Tag Archives: The King’s Sacrifice

Convolutional Characters. Should I even trust this guy? He’s a villain!

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I am one of those writers who adores it when a character plays up, determines their own way, refuses to cooperate, turns the tables, cocks up, throws a wobbly, changes the rules, or in any other way manages to wander off on their own as though seeking their own adventure – I suspect I like it simply because the first time it happened, I gave in and allowed the character freedom to move, and he took me to great things.

I was very much in the early stages of writing development when that happened. I was working on a story that is now so remote from where it ended up that it can only barely be thought of as related. Yet that character’s release turned out to be not only a fortuitous event for me (evolving a single book into a series), but also proved a major breakthrough in character expansion that has since helped me many times over.

Not all characters go their own way. Nor will they be prodded. I can’t make any of them take off on their own, but I have figured out that their “escape” has a lot to do with that individual character’s potential.

Va’el formed in my mind as a determined young man with his eye on the Khekarian Throne. He was in his late teens when I first met him, destined for book 4, as yet untitled. The “how he came to be” and his parentage was worked out in book 2. His introduction was minor and in the background, in place as a logical step towards properly introducing him later on.

Only, of course, in that book, he couldn’t be in his late teens, he was only a child – no threat to anybody, yet, but the germ of that had to be there, his nature had to show. So, in he came, a spoilt rich Khekarian boy of the opinion he’s not rich enough. At ten years of age, he already had an inflated sense of ego and a lust for power, but being the bastard son of a bastard son of the Emperor might just do that. Trouble is, while his esteemed father is inside the Imperial circle and a recognized Royal, Va’el is another generation removed and is not. A small matter of matrimonial lack has left him cheated of a princely crown.

When you meet Va’el, you know there’s trouble ahead.

[Continue reading...]

Weaving a Tale and Timing a Weave, and Sevi Giving Trouble Again.

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Note: This is an old piece brought forward. The book I was working on at the time was The King’s Sacrifice, book 2 in the Khekarian series, and is now published.

One good long scream saw the morning in. Some days are like that. Then I had two cups of coffee and stared at the computer as though blaming it for everything. After that, I backed up my file in a separate place because I was about to hack to pieces a good half of my manuscript to date. The thought of discovering that, no, this doesn’t work either and I’d have to put it all back together again was too daunting. Backup would restore all if necessary.

I suppose I ought to explain.

Writing is like weaving. It really is. I like to run with three threads at a time, side by side in each chapter. Sometimes, by necessity, I run with two, sometimes with four, both rare. Most often, it’s three.

The Khekarian Series tells a story that reaches across the galaxy, sometimes the storyline running side by side, far, far away from each other. So then the chapters alternate, evens picking up one side of the galaxy and odds telling what’s happening at the other. Each side, of course, with three different threads. Or two or four.

That means with each book, I’m handling up to eight threads, but usually six, all needing to be interwoven and balanced with each other. Some threads merge together, others split, so there’s flexibility going on, too. In all of this, timing is important. When the whole story is racing forward over days and weeks – theirs, not mine – then each side (evens and odds) just takes the story forward, it doesn’t matter. But when one side slows down to the hours in a day and the next segment will also be there, you can’t have a different chapter in the middle of that racing forward by weeks. You end up with a “hang on a minute” realization that one side has covered a vast period of time while the other has dragged forward only a day.

It will not do! That balance really is important. Well, to me, anyway. This applies to the individual threads within each chapter as well as between the chapters themselves. One segment cannot move forward unless all segments up to that point have let go of the moment. [continue reading...]

Sunday Pick of the Past – The Torture Thing.

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Oh, good title, sounds like I’ve been here F-O-R-E-V-E-R, but never mind – this one looks at an interesting possibility that I decided to turn into a method of torture – aren’t I a jolly fun person to know!

I’ve updated this post-from-the-past and neatened it a bit with a touch of rewrite (it needed it), but generally speaking, it’s all there.

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It was unexpected. My mind went “Frrpt!”

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There are different kinds of breaks a writer will take – There are what I call “staring at the wall” kinds of break where a writer has to sort out issues to do with plot, characterization, twists and turns, rationalization and logistics (I get these regularly, especially after I’ve managed to paint myself into a corner on some issue with the plot) – Then there is the “barrier” kind of break which is more a I’ve-had-enough-I’ve-lost-the-will-to-live writer’s block experience where ideas and/or motivation have completely deserted you (the nastiest sort – this kind of break is not refreshing at all, quite the opposite).

