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Love, Death and Wyrds - Will Once

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message 1: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 126 comments I suppose it's my turn next ...

I'm looking for kind folks to read/ comment/ shred my upcoming novel "Love, Death and Wyrds". It's a comedy fantasy which is sort of in the style of Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams.

"Love, Death and Wyrds" is the sequel to "Love, Death and Tea". Both are gentle comedies about love and adventure at the end of the world. You don't need to read "Tea" before "Wyrds" although it would help.

Let me know if you are interested and I will send you both books. You could read one or both. Or just have two free books with my compliments. It's your choice.

Many thanks in advance!

message 2: by Rob (new)

Rob Gregson (nullroom) | 374 comments Mod
Hi Will,

I've just finished 'Love, Death & Wyrds' - another entertaining read from the House of Once. Amusing as ever, fast paced and very accessible in its language. I have no quibbles at all with the writing - that certainly works well - so, really, the only feedback I can offer relates to structure.

When you circulated this, you made the point that it was intended to be read as a sequel. I read 'Love, Death & Tea' a long while ago now, so this new book made sense to me. I wish I'd read them a bit closer together, though; there were allusions to some events that I confess I'd forgotten and couldn't recall when prompted. In places - in the first half of the book - that meant that, in my mind at least, some of the gaps you left didn't quite fill themselves in as they were supposed to.

It's quite possible, of course, that these reactions are more the result of my woeful memory than any structural problem; it might all fit together seamlessly for brighter and more attentive readers.

I do enjoy the fact that you've approached the clichés of fantasy from a sensibly-minded female perspective; I did exactly the same thing with 'Unreliable Histories' and its sequel. I, too, liked to try to find ways of having my protagonist solve the usual fantasy challenges without resorting to picking up sharp bits of pointy metal.

The only issue, for me, was that at a couple of points in that first half of the book, you effectively say - "then some plot happened but you've read Vincent's account, so you know this bit already." Consequently, for quite a lot of the first two thirds of the book, we see Libby thinking and talking and getting frustrated but, as I see it, we don't witness her actually doing very much or influencing things in any significant way. (Sending Vincent off to Pod's is an amusing exception.) Broadly, though, the plot still seems to be hanging from another character who has gone away.

On page 56, for example, there's a line where Libby says "Up to that point, our challenges had always seemed manageable because we had each other." Reading this so long after LD&T, and given some of the fast-forwarding in the early parts of LD&W, I was sort of asking myself 'what challenges?' It didn't feel as though she'd overcome very much at that stage. Something similar happens later, on page 71 of the PDF, when Alice says "everyone be talking about" (X)'s death. At that point, I was wondering why 'everyone' was taking such an interest in him; what had he done, at that point, to draw so much attention?

(Loved the Alice character, by the way.)

I really enjoy the idea of looking at alternatives to swashbuckling and violence; that's a very interesting and comedic thing to do. It has lots of potential and you do a lot with it. However in the early sections of the book, it could be misinterpreted. It sometimes feels like it's hinting that the feminine approach equates to passivity (albeit with internalised annoyance and plenty of emotion.) In that first half, I'd like to see her do one or two more things that have a direct bearing on the plot - one or two risks taken; some clever but non-violent interventions / manipulation; something that earns Libby her place as protagonist. Being the hero's love interest and the object of the bad guy's lusts feels, in places, more Penelope Pitstop than Olenna Tyrell. (That's over-harsh - that palace sequence was still a good read - but you know what I mean.)

Of course, as the story builds towards the denouement, Libby does indeed become much more proactive and openly rebellious, and I really liked the alternative way she tackled the whole dungeoneering / 'dunging' challenge. (Again, I did a very similar thing in my books, right down to having my main character solve a lethal labyrinth by meetings its 'lair maintenance contractor'.) Exploring these alternative approaches is always fun to read and I thought you handled it very well. An excellent blend of comedy and adventure, always kept well balanced.

The paper refusing to accept the ink: that was a clever idea. I loved the way you used it in what was effectively the prologue (though I know it's no longer fashionable to use that term) and the epilogue. Sandwiching the story between a description of the act of writing was lovely - brilliantly done and touching at the end.

On that subject, though, I wasn't quite sure how that paper/ink thing was supposed to be working in the Ministry of Normality - i.e. exactly what Randolph expected Libby and the others to be achieving down there. I felt that needed to be spelled out a bit more. I wanted to get more of a handle on how the evil PM thought it was going to benefit him, and perhaps see one or two of the results actually shown.

Otherwise, I felt the whole thing worked very well indeed.

I've made some notes on typos (a small handful) but I'll send those separately.

