changeling: (writing)
So this thing that I suffer from in my novel writing, historically speaking, is my desire to not commit to too many specificities. It's a safe thing to do when you're writing about a city you don't know well (London from the first iteration of the Fantasy Noir, my current project, back when it was called Mad Gods and Englishmen; although I've been to London and wandered around it I was 16 and it was only for a few days) or if you're not sure where you want your book to take place**.

But the thing is, it's not a *good* thing to do. The reader can tell that you're keeping things misty and vague, and so the place never seems very real. And once you ground a place properly, the location shapes the story.

I'm still secretly a play-writer, and I'm not sure how much I realised that location affects the story and/or characters, as obvious as it seems. But I'm doing some work on the Fantasy Noir, picking up the threads again after a week and a half of having (another) chest infection. This iteration of the book, this complete rewrite without referring to any previous version of the book at all, is set in Melbourne. I wrote that our main character, Alex, catches the tram into work in the mornings because, hey, it's the transport mode of choice when you're just dealing with the CBD in Melbourne. But I'm increasingly getting the sense that trams are going to be important. I'm not sure how important, yet. I don't think the main confrontation with the villain is going to be on a tram in peak hour. I'm not sure they're going to be plot-related important, but I do think they're going to be grounding-the-story-in-a-concrete-environment important.

It hadn't occurred to me before beginning the project, but I guess you can't write a noir in Melbourne without trams. And I'm finding it odd and pleasant that when I'm writing about Melbourne trams in a book set a bit after WWII I'll be writing about W-Class trams (my favourite!), which were very much my earliest memories of trams, and which were the cornerstone of my years at my Second High School. Oh man, and I'll have to remember to include conductors. Which were also part of the first year or two of my life at high school. The conductors were about the only thing keeping the grammar school kids in check.

And, of course, because this isn't just a noir novel but also an urban fantasy (ah, those days before I knew Jim Butcher and Harry Dresden when I thought this was unique), I may also need to work out whether and how the magic system interacts with something like the tram network.

Come to that, I need to work out how the magic system works.


* Really true. I came out of Blues dancing with a Floridian and another Melbourne friend one evening. The Floridian couldn't work out what this woman was doing, standing in the street but not trying to wave down a car. Juz, the other Melburnian, and I worked it out almost immediately: she was trying to peer down the road to see how far away the tram was.

** I kept vacillating between English-seaside-town and Australian-seaside-town for Shadow Boys; in the end I went with the latter, patchworking together bits from different towns I spent summer holidays in. But it's mostly Airlie Beach and Port Macquarie, really, with a large chunk of Proserpine, which is not a seaside town, and the St Kilda pier is stuck in the middle of the strand. It's Proserpine's sugarcane mill that overhangs the town and becomes the Doctor's castle in the other world. And the whole is stuck in New South Wales, somewhere north of Sydney. And, to continue this air of disclosure, it's my grandmother who lives in Proserpine who I had in mind when writing Lesley's family there. Although none of the family dynamics really resemble that branch of my family, Grandma is the undisputed head of it, just like Lesley's barely mentioned grandmother.

Technically, if I were setting this in Sydney or Brisbane at the close of the Second World War, Wikipedia shows me that I'd have to include trams in that, too, as odd as it seems to me in the next century. Quote from a Radio National special on trams:
Robert Lee: At their height, Sydney was much bigger. Usage peaked at over 400-million in 1945, petrol rationing helped with that of course, so that was peak. 400-million is enormous. Just by way of comparison, Cityrail today moves around 200-million a year; in Melbourne the trains and trams each move around 100-million a year, so a total of 200-million, a bit more, for the trams and trains in Melbourne. Sydney moved 400-million by tram in 1945, Brisbane in the same year moved 160-million. So the Brisbane trams, a relatively small network, about 80 miles, moved almost as many people in 1945 as Melbourne's combined tram and train system does today. So huge numbers.

Although since I was first writing this book in 2001 and (according to Wikipedia) the first two Dresden books were published in 2000 and 2001, that's kind of forgivable.
changeling: (writing)
So, there's three of us, like the Three Musketeers but female and writers. 'Cause we are. We'll all get published or die trying. I'd write a little bit about how each of us fits one of the characters except I never got around to reading it (yet) and I haven't seen any of the films. I think one character's called Aramis, and that's all you're getting, I'm afraid.

So, J is all in favour of the writing prompt. And I agree with her; you begin with prompts and all of a sudden you're back in the middle of your abandoned third chapter with a new idea for a villain. But I just haven't been sitting down and writing from the prompts she posts.

