It’s Hammer Time

In the beginning of Vengeance Will Come I have a made-up saying, a piece of wisdom:

A bar of steel is of limited use

But if it endures flaming trials

And is pounded upon by adversity

It can be shaped into many powerful things…

forge

Vengeance Will Come has been in the fires too long and I have too many other projects I want to progress. To continue the forge metaphor it’s time that some serious hammering occurs.

To that end I’m suspending all work on any other project until the current revision of Vengeance Will Come is complete. No other writing (excluding blog posts) and no programming, no matter how enticing the idea may be.

Ideally I’d like to finish by the end of July, but I’m not sure that’s realistic (based on past experience). In any case, I’m aiming to finish as soon as humanly possible.

And so, it’s hammer time! (Millennials won’t get the pun).

VWC Revision: Renaming Characters

Still learning how to write, I don’t always do the right thing at the right time.

The writing luminary Orson Scott Card has rules for naming characters (here and here). The primary rule is that character’s names should not start with the same letter or sound. A sensible rule.

The image below lists all of the named characters in Vengeance Will Come and highlights the problem.

VWC Named Characters Original

(Those in grey are minor characters who don’t get a point-of-view. Some appear repeatedly, and others are only in a single scene).

Too many names?

There are, arguably, too many names and if possible I’ll cull a few of them during the course of the revision by de-naming them.

The reason for so many characters is two-fold. I admit I find it awkward and unnatural to refer to someone multiple times without assigning them a name. Occasionally I’ll give them a nickname (like “Tuxedo” or “Double Muscle”), but doing that too often also feels unnatural – unless that’s a point of view character quirk. Also, like a good fan of Robert Jordan I plan to take a few of the minor characters and elevate them in subsequent books.

Breaking Uncle Orson’s rule

This is a problem I should have fixed much earlier, but better late than never. You’ll also notice in the original image there are a heck of a lot of characters named with similar letters (S, T and M). So here are my proposed changes:

VWC Named Characters Revised

I’m achieving a few goals with these changes:

  1. I’m de-stacking the heaviest use letters.
  2. I’m strategically changing the gender of Teskan (see upcoming post about gender balance).
  3. I’m structuring names in-world. It’s always bothered me that some characters have two names while others only have the one. This was just how it was and I had no good reason for it. Now I do: important individuals (the elite) in the world get two names, whereas everyone else gets one.

The only difficult, and possibly controversial change I wrestled with was “Three”. My opinion pivoted like a see-saw.

On the one hand some reviewers found it understandably difficult, because it’s a real word with a different meaning. It can therefore trip the brain up for a while.

However some respected reviewers liked it and were upset at my thoughts of altering it.

It does breach Uncle Orson’s rule, and is especially dangerous because another major character (Terefi) use the same letter. I can’t change Terefi because of the origin of his name.

But I was also really fond of the name. It’s so different that I think it helps put an “other world” spin on it. (Which, in hindsight, is kind of ironic because we have some crazy names being used on this planet). As I originally conceived it, it is also more than just a name, though that won’t become apparent until later in the series.

So eventually the see-saw motion stopped and Three remained.

A final warning

The other draw back I’ll warn you about is using words that the grammar checker will work itself into a lather over. Because three is a legitimate word, but capitalising it in the middle of a sentence is not kosher, the grammar checker has a perpetual hissy-fit. Even worse (and I’m not sure I should admit this) “Three” started off as “X”. Just a bad move; I don’t think I could get the spellchecker to ignore the single letter.

Hopefully these changes will help to balance out name-usage and make it easier for my readers. Now it’s just a matter of retraining my brain and muscle memory to type the new names instead of the old.


Help over the fence

Want a beta-reader? I’ve been helped in my development process by other beta readers and now it’s my turn to ‘pay it forward’. Each month I’ll read a chapter of someone’s story and comment on it. To be eligible, just comment on one of my posts with “*Review*” in the comment and you’re in the running.

A break from work to write

Yesterday I had hoped to have finished revising Vengeance Will Come. The goal was always ambitious but at now 50% it’s clear to say I missed it.

But I’m still going to use the break from work to churn through the editing in the hope that I can complete it – if not according to my target – as soon as possible. I’m now in the second half of my story and it does feel like I’m on the downhill run.

So aside from the occasional domestic duties and giving my beautiful bride a rest by cooking each night I hope to do a lot of writing in the next few days.

vwc-progress

Ugh-hoo-doh

It is the sound of layered feelings and emotions: tiredness tinged with joy, covered by a sad but inevitable postponement.

Let me paint the scene:

Ugh: It was the last night before a return to work after a long and relaxing holiday.

I had good intentions of getting my body clock back into work-sync; early to rise and early to bed. They were however just intentions, and de-railed by binge watching of seasons 1 & 2 of the great* scifi show “The 100”. (*I would call the show excellent if it weren’t for a few issues, detailed below).

So instead of getting to bed at an early but regular 2130 it had been closer to 2300 for the previous week. Rising had been anywhere from 0645 to 0830, a far cry from the required 0445 that was rapidly approaching reality.

Hoo. (As in, woo-hoo) I was in bed at 2200, still fairly awake when the beautiful Mrs Ezard returned home.

“A surprise,” she said, “I have for you.” One of my trusted and respected beta readers had returned hald of Vengeance Will Come, my first novel.

“And it is filled with tonnes of comments.” She annotated.

I remained in bed for all of about 13 seconds before announcing, “I’ll just have a quick look.” and sprung up with the enthusiasm of a child on Christmas morn.

True to my word I only skimmed for about 15 minutes. In this I showed epic restraint. I tried to get a decent night’s sleep but the die had already been cast. Many of you will understand how excitement kept me awake, and woke me early (0330).

Doh. And let’s not forget that while it waits for me at home I must now go and spend the day at work, not-writing. Which I believe adequately explains the title ugh-hoo-doh.

‘The 100’: Just Great, not Excellent

  • I’m all for a bit of character evolution, after all, your character’s should have arcs. I love a well done transition from good guy to bad guy. But I can’t stress enough these things should happen over time. Evolution takes time, a lot of time – not within the space of a single episode.There are far too-many character’s having too-quick changes for my liking: reckless to responsible, responsible to reckless; pacifist to psycho, psycho to pacifist; patient to rash, rash to patient. It’s the characters are playing musical-mood-chairs.
  • It has touches of Lost (which I hated) where they need something new, and they put it in without foreshadowing (e.g. giant ape). Foreshadowing is important… otherwise it comes off looking like a tacky plot element.
  • In the same mindset: there’s a girl-on-girl kiss that reeks of popularism (“everybody’s doing it in TV so we should too”). There is absolutely no foreshadowing that it was ever on the cards. Not to mention the character is kissing-back the woman who just killed her boyfriend an episode or two ago…
  • Also, I don’t think a main character has died since S01E03, which is unrealistic considering the challenges they’ve faced. Yes, it’s scifi but don’t over abuse my willingness to dial-down my disbelief.