Saturday, January 06, 2007

Line War.

Okay, enough of the ranting and back to some writerly stuff. I’ve been wracking my brains with Line War looking for a satisfactory conclusion. Every story, every novel, should, in my opinion adhere to the beginning>middle>end structure (the beginning, the middle, where tension escalates, the end or resolution phase, which consists of a climax which resolves the tension). This is not always an easy thing to do and, to be frank, I’m not entirely sure I’ve managed with every one of my books – probably because I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer who has never really planned any book nor stuck a post-it note anywhere near my screen. And things get even more difficult when, really, every series should adhere to this structure as well.

One of the things I’ve been working hard to avoid is that good old deus ex machina, which has been the downfall of a few space opera series in recent years. It is a difficult option to avoid because it’s such an easy option to take, especially if you’ve written yourself into a corner by making your villains too powerful (ulp!). I also think it’s a cop-out and betrayal of your readership. Now I’m beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel (though it may be a train) and I should be able to bring the Cormac series to an end without lowering Zeus onto the stage from the clouds.

Line War just cleared 60,000 words yesterday and I’ve realised I must keep myself utterly focused on it to achieve the above aims. Seven-day working week from now on.

9 comments:

Kirby Uber said...

mmmm 60,000 wordalicious... *drool*

i expect you'll do fine. what with the adhering to your own sense of quality in all you do and such. 8)

i look forward to the final product. 8)

Jim Shannon said...

Hi Neal, do you print out your drafts and rewrite from copy or do you work just from the screen? I'm thinking about working from the screen only but I also need something to work on away from the computer.

I know what you mean about "the hand of God" thingy. I recall years ago when I was submitting short stories I can't recall the market but I recall the story when Orson Scott Card scribbled a note on the rejection letter saying too much Deus Machina. It was only recently I discovered what that means. Doh!

Maynard1977 said...

Can't wait Neal! I will admit I haven't started Polity Agent yet because my reading list is very long (thanks to my dad's constant shipments of books); however, I'm about 100 pages into Voyage of the Sable Keech and so far it has not disappointed.

I'm curious if a series of books on the 'Quiet War' is a possibility for the future?

As for 60,000 words... I know the publishers have their opinions but does it really matter as long as the story is a damn good yarn?

Richie said...

Good luck Neal.

By the way, I came across a reference to the word "polity" -- the definition was a government run by the people irrespective of class, as opposed to "democracy" -- government run by the poorer classes.

This was in Kitto's "The Greeks".

I've only read "Brass Man" but does this reflect your opinion of the Polity in your works?

Neal Asher said...

Glad to hear it, Kirby. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Jim, I write on-screen and do a hell of a lot of work there, which is obviously best if you want to shift chunks of text around or do something like change a name throughout the book, but I also frequently print stuff off to check as well. I find I look at printed sheets in a different way and frequently pick up more errors. I also use notebooks to work stuff out, and recently I also did a lot of longhand writing on holiday, which was an interesting and illuminating change. But back to the screen/pc: it's a tool and its fast and without it my production wouldn't be as high as it is.

Maynard1977, I once read a book by John Braine called 'Writing a Novel' in which he talked about counting words. It is what a professional writer does. I sit down to tell a story of 120,000+
to keep a reader entertained and insure that the same reader will be prepared to shell-out money for that or more. I could write 'Cormac killed the bad guys and everyone lived happily ever after' and that, arguably, is the story I've told in each book. No one is going to pay £17.99 for it though.

Richie, I chose 'Polity' because it covers what I want it to cover and to the present day reader it has no strong connotations. The words empire, republic, kingdom, dominion etc all have too many subsidiary meanings attached. As with many such words the definitions change with time and often mean something different to each of us e.g. 'socialism' today has a somewhat different meaning to the one it had in WWII Germany.

Rob said...

Forget all this unimportant gobbeldygook 60,000 words in, whats the death toll???

Neal Asher said...

Rob, just to give a rough guide: you take the word count and times it by 1000.

Mark Chitty said...

As long as the ending is a satisfying and believable conclusion to the story I'm usually happy :)

As long as some super hyper invincible nuclear monkey warrior from the end of the universe doesn't turn up to tie up the loose ends all should be fine ;)

jon said...

That's the kind of body count I like!!!

j