...but I have been thinking about fanfic again. The first one was spawned from this:


(Stoleded from Tumblr)

Which caused Dee and me to have a lengthy email conversation fleshing out the world. Hells, this would be so much fun to write.

The other one is this photoset here, which apparently I stupidly didn't reblog so I had to go a-Googling. This is the text below the photoset:
Alternative Universe: Eleven & Amy Pond - Time Lady & Human

My name is John Smith. I guess you could say I used to be an ‘ordinary bloke’; a little bit on the awkward side with a boring job and a small flat next to the pub. A year ago I saw a box falling right out of the sky, and then a woman coming out of the box. She called herself the Doctor. She was ginger, she talked a lot and she took my hand and we started running. We haven’t stopped since.

She calls me ‘her stupid idiot’. She hates my clothes. I don’t know what I would do without her.

Which gives me all the feels. I want to rewrite Modern Who with this as Copperbadge did for Torchwood with his Torchwood USA.


... Although I should probably start with something that isn't going to be longfic, like finishing the story I began below this image:
“Once upon a time, a baby princess was born. Her skin was the warm brown of cinnamon, her lips as red as pomegranate, and her hair as black as night …”
changeling: (Default)
I keep forgetting I have this blog thing and not checking in for weeks at a time. I'd say sorry, but I don't think anyone's surprised enough to miss me anymore. Sigh.

I'm about to move house again (!!) in three weeks' time. I'm excited and slightly stressed. Partly because I also have a novel I said I'd finish writing my novel two days before I move. Jess and I have a gentlewoman's agreement, and all our writing friends know about it. I will be NAMED AND SHAMED if I do not complete it. Although I hopefully won't appear on A Current Affair. [/Aussie cultural in-joke]
changeling: (writing)
...continues apace. I wrote yesterday, but not very much, and I was almost falling asleep at the keyboard so I gave the blog update a miss.

Tonight, I'm researching knife fights for the big climactic scene that I'm in the middle of writing. The closest I've been to a knife fight is acting out the choreography of the big fight of West Side Story backstage with a friend while we waited for our cue to go on.

I love this bit, it made me laugh (and I think I'll steal this move for my Hero):
Now for the big secret in knife fights:

DO NOT USE YOUR KNIFE.

Yes, you heard me. Do not use it. Your opponent will be so fixed on your knife, that you will easily be able to beat him up with the other hand. Therefore, if you are right handed, hold your knife in your left hand, or vice versa. Then, move your knife away from your body, and watch your opponent follow its tip with his eyes. Now hit him hard in the face with your free hand.
changeling: (Default)
I'm trying to prepare my characters with the tools and weapons they will need to defeat the Evil That Stalks the Book, and I keep running dry on what to prepare them with. Some dark corner of my mind keeps going FLAMETHROWER!!, but I'm not sure that's so wise in an enclosed space. And in a YA novel.
changeling: (Default)
I came to the State Library today to do some writing, and also chat to one of the teachers from the House of Netjer on AIM. I can't get AIM to work through any channels, so it looks like the library has it blocked. Why can't people understand that Gtalk is the way of the future? (Meaning: Why can't we do things my way? ;)

Anyway, I emailed her to update her on my travails, and she closed one email, knowing I'm an Aussie, with the salutation, "Have a G'day!"

So cute, and so, so wrong.

No-one in Australia uses G'day in this form. Although it is a contraction of "good day", it is only ever used as a greeting equivalent to "hello". This makes me translate this in my head as "Have a hello!", which makes me giggle. Also: another note for foreigners. Pretty much no-one in the large cities uses "G'day" on a regular basis. You may as well say "Tarnation, you durned yankees!" in the middle of New York.


I've picked up a copy of Stephen Fry's The Ode Less Travelled, mostly because I find Stephen Fry funny, and didn't quite realise it was, essentially, a poetry workbook. I'm quite enjoying it so far, and have (as instructed) practised some Iambic Pentameter. My favourite so far is my first one:
And to his feet he cried, "What curse is this?
What cruel and spiteful trick upon me played?
For if that's not the Gorgon's blood there spilt,
Then whose unseemly hide is split in twain?


I know what happens next, but it was taking far more time for me to versify it, and I'm supposed to trot these out as fast as possible. And only dealing in single or double lines. And, ideally, not in old-fashioned language. I want to write the rest of the story, though (it involves an oracle, a son, and a curse).

I think my love of old-fashioned turns of phrase is working against me so far. Fry has some awesome lines in the vernacular:
I haven't time to take your call right now,
So leave a message when you hear the tone.

and
Oh Christ, I hate the way you do your hair,
Expect you feel the same about my tie.


