"The 'Osbert', Pickle"

November 4, 2007 (Amendments November 11, 2007) [Updated, January 20, 2008] January 27, 2008 [This whole thing updated again, February 3, 2008.  And even more updates, April 27, 2008.]

On this page I am writing about my story, "The Book-Case Conundrum".  I have some text with the whys and wherefores of my story.  I have added some amendments to that section. Then I ask some questions about the story, the format, grammar, etc.  Below that is a section with links about "Christian Science Fiction" etc. 


I'm writing this story in my "free" time. I'm calling it, "The Book-Case Conundrum". (Grāmatskapis is the Latvian word for book-case. I don't know how to pronounce it.)

April 27, 2008 Right now I have the whole story mapped out in an outline.  I just have to write it all out. 

I was writing and reading about books lately. I got a "bug" to write an adventure story. This is almost like a mystery story. It is also like a treasure hunting story. There are also elements of "science fiction" to it [sort of].  My aim is to write an adventure story, that has some "hope" to it.  There is light at the end of the tunnel for these characters!

I am setting the story in the fictional "country" of Mosdubia. It's NOT a thinly veiled, "real country on earth". What I mean is, the political situation I write about is NOT a "disguised" U.S. or any other country. I am taking certain conspiracy theories that I have read and heard about and making the Mosdubia "government" like some of that stuff. This is not an "end times" story either. The "buying and selling permit" I write about is NOT the "mark of the beast". The reason I am writing about a fictional place is because I want to write about things that can't happen in real life. (synthetic water; a horizontal elevator like conveyance in a hotel, that can go around corners; etc.)

The main point to the story isn't the politics really. I have written about that so far, to give some idea about what the main character has to deal with on a daily basis. Every now and then there will be more "examples" of this "regime" injected into the story. But it is just to add some background.

I am having a lot of fun writing this story. I started it, and then wondered how to tie it into the Word. I thought about giving the main character a "benefactor" or "teacher" who teaches him the Word as things go along. [That's kind of what happens. The main character, Osbert, does come to learn about God eventually.]

The "city" that Osbert is in (the scenery)… [Vilinošs / ]

I pictured it to look similar to an older city in Switzerland or Europe somewhere. I have a book from the 1970's which shows Switzerland. It has a picture of the old part of a city. I picture it similar to that. As far as the clothing, cars and other such things… I pictured things looking similar to how things were in the U.S. during the late 1950's to early 1960's. But it could look as late as the very early 1970's. [Very "ordinary" like the opening credits to the 1970's sit com, "The Odd Couple".] I don't picture the architecture and decoration to look very "modern" for the times. I picture everything to look very "classic" or "conservative". I don't picture a very gloomy "atmosphere" to this story. The weather is sunny out unless otherwise stated.

I don't know if the story is set in "modern" times (our present) or not. I don't think they would have anything like the Internet. With the strict laws they have, I think it would be too difficult to "control" it. I don't want to have to deal with the Internet and all the ramifications to it. If certain books are banned, then they would be available on the Internet---people would just scan them in and post them. I don't want to get into all that. I want a simpler story. Besides, the politics and laws are not the main focus of the story.

My Influences:

Should you want to know my reading tastes, you can read the, "Writing About Books" page on this website. I've written about mostly, "worldly" books on thereBut I do list examples of the types of books I like to find and read from.  Reading about books has influenced, "The Book-Case Conundrum" quite a bit. I wouldn't say that a particular fiction book that I've read was an influence. There are a few influential fiction books, that I've read about in other books. Lately, I am reading a lot of books where the authors have written about the contents of fiction books. I can't remember all the titles of the influential fiction though. I have to say that for this story, I am mostly influenced by the movies. ("Off the beaten path" things like, the movies "Brazil"; "Twelve Monkeys"; "La Jetée" and the sitcoms, "Delta House"; "The Addams Family". Although this "theme" isn't in my story exactly, "the wrong man" theme like in the Hitchcock films is also an influence on this story. "Romantic" movies, [either romantic scenery or movies with romance stories] have also been an influence on my story.  One of my most favorite movies is, "Hope and Glory".  I like certain aspects of "Brief Encounter" as well.  I don't like the "cheating spouses" aspect though. I saw most of it recently, and it's the atmosphere and "ordinariness" of it that are an influence.)

