Writing is Rewriting

The old adage – writing is rewriting – is a small and wise nugget, but inside this little phrase is a whole world of magic. Maybe that’s a bit too much wide-eyed mysticism, but, damn it, there is power in the rewrite. Old world hoodoo. I’m a believer.

Writing isn’t easy. It’s not working in a mineshaft or being a grave-digger or garbage man difficult, but it can be incredibly frustrating, exhausting, and mind-numbing. The act of carving loose a story is tricky business. Stories, you see, they lurk. They hide and cower, shriveling away in stubborn obstinance, and sometimes they require a tremendous amount of coaxing to do with it what you will.

Not all stories are like this. Not all of them, and not all the time. But sometimes you get a good idea that you just cannot get a solid grip on. It’s an idea that wants to be a story, but which is slimy and feisty and refuses to be pinned down in a corner. That’s when you have to go at it from a different angle. That’s when you rewrite and trap it.

Convergence came somewhat easily, but that second draft…man, that was full of rewriting, trying to get those ideas lined up right and flowing sensibly.

I wanted to follow it up with a horror novel whose idea has been percolating in my head for about six years. I couldn’t even get through the first chapter. It was awful. I had no idea how to start it. Or, at least, I did have an idea but not a proper way of executing it. The idea still lingers, and I’m working on a new approach now. We’ll see if I can nail it down or not.

I shelved it for a while and tackled Emergence, a sequel to Convergence. Again, it came easily. Three months of solid writing and I produced a first draft I was really happy with. I sent it off to my editors at Red Adept. There’s a lot of rewriting in store for me again. I spent this past weekend rewriting and rearranging an entire chapter early on in the book’s going. I’ll be rewriting the ending and expanding it. There’s a whole litany of notes from my content editor, and a heck of a lot of work ahead before it’s publishable. But it’s all doable. I already did a lot of the heavy lifting. Now it’s just finessing and modifying and cleaning shit up.

Consumption came easy, fired out after three days of frenetic writing. That one bled out of me, and took on a life of its own. I wanted to follow it up with another short story for an anthology I’ll be taking part in next year. The first idea I had was solid, but again, the execution was a failure. Just couldn’t figure it out.

I came up with a new idea. It’s called Revolver. It wasn’t always called that, but it is now. I sat down to write it and got about three thousand words in. I was not feeling it at all. There was no direction. There was too much infodump. I had the big idea of splitting the narrative into present day with flashbacks to flesh out the character. It drained the story of any energy, robbed it of any sense of necessity, and felt a lot like chasing after myself in a big damn circle, getting nowhere.

I started over. Not right away, no. I let the ideas run free and waited for the story to come to me. I couldn’t force it, not this time. Trying to deliberately write Revolver was trying to hold onto a fistful of water. No matter how hard I tried, it just kept running away from me, leaking away. I waited and waited, until the story came and told me how to tell it.

Every story is a lesson. There’s always something new to learn, a new approach, a new mechanism. The imp inside Revolver wanted to change everything – narrative choices, point of view, characters, everything that surrounded the core concept of that small, initial kernel of an idea.

Sometimes, you just have to wait and listen hard. And rewrite.

Writing is Rewriting

New Story Coming Soon!

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All right, kids, that’s a wrap on the first draft of a new short story that will be out soon.

I cannot tell you much about this work yet, as it’s all very top secret, hush-hush, and on the QT. I can offer a few nuggets of information though:

  • The story is called REVOLVER
  • REVOLVER is a dark, dystopian sci-fi piece set in the near-future.
  • I wrote this story for inclusion in a forthcoming sci-fi anthology, which is expected to release in early 2015. I don’t think I can spill the beans on who all else is included, but rest assured it’s a great group of authors and I couldn’t be happier to be working with them on this project. This will be a top-notch effort from all of us involved, though, and not just on the story side of things. We’ve got a terrific cover artist on the hook, and some fine editorial strong-hands helping each of us shine brightly.

Keep an eye out for the real details soon. Once I can release more information, I will. This is a bit of a hard project for me to keep quiet about because I  really, really, really want to tell you everything about all of this. It’s very exciting, and I’m beyond thrilled with the way things have been shaping up, and with how well REVOLVER turned out.

Next step is editing, and that’s always a doozy. I’ll be working on the next draft in conjunction with moving ahead on editing EMERGENCE, so I’ll certainly be keeping busy and distracted, which should help keep me from revealing more than I should.

By the way, and without giving away too much more about this project, now might be a good time for you to sign up to my newsletter. I won’t spam you, but I will send you updates on new releases. When this anthology comes out, there may even be a few surprises in store for subscribers.

New Story Coming Soon!

Dinner Is Served: Consumption Release Day

CONSUMPTION COMPLETE

My new short story, CONSUMPTION, is out today! It retails for only 99 cents and you can find it at the following etailers (Nook link coming soon!):

| Amazon | Kobo | Nook |

| iBookstore | Google Play |

| Smashwords |

I’ve been lucky enough to get some advanced review coverage on this one, and here’s what the readers are saying:

Your stomach will turn, your throat will restrict, and jaw will clench tighter than a bull’s arsehole in fly season.

