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Just Playing


After 7 months of immense pain and torture I finally decided to get my problem seen to. I just couldn’t live in silence anymore. I had to talk to someone, to open up to my friends and family and ask for help. I had to vent about the ridiculous torture that was Windows8. That’s right. I decided to throw out my PC and buy myself a MacBook Pro.

 It arrived the other day and so it’s all a bit like walking though a dark forest and trying to find my way to Nirvana. I’ve got next to know idea what I’m doing but I’ve discovered two amazing tools to help me fumble my way to MacBook Pro glory. Twitter and Google.

The Mac community on Twitter is amazing. Send out a tweet, wait a few seconds then try and decipher the Mac speak flooding into my mentions column. When all else failed – and it has on more than one occasion – I simply admit defeat and wander over to the world of Google and ask it for help.

So far I’ve figured out how to get my word documents across to the new computer and open them so all my formatting doesn’t go out the window, how to use twitter, and after 4 days and a couple of minor tantrums how to authorise my iTunes account to play on my new toy. I’m yet to figure out where iTunes is hiding all my purchases though, but I have a friend coming over this afternoon who has been leading the conversion of “laptop to Mac” in our group who will be able to find it in about 3 seconds flat.

This morning I figured out how to upload an image to a blog – I think – and that makes me happy, for it allows me to start blogging again.

I’ve been doing something strange lately. I’ve been writing. I know that as someone who wants to be a writer that shouldn’t be all that strange but as those who’ve read the blog are aware I talk a great game, but the writing not so much.

I signed up to an Introduction to Novel Writing course at the Australian Writers’ Centre recently. I’ve loved the course and will be sorry to see it finish up next week. I’ve learnt so much from the instructor and my fellow would-be writers that it stuns me.

We were discussing editing the other day. Well, to be more accurate I mentioned that if I edit my work before I finish the manuscript I end up editing and not writing and sooner or later I run off screaming.

In class on Thursday night Pamela Freeman, our instructor, gave us some tips on developing layers in the story. She referred to it as the four colour method. That all scenes and novels need liberal splashing’s of all four of the colours to develop depth and flavour.

The system she described as really interesting, not something I’d really heard of before. So as it’s the Queens Birthday Long Weekend here in Australia, I decided I wanted to play around with it a bit.

My submission to the class for workshopping was the prologue to my novel Darkened North. It’s also the beginning of a 3 book Epic fantasy series. I was a bit hesitant to use the term epic, but Pamela assured me that the idea I have is definitely what is referred to as “epic” and I needed to use it to give the novel the right direction. So Epic it is.

The prologue came out of nowhere. I wrote it so the story had a basis, and also to explain a bit of the history of the world I’m building to stage my story in. I wrote it in a couple of hours and didn’t so much as look at it again beyond check for spelling errors.

Overall the feedback I received was good and I definitely absorbed what most of the people in the room were telling me. The only comment I dismissed out of hand had to do with the name of one of the characters. Frankly, at this stage character names are not my main priority. I can work on those later on.

Pamela mentioned two key problem areas in the prologue and I think she’s right about both of them. One of the problems she mentioned was after class had finished and I was walking to the station. She told me something I found to be one of those “Light Bulb Moments” that impact not just the novel but my life as a whole.

What Pamela said was “people who grow up on the fringes of “normal” society do one of two things. They either choose to be “in your face” or they choose to be “nice”. She told me I had chosen to be “nice”, and what I needed to do was marry the two choices together, to be more “in your face” with my writing. She also told me I needed to be “in” my writing, that the prologue contained absolutely nothing of me at all.

Frankly, she is right on that. I’ve always played “don’t get in the spotlight”. It’s time for that to change.

Anyway, back to the point. This weekend I’ve decided to have a play with the battle sequence in the prologue. By play I mean just that. I’m not going to be editing the prologue. I’m going to be playing around with it. I thought I’d have a bit of fun and re-work the battle to ensure I’ve covered off the four colours theory.

To give some understanding into the four colour theory I learnt last week, it goes something like this;

  • Black: Basic outline of the story – what’s happening at the given moment
  • Red: Emotion – what are the characters feeling
  • Yellow: Environment  – where is the action taking place, is it a park, a bedroom, an icy windswept tundra with only penguins to observe what’s happening
  • Blue: Reflection – what is the character thinking about and feeling, how do they react to what’s going on around them

That’s not the full explanations for the colours but that is what I can decipher from my chicken scratching like handwriting

I guess the point to this post is simply that I am currently really happy with my life, where I’m going, where I appear to be heading and of course with my writing. It’s been such a long time that I’ve been happy with my writing. Somewhere along the way I’ve given up worrying about how long this is going to take, or what if it’s never published, or what if everyone hates it and I can’t really write at all.

After the dark night where I threw the challenge at my muse to give an idea I could complete and be proud of, and the gift of this story idea despite never having even considered this as a possibility, I’m simply enjoying reconnecting to the pleasure of writing again.

Whether Darkened North and it’s two companion books every see’s the light of a Dymocks Book Store or the harsh glare of Amazon Kindle as a self published work or not is no longer a consideration for me. For me, this idea has become about reconnecting to the song my soul sings, the song I’ve ignored for too many years.

Maybe one day, when I’m comfortable with the prologue I might even post a snippet of it up here. A sort of cyber workshop where whoever reads it has the chance to offer their opinions on where they think the world is heading, or whether I clearly capture the four colours.

Regardless, that is another day and not today.

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43 year old Australian writer currently working on the first of a planned three book Epic Fantasy series. When he's not writing policy discussions, or tales of swords, Gods, and magic, he can be found making a mess in the kitchen, and turning perfectly good ingredients into crimes against humanity.

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