"How To Write" Books:

January 20, 2008  

I read, "This Year You Write Your Novel" by Walter Mosley.  It isn't a "Christian" book.  I started reading it after I started this story.  It let me know what I was doing right or wrong.  (to a point) At least as far as the story goes, I think I am on the right track. 

I'm not sure if the opening to my story has enough bang to it.  This book by Mosley doesn't go into the opening. (at least from what I remember.  I'm extremely tired as I write these current paragraphs.)  I know with radio drama, you have to get the audience going with a bang or they will "switch off" as they say in the U.K.  I had bought this book for my father in law.  I told him that if he didn't want it, let me have it back.  He handed it back to me right away.  This book really communicated something to me.  I am reading, "Write His Answer" by Marlene Bagnull, off and on.  It's really a, "Bible study for Christian writers".  Of course I read a good bit of, "The Joy of Writing" by Pierre Berton, but that's about writing non-fiction.  Even "Write His Answer", is mostly about non-fiction. Yet some of the stuff in it can apply to fiction. April 27, 2008 Lately I have been reading, "How To Write an uncommonly Good Novel" edited by Carol Hoover. It's a really good book too. It's not a Christian book either.

I wish there was a book for Christian writers, that was like Walter Mosley's book, but only from a Christian perspective. I liked his book because it was short and to the point.  It didn't go into a lot of stuff I didn't need to know.  I didn't need to learn how to tell a story really.  I just needed to learn how to make the story I was telling, a novel that someone would want to read. If I need grammar and such like, I have those books too.  I don't need that information in the "how to write" book. 

I also wish there was a book that gave Biblically accurate information as to what should and shouldn't go into a Christian fiction book.  Obviously there are some subjects that are "devilish" and some that are not.  Naturally, I don't know how a person can write only characters that are always 100% Christian in their thoughts and actions.  That would probably be a boring story.  There has to be a triumph of good over evil. Yet, maybe not specifically in every story... I mean, not every Christian story has to have a well defined "evil" that a well defined hero overcomes. [Like an army of, "good guys" who fight against an army of, "bad guys" and win.] I think the, "good triumphing" can be written more subtly.  It seems to me that for the story to seem at all plausible or realistic [to a point], there have to be characters who are not Christian.  It would be neat to have a book that tells from a Biblical point of view what is "best" in story telling.  [Not just what subjects are best for Christian stories; but what is best as far as how to get Godly inspiration and how to avoid, "devilish" inspiration etc.] It would be neat to find a Christian book that deals with various aspects of writing Christian fiction. I'm not looking for "how to write" books.  I have those.

I know it would be difficult to please "everybody" with such a book.  There's one camp that believes that there can't be "Christian fiction" because all fiction is, "worldly" or "devilish".  Another camp believes that magic and witchcraft (sorcery) are "devilish". Yet another camp probably believes that so long as certain "Christian" criteria are adhered to, you can do anything in fiction. (For example my sister believes, that so long as the lyrics are "Christian" a song could sound like "Marilyn Manson" and it would be ok.  I don't believe that myself.) And so on. 

I'm wanting a book that goes at it from a strictly Biblical point of view. I would rather the book not take what, "man thinks" [theology] as its standard for truth.  I doubt that what I want is available.  At least I haven't found it.  I bought a copy of "How to Write and Sell a Christian Novel", by Gilbert Morris.  It could be titled, "How to Write and Sell a Novel". There isn't much "Christian" in it, from what I have seen so far [I haven't read it all yet].  I have a copy of "God's Word in Culture" by Elena Scott Whiteside. I got it out and am re-reading it some. There is one section about writing. ["Part Two--It Is Written: Essays In Culture, Essay Three, On Writing"] (There's also a section, "Part One-- Word-Centered Culture, Essay Three, Thinking Through Words".) 

November 12, 2007.

Here are some further explanations.  Some of this came from a couple of E-mails I sent to two pen pals. (Pen pals in England and Australia. They had filled out my feedback form.) If some of this text seems out of context, it is because I just cut and pasted it in here. I tried to fix the context problems as briefly as I could.  I might not have all the facts correct in this section either.  I am not an expert on Christian Publishing.

