Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I heard back from My First Reader[1] about the big chunk of my novel[2] I gave her last week[4]. She's mostly confirmed things I already suspected (which scenes and characters are a complete waste of space, which need rewriting etc.), but one comment she made has been an inspiration to me:
All these legendary heros and gods sound like bloody-handed maniacs
Why is this inspirational? Well it's like this - what if all these bloody-handed maniacs are actually the same bloody-handed maniac? What if all the legends of warriors and warlords are all inspired by the same source? A magical-religious conspiracy to keep the world a battlefield and prevent people from figuring out the Nature Of The Universe[5]? Untangling this will make a much better plot-driver than I initially had.

It also says a lot about me and what I've been writing - if they all sound like bloody-handed maniacs, I need to rewrite some of them. Take out the elements that make them bloody-handed maniacs[6] and maybe they can become more interesting. Possibly even original.

But that's not really what I wanted to say, as it's just obscure to anyone without a draft of part one of the novel in front of them. What I wanted to comment on was her reply to my garbled version of the above:

Glad to see I'm still some kind of muse for you

So yes, My First Reader, you are some kind of muse to me[7], and I'm glad of it too. So often it's one of the same small group of people that say the right words that trigger something in my head to create something new. I mean it's usually based on a book, or a film or something else entirely, but I need the person to say something to focus it. This is the nature of my inspiration.

And of course I'm well supplied the other ingredient for genius.

[Those of you less interested in my process of creation and just interested in the results, will be pleased to know that I will be breaking from my novel and concentrating on my side projects for a week or two]

[1] Who wishes to remain anonymous in this role for a whole fistful of reasons. If you aren't My First Reader, be assured that it's not that I don't love you; quite the contrary! No, My First Reader is my first reader because she provides the most constructive criticism. My favouritism is purely functional.
[2] Did I mention I'm writing a novel? I'm writing a novel. If I haven't mentioned it to you, it's because, I mean, who isn't writing a novel? I only need one first reader (currently My First Reader) so the rest of you can wait until it's second drafted. Not to worry though, an exerpt[3] will be appearing on Night of the Hats within 30 days.
[3] Probably the first chapter, which obviously enough is chronogically about a third of the way through the story. This may annoy Stan, who has previously criticised films for beginning during the climax, then going back to the start; or it may not, as he is a fan of Iain (M) Banks who almost reflexively starts his novels sometime after the story has begun.
[4] Her first response: "What happens next?" Now that's what I call a result.
[5] I've not finished figuring this out yet, as might be obvious.
[6] I really like this phrase, in case you hadn't picked up on this.
[7] Note to self: do not show her Sandman #17