One month to go – and other news

We have just one month until NaNoWriMo 2012.  One month until everything comes to a grinding halt so that we can focus entirely on our creation.  I can bash out anything up to 5 thousand words a day but simply knowing that NaNo is approaching makes that daily 1700 seem like an awful lot of words.

I now know what I’m going to be writing; it has a working title and a basic plot outline.  It’s an idea I  had for a novel some months back and jotted down for future development.  I feel comfortable knowing that this is the work I’m going to be doing.  I was beginning to wonder that I wouldn’t make my daily total with what I had planned to do.

It’s going to be great fun and good discipline and at the end of the day I’ll get a shed load of work produced so even if I don’t make the 50 k, nothing will be wasted.

Onto other news.

My current work in progress is nearing completion and will be approximately 50 k words.  It’s written in first person POV which I’ve found hard but enjoyable.  It has made it hard for me to make the story as long as my other novels though, so I may write a second story with the same character and published them both in a collection in a similar way that Stephen King did with 4 Past Midnight.

With 50 k words apiece, 2 or even 3 published as a collection might be a good idea, rather than as separate novellas.  Not sure yet; still musing on this.

Furyan Aria – the truth behind the shining eyes of Richard B Riddick

FURYAN ARIA – the truth behind the shining eyes of Richard B Riddick

by Merita King

copyright Merita King September 2012

All rights reserved.

Alone I stand here surrounded by fear and hate.
Hunted across worlds by those seeking their pound of flesh
for what it will bring them in the market place.
There is no peace, no sanctuary to be found.
Left to die, a baby’s cry unheeded by the strong
as they fill trashcan after trashcan.
Monsters hold no fear for him, Claws, teeth, animal instincts, hunt or be hunted,
these he understands.
The last of his kind, the omega of a nation.
Climbed from the trashcan, unwound the cord.
Relentless retreat, running, always running
but that trashcan is always there.
Climb out of the trashcan and still believe.

Don’t get too close, you don’t know me, can never know me.
Always behind a wall, peeping out.
Kill, walk away and save yourself, no one will blame you.
But they blame you anyway and hunt, always hunt.
So run, run and hide behind that wall of stoicism
for they’ll never understand you anyway.
Gonna miss the party, c’mon.
But don’t you cry for me, not for me.
They killed everything he knew,everyone he pretended not to love.
Down in the dark, he sees clearly what must be done.
Take a life? Sure. Take that life? No.
Run, hunt or be hunted, always on the move.
A killer? A convict? A saviour?
Always the chase, the thrill of the chase across worlds.
Your brain shuts down in cryo sleep
But he’s still awake, awake in the trashcan.
Does he still believe?
Started out with a cord around his neck and still believes.
Fought for his life in the dark, but always saw it clear
when others were blind and stumbling.
Still believes.
They killed everything he knew, and he still believes.
You keep what you kill.
But you can’t kill the trashcan.

World building for fiction – when is enough, enough?

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’m compiling a new page on this site which I call the Intergalactic Guidebook.  I decided a little while ago that it would be fun to create some kind of encyclopaedia of The Lilean Chronicles.  In it I would write a kind of mini wiki all about the worlds and peoples we meet in the series.  This is going to be a herculean task, as I’m finding out but it’s fun to do and I don’t mind it taking a while.  I’m uploading each page when it’s complete and will blog when there’s a new page for you all to peruse.

It’s called world building or rather in my case, galaxy building and I actually did this when I wrote the books.  I built the words, the galaxy as I wrote each volume of the series.  What I’m doing now is putting all that information together in one place, but I’m finding that something interesting is happening as I’m putting it all together.

I know the worlds contained within The Lilean Chronicles very well.  I spent a year writing with my characters and I know all about their worlds, their culture etc so writing it all down again for the guidebook is not hard.  What I’m finding though, is that I’m actually writing stuff I never wrote in the books.  There are things in the guidebook that you won’t read about in the series at all.  The back stories in the guidebook are way more comprehensive and complete than the information in the novels is.  This got me to wondering why I’m feeling the urge to go so much further with these back stories, when some of the information isn’t in the books.

The answer is simple really.  I love doing it.  World building is such huge fun and it’s a total pleasure to invent a whole world, a race of people, their beliefs and culture, even their diseases and sports.   I also feel that the fuller the back story is, the more believable the novel becomes.  When you can find out everything about the world a character comes from, it helps you identify with them more closely and understand them more deeply.  Besides, it’s interesting shit to read..!

