When I say we, I mean 0.2% of the eligible voters that have selected our new Prime Minister. Boris Johnson, the man who openly lies, is racist, is an adulterer and the worst Minister in any government post ever (Chris Grayling runs him close) has been selected by 66.4% of his own party to lead the 5th biggest economy on the planet. That’s just 92,153 rich people (you only have to be over 15) voting him into power.
Now don’t get me wrong, on the one hand, and yes he’s not a good man, he is exactly the type of person I need in my story which was predicted a couple of years back when I said, online, “we shall elect a dangerous right-wing despot to sit alongside the other dangerous right-wing despots in America, Russia and other major states around the world”. But on the other hand, we will all have to suffer a little more because of it.
Leila’s journey to meet Finn and ultimately on to meet with her destiny requires people like Boris to create the circumstances from which humanity needs saving.
I’m excited. I shouldn’t be. I should be terrified (on your behalf). But I’ve work to do to weave this genuine nugget of unholy existence into the plot. Thank you, universe for dropping this nasty, and deceitful pawn into the game.
And, well done fate, well done insanity, well done stupid people and well done those of us that cannot see where this will end. I am about to show you your future and you won’t like it.
Storytelling is an art form that spans way back through the ages and has roots in travelling migrants looking for shelter and food for the night as they pass from camp to camp or village to village. The better the story, the greater the meal. And if they could tell more than one good story then they are usually invited to stay another night.
Stories were often topical and satirised events of the times, about things that were happening in faraway places. Myths and legends, heroes and villains, stories were the storyteller’s version of their truths and experiences gathered together in a tale built up over a lifetime of adventures.
I can recall many great stories and they all have a few things in common.
All stories start with an invitation or a promise…”once upon a time” or “in a faraway land”. It invites the reader to step out of where they are and journey with the storyteller to a new place, a place where they can participate in the adventure.
ALWAYS give the reader or audience of your story a 2 + 2 scene and never a 2 + 2 = 4 solution. Readers want to work for their meal, they want to fill in the blanks with their own beliefs and experiences, their own values and thoughts. The reader wants to work stuff out for themselves.
To create drama, show people what is around them, show them the scenes, events or conflicts by creating imagery, show them by drafting tension into the plot without giving away that source of tension. Create anticipation, build uncertainty. Drama is itself an unsettling and unnerving journey away from the normal.
Each character should have the capacity to transform from one state to another. From likeable to unlikeable or the other way around. The character should have a central spine that the reader can identify and react to. They never experienced love, they were mean or unkind, they suffered abuse or have character flaws. Their journey throughout the story will let you see them in a different light. It will provide a chance for redemption or an opportunity to change how you feel about them. Each character should have an inner driver that the reader gets and can see how this affects their journey through the story. This happens when the character themselves recognise it, own it and seek to rectify or change it.
Our characters aren’t really real but the writer must force us to create real feelings for them. A writer must know every detail about their character before they start to write about them. The writer must live with the character in both head and heart. You would feel their presence even if you were in a darkened room with them.
But by far the most important part of any story is how it invokes wonder. Wonder is the magic that will live with the reader forever. Wonder is the single most powerful response to the events as they unfold. Wonder is the DNA of the book and the thing that will bring it to life. Un-put-down-able books are full of wonder.
Wonder is the place hidden between truth and lies. It’s a magical portal that punches holes in our mental walls. It’s the secret doorway that opens up, a little at a time, to let the story out into the world.
As the writer, I will use all of these techniques, I will present all of these elements and I will weave them through and around each character as they navigate the plot. By letting the reader fill in their own blanks, I won’t cloud or restrict them by limiting what they imagine. As an author, I write using my own experiences, my values, my prejudices and my beliefs. All of these things I will pass on to the reader at a cellular level (if I get it right). I will put forward my premise in a plot that is mine. My gift will be to present a piece of work that engages the reader and liberates them to participate rather than just observe.
Today I found myself in a coffee shop drinking cappuccino. I had taken with me my notebook and a fountain pen. The nib of my pen scratched away at the page and some lines didn’t have any ink in them but the words formed and the thoughts flowed.
I have a plan now. The main themes are scribbled on one page, the character plots on another and the story timeline is mapped onto a third.
Tomorrow I start to type up the first draft of the story. The story without dialogue. The story without any character development. The story in its most basic form, just to see whether it stands up on its own.
My aim is to complete the first draft of the story by the end of October, just 15 short weeks away.
The draft will have around 25,000 – 35,000 words.
I don’t have a word count target for the final completed draft in mind but instinctively it feels like 65,000 words.
My target to finish the book is August 2020…
65,000 words in 410 days = 160 words per day. 1,100 per week. 5,000 per month.
