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Home (Friday Fictioneers)

This has been my home for a while now. I sleep in the pile of ratty blankets over there. It’s okay, they don’t smell too bad. I eat over here where I can peer out of the window. The glass is stained with dust, but I can see through the smears to the empty street below. It’s quiet too. I like it. It’s home.

The slightest noise draws my head up. I search for the cause. There. A hunched, limping figure. I watch him move past until he is gone. I don’t call out.

Dinner time. I like the quiet.



This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

Word count: 100


© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

First Draft: My writing journey part three

Pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. However you write, the message of this post is just to write.

I am not sure what else there is to say.

You can be a plotter or a pantser (I land somewhere in the middle), but if you want to get that first book, third book or twentieth book written you just have to sit down and GET IT DONE.

Personally… and I can only speak from experience… so take from it what you will, but personally, I start with a basic outline to get a general feel for where I am going. This might take a few days or a few weeks or might spring fully formed into my head after a dream or a conversations with friends. Either way, I generally know what is going to happen in each chapter… (I say generally because the goal posts will move as a write, they might swap ends of the field or turn into a swimming pool or a running track but I try to keep the end in sight). So I have a general idea how many chapters I will have.

Then I guess-timate how long I want each chapter to be… (In my handwriting on an A4 size note page I usually aim for 8-10 pages – or 1500-2000 words-ish)

So there is my basic math breakdown…

I work full time – so I find it a little hard to secure writing time. I write my first drafts by hand (I find this works for me). I aim for my train trip into work (about an hour), my lunch break (40 mins or so), and my train trip home. So – maybe about a chapter every two days? (Weekends are a little different. Depends on what is planned and how available I am). If I can get 1-2 chapters written per week I am pretty happy with my progress.

Weirdly I tend to flat line / stall around the 20k mark. It’s happened with each of my four manuscripts. When I stall, I find I move onto editing something else – a previous manuscript maybe, or I write something new – maybe a few short stories. I even start plotting out something new. I don’t try to force it (Luckily I don’t have any deadlines I have to meet, yet).

But when I come back to my first draft I seem to be able to focus until I reach the finish line.

I think working out what your writing style is, what you can focus on, what your limitations are and how your brain works are all good motivators to get your first draft completed.

Oh, and I never, ever edit my first draft until I finish it.


Nothing happens.

My first draft is a messy, hard to read, practically no grammar to speak of pile of %^&$ but I get it done. Complete. Kaput.

So get writing…


Other parts in the series

Part One – Queries

Part Two – Research


© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

The Last Stop (Friday Fictioneers)

Ya know, I’ve been here a long time and in that time seen many strange travellers. Still, humans take the cake. Ya’d think they was the most important folk around with their fancy ships and shiny clothes. Phffff! I’m told my joint is like that moon rest-stop in Spaceballs whatever and what that means. Get asked for “The Soup” every damned time they walk in and I don’t even get the joke.


Last shipload was talkin bout a fella setting off explosions as a distraction. Sounds like they be the last group for a while. Shame that. Human fools!



This is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

Have you checked out the site?


Take a look at this video on YouTube:

word count: 100


© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

Review: Dominion by Peter McLean

Review time!

Dominion by Peter McLean


About the book

In the tunnels deep under London, the Earth Elementals are dying.

Hunted by something they know only as the Rotman, the Elementals have no one trustworthy they can turn to. Enter Don Drake, diabolist and semi-reformed hitman, and an almost-fallen angel called Trixie.

The matriarch tells Don that Rotman is actually the archdemon Bianakith, he knows this is going to be a tough job. Bianakith is the foretold spirit of disease and decay whose aura corrupts everything it comes near, and even the most ancient foundations of London will crumble eventually. Now Don, Trixie and the Burned Man have to hatch a plan to keep Bianakith from wiping out the Elementals and bringing down the city. But the Burned Man has other plans and those may have dire consequences for everyone.

The past never stays buried, and old sins must be atoned for. Judgement is coming, and its name is Dominion.

My Thoughts

Book two!!! And I love it. This is such a terrific series and I am totally hooked.

