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.

PrincessBride2The Princess Bride (1987) 98 minutes (94 to the credits). A healthy 8.2/10 on imdb.com

DirectorRob Reiner

WritersWilliam Goldman (book), William Goldman(screenplay)

StarsCary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Robin Wright

It goes without saying that the deconstruction of any movie will be rife with spoilers. Nothing is held back. If you haven’t (remarkably) seen this movie yet, go see it.

Or better yet, buy the book. (Amazon.com and Amazon.com.au links.)

I read the book first. I don’t know what drew me to it, or it to me (as is often the case), but once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down.

William Goldman’s conceit is that the book is an abridged retelling of a classic by the Florinese writer Morgenstern. He was told the story as he recuperated by a nasty case of pneumonia by a barely literate father who “only told him the good parts”. When Goldman found a copy (not out of print, as most Florinese authors are), he was amazed to discover that his father did a lot of editing.

pb2Goldman “re-released” the classic, with notes in the body like this. A lot of the humour in the book was in the bits he removed, and his reasoning. The movie is good, and there are a few Peter Falk interjections that loosely imitate Goldman’s “abridgement”,

But enough. This is a story deconstruction of the movie. It’s a great movie. One of the best. A slow started (box office-wise) that continues to lure in unsuspecting viewers to its charm. I only hope that some of those viewers pick up a copy of the book. It’s so much better.

To the meat of it.

Story structure, the framework all good works are built on, is explained here. Pop over for a refresher if you want. I won’t go anywhere.

Act 1

Even though the story is called “The Princess Bride”, it isn’t her story, it’s the story of unyielding and everlasting true love between Buttercup and Westley.

Or more to the point, how they finally got back together.

Westley is killed off in under six minutes, after all.

The farm boy leaves to find his riches, Buttercup says something along the lines of “What if something happens to you?”

Westley: Hear this now: I will always come for you.

Buttercup: But how can you be sure?

Westley: This is true love – you think this happens every day?

And he promptly gets captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts, “who never left captives alive.”

As Buttercup is the most beautiful woman in the land, Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon chewing scenery like a pup) takes her as his bride. She doesn’t care, really, there is no Westley, there is no reason to live. She is resigned to her fate.

The trio of Vizzini, Fezzik and Inigo Montoya are the architects of an international conspiracy between Florin and Gilder. They kidnap Buttercup, days before her wedding and take her off to Gilder, traversing the sea of the shrieking eels, the cliffs of insanity and a couple of other places not on you basic tour guide maps.

While crossing the sea of eels, heading to the Cliffs of Insanity the trio notices a man in black following them. Inconceivable, right?

He follows them up the Cliffs ,climbing over-hand by rope, and engages with Inigo Montoya.

Inigo Montoya: Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

 

What a fantastic line.

And thus ends Act 1. The sword fight ending Act 1 clocks in at around 21 minutes, a little early, but not out of line.

I believe that the appearance of the Man in Black is the end of Act 1. He’s the hero. And he is now visibly in pursuit of his goal, Buttercup. His sword fight, fight with Fezzik and battle of wits with Vizzini are him reacting to the situation he’s in. He’s not in control of the situation (nor would he be for some time).

Prince Humperdinck, CountTyrone Rugen and a group of Florin’s best troops are in hot pursuit, close on the heels of the Man in Black and, more importantly for the Prince, Buttercup.

Act 2 (first half)

As mentioned, Act 2 begins with the Man in Black (who we all know by now is Westley, disguising himself in the time honoured method of a mask) taking on all who wish to harm Buttercup.

Round about the middle of the first part of Act 2, Westley reveals his identity after being pushed off a cliff by Buttercup. I think I might have spoken up a little earlier.

It seems a bit unfair that Westley gets past the Shrieking Ells, scales the Cliffs of Insanity, defeats Inigo, Fezzik, Vizzini, survives the Fire Swamp with it’s flame spurts, lightning sand and the R.O.U.Ss only to be captured by the dastardly Prince.

But that’s what happens.

As they (Buttercup and Westley) exit the Fire Swamp, the Prince and Count catch up to them. Westley is prepared to fight it out (“Death first!”) when Buttercup surrenders with the condition that Westley be spared and returned to his ship, the Revenge.

The Prince gallops off with the beautiful Buttercup riding pillion and, at the Midpont, the Count (who has, we learn, six fingers) thumps Westley on the old noggin and takes him off to the Pit of Despair.

Act 2 (second half)

The remainder of Act 2 has Westley at a bit of a disadvantave. He knows where the Princess Buttercup is, but he is, alas, dead for most of it.

The Pit of Despair, and it’s “machine” is the end o the line for Westley. The  introduction of the Albino is comedic gold.

Westley: Where am I?

The Albino: [raspy voice] The Pit of Despair! Don’t even think…

[clears throat]

The Albino: … don’t even think about trying to escape. The chains are far too thick. Don’t dream of being rescued, either; the only way in is secret. Only the Prince, the Count, and I know how to get in and out.

Westley: So I’m here till I die?

The Albino: Until they kill you, yeah.

Westley: Then why bother curing me?

The Albino: Well, the Prince and Count always insist on everyone being healthy before they’re broken.

