Sunrise on a run

Sunrise on a run

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Law of Averages: 6,000 words

So, I previously posted about my 10,000 word start on a novel.  Do I say much about it yet? No, I'll keep under wraps for now.  I was aiming for another 10,000 words in August but realised that if I'm setting the story in an alternate reality, I needed to spend some time on world creation and setting.

2,000 words later.  It's not much when you look at July's 10,000 but it's 2,000 words which will hopefully assist in production of the next 10,000.  I've outlined my ideas for another chapter and spent some time sketching out key aspects of the version of reality which provides the backdrop, and out of which the plot will develop.

One key aspect of the setting, and one which isn't covered in the OU handbook, is that of timeline.  Even if your narrative only covers a single day, you still need to place that day within the context of others, it does not occur in a vacuum.  I don't think I've fully settled on a convincing timeline of events.  There are various political events, historical events and a war which provide context to the setting.  That timeline won't necessarily be expounded upon within the story but I need to have a firm grasp on events gone before in order for the actual narrative to take shape.

There is an additional challenge in that creating an alternate reality, I am trying to graft that alternate reality onto real historical events.  Currently, I think my timeline is much longer than the one onto which I'm trying to graft my alternate reality.

There is research I need to do on the history of early computing and in particular, the Babbage machine.  As yet, I don't know whether I need this knowledge as part of the plot, it might just be for context and to assist in this alternate world-view.  Any recommended reading?

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Monday, September 02, 2013

Val McDermid: Wire in the Blood; the Retribution

Having read these back to back last week, I felt they deserved a mention.  I sometimes marvel at how much the girls enjoy reading; once Boo's lost in a book, the only place you'll be able to find her is once she's got to the end.  She's spent most of the summer reading Lemony Snickett's series of unfortunate events.  There's 13 books, I don't know whether each book chronicles just one event.  Plus she's been engrossed in the local library summer reading challenge.  

Having downloaded and read Wire in the Blood, I was trying to find which Tony Hill/ Carol Jordan book to read next.  As the Retribution follows the escape of the Wire in the Blood's killer from jail and the subsequent series of unfortunate, but premeditated events, it made perfect sense.  (The pricing helped but maybe that's for another post)

There must be something about being on Summer holiday as I last read a couple of her Tony Hill/ Carol Jordan books last summer.  Wire in the Blood is good.  You find out fairly early on, whodunnit, but there's two parallel crimes being investigated. This is a structure which is used in the Retribution, I can't remember whether it's used in any other of her books.

I preferred the Wire in the Blood.  The Retribution was a good sequel but I wouldn't recommend it as a stand alone read.  We are reacquainted with the killer from Wire in the Blood, he's out of jail and out for revenge.  In fairness, the ending comes as a complete surprise.

One criticism is that the use of new technology as a way of contrasting how time has passed too obvious and there are a couple of moments where it is a little too contrived.  Before the first murders, the killer is viewing his quarry via hidden cameras and over an Internet connection.  I found it hard to believe that his 3G connection would be that reliable up in the Yorkshire Dales.  Secondly, there is a moment when someone is given details of the killer's residence but the development is too new for his Satnav to pick up.  That I can understand.  What I don't understand in these days of smartphones is why he doesn't just look on Google maps to find it.  Maybe that particular character doesn't have a smartphone.

There are useful references back to other episodes in the other books, it helps make the characters believable and you have faith in their fallibility.  However, it does also mean that the book doesn't stand up on its own.  

Interestingly, I've realised that my favourite (only) crime writers are female: Val McDermid, PD James and Agatha Christie.  Is it just that I haven't read any male crime writers, or is there something about their writing styles wch I prefer?

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