The Terry Pratchett Prize, Round Two...

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Re: The Terry Pratchett Prize, Round Two...

Postby Quatermass » Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:39 pm

JVQ, I have to over-think it, or else I write a crap story. I don't plan things out on paper, my writing is very much an intuitive improvisational process, but I still want it to be a good story. If I write enough of it to be able to tell that it's not good enough, then I abandon it in favour of something else. Either a new draft, a new revision of the story, or another story entirely.

The problem is with those examples is that I am not actually interested in exploring a strict alternate history where JFK screwed up with the Cuban Missile Crisis, or for that matter where he didn't get his head blown off. I want something with a taste of actual science fiction behind it, something a little more fantastic than mundane history, even if it isn't our own. Otherwise, it's not interesting enough for me to commit to it. If it hadn't already been done to death already, I'd do something about dragons. And one of my earlier ideas came too close to blatantly plagiarising ideas from Doctor Who (which was a pity, as it was an excellent concept, and I might be able to rework it to something good and original if I can find a new angle that works). The one after that, the one that I really wanted to do, based on the Quatermass serials of the 1950s, has now evolved into something that I can do in a futuristic setting, but not an alternate history (or at least not up to 80K words).

My current story attempt, such as it is, is a biopunk story that owes something to the Bioshock games (I recently read a novel prequel to the Bioshock games, and enjoyed it). Problem is, it needs no less than three major trouser leg diversions in order to be remotely possible. And I'm not sure it's going to be of good quality anyway, as I don't have an actual plot per se, just a bunch of concepts and characters. At least one of whom I have pilfered from a fantasy series I intended to write, and which I feel uncomfortable about, as the character was actually better in the fantasy series. Let's just say that the character was based on a mythological creature originally, and that being transferred to a realistic scenario prevents a key aspect of that creature from being used. And no, it's not a dragon.

I think the best thing for me is to leave this current work alone, and consider alternatives for the contest that are within my capabilities as a writer. Not that there will be, realistically, but I want to try. However, I do want to get my other books written and published, and between working on books that I know have potential, and wasting a year again on a book that I won't consider good enough for the competition, well, there's no contest, is there?

And I have seen that Red Dwarf episode. Tikka to Ride. Pretty damn funny. :D And it's a pity they didn't keep the original ending on that episode, involving the lost curry, a booby trap set by Rimmer, and the rear end of Starbug. :lol:
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Re: The Terry Pratchett Prize, Round Two...

Postby deldaisy » Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:37 pm

Q.... most science fiction is a 'what if...' scenario. Hence a lot of scientists and academics write it too.
Good writing is usually about what you are most familiar with.

I have mixed feelings about you writing for the comp. Last year you put so much pressure on yourself we lost the you we know and love.

I have NO doubt you can write... remember... you wrote that summary for the book series for ne... I am being totally selfish... don't want to lose you from here. You need to research other writing comps. The Gold Coast has one every year. There are heaps here in all and all around the world.
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Re: The Terry Pratchett Prize, Round Two...

Postby Quatermass » Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:07 pm

deldaisy wrote:Q.... most science fiction is a 'what if...' scenario. Hence a lot of scientists and academics write it too.
Good writing is usually about what you are most familiar with.

I have mixed feelings about you writing for the comp. Last year you put so much pressure on yourself we lost the you we know and love.

I have NO doubt you can write... remember... you wrote that summary for the book series for ne... I am being totally selfish... don't want to lose you from here. You need to research other writing comps. The Gold Coast has one every year. There are heaps here in all and all around the world.


And what I am familiar with is the fantastic, not the mundane. I've been spoiled by too much science fiction! :o

I have the Australian Writer's Marketplace, and there are surprisingly few writing comps I can enter. My best bet would be the Vogel Awards held by Allen and Unwin, although I don't know when the next one is being held. Entries are currently closed. However, the work I was working on is good enough for that.

The Gold Coast one is BS. The last one on the website is only open to members. F**k that.
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Re: The Terry Pratchett Prize, Round Two...

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:18 am

Quatermass wrote:The problem is with those examples is that I am not actually interested in exploring a strict alternate history where JFK screwed up with the Cuban Missile Crisis, or for that matter where he didn't get his head blown off. I want something with a taste of actual science fiction behind it, something a little more fantastic than mundane history, even if it isn't our own. Otherwise, it's not interesting enough for me to commit to it.

