On Originality

(Or, its existence, which if is, is scarce)

What makes your novel unique?

They say it a lot, as if originality is a rite of passage a novel must go through. Chances are, though, not much. We all know the problem the modern writer faces: of writing the novel of our heart only to find that someone’s got there first or got their ‘big break’ with something so similar to yours.

It is devastating.

Recently, I was watching an old Doctor Who – The Time of Angels, in fact – for River Song kicks, when The Doctor mentioned the phrase ‘time energy’. Time-energy. What rather ravels the threads of my novel. Of the trilogy.

What’s more, there was a crack in time and people disappeared from memory.

‘Hang on,’ I said to myself, ‘wasn’t that the premise of my novel, the first draft of which I wrote five years ago…? Three before Doctor Who used it.’

It happens, and it’s a ruddy pain.

So, what’s a budding author to do? Well, for starters, consider the differences. Don’t get hung up on those similarities that must indeed stick out for you. My novel is set in an alternat/ive timeline, not the future. There is no one in Doctor Who who is trying to harvest the time-energy; it is purely wild. And, though, I mean my time-energy is wild, unpredictable, and partly antagonist, it can also be tangible when it wants to be.

It’s an entity, yo.

For others in a similar position to me – don’t give up! Don’t abandon your projects simply because there are others on the market with similar faces to yours.

That’s my advice, in any case. Make your novel yours, not anyone else’s.

Further, look with respect to those books and films and materials that are similar to yours. They help, they train – and you can support those who keep your genre and ideas thriving.

I wouldn’t even say the issue is genre-related; romance novels, for instance, still fall under the issue of the same plot, over and over. But, of course, a novel or fictitious story is not made solely of plot. For romance, it’s a little simpler to focus on the personality and quirks of your characters, but for science-fiction fantasy you could also give interesting traits that a reader wouldn’t suspect.

Don’t stick to stereotypes. That’s what the unoriginal is made of. I personally like subverting the tropes.

The writing, too, is the glamorous essence of reading a new novel. Voice. Imagery. Style. Those aren’t just buzzwords. And, unfortunately, voice is not something we can ever put words to so precisely. It’s the communication between the writer and their characters – a dash of each to the recipe that crafts the tone, vocabulary, even syntax of the story. 

The way a story is told can change anything. Make us forget what was similar.

It’s an unfortunate situation, I know – more than anyone, so it feels with my passion in temporal science, when every inciting incident is of people disappearing from time – but for writers facing this same problem, all I can say is that, though your story might not be the most original, you can paint something new with your characters and settings.

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7 Quick Takes – Essays, Time-Management and God

Let’s pop over to This Ain’t the Lyceum to see how everybody’s been doing this week.

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~1~

Firstly, it is this little blog’s fourth birthday! I’ll admit that it’s been a less-impressive run than the last couple of years in terms of blogging, but on the other hand, I have got things done and my life has been rolling along as steadily as it is able.

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It almost matches my blog layout…

~2~

Unfortunately for the blog, this has meant that even the best well-meant of posts have got lost at the wayside. Nowadays, I have an idea, and it barely gets further than halfway before I have to transfer my efforts to another activity. I meant to post yesterday, I swear. I’ve even moved reblog Thursday to a Reblog Weds to accommodate my hectic Wednesday timetable this year. These things just haven’t happened, though.

~3~

It’s the weekend! And it truly has been a “thank goodness it’s Friday!” day for me. One of my research participants cancelled last minute yesterday for this afternoon, which meant I was able to actually get some of my – shock horror! – dissertation done in the time of their absence. The thing is that, with (so far) 600 words a day, I’m getting there, but I have more to do than I can afford to have a dissertation report and its progress on my back, too.

~4~

I was going to go to a dance class tomorrow, but that too has been cancelled. The good thing about Lindyhop is that it covers so many different styles of dance, and my group in Reading have recently become more interested in getting together a chorus line. The video below is a chorus girls group performing a piece they choreographed – Greece’s premiere chorus girl group, actually, A Bowl of Cherries.

~5~

Life is about balance. And there is no truer person who knows this than the [current] university student. At the moment, I’m pretty sure I’m out of balance – but that’s okay. I live with that. See my point #3 – I definitely have to make my time. Who-ever says that time has to found in a day? One has to dig it from the ruins of the hours.

Nevertheless, we must take heart – for God knows His plans and handles our plans. This Isaiah quote is encouraging for anyone in the midst of working and striving, those who feel as if their hopes and wills are fading. God has the strength. Do not be faint in His palm!

