Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stolen from a Guardian article ...

... and I make no apology for my theft. These are the words of Stuart Jeffries about reading books:
But there is nothing wrong with abandoning a book halfway through. I consulted National Literacy Trust director Jonathan Douglas to get his tips for overcoming reader's block. Giving up on a book you are not enjoying was his first recommendation. Here are all six:
  1. To read for pleasure you have got to be in charge of your reading and that means knowing that it's OK to stop reading if it gets boring. Lots of books drop off halfway through. For me, that includes Brideshead Revisited and Wuthering Heights.

  2. Talk about books and ask friends for recommendations but avoid getting trapped in a tyrannical reading group for literary point-scorers. Life is too short to read books you do not like.

  3. Have a varied reading diet. After a satisfying course of Philip Pullman, cleanse your palate with a sorbet of Heat or Grazia.

  4. Make sure that the book you have got fits the time you have got to read. If your life is a frantic race and you only get to read on five-minute tube journeys or among the suds in the bath, do not start War and Peace. Grab one of the fantastic Quick Reads series that celebrity authors are now penning, or try a poetry anthology.

  5. Read aloud. Importantly, 76% of mothers and 42% of fathers read bedtime stories to their children, but sharing a book is a wonderful way for anyone to spend time.

  6. Try listening to a good book on tape or eavesdrop on Book at Bedtime on Radio 4.

It's good advice. I use Rule One every time I reach page 8 of a Salman Rushdie novel.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wot? No RBS Thingy to post today, Rik?

Well, after reading the Is Google Making Us Stupid? article over at, I decided to settle down and do some serious, sustained book reading. Which has managed to get me through 200 pages of Kim Stanley Robinson's Green Mars.

So no, no RBS Thingy today. Maybe tomorrow I'll post the next episode.

Now go read something long and involved, both of you: it's good for your brains, innit!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

RBS: the first month

Today is the one-month anniversary of my first RBS post and, unprecedentedly, I've managed to make at least one RBS post every day of that month.

I've posted just over 20,000 words which represents:

- 20% of a 100k word story

- around 650 words a day written - not up to NaNoWriMo speeds (which require around 1700 words a day), but not bad given my tendency to work in spurts

The story is beginning to progress, we're beginning to get a bit of movement from the characters. My favourite bits are the two dream sequences - have fun analysing them!

No comments to date on any of the writing. I'm going to assume that people are enjoying the story, which is a lot more glass-full than assuming everybody stopped reading after the first couple of posts.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

In the annals of stupid things done by Rik

How do you say to a publisher, who is very, very enthusiastic about developing and publishing a book based an idea that you had a few years back, and who wants to put your name on the front of the book, and pay royalties to you on each book sold - even though the publisher has done all the running with the book's development and you've contributed, basically, sod all except the original idea - that you don't want your name on the front of the book and don't want to be paid the royalties?

"Thank you and please send the cheque to ..." is not an option.

I've tried the Nice Rik approach; it's not working. Publisher doesn't want to listen to Rik's whines. But the publisher doesn't deserve the Nasty Rik approach - not yet, anyways.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

RBS thoughts ...

When I started writing this story, I thought I'd fall flat on my face - no plans? No plot? No effing characters? Madness! It was bound to fall to pieces within a week!

So, three-and-a-half weeks later and I'm still writing and posting, and I've got a glimmer of an idea about how this story could develop. Though the current Big Problem is that I haven't been writing much over the past couple of days (I've been trying to let each section stew for a few days before being revised and posted so as to make the reading experience a bit more bearable), the main reason being that while I can sort of see the bigger picture thingie, the details of how to realise the bigger picture thingie keep tripping me up. For instance:

- while I'm liking the characters, I seem to have killed half of them off before doing anything interesting with them. Not a great problem, thanks to the pretty stones-and-metal-band McGuffin which I can use to ressurect (some of) the characters, and there's always Ye Olde Flashback technique for developing the N's history with (for example) Bull. But I am a bit worried that the churn rate of characters may be a little too fast - distracting - for the reader

- where's the baddies? Where's the danger? I've been playing on an unnamed, unknown threat for over 13k words now and I'm not sure it would be a good idea to keep the reader in the dark any longer about what that threat is. Except (of course) I haven't yet decided on who the baddies are and what the threat is. I'm as much in the dark as the N on that point

- talking about baddies, what about the good guys? Is Kal (the N) good or bad? Currently he's a bit of a callous bugger with a big, unknown backstory. But is he a hero, a villain or a commentator? I don't know yet, though I think I can put off making that decision for a few weeks

- Sam. Dear, dear Sam. With his youthful looks and toned body he is so obviously a Marty-Stu that it's hard for me to write about him without blushing in shame. Maybe that's why I'm torturing him so much at the moment. Sam is, I feel, a big danger to this story; I'm going to have to keep him on a short lead until I decide what his role is going to be in the bigger story

- vampires: baddies, or tools, or a big fat red herring? I worried about mentioning vampires given the baggage that comes with them - will the reader get the point that these vampires feed off a person's energy, not their blood?

- the band - it's not really a McGuffin, nor a Deus ex machina, but what sort of plot device do I want it to be? I'm still undecided about whether the worlds it contains are only visited in dreams and flashbacks, or whether to send Kal (and Sam?) to one (or more) of those worlds as the story develops. Should I be capitalising The Band in the text to make it feel more ominous?

- 1st person present(ish) POV: it's a bugger to write, very constraining. I'm tempted to insert passages from other POVs, but have resisted so far. I don't know if staying with Kal is damaging the story or not

Worries, worries. Ah, heck! It's all a learning experience. Nobody's reading this, so nobody's being damaged by my uncertainties and indecisions. And I'm only writing this to stall myself from making the next big decision: what's the threat, Rik; what's it all about?

Saturday, July 05, 2008


There will be a short break in The RBS Thingy as Rik spends some quality time (with tens of thousands of other folks) in the sublime company of Dolly:

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

RBS feedback

So the first seven sections are up. Is the story performing for you yet? Is there a hint of anticipation for reading the next section? Or are you still floundering in a sea of confusion - almost on the verge of deleting the RikFiles from your blogroll now it's got so boring?

Don't be scared; you can tell me ...