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Go on…have a go!

Hello campers. How was your Christmas / festive season / holiday period / associated or non-associated religious or faith based or otherwise time of the year (delete as appropriate or choose not to read if you are offended in any capacity)

Shit a brick. I came out of the writing cave for a bit and looked about like a wild hermit mountain man with a big beard venturing into the town after twenty years of self-imposed isolation. And. Shit. A. Brick. It’s not nice out there so me and the wild hermit mountain man are retreating back into our bolt holes.

Day Sixteen Part Two was finished and I managed to get it out for Christmas / festive / holiday period / associated or non-associated religious or faith based or otherwise time of the year (delete as appropriate or choose not to read if you are offended in any capacity)…..and got the number one chart position for Christmas Day / festive / holiday / associated….fuck me I’m not writing that again. Which was nice.

The competition for Day Sixteen is still running due to the festive season being thrust upon us. leave an entry and be in with a chance to win some Undead goodies.

Audible are making The Undead into Audio books!!! Cue Lego movie theme tune….everything is awesome!! They have bought Days One to Seven and due to the weird word counts (sorry chaps) they’ve re-packaged the series into Part One (Days One to Three) Part Two (Days Four, Five and Six) and Part Three (Day Seven). If they do well they’ll buy the rest. Fingers crossed. I’m waiting for production dates now and will let you know when the release is happening.

Audible are owned by Amazon. The Undead has become what it is because of Amazon. I sell on other platforms and am eternally grateful for being able to do so, but it has been Amazon that have given me the opportunity to deliver this series to so many people. They cop some flak because of tax stuff and little niggles that people like Hugh Howey go on about all the time. But by and large Amazon have enabled people like me, stupid crazy people, to become story-tellers when otherwise they wouldn’t stand a chance. People like Stephen Ayres who wrote Three Feet of Sky had the chance to showcase amazing talents by being able to self-publish. Darren Humphries is a brilliant writer who self-publishes through Amazon. Paul Antony Jones gave us the fantastic Extinction Point series. Mark Tufo is a towering force in Zombie literature that forged a path the rest of us could follow. The Undead has become the UK’s best-selling zombie series because of the facility provided by Amazon. Oh don’t get me wrong, Amazon make buckets of cash from us all but I for one wouldn’t have stood a chance in the normal publishing world.

So if you have a book in you, why not give it a go? Go on, try it. Write something just for the hell of it. You don’t need specialist software or anything other than either a computer or a pen and paper. Although I would advise you to use a computer. MS Word does it for me. That’s it. Just Word. Nothing else. I don’t use timeline software or have any fancy set up. I use a beaten up old Samsung laptop with some of the letters rubbed out. You don’t know what you are capable of until you try.

There are no rules and you are limited only by what your imagination can work up. Drink coffee. Get comfy and fucking have at it! Come up with a start and let the rest follow…

He sat alone in the dark room listening to the footsteps coming down the corridor. (He – gives us character and gender instantly. Alone – gives us a single character. Dark room gives us not only place but a sense of mood and intrigue. Why is he alone in a dark room? Listening to the footsteps coming down the corridor gives us the action. Something is happening. Our character is alone in a dark room. Is he hiding or waiting? Is he the goodie or the baddie? To me, this conjures an image of an old stately home where the floors are laid to wood which will echo the footsteps.

Why did she always talk to him like that? What was it about her that made it okay to speak like that? (Two characters. We are head-dipping into a male characters mind as he reflects on why the woman talks to him in such a manner. Instantly we are assuming the woman speaks unkindly while at the same time we are placing some morals on the male character. Is it his mother? Wife? He doesn’t ask why she speaks to him like that but “what was it about her”…this makes me think the female has a power or hold over the male which also places dominance.)

