Apr 07

Genre Bending

One of the ideas underpinning the Hope Town series of short stories was to explore as many genres/sub-genres as possible, because while the main characters are members of the police force, the crimes and people they will be investigating should be from a wide pool . This would not only mean the tales would be fresh each time, but I would get to have a lot of fun in the process.

While I’m still working on writing the actual first batch of stories, I’m constantly thinking of others either at a high concept level, or even just with me walking along the road and shouting “robots!” to the surprise of my fellow commuters.

As such, I’m making a list which won’t be exhaustive unless I run out of genres. I may publish an update in a few months, but for the moment here are the ones I am planning on tackling. They’re not in any speciic order, just as I’ve noted them down.

 

  • Parallel Universes
  • Satanism/Cults
  • Ghosts
  • Chupacubra
  • Superheroes
  • Time travel
  • Aliens
  • Dystopian Future
  • Vampires
  • Puppets
  • Christmas
  • Evil genius
  • Kaiju
  • Robots
  • Werewolves
  • Locked room
  • Fantasy
  • Possession
  • Halloween
  • Fairytale

 

 

Oh, and if that little lot isn’t hard enough, I want to challenge myself by creating a story entirely in rhyme. Probably the best fit will be the fairytale one.

 

 

Mar 09

Repurposing Old Ideas

I’m sure someone said that ideas, like energy, cannot be created or destroyed. If not, then please quote me*

Anyway, my point here is that something I wrote about many years ago has popped back in my head and now is scheduled to become the basis for one of the Hope Town short stories.

Yes, I’m still working on those (and we’ll talk more on that subject later).

I’m sure if you spoke to any writer on the subject, they would have many examples of plots, characters and scenes that they had scribbled down in their notebooks but never actually used for that purpose. Often, they stay within the pages and never see the light of day again. But sometimes you love something so much, that despite not being able to realise its full potential as part of an original whole, you instead find another outlet for it. Those times feel good, because you’ve nurtured something and didn’t have to abandon it to the dead ideas vault.

In this particular case, I’m actually repurposing part of a story I wrote many years ago which was part of a series chronically a career in Championship Manager. In writing that tale, I would take the actual events (transfers, matches, goals, sending offs etc) and weave them into something more humourous and strange. It culminated in an episode where we fast forwarded to a dystopian future (are there any other kinds nowadays) which was caused by a football transfer related decision which was the cliffhanger of the previous episode. Think of it as Days of Future Past, but with a football and giant robotic chickens.

Hilarity ensued.

Since Hope Town is intended to visit many a genre, a sci-fi infused future tale sounded like a perfect candidate when the old story popped back into my head. The great thing is that, while I can’t find the original story, I can remember the majority of the plot and it shouldn’t take too much to repurpose it into a tale from a future version of Hope Town.

Now its on the schedule to be written at some point, and I’ll no doubt scribble the notes down over the next few weeks. At that stage, I’ll work out where it should fit on the timeline and schedule the completion at some opportune time. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Even though its probably not a logical statement, I’ll take it

Oct 28

Getting out of a Funk

So, while I thought I had a way out of the problem with the Hope Town short story series, it doesn’t look as though I actually do.

Oh, there was solution which technically was viable, but when reviewing it I wasn’t really sure that I liked it. So, I left it for a bit and then came back. After that little hiatus, I still didn’t like it, so I left it again.

This ended up morphing into an extended bout of not doing any writing at all, which is pretty much how my entire so-called writing career has progressed. Rinse, repeat; quite.

In the interim, I did go back to another novel that I had started on with the express purpose of listening to my own advice. However, even that didn’t help as at the back of my mind I really wanted to work this one out.

This all led to another bout of non-writing while I struggled with the problem in my head.

Unfortunately, I’m still not beyond that and find myself getting mired further and further into a creative funk, which is frustrating in so many ways.

