Announcing the Launch


youjustgotraidedYou heard it here first: This website right here is relaunching.

We will have launch in T minus ….

7 days.

Next Monday I’ll be swapping this site over to the new one, all bright and shiny and ready to take Elite:Dangerous into the next year and beyond.

Its not just a blog or a place to link to my youtube and face channels. Its going to be a portal to drive connection between you and me, for you to become part of the Garry Clan folklore and for me to share my Elite fiction.

Good combination? I sure hope so. The proof will be in the cake (unless the cake is a lie…)

To help launch the site I’ll be running a competition. More info on that during the week. . . .

Kickstarter

Fantastic Books Publishing‘s kickstarter campaign to audiofy its Elite:Dangerous fiction is going well. We’re a shade under a third of the way there in terms of the funding with alot of time still to run. We’re having a lot of fun in the comments section, even starting up some small bits of fiction. There is a story line behind this kickstarter. A gathering of pilots led by Commander Dan with Senator Drew of the Prism solar system waving the flag. But there are traitors and spies in our midst.

And why is the Garry Clan getting involved?

Even if you have no interest in the fiction or audio books, I highly recommend chucking in a solitary buck (at the minimum) just so you can get access to the daily video updates and the evolving story from that. You’ll get value for money just from that alone. The elite dangerous community is really getting behind us and we also featured in the latest Frontier Developments newsletter.

Novel progress

I received the complete reviewed manuscript back from the publishers last week with instructions to ‘have that back to us in a few weeks will you old chap?’

Holy crap was my first response. My second was to ask for an extension. However, I’ve been ripping through the very minor edits in good time so I’m looking good to have this edit done this year. Here’s the ol’ fancy progress meter to show you where I”m at:

 

Page 254/ 575 (45.4%)

 

Word Count:122,683 (down from 124,644 in the Beta edit)

All the edits suggested by the publisher have been small things, a nip here, a tuck there, but the effect is eye opening. I’m pretty sure this story will be finishing below 120,000 words which will be great. I’m predicting 115k at this stage. We’ll see ๐Ÿ™‚

Commander’s Log
Commander's Log Cover art
A reminder that Episode 11 came out lately where I have quite the discussion on the recent designs coming to light in the design decision forum archives.

So come on in and have a listen to: Podcast # 11: ‘Discourse at Veedze’

(Music courtesy of Stellardrone)

Newsletter

Geez, talk about the last minute. The November newsletter is almost complete, I’m just waiting for you buggers to tell me what engineering design/concepts/ideals that relate to Elite:Dangerous you would like me to discuss. No feedback last week, so should I assume the engineering section of the newsletter doesn’t tickle anyone’s fancy? Anything else you would like to see in the newsletter instead? hit me up in the comments or email me at john_at_andherethewheel.co.nz

Garry Clan Trailer

If you haven’t already seen this, check it out below. Its awesome*, with a killer sound track that really hits the mood of Elite:And Here The Wheel.

*(because I said so).

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Exciting times, coming up guys and gals. Come back next Monday for something very special!

Cheers,

John

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Don’t trust this update’s title

Because it has nothing useful to say. Not really anyway.

It’s been another week of hard work but none of it visible to you. Not yet anyway. So there isn’t a heck of a lot to talk about this week but here is a quick run down of where I am at:

Novel
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I haven’t touched the novel this week. Still waiting for feedback from my publisher before I hit the next edit. I’m not getting antsy or anything:) I’m perfectly happy taking this break.

In actual fact I am editing someone else’s novel. A good friend gave And Here The Wheel a rather excellent critique and now I’m returning the favour. He is another Elite Commander whose novel started as fan fiction of Elite and has now morphed into its own world. It is interesting how much easier it is to see fault with another person’s work over your own. The act of critiquing others is good practice for critiquing your own work. Critiquing is an art form in itself. Although I can give fixes to problems I see these are fixes that would work for me. It isn’t my story though, it is my friends. So what I think is a fix might not work for him. What I should actually do is point out why I am concerned about something. He can then take that info and his intimate knowledge of what the novel is and create a solution that fits for him. We will see how controlled I can be on this front ๐Ÿ™‚

Relaunch

Big changes coming.

Big changes coming.

