A week’s gone missing, thanks to food poisoning. This is late, partly thanks to not stopping to consider that Thai food and a stomach weakened by food poisoning may not be friends. (Also actual friends, who made me a birthday cake which is very nice of them). Why are you even reading anymore?
Nevertheless, it seems you are, so I’ll give you what you want. Wait. What do you want?
1. Do you want something new to read? Obviously, The Unbroken by C.L. Clark is commanding a lot of airwaves, but I was also very intrigued to hear of this new novella from Wayne Santos, pretty much exclusively because of this tweet
Demon horses and Margaret Attwood do sound like a winning combination.
Or maybe you want to pick up an ebook on a bargain, in which case H.L. Tinsley’s We Men of Ash and Shadow is on 99p at the usual emporiums.
2. Or maybe you want to read something right now? Suddenwall by Sarah Saab at Beneath Ceaseless Skies comes recommended as a little short story for just that.
3. Or maybe you want to read something not fantasy? In my delvings for more thriller type stuff to read, I stumbled on this article on The Best Spy Novels Written by Spies, According to a Spy, so I promptly noted down all those recommendations.
4. Perhaps you’d like to hear someone thoughtful on about books? I’ve been sitting on this video in which Gyorgy Writes gives his perspective on Tigana for a while, but it is well worth listening to.
5. Or perhaps you came here for some of my trademark verbal diarrhea, as opposed to my veiled comments about having actual diarrhea, a word that I have finally learned how to spell this last week.
I haven’t been thinking much about books the last week, and what I have been thinking has mainly been about queries. Most writers seem to hate them but I kinda like them as an exercise in figuring out what it is about a story’s ideas that really capture people. I don’t think those key hooks are the be all and end all of storytelling – I’m a huge voice person, a huge tone person – but I don’t think there’s any question that in any successful story, you can afterwards point at an element and say “this caught people”. I remember once reading about how restaurant PR people recommend having a “hero dish” on the menu – think the duck egg on waffle at Duck & Waffle, something that people can rave about – and I think we’re talking the same sort of thing. It’s not needed to have a good book, but it is needed to get people excited about a book.
And I want to say any element can be that hero element, but the more I hammer away at that query, the less certain I feel about that. Capturing character dynamics is hard. Summing up settings is hard, which is part of why we get “African Game of Thrones” or Avatar: The Last AIrbender comparisons for Raya when neither is particularly true, because people find an easy to understand part-truth easier to use than a complicated full truth.
What seems to make people excited about my current manuscript is the central idea – that a depressed holy knight living in the city slums is given the chance for redemption when he must prove that a street thief didn’t murder a man – and I can see why because it packs a lot if interesting possibilities in. I mean, of course I see why, I’m so excited about it I wrote the damn book. But it’s a case of what else can I add to it? What do I need to expand it? I’m very near to the query I’m going to send, and getting it right will reveal a lot to me about the story – including stuff I wish I’d known to begin with. Maybe I’m going to be one of those writers who starts writing queries at the start, to work out the story.
I fully get why writers hate queries. They’re miserable. But if you choose to look at the bright side, there’s a lot of interesting things to be found there.
And that’s all this week folks – have a good weekend.