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“How the masters do it…”

I was recently re-reading some books in my collection to see “how the masters do it”.

I totally enjoyed Matt Reilly’s fast moving and tightly plotted “Ice Station”. Then I started Clancy’s “Red Storm Rising” and got so engrossed it was hard to put down! Eventually managed to do that that last night and now I’m into ‘Dracula’ for some ‘light relief’…

Reilly and Clancy~100219
What do you guys read for inspiration?

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Netflix – making great stories and strongly disrupting traditional entertainment media…

Netflix has profoundly changed how we consume visual entertainment in our homes. Founded in 1997, the company has rapidly expanded from an online DVD rental store into a market-dominating internet streaming service, distributing mainstream TV programs and Movies, as well as a growing portfolio of ‘Netflix Originals’.

‘Netflix Original’ films are either produced, co-produced, or distributed exclusively by them. I’ve found that ‘Netflix Originals’ tend to have good story lines and strong production values that easily rival the traditional cinema experience, all enjoyed from the comfort of my own armchair.

Last July I wrote about how much I had enjoyed the Netflix series ‘Spectral’ but that ‘Annihilation’ had been rather disappointing (see the links below). I guess they can’t get it right every time, but I’ve also just finished watching ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’, which was excellent, and the short series ‘The Rain’ which was truly superb.

TheRain

‘The Rain’ is a (near-future?) science fiction adventure story in which scientists from the company “Apollon” have released a biological agent that has caused rain water to become aggressively lethal. Even exposure to a single drop of rain water will kill, and those deaths are typically fast, painful and shocking. Small groups of people are surviving and we follow one group of protagonists as they attempt to find Simone’s father, an Apollon scientist who they think might be looking for a cure for The Rain. They have many adventures on the way as the episodes slowly reveal aspects of their backgrounds from before ‘The Rain’, transforming them into believable characters.

It’s well-acted and well-produced… and I’m quite jealous of its success because I have a plot outlined in my notebooks which is very similar – from 24/8/15:

“1) Rain isn’t necessarily water any more – climate change, pollution, sunlight etc has created a biologically active “something” that rains down on people. Maybe this is bacteria /microbes that have been changed – this effects humans and makes it profoundly hard for us to touch each other  – but we want/need to continue touching each other for comfort/reproduction etc – what would this mean for us?

… This would probably have profound impacts on the food we can eat, the water we can drink, and what we can breathe. Would we use tech to make those things safe or we would we evolve biologically?”

That’s the problem with being a part-time author… I just can’t write fast enough to keep up with all the ideas I’m generating!

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My review of ‘Spectral’ is at https://ljrussell.wordpress.com/2018/07/11/spectral-netflix-2016/

For ‘Annihilation’ see https://ljrussell.wordpress.com/2018/07/14/disappointed-with-annihilation-on-netflix/

 

 

 

First Alpha-reader feedback about “Evil Eye”…

I’m just getting the first feedback from my Alpha-readers about ‘Evil Eye’. One lady told me today that it is well written, fun and moves along at a good pace, with an obvious link for a Book 2, which she would also like to read –

“You should feel proud of yourself,” she said – not bad, Lee. Not bad!

soldiers~cropped2

picture: “#EB Photo January challenge” by lee roberts on flickr.com (Creative Commonas Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license)

Hav you ever wondered how the planets formed? …

Have you ever wondered how the planets formed? Now you can see for yourself with the updates that are starting to come through from the New Horizons probe’s flyby of Ultima Thule…

ultimathule
“We’re looking at one of the first building blocks that came together to form the planets and moons,” says Jeffrey Moore, a research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center. “It looks like somebody left it out in the back of God’s freezer for the last four-and-a-half billion years.”
The full article is at Scientific American

Picture Credit: NASA, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the Southwest Research Institute
http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Galleries/Featured-Images/image.php?page=1&gallery_id=2&image_id=577

Using a digital voice recorder and YouTube to automatically convert your spoken word into text…

My latest author vlog is now up on my YouTube channel – today I explain how you can use a digital voice recorder and YouTube to automatically convert your spoken word into text – take a look at https://youtu.be/DZnVoV3Qt0c

titlecardThe DVR I’m using is a Sony ICD PX370. The lavalier lapel mic is an unbranded purchase from Amazon, circa £10.

I’m finding this to be a great for ensuring that when I’m walking or driving, that my creative thoughts don’t just get lost!

I’ve now printed the first 4 alpha copies of ‘Evil Eye – A Lissa Blackwood Thriller’…

Back in August I announced that I had finished the first draft of ‘Evil Eye’, and like all writers I immediately started work on improving that copy. ‘Evil Eye’ is my third novel and I’m getting used to that process of polishing and embellishing my work, but this time around I was thrown by some unexpected feedback from an alpha reader who said “Nothing much seems to be happening at the start…”

Wow – that really gave me a pause for thought because the last thing I want to do is bore my readers with what should be an exciting story. It was time to get back to work!

I quickly realised that the story was not properly structured and whilst plenty of exciting things were happening, they were not in the right places. I took the novel apart, scene by scene, and then reordered the entire manuscript in line with the 7-Point Story Structure:

EvilEye~rework~141018

 

  • Hook
  • First Plot Point
  • Pinch Point 1
  • Mid-Point
  • Pinch Point 2
  • Second Plot Point
  • Resolution

For more about this approach to structuring a novel take a look at this link.

It has taken me 4 months to restructure ‘Evil Eye’ and I am very pleased to have taken the time to do it because the story is now much stronger!

I had the pleasure of printing the first 4 updated copies for my alpha readers today – 3 copies arPrintingTheEvil Eye~FirstFullDraft~281218e already allocated and I’m hoping to get some more helpful feedback before the manuscript is edited next year.

Evil Eye~FirstFullDraft~281218

 

 

“Hospital Station” by James White – first published in 1967…

Just finished reading “Hospital Station” by James White – first published in 1967, an auspicious year!

HospitalStation~JamesWhiteI had a strong sense of déjà vu from the first short story in this collection, but the others were new to me. What stands out in this sci fi book is that although it is set in space, the objective is not one of the usual colonise-conquer-survive-kill or destroy tropes. Instead it is set in an inter-stellar hospital where ‘people’ (of all forms) go above & beyond duty to cure other ‘people’.

Being a collection of short 1960s stories you shouldn’t expect a modern Hard-SF read – the level is more ‘General Hospital’ (if you remember that one… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdyNV936KD4 ) than General Relativity – but they tripped along well enough and it was refreshing to read a ‘nice’ tale for change!