The first paragraph about "dystopian" I thought to add right now.  I added some text to the replies to the pen pals too.

Technically this story should possibly be called, "dystopian" rather than "science fiction"?  (If you know, "Brave New World" and "The Handmaid's Tale".  I have only read "Brave New World".)

I was hoping the story to be "novel" length. I am not sure exactly how many pages that would turn out to be.

As far as putting an introduction with the time and place... I was hoping to have the time, place etc. sort of "sneak up" on the reader. What would be really great is, if I could find someone who could draw. Then they could draw what "I am seeing".

Drawings.... It would be great to illustrate the story with the appropriate pictures. I see it as if it were a movie almost. It's really like how I dream. I see this story in pictures and emotions. I don't see it moving like a movie. Still pictures telling the story, like a comic book, but with photographs. I don't know how you'd do it in book form, but with a computer there could be 3D photographs that you can move around in and get a 360 view of the place.

I have fun writing. With the fiction, I can write about what I'm feeling or experiencing, yet make it something that isn't really happening (if that makes sense). Fictionalize reality.

Christian fiction is a very big market in the U.S. Have you ever heard of the "Left Behind" books? They were bought by people who weren't even Christians. I didn't read them. My mother did. I saw the movie they made from the first book. I guess I should look again at the Christian fiction in a book shop. I seem to remember seeing a lot of books where the characters fight demons. They try to do Christian "Steven King" type stuff it looked like to me. There's lots of romances under the Christian fiction theme. I think most of it would be women's fiction---romances. There's lots and lots of historical fiction in there too. It looked like there may have been some mysteries. Not murder mysteries maybe. I need to re-look at it. I can't remember all of it exactly. (There is a big Christian book catalogue we get. You can see what they have. http://www.christianbook.com/.) 

There's different kinds of publishers too.... In Christian circles there's the big name mainstream Christian publishers. Zondervan is one. I think they might be in Michigan. There's other minor ones too. I bought a book from one. I called and talked to the owner's wife. They had just bought the business from someone else. I was buying a book called, "How to write and sell your Christian Novel". I don't really know, but somehow I don't think this publisher is as big as Zondervan. Zondervan is owned by some big company anyway. I think they got "bought out" by someone larger.

I don't know about the market for Christian science fiction though. I was reading the Wikipedia article for it. It said that not all the novels were blatant Christianity. At least that's how I understand what they said. I'm not looking for this story to make the best seller lists.

I have seen all sorts of books in my time. They don't all get into bookshops. I don't know how they get sold. I think some people get their books printed and then sell them on eBay. Not that these are normally fiction. They tend to be books on how to sell stuff on eBay. Ha! There's a publication someone sells, called, "How to Write an e-Book and sell it on eBay".

As far as the Christian theme....

One of the things the Bible exhorts us as Christians, to do, is tell other's about what God has to offer them. We are also to "bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ". We are to have our thoughts lined up with what the Bible says.... (three versions of the same verse)

2Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; (King James)

2Corinthians 10:5 We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. (The Message)

2Corinthians 10:5 [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), [Amplified]

So, in that case, I should have my writing be as Godly as possible. I endeavor to look at everything I do from a Biblical point of view. It doesn't always work out though. I am human. To us, Christianity isn't a "religion", it is beyond a lifestyle. It is not just something we "believe", it is something we "do".

That doesn't mean we are to "shove Christianity down people's throats" like some people accuse us of. There are Christians who do that. We just make it available. If people don't want it, that's between them and God.

I was wanting to have my main character being shown what the Bible says. I don't know if he believes it or not. I might leave that a mystery. This "mysterious" person (man) leads him down this path to learning something new.  I picture the man as "mysterious" because he doesn't give his name or really identify himself. Maybe he's trying to stay off the government's radar.

It is really great to have the feedback. It's good to know whether or not to keep working on it. I took it to our Bible Fellowship and a couple of the men I showed it to, really liked the idea of my putting "synthetic water" etc. in it. They like Sci-fi type stuff.


Questions That I Have: Any input will be appreciated.  My husband and the woman who lives with my father in law, both read my story.  Douglas will suggest things that need changing.  He's not a writer or editor though.  There's a lot of things he doesn't have a clue about.  He does notice certain spelling and grammar mistakes. (And facetiously suggests that I take English as a second language lessons.)  The other reader, just wants me to finish the story as she really likes reading it. I value what opinion she has, as she reads a lot.

