I'm a writer. There, I've admitted it. I wonder if there's a 12-Step program for folks like me...

Most of this blog will be about writing for a living. Or maybe about trying to earn a living as a writer. Or maybe about trying to have a life while you write.

And maybe I'll be able to avoid the driving temptation to write about politics. But I'm not very good around temptation, so all I can promise is that I'll try to avoid writing about politics.

But I will write about the software I use, and the software I try out, and what I think about it. I actually spent lots of years in software testing - as a tester and as a manager of testing departments. I actually started work in software development in 1971, so I have a bit of experience with computers to back up what I have to say on this subject.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I’ve been a bit busy lately – Life tends to get in the way of earning a living


I’m sure you’ve encountered the same problems as I have. Well, most of them, anyway. Or at least some of the same problems; they’re pretty universal, unless you’re a chicken farmer in China, maybe. But even then you probably share a few of my problems.

So there’s really no benefit to any of us in my listing the number of reasons why I haven’t posted recently. It would just bore you to tears, and there’s enough of that going ‘round as it is.

My current project, “A Silent Star”, is back on track after having been derailed for a few months while I settled into life in dynamic (it’s really not) Deland, Florida. Deland is one of the more somnolent locals in a state filled with glitz, bling and glitter. But some of the locals are very fed up with the laid back, easy-going life here and are trying very, very hard to change the character of the place. I am not one of them, I am happy to say.

That said, I am looking around for a new place. Part of the problem is my budget (oh, how I wish I could afford a budget), but the major issue keeping me where I am is that I can’t find a place I’d rather be. I do know, however, that I would much prefer to be some place else. I’m sure there is a psychological name for this condition, but I neither care what it might be nor am I at all curious to find out.

So if you know of someone with a vacant apartment in or near Daytona (in a very quiet area) who would like to rent a one bedroom apartment to a published author for a few years (very poor but published author), have them contact me, will you?

But “A Silent Star” is back on track for all that. The big delay (aside from niggling little issues like paying bills, finding money for food, getting real high-speed internet access and looking for another place to live near Daytona) was in figuring out the POV (Point Of View) from which to write the tale. We (my co-author and I – not all of the other voices in my head) have some pretty solid information on what actually happened to the covert team both during and after their incursion into Yemen, but most of that information cannot be allowed to see the light of day for various and sundry valid reasons.

Which means that I have to tell a true tale, but I have to lie like a rug to do it. Well, I am a novelist, so what’s the big deal? And what’s that got to do with the POV, anyway?

I’m so glad you asked.

I didn’t want to lie. I wanted to write a true history of those events. But I was not going to be allowed to do that. I had to write a historical fiction piece, which meant that the tale had to be solidly based in reality using characters created out of whole cloth. It took me some time to wrap my pointy little head around that. Then I had to sort out the point of view.

I could have written the tale as a history, with a bit of made-up dialogue extracted from made-up reports and debriefings; but that would have been a very boring read, so that idea went out the window in a hurry. Then I thought of writing from the point of view of a fly on the wall or a ghost in the room, but I am very uncomfortable with that style; it’s hard for me to suspend my disbelief and get stuck in to the story. So then I had to settle on which character I would become and write from his (or her) point of view.

Now, I have written female characters before, with some success, but I’m pretty sure I could never pull off writing an entire novel from a woman’s POV (there are many reasons for this, but mostly it’s because I am a guy). In the end, I settled on one of the two male character in the four-person team and chose to write the novel as if he were telling the tale after the fact.

And so far it is working out very well, indeed.

If there is a point to all of this (or at least a valid rationalization for it), here it is. Settle first on the format for your tale – the style, if you will, in which you will frame your story. Then decide on the POV. After that, build your characters in your mind and write out bios for each and ever one. Keep the number of your main characters as small as possible. You are going to have to become intimately familiar with each of them, and you will have to keep them in your mind the entire time you write that tale. You have to, or your novel will suffer from “cardboardiness” (yes, I just made that one up. I can do that. I’m a novelist).

Your characters have to become real people, with real feelings and real motivations, fears, hopes and dreams. And yes, it will get really crowded in your head, too.

I will be posting a few excerpts from “A Silent Star” both here and on the “A Silent Star” Facebook page over the next several months. Your comments will always be very welcome.

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