Posts Tagged ‘ plot ’

Editing out the Chaff – While I Slept

14108984543z07r by hotblack on morguefile

 

A few days ago I had that magical moment I was looking for.

I found an editor for my fantasy novel While I Slept that’s good at what I’m bad at spotting: plot holes, character inconsistencies, unrealistic reactions…

 

That’s what I always view as a good editor-writer relationship – something complementary rather than complimentary, needlessly critical or hacking.

 

Every writer knows what they want for their manuscript and their style of writing. I didn’t want an editor that would slash away my voice and implant their own style, or someone who would make “improvements” that I viewed as deteriorations. A writer has to be careful whose advice to take with their writing. It is true what is said: not all suggestions are going to improve what you already have.

 

For now, I’m grinning like an idiot and really looking forward to finding out what my editor has got to say about the book as it stands. As someone on the other side of the planet (the USA), she has no reason to say my book is good if it isn’t and has no reason to be scared away from saying something critical.

 

In effect, she will be my first reader who is a complete stranger to myself and that’s exciting. I haven’t experimented in showing my writing to strangers since my early, early attempts at writing on www.fictionpress.com (I was on the site before it split into fan fiction and fiction).

 

I am also getting a brilliant editor at a fraction of the cost a lot of established websites will charge and this way I can ensure I am not getting a package deal but an individual deal, catering to my specific needs. I’m sure there are benefits to the larger companies and they will have a lot of experience but for a book of my length (around 97K words), I’d be looking at £500-£700 which, to me, feels like robbery.

 

I’m happy with my editor and the price we settled for, a fraction of the cost of larger companies but still a decent remuneration for the task at hand. I loved her sample edit and the suggestions she made were very insightful so I only see good things ahead for the edit, and the future of my novel.

 

My next blog post will be focusing a little more on my novel, letting you know a little more about what it’s all about as it has been a long time since I last did a sneak preview. Until then!

 

Holly Ice

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Changing Surroundings – My Novel – Whilst I Slept

Holly Ice Writer Writing Novel Author Whilst I Slept WIP

Typing in the Altered Dark

(For my musings, read below. For a rough synopsis of the book to come and my concept of what main characters look like, scroll down to the bold text.)

 

It gets to the point with any long-term project where months have passed and something needs to change. I’m at the place in my novel Whilst I Slept where I’m questioning everything.

I’ve questioned the title and the relevance of the “I” with more than one first person POV, I’ve questioned whether my characters are believable, whether the story will sell, whether I should listen to more music as I write…I’ve even questioned whether the LED colour of my keyboard suits this section of my novel.

But I don’t think this is a problem. Many writers will and that is their writing style – awesome. I’m actually beginning to be comfortable with how I write and understand my “vibes” (such a corny word) when I write. 

I can tell that fuzzy, off-focus feeling when I’m inspired, I can feel when a sentence isn’t right, when a word is off but it’ll have to wait for later, and when a character needs something (though it’s much harder to tell what!)

I think a lot of this is down to me being roughly two thirds of the way through my manuscript. At 64K~ things need to heat up, speed up and get good. To do that to the best of my ability, I had to do a first full edit of the first half.

Why? Because I had one of those pesky, insistent vibes that, if I didn’t, the book would go entirely off course and my reward is that, so far, things seem to be coming together. I even got high praise from my little brother and that’s a rare thing.

From now on, I’m listening to my instincts and putting faith in the hope they will make me a better writer. Let me know if you get these “vibes” too. I don’t want to be alone out here!

 

The Book and The Cast

WARNING: this synopsis is a rough first draft, is probably too long, and needs work. Don’t get the knives out yet but feel free to critique it.

Annie Vivant likes to dig up hillsides in her spare time. Only, on this dig, she finds a coffin with a man inside…and he’s still alive. He introduces himself as Arthur but he is no King and, with his awakening, the Otherworld, an adjoined land of dark, fairytale creatures, reconnects to our own.

After so long apart, neither world remembers the other and the old laws of mutual existence are forgotten. Arthur is the only known link to the old ways but he needs Annie’s help to understand the modern world.

After a bout of killings and disappearances from a human world unable to protect itself, their mission becomes clear. It will be a tough battle for them to negotiate an end to the murders when the press want them to be their newest celebrities and the government see them as a security risk. The trick is to not look crazy. 

