• 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!



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How to finish a manuscript – Traci Harding

The final part of Traci’s three sessions on writing a manuscript.

Yes, we’ve finally reached the instalment you’ve all been waiting for.  You’ve followed through on all those plot lines and finally it’s all coming together … or is it?

‘How do I conquer the fear that it won’t all come together in the end?’

This is a very good question.  Every writer has his or her own way of writing a novel.  Ian Irvine (Science-Fantasy writer The View from the Mirror quartet and numerous other trilogies and quartets) knocks out a first draft in six weeks and then builds on the story over several drafts and many more mouths.  Kim Wilkins (Angel of Ruin, the Gina Champion young adult series, and numerous other great horror novels) will sit in a café for six weeks plotting a tale and once everything fits together, she’ll sit down and write her novel.  Myself, I get bored if I know what is going to happen, so I must trust my muse and characters are leading me to where I want to go, and this blind faith I have has never failed me.

Every tale has a beginning with a turning point at around the one-quarter mark in the tale.  This leads into the middle that builds to a turning point two thirds of the way through the tale.  At this stage of your story, all those threads that have been winding along their merry way through your tale should start to weave together, which naturally leads your story through the final leg of the journey to a climax, with a few anti-climaxes thrown in for good measure.  Again, I never map out this process, I am just constantly aware of where my plot is in relation to the above formula. 

Caiseal Mor (The Circle and the Cross Trilogy, The Wanders Trilogy, etc. and my personal favourite, Carolan’s Concerto) likes to speed up the scenes toward the end of a story.  This is an old Irish storytelling trick, which compels the reader towards the finish.  I do the same thing with chapters – I keep them short at the beginning (say 8-10 pages long), so the reader feels like the story is racing along.  As the story becomes more involved so to do the chapters become longer (20-30 pages long).  Then towards the end, when things are really hotting up, my chapters get shorter once again.

Should you get three-quarters of your way through a tale and find you’re lost – and I seriously doubt you will, because by this time you should be so sunk into your world and characters that you couldn’t possibly get lost!  But if you are stuck – a printout and read through is in order.  Go back to the research books and music tapes I spoke about before and muse on your original motivation for writing this piece. 

If you love the tale you’re writing then it will come together in the end, and the most important thing is that you have fun completing your project and revel in the accomplishment when you do.

So what do I do now I’m finished?

The very first thing you should do is sit and read your entire tale OUT LOUD.  It is funny how faults in wording reveal themselves when read aloud – especially dialogue.  If you can get some close friends or family to take this journey with you, then all the better.  I had several friends coming around to hear instalments of my books and, as they could never all come at the same time, I read my first tale aloud about four times.  This was incredibly helpful as my listeners would always want to know what was going to happen next, and as I would explain my vague ideas, some of them would gel and the future of the story would unfold.  Reading aloud to people you can also find whether the gags are going off as expected, if the suspense is killing the reader as hoped and so on.  You also learn who the most popular characters are and why.  What the listener wants to happen and who they want more of.  And most importantly you’ll learn what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong, where the story rocks along perfectly and where it drags and seems to go on forever without anything happening.  This may be a joyous and a painful process, but it is an all important experience in order to deal with the next stage of your story’s development; for how shall you deal with feedback from an assessor, if you can’t deal with the feedback of your close friends and family? The assessor might hate your work and only a second opinion will save you from tossing that MS in the bin! Perhaps your family and friends won’t understand, and yet an assessor may see the brilliance?  You just never can tell, but as an artist it’s good to get many opinions on your work, especially if it is your first major work. All this information will be invaluable come the time to edit too.

2 Responses

  1. OK, excellent advice and very timely, as this is exactly where I’m at… love the story but beginning to worry whether anyone else will, rather than just finishing it. After all, I began it just for me to get the darned thing off my my mind.

    Thanks for the series Traci, very comforting to know even published writers have their individual ways of writing.

  2. Thanks alot for your thoughts Traci. I tend to suscribe to your way of writing. I like suprises too, while keeping a structure at the back of my mind. If i’m not suprised, how do I expect my readers to be?
    Ive been through the assesor stage, and up to my 12th draft of my 2 novel YA sci-fi story, but I’ve really had enough of redrafting! lol.. gotta say though, like Ian Irvine, alot of the real story emerged during this phase.
    I’ve never really read great chunks out loud though. I might give that a go before I start farming copies out.
    We just need one more part..how to secure an agent! lol For that, we might need more than mere skill..

    Thanks alot Traci for a very informative series…

    Anthony J. Langford

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