Monday, January 21, 2013

Office Space

For the last year I have been doing my writing at a pub table in the den.  Not the most productive area.  The den is full of distractions, including my beautiful wife who wanders through, sometimes in nothing but a t-shirt.

I am the type of writer that needs an environment conducive to, well, writing.  Although the den is definitely not that environment, I have surprised myself and finished up quite a bit of work.  Come on, I published a book while working in that environment.  Well, that is officially over.  I have returned to my office; my writing environment.

The room has been painted and the old twin bed moved away.  I bought a nice desk that will hold my computer, printer, and the various books I use when I am in full writing mode.  This new office is for one thing, and one thing only; writing.  If I want to take a break and surf the net a bit, I leave my office and go to the other computer.  This way my mind remains in writing mode while I am in my office.

It's really amazing how well this works.  I had some of my most productive days in that office, before it was occupied by another for a year.  Tonight, I dive back into some very serious writing, and I can't wait.  I have been productive as of late, but this change of environment is what I have been wanting for quite some time.  No more barstool.  I can sit at a desk and unload the voices in my head.

Now, where is my red stapler?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Question of Money

A common misconception I have heard/read on several occasions is that epic storylines (longer than the traditional trilogy) are all about the money.  You know, I could be a bit naive about this, but I will have to strongly disagree.

23 years and 14 books long, Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series was wrapped up last week.  For those who have read the books, we know the length of the story was in large part due to Jordan's penchant for foreshadowing.  Chapters of non-consequential scenes littered the series, but those scenes were used to set up things that often didn't happen until two or three books later.

Millions of people enjoyed his writing style.  Millions of people, not two or three friends at work, but millions of people around the world.  I enjoyed his style, my wife doesn't care for it.  His writing style and the breadth of the story contributed to the length of the series.  Did I mention that millions of people liked it?

Money was not the bottom line.

Jordan had a story to tell, and if he was anything like myself, he wasn't going to cut it short just to meet some arbitrary number of acceptable books.  Sure, there were ways to crop the story; cut down on the characters (which he had aplenty), don't tell the readers about the sub-plots that contribute to the final page, knock it off with the foreshadowing, etc.  Jordan stuck to his guns and told the story HE wanted to tell and the story the READERS wanted to read.

My Drums of Rallinwar story is being told in the same manner.  I am telling you the story that I want to tell, and I hope the you want to read.  Granted, my story isn't fourteen volumes.  My story may only last three books, or it may go four books, but there is no number that I am tied to.  The story will end when it chooses to end.  Money has absolutely no bearing on the length of the tale.  I have other stories to tell.

While I'm rambling on, keep in mind that some author's tire of their stories and want to wrap them up.  Some have wrapped them up despite the cries for more from their readers.  Aren't they losing money by not continuing the story?

Just because your world revolves around the money that other people make, does not mean that their world revolves around your desires.

Here you go, shameless plug:  BUY MY BOOK!  Blood of Two: Book One in the Drums of Rallinwar series.  Available where you buy your ebooks and you can even find it in paperback on Amazon (do a search for C. Hollis Gunter).  Buy it, rate it, review it, and if nothing else, I hope you enjoy it.  However long the series is.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Characters v. Outline

One topic that makes its rounds a couple of times a year on workshop forums is the outline.  Some writer's will create an outline for their story, a hiking trail if you will, while other's preach the evil's of such organization.  Reader's would likely be surprised about the arguments that ensue among authors about this singular tool.  I have even listened to lectures where the speaker claims that a novel sans outline is destined for failure.

To both arguments, I say whatever.

After my novels have been written in my head, an outline is created.  By no stretch of the imagination is the outline a concrete entity.  It can't be, at least for my writing style.  It's begins as a basic outline; a beginning, the outhouse orcs, and an end.  As developement progresses, the outline maps out each chapter in a general sense.  But, like any map, there are places along the road that just aren't shown and you discover them along the way.  And don't forget the occasional flat tire and blown fuel pump that can cause a delay in your journey.

Then there are those lousy, good-for-nothing, disobeying, free-will, hateful, outline trashing characters.

With my writing style, no outline is impervious to character intervention.  Aeldon, a character from the Drums of Rallinwar series, begins as a not-so-bad prince.  His qualities bring you to hate him and love him.  You want this guy to grow out of his hatred and become the good man that he is quite capable of becoming.  The outline for the follow-up to Blood of Two has Aeldon growing closer to the man we all want him to be.  The dirtbag just doesn't want to do it.

As much as I prod and pull him toward his good side, he resists.  He'll launch an inkpot across the room, punch someone in the face, and preach the virtues of keeping the elves and dwarves in their place.  There are times when I look up from the keyboard, I expect to see an inkstain on the wall, or on my outlline.

With almost every scene a character will bring cause to alter the outline.  An encounter in a city is scrubbed because somebody decides it's too dangerous to venture into it.  Another chapter has to be added because a character decides that someone needs to be thrown into the dungeon.

My outlines are organic.  They change as the manuscript is written and all of the changes are due to character's decisions.  In the war between characters and outlines, it is a stalemate.  Neither wins, they both adjust.

Shameless plug:  Blood of Two: Book One in the Drums of Rallinwar series by C. Hollis Gunter is available at most e-book outlets such as: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, smashwords, Sony ebook store, Kobo books, and Diesel ebooks.  You can find the book by searching on their sites for Blood of Two, or C. Hollis Gunter.  Buy it, read it, rate it, review it.