Tag Archives: chaos mage

Breaking all the rules

I’m currently working on my 7th novel (since being published – not including all the trunk novels) and something weird has happened. I’m breaking some of my own rules.

You have to write every day. You have to plan every book. You must not plan the story, let it flow organically. You need to set a daily word count. You should write to music. You should write in silence. Write in different places. Don’t have a set routine, be organic. Write in public. You absolutely have to get scrivener (or another program) in order to write. Use cards on a white board and plan stuff that way.

There is not one way to write a book. I need to make that clear because the most common questions I’m asked by writers trying to get an agent and then get published are focused on the above. Do I have to write a 100o words a day? Is it better to write in the morning or afternoon? Should I write with music? Should I work on more than one book at once?

Find your own way. Find what works for you. My way might not work for you. I’ve included a few conflicting statements above as I know some people who plan and some who write organically. Some who write in silence, some who need music. The following in my approach. It may not work for anyone else except me.

I always write at home, on Word, and nothing else. I plan my books, start, middle, end and milestones. The creative part comes in the leaps between milestones. I make notes in a notebook, on post it notes, on my phone, on scraps of paper, then write them up, and collect them together. I plan my stories. I always write with soundtrack music and can’t write with any music that has lyrics. I tend to write most days but am not rigid about taking a day off and I tend to set a daily word count for myself as I have deadlines. The word count keeps me moving, keeps me motivated and I constantly have one eye on the calendar. All of those are my rules and that’s what works for me. The music and being at home helps get my brain into a familiar space and off I go, sort of like muscle memory.

For my 7th novel, I’ve broken quite a few of my own rules. I found out when I started I couldn’t write with any kind of music. Nothing was working, which at first had me worried. So one day, after I’d revised my notes so many times I knew I had to actually write something I just tried it without any music. And suddenly it worked. The words started flowing. I had a new rhythm. I didn’t care why it was working only that it was working, so I continued. Months later I’m still writing this book without any music.

I’m tweaking my chapters. I never do this. When I sit down to write, I look back at what I’ve done on the previous day, I might tinker with the last paragraph or two, if it’s mid-chapter, or just glance at it if I am starting a new chapter. Then I move forward. Always forward so I finish a first draft and don’t get stuck in the endless cycle of trying to make it ‘perfect’. A first draft is never perfect. It’s always a mess. As Terry Pratchett said ‘A first draft is just you telling yourself the story’ and I absolutely believe that. The reworking comes later to make it flow and make it into more cohesive whole.

But this time I’m…tweaking things. Not to the point where I’m frozen and stop, but overnight, or when I’m away from the keyboard, I’m running conversations or bits of the previous day in my head, then I rush back and fix it that day, or first thing the next day. I’m still making good progress but this is very new and different. It might be because it is set in a new world, and I am still discovering it and the characters, but I also think it’s partially because this is a new style for me.

No music and polishing as I go. The first draft is still going to be rough, no doubt, but I’m happy with it so far. Ask me again in 6 months when I start to revise it and I will have a different answer, but it’s good to feel that way right now. I’m still planning and I have a skeleton plot which I’m following. I still set daily word counts and I still take a day off when I feel like it, especially if I’m tired or the well is getting a bit dry. A rest and complete break really can help me recharge the batteries.

So, somehow this time, it’s all new and different and fresh, despite it being my fifteen or sixteenth novel. I’ve honestly lost count at this point. But the important thing is it’s working and I will finish this first draft as planned. Stop worrying about how other people do it. Find what works for you and just finish the book.

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Chaosmage Giveaway

Chaosmage Stephen AryanTo celebrate the forthcoming release of Mageborn, book 1 in the new Age of Dread trilogy which starts in October, I’m doing a Goodreads giveaway of Chaosmage.

Win 1 of 5 signed copies of Chaosmage, posted free, worldwide.

All you need to do is be a member of Goodreads (which is free to join) and enter the Mageborn by Stephen Aryangiveaway. That’s it.

Quick reminder, Chaosmage is the THIRD book in the first trilogy (The Age of Darkness). Once you’ve read it and the first two books, you’ll be all up to date in time for Mageborn, October 3-5th depending on where you are in the world.

Enter the Goodreads Giveaway here

Pre-order Mageborn here on Amazon UK, Waterstones, Amazon USA

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October news round up

The Age of Darkness

My first series with Orbit, the Age of Darkness, is now at an end. This first trilogy was many years in the making but for you lucky readers, it only took 13 months to come out (September 2015, April 2016 and now October 2016). So all three books are now out there. If you were waiting until the trilogy was done before dipping your toe in, then get stuck in now.

Interviews

I’ve recently done a couple of events to promote Chaosmage and the trilogy as a whole, including some blog posts and interviews. The first of which is with DJ over on his book blog where I talk about my influences for the series, give some general info on characters, the overall themes and the world. It’s a good introduction to the series and there are no spoilers.

I was also recently a guest on the I Should Be Writing podcast, with Mur Lafferty, so keep an eye out for my episode which will be coming up in a couple of weeks time, either on the website or via iTunes.

I also wrote an article for Sci Fi Bulletin which you can read here about Fantasy being an Umbrella, which makes complete sense, right?

The Age of Dread

The big news I’ve been sitting on for months is now out of the bag. I’m delighted to announce that Orbit books have signed me up for a new fantasy trilogy, called the Age of Dread. This series follows on from the previous one, and it is set in the same world a few years after the events of Chaosmage. I can’t say too much about the book, but I can reveal that this trilogy will be more closely tied together than the Age of Darkness.

So we will follow the same characters through the series and it is one massive sprawling story. I’m currently hard at work, in the home stretch in fact, of the first draft of book 1 and am currently a little ahead of my deadline, for the moment! The first book, currently called Seeds of Destruction (although this might change), will be published in October 2017, which seems like a long way off, but from this side of the table, it’s not. With that in mind, I have lots of writing to do before then, so I better get on with it.

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