Author: Sadir S Samir

Editing Update 1#

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Plot-wise the first draft is complete. My four POV (point of view) characters all have a beginning, a middle and an end, completing the arcs I had planned out for them in the first book of my series. There’s a climax that wraps up things neatly and hints what’s to come in the second book.

However, as I read it through, I felt there were things missing. Things I want the reader to have learned about from reading the first book. Currently I think I have a tight plot for the first book, but I want to introduce other elements of the main story that isn’t there right now, to give the reader the same feeling of wonder as I mentioned above. Things that will play a bigger part in later books, but that can build an interest from the start. I want to give the readers a glimpse of what’s to come and establish the other conflicts that exists in the world. To do this I have decided to add another POV character, and also add some additional scenes in the book, both for foreshadowing purposes but also for more depth in the story. This will roughly bring the word-count up to around 140 000, which is still kinda decent for an epic fantasy, I think.

To give a few examples of what I mean, let’s look at A Game of Thrones, the first book in A Song of Ice and Fire.

The prologue for instance, is one of my all-time favorites in the genre.
It promises the reader that there are unnatural threats in the world George R.R. Martin has created, but as you read on, you understand that’s not the focus of the first book; the threats are just there, building and building, creating a sense of tension.

In A Song of Fire and Ice we also have Jon Snow who is a POV character dedicated to give the reader an understanding of what goes on beyond the Wall. He is not a part of the main plot which focuses on King’s Landing and the Iron Throne, but as a reader you begin to understand that the real threat to Westeros are the Others who are about to make their move against all of mankind. This is something we can only learn about when we follow Jon’s story, making this POV vital.

Then we have Daenerys Targaryen who is on a different continent, letting the reader follow her personal growth into a powerful contender for the Iron Throne. You anticipate that when the time is right, she’s going to release mayhem on Westeros and claim what is hers.

These examples above are just taken from the top of my head, and something to highlight  what I love about the epic fantasy genre. The scale of the world, the vast cast of characters and the world-altering events that will take place.

Where do you get your ideas?

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There is no definitive answer to this question, but lately I have started to think more about this particular conundrum myself. As some of you know, I finished the first draft of my novel about a week ago, and one advice I’ve heard repeatedly from other authors, is that you should always let the script rest for some time. Try and forget about it and get some distance, so you can tackle it with a set of fresh eyes when the time for editing begins.

In my case, I often find that a story comes to me in the shape of a first line – the absolute first thing that hits the reader when opening up a book. I’m talking about what is commonly known as the “hook”.

This can happen anytime, anywhere really. Right before I fall asleep, or while commuting on the train on my way to work. One factor that seems to be consistent, is the fact that it mostly happens when I have no other real distractions; no video games, no series, no TV. Music is fine, because in my case it actually awakes my imagination and gets the brain working.

When a story idea hits me, I quickly scribble it down on my phone or in a small notepad I carry in my jacket. (Always wearing a notepad and a pencil is a must.) But sometimes I hesitate, and don’t fully accept the idea right away. When that’s the case, I don’t write it down. I believe that if it’s really a good idea, it will come back to me again, not leaving me alone. If not: then it probably wasn’t worth my time.

I think every story has bits and pieces of the author in it. We have all experienced different things that has shaped who we are, and even though it might be hard to pinpoint exactly what part of an author’s life actually translates to the words on the page, the text is still imbued with who the author is as a person.

As I suggested earlier, there is no definite answer to this question. There is most likely as many different answers to this question, as there are writers. In my case, I have always made things up. I find this world boring, so I make shit up that excites me, and can hopefully excite others.

That’s who I am. I make up stuff out of my head.

 

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The First Draft Is Done!

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I fucking did it. I set out to write a novel and I achieved that goal. Whatever happens next, I have proven to myself that I can do this!

The first draft was completed in the early hours of the morning and lands at roughly 121 000 words. To give you all some sense of length, I’ll compare my word count with a few other books:

The Hobbit-95,022
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban-106,821
A Game of Thrones-284,000

Now it’s time for some real-talk.

Writing this novel is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but at the same time nothing has ever made me as happy as when I have been working on it.

