Author Archives: Sean Golden

About Sean Golden

After a degree in physics, then a 35 year career in Information Technologies, I am now focused on writing. My first epic fantasy series, "The War Chronicles" is available on Amazon.com.

Starting a new story after finishing a series

You’ve finally done it. After years of hard struggle, you’ve put the final “The End” on your story. You’ve edited, re-edited, proofread and sent the final manuscript off to your publisher, or you’ve hit the “publish” button yourself. It feels good. It feels like you’ve accomplished something major. Because you have.

Now it’s time to move on.

It’s not that easy, is it? Those characters that have been in your head for the past years, it’s hard to let them go. Sometimes they don’t want to go. After all, you grew to like some of those characters. Some of them seem like old friends, and nobody wants to let old friends go.

Well, you don’t have to let them go forever, but you do have to let them go for now. Because your new story, book, or series deserves the same focus and attention that you gave your last one. And you will develop new appreciation for new characters, new challenges and new plot twists.

This is particularly meaningful for me because I finished my first epic series and have begun working on my next book. It has been surprisingly difficult to put aside the story I’ve been working on for years. There are so many little side stories that intrude on my consciousness. As I’m trying to plot out the new story, the old story keeps popping into my head with ways the new idea could have improved the previous work.

The best approach I’ve found so far is the same tactic I’ve used for virtually every other writing obstacle I’ve encountered. Just write. Just put words on paper. The more words I put down of the new story, the more compelling the new story is becoming. The more I develop the new characters, the more vibrant and alive they feel.

To me the real measure of when I’ve begun to truly get a story moving is when the story starts to write itself. When the characters start telling me what they would do, and how. I’m getting to that point now, and that is when writing is the most fun to me.

I suppose I should try to find some other clever approach, or a five-point plan or some trick to tell other authors, but the reality is that nothing seems to work as well as applying backside to chair, and fingers to keyboard. So, if you’re in the same place, and finding it difficult to make the transition, all I can do is say “Just write.”

New Beginnings

It’s a new year! For many people, 2016 is a year they will be glad to put in the rear-view mirror. One thing that is great about a new year is that it gives us all a chance to look ahead with optimism.

This month the Fictorians will be focused on new beginnings. Those beginnings can be of any sort, from starting a new novel, to starting a new career. One goal of the articles this month will be to give advice and guidance to people who might be struggling with their own new beginnings. Sometimes all we need is to see that we aren’t the only one dealing with something new to keep moving forward.

New beginnings can be fun, but they can also be frightening. Sometimes they can be both. Every new beginning has its own set of opportunities, even if the new beginning isn’t one that was welcome. History is full of examples of people who began new careers after failing time and again, only to find their true calling and the sort of fulfillment that doing what you love can bring.

My own situation is illustrative. I started a new career, and moved into a new house we built on the lake, so 2017 is going to be all about making a new life in a new place with new opportunities. It will be a challenge, especially at my advanced age of 57. I’m looking forward to it.

My Year in Review

2016. What a year.

All over social media I see people constantly calling 2016 a terrible, horrible, really bad year. Since I mostly interact with other Americans, and this was an election year, there has definitely been more stress than most other years.

For me 2016 was a year of ups and downs. It started trending down as I abandoned the hope I had of being a full-time writer after my first two books didn’t manage to make me rich overnight. 2015 was my year of living as a writer, after being laid off with a reasonably nice separation package from my corporate job in December of 2014. In 2015 I published two books and got my Science Fiction Writers of America membership. It was a good year.

2016 started with me getting a full-time job. I was also building my “dream home” on the lake, and the expenses and delays were driving me batty. Getting up to speed on the new job meant learning new programming languages and techniques, which meant very little time for writing.

Besides having to get a day job again, I was also struggling with the final book in my War Chronicles series. Something wasn’t clicking, and I had to completely rewrite the final third of the book before I was satisfied with it. I missed my self-imposed deadlines and with a full-time job, days became weeks, and weeks became months, so that my final book came out almost a year after the second in the series, and that almost certainly killed any momentum I had built up with the first two.

But on the other hand, I did finally self-publish that third book, completing the series. So I gained a real sense of accomplishment from having an epic fantasy trilogy out in the world, getting read by real people, and collecting generally very positive reviews. Plus my audio versions came out, and did quite well, earning me almost as much in royalties as the eBooks themselves did. Which was a very nice surprise.

And now I’m working on my next book. It might take longer than I want, but finishing my first series has given me the confidence that I know how to write, that I write well enough to get good reviews, and if I can keep getting books out there, it’s just a matter of time and hard work before I climb up the ranks of writers.

So I’m not going to call 2016 a “bad year.” I’m going to call it a year where I learned some valuable lessons, developed some valuable skills, and moved into a home I designed and had built. I’m going to look at 2017 as a year that I can get settled into my new home, develop new routines and create the environment I need to be as creative as possible. None of which could have happened without going through the trials and lessons of 2016.

I won’t miss 2016, to be sure, but I won’t consider it a “bad year” and agonize over what might have been. Life is what it is, we do what we can and move on. If I use energy bemoaning what happened in 2016, that’s just that much less energy I have to make 2017 as good as I can make it.

Happy New Year to everyone.

Do Sci-Fi Movie Directors Dream of Electric Scripts?

This month’s Fictorians’ theme is “movie adaptations.”

I got lucky and snagged “Blade Runner.”

blade_runner_poster

When Blade Runner came out, I wasn’t paying attention enough to remember the obscure novella I had read at about the age of twelve. I was well into the movie before I put two and two together and realized I had read the source material. I remember thinking at the time, “When is he going to find that toad?”

That’s pretty close to a spoiler, I suppose. There is no toad in the movie. I don’t remember origami in the novella. Maybe there was some. Honestly, I didn’t remember that much about the novella. I had read it during a period of my life that I was reading three or four sci-fi novels a week. Plus classics like “Gone With the Wind” or “Moby Dick.” The novella simply hadn’t made that much of an impression on me. I had to go back and review “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” to realize just how far the movie had strayed from the original story. How far was that? Well, maybe not as far as the shoulder of Orion, but certainly well past the Tannhauser Gate.

So, since the movie is such a radical departure from the novella, you might think that would count against it as a “movie adaptation.” But I can’t say that, because “Blade Runner” the movie, is better than the novella. By a large margin, in my opinion. Ridley Scott took the basic story of a bounty hunter wrestling with the morality and mortality of “retiring” androids, and created a revolutionary multi-media experience, spawning an entire sci-fi sub-genre in the process.

There is power in the imagery of the film. The fusion of film noir and dystopian post-apocalyptic pathos simply oozes gritty, bloody, sweaty authenticity. By abandoning the original sub-plots involving Deckard’s wife (yes, wife) and their search for an animal of their very own, Scott was able to focus his grimy camera lens directly on the question of what makes us human. That gritty, shadowy vision paradoxically grants the movie near-perfect clarity.

That clarity reaches its climax with Roy Batty’s iconic farewell, sometimes known as the “Tears in Rain Monologue.”

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

Time to die.

Like all great works of art, the movie has an ambiguous ending, allowing the viewer to decide for themselves what Deckard’s and Rachael’s future will be. The viewer isn’t even certain if Deckard himself is a human or a replicant. And that is the movie’s ultimate message. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. As Roy tells us, the value of life is not measured in the number of years we are given, it is measured in what we do with the years we have.