Experiencing Exposition

Well, it’s been a while! It felt like time to dust of the blog and get stuck in once more. I’d like to say that since I last posted here I have completed a major project and be on my way to getting it published. Unfortunately, not so. However, it’s not been fruitless. I’ve written a few short stories (some of which are you can find posted on here under the nattily named category ‘Short Stories’) and plodded along patiently with drafting my novel and am constantly reassured of how much I still love writing.

‘Hoodwin’, the original novel I was writing, has been shelved for now. I hope I will return to it one day as I grew attached to it and I think it has potential, but it didn’t feel like it was going anywhere. To be brutally honest with myself, which you have to be, it wasn’t the sort of thing I usually enjoy reading, let alone writing. And if your’e not enjoying your project, there’s no way a reader will. I’m giving it up to the power of the shelf, to return to at some future date when it may stir inspiration in me again.

For some time now I have been working on a new project. It’s lighter in heart and wider in scope and has let me return to my genre of preference: fantasy. I can’t help it, it draws me helplessly to it. I love the flight of fancy, the other worlds, the impossible. I always thought, and was even told, that I would grow out of it. But not so.

The new book is coming in fits and starts but, no title as yet and is still in the bear-bones sort of stage. But, as is so often the case, the re-reading of some of my favourite novels has spurred me on again. I have to hand it yet again to the talents of Melissa Scott and List Barnett and their novels Point of Hopes and Point of Dreams. If you are a fan of fantasy, and maybe even if you aren’t, you need to check these out. They are relatively unknown as far as I can tell, but the richness and texture of the settings of these book is mind-swimmingly inviting. Set these wonderfully-realised backdrops against the simple, intriguing story lines and engaging characters and I don’t think you can help being won over.

Even if you don’t usually like fantasy, I would recommend reading them as a writer with an interest in your craft,  just to experience the effortless exposition. Exposition, for me, when done well, is not unlike listening to music on a decent sound system. When the method of delivery is not up to scratch you can tell the music is coming out of speakers, just like with clunky exposition and you see the writer behind the words, desperate to make you understand. You don’t want that. You just want to glide effortlessly in, be one with the music, have no barriers between you and the experience. Sometimes you may think it is unavoidable  and if you’ve won a reader over, they will put up with a certain amount, but the ideal kind of exposition is that which you don’t even realise is there.

It’s the difference between closing your eyes and being at one with the music and, well…trying to listen to your favourite song through cheap headphones.

This is something I hope to take from Point of Hopes and Point of Dreams. If I can unfold my settings, characters and story lines in half so effortless a way as these writers did, then I will consider it an achievement.

I have since found that Melissa Scott has since released a third instalment in the series, Point of Knives, which I am currently happily enthralled in. There is definitely a different flavour than to the first two, a slightly different voice, but it is still more of a good thing and I don’t want it to end.

Next stage for my own project  is a writer’s retreat this weekend. I aim to motor on through the first draft of my fantasy novel in hopes of getting it to the point where I can being to polish it and bring it up to a standard I would want to read myself. Always tricky! But the journey’s half the fun, yes?

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