The genesis of a story idea is an ethereal thing, sometimes. A couple or three separate ideas lodge in the brain and over time they combine and a completely different “thing” is formed. A thing that would make a good tale, one that others would enjoy hearing.

The “over time” ingredient, however, can be months, or longer.

In 2013 I saw this Tweet:

I immediately thought this would be a good idea for a story, but an idea is not a story. I didn’t have the arc. I didn’t know the protagonist or antagonists (yet). Location, time, how the time travel would be presented all fuzzy.

The premise, that unsolved murders are the result of time travellers coming back to clean up messes, was good. That’s essentially the premise of the Terminator movies.

But to craft that premise over three acts, with a good character arc and a nice twist at the end, that took me a little while.

Over a year, in fact.

Initially Act 1 was easy. Act 2 floundered. Act 3 was impossible. Turns out I was looking at the story the wrong way. I was focussing on the time travel aspect of the story and not the reason for the time travel.

Then last November a virtual lightning bolt hit me on the top of my bald head and I knew how to end it. Once you know that, the rest falls into place. And after that, it wrote quickly. Probably because I’d spent over a year bouncing various permutations of the story around my mostly hollow skull.

It’s available for preorder now, and will be released on April 15, 21 months after the initial spark.

So, if you read Killing Time and enjoy it, thanks Roman Godzich. He provided the spark.

KillingTimeCoverv20(400x600)Killing Time is currently available for preorder (to the right on my website for links, or go here).

I’ve mentioned before why I think preorder has the potential to be a home run for authors, and I’d like to amp that up a bit.

I’ve got ARC  (Advance Reader Copies) available for readers who would like to provide reviews in advance of release (for iTunes and Kobo) and copy those same reviews on Amazon and B&N on April 15 when the book is released. (Amazon doesn’t allow reviews of books on preorder. Yet. They’ll catch up some time. B&N, the same.)

Two caveats:

  1. It has to be an honest review. I’m not looking for slappy-happy 5-star reviews. If you get the ARC, read it and think it’s poorly written drivel*, tell me and rate it accordingly. Of course, if you think it warrants 5 stars, I’m sure as hell not going to stop you.
  2. Please mention in the review that you are reviewing an advance copy (ARC). I expect I will find a couple of minor things to change between now and the end of the month. The story arc won’t change, but the “final” edits for tightness and flow never end.

If you are willing to help me out with this, leave a comment with the type of platform you read with (kindle, iBooks, etc.) and I’ll email you a copy.

Thanks!

*I frequently think what I write is poorly written drivel, so don’t beat yourself up over it.

01. March 2015 · Write a comment · Categories: writing · Tags: , ,

rebookEvery single book I’ve written is available on Smashwords.

And every year Smashwords has a weekly “Read an eBook” promotion. (Now you know where I got that catchy title.)

If you were to maybe click on the link above and see the titles available,you will see thirteen titles. Granted, one isn’t available until April 15.

So twelve.

Two are always free (the Eamonn short stories) and three are priced “pay whatever the hell you want”. That means you can pick them up for free, or one billions dollars. (Your choice. No pressure.)

The remaining seven are, for the period of March 1 through to March 7, 75% off.

SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT.

Have you ever seen a deal like that? Yeah, yeah. Plenty.

But this is only on for a week.

Click that link above again (or flip over to the tab that opened the first time you clicked on it because I know you already clicked it) and pick any of the books (they’re all good. Trust me) and when you (if you) choose to buy one, enter the code RAE75 when you check out and presto-gizmo, a whopping 75% discount.

Go on. You know you want to.

Many thanks. For every dozen books sold I get to buy another cup of coffee.

IMG_3185So you’ve come up with a great premise, developed your characters in all three dimensions and you’ve structured the story so it flows from A to Z at a healthy clip (if that’s what you’re looking for).

If you want to add some depth and texture and colour to your world, maybe build a mind map like the one on the right. It’s a perfect thing to do when the mood to actually write isn’t there. Works well with a glass of wine or snifter of brandy.

Start in the centre with something core to the story – main character, over-riding premise, whatever helps stimulate thought.

Start spreading out from there. Cops have CIs (confidential informants), partners, stations have evidence rooms. Look at the location you’ve set the story. What time of year is it? Where will your character travel during the course of their day? Who else might they interact with?

There are no wrong answers. No ridiculous ideas. All is fair game. Some ideas won’t get used, others might show up in other stories. The intent is to flesh out the world you’re creating.

The page I photographed and attached is one I created for “Killing Time”. Some of it is in the final product, some wasn’t used (but might be in another story, or a sequel).

How do you build your worlds? Hoe do you fill in the blanks?

A little over a year ago I had an encounter with some vile things who knocked me for a loop and put me off writing for a while.

I’m not going to go into the specifics — don’t bother asking — because they don’t deserve the attention or notoriety. Suffice to say, I saw little point in writing books any more. It disappointed me to feel that way. It was something I loved to do and it was taken away from me.

Wow, how stupid does that sound?

I still had my laptop, still had ideas, still had slices of time to write, but I didn’t have the desire.

Spent a month and a bit completely putting it out of my mind, then decided it was as good a time as any to start looking at this screenplay thing. I had dabbled a bit, but novels took the prime time and the slivers of minutes left wasn’t enough. With novels shelved (as it were) I had some temporal space available.

I wrote, in the last thirteen months, two original screenplays and adapted three of my novels. If you write novels, I can’t recommend it, even as a hobby, enough.

The discipline you learn to take a 100,000 word novel and distill it to a 100 page screenplay, without losing the essence of the story, translates very well when you finally go back to the novel writing.

Not a single scene in a screenplay is “extra”. If it doesn’t advance plot or character, it’s gone.

Dialogue, one of my favourite parts of writing, needs to be crisper and more succinct in a screenplay. It also needs to carry a lot of subtext. Your characters need to be saying what they’re saying without actually saying it, at times, and when that is done correctly, the words sing.

It was a steep learning curve. I received a lot of advice from online screenwriters and from a couple of screenplay a$$e$$ment $ervice$, but it was worth every penny.

The end result is a couple of new books that are, I hope, tighter, faster and more pleasurable to read.

And it wouldn’t have been possible if the scum hadn’t taken aim (and if I hadn’t been such a wuss about it).

So, thanks. You helped me grow.

The next time you get attacked online, remember, they’re just words. Use them.

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