Tag Archives: writing

Left or Full Justification?

I can’t make my mind up.  Do I prefer that fictional books I read are printed (ink or pixels) with paragraphs left justified or fully justified?  Since school days I’d always considered that full justification should be the preserve of factual books, newspapers and magazine.  Somehow it looked purpose-designed for learned treatises and similar worthy works, but now I’m not sure.  What do you think?

In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified. In case you are unsure, this paragraph is left justified.

Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified. Whereas this one is fully justified.

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Shun House, Kindle Offer

 

It’s taken quite a while, as I’m sure you know, but I’ve now finished and published the full-length sequel to Waif, Shun House.  The original cast of Butler, Young Master and Cook are reprised but they are now more than just shallow titles.  Butler is now Joseph Harrow, most senior servant at Benediction House (Great House).  Cook is Mistress Hartley while Young Master has matured into the Marquis Raphael Álmos Vaskapu, still the last of his line, still seeking to preserve his lineage.

And in this tale, he may have found a salvation.  Condesa Adelina Lupita Serpa Cantabria has crossed the sea to meet with him.  What will she find when she arrives?  Can she play the part that Raphael would have the Fates carve out for her?  Or will she be one more patch of barren ground, one more unfulfilled promise to future’s hope?

Shun House on Kindle

Shun House on Kindle.

In many ways Shun House is very different to Waif, which was an experimental work. Shun House is far more conventional in structure and delivery.  The characters are more developed and the language used to describe them, their surroundings and the events that unfold speaks to us from a time when language was at least as important as the story itself.

The tale takes place some ten years on from Waif but is much colder and darker, and leads us down paths we may find uncomfortable and unpleasant.  I won’t pretend that all my beta readers liked it; some found it difficult to read while others found it disturbing.  Nevertheless, I present it here for you to consider.

Shun House will be available as a free Kindle download from March 30th through April 3rd (2016).  I hope you will be able to take advantage of this, and I hope further that you will offer your comments in a Kindle review, good or ill.

Best Wishes to you All,

Nigel Edwards.

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Author United’s letter to the Department of Justice

Unless Penguin/Random House (or equivalent) decide that my work is worthy of their commitment (which I suspect is entirely unlikely unless I am suddenly transported to a parallel dimension where birds swim and fish fly) then I whole-heartedly concur with Tim’s thrust, which is that the indie publishing business would be hammered in the event that the Big 5 one more became dominant!

Tim C. Taylor

There’s been a big fuss in the small world of publishing news recently because a letter has been written by somebody called Douglas Preston, and signed by some very important people who wish to return the publishing industry to the good old days when it was largely controlled by six big corporations (or maybe five now that Penguin and Random House have merged). It’s a big deal for me because this letter represents a direct threat to my livelihood. The text is long and boring and with lots of details that won’t make sense to publishing outsiders (or insiders for that matter). So I’ve taken the liberty of cutting out 99% of the words and rewriting it in metaphor. The essence of this very important letter remains unchanged. Indeed, I think it shines with more clarity in my version than in the original.

 

Dear Department of Justice,

Every year…

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5 Accomplished Authors Who Turned Out To Be Hoaxers

Interesting. I think I agree that it shouldn’t matter who the writer is, as long as their work ‘works’, i.e. appeals to their readership. On the other hand, I’m not sure I like the idea of someone writing stories based on or in the style of the original thinking of others. It might be clever and skilful, but it grates with me. Ian Fleming’s James Bond books are a case in point. Since his death, Faulks, Deaver and Boyd, Kingsley Amis and John Gardner have all increased the coffers of the Fleming estate (as well as their own bank accounts). And I’ve no doubt their efforts were excellent, and certainly people like Amis and Gardner are good enough writers in themselves. I know we all stand on the shoulders of giants but… it just grates with me, is all.

The Reader In the Tower

I present for your perusal this article from Cracked yesterday.

I have to admit, I’m a little conflicted.