Oh Don-boy… It seems each decision leads to a worse situation.

Drake is back and this time he has Trixie by his side, well sort of, okay… not really. She is The Burned Man’s guardian, but as The Burned Man still works for Drake so does she, sort of. But The Burned Man has a mind of it’s own… and it’s not staying put.

Drake, trying to do good, only seems to dig himself into deeper holes. I’m not sure if he can get out of this latest one. He accepts two jobs, one pro bono and one as a favor to Wormwood. Help an old man with his ill wife, and help the gnomes with a little underground problem. Both cases lead Drake to decisions that will change everything… And there is a bloody creepy cat lurking around!

Trixie, the almost, kinda, fallen Angel (and one of my favorite characters) is back as the warrior / protector. She is dealing with the fallout of the events of Book One and is battling her own internal demons while having to help Drake with his very physical ones. (if you haven’t read Book One – go on then).

Once again, Peter McLean puts Don Drake into impossible situations and boy does Drake seem to make a mess of things. The action is terrific, intense and fast paced. The depth of the characterizations of Drake and Trixie are great. The introduction of new characters are a treat, particularly Janice, who I believe is a new favorite of mine. The plot moves along quickly with a few curve balls for the hero to overcome, a well developed story that twists and turns, digging deeper and deeper into the muck (a bit like Drakes trips underground). A cracking good story.  I didn’t want it to end but luckily for me, book three has just come out.


Book three Damnation is out now – I thoroughly recommend you go and buy it (I did…)

If you haven’t read Book One Drake then you should go and get that immediately 🙂

You can see my interview here with the Author

I also reviewed book one: Drake – you can read it here

L plates (Friday Fictioneers)

“Do you think they’ll notice?”

“How could they not!”

Biza stared at the human vehicle and clutched at his forehorn.

Swisen patted his buddy on the shoulder. “You never know. We shouldn’t be here when the owner returns though.”

Biza looked up through red rimmed eyes. “Yes, yes let’s go.”

Swisen shook his head and glanced from the injured human transportation to their ship. The forceshield had protected their vessel. The human should have left a protection barrier. He debated leaving a message disc to apologise. Biza’s first flight could have gone better. Earth was too cramped for spaceflight training.


The is a Friday Fictioneers Prompt

Word count: 100


Read more and the above link!



© solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.

I did an interview 😀

I did an interview with Tegon!

You can read it at the below link

My interview—May—The-Women-of-Sci-Fi


Research: my writing journey part two

This is the Second post in a series of Writing: My journey posts.

And warning… they re NOT in order! 🙂

More like a crazy mishmash of thoughts that occur to me.



What is research to a writer? A fast track to FBI monitoring depending on your Google searches. “What is the most effective poison and how to administer it?” “How do I build a bomb out of scraps found in a disused mechanic’s shop?” “Best brand of Spaceship?” – okay so that one is totally made up… still my point is, your Google Search history may put you on the top ten FBI most wanted list for “suspicious activity”

To me, there are so many ways to research. Google is just one of them.


I write science fiction and fantasy (so you’re probably thinking… well… that’s all made up nonsense from the inside of your potentially empty or overflowing brain.) But people are still people. The things they talk about, their stresses and fears are all the same. (No matter which planet or underground cave they come from).

So, research is still a necessary evil.

What are some of the way to research? I quite like the following. (and just to be particularly irritating. This is my list of top 9 ways to research (not 10, not 5).

1./ Talk to people (I feel a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of introvert voices have  cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.)

Dialogue… listen to how people speak.

What do they say to each other and how do they say it. Listen to how they cut each other off or talk over the top of each other. The power plays or one-up-manship games in group dynamics or between lovers. How a mentor and student speak to each other, how mates or girlfriends chatter. Listen to the games parents play with their children, the subtext in EVERY conversation.

List to what is being said and MOST importantly what is NOT being said.

Body language cues, how people telegraph their interest, or boredom, flirtation, anger or annoyance? This is a goldfield… so, mine away and then use it to create and then blow relationships up!