(Found on Nurse-buff)

~6~

I’m hoping to get to you some writing tomorrow, just something small I decided to do without giving it much thought. It’s set in the world of WTCB and features a couple of characters from LSOT, but apart from that, it was just me playing with dynamics.

~7~

She’d written three times in as many days.

Gabiee twisted the letter between her finger and thumb until it had rolled into a tube she’d easily hide up her sleeve.

As if on cue – and an ominous cue at that – the grandfather clock in the atrium struck. She unearthed the chain from around her neck – from it dangled a pocket-watch, battered but carefully strung. A gift from her husband, and from his father to him.

Seven. Home-coming, for the best of words.

Barely an Hour to Write‏

You may have noticed that I haven’t been on the blog lately – and sporadically at best – but I have barely had any time lately to write, let alone conjure up as blog post from somewhere. I’m in my final year of my undergrad, and I’ve been busy with study reading. Factor in the hours of sport and dance I am dong for my health, and I’m normally exhausted by the time I get back at 10pm. My mind refuses to write at that time unless I have to, and relaxation takes over where I haven’t during the day.

So, here’s hoping I’ll be able to sort something where I’ll get to write more, but I’m not even seeing Christmas as the opportunity. We will just have to take one day as it comes.

Girardoni Kata – A Steampunk Martial Art

An interesting article about how writers can and must fit their writing, for instance fight scenes, to their created technology. Here, specifically, Steampunk martial arts.

Nick Travers

Since posting my article on the Girardoni gun, ‘Steampunk Warfare – The Real Deal’, I find myself inventing a whole new martial art to accommodate the weapon.

As a writer, I love the way a simple decision can drive the development of a whole story world. In this case it is the adoption of a certain gun mechanism, but it could equally be a political, institutional, religious, technological, hierarchical or social idea, just as our response to these things change the real world around us.

A story world must hang together logically for the whole thing to feel real to the reader. To give your story an ‘other-worldy’ feel, just turn a social norm on its head and follow the logical consequences of that decision.

The other day, I took the family to see the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth, UK. The Mary Rose is a Tudor warship…

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Time in Fiction: Addressing the Timey-Wimey, Troublesome Truths

For all you temporal scientists (!) out there like me, Victoria over at The Crimson League discusses the use of time in fiction – and, as I well know, the difficulties that can arise from misplacing time in one’s novel.

Creative Writing with the Crimson League

times-in-my-hand-1429208-m Time is such a crazy and troublesome thing, both in life and in writing. Some among us (well, the Whovians anyway) might even describe it as “wibbly wobbly” or “timey-wimey.”

Time issues have tripped me up in various drafts of my novels. Handling time in fiction–where the rules of time in the real world aren’t always at play, especially in my genre of fantasy–can be a tricky task. We can expand and contract and change how time works to a greater or lesser extent when writing.

While this is fun, and wonderful, and one of the most creative ways we can execute artistic license, it can also be difficult to keep track of. To keep under control.

Here are some ways time in fiction has caused me problems, or ways I try to be aware of time as a factor when I’m writing. They’re nothing to panic over. Just some…

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The Premise of When the Clock Broke in Gifs

I stole this idea from the awesome Cait Drews. I illustrate the premise of my novel with crazy gifs, for your amusement. 😉

 

Upper-class pacifist Phillip Costello and stubborn middle-class Aidelle Masters are getting married. In a month and a half, in fact.

Of course, as these things go, not everyone is happy about their union. After all, jealous socialite women (like Aphrodisya from my pitch slam entry) have spread rumours about Aidelle and tarnished the name of the Masters family.

Phillip’s own brother, Rion, is more concerned about the impending war against the Second Continent. When he vows to estrange Phillip from his share of the Costello inheritance unless he do the more noble thing and serve his continent, Phillip knows that, for Aidelle’s sake, he’s got to leave.

Much love for two consecutive Thomas gifs.

But Phillip, being the prejudiced and private man he is, won’t admit to her that he’s run out of money. To Aidelle, Phillip would simply rather go to war than marry her. He’s finally realised that the socialites have been right. And that makes her mad.

The last moment Aidelle remembers before sinking into her armchair in sobs is a slammed door, a broken engagement, and the crashing reverberation of the timepiece she chucked at her fiancé.

