In Dreams Awake

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.

(Henry David Thoreau)

Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Flabby Perils of Star Trek

  So I watched Star Trek: Into Darkness last night. I've always liked Star Trek, despite its sometimes cheesiness. Like a lot of sci-fi/fan, when it gets it right it really does get it right. The first J J Abrams/Chris Pine/ Zachary Quinto film was very good, not only decent cinema but a good plot too, and well told.

  Sadly the sequel isn't. It's still a decent film, but the 3D gimmicks are annoying me now, they're pointless and sometimes distort a film just so the director can fit in that really great shot with bits flying towards the audience... but mostly the story is just poor. The idea is good, but it isn't well told. There are too many knowing nods to the earlier Star Trek, that of Shatner and Nimoy et al, and the last hour (or nearly) of the film is just one flash-bang-scream piled on the last, which just made my eyes ache.

  A peril of being an author: you notice when a story is flabby, or when it wanders, or when something has been stuck in just because it goes wheeee but it doesn't help the story at all. There's an old saying; kill your darlings, which means that any writer has to be able to review his own work and cut out this, trim that, skip that whole scene... However good it is, or however keen on it you are, you have to cut. (Spoiler alert) An online reviewer called Caroline Sheehan said of The Risen King that there were scenes she'd have liked to see, rather than just hear about, for example the fall of Gailhom and the deaths of the king and Stefan, but I just couldn't fit it in. The novel is nearly 140,000 words long anyway, I had to cut like a madman just to keep it down to that.

  It's a shame J J Abrams doesn't seem to have done that with Into Darkness. It's the same malaise that ruined the latter three Star Wars films, when nobody was close enough to George Lucas to say No, stop, that bit of dialogue clunks like a wooden leg and by the way, Jar-Jar Binks is a REALLY bad idea. I'm not sure anyone can be trusted to do this editing all alone. Everyone needs a reader who can tell them where the clunks are, when the story waffles and grows fat without going anywhere, and so on. I can see it with Into Darkness, but I know from experience that it often takes someone else's eyes to see it in my own writing.

  And on that note I'll quit, before this blog post also becomes flabby.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Free Books, Contests and Getting Wet

  Well, first things first - Blood and Gold e-book will be free at Amazon Kindle on Monday 13th/Tuesday 14th of May. Feel free to pick it up, and please tell people about it, the more freebies the better.

  So, on to other things. I'm going to enter Black Lord of Eagles for the Yeovil Prize - that's a writing competition here in the South-West of England. I decided to do so after attending an event at the Barnstaple library on World Book Day, including an address by the author Sophie Duffy, so thanks to her and to the staff as well. Black Lord... has also just gone off to an agent for the first time; fingers crossed that someone will pick up on it.

  I can't get Starfire written though. I hit walls all the time: solve one problem and another pops up. I think there must be something wrong with the structure of the story, or the basic execution, but I can't put my finger on what it is. So that will have to be shelved until I can work it out (probably about 2019, the speed my brain chugs along at). On the brighter side, I've finished volume one of Chained Dragon, a book called The Bone-Smile, and I'm just starting on volume two. And I still have the ideas for The Pyramids of Saqoma, and The Cross-Tree, and also The Rainbow Bridge. Plus I've done some outlines for a series called The Playground of Fawns, which is very ambitious and just a bit scary, to be honest. I'm not ready to tackle that yet, but there's plenty to be going on with.

  Quite a lot of titles beginning with The, now I look at that. Maybe one or two will change as I go. Ho hum.

  Now spring has finally arrived, I'm looking forward to hiking up onto Exmoor at some point, to spend a few days with zero connection to the outside world at all. It's astonishingly liberating to do - blimey, I sound like a self-help manual - and if I take a few pens and some paper, I might get some good thoughts down. Of course I might also get very wet, and end up eating half-cold beans out of the tin because the fire won't light properly, but that will just make it easier for me to imagine the characters in my books.

  I'll keep telling myself that, anyway. And who knows, I might even get a handle on how to fix the problems with Starfire.