Progress Report Dec 2015, & Plans

A few revision passes of The Monster in the Mirror have got that in a reasonable state. I’ll set it aside for a few more weeks before looking at it again. A short break in the meanwhile, with maybe some considering the character arcs from Glyphmaster, and listing other things in need of attention when I get to revising that. I might take a run at it before returning to The Monster in the Mirror.

Further ahead, there’s a couple of shorter pieces to revise at some point, and then I need to get back to Dwimmerfall. Probably a light revision of the first two parts before planning out the third. That will probably take some time.

While I do have a couple of other things planned beyond that (including the next in the series after The Monster in the Mirror), I do need to consider whether to carry on along my current path. Fantasy and Science Fiction are the genres to which I feel most attracted, but I’m not sure my writing style is really suited to them. I tend towards the sparse, and worry that I’m maybe not giving enough detail to satisfy readers. Maybe I’d be better suited to writing thrillers.

Not that my existing thrillers sell much better than my other stuff, but I’m wondering about focussing on those for a while. The first novel I wrote, The Paragon Protocols, was an espionage thriller, though I never published it. I’ve been meaning to go back to it at some point, and have been considering fixes recently, so maybe I’ll have a tinker with it.

It’s related to Allegiances, though only in setting rather particular characters, and I had rough plans for where the setting/series could go, but they’ve changed slightly. Originally I’d intended an espionage series that verged on super science, with a hint of the excesses of some of the Bond movies in that direction. But in writing Paragon Protocols I found myself grounding it more than intended, so the immediate planned sequel just felt too different to fix.

Not that it’s ultra-realistic spy stuff. It’s still more action movie territory. And it’d probably have a large cast that would weave in and out, rather than a fixed central character (I have plans for some of the characters from Allegiances, but haven’t got around to writing them yet).

Even without the shifting genre, I’ve been considering trying a more ongoing series. Not sure it quite fits my sensibilities, though. I might get tired writing the same characters over and over, so they’d need to be planned well to begin with, leaving enough space for them to grow.

Or not grow, simply be the fulcrum of the story. I’ve been reading some of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books recently, which I’ve enjoyed. Reacher doesn’t really change, serving as pretty much a plug-and-play protagonist who stumbles into plots. His backstory can be summed up in a few paragraphs, so just connect him with a reason to stay involved and you’ve got a protagonist with whom existing readers already have a bond. Cuts out the hassle of building it anew every time.
Even from cold, Reacher is easy enough to relate to. I’m reluctant to say due to lack of depth, but it obviously came to mind. The few times he has emotional reactions actually feel kind of odd.

Not that him being a cipher hurts the stories. The craft is good enough to hold the interest without requiring the central character to undergo any change. Which isn’t necessary for a story anyway, though it seems to be expected in novel length works. But if you’re writing a series, there’s only so much growth a character can really be exposed to before it becomes too repetitive.

This can be a problem for TV shows especially. Those where characters have to experience an emotional arc every episode, and learn something from it. That level of constant emotional turmoil can’t be healthy. Most such characters should probably be committed after a few years, to get them away from sadistic writers.
So I tend to doubt I’d be able to write a series with a single main protagonist. More of an ensemble piece might work.

Once I’ve cleared my current workload enough to be able to think properly about it, and not let my mind ramble as it has just now.

Not until next year, then.

Seasons greetings, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Doctor Who: Hell Bent

[No detailed spoilers, but vague, and rambling, discussion of the tone and type of story]

I enjoyed the finale of this season of Doctor Who, but it was only in considering it I realised how different last season’s finale was from the others of Moffat’s era. It was more the blockbuster finale of the Russel T. Davies era.

Understandable, since all of that season was basically the new Doctor discovering who he was, taking a bit longer than they usually do. It also had a clear bad guy, and widescreen, epic, action. Whereas most of Moffat’s others have been a tighter focus, with the Doctor’s main adversary being time, or fate.

His first season’s penultimate episode, The Pandorica Opens, had an array of enemies banded together against him. The final had one dalek, and the wasn’t the real enemy. The collapse of time was. It felt like an attempt to mark out the difference in showrunners, building up to what appeared to be the same kind of blockbuster, then taking it somewhere different.

His second season finale, while it had more bad guys running about, was basically about escaping his fate: his apparent death in the first episode.

The next finale had the Great Intelligence as an enemy, but ultimately was about the Doctor’s ultimate fate: his apparent death. Playing into the anniversary and Christmas specials, which while more widescreen were still about him cheating fate, saving Gallifrey and avoiding his destined death.

Then Capaldi’s first season finale went back to the more traditional blockbuster, as the Doctor defines himself. Which feels odd in this retrospect, although I still like it.

And this year’s finale feels more like Moffat’s earlier ones, starting off large scale before zooming in to a smaller, more personal view, with the danger – fate – overcome by trickery rather than fighting. And hints that this all started for the Doctor because he was running away from a fate he claims to no longer remember clearly. So time has been his adversary all along, and he’s running to keep ahead of his fate.

Random TV Rants

The First

There are too many programs on. So many that decent ones with maybe too few viewers by some arcane scale get shunted into late night slots, with only the title in the listings that can easily be overlooked.

So it’s been with season 3 of Orphan Black. I’ve been checking every few months or so for mention of when it’d be shown over here (in the UK). Remembered to check last week and found it’d started in September, in a late night slot, two episodes a week, so it’s already finished, and no longer even on iPlayer.

I realise this is a result of previous seasons not getting the viewership to support an earlier slot (giving the BBC the benefit of the doubt in terms of competence) but this is a rant.

So now I’m waiting for the DVD to reach an acceptable price. But given how many programs I like that I have to get by DVD because they’re no longer on TV, or never got on TV over here, it’s irritating to miss one that actually was.


The Second

I feel the most important aspect of background music in TV shows is that it stays in the background. That it doesn’t overwhelm the dialogue so you can’t hear all of what the cast are saying and have trouble keeping up.

I’m looking at you CSI: Cyber.

Now maybe it was a glitch with the broadcaster, or just something with that one episode. But this is a rant, so doesn’t need to be balanced and fair.

At least it didn’t happen to a program that does more than fill the time, so that’s something. I find it fairly bland, even compared to the others of the franchise. It ticks all the necessary boxes, tries to add some relevance with its basic concept, then sits back and has a snooze through the earnest dialogue.

Maybe it was intentional, trying to cover some particularly bad writing.


I’ll try and have some more substantive posts soon, or at least less irate ones.



Song of Thunder

Song of Thunder, a short fantasy novel that’s basically the Wild Bunch with orcs and goblins, is out today.

Song of Thunder

Part of a war that’s spanned history, the goblin scout Tuarth serves the Dark One as part of a small squad, whether he wants to or not. With no real home, or family but the squad, all he can do is keep his head down and try to survive, any kind of life outside war only a distant dream.

After kidnapping a human princess, the squad have both sides chasing them, and Tuarth’s dreams may soon be crushed.