I’ve been getting into the TV series Bones lately. (I know, I know, a lot of you are no doubt saying to yourselves, “But how can you expect to finish your fanfiction series when you’re watching another show?” All I can say is I’m trying my best.) It’s another show like Chuck with a strong central romantic couple with real chemistry to them. Unlike Chuck it doesn’t make romantic angst and its resolution the central theme of the series, which works for me. I was perfectly happy with the idea that Booth and Bones could be the couple they were without feeling the need to make it ‘official’ in some way. The fact that their emotional connection was so blatantly obvious is quite enough for me. I was probably the only one who thought that there was no reason Chuck and Sarah needed to be married, after all they’d gone through. My own ending for season 4 features a double wedding of Morgan and Casey to Alex and Kathleen, with Chuck and Sarah as primary witnesses.
One thing that did bother me about Bones though (the show, not the person), is the way they made her a best-selling mystery author. First of all, we’ve seen that before, from Murder She Wrote to Castle. There’s even an episode of Bones that has murders like those in her book, which was the idea behind the Castle pilot. Unfortunately, I see a lot of ideas redone from one mystery show to another. Fortunately, it’s not the gimmicks that matter, but the characters, and it’s kind of interesting to see the same idea become something very different with a different character dynamic. (I very much liked the High School reunion episode, and couldn’t help comparing it to Chuck’s version. And kudos to Robert Englund for doing such a wonderful job as the creepy janitor!)
What bothered me about her author status was that, given the character of Bones herself, I couldn’t believe that she’d be a good writer at all. I had no doubt that the technical accuracy of her stories would be spot on, like the science of many contemporary SF writers today. But since she has only the most rudimentary empathy or intuition, I couldn’t believe that she could portray a decent character to save her life, like a modern-day Agatha Christie, who for years put me off reading mysteries due to her emphasis on plot over character.
Finally, in a recent episode (I’m plowing through the series on DVD, so for me it’s recent), she gets involved in a case while dealing with an interviewer from Japan, who keeps asking her questions about the characters, while Bones keeps emphasizing the technical aspects of the chapter in question. She finally admits (not that she was keeping it a secret, but she simply didn’t think it mattered) that those elements of the books are supplied by Angela, her friend the sketch artist and her beta-reader, who reads her stories and makes suggestions for the more human scenes. While it’s still not perfect, since I still have trouble believing she could write such a scene once the idea for it had been pointed out, it makes a lot more sense to have someone else as the inspiration. Bones thinks so too, and gives Angela a quarter of the proceeds as recognition of the contribution, once she recognizes it as a contribution. I wonder how many of her fans went home wondering why they came, after hearing her talk about forensics at a book signing. I can only imagine public appearances having a negative effect, like the court appearances she makes.
The next question is, why do they always have to be best-selling?
My fourth novel, Ghostkiller, is completed at long last. It is the fastest novel I’ve written to date. The earliest copy of the file that I can find is dated January 2011, which means this story wrote itself in considerably less than two years. Which I think is pretty cool, my fastest time ever. My previous fastest time was two years exactly, for A Warrior Made, which was also a somewhat longer book.
I described the first and only origin story of this novel here, although I have a vague feeling that I may have had some other ideas which were shapeless and allowed themselves to be taken over by this one. But that origin only got me the first line, and the rest, as usual, spun out from there. I know some of my usual tricks came into play early on. With a first line like “Aren’t you a bit young to be raising the dead?” the obvious follow-up is that the guy is as old as they come.
My first tag line for this thing, back when I had no idea what it was going to be about was, “It’s about a man who kills ghosts for a living”, which I would tell to anyone who asked and then watch their brains explode trying to figure out how to kill something that was already dead. Now that I actually almost a little bit maybe know what the story’s about, I have no idea what the tagline should be.
One brilliant idea later…
How about, “Stealing from the dead is no way to get a life”?
It’s really kind of strange and unpredictable what will strike a reader’s fancy. In the latest chapter of my latest fanfiction story, Sparring Partners, I had a scene where Sarah and Ellie go to a bar for some ‘girl time’ (a phrase which makes my wife gag every time she hears it)(not that type of gag). Sarah has commented that her relationship was so screwed up that they had three first dates, two first kisses, and fell in love at first sight, so having the wedding after they got married should come as no surprise.
When I started writing the chapter I was in a very different mindset, I guess, since the opening scene has a very different tone, Sarah asking Ellie to help her arrange her wedding after the fact (her desire to say her vows in front of people who will hunt her down and kick her ass if she fails to keep them is another favorite scene). This often happens to me, by the way. I’ll start a story with no real idea where I want it to go, and then something will occur to me halfway through. With these fanfics it’s usually easier, since I’m modelling the story I write on the story they told, but in this case the story they told doesn’t have much to offer.
