Many of us are in the heady first few days of this crazy writing challenge. Time away from our projects is ‘wasted’ time and the pull to immerse ourselves into our new stories is strong. It is our new shiny thing, and we want to spend time with it. We begin to know our characters and their plight, and the tale becomes more real in our minds.
So, my question is, are you brave enough to share your first paragraph? We all know that in the editing process it may not be structured the same, or even part of the novel at all. Let’s see what everyone is writing.
If you regularly read this blog, you know I am creating the last book in a crime trilogy. Killers Match will conclude The Delphic Murders series.
So, I will take a deep breath and expose my unedited, rough first paragraph.
Edmonton was in the grip of winters freezing temperatures, icy roads and sidewalks and snowplowed windrows on every street. Multiple traffic accidents kept the local police patrols busy and ice related falls crowded the hospital waiting rooms. It is in such an emergency room, amid the overpowering aroma of chemicals, vomit, blood and sweat that we find Avril Finn, gritting her teeth as she tries to convince a heavy bodied nurse she is indeed a police detective.
Come on, be brave. Let’s cheer each other on!
Good luck to you all with new projects, whether NaNo related or not.
In honour of spooky month, I am sharing a little about my YA fiction novella, Clickety Click. The protagonist is a young orphaned girl called Alice. Her guardians live in a remote cottage and are mysterious in nature. They assure Alice everything is fine, but certain areas of their large property have been off limits. Not until she begins to have a recurring nightmare of a purple monster, does the truth come out. It is so fantastical, Alice has trouble accepting what she is and where she came from.
This is the opening paragraph.
It’s eyes widened as it grew closer and closer to her face. Alice was paralyzed with fear, clutching her bed covers with white knuckled fingers. The creature’s mauve skin glistened with slime and drops fell onto its spindly pointed claws. Alice opened and closed her mouth willing her voice to sound in the dark bedroom. The claws clicked together as the monster’s jaw opened. Click. Click. Clickety-click.
You can find Clickety Click online on the usual purchase sites – Barnes & Noble, Kindle, Amazon, Smashwords and in Shelf Life Bookstore, Calgary. You can also request it at any library!
My guest today is Calgary author Simon Rose, who has published eighteen novels for children and young adults, eight guides for writers, more than a hundred nonfiction books, and many articles on a wide variety of topics. Today, we’re looking at his latest release, The Stone of the Seer, the first novel in the Stone of the Seer series.
So what’s the new series all about?
The Stone of the Seer is an exciting historical fantasy series of adventure novels for young adults, primarily set in the turbulent period of the English Civil War.
The Stone of the Seer, book one in the series, features the Vikings, Leonardo da Vinci, and the political turmoil of the 1640s. At Habingdon House, Lady Elizabeth Usborne, Kate, and Tom encounter a magical black stone, mysterious ancient manuscripts, and the incredible time viewing device known as the tempus inpectoris, all while under constant threat from the murderous witchfinder, Daniel Tombes.
The other novels in the series are Royal Blood and Revenge of the Witchfinder, which will be published in the coming months. There will be a box set including all three novels at some point in the future as well.
And what’s the story behind the story?
The story, main characters, and some of the settings in The Stone of the Seer are fictional but are based on true events and the story features real historical characters, such as King Charles I. The English Civil War was a series of conflicts in England, Scotland, and Ireland in the 1640s and early 1650s. The war originated in the struggle between Charles I and Parliament, regarding how the country should be governed.
The king’s defeat in the civil war led to his trial and execution in January 1649. The monarchy was abolished and replaced first by the Commonwealth of England and then the Protectorate, before the monarchy was restored in 1660. However, the defeat of Charles I confirmed that an English monarch could not rule the country without the consent of Parliament, although this wasn’t legally established until the Glorious Revolution in 1688.
You must have done quite a lot of historical research for this book.
Yes, it’s a time period I’ve always been interested in, but it still involved considerable research. I’ve included a glossary at the end of each of the three novels in the series where you can learn more about the historical events, settings, and leading characters from the English Civil War, locations that are mentioned in the text, life in the seventeenth century, and details from other historical periods that are featured in the story. There’s also a page on my website all about the historical background behind the books, with links to online sources about the time period.
What are you currently working on?
I always have a current project or two and right now I’m writing another historical fantasy novel series set in World War II. I’m also working on sequels to the Flashback series of paranormal novels, which includes Flashback, Twisted Fate, and Parallel Destiny, which you can learn more about on my website at simon-rose.com. In addition, I’m working on screenplay adaptations of the Shadowzone series and have also completed a number of picture books for younger readers, which I hope will be published soon.
You also work with other authors, don’t you?
Yes, I do quite a lot of that these days. I provide coaching, editing, consulting, and mentoring services for writers of novels, short stories, fiction, nonfiction, biographies, inspirational books, and in many other genres. I also work as a writing instructor at the University of Calgary and have served as the Writer-in-Residence with the Canadian Authors Association. You can find details of some of the projects I’ve worked on, along with some references and recommendations, on my website.
