Welcome to my Writers Blog

Feel free to read, comment, argue or complain. I would prefer complaints to be amusing rather than trivial.
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Monday, 21 November 2011

A genre obsessed with dead things?

I’m trying to understand the nature of Crime/Thriller Writing and understand our obsession with dead things and dreaming more inventive ways to kill.
This literary dilemma comes as I struggle to consider how many people I choose to kill off as my second book comes to a climax.
My issue is that I’m a bit bored of killing folk or blowing them up. Whilst the drastic outcome kind of goes with the territory of the genre and that people expect a degree of it doesn’t help in trying to be original or inspired in writing. How many books do we pick of our shelves with the basic premise of someone dies, slightly weird but dedicated person suspects the whole story is not right, then pursues story often at personal challenge to own life, gets rescued by some obscure means before the  killer confesses all. We could argue the same goes for romance novels where someone fails to fall in love, falls for someone else, gets pissed off and ends up back where they started.
Yes there are always variations on a theme but the principles are the same, doesn’t matter how much you story you slot in the middle.
I can’t complain at other writers for following this model, just like me we know what sells, as this is what we read, and the market keeps coming back for more.
So why am I worried? I suppose I don’t want to write a story which follows a formula set by someone else, but I also don’t want it to disappoint a reader’s expectations of a genre. So my challenge is to challenge the genre perhaps. Yes people might suffer at the hand of my enthusiastic typing but can I at least make it mean something in the context of a good story. My first instinct to create excitement shouldn’t be to wave a sword over their head or point a gun at them (although both of those things do happen in this current book) but I should look to produce characters who create interest in their own right.
I can do all that, I can write the best story ever, but just like the thrillers I enjoy reading people will still end up dead and the dilemma will come back round again the next time I write a book. The only hope is that in my attempts to find a story to connect my dead events I haven’t the lost the whole point for which Thriller readers read thrillers and that is to be thrilled.

© S.G.Norris

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Happy Godless Day: The Sun Still Rises

I suppose I should get out more…and many will agree, but just a bit fed up of God Bothering today. Not sure whether it’s unique to today or everyday but seems to be coming out of the woodwork everywhere.

So I am pleading for a day without anyone feeling the need on Twitter or any other media to mention or praise or worship any Lord, God, spirit, deity of any flavour, type, colour or sex. Don’t care whether he/she is all seeing, got a beard or a problem with his girlfriend; I don’t need to know about it. 

I will call it Godless Day.

I don’t particularly want to have a go at people’s faith. It does tend to be a bit mean and selfish. Believe in what you want to, if it makes you happy. But try doing it without bothering me with it. Try having a day without publishing it to the world what a good religious type you are. Trust me, the sun will still rise in the morning whether you’ve banged the gong, bent on your knees and put your life savings in the preacher’s pocket. Why not have a day where you say, ‘today I will motivate myself. I can be a decent human being,’ not to get a stamp in the behaviour book for the next life, but just to be nice to the guy next door or the woman on the bus.

If we all did that for a day, maybe we will realise that we’re not that different after all. None of us are going to burn up in flames and we might be a bit happier.

I’m not under any illusions that people will take any notice, I am just ranting to myself. If anyone does happen to read this, I suppose you would suggest I got out of the wrong side of bed and should just get over it. 

People have all sorts of reactions to dismissing any kind of superstition. Some folk will politely disagree; some will suggest I’m doomed to an eternal hell. Maybe they are all right and I’m stupidly wrong. But I’m willing to put a lot of money on the table that says, just because we forget about praising manufactured spirits for a day, the sun will most definitely appear on the horizon tomorrow morning. How do I know this? Because it did today and the day before, and I’m confident that I’m not the only one who thought that superstitious worship was surplus to requirements.

So I plead for you to try it out. You can still be the same person; as happy and as miserable as you were before. It won’t change. Then perhaps you’ll no longer feel the need to clutter the world up with inane rubbish.

Mind you, if everyone did that, I would have nothing left to fill my books up with.

Have a wonderful Godless Day.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Events depicted in this blog are…

