East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


Spreadsheets and action

I already discussed action sequences and combat and whatnot in a previous post. but we got talking, with my friend Claire, and I described how I use a spreadsheet to plan my scenes.
So why not share it, too?

Now, to me choreographing an action scene in a story is a fine balance of three processes

  • I have to imagine the sequence, run it in my mind like a movie
  • I must know exactly who does what and when, in what order etc.
  • I must find the right words to show it all on the page

Continue reading


These are not the characters you are looking for

18fc6q4rejarypngI was reviewing my creative process (or the sort of blind blundering I call that) trying to optimize it in order to get more good words on the page*, and I found out a few interesting bits about my modus operandi.
And I thought, why not inflict my newfound knowledge on my blog readers?

When I start a new story, I generally open my copybook (or a txt file) and I start jotting down ideas.
Basic premise and concept, quick sketches of the main characters, a list of places, maybe a very rough logline.

Sometimes it’s like doodling – I sit waiting for my turn at the doctor’s or at the post office, and I just write down stuff.
Maybe I’ll never use those ideas, maybe in a few weeks, or months, or years (provided I can still find the file or the copybook) they’ll come in handy. Continue reading


In the service of the hero(ine)

Ah, decisions, decisions…

What is better?

a . a very powerful finale that provides a huge hook for other stories, but requires heavy reliance on deus ex machina, somewhat disempowering the main character?



b . a smaller-scale finale without too many whistles and bells, but featuring an action-packed set piece (or two!), showcasing all the best qualities of the main character, providing ample opportunities for all-out heroics?


Yes, I know, I know…
Silly question.
I do prefer the second, too.
And this means rewriting about 3000 words of my story.
And yet, this is the debut of the character – if I can’t give her the best, even the great hooks and thingies will feel lame in the end.
As a writer, I’m fully in the service of my heroes, and heroines.
It is my responsibility to help them look their best.

So ok, time to do some heavy editing.
No, call it rewriting…

And yes, this is still a problem with the Atlantean sword of power we discussed yesterday.

If only could I find a way to eat the cake and have it…

ADDENDUM: found it!