 

Aidelle wakes, bewildered, to the sound of a voice in her abandoned bedroom. The sky outside is still a crackling storm, flowers thrashed and soaked; the house hasn’t aged. When a strange girl introduces herself as someone from Aidelle’s future, Aidelle’s all:

There’s wittiness in choosing this gif. 😉 Also, both Belle and Snow from Once would make good adult versions of the mysterious girl, Zara.

But this strange girl gives Aidelle a reason to live again: trapped in a bubble of time poured from the timepiece, she has the chance to fix the clock here and rewind the moment of the argument. One more chance to convince Phillip to stay…this time without the hissy fit.

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Gratuitous Lucy Hale gif. The image reminds me how much she looks like Zara.

In his own time, Phillip’s not going to give up, either. He returns from war to the bombed ruin of his townhouse. Basically, he’s like:

But with Aidelle’s name rather than Gandalf’s, of course. The atmospheric background stands.

Rion doesn’t care. One remark and he’s back at their childhood mansion:

Regardless of his parents’ wishes he marry someone new, Phillip’s determined to seek out his former fiancée and return her to where she belongs beside him. However, with the help of a psychic teenager, he begins to realise that she might not exist in his own time anymore…

Even so, time’s not going to play fair.

Think the manners and etiquette of DOWNTON ABBEY crossed with the temporal paradoxes of DOCTOR WHO. We follow the dual perspective of Aidelle and Phillip, and occasionally peek into the minds of two other Costello brothers, whose futures the marriage of Aidelle and Phillip will change, too.

Rupert Everett ❤

WTCB September: Picture Post: Evolution of Time

(Because I’m not doing well on the Photo of the Week front lately; no inspiration.)

I think I’ve gone on enough about time in the previous posts I have tried to sort out how time flows in my novel and how exactly breaking/rewriting time works. Recently, however, when transferring my pictures from my old computer to my new laptop (more hassle than its worth, believe me), I came across a set of pictures too delicious not to share when talking about temporal science.

I came across this exhibition of the styles of clocks through the ages in the British Museum in 2011, and it only recently occurred to me that the people who live in The Continent will have experienced time and temporal measuring in a similarly evolutionary way to the way we have, discovering one step, or piece of the puzzle, at a time.

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Timepieces have taken many different forms as technology and fashion have changed…

Of course, as in our world, clocks started out big and bulky, and were only available to the richest. As the below picture shows, standing clocks were made of metal and – in my opinion, anyway – quite ugly. Imagine having this in your living room! It almost looks like an alien! 😛

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The table clock was one of the first portable and buyable clocks for households, away from the might of ancestral grandfather clocks and stonework sundials. Table clocks heralded in the days of personal timepieces, though still a century away from the handheld and wrist-worn watches that both Zara and Peter look after. (Unfortunately, I have no direct photos of pocketwatches for this post.)

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Generally, one table clock per house is the quota, as a table clock is an expensive piece. As the picture shows – and as the way is in The Continent – table clocks are elaborate and ornate, featuring gold and silver.

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(This one looks more like an astrological clock than anything else…)

Clocks moved to a combination of standing and table – a smaller standing clock with the prettiness of the table clock, but the practicality of the standing clock; it is easier to read at a distance, and, thus, less clocks were needed per household. Again, this suggests the downsizing of property and trend of having a clock to read at a suitable distance from one’s self.

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Carriage clock and its mechanism. Boo-yeah!

A carriage clock plays the biggest role in the novel. Who knows to whom the clock originally belonged? Phillip bought it with the house – but the transaction occurs beyond relevance; and, as selling occurs without a middle-man, Phillip will have bought the house from its buyer without much question of property within. At least, the third book might unlock some of those secrets. 😉

In The Continent, carriage clocks were invented as a way of reading the time on train journeys, where the motion made standing and table clocks unusable. The carriage clock’s distinguishing feature is, of course, its handle, but, as Aidelle notes, the exact clock in their home is only an imitation carriage clock (like the one I can see on top of the glass cabinet in my living room! 😉 ).

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Display about carriage clocks in the real universe.

The carriage clock is not the most modern of the clocks. Certainly, hanging clocks are a more modern invention. Aidelle has a wooden-based one in her old bedroom, and a metallic-like one hangs in the master bedroom. These are in Roman numerals, as the majority of numerals are in The Continent in 2010.

What kind of clocks do you have around? I’ve seen hanging clocks the most, but a trend still exists for keeping antiquated clocks. Which is your favourite of the replicas in the above pictures?

More on time and clocks:

Things I love: A fascination With Time

A Little Bit More About Time

Wibbly-Wobbly