They're only examples as was the Guildenford thing of course - you can put your twist to alternate Earth anyhow you like to suit the overall tone and there must be myriad ways to achieve that, so it's more a question of cutting your garment according to the cloth you have and other tried and trusted cliches... ;)

This point
Q wrote:Let's just say that the character was based on a mythological creature originally, and that being transferred to a realistic scenario prevents a key aspect of that creature from being used. And no, it's not a dragon.
Why can't you work in a plausible evolutionary concept that does allow the key aspect - Jack Cohen (of Science of the Discworld fame) always cites the 'common ancestor' of all land vertebrates as being responsible for our having such awful respiratory probs because our airways are in front of our digestive tract (or is it the other way around?
:roll: ). His point is that if another creature that didn't have that particular configuration had got out of the primeval oceans and was able to breathe oxygen out of water first, then maybe we wouldn't have such dire ENT problems or get pneumonia and coughs and so on... This is from his famous lecture with Ian Stewart to the effect that life on earth is not the 'norm' and aliens aren't going to be anything like us, even if they come from a similar type of planet circling a sun that's roughly equivalent to ours and about the same distance away from it...

And so on. Maybe Del's right and you shouldn't bother with any competition and just go with what you have a strong idea(s) for and write it without having to adapt it to other people's criteria. That's how Discworld started out after all - it didn't win prizes to start off with and the one thing I do now know about writing is that if you don't feel comfortable with how you shape the story then it's going to come out in the writing so better to just do it the way you know how and not have to worry about fitting it to someone elses brief. In the end you have to write what's appealing to you and not other people because otherwise you won't give enough of a damn about your characters simply because they're not wholly yours anymore. The heart and the gut are really what makes the difference between a competent book and a truly compelling one and competitions that seek to be semi-prescriptive don't necessarily suit everyone's style of writing whether it comes into the same genre group or not.

I'm not going in for this competition because I've written my book (well almost :roll: ) the way I want it written and I'm not about to enter it in any description of competition I'm just going to see about getting it published because I think it's original and defies categorisation because of the approach I've taken with it that deals with subject matter and issues that I care a great deal about. Always write for yourself and true to yourself and, if a competition inspires you and you're happy with the result then fine, but don't hang everything on it and certainly don't abandon other projects that may mean much more to you, just on the off-chance that you might get lucky and win. That's defeating the object which is to encourage creativity not cramp it's style, or get it so screwed up it loses it's originality because it doesn't tick all the boxes they're asking for, like a good little clone?
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Re: The Terry Pratchett Prize, Round Two...

Postby Quatermass » Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:40 am

Thanks, JVQ. :) I'm keeping that in mind. So I intend to do final revisions on my first completed novel before I send it to a publisher, as well as complete the Quatermass serials-inspired novel I had in mind for the first TP Prize, as well as working on the fantasy one. All assuming that I don't get an actual job in the meantime...

If I do come across a good idea for the TP Prize, I'll do it, but at the moment, it's not likely. :?
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Re: The Terry Pratchett Prize, Round Two...

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:06 pm

Look at this way - that ship that just sailed wasn't your ship! ;)
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Re: The Terry Pratchett Prize, Round Two...

Postby deldaisy » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:13 pm

Jan Van Quirm wrote:Look at this way - that ship that just sailed wasn't your ship!



The way its been going lately it was most probably MY bloody ship.....

Bet it heading to Tahiti or somewhere gorgeous as well.....
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Re: The Terry Pratchett Prize, Round Two...

Postby Quatermass » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:52 pm

deldaisy wrote:
Jan Van Quirm wrote:Look at this way - that ship that just sailed wasn't your ship!



The way its been going lately it was most probably MY bloody ship.....

Bet it heading to Tahiti or somewhere gorgeous as well.....


Who'd want to go to f***ing Tahiti? All there is is sand and surf. :roll: I live not far from Surfer's Paradise, one of the most famous beaches in Australia. And I have mild hydrophobia thanks to my dad bringing me out to swim near there every f***ing weekend, whether I wanted to or not... :?

I'd want a holiday with book shopping. :D Or else a Waterstone's in Australia! After Angus and Robertson, and Borders, went down the crapper, I badly need more bookshops. I'm suffering withdrawals... :shock:

Back on-topic, I had a flash of inspiration last night. I Have An Idea. Am I going to tell y'all what it is? Nope. But I will tell you that it is an extremely overused and cliched subject that nonetheless I think I can bring new life to, given the right research and storyline. :D
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Re: The Terry Pratchett Prize, Round Two...

Postby Quatermass » Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:23 am

Okay, a bit of an update. Not long after I had my inspiration, I realised rather swiftly that I was entering a genre of fiction that had been overdone to death, and there was no way that I could inject new life into it. Which is ironic, as I will now confess what idea I had, as I don't have any ideas that haven't been done already, and better (as well as worse).