What I need to do (other than stop breaking posts into paragraphs at the end of each sentence) is to just get past this and write. To hell with the niggling problem; I can deal with that when I’m ready to finally self publish, and in the meantime does it really affect the actual creation of the short stories?

I mean, there is such a thing as Find and Replace in Word, right?

Aug 08

I think I have a solution…

Following the event that I dubbed Crisis of Infinite Short Stories, I’ve put everything else to one side to try and find a resolution. It probably fed the demon procrastination that is always waiting inside me, ready to pounce at a moment’s notice or when I find that there’s something else fun to do on the internet. However, this is a big deal and I didn’t want to move on too much more with the individual short stories in case the solution that I eventually found would require big rewrites to the work so far.

Luckily I have hit on something that should work.

You might think I sound hesitant, and you’d be right; its not quite all there yet, but its not a million miles away. To get it over the line I’m going to get the camera out, some maps and the like and piece something together. In addition, I’ll need to research some historical events, to see if the initial history lesson could work in the new location.

I know, historical events. Its almost research.

This may all work out for the best because I don’t have to worry about potentially offending anyone who lived in the original location. Now, I can take the new base and build on that to create something which is completely fictional and give me full freedom to tell whatever stories I want. This will be particularly useful, if I do write some past tales at some stage (and there are tentative plans to do so in the pitch I did).

I estimate a good few hours over the weekend and early into next week should crack it. Stay tuned.

Aug 06

If Its Not Working Move On

When I’ve been working on novels in the past, I’ve always written in a non linear fashion. I would jump around a lot especially when I was struggling with a scene or a character and so rather than let the entire project slow down I would walk away (not literally) and tackle another part of the novel which I didn’t have problems with.

Until I had problems with that too of course.

This method kept me going, but I found that sometimes when I went back to the problem child I still couldn’t work through it. On some occasions I would rewrite it completely. With others I would replace it with something else that did work. On rare  occasions I would give up completely as either I had no interest in that scene or a replacement wouldn’t work.

On those occasions I realised that perhaps the novel wasn’t going to pan out, because if I couldn’t make something that was once fundamental to the story work (or worse, didn’t have any interest in a portion of it) then perhaps it wasn’t meant to be.

Throwing an entire novel (or part thereof) away when you’ve devoted a lot of time and effort (and perhaps love for a while) is a bit soul destroying and I would agonize over the decision for a good few days. Still, I would convince myself it was the right thing to do and move on to something else even though it felt like a little piece of me had died.

I’ve hit that moment with one of the short stories from the Hope Town series that I’m currently working on, but I’ve found that this time its different; a bit simpler really. I can jettison the short that I had been working on and pick up the next one. Although I’ve mapped out a lot of the series already, there’s room to pick up plot points or characters or relationships and see if they can fit in another story. Its not always going to work, but since all the stories are designed to be self contained its not the end of the world.

Now, with the stories being part of a shared universe and having seeded plot points in one that are designed to pay off in the future, or mapped out a few overarching story arcs, then I can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater in all cases. In those scenarios I’ll pick it up gently, wrap it in a towel, kick the bath over and let it drain away.

I digress.

In reality, I’ll keep the story on file and perhaps come back to it at some point. In the meantime, I’ve set myself deadlines so its off I go with something else.

Aug 05

Crisis of Infinite Short Stories

Just a quick post to report a crisis of um…rather large proportions. When doing some more research around the real-cum-fictional setting for the Hope Town set of short stories I’ve found that the origins and history that I had believed were correct are in fact not.

Yes, this is a complete work of fiction, and I could completely change the location but the location fits with the title of the series. So, now I need to find a way to create this place before it was actually created and find a plausible reason.

An entirely made up, plausible reason ;)

Ironically, I had created a post for today entitled If Its Not Working Move On. That’s now scheduled for tomorrow.

Aug 04

Expanding the History of Hope Town

One of the first things I did when I created the first Hope Town short story “The Devil’s Pâtissier” was include a little preamble which I titled A brief history lesson. It provided a quick overview of the setting and began to explain (hopefully with humour) why so many strange things occur in Hope Town. I didn’t want to name it a prologue because those usually run to a fair few pages; short stories don’t typically have prologues and everyone seems to frown on the use of prologues in fiction.