So how much is too much?  Should I go so far as to include geological information about the composition of the land masses?  Should I document the changes to air purity over the past thousand years and cross reference this with a graph showing the increase in population perhaps?  Maybe I need to include a political history, complete with list of the last 10 years worth of import and export figures?

No, I think not.  For one thing, it would bore me rigid to write and therefore, probably bore readers too and secondly, it teeters on the edge of OCD.  Readers have enough imagination and sense to know that stuff isn’t necessary for a work of fiction.  Yes it would make it totally comprehensive but it wouldn’t add anything to the story as a whole.

I’d love to one day publish the Intergalactic Guidebook as an actual book to accompany the series but it would involve massive amounts of artwork and I don’t have the money to pay my hugely talented art guys enough to cover the time they would need to devote to such a project.  Who knows what the future holds though; I may win the lotto one day and then I’ll be emailing them..!

What’s in a name?

As writers, one thing that’s central to our work is people. Our books have people in them and people have names so the characters in our books must have names too, as should the places, animals, plants and objects we fill our imaginary worlds with. Now, unless you’re writing a factual non-fiction book, the world contained within your book will be an invention; a product of your own mind and creativity and this means that you will have to invent all of the names. If your book is based somewhere that actually exists, such as planet Earth, then many of the names will already be decided; you can’t go inventing a new breed of animal or plant on Earth unless your story centres around someone who does. In this case you will probably only need to invent the names of the places and the people and your job will be relatively easy because you will be able to choose your names to fit in with the culture, belief system and racial environment in which your story is based. People like myself who write science fiction and/or fantasy stories have to invent everything and this is both an enormous pleasure and a bit of a pain.

The Lilean Chronicles series is what used to be called space opera but is now just science fiction/fantasy with a paranormal/spiritual thread and my stories all contain space travel and visits to many different planets and races of beings, all of which require names. Then there are the creatures and plants that inhabit these worlds alongside the ‘sentient beings’ who are the central characters; all of these need names too unless I just skim over them in the story. A lot of the time I can do just that, but now and again one of these creatures or plants takes a more central role for a paragraph or two, and then they need a name unless not knowing the name becomes a part of the story. Lastly there is the ‘hardware’ that the characters use in the stories; the vehicles, gadgets, gizmos, weapons, medicines etc. All of these need names and descriptions and it is a difficult job giving them suitable ones that don’t automatically speak of some definite Earth culture or belief system.

Some names are very specific to certain races, cultures or belief systems and when we hear them, we automatically get a picture of the environment and people connected with that culture. For instance if I called one of my heroes Francoise, the reader would automatically think of him as French, even if this process was a subconscious one and they might even imagine him talking with an appropriately French accent..! Now this would be fine if my story was set in France or Canada, but if it’s taking place on the planet Zog in the 37th century, then a French feel to my character would not be totally appropriate and would decrease the ‘realism’ of the whole thing. For me, keeping it real and plausible is very important and I take great care when choosing names for my stories and I believe that the realistic feel is picked up by the reader and makes it easier for them to believe in the story and feel a part of it.

So what do I do with my names? Well there are two options as far as I can see. You could be clever like Tolkien and invent a whole new language and have your character speak that and have totally invented names. If you did this however, you would then need to include a translation. For me, inventing a new language and then including a translation requires far too much knowledge and time. The other way, which is what I do, is to take names we already know and slightly change them to make them more ‘neutral’. Let me give you an example. In my sci fi series The Lilean Chronicles, there is a fairly central character whom I have named Toma. He is a male character, young and titled and has his whole life ahead of him. He comes from a world inhabited by a very spiritual, and technologically advanced race. Because he’s not from Earth I had to give him a name that sounds young, cool and up and coming, but at the same time doesn’t sound too Earth-like and risk tagging him with the wrong identity. What I did was take the name Thomas as a starting point. This is a name that titled people often have and it doesn’t automatically make you think of a particular race or culture; it’s suitably bland. I then messed with it a bit; dropped the letters h and s and kept the rest – Toma.

It’s a similar process I use when naming planets, animals, plants and gadgets. With gadgets, I come up with the physical description first, and then I add its function into the mix and then invent a name that ties in with both so that it sounds plausible and fits its function. Other things like animals, plants and the names of planets I just have fun inventing them for they don’t necessarily have to ‘fit’ with anything.

One important thing to remember when naming your characters and other content; google the name first to make sure someone else hasn’t already thought of it. I wrote the whole of the first book in The Lilean Chronicles series before being told that the name I’d given to a race of people was already in use by the makers of Dr Who. I had to spend several days thinking of a new name for them, before going through the entire book and changing every occurrence of the name. A lesson well learned.