I think I shall have fun with this book.

Hmm.
And leaping to his feet he cried, "What curse
Is this, what spiteful trick upon me played?
changeling: (Default)
Prompt: morris dancing

I always said that I'd write a story based in the strange and often drunken world of morris dancing. Here I believe I can claim to have been the first person in the history of ever to combine morris dancing and the Cthulhu mythos. I would like my prize now, please.

Cthulhu cheers me up no end. I actually feel sufficiently recovered that I might be able to sleep now. :D

May Day

They danced in the main street while stallholders did a brisk trade in toffee apples and sausages in bread. They danced back and forth, sometimes with white handkerchiefs flicking one-two, sometimes with staves of wood that thunked and clicked against each other. They did Ducks in the Privy, Shave the Donkey, Portsmouth, Pershore and Queen's Delight, and Tom did four jigs. Finally, as sunset started in, they started on the first dance in their final set, called Innsmouth Hey. They followed on with Hastur's Fancy, Flowers of Arkham and Madness in the Mill.

The onlookers who escaped before the Old Ones rose from the sea and came upon the shore could not ever afterwards hear the sound of bells without screaming.
changeling: (Default)
Prompt: The Graveyard Book

No relation to Neil Gaiman's upcoming book of the same name, other than deciding to use the title as a prompt.

Read more... )
changeling: (Default)
I like this one, because I've managed to sneak a sort-of pun in there. I referred to Melbourne as the "city of storms". This is a reference to the fact that everyone claims that Melbourne's weather is so bad (which is bollocks. I LOVE rain and I can tell you we don't get that much. And as I recall, Sydney has a higher rate than we do), and the fact that our Rugby ... (er, Union? No wait, League) team is called Melbourne Storm.

AHAHAH I KEEL ME.

Anyway, this is a prayer for rain, which Australia always needs more of. I should probably write a prayer of thankfulness to accompany it.

Prayer to Zeus )
changeling: (Default)
I totally wrote this yesterday, when the zombie apocalypse was taking over the street outside my work. I heard the shop assistant scream and then was silent, but I wasn't sure if he was eaten or if there was actually a customer in the shop.

Prayer to Zeus

Holy Zeus, Cloud-Gatherer
You wait above our city
While the zombies gather beneath

Deliver us from the underground ones
With your swift sky-bolts
Because everyone knows zombies fear lightning.
changeling: (Default)
I began sketching the outlines of this in my head on the tram this morning; one of my resolutions this week vis-à-vis The Artist's Way was to make more of an attempt to incorporate my spirituality in my life. I thought a prayer to Thoth, specifically tailored to my work, would be nice. [livejournal.com profile] sannion asked for prayer/poetry submissions for Neos Alexandria this afternoon, and one of the gods he wanted things for was Thoth, so I got myself into gear.

Prayer to Thoth )
changeling: (Default)
Today is the first day of the rest of my LIFE. I am making a resolution to sit down every day and try to write ... again. I know I've made this before, but this one's for REALS. Today I wrote about forty words. On the other hand, considering I've been writing not at all, this is better than nothing. I'm also trying to fix the glaring error of a missing character (who doesn't say anything for about 5,000 words, despite his best friend being taken by the big bad).

In other news, I am wearing my "Mind the Gap" t-shirt underneath a white-and-red zip up jacket that proclaims ENGLAND in block print on the front. This was not exactly deliberate, but now it amuses me. I am also wearing a pair of brown hippie pants that finish above the ankle, but I think I shall change into a nice pair of cords so I look less like a lunatic. I am going out to lunch with Miss Issy today. I hope it's at one o'clock, because I haven't checked my diary yet.
changeling: (Default)
The "I'm a Mac" ads have jumped the Atlantic. Check out the UK versions. The first two are the best, in my opinion. (P.S. I've seen the Mac stark bollocking naked. Strange, but true.)

The sister-in-law's home today, too. Luckily for me, I have the cheap foam earplugs that S & I got at the Somebody Gypsies Counterfeit Gypsies' gig, and a pair of cheap computer stereo headphones to put over the top to complete blocking out her music with mine. It is an unfortunate fact that both S and her sister like playing a few select songs on repeat, while I cannot stand hearing songs too frequently or for too long a duration. Combine with that (what I consider to be) her abysmal taste in music, and you have lots and lots of unfun coming my way. And, dammit, today I want to use the computer, which means somehow putting up with her music. I choose blocked ear passages.

