Amazon and Goodreads

So the news that Amazon have brought Goodreads is dominating discussions on many writing forums I lurk on, but for me my views are best summed up by Hugh Howey in his blog post on his site.

Some select quotes:

I understand that there will be a lot of hand-wringing over the acquisition. To many, Amazon is an evil corporation hellbent on destroying the world. They have made these intentions clear by paying authors a shitload and fighting to lower the price of books for readers. I think we can all agree that authors and readers are scum, and this preferential treatment on the part of Amazon should be looked at with complete distrust.


I can think of a dozen ways this acquisition might make my life better as both a reader and an author. Right now, I spend a lot of time on both sites in both capacities. My guess is that we won’t see many changes at all. I’m betting that the real acquisition here is all the data behind the scenes. The algorithms that tell me what to buy (and almost always nail it) are going to get better. The social networks that feed my reading habit are going to get stronger. The people who helped make Goodreads awesome are going to get richer. And the people at Amazon, who I have gotten to know this past year and who to a man and woman love the fuck out of some books, are going to keep trying to get the right ones in the hands of readers.

The Weekend Roundup

The second installment of me lazy linking to other people.

First off though a congrats to my amazing wife Clare who completed her first trail run yesterday. Originally advertised as a 10km run it ended up being 12.5km and was done in freezing cold strong winds along the Seven Sisters along to Beachy Head. Very proud of her and shows all the effort she is putting into her running.

Now the links:

  • Two Simple Observations Regarding Women – John Scalzi reminds us of some fundamentals of human behaviour.
  • Why I don’t self-publish – An interesting post from Charlie Stross about why he  doesn’t self-publish (essentially comes down to the fact he does not have the time for it). I’m aware of how much work self-publishing will be, but I also believe that traditional publishing is a perfectly viable route to go to get your work out there. I don’t think there should be a great war between self and traditional publishing, both work, and there is a whole spectrum of options both provide and in-between for authors to pursue.
  • The permanent revolution – Another Charlie Stross article this time on the subject of progress and the technological revolution. Nice and relevant as what is currently called The Three trilogy (name subject to change) will be set in a decelerando universe. This article on Rocketpunk Manifesto has more on this subject.

Hope you all are enjoying your weekend.

The Joy of First Drafts

As I want to talk not just about the progress of my books but also the process of writing them, finishing the first draft seems like an apt time to talk about them in general.

To me the most important role of first drafts is this:

They tell you what is wrong with your story.

This is awesome. Actually it’s not awesome, it’s amazing, but it can only be done once you’ve got a completed first draft in front of you.

I work from an outline, which has about four or five bullet points for each chapter/section outlining what should happen in each. But it cannot tell me whether the story works, or if the characters are right, or if the pacing is all over the place (it is). You can only judge that once you have a whole story in front of you.

Sure you can spend ages on each chapter in your first draft, making the grammar and prose amazing as you go along, but to me that is wasted time. At that point you don’t know how much you will need to change so focusing on those issues is just wasting time. Get that first draft finished and you will have an overview of the whole story and a much better idea of what you need to do going forward.

Remember that story is everything with a book, get that nailed down first you can worry about the details later. It’s no good having wonderful prose if the story is rubbish, or moves as fast as dried cement.

They help find your characters voices.

Sometimes characters jump full formed into your mind, complete with how they speak and act. The rest of the time that will evolve as your write each draft and put them into situations they have to react to. A first draft that focus on dialogue and story can help build those distinctive voices you want because you have time writing them and getting a clearer picture of who they are in your head.

Having your characters worked out also feeds back into your story, as your characters evolve you may find the story you had planned no longer works with the personalities you have now given them.

This is great.

Embrace this and change the story as needed to fit them because it will make both stronger. You will have a story that moves with characters and characters actions that fit with the personality you have given them.

So coming to the second draft you will hopefully have a much better picture of the characters you are writing and be able to feed that into it, and also make your story longer as a result.

They let you suck.

This may be more important than either of the two points above. First drafts will be bad, they are for almost every single writer live today and who has ever lived. Sure they be some exceptions but they’re the special cases. For most terrible, cringe-worthy and clichéd first drafts are part of the process of every book they write. It is them getting ideas down, getting a story finished and then making it better.

I often see budding writers on the internet saying how worried they are that what they are writing is bad, or sucks, or isn’t worth continuing with. Ignore that voice, kick it into the back of the closet in your mind and lock it away. Take your chance to just write what you want (though don’t go insane, remember the story you are meant to be telling), and get it done.

Be proud that you have finished something, and that is important, but remember you then have to make it good. First drafts may be a chance to get the story down and see what needs changing but things will need changing. First drafts should be for your eyes, and maybe a few trusted people whose advice you value, and no one else’s!

You still have to make it good.

So go and finish your first drafts, embrace their bad stories, learn from them, and then get on with finishing the book to the absolute best of your abilities.

First draft done

Thanks to a mammoth effort this weekend the first draft is finished. It is 65,420 words long and now I will do nothing.

Seems an odd thing to do as I know it needs a lot of changes (got a long list of revisions I want to make for the second draft already) but I need to let it sit and my mind wander onto other subjects so when I come back at the beginning of April to being that second draft I will see the whole book in a fresh light.

Then will start the hard part of making it good. I think I know what is needed which is a good start, but only time will tell.

Oh I’ve also added a Progress Check section where you see where I am at and how far I have until I’ve finished this book.

The Weekend Roundup

This will be a weekly post that will cover interesting links I’ve stumbled across recently.

This week I have been reading On Writing by Stephen King. Very interesting reading about his career before it dives into reams of useful advice.

So it begins…

This has been a few years coming but I’ll leave the back story of me in another post. This one is more of a mission statement.

I am writing a book. A series of books to be precise, a space opera trilogy. I have almost finished the first draft of book one and I aim to have the final book ready and self published by the end of this year.

The series is tentatively called The Three and book one is Oranje. All names subject to change but I thought I’d put up what I have so far.

The plan is as follows:

  • First draft finished by the end of this month
  • Second draft done by the end of June (tentative date for now) at which point I will get an editor and beta readers involved
  • Several months of revisions and improvements
  • First third of the book posted on this website for free for everyone to read
  • Book self published through Createspace (paper back), Amazon (ebook) and through other ebook distributors sometime before the end of the year

I am going to stick to this plan and I know I can accomplish this. The 50,000+ words of the first draft I’ve done so far have all been written this year. The goals are realistic and I am going to get it done. Once the first draft is done I will put up a back of the book description for The Three: Oranje in the books section and post up my concepts for the cover art for it.

Alongside this grand plan I will be making posts on this website to relate the progress I am making and talking about writing as I go through the process of finishing my first book. I’ve had many false starts but this one I am going to finish. I will also be doing occasional YouTube videos talking about subjects ranging from my writing to broader subjects relating to writing in general and science fiction and most likely some which are a little bit random.

So there we go, my mission statement. I am writing some books and I hope you may join me for the ride.