2./ Watch people. (This one the introverts might actually enjoy).

Same as the above… but more with the creepy watching and less with the actual talking to people. How do people interact at a club? cafe? park? How do families interact with each other, how about children or friends. Do they walk close together, is there distance between them, what hand gestures do they use, what facial expressions? What can you see? (Don’t stare for too long though, you might get the cops called on you!)


3./ Library visits – more books. Non-fiction, fiction, newspapers, history people! (…and the smell! sigh!) How did “the past” think? How does “the now” think? There is soooo much here you can explore and use!

And besides – libraries are soooo wonderful

Look at all the books…


4./ Ride the Train (without turning your iPod/iPhone/smartphone/laptop/tablet/walkman, discman on – still have the earphones in though, you don’t want people to actually think you are listening!) OMG train people are sooooo interesting (and scary and creepy and loud!). People’s phone conversations that you cannot help but hear every juicy detail of, work colleagues, sick people, bored people, angry people… watch and listen to everything! Just yesterday I saw a little elderly lady with the requisite curly grey hair and wrinkled face chatting happily with a monster of a man built from walls of muscle, covered in tattoos and facial jewelry. And they were chatting amicably. I don’t know if they were work colleagues, family or random strangers but my god I wanted to know more!


5./ Read other writer’s books

… just do this anyway 🙂


6./ Read everything you can get your hands on

Again, just do this anyway. There is lots to learn about how other people think. Whether it is good… or bad writing. It’s all got something in it!

7./ Talk to people… I know, I know. For the introverts out there this is the most horrifying thing to imagine and just to ramp up the fear factor, I’m going to mention it twice. Sorry (not sorry).

But there is soooooo much gold here you can use.


8./ WATCH TV and movies and webisodes and YouTube…

Okay this one is my personal favorite. Mainly because I LOVE television and movies.

Listen to the dialogue, watch the body language, look at the setting and mood and lighting. How has the plot been set up? Watch for when the red herrings are planted, watch for the misdirection, when is the trap laid (or sprung). When is the leading information placed? CLIFF HANGERS!!! Watch for the hints of the badness to come in the music and the lighting and the editorial cuts. How do close ups change the mood of a scene. These are great for watching subtle eye movements. How is a story told? Where are the clues and how early do they crop up? How often do we go back to a clue? or have new clues layered in.

This is story telling at its finest… 21 mins for a half hour comedy, 42 mins for a one hour drama. 204 minutes for a good movie. All tell a story in a different way… There is soooooooooooo much to learn here.

If you like a show, figure out WHY you like it.

How does it hook you? Why do you keep watching? Story arc, character arc, character interaction? chemistry? You can use sooo much of this in your own writing.


9./ Listen to the Behind-the-Scenes commentaries of said movies and television. In particular the Director commentaries and the Writer commentaries. (Okay bear with me).

Directors are basically writers… they are telling a story. They have a message, a theme, an arc they are trying to convey (to seduce you or terrify you) – Rather than in a book with words, they tell a story with pictures, sounds, lighting, set, special effects, actors, actresses, tone, close up, wide shot, and of course, the script, written by the amazingly talented script writers… The script MIGHT not be their own words (in some cases the director is also a script writer so therefore they “get it”) but my gosh they are still telling a story and you should take the time to listen to the thought processes of how they “tell” their story.

It’s fascinating stuff and hey… a lot of story telling is just that – story telling. Which means ideas, concepts and tricks on how to communicate a message to the audience. Which means, you can learn from them to tell you’re own stories.

This one is actually my personal favorite. I do this a lot.


I guess, the big take away from my above waffle is this – EVERYTHING is research.

You are researching right now, by reading this…

Aren’t you a productive little thing?

Do you have interesting ways of researching? I’d love to hear them.


Other parts in the series

Part One – Queries

Part Three – First Draft


© Laurie Bell and Solothefirst. All Rights to the works and publications on this blog are owned and copyrighted by Laurie Bell and Solothefirst. The Owner of this site reserves all permissions for access and use of all documents on this site.


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