So where can people buy The Stone of the Seer?
The novel can be purchased at most of the usual places, as follows:
Editing encompasses several elements in order to achieve a well-polished manuscript for submission. Editing includes among other things, continuity, grammar, spelling, character development, revisions to scenes etc. the list is long and sometimes overwhelming.
Where should you start?
Instead of plunging directly back into a first draft, let it sit for a while. Start another project, take a rest, whatever you need to tear yourself away from the world and the characters you created. Ideally, leave it for three to six months, depending on any deadlines you have, of course. This will allow you to ‘see; it with fresh eyes.
When you go back to re-read there will be new insights. Rather than overwhelming yourself with trying to ‘correct’ all the editing elements mentioned above, concentrate on one item at a time.
Limit each read through to a specific task.
When you have completed these tasks let either trusted friends, or members of your local writing group read it. Take note of their suggestions and correct any errors they may find. Remember, no matter how many times you or your beta readers go through a manuscript, there will always be a word missed, mis-spelt or a continuity slip up. Once this is done it is time to consider handing over the manuscript to a professional. A professional editor is a good investment, if you can afford one. A badly edited book reflects on you the author and no-one else.
Here are a couple of tricks that can help you edit more effectively:
Read the book from back to front page by page. This stops your brain putting in words that are not there.
Read it out aloud to yourself or an understanding friend. A missed word is very obvious with this technique.
When editing there may be sentences or even whole paragraphs that you know need to be revised or even omitted from the manuscript to help with the flow of the story line or scene. Deleting these can be hard. There are different opinions on what to do with these revisions but I think they should be saved in a separate document until you are absolutely sure you do want to delete them and even then you may keep them as a record of how the scene developed. A writer’s jetsam so to speak. These ejected words from our narratives may dwell in our hard drives or document folders for months, sometimes years. They may even be useful if at some point in the future you decide to use them in a sequel!
Without correcting and improving, our creations will not be polished and worthy of reading and that is the one thing we all want – our work to be read and enjoyed.
As many of you know I am plunging into National Novel Writing Month* this month to begin the second book in my detective trilogy, The Delphic Murders. This second book is entitled The Tainted Search. My process is not that complicated -bum in seat – so to speak, and to avoid external distractions as much as possible. This, of course, isn’t always the case, take this past weekend for example. I had a board meeting to attend and a radio interview recording to participate in on Saturday and then Sunday was family time. And as I am working full time that has a major effect on my writing time.
*National Novel Writing Month – write 50,000 words in the month of November* As I write this blog post on Sunday morning my total is 11,748 words, which is on track, thankfully.
The crime fiction genre is a new genre for me to write and I have been enjoying the research process, as well as planning a three book series. There are many sub-genres to this type of fiction as you can see from this list.
Locked room whodunit
Locked room mystery
Parody or spoof
The commonality of these sub-genres is a lot of suspense, hidden clues, a charismatic detective and an elusive criminal. I have added a ‘side-kick’ to my main protagonists, which is a fairly common duo seen in most detective TV shows and movies. The first book has a secondary romance, this second a professional conflict and the third? Well, that remains to be seen, I haven’t started writing it yet!
As a special treat, I am sharing the draft prologue from the first book. An Elusive Trail. Let me know what you think in the comments.
Three vehicles converge at an abandoned farm, the sun-bleached buildings collapsing and twisting into the earth. Melted snow and slush is piled up against the dilapidated structures glistening in the only illumination for miles – headlights and a full moon. Three men exit their vehicles and stand facing each other. A red glow from a single cigarette gives one man a fragmented face, his eyes watching expectedly. The smoke joins the puffs of cold night air emitting from his companions mouths. A middle aged man with a slight paunch straining against his thick coat faces his colleagues as the smoker, Allan asks.
“What’s so important you drag us out at this time of night in the cold, Craig?”
“We have a problem, Allan, Travis and his name is Detective Daniel Markum.”
Allan stamps out his cigarette before asking.
“How much of a problem is he?”
“I’d say the biggest. He’s been reviewing some of our old cases.”
“Shit! How did you find out?”
“I’d set up an alert on our contrived cases and nine have popped up in the last three weeks. We have to eliminate this threat and real soon.”
“I can set up something with Raul. Can you make sure Markum is on scene first, Travis?”
“Shouldn’t be a problem, Craig, I can patch through to a false call. It’s not like I haven’t done it before, right?”
“You meet him there soon after and Allan and I will set up the ambush. It’ll be easy to make it look like an ‘in the line of duty’ incident. I have several unmarked, untraceable handguns stashed away.”
“How soon can this be set up, Travis?”
“Is next Tuesday soon enough, Craig?”
“Sure. Then we need to consider lateral transfers. We can’t all stay in Edmonton. Raul has been asking for assistance in Red Deer and Calgary to expand his drug operations. This might be the time to do it.”
The three detectives shook hands, returned to their vehicles, and drove away from the remote meeting place. Their plan set in motion, their victim unaware of his fate.
Do you read crime fiction? What do you like about the genre? Who are your favorite authors in the genre?