Westley: So it’s to be torture?

The Albino: [nods enthusiastically]

Westley: I can cope with torture.

The Albino: [shakes head enthusiastically]

Westley: Don’t believe me?

The Albino: You survived the Fire Swamp, so you must be very brave, but no one withstands The Machine.

(Buttercup is still under the mistaken assumption that Westley is on his ship)

Tens days before the wedding Buttercups nightmares are at such a state that she threatens to kill herself if she is to marry Prince Humperdinck. The Prince offers to send his four fastest ships to find the Dread Pirate Roberts/Westley inviting him back to claim his Buttercup.

This is all bullshit, of course, Westley is still in the Pit, and the six-fingered Count is trying a torture machine out,

Count Rugen: [admiring his torture contraption] Beautiful isn’t it? It took me half a lifetime to invent it. I’m sure you’ve discovered my deep and abiding interest in pain. Presently I’m writing the definitive work on the subject, so I want you to be totally honest with me on how the machine makes you feel. This being our first try, I’ll use the lowest setting.

[Count Rugen activates the water powered torture machine. Wesley writhes in great pain]

Count Rugen: [calmly] As you know, the concept of the suction pump is centuries old. Really that’s all this is except that instead of sucking water, I’m sucking life. I’ve just sucked one year of your life away. I might one day go as high as five, but I really don’t know what that would do to you. So, let’s just start with what we have. What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity so be honest. How do you feel?

[Wesley cries and moans in pain]

Count Rugen: Interesting.

 

Buttercup catches on that the Prince lied and he’s sent no ship.s She proclaims her undying love for Westley and the Prince runs down to the pit and cranks it to ELEVEN. No, wait, that’s a different Rob Reiner movie.

Prince Humperdinck: You truly love each other? Then you might have been truly happy! No couple in a century has that chance, no matter what the storybooks say. And so I think no man in a century will suffer as greatly as you will

[Throws the lever on the Machine up to the highest setting]

Count Rugen: Not to Fifty!

Westley: [Writhes and howls]

Inigo Montoya: Fezzik, do you hear that? That is the sound of ultimate suffering. My heart made that sound when Count Rugen killed my father. The Man in Black makes it now.

Fezzik: The Man in Black?

Inigo Montoya: His true love is marry Prince Humperdinck tonight, so who else has cause for ultimate suffering?

This is the second Pinch Point.

Inigo and Fezzik find the Pit of Despair. And how appropriately named it is. The Count and Prince are still alive, Buttercup is essentially a prisoner and Westley our her, is dead. This is the lowest of the low points.

But Inigo knows a guy. The “Miracle Max who worked for the king for all those years”.

And so we end Act 2, and begin:

Act 3

Inigo takes a dead Westley to Miracle Max (Billy Crystal having a ball). Max isn’t convinced he should help, being a fired wizard, and all.

Inigo Montoya: But this is Buttercup’s true love – If you heal him, he will stop Humperdinck’s wedding.

Miracle Max: Wait. Wait. I make him better, Humperdinck suffers?

Inigo Montoya: Humiliations galore!

Miracle Max: That is a noble cause. Give me the sixty-five, I’m on the job.

 

And so they storm the castle.

It’s sixty soldiers guarding the castle against Fezzik, Inigo and a recently dead Westley. Westley’s recovery is another piece of great writing. He comes to with only his mouth working.

Westley: Who are you? Are we enemies? Why am I on this wall? Where is Buttercup?

Inigo Montoya: Let me explain.

[pause]

Inigo Montoya: No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Buttercup is marry Humperdinck in little less than half an hour. So all we have to do is get in, break up the wedding, steal the princess, make our escape… after I kill Count Rugen.

Westley: That doesn’t leave much time for dilly-dallying.

Fezzik: You just wiggled your finger. That’s wonderful.

Westley: I’ve always been a quick healer. What are our liabilities?

Inigo Montoya: There is but one working castle gate, and… and it is guarded by 60 men.

Westley: And our assets?

Inigo Montoya: Your brains, Fezzik’s strength, my steel.

Through bluff, bravado and a fight to the death, the trio get into the castle. There’s a wedding ceremony by the brilliant Peter Cook that needs to be seen to be believed:

Then the six-fingered Count is killed by Inigo Montoya, the Prince defeated and Buttercup and Westley ride off into the sunset.

Grandpa: [reading to his grandson] Since the invention of the kiss, there have been five kisses rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind. The end.

Why not?

The support you show an author by preordering a title can not be underestimated.

  • Preorders accumulate, all of them tallying up to a single day of awesome sales on the release date. For indie authors, that kind of exposure can really help get the word out. If the numbers are large enough the title climbs up the book charts and land in front of more eyes.
  • And because us authors really appreciate the preorder, we typically offer the preorder at a substantial discount. It’s not about the money, money, money. I typically price preorders at US$0.99, with a post-launch price of US$3.99. $3 is $3, right?

“Killing Time” is now available for preorder on Amazon and iTunes [Edit: and on Kobo. Smashwords rocks.] and will soon be popping up on Barnes&Noble.

If you’re the kind of reader who enjoys feisty female detectives, time travel and a healthy dose of vengeance:

Preorder “Killing Time” on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo and B&N

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