Predictable plots +resources March 2015

[Last updated 10/3/15]

Predictable plots

For a number of years, I have been irritated at the predictability of writing in SF and Fantasy. Typically, after the first few pages you feel you already know how the story will develop and end. This issue is entrenched in the thinking of the agent-publisher model and there are no easy fixes. New Wave SF in the 60s and 70s, despite its excesses, was an early attempt to fix this. The problem was: the resulting deconstructed form took precedence over content i.e. it rarely actually wrote about anything.

Four decades on, much in the genre is still deeply unsatisfactory. The formulaic is a comfort zone. Who knows what a publisher might discover if he / she stepped outside?

My answer is a sketch, with, as a nod to literary theory, realism. Guide is a series of interlocking sketches. Since completing it I have worked on the form. Subsequent sketches have multiple storylines: there for the purpose of plot structure, characterisation and world creation. Each sketch contains the seeds of its own resolution – however these aren’t spelt out – and in fact, elements of the story may be obfuscated during editing.

Those I’ve done come to around 20k words (novellette-novella sized). These are:

Lucky is also on Kindle and for those who want to check it out it’s free on:

In due course I will ‘finish’ them. In the meantime I’m developing more.

1) Links to my books on Lulu


Unfinished Tales

  • vol 1 Life on earth and other fictions (tba) 
    original edition still available as Lucky and other stories
  • vol 2 Brant and other fantasies (tba)
  • vol 3 The Wrong Lane and other detours (tba)
  • vol 4 Real Fiction

Other works

2) Links to other books hosted

Has You Like It (collection by Hasiwriters – includes 2 of my stories)
36 Short Stories 2010/11 (collection by Creative Writers on My Telegraph – unedited – includes 7 of my stories)

Burnley Grammar School Yearbook
The Brun 1968
The Brun 1969
The Brun 1970
The Brun 1971
The Brun 1972
The Brun 1973
The Brun 1974

Ta’ rīkh-i jahān-gushā (The History of the World Conqueror – a recounting of the Mongol atrocities in Central Asia and the events leading to them)
Ta’ rīkh-i jahān-gushā vol 1
Ta’ rīkh-i jahān-gushā vol 2

Resources for my projects.

Sometimes I blog up my research. As an exercise this can be demanding but it forces me to think about each relevant piece.

Lucky (ISBN 978-1-291-86805-0) is refugee alien who has escaped the destruction of her race. Once of the flowing people she believes her race long gone. The star civilisation of the flowing people was destroyed by the measuring people. Both civilisations were based in the galactic core –  she has been so long in suspended animation that the stars she knew are old, dying and faded and the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way has become gigantic. She is lucky to still exist. In the constellation locally known as Orion’s belt, she stumbles across a primitive interstellar probe.

I’ve written 22,000 words of Lucky. Here’s some research on stars and interstellar space.

The Central Sea is historical fiction, written at the start of 2013. The setting is Malta at the time of the Crusades, which was round about the time of the rise of the Norman Kingdom of Sicily. One of the Maltese Islands is Gozo which in the story, is attacked by corsairs; who were notorious for slave trafficking. Three friends are separated and the story is split between them; one narrative for each. It comes to just under 9,000 words in total. Eventually they are reunited, but also changed.
The Central Sea

A Guide to First Contact is a blog devoted to my first novel. Guide is epic (or big bucket because everything is thrown in 🙂 ) Science Fiction. It deals with evolution, God, aliens, inter-species relationships, mutations, First Contact, the Rapture, zap-guns etc.
More detail on Guide: – Humans / AliensPlacesThe LostBackgroundAcadiaLanguageSayingsCharactersCharacter sketchesSexChronologyPre-historyBefore the Fall 1 – Before the Fall 2 – Post Apocalypse.

There are several editions of Guide. Some use the print on demand technology of Lulu (which produces a very nice finish): UK paperback; US paperback

I like the look and feel of paperbacks.
Paperback cover - large format (Lulu UK)

Guide is also on Kindle.

Kindle cover

NaNoWriMo and Harjazes

In 2013 I tried my hand at NaNoWriMo. This is where you plan to write a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s 1,666 words per day. I don’t write at that rate; if I did it would be gibberish. According to NaNoWriMo gibberish is okay… I set myself a more realistic target about 30,000 words. My story was a detective. Real Life intruded and I couldn’t complete. Read more at: Harjazes.
A private investigator, Bernie Doarne, works in the fictional town of Lellegheny (pop 250,000) in the South-West Appalachians. He is asked to find the missing husband of Mrs Dimling. Bernie’s pal Bilby, has good contacts in the business and he  decides to check in on him. On the same day, the local newspaper runs a report on the Ridge Runner which is a local legend….
Harjazes was written on November dates: 010204050607080910.

North-East U.S. - Indian Ma

In 2012 I put together my first short story collection. I was prompted by a reader: Your voice is unique, so set a placeholder now while your visions are fresh. The book is called Ice Made and other stories; it is available via the print on demand technology of Lulu

Ice-Made hard copy cover

For Kindle I initially split this into three smaller collections. These were An Empty Bucket, Ice Made, and Master of the Universe —now withdrawn.

I’ve a My Space blog lurking about. The changes on that site mean that browsing it is a little tricky – and I haven’t completed resetting it.

My Goodreads blog is on hold for the moment.

Here’s my Facebook page which use to reflect on social / political / economic affairs of the day.

Author page on Amazon

Author page on Lulu

I also archive hobbies and stuff here.

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