Doing some pretty exciting work here. It has taken me a while but the structure of the new website is now done. Now I’m filling in the content. I am doing some extra stuff ‘around the edges’ to make this a real experience for everyone who visits.

The whole point of this website is for you the reader to connect with me and for me to share with you so you feel involved in the process. This new website should do that and more. It will make you part of the story.

The website will be launching with a pretty awesome competition as well. More details to follow.

Commander’s Log
Commander's Log Cover art

Planning underway for the next episode. I have my next guest organised and we’re trying to agree on a good time to chat. Baby steps, baby steps. . .

—–

I’d love to tell you about the rest of the things I have been working on but that would just totally wreck the surprise. So I’m not going to do that. It makes this update seem a bit weak but trust me, it’ll be worth it.

Until next time Commanders,

John Harper

The one with the reboot and the accomplishment.


Novel
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This has been a strange week for me. Microsoft Word has only been open as required for my day job. I have not used it at night all week. I have done zero writing or editing. It feels weird. I keep thinking about this big thing missing from my life. I’m not having to devote hours of my life to it.

And then it hit me.

The hard work is done.

In December last year my Indiegogo campaign looked on the rocks. I feel that I had a lot of support but Elite:Dangerous was on kickstarter and I was on a different platform and this different platform asked for money up front. Too many risks for a lot of people. Still, through the extreme generosity of some Elite supporters I got my funding.

Then I thought ‘oh, now I have to actually write this thing’. So in January I started planning the novel down to as fine a detail as I could. I wrote a two page synopsis for Frontier. I developed this into a thirty page document. I created a beat sheet, breaking my story down into sections. I put up the pillars of the basic story structure, the first and second plot points and the mid point contextural shift. I edited my thirty page document. Frontier got back to me and told me I had to change my plans. The back half the story got completely reworked. I even hired a consultant to run through my beat sheet and together we made some minor but important improvements to the plot.

I started writing the novel itself in February. I completed the first draft in three months. I re-read the novel making notes of any howlers or just things I wanted to change, even things that I just wanted to flag for later thought. I then went through and addressed these areas. I then ran the story through another edit.

I sent the alpha readers the story in August this year. I took a few weeks off as I waited for feedback. I got a lot of positive feedback – everyone who responded loved it. Those who didn’t respond I can’t comment further on. Some people just haven’t been able to finish it yet, which is also feedback of a sort.

I took the feedback and completed another highly detailed edit of the novel. In some parts this was just tightening. In other parts this was a complete rewrite. A whole chapter was cut out and a replacement written. Point of views were altered. A lot happened.

During that edit I contacted Fantastic Books with what I thought was a pretty rock solid submission. I was told I would hear back within the month. Six days later I had a contract to sign.

Just over a week ago I completed this titanic edit and sent the manuscript through to my beta readers and my publisher.

I haven’t really stopped since January. I’ve been plugging away night after night, working on this project, because its a dream. It’s a dream come true to be an official Elite novelist. My youth as an Elite fan fic writer could never have imagined this opportunity. (Its still hard to fathom some times!)

But now I have stopped (for now) and the realisation hit me: The Hard Part Is Over.

The job isn’t done. Not even close. I have the publisher’s edit to complete. There will be another one to two edits after that. Frontier Developments have changed a few parts of the ‘history of things to come’ which means I’ll have to change some parts of the story. There is the marketing. There is the social media. There is the local media and marketing angles. There is still so much more to do before March next year. Maybe overall I’m only half way there.

But for me, right now, I’m sitting in the sun in the country* drinking a wine, thinking ‘F*ck Yeah. I’ve accomplished something.’

It feels good.

*I live in the country now. That’s not just a random place I stopped for a wine.

Fantastic BooksFBP_Logo_Tag_CMYK_BANDW

My publisher has been pretty busy over the last wee while. Firstly (And unfortunately) their Indiegogo campaign failed to meet its funding. I spent a lot of time talking to Dan, the CEO of Fantastic Publishing, about crowd funding. Now Dan is coming out with a bigger and badder and more awesome crowd funding campaign. You can read more about it on their latest update here.

To summarise: instead of funding on indiegogo with a widespread selection of books and fans, Fantastic Books have tuned it down to focusing on bringing their four Elite novels to audio, And Here The Wheel included! This will be a focused and professional crowd funding campaign and this time run on kickstarter, where Elite:Dangerous raised its funding.

