We Got Ourselves a Reader

Saturday 11th April is Black Library Live! at GW headquarters in Nottingham (I’m assured the ‘!’ is obligatory 😉 ). I’ve just been sent a list of what’s going on and it looks like it’s going to be a packed day. There’re more authors than you can shake a stick at, and for those who like to push toy soldiers around there’s plenty of gaming too. As well as getting books signed, those of a literary persuasion can attend readings by the authors, and also there are seminars/ Q+A sessions for those who would like to write for the Black Library or want to know more about the Time of Legend series.

I’ve been volunteered for two readings, both of them linked to the Time of Legends. The first will be a brief reading from the short story I’ve written for the exclusive Chapbook available at the event. Picking a ten-minute segment out of a 6,000 word short story should be pretty straightforward – and as attendees will be able to pick up the Chapbook at the event they can read the rest of the story straightaway if they want!

The second reading is giving me more pause for thought. I need to select a fairly lengthy section of Shadow King, the next companion novel to Malekith. Shadow King is not out until 2010 so this will not only be the first airing of the novel, but it’ll be quite some time before any more will be made available as a downladable extract on the Black Library website.

Choosing extracts for readings and sneak previews is a balancing act. There are several goals one wants to achieve. The primary one is to interest readers/ listeners. The segment selected has to hook them in. This means they have to engage with the character(s) quickly. One also wants to give a flavour of the overall plot, so that the section gives some idea of what the book is about. At the same time, one doesn’t want to give away too much of the plot – in others words avoid huge spoilers! There needs to be drama (well, any part of a good novel should have drama, so that’s not too difficult) and since it is a Black Library novel a bit of action wouldn’t go astray.

With that in mind, one doesn’t want to pick anything too far towards the end of the novel as it’ll give away earlier developments. I’m hesitant to use the start of a novel as well because I don’t want the first thought of the reader being, ‘I’ve read this bit already’ when they actually pick up the novel. It’s okay if the reader runs into some passages they know later on, as they’ll probably read it again in the context of what’s come before.

This leaves me looking for a self-contained segment that takes about 15-20 minutes to read; that encapsulates the character of Alith Anar (the protagonist); that contains an overview of the plot and themes; that doesn’t give away too much of the story but leaves the listeners/ readers wanting more (and hopefully have them waiting with anticpation until the book is released!).

Getting the length right is very important, and means I will have to do a few practise runs… Yes, I’ll be reading my book out aloud to myself several times! If I can, I might rope in a victim or two to listen and get some feedback. And I best start working on my elven pronunciations…

Windy Reminder: In case you missed it, I am attending AdeptiCon this weekend (3rd-5th April 2009) in Chicago, along with fellow author Chris Roberson.

Gaming: I spent most of the weekend playing Warhammer 🙂 The first time in quite a while. A few folks have just kicked off a Mighty Empires campaign and jolly good fun it was too. Throbbi Drakkaz and his warriors acquitted themselves with honour for the most part to get their fledgling empire underway. Unfortunately, a notation has been made in the Clan Drakkaz Book of Grudges against my Longbeards, who ran in terror from a Lizardmen Carnosaur, which basically doomed the restof the army to a humiliating massacre… They had best make up for their shame in the next battle.

Published in: on March 30, 2009 at 10:58 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. From the title I thought you were going to say you’d bought a Kindle or something.

    You could always abridge a couple of different sections for the Shadow King reading. You could probably fairly easily condense the greater part of two or three chapters into a single abridged piece.

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  2. That’s a possibility, but with the trip to Chicago I don’t have much time to sort it out between now and the event. I can’t really get my head around abridging, it’s not something I’ve done much of before. The closest is probably re-editing old background text for army books and codexes; I’ve never done it with my own prose. I suppose it’s more of an editorial mindset than a writerly one…

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  3. Nah, abridging is just writing for the spoken word – you take out all the waffly description and extended dialogue which works on the page but causes people to lose track when read aloud. Culling any extended description which comes between lines of dialogue is a start.

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