On the one hand, ideally, writers should be honest about who they are. On the other, a good book is a good book, whether it’s a true story or not – and the reverse is also true.

Stories (especially ones purported as fiction in the first place) that suddenly go from best book this decade to most horrible trash ever written reveal more about readers’ bias than about their fraudulent authors. The identity of the author shouldn’t change what you think of their actual prose.

I’m reminded of the tragically short life of Thomas Chatterton. It was only after his suicide that those who had shamed him for being a hoaxer recognised that he was an immensely talented writer, who probably shouldn’t have told all those fibs about exactly where his manuscripts…

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Books – Short or Long?

I heard on the radio today that there’s a move a-foot for authors to be paid by the number of pages that readers actually read, rather than by the book – I didn’t catch the whole article but I suspect a certain South American river may be the source of the story.

It’s certainly an interesting idea. In theory it would root out all those writers who (and I’m prepared for someone to say I ought to be included in this) really and truly shouldn’t be writing in the first place. I’m sure we’ve all picked up books that have a great cover, an intriguing title, excellent blurb on the back and so forth, but when we actually turn the pages (physical or electronic) and begin to absorb the content we find that the quality of the writing leaves something to be desired. Even ignoring the punctuation and spelling and just looking at the execution, we suddenly come face to face with paragraphs a bit like this:

The king had a princess he was going to mary off to the first guy who could rid his kingdom of the deadly menace that had been stalking his kingdom for many years in the form of a hideous monster. He made a proclamateon that anyone that could kill the beast would get his daughters hand in marriage as a reward for killing the beast.

“Let it be known that I will give my daughters hand in marrage as a reward for killing the monster that has been molesting my kingdom for many years.”

Hmm. No, I won’t reveal the book or writer because that would be poor sport, but the above exemplifies the quality of all too many works currently being offered to the public and marketed (okay, self-marketed in this case) as being ‘a great read’. (Alright, maybe there aren’t too many quite as dire as the above, but a fair few get awfully close!)

So maybe being paid for what the reader reads isn’t a bad idea. But there may be a problem.

Following that particular marketing strategy would, I think, result in a plethora of short stories and potentially hammer a nail into the coffin of full-length novels. It could become more economical for a writer to focus on tales of a score of pages rather than invest their time in producing anything more substantial. (If that’s where the money is, you can’t blame the author; they need to eat too, you know.)

That’s not to say established writers, the ones with great agents and funded by wealthy publishing houses (yes, admitting to a smidgeon of jealousy there!) wouldn’t still write epic tomes of adventure and daring-do. I’m sure they will. But for newbies it will mean there is less incentive to write ‘big’.

Writing a long piece is a great way to hone your burgeoning skills as an author. A single plot line doesn’t always suffice for a full-sized book so you will need to master the art of keeping track of multiple plots and sub-plots. You will have to learn how to develop your characters in a way that makes the reader (hopefully) empathise with (if not necessarily like) them. You have to come to grips with pace and tempo, as well as expanding your vocabulary so your reader doesn’t get fed up seeing the same word repeated over and over. And learn grammar rules so you avoid the sin of starting sentences with ‘And’!

And(!) what of the future? Will we become so accustomed to being spoon-fed with short-bursts of instant storylines that we lose the ability to concentrate on anything longer than a few pages? Where will the next Tom Clancy come from? The next Jane Austen? Terry Pratchett? (Hugely missed.)

So what I’m saying is, don’t forsake the big book in favour of the little book (and I confess to having written several shorts myself.) By all means read short stories, especially those written by newcomers, but also browse the catalogues and pick up the next Dune, the next Lord of the Rings, the next Dracula. If you don’t, our literary world might easily become a far less diverse and interesting place to be.

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Badger’s Waddle – Published at Last!

Finally Badger’s Waddle has made to the printers (both paper and e-book)! YEE-HAAA!  Many thanks to Tim at Greyhart for persevering and determination, particularly at a time of some personal concern for him (all my best thoughts on that matter to you and yours).

