This my constant companion

Constant Companion

Well, so it is when I'm writing. I need my regular supply!

Okay, okay, I admit it. The purpose of this post was merely to test out the BloggerBot thingy...

It works.


Problems of the Second

I'm in the middle of my second.

It's different from my first -- mainly in point-of-view. Despite dire warnings that novels shouldn't have too many viewpoints (preferably no more than two or three, and the point-of-view should not change within a chapter), I was inspired by the supremely accomplished multiple viewpoints demonstrated in the only three novels of a relatively new novelist. I therefore decided to write my first novel from more than a few viewpoints, not necessarily staying with just one for the duration of a chapter.

It was fun, satisfying, useful (in that it allowed transparent exposition at the same time as characterisation), and very freeing.

My second, I decided would be more structured. With two main characters, this was to be a novel of alternating viewpoints, strictly chapter-by-chapter. Once set up, this is reassuring for the reader, I believe. But there are problems. For a start, the reader experiences only those events that occur to one or the other protagonist (yes, in this novel the two viewpoint characters are both protagonists, not one protagonist and one antagonist).

The other problem -- one that I'm finding harder to resolve -- is that of timing. The chapters are of approximately equal length (about 3,500 words), and if lots of stuff is happening to one character and not much to the other, what goes on in the chapter assigned to the less active character? Maybe the more active character's chapter can be split into two, the chapter lengths massaged a bit (though not too much), and some other action can be introduced for the less active character. But it mustn't seem like padding.

I've no doubt that I will resolve it. After all, nothing's set in stone. The novel's structure is my decision, and I can do it how I please. But it needs to be self-consistent. If the beginning sets up things in a particular way, readers will expect the structure to carry through to the end.

There are also minor problems relating to the novel's place in the greater scheme of things. My second is not a sequel to my first, though it could be a prequel to my third novel in the series. (The third will be a sequel to the first -- the second takes place elsewhere, some generations before the events in the first. Confused? You will be.) While relating the events in my second, I don't want to pre-empt (or spoil) the third. This one (the second) is supposed to be essentially stand-alone.

I have a good reason for not going ahead with a sequel to my first novel (not yet, anyway). The first novel is still in search of a publisher. There's no point in writing a sequel to a novel that possibly no-one's interested in. A stand-alone novel set in another region of the same milieu could, however, be looked at in isolation.

That's my story (in more ways than two), and I'm sticking to it.

And those three novels by a relatively new writer that I found so inspiring? The Trickster, Furnace, and The Ancient, by Muriel Gray.


The Story of a Story -- unfinished...

Soon after I decided to venture for real into the 'friction fiction' genre, I came up with an idea for a short story that was so compelling I had to get it onto virtual paper as soon as possible. "A Fair Trade" is a historical fantasy that runs to well over 8,000 words. This is a length that seems particularly difficult to place. Most markets put a limit of 6,000 or less (some a lot less) for short-story submissions. That even applies to those markets that publish short stories, novelettes, novellas and novels. There's nearly always a gaping hole somewhere in the region of 6,000 to 15,000 words.

I was therefore pleased that "A Fair Trade" was accepted by the very first market I sent it to. That was EroticSF, but my satisfaction was short-lived, for EroticSF closed before the story was published.

Recently the story failed to make the cut at Dark Sins & Desires Unveiled, so I've sent it to Cecilia Tan at Circlet Press. I understand I may have a long wait.

All comments I've received so far on the story have been favourable, in that it's well written, but not suitable for a particular market (except one that's closed...).

Ms. Tan states in her guidelines that she expects stories to be simultaneously submitted elsewhere. This isn't something I normally do, as most markets don't like it. (And as an editor in another life, I found simsubbing unacceptable myself.) In this case however, I'll give it a month or two, then I hope to find another market that also allows simsubbing.

It's a good story. It should be read.

Fiction, yes? Show me!

Just in case anyone has a mind to check out what I've written recently, here are some links (blogs are supposed to have links, after all):

"Penelope's Pulse" -- at Thermoerotic.com
(Miss Penny is about to receive some persuasive, not to say invasive attention.)

"The Rude Serpent" -- also at Thermoerotic.com
(A lone surveyor on an alien planet encounters some surprising and unusually explicit flora and fauna.)

If, however, you prefer something in an actual book, rather than on screen, see Violet Blue's new print anthology, Taboo: Forbidden Fantasies for Couples (published by Cleis Press, and available from the likes of Amazon) in which my story "Evening Class" is an educational tale of domestic discipline.


Seems to work...

That (setting up the blog) was surprisingly easy, I thought. Though there are some inconsistencies that no doubt I'll get to grips with in time.

So, now that InApt Words is up and running I suppose I'll have to post something actually relevant. Such as what's happening about novel number two.

While the first one is languishing at the bottom of some prospective (Hah!) agent's slushpile, I've been pushing ahead with the next, on the basis that I may not get even the tiniest nibble at the first for six months or more.

All well and good: the second novel's first draft is two-thirds finished (great!), but I haven't touched it for two weeks (not so great). And what's even less great is that the way it was going two weeks ago -- what with various plot revisions and restructuring -- it looks like my estimate of 100,000 words might be a bit short. It could well end up (like the first one) at about 130,000. Which makes my 'two-thirds finished' boast sound a little inflated.

But I had an excuse, honest! Monday is the deadline for the BBC's End Of Story contest. I had 1200 words in which to finish one of eight short stories by best-selling authors. Prizes are debatable: Fame (of sorts), but no money. And no copyright, even if I lose. Probably the worst contest conditions I've come across.

So why did I enter?

Mercenary motives. Winners get publicity (and a chance to spend time with the author -- what kind of a prize is that?), and I reasonably thought that a winning entry would demonstrate writing proficiency enough to warrant interest in my as-yet unpublished novels.

I deliberately left myself limited time to enter the contest. Not because I work better under pressure (not true, I think), but because I didn't want to spend too much time on it. With a writing assignment like that, I find there's the temptation to be endlessly tinkering, to the extent that I'll revise the life out of it. As it was, even as I stuffed the envelope into the post box (no email submissions permitted...) I was considering how I could have improved some particular aspect of the thing.

Nevertheless, I did it, and posted it. Now I can forget about it. Probably forever.

Wandering about, wide-eyed and awe-struck

Er, Hi!

Here I am, blinking in the light. What's it all about? Where am I? What's this? Who's that?

No doubt it will all become clear, soon enough...