Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Is Wanting To Know More, Simply Procrastination?

I made the mistake of obtaining a couple of books from my local library on "Writing Novels and how to do it". I thought two of them were full of really great advice and actually found copies on Amazon which were very economically priced, second-hand (or pre-read as they aare now called) but good quality. In my opinion a great way of buying books.

However, I have spent so much time reading "how to do it", I have actually stopped writing. In one sense, I can see this is procrastinating but as this is my first time I thought that I should be allowed this one minor bout of self-doubt.

The two books I bought are:
1. A Teach Yourself Book, Writing A Novel by Nigel Watts. The main reason (but not the only one) that I bought this book was the so-called 8-point arc of a good plot. These are, Nigel explains, the phases which a classic plot needs to pass through. He calls them:-
  • Stassis
  • Trigger
  • The Quest
  • Surprise
  • critical Choice
  • The Climax
  • Reversal
  • resolution
I do not intend to discuss the idea in any more detail, but it seemed to me to be a lot more helpful than the 3-act plot often discussed by other authors and in on-line articles I have read.

2. The Beginners Guide To Writing A Novel byMarina Oliver. A more traditional book but a chapters on "getting ready to start" and ""the overall view" seemed to offer something out of the ordinary run of the mill advice I have read.

Both books do of course cover characterisation and setting the scene and most of the usual advice. despite having downloaded many articles, I do love books and could not help wanting these.


I do have a number of scenes in hand and am posting a new short piece of the novel ( as usual a first draft) on the blog today to prove that things have not come to a complete stop. 

Let me offer a short recap. Eadwyne has been asked by his Liege Lord to raise an army and set off to stop incursions by pirates and their allies. Dinbar, the court magician was in the midst of giving the force a blessing which was a spell to ensure their safe return when a lightning bolt struck and created a "twin" of Eadwyne. He was not hurt but thrown into his assembled force and in the resulting chaos, the twin escaped undetected. He was afraid and did not know or realise what had happened. He decides to hide in the castle ... This scene finds FEAR, the twin, exploring tunnels in the bowels of the castle.

FEAR did not know that no one ever came to this place. The tunnels were there long before the castle as it is now, was built into the rock face. They were damp and cold and ignored by staff, never  used and so had fallen into disrepute. Rumours of spirits and unknown things kept the castle's servants away from the heavy wooden door which closed off the entrance. FEAR felt safe in these tunnels and passageways despite the dank darkness, and yet he wondered what lay ahead. He somehow knew that he had to explore the tunnels in order to put his mind at rest. For it was in turmoil at the moment. A sudden awakening in the parade ground, all that running around and ... who was that ... man and why did he feel a link between them. A link that gave rise to a massive loathing and fear at the same time.

The tunnels were faced with stones, they must have been important when first built but he could tell they were not used now. He quietly crept back to the cellar entrance and made sure that no one was around. Sure enough he quickly found what he was looking for in the detritus from a working royal residence. Torches; everyone needed light in such a large building, and there were plenty which had not been burned down completely. Some servant looking to save a few coins for his master or maybe even for himself, who knows? FEAR quickly lit one of these partially burned torches from the single flame near the steps back up to the castle's higher floors. He then returned to the tunnels with enough brands to last him for a cursory search, at least.

He started walking into the gloom and soon found that more steps taking him down even further below the castle. He was carefully picking his way down from the staircase with his head down, when he realised that the dust on the steps had been disturbed - recently it seemed! Warning bells rang for him. So he was not completely alone in this inhospitable place, or at least the tunnels were used by someone else. The light from the torch was dim and flickered as he carried it before him, it provided only a small circle of light around him as he moved forward. That was the reason he had not noticed the footsteps in the duct, now that he had, he was swinging to torch around to examine every inch of the floor and walls. Yes, someone else had recently been down here and he came across more torches along the route. Enough to suggest that whoever had been down here came fairly frequently but it had not been over a long time. Many recent sets of footprints, they had not yet begun to fill back in with dust. He could not say for certain exactly what how long ago the tunnels had been used, but he must assume that he was not necessarily safe down her. Although as no torches were lit he could assume that the interloper, for that is how he thought of him, was not in the tunnels at present.

At the lower level, within a short distance, Fear found a wooden door - unlocked. All the earlier worries flooded back, but he knew that he had to search the room as it may contain more clues to the interloper. He looked inside and was disappointed, an empty cell. Nothing at all behind the door, no furniture of any description, no sign of anything. He made his way further down the tunnel and found more doors, all of them hiding nothing but shadows. For him to take refuge and hide here would not be a long term possibility, and even then he would have to forage in the kitchens for food, clothing and bedding along with anything else that he might need.

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