Big mouth

Posted: October 27, 2010 in Fiction, Journalism, Random wifflings
Tags: , , ,


I’ve started to put my old “Deep Thought” pieces from Death Ray up on the site, I’ve done a handful today. They’re almost like blog posts. You might call it cheating, we in the media call it “repurposing content”. Go and check them out under “Opinion“. Hopefully you’ll find them interesting, there’ll be lots more to come.

I’m now well  into the rewrite of Richards & Klein: Reality 36. Having read a lot of fiction from new authors over the last 10 years or so, I’m beginning to see the mistakes of the neophyte in my own work, not least the inability pen convincing women (there are more, but they’re less apparent in my book, and where they do show up, far easier to fix). What was going to be a fairly minor redecorating job is now going to involve major renovation of one chapter, at least. But the book will be better for it. I plan to write about this, if I get time, in a little more detail later this week.

The other most important thing: bye-bye words.  I’ve got my snippy scissors out, and, by God, they’re flying, word fragments are spinning everywhere. Extraneous clauses, repeated imagery, non-essential description, bollocks dialogue… Whole paragraphs live and die at my say so. Bwahahaha! Already it is starting to read better. “Pace and clarity” as famed SF agent (the literary not the espionage kind)  John Jarrold said to me in the pub recently. Wise words, and that’s what I’m going for.

I got my dog at the weekend. His care is eating into my writing time some, but he’s not proving as much work as I thought. I’ve already started training him and he’s picking stuff up quite quickly. The house, predictably, smells of dog wee. Right now he’s small and cute, but he’s literally growing right before my eyes.

In picking him up I had to awkwardly manoeuvre through a whole new world of dog-collecting etiquette. One party, apprehensive and excited, yet trying to appear calm and collected; the ideal dog owner. The other party, sad yet striving for professional.

I’ll give you one example. We’re calling him Magnus, but the woman has been referring to him as Only, I think (he was the only pup in his litter), thus neither of us referred to him by name so as to avoid appearing too possessive. As he’d been inside, unlike the pups from a more conventional litter who’d been living in the garden kennels,  he was getting close to being her pet. I felt quite the meany for taking him away.

Predictably, he does not give a stuff. He’s a dog.

Hopefully I can be a responsible owner and not raise a monster, because if he turns out bad, he’ll be a real handful (I chant in my brain ’56 kilos, 56 kilos!’)

Here’s a picture.

Magnus. Cute, eh?

  1. cerebus660 says:

    He’s cute, all right.

    Guy, you’re now leader of the pack! Alpha male! etc. etc.

  2. Ant says:

    Hey Guy, long time no speak! Is the book you are working on your Angry Robot one? Good luck with it – ‘pace and clarity’ is damn good advice. And wow, that is one super-cute pooch. I want one.
    Take it easy mate,

  3. Matt Keefe says:

    Owing to laziness, I shall likely be repurposing some pants tomorrow.

    Didn’t know know you had trouble writing women, Guy.

  4. guyhaley says:

    It’s harder than doing men, I think. It’s not really creating a female character that I have an issue with, but I have noticed that many female characters written by new-ish male authors tend to two things, the first is that they possess an unlikely array of killer attributes – let’s call them supermodel fighter pilots – basically the author’s dream woman. Secondly, they are nearly always inappropriately passive, they are pushed into adventure, like male nerd characters. But unlike male nerd characters, they have a level of self-possession that is totally at odds with the whimpering “why me?” – tough up – triumph, character arc they then undergo.

    My specific problem was that one of my main characters is supposedly a strong, intelligent female ex-army researcher, and yet her plot is set rolling by a man, and she has no choice but to become involved in it, the male character providing her with plenty of resources and help along the way. Now that’s crap.

    I have rewritten it so that she is presented with the facts, and then makes an informed choice as to her own course of action, and forcing her to live off her wits, her skills and her decisions. I dumped a lot of hand-wringing, pop-art internal dialogue which was really only one up from “What if Brad doesn’t love me at all?” during the process. It’s so much better now, without lapsing into tough-chick cliche. At least, that’s the intention…

  5. guyhaley says:

    Hi Ant! Good to hear from you. Yes, it’s my Angry robot book, trying to fit rewrites round toddlers, puppy training and some work I’ll be doing soon for SFX. Pace and clarity is THE best advice, I think. It helps to keep it in mind while I’m typing.

  6. Matt Keefe says:

    “What if Brad doesn’t love me at all?” Classic. Yes, that about sums it up. I think a lot of writers find the only way to make a credible female character is to make her inordinately powerful and accomplished, as you say. Hadn’t thought about the way those characters then end up short on genuine self-reliance, but it’s a good point.

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