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A Simple (or possibly not) Question!!


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There is a danger that I may put the cat among the pigeons by my question or comment here, so I shall introduce it gently, with a little introduction, hoping that by slinking in from the penumbra I shall be unnoticed.

I truly consider that amongst the English and American language LGBT genre sites Castle Roland has a far greater proportion of well written, excellently researched stories with interesting storylines full of developed characters than any others on the web. Certainly other sites have excellent stories too. Some maybe even more. However, in every case one has to wade through infinitely more semi-literate dross to find the occasional jewel. With the Castle, there are more gems than flotsam. 

Regrettably, this does not mean all in the house is perfect. And I have one particular issue which perplexes me.

Remember, ever author has good and less good stories. No one always writes a Booker or a Pulitzer every time. Only the best of Tacitus survived, the rest was lost. The same was true of Homer, Virgil, and all those others who plagued us in our school days. No one compares David Copperfield with Edwin Drood. Conan Doyle definitely had off days. Kim, I suggest is the best boy's adventure story ever written, but Kipling also wrote some dreadfully dreary stuff. CS Lewis and Narnia, Rawling and Harry Potter, and on, and on. All these writers wrote good and less than good stories, but all shared one vital element - the power of building powerful characters. And I have seen more authors with this talent or gift on this site, Castle Roland, that any other of the genre. This is what makes this site unique and special. Authors who can make credible and empathetic characters is what makes the Castle a worthwhile and exiting site.

My problem is a simple one.

Having made the emotional and literary effort of creating a really believable character - or more, an entire cast of characters - why the hell leave them in a limbo of an unfinished story for a year or two? It is, in my not so humble opinion, a deceit on your readers and a disservice to the other authors who also invest  their time in this site. Every one of us have other commitments. But I believe there is a contract one enters into with one's readers - be they 10,000 or only 10 (and in light of my recent readership figures, mine are the latter) - to finish a story one begins to tell them. A parent would never refuse to finish reading a tale to his son at bedtime. In the final analysis, the fundamentals of the writer to the reader are the same. A duty to finish what is begun, to make it comfortable for him, complete, ended. Loose ends are edgy, rough, basically offend. They turn the reader away from the site, and thus away from the other authors who use the site as their primary publishing outlet. I particularly find it inexplicable when I see authors with numerous stories, all hung in some form of literary aspic. Or perhaps, as some have been so long without new chapters they are almost in Amber more than aspic!

Am I being unfair? I don't think so. I believe it is reasonable to say, "Finish one thing, or several things concurrently if you can manage them, before going on to something else. But FINISH THEM!" 

As a post script, there are also a couple of very well developed character casts on this site which have only one story written yet, but have great potential for more. I hope casts such as Defenders, for one, will see further light of day.

I now await the brickbats.


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First, to defend the authors, it is often not possible to finish something off before you go onto something else. Often when writing something in what you are writing triggers an idea, which you want, often need to, explore but which does not fit into the structure of the current story. The author needs to go off and explore that idea, as it may well have an impact on the back story of the work they are currently writing. I currently have some five novels underway, all of which share some of the same characters.

Sometimes you find that you come to a point in writing a particular story where you just can't go on. Writer's block is something every writer hits from time to time. Often the best way around it is to go off and write something else. I have been privileged to know a number of well known and highly successful authors and they have all stated at times that they have more than one book underway at a time. Though at any one point in time a specific book will have the majority of their time and effort.

So, I would submit, working on a number of pieces at the same time is not the problem. What is a problem is submitting stuff for publication before it is finished. That is a fundamental error for a number of reasons:

  1. It is disrespectful to your readers. They are putting the time and effort into reading your work, you need to ensure that they have a completed work to read.
  2. Every writer at some time or other will have something that just does not work out. You cannot know that it will not work out until you come to the point where it unravels, so by starting to publish before a story is completed means you are taking the risk of publishing something you will never finish.
  3. It traps you into a specific storyline, the one you start off with. As any author knows, you do not control your story, your characters do. If two-thirds of the way through your story you suddenly need to reveal something about a character that you had never thought of when you started you may find you are trapped because you have written something earlier that contradicts the new revelation. I leading author of science fantasy told me about one book he was writing which was just not working out, it was not until he realised that one of the leading characters was, in fact, a woman in disguise as a man, that the story suddenly took on a whole new life, though he had to go back and re-write a considerable part of the first eight chapters that he had already written. If he had already published any of them that would not have been possible. 

Unfortunately, all too often, publishers are pushing authors to submit work. This can be compounded by fans emailing authors asking when they will next be publishing something, especially when a sequel is expected. The situation has been complicated by the rise of online sites, which need a constant supply of new work. As a result, a number of these sites accept work which is at the time of submission incomplete. This is annoying for both the reader and the author when something goes wrong and there is a delay in the output of future chapters or a story has to be abandoned.

A couple of months ago I was chatting online with a fairly well-known web author. One of his earlier stories came to a dead end and I asked him about it. His admission was that the story took a twist which he did not like but he could not finish the story in the way he wanted it to work out. He did admit that since then he has never started publishing something unless he had at least the first draft fully written. Unfortunately, too many web-based authors do not do this. They get a good idea and start to write, doing some very good writing, which they submit for publication. Then their inspiration dries up and they find themselves with a half-written work and no way to finish it. Often this leads them to give up writing altogether.  

This is a problem. It is one though that can be fixed quite simply, sites should stop accepting incomplete works from authors. No hard-copy publisher would accept an incomplete work from an author, so why should it be different online.


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Well said, Nigel. As a writer of academic stuff prior to my first, little step into fact-based narrative here at the Castle, I agree - I think. That is, except for those stories already part of an established series with at least one completed book published on this site, such as some of the Revolutions Universe stories, for example, or Coupé and its sequel. No scholarly text, or even a general interest magazine worth reading, would accept a series story without seeing the text of the completed series.

You are so correct, it is fundamentally egotistical at root. The author - well intentioned as he might be - is really only considering himself as he sets out on his task of writing if he has not worked out how the whole great production is going to end!

Happy writing Nigel

I look forward to reading your next finished gem



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3 hours ago, Adam said:

... As a writer of academic stuff prior to my first, little step into fact-based narrative here at the .Castle ...



I wonder Adam if we are both influenced by a background with formal writing constraints. My initial experience in writing was as a technical writer, working on user manuals for Unix. In that environment, you have to make sure that everything is finished before you publish. 

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