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Gav Thorpe Blog - December 2017 – Q&a (Part One)

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#1 Bugman


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Posted 06 December 2017 - 09:00 AM

Gav-Cuppa-Small-200x300.jpgThis is a compilation of questions that have been emailed and messaged to me recently. November is a two-parter as I’ve had so many questions recently.
I’ve been posting Q&As for a while now, so if you’ve found this one interesting, you can look back at previous Q&As here.
If you want to ask anything, you can post a comment here or get in touch through the contact page (and newsletter subscribers can just reply to any of my emails).
Andrew asked this question on my ‘Brief History of the Deathwatch’ Blog: Which of the Deathwatch marines you outlined in your piece would be most likely to be the squad’s sergeant? Or rather, which one would take command if Artemis wasn’t around?

It would probably be Haryk as the next longest-serving member of the Deathwatch.

Michael replied to my newsletter commenting: I have to say as an aspiring author my dream is to write for Black Library one day, if not I will continue my work and at least try to write some good books… you and Graham are the best thanks for the motivation and the excellent stories…

Thanks for your message. My advice has always been to be a writer (or games designer) in the broader sense and then maybe hope to work with BL or GW. Limiting yourself to such a single narrow window of opportunity rarely works. I was just discussing this with Nick Kyme yesterday, in fact. Getting something published elsewhere – Uncanny Magazine, Grimdark Magazine, etc – lets you jump the queue a bit in terms of BL submissions, as the process is different for published authors. It’s also just good practise and experience of the editorial process for if you do get a shot with playing in the GW sandpit 🙂
[I usually promote a different submissions opportunity in my monthly newsletter, so if you’re planning on taking my advice, you might want to sign up to my newsletter here.]

Valerius-by-Gav-Thorpe-Black-Library-HorChris contacted me via the website: This enquiry is not so much for me but for a friend. She is simply nuts about your Raven Guard books and would like to collect an army based on them and their human allies in the imperial army. However, the issue is that there is next to no material outside of the stories to talk about the appearance and heraldry of The Therion Cohort. She would love to do this, so I was wondering if you might be able to expand on it for me. Just a brief description of their uniforms, and in particular their heraldry and emblems etc would absolutely make her day.</strong>

Thanks for getting in touch. The main inspiration for the Therions was a combination of roman officer and a hussar / cuirassier-type soldier – crests and half-capes you could say. Lots of braiding too! The most notable badge is the red sash – the ‘Blood’ that signifies Therion’s sacrifices for the Emperor.
You can also tell your friend that there will be an illustration of Marcus Valerius in a forthcoming book… That should provide some inspiration!

Peter emailed me via the website: I was wondering if there was any advice you could give on the appropriate chapter length of a story I am working on. Currently I have:
Introduction, 2185 words
Chapter 1, 3052 words
Chapter 2, 3545 words
Chapter 3, 4732 words
Are these a good size? I’m worried they are too short.
Also I was wondering what do you do when you get stuck? Right now I just kind of wait until new material comes. </strong>

There really isn’t a right or wrong answer when it comes to chapter length, as long as each chapter has a self-contained narrative. That said, I think 4,732 words might be on the long side, unless you’re breaking it up with changes in point-of-view etc to speed the chapter along – might be worth seeing if there is a natural break in there somewhere.
As examples of variation, here are some chapter word lengths for my novel Ravenwing:
Chapter 1 – 1,888
Chapter 2 – 1,105
Chapter 3 – 1,099
Chapter 4 – 2,498
Chapter 5 – 817
Chapter 6 – 2,490
and similar for Crown of the Blood:
Intro – 1,165
Chapter 1 – 864
Chapter 2 – 2,194
Chapter 3 – 1,426
I wrote a two-part blog recently about structuring novels that you might find useful (part one, part two) and there’s this older one which covers similar ground. If you click the ‘Writing Advice – Planning‘ and ‘Writing Advice – Pacing‘ tags, there’s a whole host of other posts that might help.
As for what I do when I get stuck, with deadlines and editors waiting I don’t have the luxury of waiting for new material to come to me. Having a chapter outline for the novel helps you focus on what part of the story you need to write next – I’ve recently started using Scrivener and it’s really helped me in this regard (Scrivener might also be useful for sorting your chapter breaks etc too). I take some time to ‘write’ the next scene in my head, and then sit down to type. If I’m struggling I’ll go for a drive or do a job that doesn’t require too much attention (washing up / ironing etc) and my subconscious brain often gets me past the block. When I get *really* stuck, I sometimes skip ahead to another part of the book and go back to it later.

Dark-Son-by-Gav-Thorpe-Black-Library-149Stirling commented on my Facebook post about Dark Son (a short story related to Path of the Eldar): Kind of funny, I had an idea in my head of a similar situation coming about except through the Ynnari. Interesting though I wasn’t aware a dark eldar could be redeemed and lose the whole soul vampire thing.

It’s whether they can undergo the binding with a waystone to protect themselves. I can’t imagine many would be able to look in that soul-mirror.

Stirling followed up with: Dark Eldar feed on suffering like vampires. Craftworld bind their souls to waystones which keep their souls protected. What do outcasts, corsairs, harlequins, and exodites do?

Outcasts / corsairs usually start out as craftworlders so will have spirit stones. If they are Commoraghan exiles (like Maensith) then they will have to feed, but spend most of their time in the webway to minimise soul drain. Exodites also have spirit stones that get embedded into their world spirits. Harlequins… Well, that’s telling. Supposedly Cegorach saves some of them from She Who Thirsts.

After posting a snippet from my novel Imperator: Wrath of the Omnissiah on Facebook, Robert asked: Casus Belli, was that the name of the Imperator in the fluff in the original Titan Legions book?

That’s the one.

Robert: I thought so, epic reference to cool older fluff

Gav: Literally an ‘epic’ reference.

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