Fantastic Books has already started looking at doing a book trailer for And Here The Wheel. Dan and I discussed what would make an appropriate scene to bring to life in the book trailer. I came up with something that I think is a little bit special. It gives you a sense of WHO the character is, WHAT he is about, HOW the story will go and WHY he does what he does, all wrapped up in one little package. Powerful stuff. I’ll keep you updated on how that progresses.

Dan has also had a bit of a hand in what is happening below . . .

Relaunch

Big changes coming.

Big changes coming.

Look around this website. The dark colours. The muted title header. The narrow page focus. All of this? Gone, or at least it will be soon.

That’s right, www.andherethewheel.co.nz is being rebooted. A whole new look, a whole new focus, a whole new BRAND, coming at you soon.

This site serves as a good enough blog, a place to update you on my progress, a place to act as a repository for the podcast among other things.

But going forward, into the marketing of the novel, I need something more, I need something driven from the novel, for the readers, to combine the two experiences into something, well, Fantastic.

I’m currently making a new site from the ground up, because I want to connect with you, I want this website to be a visceral experience for you, a reader of And Here The Wheel. I’ll be doing that through new fiction orientated content. You’ll still be getting the same news as before, you’ll just be getting more . . .

Stay tuned.

Commander’s Log
Commander's Log Cover art

Well, I’ve been a bit quiet on the podcast front. Its been ‘heads down, bum up’ time for me getting the Beta draft done. Now I’m catching up. New website, new podcast episode, new newsletter, they are all in the works. And I have a lot of ground to cover. the DDF has been busy, the community has been going crazy and the alpha testing version of Elite:Dangerous is almost here.

So the Commander’s Log will be coming back to life sometime in November.

—–

Thanks for stopping by. Have a nice week and I’ll catch you next Monday.

Cheers,

John

Electrons, Wood pulp or sound waves?

How would you like your novel?

How would you like your novel?

How do you like your novel served up these days?

This is the question I have been asking myself recently as opportunities open up before me.

Paper

My personal favourite of course is wood pulp. I’ve done a lot of work for a thermo-mechanical pulping plant who make paper, but that is not why paper is my favourite medium for a novel.

I think it is because of my mum. Mum loves reading. She read to me as a child. I think of reading and I think of the times I came home at night to see the light on in her room, a book open in her hands but mum well and truly asleep. Its a happy warm nostalgic memory. We often ran out of book cases at home. We didn’t sell the books or give them away though. No, dad just got his builder mate to make another bookcase. Who needs wall paper when you have book cases?

I devoured books as a lad, reading the same things as mum as that was what was available, but eventually branching out into other subjects like science fiction. Sometimes I bit off more than I could chew, like ‘Clear and Present Danger‘ by Tom Clancy as a ten year old, or The sequels to Dune as a pre-teen. Overall though I did pretty good.

So if I’m going to read a book I want it to be paper. It just feels RIGHT.

Ebooks

But what about you? Do you like yours served up as a dish of electrons, a bunch of 0’s and 1’s? Ebooks are cheap to make and cheap to sell. In that way they open up literacy to many (though you could argue libraries do the same thing). In terms of reading an ebook on an ereader I’d really be quite happy to pass.

The only time the ebooks have really worked out for me was for a period of maybe 4 months when my boy had some big issues sleeping and I spent half the night wandering the house with him in my arms to keep him asleep. I had one arm holding my boy and one free arm. Too hard to read a paper book that way but the kindle was just perfect. I read two novels of the Song of Ice and Fire that way (and if you know anything about that series you know how BIG those books are!)

Audiobooks

What about Audio? I’ve come to love the idea of audiobooks. As a user of an audiobook all the work is done for you. You don’t have to turn pages, you don’t have to to do any thinking, hell you don’t even need to open your eyes. Its a lazy man’s dream.

From an author point of view however I think it is an exciting way to add value to your novel.

Compare reading: “You’ll never reach the top of the hill in time,” Robert said in a disparaging tone. (Note: Yuck example but its late and I’m tired so deal with it)

With listening to a man speak in a disparaging tone: ‘You’ll never reach the top of the hill in time.’

