Well, it's been a little while since I posted on the blog – I've been down with the flu, and that's sapped my energy rather. I'd figured that if it was a choice between working on Triple-Cross or blogging, everyone would be a bit happier if I pushed on with the book...so that's what I've been doing. I just put the finishing touches to Chapter 11 this morning, and I'm almost half-way through right now. Target date for release is the final week in June, but more on that to follow.
When I started seriously thinking about writing, I went through a phase – as I'm sure every aspiring author has – of picking up books on writing. I must have picked up a couple of dozen at one point, and to be honest, I found a lot of them rather less than useful. Many of them were excellent at describing their personal technique, but frankly...I am of the opinion that generally, every writer needs to find their own style, their own technique, and that it is this that takes up the majority of the 'million words of crap'. (Sixteen years for me...not counting the two or three million words I did while employed, but that's another story...)
However, that doesn't mean all of the books were useless, far from it; there are a few that have leapt out as being excellent, and I thought I'd flag them here – now these, I should highlight, are focused rather tightly on the field in which I'm working – science-fiction and fantasy action/adventure. Those working in other genres will likely find them less useful, but there will certainly be equivalent books to look at. What all of these have in common is that they discuss rather than direct – instead of telling you what to do, they discuss the problems of writing and world-building, focusing on providing ideas rather than instructions.
I'll start with an obvious one. If you are writing fantasy, then 'Writing Fantasy Heroes' belongs on your shelf. It's a collection of essays focused on, well, writing about fantasy heroes – working in the epic fantasy, historical, or sword and sorcery genre, and covers a wide range of issues. It's the sort of book that you can just pick up and flick through to find something interesting; I must have gone over my copy four or five times.
A recent acquisition is the 'Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding', which is not dissimilar to the first book in form – a collection of essays on the construction of fantasy settings. Whilst technically this book is directed at role-playing games, there is so much commonality that it is, I feel, of equal use to a writer working on creating a new setting. I have also got the recently published 'Kobold Guide to Magic', but it is so recently published that I haven't read it yet!
'How to Write Action Adventure Novels' is a rather old book, but 90% of it is still extremely useful. Written by one of the writers of the serial action/adventure novels that swarmed in the 1970s and 1980s, it goes into the nitty-gritty of plotting, outlining and the nature of the form, largely through the use of examples drawn from the genre. I've found this one useful, and I think it would be of use for anyone working in this field – I wish I'd read this book ten years ago, I'll put it that way.
'What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank' is another one of those books that provides the grit to a fantasy setting, that little touch of realism that grounds a setting. I found this an excellent read for the addition of detail, and it's going to be something I consult a lot the next time I write fantasy, I can assure you! Definitely one for the shelves.
Only a few months ago, not even that, I finally got my hands on a copy of Lin Carter's Imaginary Worlds. This really needs reprinting, because after I finished reading it...darn it, it made me want to sit down and write. His 'Look Behind the Lord of the Rings' is good as well – not for the coverage of the trilogy as much of the discussion of what preceded it. These are long out of print, of course, but definitely recommended.