The former involves thinking exclusively on the plot problem and this will extend for as long as it must in order for the issue or issues to be resolved. The break might last as little as half a day or as long as some months. You cannot do anything else in this time period. You cannot “fill in the time” with anything that takes your mind from it – that means no reading, no blogging, no surfing the Net, nor playing games or watching movies. Those things might happen in the course of the day, but when you’re working on the issues, you find you have to get away from the computer and away from anything else that will distract you, which is why I call it “staring at the wall” or “staring at the sky”.

I’m not sure that one can really be called a break. It is in the sense that actual writing is not taking place, but certainly not in the mentally working sense. It is a progressive thing, but it doesn’t look progressive. You might get some work done at the computer, but whatever that is, it’s going to be peripheral to whatever those issues are and you can’t move on into the heart of the matter until that thinking is done.

The latter kind of break mention in the first paragraph – the writer’s block type – is well known and least liked. It too involves thinking, but there is desperation involved and a whole heap of stress, which I’ve covered before so, hey, let’s not go there!

Recently, though, I experienced a brand new kind of break (to me, anyway), a simple sort of break that involves – strangely – not thinking about writing or plot at all.

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Those Pesky Factuals!

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It’s always the little things that trip you, those nonsense facts that get in the way of a perfectly good story in the mind by cluttering it up with “issues” once on paper – it’s the little things that force you through necessity to change the structure and eventually warp the entire story – And guess what, we’re going to use Va’el as an example (again), so grab a cuppa and get comfortable.

Evolution happens during the writing of most stories, I guess, and sometimes it happens because of those little things that shouldn’t matter, but do. Time constraints seem to cause me more issues than anything else. By “time constraints” I don’t mean being limited to writing a certain number of hours in a day. No, I’m not talking about time constraints on me, I’m talking about time constraints inside the story.

A perfect example is Va’el being 10. In my mind, when I planned him, he was 18 and just emerging as another villain with interesting potential somewhere around book 4 or book 5. So why the heck did I introduce him in book 2 at the age of 10?

Because I did the sums and I had to.

Sturn lived in exile for 10 years. As I want him to be in his early 30s now, he was in his early 20s when he left. That works. If I made it 15 or 20 away for him, he’d have been a child himself when he was kicked out of the Empire and not likely to have fathered anybody, or he’d be a heck of a lot older now and his story back home would be different.

See how the little things can mess you up in big ways?

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“Is there Sex in there yet?”

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Ever since that mega-sex scene in The Khekarian Threat (you’ll know which sex scene I mean when you get there, there will be no doubt whatsoever), my husband Greg has insisted there be more like it in the following books on the basis that readers will be disappointed if there is not – Not only that, but he claims if I can’t do a thirty-page stint in each and every book, I should at least put in six five-page stints, or some combination that equals that.

WHAT?

Hey, mister, I can’t just put sex scenes in anywhere.

“Why not?” he wants to know.

Because, it’s got to fit into the story, that’s why. It can’t just be added to spice things up and for no other reason – people notice that sort of thing. If you’ve got nothing else but people hopping into bed every other page, there’s not much to be said for plot.

“But six sex scenes in 600 pages is only one scene per hundred,” he reasoned (he’s quite good at that).

Hmm.

[Continue reading...]

Convolutional Characters. Should I even trust this guy? He’s a villain!

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I am one of those writers who adores it when a character plays up, determines their own way, refuses to cooperate, turns the tables, cocks up, throws a wobbly, changes the rules, or in any other way manages to wander off on their own as though seeking their own adventure – I suspect I like it simply because the first time it happened, I gave in and allowed the character freedom to move, and he took me to great things.

I was very much in the early stages of writing development when that happened. I was working on a story that is now so remote from where it ended up that it can only barely be thought of as related. Yet that character’s release turned out to be not only a fortuitous event for me (evolving a single book into a series), but also proved a major breakthrough in character expansion that has since helped me many times over.

Not all characters go their own way. Nor will they be prodded. I can’t make any of them take off on their own, but I have figured out that their “escape” has a lot to do with that individual character’s potential.

Va’el formed in my mind as a determined young man with his eye on the Khekarian Throne. He was in his late teens when I first met him, destined for book 4, as yet untitled. The “how he came to be” and his parentage was worked out in book 2. His introduction was minor and in the background, in place as a logical step towards properly introducing him later on.