 Hopefully that wetted your appetite. If not, I’d love to know why – every opinion provides interesting feedback.

In the mean time…enjoy some model photos of what I imagine the main characters to look like:

Annie Vivant: I wanted Annie to have a girl-next-door feel to her and this picture is as close to my mind’s eye view of her as I’ve yet found. The closest I’ve gotten to representing her visually is a Sims 3 character I’ve made, based on my idea of her.

Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author
Arthur: Because of his occupation as a soldier, Arthur is tough, muscular and battle trained but he is also attractive. This is a hard mix to find in model photos. Again, this is the best to date. Just imagine the hair longer and messier: he’s not a vain guy (which is one of the many reasons this photo is not quite right for him). 

Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author

Katrin: As Arthur’s old love, Katrin has a ghostly part to play in most of the first novel but I think later in the planned series, she will be a much larger part of proceedings. She is a politician of the Otherworld, good at negotiations and easy to like – when she wants you to like her. Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author
Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author

Brent: Another half-Giant but Brent is tougher than tough, on the outside. I needed him muscular – built- with a tan from being outside and shaved head. I see him with hacked cut-offs and boots. Apparently, this too is hard to find. I made do with his boots.

Brent, Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, Author

Farah: Was one of the easiest characters to find a picture for. I have about three that fit her personality.

Farah, Brent, Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, AuthorFarah, Brent, Katrin, Annie Vivant, Arthur, King Arthur, Whilst I Slept, While, While I Slept, Holly Ice, Novel, WIP, Writer, AuthorImage

Keeping appearances consistent

If I haven’t introduced it already then here it is: Charahub

This is a site where you can create an account – for free- which will hold all details of your characters in a database. You can set it to private or public and it asks many questions which have helped me round out my characters without boring myself over laborious character sheets for hours. 

 

Illustrators and Book Covers

I used to be an artist (perhaps I still am, sometimes) but this means I’m picky. I want my cover to be an accurate portrayal of the characters and the story, something I can see within my mind’s eye AND something which will sell for both the fantasy genre and the crime genre.

If you have any recommendations of illustrators or other artists which may be interested in my project or do book covers as commissions, please direct me to their portfolio. Thanks!

 

I hope this piece gets everyone up to date on my writing progress and – if I dare to say it – has got you interested in my novel WIP.

Would love to hear from you.

Holly Ice 

 

A Touch of Magic – M. Ruth Myers – Cards, Romance, Murder

A Touch of Magic, M. Ruth Myers, Holly Ice Review, author, book, romance, murder, cardsA dazzling sleight-of-hand artist is recruited by the State Department to pit her skills – and wits – against a master terrorist. He’s about to receive a piece of stolen film used to make US passports, film that could open the door to terrorists around the world. Although Channing Stuart is the fourth generation in a family of acclaimed magicians, she’s the first of them not to turn pro. Eye-to-eye with a killer, will she have the nerve and nimbleness to pull off a switch that finally proves her worthy of her bloodline? Special agent Bill Ellery is irritated to find himself suddenly teamed with this amateur whose passion to succeed is as great as his own, and whose penchant for the unpredictable unsettles him as much as the woman herself.

In an upscale resort where every enticement hides a trap, they play cat and mouse with enemies known and unknown as a time bomb ticks. Hundreds of lives depend on the deftness of one woman’s fingers and … A TOUCH OF MAGIC.

This was a good read. It had romance, intrigue, some cool magic tricks, family angst and some great characters. The plot was also good although I think the female villain could have done with a little more filling out.

There was nothing overall wrong with the story really and yet I still felt it was missing something. I was not left with much after reading it and I think I should have been. Some thought or feeling should have remained: it usually does with a great book.

Perhaps I wanted more of a conclusion on the romantic side, something cuter, or perhaps I wanted to know what happened with the terrorists – whether good triumphed once and for all.

Of course, this could well be the point. I myself am a lover of grey, where the realistic side of the world creeps into books: the villain doesn’t always lose and the good guy doesn’t win every battle; not everything is solved in one book.

There were some surprises and great twists as well as sleuth work, time-focused problems and murder, all trademarks of a good thriller.

Ultimately, the book kept me interested despite me wanting some undefinable more out of it. Since I can’t define this, despite trying, I’m giving the book a 4/5.

This seems to be a rather popular score for me at the moment!

