Bloody hell, not *that* kind of three! And, wait, shouldn’t it really be the Four Musketeers? Clearly there are four of them. Athos, Porthos, Aramis and d’Artagnan.
I’m not wrong! Look at the picture! One, two, three, four!
Then again having never read the book, I should probably keep my yammer shut.
I really should not try to be clever when I come up with blog entry titles. I get into arguments with myself. On my blog. That’s the equivalent of talking to oneself, right? I suppose there are worse things one could do.
Anyway. I digress. I really do, no more of that nonsense.
Back to my point. Blood on the Quarter has recently come back from the wonderful guys over at the Roundtable Podcast. David and Brion and a featured author (I’m not going to tell you who, you’ll have to wait for the podcast to drop) took time out of their lives to sit down with me and have a chat about my book in progress. The podcast was many things; thrilling, enlightening, and not as terrifying as I thought it was going to be. David and Brion are ridiculously supportive throughout the whole process and are very quick to point out problems backed up with suggestions on how to fix them. Needless to say, I learned a lot. Not only about my book and what I was doing wrong, but about the writing process.
Let me explain. You’re going to think me a newbie, those of you who have made a study of writing, but we all were new at something in some point in our lives. This is my newness coming to the front. And I am not ashamed.
I never thought about character development. I knew of it, just never gave it much thought in any of my writings when I was a teenager and in the Navy. I just wrote. If the character’s changed, I didn’t notice it. Neither did I ever think that anyone could be anything but all good and all bad. Never entered into my head. And why should it? All of the television shows I grew up on had a bad guy that needed to be stopped and good guys that were, well, the good guys. Good and evil, two halves of one whole. There wasn’t a grey area.
Well, apparently a grey area does exist and I was missing it. The deficiency showed up in my writing where my protagonist ended up being a vehicle for things to happen and my antagonist was a right bastard without having a good enough reason for it. The dual realisation hit me hard. Why couldn’t my protagonist just be a vehicle? That’s what protagonists are, right? Who wants their good guy to have some bad in them? Good guys can’t be bad! And Bertrand was a bastard in my head. He didn’t have to have a reason other than money. He was the bad guy, not some guy who was trying to do good in all the bad ways! If black and white was good enough for me, it should be good enough for my audience.
Yeah . No.
Two dimensional characters are never ‘good enough’. That’s crappy writing.
I will be accused of many things in my life I am sure. Crappy writing is not going to be one of them.
I’m too damn proud. And vain.
Crappy writing doesn’t stop there, though. Cramming a single book full to the brim of giant ideas with no common thread binding them together can be considered as such. The ‘this sounds so cool!’ and ‘aw man, that would make an awesome story’ factor came into play in this one. What sounded cool in my head, doesn’t necessarily translate onto paper.
David and Brion were quick to point that out with much laughter on all sides. Including mine.
Ideas on how to fix it were flung fast and furious. It was all I could do to hurry my pen up to try and get them all down. Which is why Blood on the Quarter has been separated. Seems that, once I took a hard look at the story I was trying to tell, I was actually telling three stories in one. Sitting down and separating the story out was exactly what I needed. It gave me the space to explore different avenues and to flesh out ideas that I hadn’t thought of before, or had been too bogged down to notice.
There’s something to be said for asking for help when you need it. And, god help me, I needed it. Blood on the Quarter needed to be smoothed out and shaved down, even writing it, I knew it was too big. I just didn’t know how to fix it. I wasn’t necessarily shown how through the podcast, instead I was given suggestions with a ‘take it or leave it’ mindset.
If it worked, use it. If it didn’t, bin it.
As we talked, some other realisations grew out of the conversation. Not only about the writing process, but about genre and where one’s writing fits in. Blood on the Quarter is a steampunk/dieselpunk fusion novel. Or it will be at any rate. However, I’ve been told that my book resembles more pulp fiction in its current state. An exciting thought considering one of the bigger influences on the story and a compliment I’m proud of, no matter the general opinion concerning pulp fiction. Hey, if I can make my mark on something, why not that?
So, Blood on the Quarter has been bruised, battered, but not broken. The story is there and I am proud of it. It’s just going to be separated. Into three books.
Which I have finished outlining today.
Originally Blood on the Quarter *was* going to be a standalone. Hence the crammed to the brim, bit. It would set up the world that the timepieces inhabited and tell one specific tale. The subsequent books (The Last Train, Unicorn and Red Riding II) were going to be their own books, self-contained, without any reason to read them in order. Maybe there would be some overlapping, but the only thing holding them together would be the common denominator: the Timepieces.
Now, not so much. At least for Blood on the Quarter. You’re going to have to read those in order to figure out what’s going on. Red Riding II and The Last Train, Unicorn are still part of the universe, just not necessarily featuring the same characters.
Maybe there will be a book in between. There’s still a situation in Ireland that needs to be explained. But, that’s neither here nor there, at least for right now.
Right now I have to wrap my head around three different books. Or one big book. Does word count still matter if you’re self-pubbing?
If you find yourself in need of an outsider’s opinion and are willing to take a chance, the guys at the roundtable are always on the lookout for new writers to share their stories for a workshop. Visit their site and fill out the application. Give it a go and see what new ideas pop up!