Hands bound behind him and the thick straps across his shins kept him tied to the chair legs. The only motion was his wide defiant eyes. (Character – Him. An instant scene that we can all conjure up from movies and television. A man bound to a chair. Not only bound but bound well as he straps across his legs are thick. We have some action with his eyes moving which suggests he is looking left to right as though staring at others. The defiance hints at a courage within this man.)The pan of water was coming to boil and as he held the pasta ready to plunge in, so the bubbles swirling in the heated liquid took him back to another time. (Doing something mundane and ordinary. Cooking pasta. Something so ordinary gives us a nice way to link in a reflective passage. Plunging in the pasta could be like his memory plunging into whatever thoughts are racing through his mind. Straight away we know this character has been somewhere and done something, something he has survived enough for him to now be cooking pasta.)

He was moving forward and, without gravity or another physical object to stop him, he would forever be moving forward. The problem was the turd was also moving forward but forward from the other direction. Seconds away from impact and he clamped his hands over his face as the still warm shit bounced gently across his knuckles. (He is in space so we have an instant location, and to start with we’re thinking maybe he is in hard space, as in outside space. But there is a turd. Is it his turd or the poo from someone else? We’re then thinking he is inside an object such as a space ship. Slightly comical and bordering on farcical but it also tells us this man is observant enough to see the poo coming towards him and so take avoiding action.)

The unicorn was angry. So was the Apache Indian sat astride his back and it was that anger that made him light the fuse to the glittering bomb. (This was a comment put on a Facebook conversation with Undead readers and it stuck in my mind. An Apache Indian on a unicorn carrying a glittering bomb. However, by saying the unicorn was angry we are saying the unicorn has emotions or at least an intelligence that allows an understanding of anger. We have an Apache Indian who is also angry. Angry enough to light the fuse on a bomb. What are they angry about and why is an Apache Indian sitting on a Unicorn? We don’t have location but we do have characters and an instant scene playing out. Also, by saying “light the fuse” we’re conjuring an image of an old fashioned bomb.)

The writer was waiting. It felt like he was always waiting these days. Would they sign him or would he carry on self-publishing as he had always done? He knew what he wanted and that made the waiting only harder. Listless days spent staring at the email inbox as he shuffled about the cave. (Character – the writer. We have instant character here as we have given not only a character but a defined character in terms of what the person does. The character is doing something – he is waiting. So in effect he is not doing anything but we have an instant sense of frustration. Then we get to know what he’s waiting for and that tells us this character has a sense of desperation about him. We have a hint of modern life by referring to the email inbox but that is contrasted by mentioning the cave. Is the cave a metaphor? The character is in a place doing a thing and we know the thing has been happening for a while – listless days.)

Gertrude and Arthur had been married for thirty years and it was the day after their thirty year anniversary that Gertrude broke the news. (Two characters. Older and it tends to hint of people who are stable and normal. We have normal names and the achievement of a thirty year marriage, which does suggest a content existence. We have Gertrude “breaking” the news. She doesn’t just tell Arthur but she “breaks” it to him. Phwoar! This is juicy and gossipy. She has a secret but one that she didn’t want to impart on Arthur.)

Men! Why couldn’t they just for once, just bloody once, not look at her chest before they looked at her face. She felt like an object more than a human so when he came into the room and smiled into her eyes and not at her tits she knew he was going to be different. (By opening with “Men!” we are portraying exasperation, annoyance and someone who has suffered something for a while now. Someone who perceives the issue to be with the gender and not the individual. We head dip into our characters mindset and the exasperation is shown more by her repeating the problem. “why couldn’t they just for once, just bloody once….”

Character is everything. Let the character carry the plot. Plot without character is an instruction manual. Know the character. Know them inside out and remember, the character is not you and you are not the character. Let the character react how they would react with their experience, not yours. Action / reaction.

You can write about anything if you have a fully fleshed character to carry the story. You can expose the character instantly or drip feed them and their background into the story. There are no rights or wrong. If it works then it works, if not then it sucks arse and you start again and keep trying.

One thing I would advise against is showing your work to other people until you have finished it. With the best will in the world you will be influenced by their ideas. Write it then show it. Take the feedback and learn from it.

Have a go, you might be surprised at what you can do.

I’m writing now and will let you know when the next project is due for release.

Take care

RR Haywood


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