An Economic Downturn Plus

Due to the economic downturn I’ve found myself with less to do during work hours. For the first few days this week I turned my mind to all those rotten jobs – the ones marked “too hard” or just “too bloody boring”. Of course, the jobs deemed too hard never are. They are usually just fiddly or time consuming, but once you get into them they are soon finalised and put away forever. The “too bloody boring” jobs were a different matter. They had to be done, so I forced myself to get stuck into them, but it was difficult to stay awake long enough to see the work over with. I couldn’t believe how fidgety I got and how heavy my eyelids became. However, I did survive the boredom and finished them too. This done, it meant I was left staring at the four walls…and the time dragged like you wouldn’t believe. How I hate that!

I don’t usually write during work hours. There’s too many distractions and I can’t concentrate (yes, I tried it many years ago, but quickly gave it away). However, out of extreme boredom, I decided to revise my habits until the work picks up again.

As you know, I recently finished recreating a character who has a major part in Mirror Image, but she isn’t the main character. Early this morning, I emailed that character’s scenes to myself and when I had finished everything I had at work, I opened the file. Now, remembering the new storyline and character traits, I must edit her scenes. I don’t expect it to be easy, but the end result will be worth the…pain, frustration, time. So far the edit is working out fine, but I haven’t got to the really juicy parts which is where I know whole sections will have to be deleted and rewritten.

Then, of course, I’ll have to go through the rest of the manuscript and fix up everyone else’s perception of this character. I think I’m dreading that more than the scene edit. But it has to be done and once I get that far, I’ll be close to the finish line so I’m hoping that will spur me on.

Character Recreation Solves Other Problems

Obviously I haven’t had much to say this month. Due to personal “stuff” my mind is too busy to write and as a result I don’t really have anything I can blog about. Hence the inactive blog. However, I have been (intermittently) working on that recreation of a character I spoke about. In fact, I finished that yesterday.

Recreating a character is a strange thing. I found that the character had become a real person in my mind and there I was trying to force this “person” to change her ways. In real life, to try and do such a thing would be simply impossible, but this person was originally created by me and now she had to change. Eventually, the mould began to change and she and I accepted it.

Today I’m left with a much stronger woman – not physically; I mean mentally. The poor thing needs that strength too because after I recreated her, I set about rewriting her storyline too. This woman is going to hell and back!

It has taken the better part of a month to rewrite her storyline. At the end of that time, I only have three typed pages to show for all my time. It was energy well spent though, as this exercise was to strengthen not only her reason for being in the story but it also had to strengthen the overall theme, tension and pace. I feel much happier with what will happen to her and the end result.

As a bonus I have also worked out a way to properly write the resolutions for two of the support characters – this one included. I feel excited by this fact as it was something that bothered me a lot when I was writing the first draft. And…as I type this…I have just thought of a way to work in a good way to resolve the two minor character’s point of views too. This leaves only one character whose point of view cannot be returned to once we hit the climax. Luckily, this other character is in the scenes leading up to the climax so I will have to do a good job of showing his resolution through someone else’s eyes. It will be tricky, but I’m sure I can manage it.

Recreating this character and rewriting her storyline seems to address many of the problem areas of the manuscript so it looks like I have a green light from here.

Author Interview: Simon Haynes

On the first day of each month, during 2009, I intend to post an author interview. This month, I had the pleasure of interviewing Simon Haynes, author of the best-selling Hal Spacejock series.


Thank you for giving me your time, Simon. Tell us about your latest publication?

My latest novel was published in June 2008, and it’s the fourth in the Hal Spacejock series. Hal’s a well-intentioned freighter pilot who is massively over-confident and woefully under-skilled. He’s accompanied by a creaky old robot who is understanding, precise and stubborn, and also prone to the occasional flash of hot temper. They make a great pair, and I have a lot of fun writing about them.

(My books aren’t heavy on the science fiction. They’re just set in the future where humans still haven’t outgrown all the problems we have now, even though technology has moved ahead. There’s a fair bit of satire in my books.)


They sound like an interesting combination. What project are you working on at the moment?

Book five in the series. I’m hoping to have the first draft by the end of March, and I’m currently 100,000 words short of my target, which is 100,000 words.

I do have a neat plot outline though.

I’m a great believer in outlines. Best of luck getting that first draft completed by the deadline. Do you know how the story will end when you first start writing it?

I have a rough idea, but it changes with each version of the plot, and again with each draft of the novel. I do a lot of drafts – maybe half a dozen before the book takes shape, and another 10-15 during the editing process.

That’s a lot of writing, but obviously it pays off. What advice would you give to a newcomer to writing?

Don’t treat your first novel as the best (or only) thing you’ll ever write. Bash it out, tidy it up and shop it around agents, but switch your focus to the next novel as soon as you can. I know this sounds glib if you’ve just spent five years working on a manuscript, but you could spend another ten years tweaking and polishing it and maybe it won’t sell. Move on, write something else.

Most published authors have three or four early, unpublished novels in the bottom drawer. Regard each one as a learning process, not a waste of effort.

That’s good advice. Who is the person behind the writer? What do you do when you are not writing?

I’m a husband, a father to two daughters (11 and 14), a keen cook, a good handyman, an archer and a golfer. I also suffer from a bad lower back, which has curtailed my archery, golf and windsurfing for some years now.

Who would you chose to play the star role if your book was made into a movie and why?

That’s a tricky one. How can any movie actor match the ideal in the author’s head? In Hal’s case I reckon someone like Simon Pegg might be good (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead) – someone capable of playing it completely straight while everything collapses around him. (Another example is Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther movies.)

What you don’t want is a comic actor, because Hal isn’t a wisecracking loon or a comedian. Nobody in the books is. They’re not that sort of humour.

That’s interesting as it gives us a much deeper understanding of the characters. Do you believe in writer’s block? Why?

No, I believe in distractions and I believe in writers wanting to do something more fun than writing. But at the end of the day, if I plug in the laptop, lock myself in a room and turn off the wifi, I know I can force out 2000 words.

I couldn’t agree more. It’s been a pleasure “talking” to you and I wish you all the best for your past and future publications.

If you would like to find out more about Simon or his books, please visit his blog – The Hal Spacejock Series.