Confusing, right?

Some days really sucked and I questioned what the hell I was doing, while other days it was nothing but pure joy. Something that helped me tremendously during this process was the support in the writing community. I truly find it amazing that so many authors are willing to share their experiences for aspiring writers like myself. Reading that authors like Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin and others still struggle to this day, made me realize it was normal. It’s not only them, most authors I have talked to say the same thing: writing is fucking hard but you just have to push through.

So what happens now?

I’ll let the script rest for a while, so I can get some distance from it before it’s time to revise. I have hundreds of notes that I scribbled down of things I want to change/add/fix.
I want to make sure the story is where I want it to be before I start sharing it with the beta-readers.

Before the editing begins, I’ll take a break from the novel and work on a short story I have in my head. I also want to catch up on some tv-shows, games and movies that I have missed, either that or I’ll just sleep for a while.

Today is a great day 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going After Your Dreams

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The road to get where I’m today has not been a straight line. The only constant factor in my life is that I’ve always wanted to work with writing in some capacity.

Oh, yes, I had a short stint where I wanted to be an actor, which made me study theater for four years in high school. That’s definitely behind me now.

Anyhow, after high school I studied film & TV-production (with a focus on script writing) for a year. Afterwards, I felt kind of sick of theater and television, and a big reason for this was video games. Video games felt so fresh and explosive compared to the movie and TV industry.

I have been a gamer my whole life, but it wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I realized working with games was a possibility. For some reason, that never crossed my mind all those hours playing in front of the TV.
I remember having a discussion with my older brother  about my future, when he asked:  “what about games? You always play video games. Can’t you study something so you can be one of those people actually making games?”

I started studying game design at Future Games Academy in 2009, and I’ve been working professionally in the gaming industry since 2011, mainly as a producer/project manager. But when I started out I had a different goal, which was to make up worlds and write stories for games. During my studies I quickly learnt that the chances of that happening was minimal. The writers in the industry (the ones I know) didn’t have any kind of eduction, and it was mostly about being at the right place at the right time.

But here we are now, seven years later, at the start of 2016, and it is with immense happiness that I can officially share my new title of Writer at Starbreeze Studios! My focus will be on the story and characters of PAYDAY 2, and I will give it my all in creating cool and new experiences for all our players around the world!

I have always hated the word ‘impossible’, and have always believed that if you set your mind on something and give it your all, the universe will find ways to back you up. One dream fulfilled, now we go after that book contract 😉

Just Do It  (click it)

 

Sadir’s the Shining

The morning on the 24th of December (Christmas Eve in Sweden) my girlfriend surprised me with the best gift ever. She had booked and paid for me to go on a six day “writing trip” all by myself – seriously: how lucky am I? So after spending Christmas Eve with my family, I left on the 25th to travel to a hotel where I would spend the coming six days.

The room was tiny but great.
A bed, desk and a TV.
That was all I needed to be as productive as possible.

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I bought some “food” that I could have in the room, so I didn’t have to go out and eat, and that was maybe ambitious (or crazy) but the truth is: that was a big mistake.
I got a lot of writing done in the first two days, but by the third day, I didn’t feel that great. To only eat cold stuff and not any real (or warm) food, fucked me up. I felt dizzy and my favorite friend saw a chance to come and visit, the one and only: Mr. Migraine. So after two days, I forced myself to leave the room and get some air and real food. That helped a lot, but did not solve things for the remaining days.

The problem was that I had no fridge in the room, and there weren’t any restaurants close to the hotel. I had to continue with what I was doing, even though I didn’t feel very good from it. The priority was writing and nothing else.

Between the writing sessions, I only had two choices of entertainment, and that was watching TV or reading books or comics.
I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t watch TV. I haven’t done that in like seven years. Everything I want to watch I stream or “borrow” from the interweb. Watching TV sucked, but the good thing was that I tired from it fast, making me go up and continue writing (did not allow myself to use Netflix).

I think it was on the fourth day, that Stanley Kubrick’s the Shining was on the TV. It felt really weird watching it as I was feeling kind of dizzy and tired from all the writing and I could only laugh at the bizarre coincidence. For those that have seen the movie (more the movie than the book) you know what I’m talking about.

