Tuesday, 16 July 2013
You've got the plot sorted, you know you know what genre you'll be putting your story into. You've even chosen a location. Now you just have to decide what time period this story will happen in. I'm talking about what time period. The past? Present? Future? Are you going to be delving into areas that you can find information about easily? Are you going to be making it up as you go along? I don't need to tell you that research is key to things like this. If you're choosing a time period that has already happened, you'll need to be sure that you don't have them discovering DNA or using facial recognition or even cameras in colour before they have been invented. You don't want to have star-crossed lovers flying over countries in planes while mankind is pretty much stuck on the ground. So, you need to make the decision about where you're going to set your story, but also when it's going to happen.
I know that the easy idea is to set it in present day, but that comes with it's own difficulties which I'll discuss another time. I'll focus on the past and future parts of when for now. I have written a story set in present day that involves some time travel to the not so distance past - well one hundred years in the past, so not too close to the time it's set in. I learnt pretty early on that while I love reading about history and stuff like that, you have to research well and think long and hard before you just start saying stuff.
The story in question was a crime and mystery novel. It involved dealing with solving a crime in 1910. Not an easy task, even when the person solving the crime was in the future and therefore had access to present day crime solving techniques. The problem was that to solve the crime and make sure the right person paid for that crime, she had to use old school methods and I mean *really* old school. It was all well and good her solving the crime with twenty-first century DNA and fingerprints, but in 1910, fingerprinting was in it's infancy and DNA? Not even an option. The first forensic crime lab opened in France around that time and it wasn't something that the local police would be able to, or want to ship over for their help. It wasn't a national scale case by any means. So, I had to be careful and look at other ways for them to solve that particular crime.
So that's the past, lots of research and being sure about dates, depending on what is actually happening in the past. It's one of the reasons that a lot of people stick to writing an area that they have experience in, or at least a good amount of knowledge or contacts that can't always be found with Google or Wikipedia. But what about the future?
Well, that comes with a little more creative license. You can make up your own facts about the future, depending on how far into it you go. If you decide to set it only a decade or so from now, you'll need to have some kind of explanation for why we're all living on Mars, but the further forward you go, the more slack you have in what you say. Again, some research will need to be done, but because the future is pretty much unknown, you can say what you like. Like I said, there does need to be some explanation or at least clarification as to why things are the way they are, but that's true of pretty much anything set past what we can predict.
It's something that needs to be researched and depending on which direction you choose to take your characters in, that will dictate how much knowledge you need to have of the time period. I discovered that because of the time I chose, I would need to acknowledge that a king had just died and the next in line would be having a coronation shortly. So, plan and research, but other than that, step into the time machine and go where you please!
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Tuesday, 9 July 2013
The release of DYING THOUGHTS - THIRD WISH went as planned and it is now LIVE on Amazon UK, USA, Canada, Japan, Brazil, India, France, Germany, Spain & Italy. You can grab a copy from the UK store at the above link!
Anyone wishing to do a review of any of Joey's books, feel free to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for details!
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Saturday, 6 July 2013
To celebrate the release of DYING THOUGHTS - THIRD WISH on JULY 8TH 2013. We are running a 50% OFF sale at Smashwords. The first two DYING THOUGHTS books will be 50% for until JULY 22ND 2013. Be sure to grab your copy now and catch up on the series before book three is released on Monday.
DYING THOUGHTS - FIRST TOUCH is now $1.50 with the coupon code YY96D.
DYING THOUGHTS - SECOND SIGHT is now $1.50 with the coupon code: VN33F
Both books are available in all e-book formats from Smashwords, while the third will be released exclusively on Amazon Kindle. The coupon is ONLY valid when the books are purchased through Smashwords directly.
Location, Location, Location.
You've got your plot. You have your characters. You know what you want to happen and you're sitting by the keyboard and ready to write your opening sentence and paragraph. Except there's one little detail you've forgotten. Where on earth is this story set? There's also the question of when, but that's for another piece that I already have planned.
