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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Blog - 01/02/12

Still plodding along on the sky-pirates thing – slowly. I haven’t exactly taken the bull by the horns and leapt into this new year with the vigour for writing that I intended and this must be remedied. Excuses aren’t worth much, but as a token effort I’m going to blame the Australian Open somewhat for playing havoc with my sleeping schedule. I love my sleep. And again, whilst I drag my heels in the writing department there has been a lot of background thinking going on including a complete overhaul of the second part of my fantasy series, but words are wind I know.

It may not surprise you to hear that I’m a slow reader too. This month though I’ve finished ‘A Storm of Swords’ (both parts), torn through ‘A Feast for Crows’ and also cut a swathe out of ‘A Dance with Dragons’ as well. Needless to say the quality of the reading has contributed a great deal to my haste and the formula is one that encourages use of the invented word ‘unputdownable’ that I read in a review somewhere. But I have found my first gripe with it as well.

For those of you unfamiliar with the series the chapters are written as point of view and the world is vast, so not everybody is in contact with each other and there are many stories running parallel too with lots of awesome overlapping and chain events affecting others both directly and indirectly. Not having an established ‘good versus evil’ vibe also means that we follow characters in direct opposition to each other with allegiances swapping about all over the place and petty in-fighting as well. There is an awful lot to cover and as events unfold down the timeline new places are dragged in and it gets increasingly wonderful, but increasingly detached as well.

After the events of ‘A Storm of Swords’ the seams burst and George R R Martin had to make a decision. He chose to split the next part into two separate books with some of the characters disappearing to follow their stories in the second, but with both set just after ‘A Storm of Swords’. At the back end of ‘A Dance with Dragons’ the stories will join back up again and the characters followed in ‘A Feast for Crows’ will be reintroduced but I haven’t got that far in my reading yet to see how smoothly it happens.

I have to admit, I found it slightly irritating to be thrown back in time to begin with. One scene in particular got my back up because it adopted the same technique I’m planning on using and I didn’t really enjoy it. In said scene one character followed in ‘A Feast for Crows’ interacts with a character followed in ‘A Dance with Dragons’. The second character’s account is almost identical but with his own thoughts, feelings and reasoning behind decisions in place of the first, and I found myself putting up with it rather than enjoying it because there wasn’t really a case of a revelation happening the second time around to make it any more exciting. I have to remember though that there was five years between the two publications so perhaps if I had read it in accordance with release dates it may not have been so fresh in the memory.

I’ve taken the feeling into account though and perhaps I can approach the same situation when it happens in my writing differently. So I have to thank the learning curve here. Things with the series are wonderful again now and it’s obvious that the partition was necessary so as not to lose touch with individual storylines being spaced too far apart. It does raise a question about writing such complex and vast stories though. Is there such thing as a perfect size? As in the optimum amount before a story gets too big and has to broken down like this? I don’t know. One idea I’m looking at is to write characters accounts as series that work as stand-alone series but for other readers can be taken into the whole chronology of the world if chosen. That would mean releasing books of several different series at the same time though, and with my track record I better not get ahead of myself eh? Till next time.