The World is Broken: Who Can Find the Key?

“Lots of cool action and drew me well in.” – AHF Magazine.

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There is a RIP in space and time. Om and Bri are trapped. All humanity; wiped out after seven cycles of destruction, Unless Om and Bri can unite to find the source of the rip.

A curtain of rainbow light shimmers and two people see their lives shift, in this tense, epic thriller. Om and Bri gradually become aware that they have met before – in previous lives. They begin to recall a mission that started with the discovery of Iron in ancient Atlantis. A gravitational rip was triggered by the Ischians, and water became impure, causing the gradual loss of memory and the Cup, a grail to hold the Holy blood of the first tree.

The blind Seer predicts that Earth’s health will never be restored until the Cup, the Holy Grail of legend, has been restored.

It’s their last life, their last chance. Om and Bri must find their way back through the rip to Atlantis, and to the cave where the last Val-yr, vampire priests, wait.

But the Cup needs a Key.

Continue reading

How to Write a Good Book – Post 5. Varying the Pace

pen5So you have your plot of Rudolph’s adventures all worked out and you know where the climax and twist will be. Now you are considering writing the climax and want to know how to show tension when Rudolph can’t get the tractor down a narrow alleyway, or gets stuck in a snowdrift. So how do you show the tension?

It’s not as easy as you might think!

Action Words and Expletives

The first rule is to use more action words when you are writing action sequences. These are words like ‘ripped,’ ‘spun,’ ‘yelled,’ ‘wrenched,’ and ‘panted.’

Here is an example. See how this sentence sounds quite calm.

– He knew he needed to get through the door. He put down the axe and walked up to the door. He pulled on the handle and it opened. He went thought the opening and all was well.

That definitely lacks tension. Let’s try it again:

– He had to get through the door. He only had seconds left! He threw his axe down, spun round and leaped toward the door. Grabbing the handle, he pulled and pulled but the door wouldn’t budge. Using all his strength, he gave it one last almighty heave and wrenched the door open. The wood cracked and splintered as the lock broke, and he was through!
“What’s the problem Rudolph?” Santa yelled.
“The door! It’s bloody stuck!”

Okay, so I went a bit over the top there; it’s twice as long. But it’s much more exciting.

Notice the use of words like ‘grabbing,’ ‘cracked.’

Also notice saying ‘had to’ instead of ‘knew he needed to.’ Forget about considered thought in tight situations. People just act and think later when they are desperate. This is one place where we definitely don’t need to know what the hero is thinking.

Also note the use of an expletive (swear word) by Rudolph. You might not want to use expletives in your writing but it’s a fact that people swear a lot when under pressure. Leave swear words out and you risk losing realism.

Short Sentences

For the last reason above, short sentences are good in action sequences. We want simple action, and short sentences tend to increase the pace.

Time

Another trick is to use time. If the hero is not only fighting against an evil adversary or obstinate door, but also against the clock, this will dramatically increase tension.

I used this a great deal in Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate.

Adversity or Obstacles

Elements of adversity of obstacle can also add tension. In the example above the door wouldn’t open easily and he had to wrench it open. Small accidents can also increase tension. He needs a key to unlock the door but he drops it, as people do when tense or in a hurry. Both accidents and obstacles also prolong the tension, which also helps create tension.

Use of Commas

The use of less commas during action sequences can increase tension, but this is a technique not all authors employ. If you try it, you still need to observe good grammar rules.

A Word of Warning about Length of Description

As you probably noticed in my example above, quite often action sequences can make the prose longer. For this reason, you will need to allow a bit more space for describing action, perhaps as much as 50% more space. But on the other hand, if you use short sentences carefully and avoid any description of inner feeling, you can sometimes keep the prose in action scenes as short as elsewhere.

Slowing the Pace

It may sound crazy, but sometimes you will want to slow the pace!

You can’t have climactic scenes throughout the whole book. This would be exhausting to read, and would ignore the whole point of climaxes. But you may want more than one climax. In The Devil’s Own Dice I knew there would be a big battle in the middle of the story. Inevitably this has to be very tense and a climax of some sort. But I didn’t want it to be the final climax. This made things tricky. I got round it by making the lead up to the battle quite leisurely and keeping the tension high afterwards. I also had a strong ‘insight’ scene after the battle, so that we see a previous love affair in detail and how it affected the main character. This kept the pace up, because of the tension of an affair, but also allowed the reader a bit of a contrast to battle. I had to make sure the final climax was even more exciting, but on the whole I think the reader feels they got a bonus, rather than a let down

Using Chapter Breaks and Scene Switching

I put these 2 factors together because they sometimes amount to the same thing.

Because you will want the climax somewhere near the end of the book, each chapter should, on the whole, be more gripping than the last. This drags the reader along and won’t let them put the book down. For this reason, you should normally end each chapter on a cliff-hanger. That is, they should either be just about to learn something, or have just seen some action but not know the outcome. This will make the reader want to turn the next page.