All the nuances and flavour are fed directly to you instead of being layered in afterwards. It compacts the story and makes it easier to digest.

Another great advantage to audio books is the addition of foley. Watch any movie or tv series. The music or sound changes when the drama changes. A reveal comes along, a decision is finally made, whatever it is you get a signal it is coming from the sound effects. With audiobooks you can do this too, heighten the drama, give signals, foreshadow, whatever. You can even just add good old fashioned sound effects to reinforce the action.

And Here The Wheel

Everyone is different. I know some people love ebooks. Others love audiobooks to help them sleep at night or get through their night shifts or whatever.

Choice is good.

That’s why And Here The Wheel will be produced in all three formats.* Because all of those Elite fans whose lives will be better after having read And Here The Wheel, have different tastes and different preferences for their literature.

So which is your favourite?

*If its audiobook then we need your help. Audiobooks cost a lot of money. Fantastic Books Publishing are raising funds through a crowd funding campaign to set up their audio division. Everything is in place for recording And Here The Wheel. Actors, technicians, its all looking pretty darn exciting, we just need the money to hit the go button. Please visit the campaign and donate, even if its just a little bit and help my dream (and hopefully yours) come true.

Thank you.

Editing Progress

Here is this weeks progress meter for Editing, Round 2:

Progress Meter

 

Page 510/ 595 (85.7%)

 

The cake progress meter is a lie. That big scene that last week I said I would chop out? Yeah, didn’t really get around to that. Skipped it and moved on finishing the rest of the edit before going back to it. So the total page count is wrong and although I’m up to page 510 in the editing there’s some writing to do in the midst of that. Still its the best overall picture of progress I could come up with.

Commander’s Log Podcast
Commander's Log Cover art

Episode 10B has been out for a few weeks now. Thank you to everyone who downloaded and listened. I hope you enjoyed it. Who did you pick as the winner between Drew Wagar and myself? Were you right?

I’ve already had some questions fired at me to answer in the next podcast. Feel free to drop me a line in the comments or on twitter or facebook if you have a question you would like answered. Or, if you can think of a great place for Commander Harper to visit then let me know that too. Its a big universe out there and there is a lot of ground to cover.

I’m also teeing up a pretty exciting guest for the next episode too. Stay tuned for that one.

Episode 10B “Everything is pretty Fantastic”

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Thanks for stopping by. I’d love to hear about your favourite book types.

Thanks,

John

Kill Your Darlings


Your novel will thank you for it. . .

Your novel will thank you for it. . .


If you are a writer then you’ll know the above saying.

If you know a writer then you’ve probably heard them say the above.

Kill your darlings means, in a very loose translation: Although you might be in love with a piece of your writing (a character, a scene, a sentence), you might think its the best damn piece of writing you’ve ever done, full of lyrical metaphors, cunning wit and beautiful description, definitely worthy of a nobel prize, but if it isn’t “doing it” for the novel, then you have to kill it.

Kill. Crush. Destroy. Delete. Annihilate.

You get the idea.

But what do I mean by ‘doing it’? You may remember a post I did a few weeks back talking about character. I said that a character must pull his weight in a story, by bringing more than one thing to the table. Three dimensional characters, the important ones, by default carry their own weight. Its the lesser characters, the sidekicks, the butlers, the dude you meet at the corner store that you need to worry about. Do they need to be there? Can you combine two to make one and simplify the story?

The same is true of scenes. A scene HAS to have a reason. No give on that one. If it doesn’t have a reason or a point then it is not a scene. Its a slice of life or a vignette and it doesn’t belong in a novel.

The reason could be simple like introducing a character or introducing a conflict. If its a good scene it’ll do both at the same time. If its a great scene it’ll do all these things and more.

But there is something else. All scenes in the story should do, at the minimum, this one thing: They should drive the novel forward. They should point like arrows toward the finish line. They are there to complete the character arcs and the journey and get the hero to the end (one way or another).

I’ve been working through alpha reader feedback and completing my own edit of the novel and this week I’ve found three scenes which I’ve ultimately decided to remove or change in shape or form. Why? Because they weren’t driving the story forward. I was cruising in fourth gear, steadily working my way toward the climax (wah-hey!) and then these scenes chuck me back down to second and make me turn a corner.

