Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Results of the 2nd Moon Crater Fiction Decisions Poll (from 2007)

# “Your place on the map has faded away, must've been lost in more than one way…” # - Ben Folds


This month I received quite a kick up the proverbial behind over my writing from probably the one person who can say something right to the point without me taking it to heart but equally with me very much paying attention to the words being spoken. After admittedly taking an extended break on writing Moon Crater since I completed the first draft back at the end of September to reflect on it all and let the story stew a bit more, my wife was listening to me complain that I was struggling to get back into a writing routine and simply said, “If you’re serious about getting this published, just get on with it.” The word ‘serious’ really hit home because that’s what I’m constantly trying to do with my writing - turn it from an amateur hobby into a fact of everyday life and hopefully one day a serious career…




This blog journal was my first step in that journey – actually throwing my work out there and putting a ‘public face’ to my writing and taking the plunge of facing criticism and the ultimate fear of professionals telling me that my writing is no good and I’m wasting my time. But the risk has always been worth it and a very necessary step in the journey. That said, working on a novel and at the same time learning to blog (AND create a website) for the writing is a real juggling act, and as I mentioned last month in my year review I will be slowing down with my journal posts here as I get back on with Draft Number 2 of Moon Crater throughout 2008…

But, there are still a number of things I committed myself to with the blog last year that need to be resolved and one of those is the results of my 2nd Moon Crater Fiction Decisions Poll in which I invited readers to vote on a list of 10 options to help decide on some key things in the “setting” of my novel’s story. It’s especially great having to hand the information from this and the 1st Poll Moon Crater Fiction Decisions Poll (in which readers helped me decide how the two main characters of my book would look) now that I’m returning to redrafting my novel because as promised with each of the polls, the popular readers' opinions are final and will make it into the finished product of my book (the challenge for me in a lot of ways as I revisit my story is how to fit these 'new decisions’ into the existing written page of my first draft…)

I originally intended the second poll to run for only a few months but ended up extending it to the end of 2007, mainly to keep get more people involved but also because I quite liked the ‘neatness’ of having the 1st Poll as “2006’s Official Poll” and this one as “2007’s Official Poll” (and in turn, when I launch my 3rd and final one later this month, it’ll become “2008’s Official Poll”).

OK… ‘Don’t bore us, get to the chorus’, right? Well, I always knew that creating a fictional world I wanted the reader to believe actually existed on our own planet would require conjuring up a convincing ‘sense of place’. The geographical placing of certain plot details which were tied up in the places surrounding my two main characters was always going to need careful thought, so that’s why I set up the 2nd Poll last year and now, here, without further ado, I’m proud to present the results…


1. The old ruined tower which stands in Billy & Jo’s village will have a millenium clock whose numbers are:
a) roman numerals...

2. The two churches which stand in the village will be called:
a) St Peter's and St Paul's...

3. The memorial to the miners of the area who died in a pit disaster over 100 years ago will be:
a) a stone cross with their names on it... (but see below for a novel suggestion by one of the pollers!)
4. Also in the village is a small public house – its recently changed name will be:
c) the Grey Horse...

5. An old disused allotment stands just outside the village. It is overgrown, fenced off with barbed wire, but inside, there will be:
b) a bedraggled-looking scarecrow...
6. In the playing field of Billy and Jo's school, there is a children's park - it will have:
a) swings and a slide...
7. Our story takes place in spring - the Village Preservation Society have decided to use a colour scheme for this year's local "Village in Bloom" competition that's mainly:
a) yellow...
8. In the village newsagents, the shopkeeper keeps lots of traditional sweets in large jars. Those sitting on his shelves include:
a) whizz-bangs, flying-saucers and doodlebugs?

9. To the south of the village in an empty field, despite protests, the local council plans to build quite a few wind turbines - in this "wind farm" there will be:
b) seven wind turbines...
10. In the North West of the village is a “posh” estate of houses, it will be called:
a) the Poplars...

So there you have it... The village of... (hmm, that would be telling, wouldn't it - what's in a name, I wonder?) Well, suffice to say the place where Billy and Jo live is coming together and almost complete... You probably can't have failed to notice the pictures dotted around this post, by the way... I've always loved books which provide a "map" to their world on the inside front cover or at some point before the story itself begins - I always find myself flicking back and forwards as I read, tracing the progress of the characters, and I'd love my novel to eventually have such a chart laid out at the beginning too... To this end I've long been busy doodling on a drawing of the layout of Billy and Jo’s village and clippings of sketches littering this post page off a sort of glimpse at the bird’s eye view (some might say an eagle-eye view, perhaps?) of the place... but they're only meant as a sneak peak for now of course...

Speaking of "eagle-eyed", keener readers may have noticed my note against the third option in the poll above about a suggestion from one of the polsters (I can't decide on a name to dub them!) - anyway, a gold-star award has to go to Damo this time round for coming up with the idea connected to the mining monument in the village as being a commemorative miner's pick in shape of a cross... I might just take him up on that idea, so watch this space...

Thanks as ever need to go personally to all the "pollers" for taking part this time round, and they namely were: Kate, Andy, Sam, Roz, CW, Steve F, Damo, Eelam, Em, and of course, Ali. We had no word from the class of Moon Crater fans who took part in the 1st Poll this time - they really got into the story last time out, so maybe they’ll find the upcoming 3rd Moon Crater Fiction Decisions Poll more inspiring! (more on that later in Feb!)

The importance of involving an audience has always been at the forefront of my strivings with my scribbles so it’s important that I set up one final poll (how can you do this with a book that’s already ‘written’? you may ask – well, nothing’s set in stone, and as I said it’s a challenge for me to tweak things as I’ve already set them down, but that’s the fun of writing and redrafting in particular – one small thing can change and then it snowballs throughout the chapters with cause and effect to characters’ lives, and often new and surprising plotlines can present themselves which perhaps you couldn’t quite see before… So with this in mind, watch this space for my 3rd (and FINAL) Fiction Decisions Poll coming your way in a few short weeks – it’s the best yet, so don’t miss out on the chance to get involved and make a REAL difference to this evolving story…





“The setting for Moon Crater is our world, and particularly, it takes place in a small northern English country village... The layout of that village is very important to the story for various reasons and so these questions will have a direct bearing on major plot points as the story progresses...”

(the words what I wrote back in March 2007)




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"The Proof Is In The Reading... (or so they might say...)"
I'm currently undertaking a Proofreading & Editing Skills Course and each time I post on my journal blog here in 2008 as a way of motivating myself to keep going with it (and because it's quite relevant to my writing, really) I'll provide a small update on how it's going...

February's update:
I've been going through some preliminary exercises which you're supposed to do on your own to test your initial knowledge of English grammar and punctuation. These are pretty interesting but it's sort of tough going knowing that there's 3 major assignments to send off to be marked by a distance learning tutor and it could take a while to get to the first one. Still, I'm plodding onwards with it...

I've also been given
"Eats Shoots & Leaves" as a birthday present this month, so hopefully this will help me in my quest to become more punctual too... (ha-ha!)

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2 comments:

  1. It looks very interesting (esp. the maps). Keep up the good work.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Glad you like the map, Andrew - been labouring over it for quite a while... There's lots of clues on there and that's why I've just given fleeting glimpses for now of it - don't want to spoil the story with too many of the place names being dropped too early! Cheers for the comment anyway! - Chris :>

    ReplyDelete