The first of Joseph D’Lacey’s Snake Eyes pair of novellas, A Man of Will and Experience tells a tale where the fractured and many-layered psyche of the main character is as much an antagonist as any of the ‘spiders’ or plant-zombies he encounters.
Beginning in a dream, transitioning to a very-normal world and a hyper-normal protaginist, the reader is presented with an intriguing dilemma of a character who has noticed something that nobody else has.
The mystery gradually unfolds and soon the story begins to move from layer to layer, but whether we are transitioning from reality to fantasy or vice versa is never clear.
Authors need to read. Learning by example is one of the most fundamental and seemingly obvious pieces of advice anyone can give an aspiring author like myself, for a huge number of reasons.
In a previous post I explored a few of my writing heroes, but a list of favourite writers, like a list of favourite books or films is never truly exhaustive, and so I figured I’d pick up that thread and continue running with it, like a deranged kitten of some sort.
Sometimes writing is difficult, and coaxing the words is a challenge that would try the most creative among us, and yet other times the words appear to come almost unbidden. These times are special; stories can grow almost by themselves, like watching a skeleton grow flesh and come to life.
I frequently find it interesting to look at the mood of different parts of my work and I cannot help but see a certain similarity between my own thoughts and feelings and those parts of the book that seem to write themselves. I think this is somewhat natural – possibly so much so that saying so is a little redundant, because it is so obvious.
Planning ahead is something some authors find hinders them, and restricts their characters, and prefer to just write from the beginning through to the end with only a light hand on the tiller.
Myself, I am not one of those authors; I prefer to make sure I have a plan as well-defined as I can have from the start, and I would be surprised if most authors did not have at least some kind of pre-defined plan, even a loose one. I find it hard to imagine how anyone could produce anything coherent without one.
Chapter thirteen is the part of my book that has been most heavily based on an afternoon of gaming so far, and consequently it has been one of the most challenging to write. That seems paradoxical, however when you consider the difference between four friends having a laugh and attempting to create a serious high-fantasy world with a cast of three-dimensional coherent characters, then the reasons become clearer.
Now I’m past the 65,000 word point, I cannot help but start thinking about the future, about whether doing this professionally is something that is even remotely feasible.
Today the word count of my embryonic novel has passed the 62 thousand word point, which I’m told is meant to mean that it gets easier because I’m meant to be well past the difficult ‘getting started’ point. I don’t really feel that way though right now.
My medication is being rather funny in that I’m starting to feel like I’m on a 30 hour day cycle, sleeping ten hours, then awake for twenty. Unfortunately the Earth is simply spinning too quickly, and despite my asking as forcefully as I can it simply refuses to slow down.
I worry sometimes whether I’m deluding myself. These are often my darkest moments, when the muse has gone quiet and I’m sitting with a notebook or an app of some sort in front of me, and the thought presents itself: “I’m not actually any good at any of this”.
At these points I start to doubt my abilities, and begin to believe – and I’m having to tell myself now that this belief is in spite of evidence to the contrary – that I am simply not cut out for anything other than what I am right now.
When I think of being an author, of writing, I can’t help think about all the work of others I have read over the years, about the things that inspire me, about the works that have touched and moved me. I know it’s a cliché to talk about standing on the shoulders of giants, but in many ways the cliché rings true.
If I do ever become successful as an author, then it will be, to a greater or lesser extent, due to the works of various authors who have inspired me to put pen to paper – or rather, finger to keyboard. I want to take the time to talk about a few of these literary heroes, and will probably do so again so don’t be fooled into thinking what I say in this post is by any means an exhaustive list.
My story concept for my current novel began about a year ago as a table-top role playing game (RPG) scenario. Set in a pseudo-medieval fantasy realm, the concept focused on a patriarchal theocratic society where what would often be considered normal freedoms would be oppressed.
It began with three main characters, who were somewhat fantasy clichés to begin with. There was the burly, lecherous blacksmith, the innocent nature-loving herbalist, and the young fresh-faced lad. In our RPG sessions these characters were portrayed by my good friend Phil, my other half Anna, and my good friend Tony, and I was the GM – games master – essentially the one who controlled the story.