Thanks for a another thoroughly enjoyable tale.

message 3: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 126 comments That's brilliant feedback, as always! Many thanks.

message 4: by Corben (new)

Corben (the_dook) | 139 comments Hi Will,

You sure can write an entertaining book. I read the original book LD&T and thoroughly enjoyed it. So I’m a fan already. Interestingly, the thing that really struck me when I read LD&T was that most of the cast were jettisoned at the 60% point in the book, as Vincent made his journey North. And we didn’t really get to know the new characters in the same way. I did think that was a brave move on your part. Having read the start of LD&W I’m pretty sure I’m going to find out what Libby was up to while Vincent was in Scotland.

First off, your writing is fabulously entertaining. The same high standard as the original book. I’d read the whole book based on that fact alone. And I love the very imaginative opening. One of the best and clever openings I’ve read. You successfully make Alice a person I want to find out more about.

Now here’s the issue I’m wrestling with. So far I’m about 10% into the book and I’m wondering if this is a retelling of the whole LD&T story from Libby’s perspective? Don’t get me wrong, I really like that story but am I happy to hear the first 60% story again up to the bit where Vincent buggers off to Scotland. I know you’ve used Libby to address the reader directly on this issue but I’m not convinced (as yet) that Libby’s story is likely to vary much from Vincent’s story. I think she’s likely to be describing the same events. I’m hoping the answer to the variation I’m looking for lies with Alice. And if Alice is the key then I’m hoping she makes her move soon.

That’s all from me at the moment. I’ll be back when I’ve read some more.

message 5: by Corben (new)

Corben (the_dook) | 139 comments It's only me, again. I just read Rob's comments. He's good that boy. He reminded me of something else. It's this thing of a bloke trying to imagine how a bird thinks. See, I wouldn't be very good at that. I know from bitter experience that I don't have a scoobies how a lady-mind works. I'm sure you've got it right but your most valuable feedback is going to be from a lady. Try Belinda CLOGster. She has a lady-brain and she's as loopy as box of frogs (no offence) so she'll love the humour.

That's all.

message 6: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 126 comments Very good points! I was in two minds about whether to take the gamble or not. Traditionally, a sequel starts straight after the first book, but I wanted to try something different. So we've got a bit of story overlap where Libby and Vincent are together and it's the same story from LD&T but told from her perspective.

Then a bit of temporal overlap where they are apart but still within the timeline of LD&T.

Then a wholly new adventure which takes the story on from the end of LD&T.

And as I was writing it, I couldn't help wondering whether this was funky or just too darned complicated! I'd be fascinated to know what you think when you get to the end.

Rest assured, the next two sequels (another "Love, Death and ..." plus another "... for Beginners") are far more conventional.

But once again - many thanks for the feedback. It really is gold dust.

message 7: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 126 comments Ah, our comments crossed in the ether! My beta team were five lovely ladies who put a red pen through a anything they considered too blokey.

message 8: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Chapman (andrew-chapman) | 179 comments Mod
Time has been flying by recently. Not only have I not reviewed your book yet, I haven't even requested one! Would you mind sending me a copy and I'll have a read?

message 9: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Bruton | 33 comments I don't think I have a copy computer box can't find one. could I get a copy? Andrew underscore bruton at yahoo dot com

message 10: by Will (last edited Jun 28, 2016 10:40AM) (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 126 comments I am officially a pillock. A prize pillock, I tell you. After seeing Andrew #2's post I hastily went to Andrew #1 thinking that I had sent the book to the wrong Andrew/

Two Andrews. And one pillock sometimes called Will.

Sorry for any confusion. I blame Boris. And Iceland.

message 11: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Chapman (andrew-chapman) | 179 comments Mod
There are too many of us Andy's in here. But it was fun to receive those emails. It was like getting an insight into a man losing his mind. :-)

message 12: by James (new)

James Court | 227 comments This is a review, and reviewers, like food critics, are supposed to find fault in the minutia rather than rave about the curry sauce. In this respect I've failed. It's not really my type of book yet, written in the first person, with occasional appeals direct to the reader, it held me right to the end. There were times when I began to wonder if Will is really Wilma as he time and again delivered the female point of view. Perhaps he should publish it under a pseudonym. Diana Wynne-Jones would be a good name were it not already taken by a similar writer.

Now the obsessively picky bits...
In a couple of places he missed out words which I mentally inserted in brackets.

"You can do it, (of)course, just as you can ask him to carry on without you for a while."
"Well, ah, I suppose a wych is someone who is (in ‌)tune with nature."

""Why not have both?" said Yvonne. "I('m) always peckish afterwards.""

Having failed to fault the content I looked at the structure. From a reader's point of view A4 is not the best form for long works of fiction. I took the .DOCX file and reformatted it from A4 to a 6x9 paperback. The result was 286 pages for a shade under 70K words. Changing to EB Garamond 08, a typical paperback font, beloved by the publishes and the American reader, this fell to 240 pages. In this form the longer passages flow better, averaging 12 words per line as pontificated by professors of publishing or whatever they call themselves on their blogs. It made the work even more engaging.