They are good scenes. They read easy, they are enjoyable and they bring *something* to the table. The last of the three is a pretty massive scene. It was pretty damn cool. I loved it. Robert Garry kicked some serious butt. He did some killa’ damage. If you have heard of Fuck Yeah moments, then you probably have a fair idea of what I”m talking about.

But its going.

I’m going to miss it. It has some really great qualities and it does tick a lot of boxes. It bring a lot to the table, but its almost a side story, a reaction to events rather than a scene of Robert being a proactive warrior and creating events, of driving the story. Remember than in the third quarter of the novel the protagonist should be a driven attacker, a person who knows what they need to do and goes about doing it.

With the scene gone however, it leaves a pretty big hole. I need a replacement scene. The scene won’t be on the same scale, but it will accomplish all the GOOD things that the original scene did, but it will do more. It will drive the hero forward in his journey, emotionally AND physically. It’s probably going to merge with a later scene and become a pretty emotional point for our hero. He is going to realise some stuff. Things are going to change for him.

Its going to be pretty magical.

But you know, without the magic, because this is science fiction.

Editing Progress

Here is this weeks progress meter for Editing, Round 2:

Progress Meter

 

Page 391/ 595 (65.7%)

 

The overall page count has gone down slightly, and this doesn’t include the big scene that’s about to get the chop. It’ll be interesting to see what next week’s progress meter looks like. I’m ripping through the editing and should have this completed in October, ready for the beta readers. Are you excited? I’m excited!

Fantastic Books
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It’s fun having a publisher. You can talk about publishing stuff. March 2014 is coming up around the corner and although I’m still concentrating on the editing I have to think about next year.

Needless to say some pretty exciting things are coming up. Stay tuned. . . (Yes I’m being intentionally vague).

Commander’s Log Podcast
Commander's Log Cover art

Episode 10B finally came out late last week. Only when I uploaded it did I realise it had almost been a month since episode 10A. That’s what you get when you sit around waiting for Drew Wagar, author of Elite:Reclamation to finish his novel. He was worth the wait though, we had a pretty good chat about the state of the Elite books, what information we are waiting for from Frontier Developments and then we get down to business and duke it out, thumbwar styles!

Who wins? Well its my podcast, so . . . you’ll just have to listen and find out.

Where should I head next on the podcast? Anyone have a favourite system that needs visiting by Commander Harper?

If you haven’t listened you can click on the link below. But of course you’ve already listened, haven’t you?

Episode 10B “Everything is pretty Fantastic”

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Thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoyed it. Have you killed any of your darlings? I would love to hear your stories.

Thanks,

John

Trusting the Reader


Lee Child trusted the reader to know without reading. . .

Lee Child trusted the reader to know without reading. . .

A few years back I was at a Dominion Post Writer Series night with the guest of honour the mighty Lee Child. He is, quite simply, THE MAN. If you want to read a novel that makes you stay up all night to finish it in one sitting, then you need not go any further than Lee Child. His skill at suspense is legendary and I have written an article dissecting one of his scenes. (For the record I talked to him for about sixty seconds as he signed a copy of 61 Hours, the cover of which is to the right. We talked about babies and nappies and kids never getting easier, even when they leave home.)

A topic Lee Child covered during the main event was trusting the reader. He said during his time with the TV industry that they had a three step process:

1)Tell the viewer that they were about to be told something
2)Tell the viewer something.
3)Tell the viewer that they have been told something.

I.E smash them over the head with ‘the something’ to make sure they have gotten it. He began his writing career doing the same in his novels, but as he and his writing matured, he decided he would trust the reader to understand without being bludgeoned.

The case in point? The ending of the book 61 Hours. Many who read the book were concerned about the survival of the hero, Jack Reacher but all the information needed to know he was alive and well was in the text. What Lee had done was not spell it out, or for another clichรฉ, join the dots for the reader. The dots were on the page but he left it to the reader to join them.

In some ways this is a risky business, but in other ways it can be very rewarding. The reader feels good about themselves when they figure something out. If an author trusts the reader like this, the reader learns to trust the author back. But trust is hard earned and easily lost. There is a balancing act where the author needs to show JUST enough dots.

How does this apply to And Here The Wheel? I too am trusting the reader. My point of view characters see the world in very different ways and these conflict with each other. One may view his action’s as just while the other sees them as barbaric. One man’s self defence is another man’s needless slaughter.