The nine2five idea was mainly intended to keep the tone and theme of the show after season 2, developing them in the same direction season 3 did but not the same way season 3 did, since season 3 was really poorly done. In this case, since Chuck isn’t an agent he’s not going to go out and seduce a mark, or face the grim prospect of burning him afterward (my comments about season 3 above notwithstanding, I happen to like this episode because of this sort of dramatic development, most of the things that made season 3 suck weren’t in it).
As a result, I’m free to use this timeslot to work on other aspects of the overall season, such as the wedding, and getting Chuck and Sarah in shape for it. It’s not every couple that gets post-marriage, pre-wedding jitters. Sarah is trying to become a ‘real girl’ with a ‘real life’ she has no idea how to live, since she never had one, and she sensibly turns to Ellie, the realest girl she knows.
When they walk into the bar, the first thing Ellie asks about is the two first kisses, and Sarah says, “Damn, lost a nickel.” She then takes a nickel from her pocket and moves it to a different pocket. This chapter is already turning out to be one of the more popular I’ve ever done, and that gag is one of the most popular gags in it. Don’t ask me why, it was just a little whimsy when it first occurred to me to write it. I guess it’s the whimsy that does it. Sarah is usually such a sober sort of girl that something so ‘out of left field’ has more impact.
It’s the little things.
Hi, It’s me, posting for the first time in a very long while. My stories ganged up on me, and I’ve been stuck writing them rather than blogging. The upside is that I finally managed to finish my fourth novel, Ghostkiller. The downside is that I now have to write a query synopsis for Ghostkiller.
So when my friend Nimue was looking for places to post I said “Absolutely!” And someday, when my mental health allows, I’ll write a blog post about query synopses.
Hello. You may have been expecting Marc, this being his blog, but he’s very kindly let me borrow it to help me further my plans for world domination. (Said plans are to involve cake and tentacles.) I’m Nimue Brown, and I write stuff. Which sounds ominously like an alcoholics anonymous style opening gambit, doesn’t it? No, I could stop any time, I have this under control… I’ve never written a political thriller. Otherwise, at some point I’ve tried just about every form and genre, although on the non-fiction side my insane rampage remains limited to the tiny handful of subjects I know anything about. (Paganism and Druidry, and how to write really awful books, for the greater part).
Having grasped that Marc likes to blog about the writing experience, I thought rather than just beat you about the head with ‘buy my book’ content, I’d try and write something that might fit in here and could possibly amuse someone. Anyone who thinks the life of a book author is glamorous ought to spend a couple of days actually trying to sell books to people. It’s like working in a sales department, with the added bonus of getting to take it personally when people aren’t interested. Therefore, in self defence, I’m trying to find ways of talking about my new books that won’t bore me to tears. You, dear reader, hopefully benefit from this as well.
Finding the writing voice depends rather a lot on who I’m supposed to be being. This, for example, was going to be written in my serious-blogging-author voice, which seemed appropriate for the task in hand. That was two paragraphs worth of lost the plot and failed miserably then. We’ll try and straighten up now and get the right voice in place, yes? Because of course the voice you use as an author is an important sort of thing.
I have my meaningful Druid voice for www.druidlife.wordpress.com which carries me safely into the realms of non-fiction book writing as well. I’ve got my dark and grim voice, best used for gothic horror, but sometimes that gets confused with my comedy voice if I accidently get too Lovecraftian. Things too terrible to describe have a life of their own. It’s dangerously easy to shift from deliberate horror to accidental comedy, I’ve learned. It’s also far too easy to go from deliberate smut to accidental comedy too, but that’s another story.
If I really want to mess with my own head, there’s always the option of writing something that doesn’t even have a narrator in it. Despite years of doing comics scripts, this still feels a bit weird, like going out in public wearing just my knickers. Writing without a narratorial voice is just so… exposed and… naked.
Inevitably there are days when I get confused, when the playful steampunk voice somehow sneaks into the Druid writing. Worse still, the alter-ego gets out when she shouldn’t. (The other me is a sassy, obscenity-touting author of rude books with a much more defined attitude than the regular me, and who is starting to develop a decidedly American accent.)
I’ve never been very good at sticking to the same thing for long. I get bored easily. I go from fiction to non-fiction and back again. I flirt with novels, churn out short stories and blog articles, the odd script… some of them are very odd, truth be told. It means I don’t have a stable author identity. I don’t have one voice that is definitely mine. How I write depends so much on what I’m writing and who I’m writing it for. If that sounds a bit like an ongoing identity crisis… that might be a fair assessment.