If the book has a large cast and a complex arena of action such as the invasion of Earth in my science fiction book Worlds Like Dust, you might try switching between different areas of action, either at section breaks or chapter breaks, rather than trying to describe it all simultaneously. Allowing yourself to describe one piece of action completely before switching to another increases tension, because the reader is wondering in the back of their mind what has happened to so-and-so in the other scene. Tolkien does this brilliantly in Lord of the Rings. You must handle continuity very carefully when you do this.

So, in conclusion, to vary pace, use:

  1. Action Words and Expletives
  2. Short Sentences
  3. Time
  4. Adversity or Obstacles
  5. Reduced Number of Commas
  6. Chapter Breaks and Scene Switching

Join me for the final part of this series 6. Editing in two weeks’ time.

Let me know what you think of my tutorials by commenting below:

Coming Soon! RIP – the greatest story adventure!

RIPSubscriptions will soon start for RIP – a scifi, paranormal and  alternative history adventure in the online magazine format.

There is a RIP in the fabric of time space which allows two spirits, joined by the dream of a world that might break out of a cycle of progress and destruction, to seek each other out, again and again. Omah is a man with a key, but he knows not what it will open. Bri is an empath of outstanding ability. Together they will find a way to open up the RIP and find man’s destiny.

Subscriptions will be for $0.99 for 2 chapters per month (RIP Prime), or $0.49 for one chapter per month (RIP Stream 1 or 2), of a story that will build into seven novels of up to a million words and take years to complete.

You will be able to get all chapters or choose your genres from two streams:

Stream 1: Mostly Alternative History and War thriller, with some Romance

Stream 2: Mostly Science Fiction and Romance, with some Alternative History

The first two chapters will be FREE! And you will get one month free after you subscribe and a further month’s trial subscription after that.

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Would a subscription for magazine delivery of fiction work?

Too Bright the Sun cover

Too Bright the Sun cover

I wrote about the idea of subscribers in my 2010 scifi book Too Bright the Sun. In the story, Army officers during wartime were required to create video podcasts for subscribers, as a way of raising income for the army. Somebody in the Tom Winton Authors Helping Authors group on Facebook recently posted an idea of a group of writers offering a subscription deal to read a chapter of their work each week in magazine form.

While the subscription services idea sounded great to me at first, I spent some time thinking on it and thought that while it is probably fine for non-creative industries and occupations like soldiering and construction, there are potential problems for creative industries.

The idea of publishing a chapter a week sounds great. I am very productive and just published 4 novels in 8 weeks but even I need a break now and then. I don’t foresee me doing anything but editing for the next few months (yes I have 2 more completed works). Nobody is going to want to subscribe to that! I think such a service would have to be either pay-as-you-go or you would need a large number of writers to guarantee that there is always content and if you did that, you would need admin staff running the thing, hence putting up the overheads.

However, I see a bigger problem; making the actual creative process on-demand introduces and element of performance, which will affect the work. Let me explain; I have written 2 novellas specifically for commercial gain and I set myself a time limit to do it. Most writers and artists have probably done something similar but to do this all the time seriously would threaten to undermine the very foundation of true art.

Who hasn’t written a book for their own pleasure and many great works of art have been an unexpected success. To churn out creative work to schedule all the time would not be art but craft.

Then there is the issue of editing! Who hasn’t written a first draft, only to find that Chapter One should start completely differently or should come later in the book? There is no way you can construct a good piece of art in a linear fashion. You ALWAYS need to go back and change things. If you don’t, you are almost certainly writing inferior fiction and the readers are going to notice. I suspect that a subscription service like this would suffer from very low quality levels at the very least.

Furthermore, what about an artist who wouldn’t or couldn’t compete in such an environment, were it to take hold. Kate Bush would be a good example. Who can deny the brilliance of her recent album, Aerial? And yet this took about 10 years to make and nobody knew what she was up to. She had complete lack of pressure and look at the result! I doubt she could do create such beautiful work to a deadline. Other artist may be able to but not all.

There is also the issue of exclusivity, or more accurately, limiting the licence using exclusion. What if I am a musician (I like using the musician analogy because it is often more collaborative and I used to be a musician) was working on a Kate Bush album. I know Kate insists on complete secrecy in all she creates. There is no way that musician could blog/Vlog about what he is doing with her and yet it might be hard for him or her to judge where to draw the line themselves. What if they are practicing a certain style of playing or researching a style for her album? Would she object to the artist giving that away innocently? You bet she would.

Lastly, what about unscrupulous bottom-feeders like the paparazzi? In this case, they might be called ‘subscriperazzi’ but their intentions would be the same. Some of them would pay good money to publish information about upcoming projects from the greats.

In short, making the creative process part of the publishing process so intimately introduces a great danger to the quality of art and indeed to its very survival. Do you we really want to see a 22nd century where art no longer exists and is simply replaced by a form of craftsmanship? Have we really reached the zenith of ART?