At one point my main character refers to the nastiness of an ancient battle but gets the country wrong. I’m trusting that the reader has picked up enough dots and figured out my character so they know that the author (me) hasn’t screwed up but in fact this is what my character actually thinks. Its right for him to make this mistake. It feels right that he is wrong.

My hero also talks a particular way, not always correct in his grammar. He wouldn’t get a pass mark at Stanford or Oxford, let’s put it that way. But have I written the novel poorly or is this appropriate for his background? Well this one in particular is a very fine balancing act. I’m not going full on phoenetic or anything silly like Iain Bank’s Feersum enjin but I am trying to hint that his background is different from the other characters without detracting from the reading of the novel.

These things take trust. I’m trusting you to get it. In turn hopefully you’ll learn to trust me not to screw it up.

Editing Progress

‘Editing Round Number 2’ is well underway. Chapters have been sent to Fantastic Books Publishing and they have been returned with comments. I am still going flat-out incorporating alpha reader advice into the latest edit.

Here is this weeks progress meter:

Progress Meter

 

Page 274/ 601 (45.5%)

 

Not as far as I had hoped to get this week. I’ve tried to go ‘balls to the wall’ but I’m running out hours. I am literally doing two jobs at the moment, doing the family stuff and then squeezing in the novel in every spare minute. Its fair to say that sleep has given up on me and gone next door for company. Never mind. I will keep pushing and I will sleep when I’m dead. . . which may be soon if I don’t get sleep. (Talk about a vicious cycle).

Fantastic Books Publishing
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Everything is going great here. As above I’ve already had some great feedback from their editors. Together we are going to make this the biggest Elite novel ever. (or tied for first with Drew Wagar’s Elite:Reclamation).

I’m really excited about the opportunity Drew and I have here. With two books under one publishing wing, both books being marketed as a set and with Fantastic’s, Drew’s and my own social media drive we are sure to get the word out to everyone and hopefully show Gollancz a few things about how to write Elite fiction.

So because Fantastic Books Publishing are doing all this awesome stuff for me, do you think you will be able to stop past their crowd funding campaign and think about chipping in? every dollar helps. Right now they around $23,000 USD behind their target and need everyone’s help. Did I mention they are making audiobooks? Do you want Elite audiobooks? Look this way!

Commander’s Log Podcast
Commander's Log Cover art

Recording happened late last week. Drew and I chatted for nearly an hour about Elite, our novels, Fantastic Books and the publishing process and our plans. We also discuss a certain freakin’ awesome battle scene and we slip in a game of thumb war for good measure. I also have Jamie Treacher, a talented composer, along as well so when I find a spare minute I’ll edit it. Shouldn’t be too far away ๐Ÿ™‚

And because I try to take any plugging opportunity that comes my way, the link for the last podcast episode is below:

Episode 10A “Tianve Terrors”

Supporter’s Page

The eagle eyed of you might have noticed that there has been some changes to the supporters page. I’ve removed most of the support tiers that were previously available. Alpha reading for example is no longer available. I’ve also removed the ability to pre-order the novel. This is no longer care of myself. Fantastic Book Publishing will be looking after this (and honouring all pre-orders). I will be talking to Fantastic later about re-opening pre-orders closer to the launch date.

Because we’re past half way into this campaign to make ‘And Here The Wheel’ a reality I’ve discounted the cost to jump on board as a newsletter supporter. It’s also not too late to sign up for beta reader access but you’d better be quick for this one as I’m looking to get beta copies out early October.

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Thanks everyone for stopping by. anything of interest in this update? Feel free to share it with your friends. Comments as always are appreciated also.

-John

“Hello, I’m John Smith.” “John Smith 1882?” “My Mistake.”

John SmithIf you recognise the quote then you’ve watched too much Simpsons. Two Zombies trying to climb back into the same grave, both of them named John Smith, but one is Pocahonta’s friend, the other is the Last Man Standing in a drug cartel war.

Why would I start tonight’s post with something so ludicrous?

Come now, you should have figured me out by now. I’m not quite firing on all cylinders, am I?

Actually, the reason is because of minor characters and their place in novels.

