Wednesday 6 June 2012

Some of you may have noticed that I didn't mention Setting Stones in my last entry. That's because I finished it.

However Threads, In Print, Kasterborous and life in general had kept me from giving it one final polish. Then one day I noticed that a site called Inferno Fiction had been sending us a substantial number of readers, intrigued I had a look at the site and discovered that it was a Fan Fic site. More than that it seemed to be a site with a fairly high standard for it's submissions. Intrigued I took a chance and Emailed the site what turned out to be the penultimate draft of my story.

It went down well and an offer to publish it online followed quickly which drove me to give it one last polish and unleash it on the world.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Sunday 27 May 2012

The hell have I been doing?

I haven't updated this blog in a while. That's going to have to change now that I've set it on the front page of In Print.

I've not been idle on the writing front. I've got a semi regular gig writing for Kasterborous as well as becoming involved in their 'Doctor Who @ 50' project. Dangling Threads remains a work in progress, one I remain excited about. My column, Turning the Page, became a one off article due to unforeseen circumstances. The odd guest strip for The Terrible Zodin as well as the odd article. Oh and a Daily Dalek with Jim that I remain very proud of.

And speaking Jim of course there's In Print. Chances if you're reading this it's on the In Print site. The strip has taken off in a way I couldn't have dreamed of. Thousands of people read each new strip and we'll be launching a back up strip in the next few months.

At some point though I'll have to explore outside the Doctor Who Universe.

Jim's still waiting after all.

Friday 11 February 2011

I'm still here

I am, honest.

And I'm still writing too, after a fashion.

My web page has been taking up a lot of my writing time recently. For those of you who don't know I run The Doctor Who Reprint Society and we've had a busy few months.

I have had to write every so often for it though. One of my efforts can be found here, on Den of Geek. I've also just contributed an article to a Sci Fi webzine that I'll post later on. But none of these were really challenging my writing ability. However I've recently discovered a way to keep working on the site and develop my writing.

Web comics.

We're starting a web comic on the site. I've found an artist and have been working on a series of scripts for it. A different style of writing is required, and I'm having to learn at a rate of knots. It's an evolving process as I'm adapting my ideas as I discover the strengths of the artist. It's been fun so far and I'm looking forward to sharing the results.

But I'm not stopping at one, oh no. When I initially floated the idea to Jesse we both agreed that even though we'd love for him to take on the artist chores there just wasn't time in his busy schedule to commit with any regularity. However the idea obviously triggered something in Jesse's imagination as not long after that he Emailed me a single page strip that he'd put together in some all to rare downtime. But he couldn't stop with a single page, now he was looking for a story to serialise in this style.

Now at this point I should mention 'Dangling Threads' again. This was the project I was working on when I last posted back in October last year. I'd stalled on it, partly due to time and partly due to the fact I couldn't work out what perspective to run the narrative from. It was really starting to frustrate me. I had all these ideas, but I couldn't get them onto the written page in any other form but notes. But when Jesse asked if I could come up with a story something clicked. The visual medium works so much better for this story than the written word by itself.

So, 'Dangling Threads' is now a collaboration with Jesse and I couldn't be happier about that. It's given me a fresh burst of incentive to get it written and now I know that Jesse will be translating into graphic form it's much easier to give it focus.

It's going to be a busy year.....

Friday 8 October 2010

Just who is Jim Chapters?

It's a good question.  He's a distraction is what he is. He's drawing me away from "Dangling Threads", my proposed collection of Doctor Who short stories.

Well, that's what he is. Doesn't tell us who he is.

Jim Chapters came to life as I was discussing the criticism I received regarding chapters in a short story. That criticism was offered by a friend of mine called Jim, however I know several Jims and to differentiate him from the other Jims I'd been discussing I referred to him as Jim 'Chapters' so my other friend knew what Jim I meant.

"Jim Chapters? That sounds like a character in a book."

He was right of course. A check on Google and various other search engines confirmed that I hadn't heard the name anywhere else before. Jim Chapters was a blank slate and he'd taken up residence in my imagination.

Jim has been slowly developing in my mind ever since. He's been picking up character traits, likes and dislikes, a fashion sense and a history. He's become a person and he's become a pest. He's demanding his story gets told and he's not taking no for an answer.

So, I find myself at a cross roads. Do I press on and finish the interconnected short stories I've started plotting or do I give in to Jim's demands and start telling his story instead?

I honestly don't know.

Answers on a postcard please.

