Change of project

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Hi everyone,

Sorry I didn’t get around to posting again during the week – I’ve still been a bit under the weather. For several days, I didn’t write anything, which I’m a bit upset about, and on a few other days I just wrote some fanfiction for  a Les Miserables week on Tumblr. But the important thing is that I haven’t stopped writing completely!

Over the last week or so, I’ve switched focus from the sequel to Submerge – a series I think I finally need a bit of a break from  so I can recharge – to A King’s Ransom, which is still new and shiny and exciting!

Over the last two weeks, I’ve written 4814 words. Hopefully I’ll be back on form this week…

Talk to you soon!

A flying visit

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Hi everyone,

I’m not very well – I felt so grotty yesterday that, for the first time this year, I didn’t write a single thing all day – so I’ll be back to update this blog some time in the week. Sorry!

Talk to you very soon!

Just in time…

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Hi everyone,

I am really bad at this regular blogging thing. Apologies. This is just going to be a flying visit because it’s been a mad week and I am exhausted.

In the last week I have written 4899 words, for a total of 29331 this year. My Thursday project was A King’s Ransom, of which I think I have now written the whole prologue! Other than that, I’ve been working on Sprawl – I have now reached chapter 12 of an estimated 22, but might switch to a different primary project (either A King’s Ransom or Father Didn’t Dance, in all likelihood) for a little while soon. We’ll see how I feel when I come to write tomorrow!

Talk to you all soon!

Paperbacks + a change of plan!

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Hi everyone,

Well, I’m sure you’ve noticed that, once again, it is not Friday. I seem to be having trouble remembering to post on a Friday, so I’m going to move my weekly blog to Saturday in the hope that it will be easier to fit in. I apologise if it does jump around a bit, though – life can be a bit hectic at the moment, so I have to try to fit things in where I can.

On to word counts and projects! I have written 5282 words over the last week, most of them on Sprawl, my hopeful Submerge sequel, which I’m about halfway through. On Thursday, I took a break to work on An Englishman’s Home. I wrote a total of 22036 words in January, which is about half of what I’d usually write in a NaNoWriMo month and probably a lot more than I would have written without my 500 word goal. So far this year, I’ve written nearly 24 thousand words (not including the odd bit of fanfiction)!

I’ve also finally finished proofreading the paperback edition of Submerge, which is very exciting. I know several people wanted to read the book but prefer tangible books to the e-versions, so with a lot of help from Manifold Press, I have now got it sorted out. I’ll be releasing the book for sale on the 7th of February, so watch this space for a one-off blog post then!

Talk to you soon!

Sorry I’m late!

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Hi everyone,

I’m sorry – I completely forgot to update yesterday. Top marks, self. But here I am today to try to make up for it. First of all, I’ve written 4532 words this week, which makes 18556 this year so far. I haven’t missed a day yet! Oh, and my Thursday project this week was Father Doesn’t Dance.

Secondly, Kat commented on my previous post that sometimes, people put more thought into their villains’ motivations than their heroes’. This can have the effect of making the villains seem more well-rounded and nuanced than the heroes! Kat also asked about the motivations for my protagonists in Submerge – which I will try to talk about with minimal spoilers today.

As Kat pointed out, it can be very tempting to leave a protagonist’s motivations at ‘it’s the right thing to do’. There are definitely times when that’s the only reason someone has for doing something, but quite often there’s more to it than that.

Think about all those movie cops. How many of them set out to become police officers purely because it was the right thing to do? There are lots of other reasons – because a crime was committed against them and they want revenge, because they want to make the world a safer place for a loved one, because they want to wear a smart uniform and order people about, because they think the police force is corrupt and want to change it from the inside… It might even be that they want to pull off a perfect crime and need insider knowledge to do it. Each of these motivations affects their actions and helps to develop them as a characters.

Now, I want to be careful about spoilers here because some of you won’t have read Submerge yet, but let’s have a look at some motivations for certain aspects of my various characters.

There’s Gina, for example, who collects discarded items from the ground and makes them into jewellery. She does that to make money, of course, and because she likes shiny things – who doesn’t? But she also hates to see things go to waste, possibly because she has been through times of having nothing. She started making broken and abandoned things beautiful at a time when she felt broken and abandoned, and wanted hope that she’d come out of it as something better. And it’s become something she really enjoys!

Addie does comedy. Is it because she was always the class clown, or even because she decided she didn’t want to be the butt of the jokes any more? Is it because when life gets difficult, sometimes you have to laugh or you’ll cry? It’s probably a combination of all of those things, but mostly a genuine desire to make people smile – not only to see people happy, but to be the one making them happy.

Miles and Jamie – well, their motives are perhaps best shrouded in mystery, for now. Hopefully, Submerge gives a good idea of many of their reasons for the things they do!

What do you think makes good motivation for a character? Let me know in the comments!

Talk to you soon!

Villains and Motivation

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Hi everyone,

Well, it’s been a week and here I am with a new blog post. First things first – so far I have kept up my resolution to write 500 words each day (I had to cheat a bit on Monday night, when I finished at ten past midnight, but it still counts).

In the last week, I’ve written 4528 words – which brings me up to a total of 14698 so far this year. It’s not NaNo levels of productivity, but it is consistent. For Thursday’s secondary project, I went back to A King’s Ransom because I have more ideas for it than for anything else I’m working on, and sometimes you just have to follow the ideas. I’m still working out a few finer details of my submission for Call to Arms (such as, er, the plot) so that will have to wait for a while!

Today, for no particular reason, I thought I’d write a little about villains (antagonists), and how we approach writing them. You can, of course, write big cartoony villains who come in and make a big noise about how evil they are, bragging about their plans with no shame whatsoever. You can also write very subtle villains – sometimes, they don’t seem villainous at all, but they say or do things that are insidious and make the world a worse place. And, of course, you can have a story with no villain at all – either your antagonist is a perfectly reasonable person who just happens to be working at cross purposes to your protagonist, or the obstacles in your protagonist’s way aren’t actually caused by any specific person.

One thing, however, unites all antagonists and villains, and that is that there has to be a reason for what they are doing (or are) and the way that they feel. It doesn’t have to be a good reason, of course! Sometimes there are no good reasons. But there are always reasons, or at least intentions.

When we write protagonists, it’s usually very easy to get into their heads and pick out the reasons that they want to slay the dragon (to save the princess, or to protect their sheep) or find the hidden temple (to use the healing waters there, to learn about an ancient culture, or for simple bragging rights). It’s harder, sometimes, to get into the head of a cruel or evil character. After all, the reason they’re stealing kittens and turning them into food for the super-rich is just… that they’re the bad guy. Isn’t it?

But the truth is, nobody thinks they’re the bad guy, and people rarely do things (big, complicated things, at least) just on a whim. Perhaps, in the truly heinous example above, they think they’re taking the strain off the animal shelters, or providing a service people really need – or perhaps they’re just trying to make money (whether they desperately need it or not). It doesn’t have to be a good reason, as I say – and for the record, I don’t believe that there is a good reason for anyone to steal kittens and/or turn them into food – but there has to be some sort of internal logic as to why they do what they do. Sometimes, that logic will make no sense to the reader, but as an author, you have to know what that logic is and be able to convey it through the character’s actions. As a reader, it really makes a difference to understand what led a character to do the terrible things they’re doing – even if you can’t excuse or accept them.

At least, that’s my opinion. What do you think? Does knowing an antagonist’s motives diminish their villainy, or add more depth to a nuanced character? Do you often find yourself sympathetic to antagonists based on their reasons for what they do? Let me know in the comments.

Talk to you next week!