I was going to write about a world where vampires were real and (to a degree) realistic. I was more inspired by a concept I had read about on an article on the Peter Watts novel Blindsight, as well as the original Dracula novel, but whatever plot I could think of, it's been done before me. Many, many times. The vampire genre has been done so often, it's died and risen from the grave, a sort of meta-textual vampirism.

So, rather than go on here and throw a tantrum about my inability to write a decent plot, I set it aside while I worked on the novel I had originally conceived for the TP Prize, the one that was a homage to the Quatermass serials. And suddenly, this afternoon, inspiration struck. I Have Another Idea. What's more, I can poach stories, concepts, and characters from a book series I had already tried to write before, but had left aside for the past few years. :D I have some serious research to do, though. :?
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Re: The Terry Pratchett Prize, Round Two...

Postby meerkat » Fri Jan 13, 2012 9:44 am

Go for it, Q! :clap:
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Re: The Terry Pratchett Prize, Round Two...

Postby Quatermass » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:33 am

meerkat wrote:Go for it, Q! :clap:


Thank you. Thanks to it being derived partly from my earlier works, I have a decent plot I can use. :) Only question is, can it reach 80K words? :?
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Re: The Terry Pratchett Prize, Round Two...

Postby De Lona Ranger » Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:47 pm

Tahiti isnt just sand and surf Q..... you would be crazy to swim in the waters there..... do you not realise there are other things you can do...... all that water....... SAILING!

I am not one to adore swimming in the ocean... but its lovely on top of it.
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Re: The Terry Pratchett Prize, Round Two...

Postby deldaisy » Fri Jan 13, 2012 1:04 pm

Hi Q.... Guess what? I finished that book you gave me..... A Civil Campaign. Quite liked it too.... always a good sign when I finish a book and go back to reread the first chapter to see what I missed before I know what I know now. It was a strange science fiction..... more a comedy/bodice ripper. I thought it was a bit "light" and all the VOR names annoyed the hell out of me.... hated that about Tolstoy too.... but I discover I am interested in where they came from and if there are books after this one in the series.... thats always a good sign huh.

Thank you for introducing me to a new author. I know it took me a while to get into it.... but its the first book I have read in ages apart from Snuff.... huge leaps. :D
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Re: The Terry Pratchett Prize, Round Two...

Postby Quatermass » Sat Jan 14, 2012 2:05 am

deldaisy wrote:Hi Q.... Guess what? I finished that book you gave me..... A Civil Campaign. Quite liked it too.... always a good sign when I finish a book and go back to reread the first chapter to see what I missed before I know what I know now. It was a strange science fiction..... more a comedy/bodice ripper. I thought it was a bit "light" and all the VOR names annoyed the hell out of me.... hated that about Tolstoy too.... but I discover I am interested in where they came from and if there are books after this one in the series.... thats always a good sign huh.

Thank you for introducing me to a new author. I know it took me a while to get into it.... but its the first book I have read in ages apart from Snuff.... huge leaps. :D


Thanks. :) There's more science fiction in the other books of the Vorkosigan Saga, but A Civil Campaign is by far the funniest of the series. Memory, set before it, is probably the best in the Vorkosigan Saga, but it's less funny and far more dramatic. But it would also be good to start from the beginning of the series. They sell the Vorkosigan Saga books at the Pulp Fiction bookshop in Brisbane. In fact, the series is apparently their biggest seller by any one author.

I suggest that you either start with the Cordelia's Honour or Young Miles novel compilations. ;)

The 'Vor' names are part of the culture of Barrayar. It's the name of an aristocratic and military class, so any family of that class has 'Vor' at the start. In fact, the second novel in Young Miles is called The Vor Game, partly as a pun on "War Game".
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Re: The Terry Pratchett Prize, Round Two...

Postby raisindot » Sat Jan 14, 2012 7:04 pm

Jan Van Quirm wrote:Why can't you work in a plausible evolutionary concept that does allow the key aspect - Jack Cohen (of Science of the Discworld fame) always cites the 'common ancestor' of all land vertebrates as being responsible for our having such awful respiratory probs because our airways are in front of our digestive tract (or is it the other way around?
:roll: ). His point is that if another creature that didn't have that particular configuration had got out of the primeval oceans and was able to breathe oxygen out of water first, then maybe we wouldn't have such dire ENT problems or get pneumonia and coughs and so on...


I like that idea. For about ten seconds I had thought about writing a novella based on the notion that human beings never developed eyes (or at least eyes that could detect anything other than light). Since human development and science is nearly entirely based on vision (if you can't see the stars, or the sky, you don't really know that there's a world out ther further than you can walk). Then I thought that someone must have done this already, and I've got focus on getting the novel I have completed out there.
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