Saturday 2 October 2010

The Next Idea

So, I'm entering the final lap of  Setting Stones. While I've been sitting waiting for the feed back to come in (all positive so far) I've been letting my mind wander as to what I should write about next. It's tempting to move off of Doctor Who, but I'm not going to just yet. I've got some ideas bouncing around my head regarding what kind of world I want to write about. but I want to sharpen my skills in a playground I know first before heading out to totally new ground. Especially as the BBC are not interested in any Who fiction that isn't about the 11th Doctor.

So, what have I got in mind? I'm going to be a bit more ambitious: I'm going to write a collection of much shorter stories, each one with a different Doctor. 11 in total, with a common thread running through each one.

My first page of notes, that I've left at the lab dammit, has a single line of dialogue for each Doctor and the rough outline for the common thread. Planning between 1 and 2 thousand words for each segment.

This isn't going to hurt at all.................

Thursday 30 September 2010

A month.


It's been a month since I started the current draft? I guess it has been.

Time has a habit of getting away from me. I can at least console myself that I haven't been ignoring the story. I've been chipping away whenever time has permitted.

I've added a couple of extra pages worth of introduction, I've fleshed out the walk into the cave and I've changed the perspective.

None of these were particularly major tasks, they just take time and when you only have 10 or 15 minutes at a time it's going to take the best part of a month.

I'm pretty pleased that I've persevered in getting these done. I've got a real feeling of satisfaction. Of course it's also mixed with a feeling of nervousness as I wait for feedback from my circle of proof readers. Not much else I can do until they get back to me.

Saturday 4 September 2010


Everyone's a critic.

But that in itself is no bad thing. When I put my first draft out I was hoping for some pointers about what needed work. Amongst the people reading it were old school fans, newish fans and a few who were completely unaware of Doctor Who.

On the whole most of the things that were criticised I was aware of and I was thankful for the areas I had missed. The next draft is progressing along now in large part due to the notes I received back.

But you can't listen to everyone. You just can't.

As a writer you have to quickly learn how to take and interpret criticism. You can't just pick and choose the comments that back up what you've done so far and ignore all the negatives. At the same time you can't get too bogged down in just the negatives, you'd never write anything again if you did that. You need to learn to look at the feedback as a whole and remove all bias from your analysis.

A perfect example would be "The Attack of the 'Hmmmms'".

Seeing as I was writing for the first Doctor (albeit younger than we've ever known him) I tried very hard to find his voice. I watched old episodes and read back everything I wrote for to myself. One of the distinctive habits that William Hartnell gave the Doctor was the use of "Hmm?" at the end of any question the Doctor asked. I therefore used that in his speech. I was quite pleased with I way it sounded.

However, most people felt that there were too many used through out the story. And that I stretched them out with too many letters on occasion. One person felt that I had "pretty much nailed the Hartnell voice."

So, did I listen to the one person whose opinion agreed with mine or did I pay heed to the general consensus? A incredibly valid question. One I'm still struggling with. On one hand the person that agrees with me has a considerable knowledge of Who; he's well versed in the series, the books and the audio plays. He's also on the cusp of being a published author. His is not an opinion I take lightly. Having said that he's also seriously outnumbered regarding this opinion.

At this point I've chosen to "walk in the valley of the shadow of compromise". I've reduced the number of times I use an "Hmm?" and I've shortened the length of the word when I do use it.

And sometimes, just sometimes, you get an opinion that you have to disregard completely. I hate doing that. It always feels like an act of ego doing so. I got just such a critique on Friday.

Well that's not entirely true. Some valid points were raised. I'll leave you with the feedback and my defense of the points raised:

Point 1: Don't like the fact it's set in a cave. It's Sci-Fi. Would prefer grand scenario. New worlds require grandeur
I chose the cave on purpose. I felt it suited the theme of appointing a Champion of Time, that it carried a mythic quality. Also, in the current draft I'm using it as a metaphor for the Doctor's state of mind.

Point 2: The phrase "Set in stone" is overused.
Can't argue that point. I'm currently toning it down in the current draft.

Point 3: The identities of the Doctor, his friend and the spectres at the back of the cave are obvious from prior knowledge.
I don't know about obvious, but prior knowledge was certainly intended to help identify the characters involved. I don't feel, and the critic agreed, that not knowing who they were affected the flow of the story.

Point 4: You obviously have no grasp on the history of the Doctor. He has no family apart from Jenny the clone, so he couldn't have left any on Gallifrey. And the Master has always been evil so he could never have been friends with the young Doctor.
It was at this point that alarm bells started going off.

Point 5: You've not got any chapters.
Probably because it's a 4,300 word short story that fills 9 pages.