Around the time of the Wall Street crash of 1929, Scientists and Engineers at Columbia University, USA, decided that the system of Capitalism and Free Enterprise based on the gold standard and designed by financiers and bankers was fatally flawed and was probably responsible for the economic crash that affected everyone and everything.
Scientists buoyed by the earlier claims of Henri de Saint Simon (1760-1825) thought that their thinking was far superior to any other being so they teamed up with eminent engineers and formed a system of technocracy to run economics.
To cut a long but interesting story short, technocracy took over and is used to run every transaction known to man where money and assets are involved. Technocracy is the link between human engagement and finance. A credit card or bank account, for example.
The bankers and financiers weren’t done though. They were the ones that saw an opportunity for globalisation and human interaction everywhere. They just needed technology to catch up. The profits were of a scale beyond any normal person’s comprehension.
On 12 March 1989, the Internet was born.
The Internet was like the wild west, a new frontier, nothing was regulated and it spawned the ‘everything now’ culture. There were no boundaries. There were no rules. The only constraint? Technology itself. Dial-up became high speed. Copper became fibre. Processors went from Kilobytes to Terabytes. Inbound devices became outbound servers.
The Internet of things, a system of connecting absolutely everything to everything, was now a possibility. Far-sighted strategists started to put the Technocracy building blocks in place. The enablers were high-speed broadband, powerful handheld processors and facial recognition.
China in 2019 has more than 600 million FR cameras installed and you can now walk into a shop or food outlet and pay using your face. You are captured upon entry and connected to your payment cards.
And for your continued peace of mind, safety and wellbeing, the authorities claim to be able to find you and get people to you (no matter where you are), in less than 8 minutes.
To really make the best use of this new technology, all we need to do is have inserts placed within us to connect to everything around us. Use AI to educate and guide us. Chips to monitor and inform us and 5G to enable these ‘always on’ enhancements to improve our quality of life.
The benefits are endless. The opportunities are of a magnitude that we cannot yet understand. Technology can even make predictions based on our habits and suggestions formed from our thoughts.
1:28 am I sat bolt upright in bed, chest tight and heart pounding. It was still living within me, eating at me, gnawing at my soul. Still asleep I got out of bed and went to my desk. The pen in my hand felt odd, light, it wasn’t there. The paper before me was luminous and surreal in the near darkness. I knew it was there but couldn’t see it in the dark. I started to write, to flow, to allow it to spill onto the paper. I didn’t know what I was writing, I just wrote (the words are in bold).
“The body feels constricted but this feeling mocks you as it only shows that you are still alive. You want to die.”
The feeling of being in another place, out of body and mind. But knowing that it’s still a feeling and it only serves to remind you that you are still alive but on a journey towards death.
“Scared…before the end, knowing it was the end felt helpless. Defined and void of all external thought. Stuck in a situation by roads, people you love leaving; the clawing loss and the void they leave. The point at which being dead would feel better than this living emptiness”
The feeling of fear eating away at your very soul as you are left behind by loved ones. Their leaving feels like your soul is departing with them. You are left empty and hopeless.
“A grief in the chest, heavy with dread. Others confused but not knowing what was happening. Mind fighting to stay in the game. The heart pounding and tight in the chest. It’s like the end of oxygen, breathing is difficult because there doesn’t seem any point.”
Odd ghostlike figures drifted through my dream without meaning or reference. Superfluous and irrelevant beings but for their presence confirming that I was still there.
“It’s as though the body is closing down and the mind fighting desperately to wake up, but you are awake. Empty, crushed, grief of losing what was. It will never be the same. No comfort or sense that you can take a step or move from this loss. Deep clawing pit of despair. Empty worthlessness. No hope or any sense that the limbs will function. Deepest depression where each thought is just something that comes in to interrupt the hopelessness and loss.”
I tried to capture the sense of feeling as I struggled to write what I was feeling in this half sleep.
“Each view after a blink is hated and feared because I can see I’m still in the nightmare that I want to end. Angry I’m still here participating in the end of everything when all that I want is the end of everything.”
A sense that I feared the end but wanted the end to come. I wanted the nightmare of existence in this (dream) world to finish and for me to wake up to everything being ok again.
The pains in my chest stronger and more paralysing with each futile breath. I move to another room (in the dream) hoping to find something but it’s as empty as the others. The rooms are my heart, it is empty and I want to die.”
The pain I felt as I wrote were pains of crushing loss and debilitating grief.
I went back to bed and immediately resumed my sleep. Waking this morning to a lovely day full of hope and promises. I’d forgotten about my dream. I’m glad I wrote it down.