One of the challenges of writing political fiction in the modern world is that there are several incumbents alive and kicking, and whilst they may have the skin of a dozen rhinos they also might not be averse to seeking a bonus to their pension from you via the courts.
Hard to write them out of history when indeed they may be contributory to it. Current social and political history may in fact be the driver for your story. There are reams of books that are going to be regurgitating the hacking scandal, the banking collapse, Euro fall-out, Arab Spring. In fact I feel like I have given away my thoughts for about ten new books. Perhaps its far more fun in 2011 to write non-fiction because some of the shit going on at the moment couldn’t be made up.
Actually I can’t be arsed with non-fiction, not that I want to belittle the hundreds of journalists writing their memoirs right now, but I’m not going to do the homework. The problem with non-fiction is that it requires you to be informed and tell the truth. At least it’s one person version of the truth but I suppose it does require some basis in fact that’s beyond what’s on the news otherwise we could all write the book.
I’m much happier making stuff up, that only requires you to sound like you’re informed, which is a bit like being at work. Everyday I stand in front of customers presenting information which they could find themselves if they bothered to look. Just in case any of my customers are reading this…unlikely I know…but I am absolutely well informed and consequently you’re getting excellent value for money. That last comment was a joke designed to demonstrate my critical incite and wit.
Getting to the point, my question was about whether to reference some of our recent government members in recent years because largely they have contributed to events or perhaps better said, they have completely fucked up events and therefore created the mess that now clutters our lives. My character is defined by some of those occurrences so naturally I want to refer to the events that shaped him.
In my latest masterpiece of modern literature, I have decide to concede and reference these people, not because I want to use the book to ridicule their legacy but more because it would sound daft to say that we are living in the post-Joe-Bloggs era. Everyone knows that Joe Bloggs is a figment of the writer’s imagination. Using another name would either be farcical or you have to create a back story for your historic character so the reader understands the link. 20,000 words later you are back to the main point in the tale and nothing has happened.
It still made me feel bad, feeling like I was crossing the boundaries of fiction into the real world. My characters are always completely made up in order that they remain unique to my stories. By referencing a real person I believe I am artificially defining their personality. The references main generic rather than specific and perhaps it is useful to play with the readers own prejudice about the real people and consequently lead them up the garden path with it. For example, saying that a character was inspired by Thatcher leads the reader to assume they are a tough cookie who knows when their how to get things done. As the writer you have the power to undermine your character’s personality by suggesting that they aspire to be Thatcher but are really just a spineless wimp.
So the events depicted in this blog are complete fiction and any reference to characters alive or dead is purely coincidental. Make of it what you will.

© S.G.Norris

Monday, 7 November 2011

Ignorance comes in many forms

I really don't get it sometimes.
I love the author community. There are so many great people writing and inspiring us with their fabulous stories. Generally it's a sophisticated world, even if people have a different opinion, we can often respect their expression of it through writing. Mutual respect and a degree of self-respect is a common feature, which probably means that we are not the best sales people. We don't like to impose ourself in others peoples space. We like customers to come to us and like us for what we are. Of course we have to learnt to do more than that and get over our natural hesitancy and push the message out there. That way we sell more books.
But...it can go to far.
Someone just took the liberty of posting on my wall on one of the various author sites I use, insisting that I read their story. It wasn't a name I recognised so I checked it out. This might sound petty and probably is, but it really annoyed me. Firstly this person chose to contact and ask me to read something without any attempt at social niceties. She assumed, as she probably did with all the other people she pestered, that they we would want to read it. The second more petty point was that it was some Christian morality love-in for which I'm afraid I wouldn't use in the bathroom. I'm all for people writing and believing what they like but just as I wouldn't post my stuff on others wall without knowing their likes and dislikes I would prefer others didn't do it to me. Sorry I don't mean to dismiss religious writers but I think this person wasn't quite living up to the standards she wrote about.
So please writers, I know we are all putting out our message and trying to create an audience, but this kind of thing just pisses people off.
Perhaps I'm naive and she was just a good saleswoman. Maybe it's just me and now I've probably pissed a number of others off just the same.

Got that off my chest now - feel better for it.

Saturday, 5 November 2011


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Friday, 4 November 2011

Indie Writers – Deluded or Undiscovered

I often ask this question, not because I’m trying to be clever or cruel but because I’m to trying to understand what drives us to keep writing, when critical acclaim is all but impossible.
Thousands of us will be typing away on our keyboards directing our ideas and ranting at the world in our own special way, many of us numerous books down the line.
Maybe when we write we consider what people think of us. Perhaps we simply try to challenge ourselves but mostly when we’re done, we really hope someone will read it and like it. I’ve talked before understanding criticism so no point going over that but perhaps in this case we need to understand praise.
People are polite and most (unless they are acutely rude) will tell you they enjoyed your book whether they read it all or not. People don’t want to be harsh as a rule and many will try to be tactful in pointing out the odd flaw in order to validate their praise and still come out the nice guy. I know because I often do this when reading the work of someone I like but don’t wish to offend. Maybe it would do us good to hear what people really think with all the niceties of friendships removed. I recall one of my colleagues when drunk telling me my book was a load of old tosh at the same time as wishing me well with it. I did refrain from emptying the contents of my drink over his head but it did make the point to me that whilst I know some people genuinely did enjoy my work, not everyone will.
The point of all this is to say that most of us as Indie Authors don’t have access to real critics. Our only major critic is usually the formal publishing industry which has given us a wide berth which may be for many reasons and not all to do with quality. So we are left with our friends and contacts and perhaps the odd stranger who has found our work and chooses to review it on Amazon.
Where does this leave us? Are we obliged to help our Indie Author friends and tell them when things are so bad that maybe they should go back to writing school and not throw any more cash down the self-publishing toilet? Or do we just say to all Indie Authors, write what you will; the market will find its own level.
I guess it’s the old ‘does my bum look big in this?’ discussion and only you as the friend of an Indie Author will chose to answer yes or no. It may indeed come down to what you expect in return for your lack of sincerity.
Are we deluded? No I don’t think so, but if you really want to know whether your writing is any good, and you genuinely want to learn, then join a writing group where people will give genuine and constructive comments. You will never regret it. There are many of them, some free, some funded. It just so happens I can recommend a free one Writers Cave as I run it.
It’s a small internet group with members from all over the world who taught me that sometimes I write good things, sometimes not so good, but nowadays I write less of the latter. That makes so much difference to confidence when someone asks you whether you are a writer and you can answer, yes, and quite a good one actually.

© S.G.Norris