The Death of Billy Black

Many years ago my dad told me a story about one of his friends Billy (
William Black ). He told me about him taking part in a race where he had
to run up a very steep road/hill/lane while carrying a sheep over his
shoulders.

Not long after that conversation I got to thinking about a story “The
Legend of Billy Black”. It never really formed into anything it was just
this concept about this kid who was remarkable at everything he did,
generous to a fault, and extremely well liked by everyone who ever met
him. The story would follow him as he grew up.

I did an amount of searching on Google to see if I could find any high
profile people with the name, especially anything written or filmed. I
didn’t want to create a character that was already prominent. Nothing came up. Yes there were plenty of Billy Black’s but nothing that I felt
concerned about.

As part of my Dreamgate novel I decided to weave Billy into the story in
order to have some form of cross over. I like the idea of connecting my
short stories and other works with Dreamgate. I even toyed with the idea
of giving Blacks identity to one of the mysterious main characters ‘The
Traveller’.

Anyway, I started listing to the Audiobook of ’s . I listen while at the gym, it’s so much easier to get through a workout when you are distracted by something else; I clock watch less…

To my horror, very early on, a character called Billy Black appears…
re-doing my google search, the results are filled with Billy Black from
the book and film of Twilight… and in that moment I saw the death of MY
character.

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Wikipedia Stephenie Meyer, Twilight

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The How, the Where, and the Why…

I almost have the first 8 chapters of my novel, that happens to be around twelve thousand words. Each chapter started off as and introduction to a character – I currently have 6 main characters on the go. This has then been blended a little bit because one of the characters, Grace, is central and connects all the others. So all the chapters now include Grace in some abstract way. And Grace’s chapter includes all the others.

The opening chapter for each character is their introduction and the start of their journey. For me it is important for the reader to see them attempt to break (the how) the barrier with their destination – the where. ( Sorry for being abstract here myself, but those of you who have talked with me directly will know about the destination.) Ultimately, the destination is where the actual story takes place.

This is problematic because I now have six characters almost doing the same thing. Yes the setting is different, the feel is different, but ultimately, six characters walking through a door. So I have fifty manuscript pages of six characters getting to a destination – is it enough? How much of why do I need?

My feeling was always that at the point that the reader fully understands what is happening with these journeys, all six of the characters would have made them, and then I would only explain the why to one of the characters, and thus the reader. Or to a group of the characters – supposing that the come together – and thus to the reader. But I wonder should I bring some foreshadowing of why into the first eight chapters? If I do, the reader is being tipped of about the why in that they know a little about the destination prior to the characters getting there. If this happens, does it weaken the six strands of getting there?

What I do know is that I am missing some important characterisation. A this moment in time the six characters are a little flat. I think in order to help he reader digest the how sections, I need to make sure they learn a lot about the characters involved. So the how sections are no longer just about getting to the where, but about the characters themselves. By the end of each characters introduction, the reader must feel something for them, and feel that maybe they are starting to understand a little about them.

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Writing

Managed to spend a good amount of time writing this weekend. I needed to get to grips with the first chapters of my story and some how pull it together. Once that is done then I think I have a good base to move forward. The problem is that the chapters deal with the six major characters and because they are the opening chapters then they have to pull the reader in, keep them gripped, and move them forward, without let up. Personally I think that can sometimes be a tall order for the first fifty pages at the best of times. The real problem is that you could argue that technically, the book starts after these first chapters so conventional wisdom would suggest cutting them. However these chapters are essential for the understanding of the concepts of the book – so it is important that they keep the reader gripped!

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There are things in this world that I don’t understand…

I find myself at a strange position in my life. For those of you who know me, and those of you who know me well, I like to think of myself as a relatively creative person. I also think that I am somone whose creativity drifts in the wind of mediocrity. Right here, right now, I have two things going on in my head, two things that have presented themself as fact; I have a story to tell and I have business to build.

The business; there’s not much to tell about this at this stage, other than to say that, for the first time in a very long time, I am absolutley sure it is something I should do.

The story; this is something that has been in my head for some time now. It started as something that I wrote for my creative writing course a few years ago and then morphed into a story that I could tell to Rebekah. Together we have played around with ideas that have helped to shape the concept.

It started like this…

A single streak of daylight dissected the dim room through the curtains

Now, I’ve struggled with the story, not fully understood it, and thus not been able to write it down. However, over the last few weeks it seems to be becoming clearer. The more things I do, the more I read, the more I listen, the more I speak, the more I think, all makes it clearer.

For as long as I have been thinking about this story, there is a phrase that keeps popping into my head. I’ve never written it down, never known how to follow it, never kown what to do with it…

“There are things in this world that I don’t understand..”

It just comes to me, pops in my head, a nagging question that needs a answer, begs for one. if only I knew what the follow up was. I could just find the response needed to write it down. Maybe there are just things in this world that I don’t understand.

I sat reading my book during lunch, listening to my iPod. The statement once more popped into my head. I stopped, looked out of the window to the Candian Geese playing on the lake, and just knew that the book was something that I should do. No longer should, but must.

As I write this Hogarth is singing in my ear…

I have seen this face a thousand times
Every morning of my life
But I never saw these eyes so clear
Free of doubt and pain
Like the whole world has been made again

I don’t know what that means, but it feels like it means something to me, because I just nearly wept, had to take a moment there… Maybe it is so clear to me, maybe I am free of doubt…

I tune in to some friendly voices
Talking bout stupid things.
I cant be left to my imagination.
Let me be weak,
Let me sleep
And dream of sheep. – Kate Bush

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Looking for an Illustrator

I’ve been working on a childrens story on off for a while. It is something that Rebekah and me have been throwing around. I’m about 4 or 5 chapters in and have the high concept in place, but have been struggling with some of the detail in my head. To be honest, I also struggle for time. Anyway, I think I have now found a good enough process to allow me to move forward and am hoping to get the provebial ball rolling ASAP. What I am now looking for is someone to draw pictures for me. It is not intended to be an illustrated book but I do think characters and places could do with imagineering. I also want to start the process of a website and blog to follow the process and images would be essential in this.

So if you are or know an illustrator who would be interested in collaborating, get in touch… comment here and I’ll email you back.

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