Every character in a novel must have a purpose. A reason for being on the page and taking up word count. Are they working against the hero? Are they the sidekick? Are they the pain in the arse sub plot that distracts the hero from their true path?

These are all pretty valid reasons for a character to be hanging around. But are they enough?

Maybe . . .Maybe not. So what do you do if the answer is no?

An Example

Let’s look at another example, an example from ‘And Here The Wheel’:

I have a character, a guy dressed in black, a trenchcoat which stretches from above his ears to along the ground. It’s big, its loose, and its good for hiding that big-ass Scatter Gun you have hidden on your person.

What is the purpose of this man? To add suspense to the story.

That’s it. He is never seen again.

I guess that’s ok. Its functional, it gets the job done, suspense is added and yet it just doesn’t feel like enough. It’s like an opportunity wasted. Worse, the reader could expect to see this man again, not see him and get confused or disappointed. Both of those things are what we call in this trade ‘BAD THINGS’.

The Solution?

To answer that, let me take a side step. Something I was taught by the underrated David Wolverton was that a scene can’t just do one thing, like introduce a character, elevate the tension, provide comic relief, etc. It must do two things. Or three things. Or four if you can make it. The scene must be as efficient as possible until it runs like a Formula 1 car, using every last ounce of fuel so the fumes coming out the back are so clean and so well used that its just CO2 and water vapour. (Though for the record I am a massive V8 Supercar fan, where the exhaust is somewhat different)

I believe characters should be the same.

So I thought to myself. “I have a whole bunch of people in my novel. Why not combine them? Get another character to fulfill the function of this trenchcoat guy.” By forcing myself to do this I came up with a solution that made the story more interwined, introduced one set of bad guys a bit earlier than previously (something I mentioned was needed in my last update) and gives a peek into the mindset of this character. Now this character has taken on another role, making him that much more useful, and the other character, the one who only had one use, is gone.

Efficiency up. Novel better. All in all a good days work.

What do you think? Do you have any characters that might need a second purpose? Or can you toss them in the bin and get another character to do their work for them? What plot options will this open up for you?

Editing Progress

Ok, well I have officially started ‘Editing Round Number 2’ where I take the advice and spelling corrections from the Alpha Readers and tune the novel up to the next level. So here is this weeks progress meter:

Progress Meter

 

Page 129/ 601 (21.4%)

 

What’s with the 601 pages you ask? Well I have converted the novel to Courier Font, Size 12, double spaced with one inch margins, aka ‘Standard Manuscript Format’. This is how you would submit a novel to a publisher for them to review.

Why have I done this? Well keep reading . . .

Huge, Massive, Ginormous News of the Week
FBP_Logo_Tag_CMYK_v1
. . .Because this week I officially signed up with Fantastic Books Publishing. I signed the contract last night and I am joining Drew Wagar as one of their authors.

This is amazing news for me, something I have been dreaming of since I stood up in front of school assembly as a five year old and read out my version of the movie ‘Short Circuit’. This is a big moment and I’m incredibly thankful to Dan Grubb for taking me on board. I’ve been in talks with Dan for a while now and his company is the perfect fit for me. I’m really excited about what this means for my novel and I’m even more excited than ever about March 2014!

At this very moment Dan is running a crowd funding campaign to create audiobooks in a new department of Fantastic Books, ‘Fantastic Audio’. I think it can only be a good thing if my publisher wants to make audiobooks, something I’m pretty damn passionate about as well. So if you have a moment please roll on over to http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/fantastic-books-audio/x/1801378 and see if you can support them. They are offering some great pledge rewards, like Kindle Fires fully loaded with their entire webstore, professional cover design, editing services and writing workshops. Definitely worth a look if you like books and writing!

Commander’s Log Podcast
Commander's Log Cover art

Well if you have listened to Episode 10A you’ll know that I ended on a cliff hangar of sorts. I stumbled into Drew and then faded to black . . .That’s because Drew was finishing off his novel draft and I wanted to save our chat until after he had finished. Now he has finished so the conclusion of episode 10A shouldn’t be too far away.

If you haven’t listened yet I’ve included the link below.

Episode 10A “Tianve Terrors”

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Well it’s been a big week. Thanks for stopping by. If you found this post interesting or the writing advice useful, please share it with your friends.

Thanks,

John