I was pleased to see that Will is as undisciplined as myself regarding consistent chapter length, although at 24 pages chapter one is a trifle long to start us off. Chapter two at 15 pages is also a little large, but after that they tend to generally shorten.

This is a genre that begs for graphic embellishment. Elaborate fonts for chapter titles, little broomsticks and severed limbs instead of three asterisks for section breaks.

Now for some really picky unnecessary comments.
There was no mention of how they lugged Colin's large body to the top of the tallest skyscraper without working lifts. Even in fiction the closer you sail to reality the more believable it is. Personally I would have hoisted him up the outside of the water tower atop Shooters Hill and wrapped him in kitchen foil like an over-ready turkey.

"They hunkered down behind sandbags with rifles and machine guns pointing out to the city beyond the palace walls"
Buckingham Palace has a large parade ground, then iron fencing on the front aspect, only the rear garden has brick walls about nine feet high, far from the palace and obscured by trees.

So that's it! Did I mention that I enjoyed it? Yes! Well nothing else to be said.

message 13: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 126 comments Aw, thank you!

message 14: by Corben (last edited Jul 04, 2016 01:38PM) (new)

Corben (the_dook) | 139 comments Hi Will,

I’ve now read the first third of LD&W. I’m still enjoying your entertaining style of writing. But there are one or two things that strike me about the structure of the book. I’m reading it on a Kindle so I’m using the % indicator for reference.

At the 12% mark the cast up sticks, hop into a campavan and they’re off. There follows a highly abbreviated section that brings them to the location of Vincent’s split from the story. Libby tells the reader that Vincent has already told you about this journey in LD&T, so go and buy it! I admire your marketing strategy, Will. I can see you’ve done this to avoid retelling large sections of the original book but, to me, it comes across as a bit of a hole in the book.

In contrast to the accelerated campavan journey, Libby’s journey to meet Randolph is slow. According to my Kindle the journey takes up 6% of the book (19-25%). Has anyone else mentioned the erratic pace of the story in this section? No? Probably just me then. The writing is highly amusing, so that’s the main thing.

For me, LD&W is not quite as successful as the original book but still very good. The drop in my mark is mainly due to the story retelling issue but also Libby doesn’t seem as strong as Vincent as a main character … she’s not quite as funny as Vincent. Others may disagree on this point. I was hoping that Alice would step in and take more of a role. But she’s only made an occasional contribution so far. Maybe that happens later on.

While I remember, the dick-lengthening sculpture gag – very funny. That probably tells you all you need to know about me.

message 15: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Bruton | 33 comments Will. I'm officially now a huge fan. My contributions to this fabulous new forum for cloggers are sadly not as mighty or meaningful as I would wish, but I aim to be far less bogged down by my new life back in the UK by 2020 at which point I will possibly be a useful member. So, as I haven't read your first book in this series I began wondering what was going on and I actually loved that uncertainty. It made discovering what the switch was all the more exciting. I am not very good at giving critical advice on writing at the best of times, I see my role in clog as givi g the layman's point of view, a possible future punter who can give their basic, Neanderthal thumbs up or down and attempt to explain why. I think your style is intimidatingly natural and engaging for starters, I loved the main character's wit and feminine perspective. I am hugely frustrated at currently not having enough time to finish reading any of the amazing work I'm being exposed to and your book has shown me I need to raise my own game. I felt the world you were painting was very subtly colouring the background to the action and almost effortlessly supported the dialogue. I wanted to give these initial thoughts now as I am going to find it difficult to read more over the next few days. Reading the initial chapters has given me yet another style awakening, a new range of possibilities are flirting about in my mind. The strength of your style for me is that the pace of the book is excellent, I felt compelled to continue and never wishing ahead or lamenting the length of the journey so far. I struggle with this in my writing. You know your characters well and they feel like they should exist. I have nothing to constructively add in the form of a suggestion, so I will just say that I enjoyed delving into this and will find a way to get back into it soon. Many thanks for sending me a copy.

message 16: by James (new)

James Court | 227 comments Just a thought! At 70K words it probably not too big to bind both books as a single volume. With a little formatting you could end up in the region of 440 pages. You could even double front it.

message 17: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 126 comments That's brilliant feedback, gents. Many thanks.

Corben - I know what you mean about pacing, but hopefully you'll see why when you get to the end. Hopefully!

message 18: by Will (new)

Will Once (willonce) | 126 comments More than a year late, but it's finally ready for publication! I'll be pressing the Go button on Amazon in July 2017. It'll be available to pre-order in a couple of days time. In the meantime, if anyone would like a free review copy, feel free to PM me. I'll also throw in the first book in the series if you haven't read that.

message 19: by James (new)

James Court | 227 comments Well done, Will.

message 20: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Bruton | 33 comments Brilliant news Will.

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