You know how they always say "Location, location, location"? The same is true for your story. Some writers will stick to their home town or a place that they are extremely familiar with. Others will set it in a made up place, between town x and city y. They draw maps and arrange everything so that they can talk about locations that exist in their world and what streets they're on and all of that. Others will scope out a place, visit it and take a huge chunk of photos so that they can refer back to them at a later stage. I'm sure there are other ways that I am not thinking of, but you get the picture.
As an avid reader, I've read many versions of how to solve the problem of location. As a writer, I use a few different techniques. I have written a book where it's set in my home town - it was linked to the history of the place and so had to be set there. I have also made up towns in my head, never really saying where they are in the grand scheme of things. Other times I have stuck a pin in a map and done research, like looking at Google Maps, to get a general idea of the area. I find that unless I have named a town, I see no need in laying out which road leads to where and what they're called.
Usually, I will use the same town that I have for books like BLACKOUT, the DYING THOUGHTS series and even LYNNE & HOPE. Although I do mention roads and motorways and other places in LYNNE & HOPE, the home town is the same in all three. It's completely fictional and although I have an idea of what it looks like and the way it's set in my head, I don't feel the need to include all of that in the books unless it's relevant, which is rarely is.
It really is a choice of what works for you. Do you feel like your home town is a place where you can set this story? Are you writing for adults, children or teens? The audience will determine how much you need to tell them about the place. Are they travelling by car? Bus? Foot? Donkey? Again, that will determine what you need to include. As always it is a balancing act between giving the reader enough information that they build a picture in their head and not giving too much so that it becomes annoying and unneeded.
I know that when I read, and come across books that detail the route they took in the car, including names and markers, I don't always feel that it is needed. I'm not criticising because everyone likes different things and that's the joys of being a writer, creating something different each time. I guess what I am trying to say is that while location is important, and needing to know your surroundings somewhat is also important, I don't think it's something that you need to describe down to the colour of the road signs. If it's needed for the plot, that's fine, but there is a fine line that you need to learn about so that you know when you can and can not cross it.
As always, your mileage may vary.Have fun choosing your location!
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Tuesday, 2 July 2013
Choosing a genre
When you start with an idea for a story, you will not always be thinking about what genre it belongs to. Your main concern is going to be getting the idea onto paper and starting to write the story itself. However, eventually you are going to have to put your story into a genre before you can finish the story and way before you decide to publish it - be it the traditional route or through a self publishing platform. People who will read your book will want to know what its about and what genre it belongs with.
So, how do you go about choosing a genre? Personally, I like to write what I know, but you may not. As long as you are willing and able to do the research required then it doesn't matter which genre you choose to settle into and call your own.
Some writers will write in genres they themselves love to read. Others will find their talent lies in writing a genre they would never read themselves. From my own personal writing experience I can say that although THE DYING THOUGHTS series can be classed as supernatural as well as in the crime and mystery genre, I personally do not read supernatural books. I prefer crime, mystery and some romance. I can say that a lot of my books have a supernatural or sci-fi tone to them, but a lot of the time it is not done purposefully, it just creeps into my writing.
So, you've chosen your genre. You've done your research and you're ready to declare that you're only going to write in one genre from now on. That's great, I'm glad you've found a topic you are passionate about and have found an area you can create in and do brilliantly. However, before you class yourself as a romance writer, or someone who writes about alternative realities, or a mystery writer who only caters to fifty five year old women with blonde hair, just remember that writing styles, genres and plots do not stay static. They can change into something different in a heartbeat. You can plan and research and micromanage every word, but sometimes the story takes you where it takes you and there is little you can do about it. It's great if you have an idea of where the story will go and how to get there, but remember that when inspiration strikes, it doesn't always hit the planned target.
As long as you are willing to go along with the story as you write, go along for the ride as it were, then you can't go wrong! Enjoy writing and exploring your worlds.
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