January 2004 New Year Review

Web Page Progress

Well how were the festive holidays for you, then? Good? Get lots of presents? Eat a lot? Drink a lot? I have to say my holidays were filled with none of that -apart from eating maybe! I spent most of my time during the holidays writing. Well, pondering, wracking my brain, and writing. But more of that later.

The web site has carried on without much change. One of the sites I link to has become unavailable, so it is with regret that I have removed it from the List Page. Hopefully it will return soon and I can replace it. But they aren't the only ones with a problem.

WorldPay, who administer my payment system, are still suffering a heavy and persistant denial of service attack that has made it practically impossible to get through to their payment pages. If you want to read some of the pay chapters, and you do try to use the payment system and it doesn't work, or if you have just been thinking about it anyway but are unsure, it would probably be easier if you email me and I can let you have the passwords you require. I'm not sure how long this problem will last, but by May my subscription fee will be due, so my decision on the system in general will be taken then.

Writing Progress

Still no Short Stories this month and “The Friendly Ambassador” is now on to chapter forty-nine. I have found it even more difficult as I get near the end of the story and finally reach the events I had in mind when I first started. I am sure many writers are able to set a course for their characters and the plot and are able to stick to it no matter what. Many of them probably undertake careful planning of the story so that they know well in advance exactly what is going to happen. Of course that's what I do -not!

I suppose I sort of know where the story is going, and I sort of know what events I want to stage on the way, but I always find that my characters do their own thing and that they change the story as it develops. Yes, I do try and pull them into line. I have to, or the story wouldn't have any real plot or purpose, it would just meander. But I also don't have a rule or restrictive format to keep them in line. The old adventure format of the journey is the simplist example of that, you have to get from A to B. Maybe I do meander a little, but that's probably because I want to explore, and yes, play with my characters a little.

It's only natural that I should want to spend some time with characters I have created, even the bad ones. I like all my characters. But I pride myself that I never paint any of them so simply that they could be classed as 'goodies' or 'baddies'. All my characters have their loyalties, values and points of view. Occasionally there is an out and out villian, but even the Keruh in “The Friendly Ambassador” who are depicted in this way in the beginning are hopefully worthy of some sympathy and understanding at the end. And in “The Tale Of The Comet” why shouldn't Prince Frederick be King? He is the twin brother of Prince Rupert after all?

Characters should be like real people, colourful rather than black and white. But keeping them in character during the length of the story, and keeping all the different plot-lines going at the same time, is really taxing. And now that I am close to the end I wonder if a more central plot featuring only one or two characters might have delivered a more powerful romance. There is romance in the story. It abounds in a number of places and with a lot of the characters. And there are even two weddings. But sometimes one really strong romance can be better than several weaker ones. I have said before that this story was larger than any of the ones I have written before, and with far more characters. Maybe it is too big an epic and the characters are too superficial. Or maybe I am just being too critical.

Feedback from you lot out there would be handy, after all there are forty chapters of “The Friendly Ambassador” for you to look at and comment on. Please read them and email me!

Oh, and let me know what you think of the maps that go with the story. These can be reached through links on the chapter bars that appear with the free chapter files. There are now four of them. I had fun drawing them.

What do you think of it so far? Email me!