I’m always thinking of things to write. Novels, I mean.
I’ve never really been a great one for short stories. The writing, or indeed the reading. Saying that, I have written some, and the very first thing I ever had published was a short story. That was because all the so-called ‘experts’ advised in order to get yourself known, get a short story published in a magazine. Well, I did. But I don’t write them anymore. I write novels, and get totally immersed in them. Character and plot development. I love that.
Often, what I do, I put personal interests in my books. That way I keep myself awake!
My latest Glenn Stuart novel ‘Interlopers from Hell’ involved the protagonist (I hate that word, don’t you? Why not use hero, heroine, victim, main character…how I hate rules!) entering an old house and coming across a huge table laden down with model soldiers.
I’m a great wargamer you see – well, I was, before writing took over my life. Every Friday, down to Bodmin with the best bunch of guys in Cornwall, staying up until two or three in the morning refighting battles. Anyway, the thing is, I put that into this book. A few scenes. Not an obsession. I’m not obsessive. I promise.
Okay, I am. Just a little.
The thing is, I met a guy in Suffolk. John. He had a collection of model soldiers and he invited me to go and see them. His house was large, but not a mansion. Nice, set back from the road. A cheerful guy, he invited me inside. We’d already corresponded a few times as, both being ardent wargamers, we were members of an online-community. Well, he asked me to his house, and I went.
I stepped into his games room and just froze. Speechless. I had stepped into a kind of heaven.
There they were, shelf upon shelf of the most exquisite models I have ever seen. Eight thousand of them. Yes, let me repeat that – just so I can believe it too. EIGHT THOUSAND!
All of them stood in serried ranks, immaculately painted, some on foot, lots on horseback. From the eighteenth century, Austrians, Saxons, British, Americans, and any number of other nationalities. John wargamed the American War of Independence. He’d set up the table to game The Battle of Cowpens, complete with hills, woods, buildings. And the soldiers, of course. Lots of them.
It was this scene that formed part of the finale to ‘Fallen Past’, my unpublished novel that I am serialising here (we’re up to Chapter Five, so you had better catch up). I won’t give too much away about that, but here is the point. Using what you know. That’s what I do in a lot in my books. You have to be faithful and true, especially when writing fiction. Honesty. Yes, you can use Wikipedia, but it never rings true unless you have had experience of it yourself. Naturally there are limitations. When writing ‘Burnt Offerings’ I wanted the car to be rigged with a bomb. So I researched it. I’m lots of things, but not a bomber! So research can help, of course it can. But, when you are writing about reactions, feelings, you have to know.
I haven’t been shot. But I’ve seen someone who has. That knowledge…it stays with you. I’ve seen people being hurt. Badly. I use that too. Pain. Sadness. Emotional torment.
Sometimes happiness too.
Don’t want you to think I am one hundred percent bleak.
However, if I have an interest, I love involving it in my books. That makes it personal, and I do love my stories to be personal.
So, the moral of this story…You must write from a sound basis in truth. Fiction is fantasy, but your readers need to believe in your story. And they will know if it’s false, believe you me; if you begin to wax lyrical about something you know nothing about, they turn off and put your book at the bottom of the pile. If you don’t know, talk to people who do. I’ve interviewed soldiers, guys who have fought, who have experienced battle. I listen, log it all away, and use it. That’s what you should do, if you write. Always. Memories, research, personal experiences, everything helps to create a believable world.
Thanks for reading. My books are all available on the various Amazon sites, as well as Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Take a look. Visit my website www.stuartgyates.com or, to find out where to buy ‘Interlopers from Hell’, www.glennstuart.co.uk. I’m sure you’ll find something there that you like.