My short story collection The Axiom Few is currently one of the staff picks over at Tapas. Please head on over and subscribe to read new episodes.
The art of plot procrastination is something you have to master when you're writing. You can't burn through your plot too quickly, so how do you overcome the desire to throw in each staggering revelation in your story just to get them onto the page?
It's sometimes frustrating when it's done badly. The protagonist finally locates the one person who has the answer to all the questions, and when the critical question is asked of the character, the response is often, "I will tell you everything you need to know, all in good time, but first, you must be hungry!"
This sort of thing usually ends up with the character with all the information getting murdered before he can answer said question.
How did I get round it when I was writing Spireclaw? Well, without wanting to spoil the plot and revelations in that story (Spireclaw thrives on its twists and turns and blind alleys), there were a couple of techniques which I employed. Use several angles at once. Keep several balls in the air so that the reader is never quite sure which one is going to drop. Is the twist going to be around This or That? Bring your revelations in from a perspective and angle that is unexpected. It enables you to build new perspectives on the issue at hand without having to play your trump card so quickly. I realise these are abstract concepts, but if you want to know what I mean, go and read Spireclaw on this very website, or get it from Amazon on your Kindle. Then come back and read this blog post again.
Four of my books will be available for free this Thursday (5th November) for a one day only, get 'em while you can deal on Amazon Kindle.
I hope you take this opportunity to pick up one of these books and get lost in a world I created.
My follow up to "The Axiom Few" is coming along nicely and I sincerely hope to get it out the door before the summer. By the way, "The Axiom Few" is free on the Kindle from the 21st to 23rd January. Click here to get it.
The sequel collection, "The Axiom Tapestry" will contain eight more stories, one of which, "The Pytance Initiative" will contain part of the origin story of the BRENDA device that is so prominent in the first book.
Here is an extract from "The Pytance Initiative"...
The quantum strip hung in the centre of a clear, spherical bosonic chamber which could be seen from the upper gantry where Vernal Campion now stood, tablet in hand, scanning the system event logs for errors. With two hours to go, thankfully there were none. If any appeared now, he may have to be the one to tell Derek. And the Prime Minister had already departed London on her way to the Stratabyre. Trying to halt this rolling snowball would be a messy business.
He stepped out of the inner glass door, which slid closed softly behind him, and traversed the elevated walkway towards the rear of the Stratabyre. Below him a system of cable troughs crisscrossed the cave, disappearing into sections of rock wall towards coolant lakes and hidden banks of processor arrays housed deep within the perpetually cold, ancient stone. Above him, dim lamps barely lit the space, due to the lumo-sensitivity of the biological meshes that hung vertically from specially designed dermabrackets. He could hear the sound of soft unseen fans working to keep the cave drier than nature would intend, while leaving the environment moist enough for the bio-meshes to retain their elasticity. The combination of sounds felt to Vernal as though the whole cave was humming with anticipation.
Something about the majesty of the space, where high technology fused with millions of years of geology made technicians speak in low voices when they were out in the main area, away from the control room. Or was it just that the Stratabyre had the capacity to carry echoing voices and resound them into an unintelligible susurration. All he could hear were whispers now. A quiet church.
And despite being nothing more than a biologically enhanced machine, straddling the inside of the cave like a confined spider, the Brenda device had no front or back, no face or physical interface, and had not even been fully connected up, yet Vernal Campion was convinced she (no, not she... IT) was looking right at him.
My five year old son asked me what God looks like yesterday. I immediately started thinking about the way I asked myself that question while I was writing Schaefer's Integrity about ten years ago. But I replied, "Well, what do you think God looks like?" He said he didn't know, but could we look him up on the iPad. So we Googled God. And sure enough, on the internet you get a lot of pictures of a bearded old white fella parting the clouds. I explained that nobody had ever seen God and these were just people guessing. Then I suggested maybe my son would like to draw his own idea of what God looks like. So he did. What does it tell you that he drew a man dressed in black with a red face and... are they horns...?
I'm going to use the word "tapestry" here because I can see no other way of describing the route my new set of Axiom Few short stories seems to be taking. BRENDA's origin story is well underway and I'm really excited. The stories are becoming a tapestry and that may well influence the title of the story collection when it comes out. It won't all be about new characters though. At the end of The Autumn Structure our friend Geek was trapped on an alien vessel and I have to get him off there!
All this will come in time. I'm having a lot of fun with it at the moment. In the meantime, why not head over to Amazon and get the book that started it all...
My brand spanking new short story collection A Comet of Ideas Looking for a Planet is free on Kindle until Sunday 14th July.
This collection covers fifteen years of writing, of stories that weren't part of the Axiom Few canon, or novels, obviously. In a later post I will write more about the stories behind the stories, but for now I hope you enjoy reading it.