Huh. I think they have a place, but do think they need to be used well and sparingly, but to dimiss them entirely? Nope.

Anyway, this A brief history lesson that isn’t a prologue was to ease the reader into the short story because after that we get Pontius Smith saying “What is that smell?” and it pretty much doesn’t stop there. It has a job to do and I think does it well.

As this is a series of short stories, I thought there would be no harm in including it in each one and so I’ve done a bit of a cut and paste from “The Devil’s Pâtissier” into all of the first drafts I’ve been working on.

Of course, I got to thinking… is this cheating a little? Does it look like filler and will anyone who reads the first story really read it or just skip over it? At best it would be pointless including it, and at worst it would look like lazy writing and I don’t ever want to be accused of that (we’ll wait for the reviews on that one).

I still thought including the little history piece before each short story could serve a purpose, especially if someone picks up the 2nd or 3rd short and hasn’t read “The Devil’s Pâtissier” and miss out.

The solution was obvious but has its consequences, mostly on me. Actually, completely on me, but Hell I think its worth it so I don’t mind.

Now each short story will begin with a different A brief history lesson to fill in some of the background to Hope Town. Some will have relevance for the story contained therein, while others will just add a little something different.

It also helps that I’ve been looking at creating an overarching timeline anyway and was going to use some fictional historical events in subsequent short stories, so I like to think that doing this will help build the universe and make it richer.

Aug 01

Signage

Been playing with Gimp (which doesn’t sound right does it) and thought this might look good on a wall.

 

sign2

 

 

Some wall anyway.

Jul 31

The Past Few Weeks in Bullet Points

Reader(s) of this blog will notice that there haven’t been updates for a few weeks. There are numerous reasons for this but I won’t bore you with the details. There has however been some progress with on the Hope Town front so I thought I’d list those here in this catch up post before I start getting into more details around thoughts and process. Yes, there are more of those to come.

 

  • My pitch received a polite no thanks just before the 6 week deadline came up. I’m okay with that and its not like it held me up
  • First draft of the second story “Ever Vigilant(e)” is complete so I’ll review and edit that some time next week and then again the week after
  • I had a long return train journey a couple of weeks ago and had hoped to challenge myself to write the first draft of one story in that time but didn’t accept my own challenge so it didn’t happen
  • The little historical pre-amble before each story is going to change as I have a plan for it. More later
  • Notes are being taken as I progress with each story around how initial thoughts were fleshed out, or completely ditched/reworked with the purpose of tracking my work ethic and maybe something to include down the line
  • I spend a good half hour coming up with names for crap super villains and it was a lot of fun

 

Right, that’s the lot for now. I have short stories to write you know

Jul 10

Here I Go Running Off With Another Project … Again

Follower(s) of this blog will know that I have a tendency to go off on a tangent with my projects. Sometime I call it a disease, but on the odd occasion when I feel optimistic I think of it as a talent. In those instances, I imagine myself juggling plates on sticks on some mid tier light entertainment television programme, audience slow hand clap and all.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with writing more than one project at a time per se – indeed, if you manage to spend time writing down things then you’re already battling procrastination, so its all good right? – but when you have a love for a work in progress and want to complete it, other projects are surely just distractions? When you look at my track record with completing projects you would be right to be wary about another one sneaking in.

However, in my defense I would say that this is more looking to adapt an old project into a similar structure as the current one. In this case, the series of books aimed at children which were standalone but could form part of a wider universe, may already have the DNA of the Hope Town series already through it. The tweak would be to convert them into short stories rather than full length books which would actually elongate the series and allow for more dedicated time to more characters.

At the moment, its more of a scribbling of notes as I get to a stage with Hope Town where 50-90% of the first 4 stories have been written.

Call it a palate cleanser.

 

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