During my stay at the hotel I managed to produce right over 31 000 words, which feels amazing.

I will give myself two weeks two finish up my first draft, and after that Phase Two will begin. I’ll share the details of that in another post.

Final thought: the trip was definitely a success and I would happily do it again, but for next time I need to sort out the food logistics and have a better sleeping structure.

Music & Writing: Part 2

I want to start things off with thanking Michael R. Fletcher for his guest-post last week! It was an honor having one of my favorite authors appear on my little blog and I hope I get to do similar things with other authors in the future.

So, for you that missed it (https://thereisnomuse.com/2015/11/25/michael-r-fletcher-guest-post/), Michael talked about music and writing in his post, and I will continue on the same subject today. A funny side note is that Iron Maiden will be mentioned by me as well.

Before I go any further, I have a confession to make: I almost exclusively listen to what is considered “epic” music. I have a playlist called EPIC/EMOTIONAL  on Spotify, with just about 1100 songs (https://open.spotify.com/user/sadirsamir/playlist/1mjGNelark9CF7thITvNXU). You might think that this is weird, and I don’t blame you if you do. I often find myself thinking “what would people say if they knew what was playing in my headphones right now” while commuting on the train every day.

I have found that my imagination is deeply connected to this sort of music, and while I listen to it, my mind shuts everything else out. It’s like a portal that takes me straight to Al Alem (the world in my novel), and images begin to flash before my eyes. I have one track, that I can’t reveal unfortunately, that is the main theme for one of my characters. When I listened to it, everything fell into place. It was hearing that song, that I knew what destiny awaited this particular character.

I have mentioned this earlier, but one thing that I really love, is getting those goose bumps when experiencing something really awesome. The trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a perfect example of this. Every time I watch the footage on my screen, the same result happens: excitement, happiness, and so on. The music in the trailer plays a HUGE part in achieving this feeling.

Very rarely, I can get affected by lyrics in a song. I remember a few years back (when I was on the train), listening to Iron Maiden, when the song “The Wicker Man” came on. During the duration of that track, a character was born in my head. This character plays a big part in my novel I’m writing today.

When I’m writing a specific scene, I try and find a song that fits that scene specifically. This can take some time to find, but when I do, it’s amazing. I make that track go on repeat until I finish the scene. A recent example of this is the song “A Lannister Always Pays His Debts” from the season 3 soundtrack for Game of Thrones.

If anyone is curious, I mostly listen to rock, metal or electric music when  I find my brain too tired from thinking.         

Michael R. Fletcher Guest Post!

Michael R. Fletcher is the excellent author (and crazy mind) behind the book ‘Beyond Redemption’, and today I am delighted in having him do a guest post on my blog!  I read Beyond Redemption when it came out earlier this year, and it immediately  became one of my favorite novels in the dark fantasy genre.

I am currently planning a blog post on music and writing, so we thought it would be fun if we did a two-part thing out of it. Michael will kick us off with his thoughts today, and I’ll do my post tomorrow.

Enjoy!

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MUSIC AND WRITING

Many authors listen to music while writing. Some choose music based on mood—effectively matching the song to whatever scene they’re working on at the time—while others simply choose something in their favorite genre. Some listen to classical or instrumental music to avoid the distraction of lyrics; thinking up words while listening to other words can be difficult.

None of this is true in my case. Or at least not completely.

I write in a cocoon. The blinds are drawn and the office door closed. I do everything in my power to turn off the outside world. That world, however, tends to regard my plans and efforts as a challenge. The neighborhood children run amok, screaming at the top of their lungs. The trash collectors dawdle down the street at a deafening crawl. For some reason the guy across the street has one of those vans that beeps when it’s in reverse, and it takes him fifteen minutes to back into his driveway every single day. Sometimes twice. And somehow, in suburbia, there is always someone cutting their lawn. Do you people not have jobs!

I am at war with reality. And if you’ve read Beyond Redemption, this will make some sense.