The really odd thing is, that when it comes to my own preferences, what most attracts me to specific authors, is their voice. But then, most of the writers I follow tend to stick to one thing, rather than ambling about all over the place, which probably helps. It’s much easier to market yourself and develop an audience if you do one identifiable thing, I suspect. There isn’t the same problem of waking up in the morning and wondering who you’re going to be for the next couple of hours. Nor is there the issue of getting part way through what was supposed to be a sensible sort of blog post and hearing the other, not so sensible voice sneaking in.
Who was I supposed to be, again?
It’s possible of course that the little voices in my head will undertake to organise, synthesise and turn into one, coherent voice that I could use for everything. What would that sound like? Comedy gothic druidry with a steampunk twist? That’s got to hurt. There’s probably some kind of cream you can get for one of those, mind.
Oh, and did I mention, there are books? On the non-fic side, Druidry and the Ancestors http://www.amazon.com/Druidry-Ancestors-Finding-place-history/dp/1780996772/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1349344809&sr=1-3&keywords=Druidry+and+the+ancestors#_, and the embarrassingly naked in public without a narrator thing is Hopeless Maine, a graphic novel series from Archaia, which is here – http://www.amazon.com/Hopeless-Maine-1-Personal-Demons/dp/1936393573/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1349345049&sr=1-1&keywords=hopeless+maine
Chapter 4 of Shiny Happy People (my latest #Chuck fanfic) is up! Hey, I actually did some research this time!
It’s been a while since I posted any of the links to my stories through WordPress, for some reason the people at Fanfiction.net removed the button that would have let me cross-post to a lot of places. Which is too bad, as I’m very busy writing new stories and posting about them on here was a really useful way to promote them and write a blog post at the same time.
My fanfictions are really motivating to me, I decided long ago to hold myself to ransom with them. I won’t write the next chapter in the story (and my current project is hugely ambitious) until I write at least a thousand words in my manuscript. In addition to wanting to get back to a story I really like to write, there is another benefit in shifting back and forth between stories, taking a break from each to write the other. And I get practice in writing in other styles. Fanfiction readers are also very likely to provide some degree of feedback.
I just checked and most of my current project has failed to get any mention at all in my blog! The whole thing is called nine2five, and it’s a rewrite of season 3 in which Chuck works for the CIA in a more 9-5 capacity. Each story is essentially the equivalent of an episode in this ‘season’, and each story is four chapters long. I’ve posted links to the the first chapters only, there are internal links to follow for the later chapters. So here it is so far:
nine2five – I’m rewriting season 3 along what I think are more logical lines.
nine2five 2: Casey versus the Janitors – in which NSA agent John Casey takes on the biggest challenge of his career, cleaning up after the whole damn CIA.
nine2five 3: Larger Than Life – having introduced the basic elements of the story, we now go straight for the mayhem, and who better to incite mayhem than everyone’s favorite loose cannon, Carina!
nine2five4: Shiny Happy People – Picking up the pieces as the Ring goes after Charles Carmichael in Hawaii, except Chuck’s in DC.
Posted June 24, 2012on:
This one was pretty difficult, for a variety of reasons. Mainly because I have little experience writing fight scenes. I don’t like them much, mainly because I don’t have any interest in following individual swordstrokes, or punches, or whatever. That sort of stuff belongs in the ‘descriptive prose’ section of the stuff that I don’t like.
In a similar vein, I don’t want to write stuff that I don’t know much about. Since I have no training in any of the martial arts and no desire to research them just so I can fake it, I’d rather not write about them. Which makes writing a scene primarily about combat rather difficult.
What I’m much more interested in is the character’s reaction to the combat, his feelings about it. Which, since most combat training is intended to make these actions as reflexive and thought-free as possible, is rather difficult.
Then came the Shakespeare. I had no intention to make a Casey a Shakespeare-o-phile, but it seems perfectly natural to me that he be so, especially of the St. Crispin’s Day speech. But is that any reason to use that speech as the motif of a story that I already couldn’t write, thus ramping up the difficulty level a few more notches?
Well, yes. I like to challenge myself. Most of my fanfic writing is a challenge to myself, a challenge to write in different forms and modes than I would normally use, such as the purely narrative chapters of Not This Time. I enjoy writing contests for the same reason. Some of my best stories come from a simple request, a challenge to write a story that combines elements I would never have combined on my own. And if you want a motif to pattern your story on, you can certainly do worse than Shakespeare. Some people learn by reading. I learn by doing.
This is me doing.