.

If you are offended, I’m sorry, but nobody has written or complained about a statesman being assassinated in the opening paragraphs of one of my thrillers. Nobody has complained about people traffickers and pimps being eliminated in another of my thrillers.

A valid point?

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This new story is what it is – erotica. I don’t believe I can take my main characters on their journey and through their respective transformations as individuals and as a couple, unless I have a start point.

Yes, I agree that my start point might be distasteful to a certain number of people, but please keep in mind, the underlying theme in my work is retribution.

Now, on a personal level, I hope the dissenters caught that word – retribution. Therein lies one of the main characteristics of Give and Take, and where I came up with the working title.

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Whether or not you have read the first three chapters here on my blog, I’ve now updated them and altered the early part of the story, and for the better I believe. The second draft of the first three chapters appear in my Work in Progress menu.

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How am I progressing?

As of the timing of this article, I’m working on Chapter 15 of a planned 20 chapters.

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Have I had issues with the plot?

Yes, of course I have. There have been issues with psychology, ethics, level of detail, credibility, and knowing how far to take character and story development.

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Are those issues not true of any creative writing?

Yes, I answer once again, and therein we find another valid point. It is a fictional story and therefore contains a little of what I know, suspect, imagine – plus of course a great deal of planning, thought and … fantasy.

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Should I be afraid of my readers believing that I fantasise about being the male lead?

No, I don’t believe I should be afraid of such a thing. Not as long as they didn’t think I was Pete in Ten Days in Panama, Phil in Beyond The Law, Dan in Amsterdam Calling, or the fetching and adorable, if a little deadly Honey, in A Taste of Honey.

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Do I have any regrets so far?

My only regrets are:

1. I might lose the patronage of anybody who has enjoyed my other work.
2. I might lose credibility from those who believe that erotica is not a worthwhile genre to spend time working on.

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Will I write more erotica after Give and Take?

That will depend very much on the feedback I receive on the completed story.

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I offer my sincere thanks to those of you who have reached this point without treating me as a backroom pariah for attempting this new venture. Like oral sex, it may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s not fair to object to something unless you’ve at least investigated it ….

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P.S. I have no doubt there will be many women, and possibly some men who are wondering why the artwork in my blog articles does not normally include men. Basically, it’s because I don’t normally draw men, but for those of you who’d like to see an example of one of my male portraits …  and no, it’s not me! Unknown American

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