I freely confess I have been an unrepentant metalhead since I turned twelve. Damn that was a long time ago. Like many fans of metal my tastes have grown ever heavier. Where I listened to Iron Maiden in high-school, Metallica in university, and Pantera afterwards, I now mostly listen to death metal. These days I tend to reach for Sylosis, Hypocrisy, and Cattle Decapitation rather than turning to something a little mellower. When I found myself getting annoyed at the outside world for intruding on my fantasy, it’s no surprise I turned to music to help. But like many authors I find hearing words distracting while I’m writing.

Incoherent rage to the rescue.

Death metal is perfect writing music for exactly the same reason so many people don’t like it: Most of the time you have no fucking idea what they’re saying.

I’m going to back up a moment to help paint the picture. Between the years of 1997 and 2012 I worked as an audio-engineer. I did Front-of-House live sound for over ten thousand bands and recorded a fair number of albums for assorted Toronto acts no one has ever heard of. When I left the music biz I sold off the vast majority of my gear, but what remains has found it’s way into several home entertainment systems. There isn’t a stereo in the house that doesn’t have a sub-woofer. The system in my office is comprised of all the ‘ugly’ gear, that stuff my wife doesn’t want in the rest of the house. Luckily for me, the ugly gear also happens to be the best sounding. Off to my left is an old NAD amplifier from the mid-eighties. At either corner of my six-foot long desk are my old Tannoy studio monitors. Under the desk—taking up room I really would kinda like for my legs—is a Yorkville studio sub-woofer meant to fill a much bigger space with crushing bass. When I crank this system up things shake. Downstairs, in the kitchen, plates and glassware rattle when I turn it up.

So there I am, writing Beyond Redemption, surrounded by a decently powerful sound-system, trying to insulate myself from reality. It first clicked when I turned on Hypocricy’s album, Virus. I spun up the volume knob until the outside world disappeared. I sat there, cocooned in rage (Let the Knife do the Talking) and writing a very dark and violent scene. The outside world ceased t exist. Reality no longer impinged on my fantasy. From that day on I wrote wrapped in metal. Most of the music I write to has lyrics so screamed and or distorted as to be incomprehensible if you aren’t paying close attention. For me, it’s perfect.

And then I finished writing and began the editing process. It turns out I must edit in silence.

So, while I’m writing my books the neighbors can yell at me, and while I’m editing I’ll yell at them. Seems a fair trade.

How does it work for you? Do you listen to music while you write, or must you have silence?

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About Michael R. Fletcher

Michael R. Fletcher is a science fiction and fantasy author. His novel, Beyond Redemption, a work of dark fantasy and rampant delusion, was published by HARPER Voyager in 2015.

His début novel, 88, a cyberpunk tale about harvesting children for their brains, was released by Five Rivers Publishing in 2013.

The next two Manifest Delusions novels, The Mirror’s Truth, and The All Consuming, are currently in various stages of editing while Michael tries to be the best husband and dad he can be.

Michael is represented by Cameron McClure of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

About Beyond Redemption:

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Faith shapes the landscape, defines the laws of physics, and makes a mockery of truth. Common knowledge isn’t an axiom, it’s a force of nature. What the masses believe is. But insanity is a weapon, conviction a shield. Delusions give birth to foul new gods.

Violent and dark, the world is filled with the Geisteskranken—men and women whose delusions manifest, twisting reality. High Priest Konig seeks to create order from chaos. He defines the beliefs of his followers, leading their faith to one end: a young boy, Morgen, must Ascend to become a god. A god they can control.

But there are many who would see this would-be-god in their thrall, including the High Priest’s own Doppels, and a Slaver no one can resist. Three reprobates—The Greatest Swordsman in the World, a murderous Kleptic, and possibly the only sane man left—have their own nefarious plans for the young god.

As these forces converge on the boy, there’s one more obstacle: time is running out. When one’s delusions become more powerful, they become harder to control. The fate of the Geisteskranken is to inevitably find oneself in the Afterdeath. The question, then, is:

Who will rule there?

Update Time!

Hey crazy people!

The blog have been way to quiet these last couple of weeks, so I thought I would give an update on what’s going on.

Me and my girlfriend have finally moved to our new apartment, which has drained a lot of energy, but more importantly, taken a lot of time, that would otherwise have been spent on my own writing and updating the blog.

