• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:

    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!



Traci Harding: How to keep writing a manuscript

This post continues on from Traci’s post on where to start writing a manuscript

One of the biggest challenges with writing a book, is actually staying interested in the story line long enough to finish writing it. Bear in mind that writing is always a long a tiring process. Often, when you’ve rewritten the same paragraph ten times that afternoon, your back is aching from sitting in front of the computer, your eyes are going square and your body is vibrating from the electromagnetic radiation that your monitor’s emitting … you’re probably going to conclude that your paragraph reads like crap and that writing is a useless waste of time! Don’t hit that delete key! Walk away and come back to your story later – a little yoga aids with the circulation, concentration and the backache. Nine times out of ten you’ll find that your paragraph doesn’t read so badly after the creator has had a little attitude adjustment.

What if I think it’s a stupid idea?

I’ve had many things happen in tales that I thought were a bit farfetched, but one shouldn’t really judge until you find out where that farfetched idea leads. The idea of a woman being mysteriously transported back to the Dark Age seemed rather out there at the time I started my story. I had no idea that a Celtic time lord was going to make an appearance a few chapters down the road, and with the Merlin came a plausible means for Tory to have been transported through time. The point is I never would have discovered my explanation if I hadn’t followed through with my farfetched premise. It’s actually kind of fun making up extreme scenarios and then figuring out how the hell you’re going to explain it. Still, it all seems to get worked out on the journey and once all the questions are answered, you have a book.

I’ve also used ideas that I know have been done before, but given a different twist they do take on a life all their own and usually outgrow the original idea.

Still, if you really think your idea is stupid, then ask yourself why? Can you alter the premise somehow to make it more feasible?

Also, don’t fall into the trap of trying to write what you expect others might want to read. I’ve only ever written for my own pleasure, and in my experience I have found that if I am enjoying and learning from what I’m writing, my readers do too. So be sure that you’re not allowing the fear of someone else thinking your idea is stupid, stop you from exploring your premise further. Write about what excites and interests you, and you can’t go far wrong.

What do I use to stimulate my imagination and get over writer’s block?

Usually I get blocked when I’m missing a fragment of the story, sometimes I don’t even know what’s missing and the answer can come from one of many sources.

I find Music is good to get you into the vibe of your story and set the mood. I always make a mixed tape of whatever music is going to take you where you want to go – like Celtic music for the Dark Ages – Middle Eastern music for Atlantis – Modern Chill & Ambient music for the space age and the future. Music creates a kind of montage in my mind – I see fleeting images of the tale ahead, all of which I won’t recall with the first play through, but I do recall those images that are relevant to the beginning of my story. The images will become clearer the more I listen to the CD, and if I forget where the hell I was going, the soundtrack will usually put me back on track.

Sometimes sitting and chatting with one or more or your characters will reveal what it is that is missing, or a hint of something you hadn’t suspected.

Go back over your Research and search for clues.

When none of above works, I just walk away from the tale and within a few days, I’ll have an experience whereby someone will mention something or I’ll see a report on TV that will spark an idea. The Muse is everywhere and can be encountered in the most unexpected places.

I get halfway into a story and I lose the plot – or get bored.

If you find this is the case then you’ve missed some vital clue, which would have kept the story intriguing for you. My advice is print out your tale and read through it on paper and as you read allow your mind to drift off on little tangents. I find these little side thoughts often lead to big subplots. Should you find one of these side plots then go back, fill in that which is missing and be on your merry way.

I suggest printing out your script to read through the text because you’ll spot mistakes more easily and you can write notes around the text.

Your tale may also have headed off in the wrong direction – in which case print out, read through and discover where your story went sour for you. I have erased entire scenes, even chapters! This is very painful of course, but it proves rewarding in the long run when you find yourself speeding along in a new and exciting direction.

The other reason you may have lost interest is that you feel your story lacks depth, in which case you have not done your groundwork properly. There was something that sparked the desire within you to write this piece, this was something you felt passionate about. Remember the cause of your original inspiration? Go back to the research books and getting chatting with your characters.

I find it very difficult to leave a story unfinished if I am very close to the characters. I feel I owe them the courtesy of finishing their tale, being that they went to all the trouble of musing me in the first place. If you do not feel allegiance to the people in the world you are writing about, then you don’t know the locals anywhere near well enough. You can’t expect to discover the inner workings of a world, if you never really bother getting know anyone who lives there. If your imagination is not yet up to this challenge then just study the people around you – the cause and effect in their lives and how their history has contributed to their personality. Their reactions to situations should become predictable to you. ‘He won’t like that,’ you’ll find yourself saying – this is how well you must know all your characters. If your hero/heroine is not your best buddy that you’d route for through thick and thin, then your readers are not going to be rooting for the character either. If you’re bad guy lacks motive than no one is going to believe in his schemes.

Depth of story is something that is developed with practice, so just because the first manuscript you ever write isn’t a masterpiece that everyone is raving about, that doesn’t mean you’ll never write a bestseller. Buy the time I finish writing one book I’ve already got the plot lines for the next one in my head – they will have been taking form for months. I’m so eager to get into the new adventure that the completion of a novel just means that I can finally get started on that new idea. I might add that I was like this before I got published as well. Everyone dreams of being published, but if you do it just for the fame and money, you’re bound to be disappointed. Science-Fantasy is about the least sellable genre to the media. The good news is that it sells largely through word of mouth, so new authors stand as good a chance as the more established talent. Still, if writing is not what drives your creative existence, then being an author would just be a job, instead of a dream come true.

This article originally appeared in the Traci Harding Community newsletter a few years back, and had been reproduced with Traci’s permission.

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