The book can be found here

Here’s hoping I find a 5/5 soon. Suggestions welcome.

My twitter: Holly Ice

Off to read some more now 🙂

The Lost Dragon – Drako – The Last Spartan Warrior

The Lost Dragon Drako Read Review Holly Ice Author

I was gifted this book on a read for review arrangement

This book surprised me. At first I thought it was going to be a “very boy” action packed fight ’em up. Then I learnt the protagonist was gay. That was a direction I was not expecting and it kept me reading!

The main character, Andreas, is a black dragon god decendant. His father, Jarel, is the black dragon god who holds as much, if not more, power than Zeus, the leader of Olympus. The story follows the action as subordinate gods and “rogues” (those who defy the rules of the gods) try to bring back an ancient power.

It is good to see books which have a twist not usual in their genre and that is what captured me, at first, with this book. However, I have to be honest and mention its faults as well as its great points.

Good Points

Originality – the content of the story does a lot to bring action fantasy out of its stale niche.

Characterisation – almost all characters are well rounded and feel realistic.

Plot – the plot flows really well, obviously crafted with a good hand for structure. It is also original, new, and kept me reading to see what happened next.

Ending – the ending set up for another book and still managed to keep most ends tied up. I myself have trouble with endings so I have to give props where props are due here.

The Discussion

The cover, for instance, would not have made me pick the book up. I understand there is an illustrator etc but it is not my style of art and the picture is not perfectly centred on the background. The writing however is appropriate for genre and looks good.

On to the intro: the protagonist is fighting for Sparta before the main time line of the story in the modern age. The plot idea here is great but this first scene needs tidying up. Words are repeated in the first scene (‘thought’ twice in the first 3 sentences – ‘slash’ is also used as a verb twice on the first page).

This is, of course, looking at the text on a micro level but these repetitions do get noticed by a reader and it makes the narrative seem clunky. There is also a little bit of over exposition here.

However, to the good points: this problem seems to disappear for the most part after the first scene. My advice would be for the author to read over this scene and double check they are happy with it. Perhaps it would read better from Andreas’ POV as a memory? This would give us greater insight into the character early on.

Narrative issues later in the story are much more minor and sparse. I think I saw one ‘site’ instead of ‘sight’ and on one page an ‘is’ was missing from a sentence etc – nothing huge at all.

The only big problem later on is the lack of description for Solaris and Cassandra. Solaris is not described beyond cliffs and big halls. It needs colour to the landscape as well as the gods and others inhabiting it.

Meanwhile Cassandra falls flat for me. All the other characters are well rounded with great characterisation and very original (more good points) but Cassandra accepts things too easily. She is pulled this way and that with no argument at all. Even for a healer, this goes too far for a woman’s personality imo, especially as she is not a mopy young pacifist.

The transition into her “new form” (trying for no spoilers here) also needs better handling. She grows but not much about her appearance or carriage is mentioned otherwise. It also seems as if her personality changes substantially. This character, I feel, needs more time devoted to her.

As a minor point, Jarel sees her as a love interest for Andreas even though he already knows why this romance cannot happen – perhaps this love interest idea should be played down, more implied than real or made more cryptic as a red herring.

The last problem I have is the fight scenes. Mostly, there are, as other reviewers have suggested, descriptive and original. However in a few places I noticed the same area of the body was hit repeatedly and yet the narrative did not say ‘again’ or imply this is recognised. A couple of times the kicks or punches seems infeasible in the positions I was lead to believe the characters were in. Also a few times different characters got hit in the same place, and way, close together. This just needs straightening out a little. Also, I feel these fights could benefit from shorter sentences rather than convoluted ones as sometimes I started to lose interest and fall out of the action.

Although I have to say that these scenes are much more original in flips and moves and injuries than I can think of on the spot so congrats to the author for that.

Considering the good points and the discussion points, as well as my definite enjoyment for the read, I have to give this book a 4/5.

It is well structured and paced with mostly great characters and very original content. This trumps the few minor slip ups as well as the need to re-evaluate Cassandra’s persona as the novel is still very readable as is.

The book can be found on amazon here: The Lost Dragon, Drako should you wish to read it.

As always, I can be found on twitter: Holly Ice

I hope you liked the review. Any suggestions or additions/disagreement with what I’ve said then please comment below. Ciao!

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