I have a tendency to beat myself up over having excuses like this, but I just have to take it this time. This move has been the number one priority, and that is fine! That is “life” getting in the way, which will always happen from time to time.

This does not mean I haven’t been writing. I have produced around 10 000 words in the midst of the moving chaos, but that is a lot less then I would have wished for. Anyhow, nothing to do about that, but to go forward!

So where do I stand right now with the novel?

At about 65 000 words, which is just about halfway according to my outline. I’m a producer/project manager by day, so it didn’t surprise me at all when I realized I’m a hardcore planner. The goal right now, is to have a first draft (around 120 000 words) done before this year ends.

So what is happening at Starbreeze and the world of game development?

Very exciting things, I tell you!

2 weeks ago we released a comic book inspired trailer, and to my delight, I was trusted to be the creative voice for this particular cinematic. I got to write the script, and also direct the whole thing. It was super fun, and I hope to be able to work more with the different cinematics we produce. Check it out here, and let me know what you think: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXkX1QHl_KE

AND

Once a year at Starbreeze (during the month of Payday’s first release date), we launch this event called “Crimefest”. Breaking it down, it means we release eleven free updates for Payday 2, under the course of eleven days. For anyone in the gaming industry reading this: you know how crazy this is 😉

We kicked off this event September 28th by launching a website called “Road to Crimefest”. Go ahead and check it out: http://www.overkillsoftware.com/games/roadtocrimefest/  

Road to Crimefest is a way to get the whole Payday 2 community together. By beating different challenges the community unlocks free content for everyone! As far as I know, this is a unique thing for a game studio to do, and it’s a very cool thing to be a part of. The real event, however, kicks off on the 15th of October and runs until the 24th. That is when the community learns what things they have unlocked.

That period usually means a lot of overtime, which means my writing will take a bit of a beating, but as I said at the start of this post: that is “life”, and it’s okay. I just need to remind myself of that, because I do forget 😉

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And finally, this is the latest addition to the family in our home. Everyone say welcome to Owl-Master!

The Surprises Of Writing

I just finished a scene, where one of my characters created a demon/monster sidekick.
One that does not talk and they are completely alone in the desert.

This was not in my outline.

Having an outline, (for me) basically means I have the whole book written down in chapters, with a brief explanation of what is supposed to happen. This is a separate document, and in my case, it’s around 15 000 words.

When I began to write, I just wrote without thinking anything ahead. That did not work for me. I got lost.

Since I began outlining, the writing got much easier and felt more focused. I know where I’m going with each scene, and what will follow. Sometimes I make changes, of course, as nothing is written in stone. I realize I need an additional scene here, or I need to remove that scene there, and so on.

The demon/monster sidekick? I did not see that one coming at all. Of course, the character in question has always had the tools to do such a thing, but he had never done it before (not in his backstory and not so far in the novel), and he was never supposed to either.

But in his defense: it was an accident.

Trying to write dialogue or any kind of interaction with a thing that does not speak, is not easy, I noticed. I have to rely on head movement and body language as only means to display emotions. That’s all I have to work with. I don’t want the demon/monster to speak, cause, come on, that would be weird. 

Now I have to return my character and his pet-demon. Do they have other plans I don’t know about? Only one way to find out.

The Legendary Midway Slump

So I have heard and read that many authors hit a mid-way slump when working on their novels.

Feelings of doubt start to hit, and questions like: “Is this shit?” and “Will people enjoy this?” begin to pop up.

I have to be honest and say that I did not think that would happen to me. I have been hitting my 1000 word goal like a machine for the last two months. But two weeks ago I became sick with the flu, and since, my writing has suffered.

With each passing day of not writing, I began to blame myself a little by little. Especially when my personal motto is: ass in chair & no excuses.

BUT

This period of self-pity end tonight, I tell you!

I will bloody write at least 1000 words before bedtime, and I don’t care how shitty the words come out (thank the heavens for editing).

So, I guess I have to tell myself that it’s okay to feel this way. No one ever said writing a novel was something easy, and I have to come to terms with the fact that this little bump will only be one of many.

Keep Going