Haute Tension

Haute Tension (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tap, tipetty, tap, tippetty, tap, go my feet along to my favorite songs on the MP3 player. Easy as pie, my head hears the beat and my feet they automatically know what to do. Oh dear fates now I am singing along and I have a voice that the local foxes and tomcat would be proud of.

When it involves music, its instinctive, you hear the beat and something in you knows what to do, connects on that cellular level that we are all instinctively looking for when we write. Music moves us, and we don’t have to do a thing……

Writing is different, it takes a lot of shitty firsts just to get the language right and once we’ve completed that and it’s readable we then look to structure. How long is this bad boy? Do I really need 120,000 words to say this or could I use fifty grand instead?

Where do I show? Start as close to the end as possible you say okay, “The End”, doesn’t seem that effective, begging your pardon. Use a hook for every paragraph? Are you fecking kidding me?

Okay, now I am exhausted reading it, so that doesn’t work.

This is my nemesis now, the rise and fall. I am not writing a thriller. So having my characters fall from one calamity to the next every paragraph doesn’t quite suit, I want drama and tension to come through, but I don’t want to manufacture nasty stuff to happen just because everyone tells you that you must have your character in deep doo-doo all the time. I am not sure it’s right.

Tension,is what I am trying to create and then resolution and then further tension, my novel should rise and fall like the ocean, sweeping the reader along with it. Disaster, then climax then build again. I want it believable and musical. I want my readers emotions to travel with them on the journey and whilst some of this is achieved by likeability and hateability of the central characters. A lot of this will happen via the structure and flow.

My perfect reader will be on a journey with my characters towards realisation. Not all my characters make it. In fact many that start the journey will fall and their friends and family will be irrevocably altered by their loss. Some for good and some for ill.

It’s creating that wave-like structure that I am finding the most challenging (along with everything else.) I seem to either have too much happening or too little, it’s such a fine balance.

I’d welcome suggestions from others who’ve struggled with the topic of pacing?

Are there any great craft books, you know of that deal essentially with this topic rather than anything else?

Foetal Writer – My list of baby steps.

fashion faux pas

This is my writing. (Photo credit: Judy **) But I’m working on it ūüôā

It’s not all joy and expansive prose when you’re new at this writing schnizzle. Sometimes it just plain sucks. I’ve made a list of all the things I’m good at and all the things I’m struggling with. These are the things where I need to engage the force and shut up and just get on with it!

Good At:-

1. Procrastination. I’m sure that draw needs re-organising, the cat needs feeding and if really in a rut, I may even talk to the husband.

2. Using the words:- Turned, saw, look, looked, began, begin/s, started, while (and whilst, I like to mix things up y’know?), was, had, told, knew and heard.¬† – I opened Scrivener to see how many words I had in my search list and trust me, – this wasn’t all of them.

3. Editing, because I can’t get past Chapter twenty-two.

4. Fear of finishing (hmm linked to number three above) and the ensuing fear of failure to sell any books because I’ll have to talk to lots of people and be nice and let’s face it the reason I write is because I’m a bit of a depressed loner.

Baby Steps:-

1. Dialogue tags:- I forget the rules and no-one should use that many descriptions of the word said, often with an adverb. I counted seven in one particular piece of dialogue, they sounded like bad thespians rather than characters, she whispered quietly – err DOH!

2. Getting in and out of rooms. My characters seem to get stuck by some invisible force sometimes in doorways or in front of doors. It’s really difficult getting them in and out of blasted rooms.

3. Action:- Now this is the sticky bit. If an arrow pierces a shield the reader knows that it didn’t pierce the person in the next sentence because it’s in the shield. I do this a lot. I’ve taken to watching u-tube action sequences and listening to swordplay. I’m also learning a lot about archery so that I get it right. Especially, because you just know if you don’t know this stuff, someone is going to nicely point out you got it wrong, wrong, wrong….

4. Moving the story on, there’s a lot I need readers to know and whilst I am desperately trying to show not tell, I sometimes do a little too much back story… Mystery is my friend, readers are surprised not, Oh I knew that was going to happen five chapters ago. If they’re still there….

So these are my failures and my top faux pas. What did/do you struggle with?

Comments, as always, welcome.


Yesterday, as well as sharing the here and now with my husband, I did a bit of work on the book. My book. I haven’t really posted all that much recently about my work. I feel a sense of dread when I¬†write about it. Especially when it seems, that every other person on the blog¬†is a wannabe author out to get self published.¬†Do we notice other writers more when we take those first tentative steps out of procrastination and into the writing light? I must do, either that or the rest of the world really IS writing their first novel too.

It doesn’t help I guess that the genre I am writing in gets a bit of a bad rap. You see it’s a fantasy novel¬†and even worse it has no vampires, werewolves or paranormal beings. It’s also designed for adult readers, so that’s the YA audience out then. The protagonists, because there are multiple, are from the late twenties up. One of my favourites is in her fifties.

I am writing¬†the book that I would want to read. I miss the old-fashioned fantasy¬†with interesting characters. I miss feel good. I miss drama minus the dwarves and elves. There will be magic, however, based on some of the science around the Higgs Bosun particle… Whilst I love Dragons – there are not any in this book.

R.I.P. David Eddings
R.I.P. David Eddings (Photo credit: Xanetia)

If you think David Eddings or Patrick Rothfuss, you are in the right sort of area for my first novel. There will be a bit of George R. R. Martin¬†too, his dialogue is exceptional and thats the standard I’m aiming for – I’ll try not to kill anyone off that you really like, but unfortunately characters have a life and death of their own.

This is not a series of books. It¬†isn’t part one of ten. It will be a standalone, about a world that has been in my head for over twenty years. There will be six short stories that go with the book. One for¬†the history of the “Disciples” who are a band of six. They represent: the mother, priest, joker, assassin, healer and thief.

I will after completing this; move¬†on to a contemporary fiction novel, could be described I suppose, if you had to, as hen-lit but there are no relationship dramas. My character hasn’t got divorced, she’s not going to find love in a bookshop. It’s about how the mother and daughter relationship¬†is¬†difficult even when you are all grown up and have a family yourself and how some wounds from childhood stay with us even when we really should have discarded them years ago. The central theme is about finding peace and redemption.

For my third novel, I haven’t got that far ahead… The third book I write will probably be in a completely different genre altogether, I may even try my hand at romance. I think there is room for a Romance with real people. For a truly inspiring female lead that you root for and more importantly a truly heroic male who complements not controls the protagonist.

We have a small reading problem
We have a small reading problem (Photo credit: ktgeek)

I’m not a genre writer you see, I want to write about the things that I am interested in. I read everything from thrillers to¬†fantasy, so why wouldn’t I write about them too? I think if anything really good has come out of the Self-Pub revolution it is that we get to experiment with our stories; no longer are we confined to only writing the same stories over and over because that’s all the publisher wants.

So are you a genre reader or writer and do you think that authors should stick to one thing?

Comments as always welcome.