I write about "How to Write" books above and ask questions about finding a good Christian "how to write" book.

Issues with grammar, especially "tenses"...   

I'm trying to write the story in the present tense. That is proving difficult. I am in the habit of writing such narratives in the "past tense". I see the action as if I am watching it. And because it "just happened", I write things like, "After having done that", rather than, "He does that and then he". I have tried to make all the sentences present tense. There are a few that I left in the past tense, because that was appropriate. Each time, I thought I was done I kept finding more that needed changing. So if you see anything that needs correcting let me know. I am not entirely sure that I didn't change a sentence to present tense that needs to remain in the past tense. [April 27, 2008 I think this situation is probably solved now, but still if you run across anything let me know.]

January 20, 2008

I am not sure if my sentences aren't too long in places.  I tend to write long sentences.  I think I have the spelling down pretty well.  I think I can work on the grammar later if I need to.  I have a friend who is a secretary and knows that stuff. She can do some editing if I need it.  It would be nice to know if I need to shorten the sentences. 

If the sentences are long, I have a tendency to put them the, "wrong way 'round".  I forget the correct term in grammar, "dangling participles" maybe?  Sometimes I have to re-arrange the sentences and they read better. 

Right now I am just trying to get the story onto paper. I try to fix the spelling mistakes as they happen. The template I use is British. (They don't have it available anymore.)  I think it uses British spellings I'm not sure. I know the radio drama template I got, which I also downloaded from the BBC uses British English (as I downloaded the one for British script layouts).  I'll edit the grammar either as I go along or as I edit the story.  Grammar isn't one of my long suits.  Someday, I'll have to find someone to read it over who is better at grammar than I am.

Another Technical Issue

April 26, 2008

I've been reading, "How To Write an uncommonly Good Novel" edited by Carol Hoover.  Douglas my spouse and I were discussing a couple of sections from chapter 2 today.  We determined that I am writing this story in the third person.  It wasn't deliberate on my part, it just seemed to happen that way.  In the "how to" book, the author of chapter two, F.M. Maupin, is writing about writing a novel in the third person.  "Yet a third thing you can't do--- do I have to tell anybody this?--- you can't deceive your reader.  You have made yourself a God, and God cannot lie. If you reveal a character's thoughts as only he and God (or only God) could know them, you must not conceal significant facts from the reader to forward 'suspense'".  How do I know if I am breaking this rule?  There are certain things I am holding back on.  I don't want the audience (reader) to know everything at the beginning.  How do I know if I am being "deceptive"?

Should I go and "fix" what I have so far, and make sure everything is in the second person?  Then how could I let the audience know what Napoleon is doing behind the walls of Osbert's hotel room?  We looked at fixing it now, while there isn't too much written.  But there were some things I wanted to say, which wouldn't work as well in second person.  Is it ok to just leave things how they are now?  [I have all of chapter one done and about five pages of chapter two done.]

More Questions  April 27, 2008

Should I continue on with this story?  Is it worth finishing? 

I know that in the story, I don't communicate what time frame the story takes place in.  The story takes place in a fictional country of, "Mosdubia".  In Mosdubia, 2008 could very look like, "our" 1963 or whatever.  I can't say, say that the story is in 1963, because Mosdubia might not look like, "our" 1963.  (I did say there was a 1930's car that the main character was waiting on.  So in that instance things are the same.) How do I communicate what I am, "seeing" as far as the setting?

Should I find a professional person who reads and critiques writing?  How do you know if you have found a good one?  Is there a "code of conduct" they abide by?  I found a website for people who does this.  It seemed like a neat idea.   


Links To Websites About "Christian Science Fiction" (I have no idea if
any of these are "on the Word". [Biblically correct]) This is NOT a comprehensive list. [Updated, January 20, 2008]

What is "speculative fiction" Wikipedia article.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speculative_fiction

Biblical Speculative Fiction Wikipedia article.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_speculative_fiction






The Lost Genre Guild  http://lostgenreguild.com/

"Lost Genre Guild" blog http://blog.lostgenreguild.com/

November 11, 2007

Hey, I just found this, "Internet Speculative Fiction Database".