Also, though I’ve said thanks before, thanks again to Dean Harkness for his truly great and fun cover work!

SO, what’s the early days response from the readers who are, after all, the only critics who actually count.  Well, it’s a mixed bag.  I’m pleased that the majority are positive, with very kind analogies towards the great Terry Pratchett and the even greater Monty Python.  Of course there are negatives, too, and all are justified.  The thing about writing something for a mass market is that nobody is ever going to please everyone (confession: even my wife didn’t like BW, so if other’s don’t like it too I can’t find fault with them).

One word of explanation about exactly what BW is – or more correctly, about what it is not.  It isn’t a linear story.  It doesn’t follow a pattern.  It doesn’t subscribe to any particular genre.  It’s not educational.

What I wanted to do with the book was present ‘episodes’ in the lives of rather wacky villagers with fantastical backdrop to measure against.  One criticism was that some of the ‘chapters’ in BW  had no logical connection to others, and that is absolutely correct.  The point is that in any village/town/city you care to name, every single house/bungalow/flat will have a story of its own, a story that is wholly unconnected to any neighbours.  Just look at the news headlines on almost any day and you will see banners proclaiming: “They seemed such a quiet family,” say neighbours, or similar.

And so it is with BW.

As for the ‘gross’ aspects of the book, well – this is inevitably a matter of personal viewpoint; but I confess it was intentional.  I wanted to see if I could write something that was gross without recourse to crudity, and I think I just about managed that.  (As it happens, one chapter was originally a bit more naughty than the one that actually made it to the printers.)  So, for those who read it and are revolted I can only say ‘Sorry’ – but the blurb does, I think, give you fair warning!

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Irritations and Disappointments

So, everything is looking good for the book launch at FantasyCon 2012 – except I won’t be there.

It turns out that you have to be a member of Fantasy Con in order to attend.  I didn’t know.

Maybe I’m too naive.  I really did think that, as it was my book being launched (amidst loads of others, of course) that I could just turn up and enjoy my 15 minutes of (extremely minor and limited) fame.  After my publisher told me about the launch, I should have checked all the details on the Fantasy Con website.  But I didn’t. Then, yesterday, my wife suddenly asked if there was an entrance fee.  I didn’t know.  My publisher hadn’t mentioned it.  He hadn’t thought to mention it, and I hadn’t thought to ask.  So I emailed him yesterday evening and today when I got in from work I read his reply.

Oh well, life is full of irritations and disappointments and this is just one more.

So if you were planning to go along to say hello and maybe pick up a signed copy, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed.  Of course, if you have a membership you can still go along, and I would encourage you to do so.  But I will only be there in spirit.

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FantasyCon Is Fast Approaching

One week to go to FantasyCon at Brighton (UK), and I confess I’m beginning to get a little bit excited.  Of course, being a realist I know full well that my slot will get very little attention, so I’m not expecting to see hoards flocking, but if even half a dozen turn up I’ll consider it a success!

There is a let down, however.  The artist who was supposed to delivery the book cover has failed to deliver, which is a real shame.  I’ve seen a sample of his other work which I thought looked pretty good, and I also liked his preliminary sketches which, I thought, captured the surreal and wacky atmosphere of Badger’s Waddle.  But there you are.  I don’t know why he wasn’t able to deliver.  Maybe he had a genuine reason, a family issue or something, I just don’t know. Whatever, it is disappointing.  However, Greyhart Press wisely had a standby book cover just in case, so at least there’ll be something to dress the pages in!

If you can make it, the publisher is offering a discount on published price (and no, I don’t actually know what that will be) such that you can buy 2 books for £10.00 – I don’t think you have to buy 2 of my books, though.  There will be others on sale, including the launch of Unauthorised Contact, a collection of dark SF by my good friend and peer Paul Melhuish.  So if you are coming to the event, why not by his offering and mine together?

See you there!

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Movies are Better than Books

Movies are Better than Books.

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Are Movies Better Than Books?

Has the written word had its day?

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