I tell you what, though. Between the kinesiologist telling me I need to let my creativity out, and Jess giving us each a booklet of writing prompts, and my old friend Issy calling out of the blue and inviting me to a writing group she's running (working through Julia wossnameCameron's The Artist's Way), it certainly feels like Someone (or several Someones) conspiring to Tell Me Something.

Oh, and S & I have taken to a new "vegan" food - nutritional yeast. We started with powdery stuff (the organic shop's assistant hadn't heard of nutritional yeast, which rather made me question how long she'd been working in such a shop), then the parents-in-law found the flakes the next weekend. My current favourite breakfast thing is toast with American mustard and yeast flakes on top. The flakes might look – and smell – a bit like fishfood, but I think it's tasty.

Chalk that up as one more odd food I'd never have tried without this wacky veganism thing.
changeling: (Default)
I want some conversation. That's what I started my foodblog for, because I love deconstructing meals I've just cooked and talking about things I could have done better, or simply differently. That I've not had a single comment on it yet is an annoyance to that part of me, but that isn't the only reason I started it.

I want conversation. I want people to argue with me about something I think or believe, to have an intellectual discussion on whether or not Lesley should have green hair.

I want someone to start up a thread about the feminist implications of the Red Shoes fairytale, and to chat with me about the differences between the male and female underworld journeys in myth.

...


I guess I miss my writing course. And working on my BA. And my story brainstorming with [livejournal.com profile] buhfly on AIM. I just want some intellectual stimulation, dammit. I'm never missing my writer's group again.
changeling: (Default)
I have just read this essay and have had a breakthrough in my YA novel. There is going to be a new character, Sergeant (which may possibly just be her title, I haven't decided yet), who will be Sebastien's 2nd-in-command. Hopefully this will also spark some exploration of the Shadow Boys' rather Victorian Problems with Females, or at the very least an early 20th C Problems with Females in Command.

It'll be great.


I also, through the same LJer, though possibly not the same post (can't remember), came across Father Knox's Decalogue: The Ten Rules of (Golden Age) Detective Fiction. I shall reproduce below, without permission, in case of a wandering in the internet stream, because I'll probably want to reference this later:

Monsignor Ronald A. Knox (1888-1957) was a British clergyman, editor, a literary critic, a humourist and a detective story writer himself who nicely laid out, with a gentle wit, the "ten rules" that guided detective fiction in its so-called Golden Age. They appeared in the preface to Best Detective Stories of 1928-29, which Knox edited. I think he was mostly joking...

1. The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.
2. All supernaural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.
3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.
4. No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.
5. No Chinaman must figure in the story.
6. No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.
7. The detective must not himself commit the crime.
8. The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.
9. The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.
10. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.


This, of course, made me want to write a story, breaking as many as possible. Perhaps for NaNo this year. The page goes on to note that someone called Josef Svoresky has already done this, in a book entitled The Sins of Father Knox, which of course I want to read, but not yet. I know I will do it BETTER.

So far I have the protagonist attempting to off someone, though this is against his moral code, with a hither-to-yet undisclosed poison. However! As he's preparing for the handcuffs to be put on, it is discovered that the man was (gasp!) already dead! The victim will be a magician, and one theory (possibly the final one, I'm not sure yet) is that a la that great, thick, black-and-cream tome, you know, wossname, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (which I must confess I haven't finished), fairies will come into it somewhere. Anyway, the detective shall detect. Thus I have at least 2, 4 and 6 down. Having just read Five Red Herrings by Dorothy Sayers, I feel I am perfectly able to conceal A Clue from the reader (well, I didn't spot the missing white paint, for goodness sake).

So that's really exciting. I haven't had an idea for a new story for awhile, and have in fact been barely writing at all. So woo!


In a related note, have you seen Neil Gaiman's new cover for Coraline? I positively must acquire a copy (nevermind the fact that I have both the British and American editions — one was a present). I am also fantastically jealous, as I want a cover for the Shadow Boys that is so Victorian-influenced. Want, want, want. Guess I'd better finish the damn thing.


On the non-writing front, it's a bit of a relief to see that someone else has male-gendered and female-gendered parts of their brains*, and that they spend most of their time quarrelling over clothing. For many years my male-gendered side was winning, but Steph has largerly smothered him in a bag, so that my wardrobe consists almost entirely of skirts. It's an interesting foray. I would still like to add some more trousers to my wardrobe, particularly in colours that actually suit me — but think I'll wait until I lose a bit of weight and have a fighting chance of finding some that fit.




* Granted, my male-gendered brain swings a bit between being some sort of British alternative soft-rocker and being an utter fop, and my female side tends towards the Victorian and gothic, but still.

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