Only, of course, in that book, he couldn’t be in his late teens, he was only a child – no threat to anybody, yet, but the germ of that had to be there, his nature had to show. So, in he came, a spoilt rich Khekarian boy of the opinion he’s not rich enough. At ten years of age, he already had an inflated sense of ego and a lust for power, but being the bastard son of a bastard son of the Emperor might just do that. Trouble is, while his esteemed father is inside the Imperial circle and a recognized Royal, Va’el is another generation removed and is not. A small matter of matrimonial lack has left him cheated of a princely crown.

When you meet Va’el, you know there’s trouble ahead.

[Continue reading...]

If big books intimidate you… (and why do I write fat books, anyway?)

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At around the 600 page mark, each book in the Khekarian Series is a big book, about the size of two books and each contains two intertwining stories, so surely that makes each two books in one – so why don’t I just write two books each time, increase sales and show myself to be as prolific as I really am?

I actually considered that, but two things stopped me. The first book in the series, The Khekarian Threat was written, naturally, as a single unit – with start, middle and end, as you would expect and want. It did actually have a natural breaking point in the middle, a good “uh-oh, what happens next?” moment, and I could have split it there, but that would have given my readers entirely the wrong idea about the whole series.

It would have seemed like a serial, not a series, and they are very different things. The climax people wanted would have come in book two, not in book one, book one would have been like a half-book, even at 300 pages – and I just couldn’t do it.

Each book stands alone. It is better to read them in order, because there is progression, but each twin-story is complete (both sides), and each is a book in its own right. That’s important to me and important that my readers realize that. No one wants a book with no ending.

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An Amicable Agreement – Argh! Noooooo!

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Trust those two not to cooperate! Sevi and Va’el, both awkward go-my-own-way characters, showed great promise of almighty clash if I would only put them together – being total opposites in demeanor and control – and what happens? They’ve worked it out, the sods! They’ve come to an amicable agreement!

When Sevi came along and joined the well-established team in the first book in the Khekarian series, The Khekarian Threat, she promptly caused me a lot of trouble, all to do with her professionalism. Quite frankly, she wouldn’t show anything less than absolute control over herself and her situation.

Any soldier striving for the ranks of the professional elite have to show more than a talent for fighting and a high level of intelligence. Their demeanor is important, too. They have to have a high level of self-control, a calm outlook. Anyone likely to fly off the handle would prove a liability to the mission and to the team around them. They simply don’t make the ranks.

So, here was Sevi, cool, calm, intelligent, quiet, yet very capable of being very deadly. But how was I to show her potential to be deadly to my readers? Well, the obvious solution was to have someone step out of line and have her cold-bloodedly take them down or take them out. Sounds easy, right? A nice juicy bit of action someplace. Wrong! Every time I tried it, she ended up wanting to kill everybody. Not because she went out of control, quite the opposite. Her mission was to look after Sturn, an exiled Khekarian prince. Any aggression shown by any member of the team would bring the whole team into question. It made sense!

In that situation, Sevi could either try and keep an eye on everyone, or she could deal with the problem before it developed. Guess what she would do. Right!

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A Leap into the Great Unknown

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Imagine tossing out pretty much everything stable in your life and taking a leap into the great unknown, without actually planning ahead (yes, some people do that) – for Greg and myself, moving out of the city and into literally the wilderness was more exciting than scary, and certainly promised great adventure… we got that and more.

How did we ended up living wild? It happened almost quietly. We lived in suburbia in Darwin (Australian Northern Territory) and had all the usual trappings, a mortgage, a car – I had a motorbike – jobs. I’ve been a writer all my life, but only in the background, and I was a long way from being published. I had no time to write, which was one of the things stacking up against me at the time.

The job I was doing was taking its toll because I hadn’t learnt how to leave it at work. It consumed me, and felt like I was there 24/7. While the people were fine to work with, the pay was poor and the hours long and awkward, being mainly split shifts, which meant starting early, having a big gap in the day, and ending late. On top of that, I needed to be fit and healthy, so I’d rise at 4:00 am, six days out of seven, and do aerobics and weights until 7:00 am, then get ready for work. I looked good, I felt good, but I wasn’t getting what I wanted out of life, and mentally, I was losing will and motivation.

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