- S. Elliot Brandis, author of Irradiated and Once Upon A Time At The End Of The World

Consumption is wonderfully paced and a real treat for horror fans. … I read it with the lights off and my Kindle screen turned up, and it was a totally immersive and satisfying experience.

- Franklin Kendrick, author of The Entity series.

Hicks takes the reader to some twisted, nightmarish places and if you’re a horror fan with a strong constitution, add Consumption to your reading list – you won’t regret it.

- Teri Polen, Books & Such

wonderfully macabre! Cleverly thought out, I was both disgusted and excited by this tale. This a MUST read for horror fans.

- Great Book Escapes

Consumption means a lot to me, and it’s a bit of an ode to the sort of horror I love. It’s a gory, fatalistic creature feature, full of atmosphere and creepiness. I had a tremendous amount of fun writing it, and I hope that joy comes through in the story. I’ve already written about how this story came about, and it’s a huge departure from my debut work, Convergence.

I talked about all this with S. Elliot Brandis over the weekend, and he’ll be posting his interview with me over at his site. Keep an eye out for it soon. I think it’ll be a pretty good read, if I do say so myself.

Then, head over to your favorite eBook hustler and plunk down a mere 99 cents for a good old-fashioned Halloween treat.

Dinner Is Served: Consumption Release Day

Reblog: Author Wednesday – Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks:

Many, many thanks to Patricia Zick for the wonderful interview as part of her on-going Author Wednesday series!

Originally posted on P.C. Zick:

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Welcome to another installment of Author Wednesday. Michael Patrick Hicks joins me today to talk about his first novel Convergence. This science fiction technothriller features Jonah Everitt as your everyday drug addict, memory thief, and killer. There’s bound to be an edge-of-your-seat story in the telling of his journey! convergence-800-cover-reveal-and-promotional

Hello Michael! Your book sounds exciting and chilling at the same time. Tell us a little bit about yourself as a writer before we delve into the plot of Convergence.When did you first discover your voice as a writer?

Probably in high school. I always dabbled with writing as a hobby, but in my senior year of high school–way back when now–I decided to get a little bit serious about it and took a creative writing course. I wasn’t quite prepared for the worlds it opened up for me, and I completely fell in love with the art. I’ve…

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Reblog: Author Wednesday – Michael Patrick Hicks

Lucas Bale Interviews Me: “Convergence, by Michael Patrick Hicks – Analysing a Writer’s Process”

Lucas Bale, author of The Heretic, interviewed me for his site. You can go read the discussion in full at the link below.

I met Lucas through KBoards and enjoyed the heck out of The Heretic. You should go get a copy at Amazon (only $2.99) and give it a shot. Be sure to join his mailing list too! He’s got some big plans for his Beyond The Wall series, which kicks off with his debut and it sounds like there’s going to be a lot more to come.

The Interview: Convergence, by Michael Patrick Hicks – Analysing a Writer’s Process — Lucas Bale.

And, just to put the reminder out there, Convergence is on sale for 0.99 for the rest of this week on all platforms. If you do buy a copy, please consider leaving a review at Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever else you feel is appropriate.

Right now, Convergence is sitting pretty nicely at #27 in Cyberpunk (in the US; it’s currently #68 in the UK Kindle store), and I’m hoping it’ll start ranking in other categories soon. So, please be sure to tell all your friends and family about this sale, too, and help spread the good word!

Convergence is keeping good company in the Top 30 Cyberpunk titles. (July 14, 2014)
Convergence is keeping good company in the Top 30 Cyberpunk titles. (July 14, 2014)
Lucas Bale Interviews Me: “Convergence, by Michael Patrick Hicks – Analysing a Writer’s Process”

Guest Post: Lucas Bale, “The Heretic”

Today, we’ve got a guest piece from author Lucas Bale, who made his sci-fi debut this week with the just-released The Heretic. In my opinion, this is a book well worth getting (my review is here), but be warned: you’ll want more and may have yourself hooked on a new series in very short order!

Check out the description below, and then read on as Lucas discusses ‘hard’ vs ‘soft’ sci-fi and where The Heretic falls, as well as some of the inspirations that helped drive his work.

Heretic EbookEARTH IS GONE.

Centuries have passed since the First Cataclysm ended life on the blue planet. Humanity’s survivors are now dispersed among distant colonies, thousands of light years from the barren, frozen rock that was once their home.

A new Republic has formed – one in which freedom no longer exists. In return for the protection of the Consulate Magistratus, citizens must concede their rights. The Magistratus controls interstellar travel, access to technology – even procreation. Organised religion is forbidden. All crime is punished by banishment or a lifetime of penal servitude on the Kolyma prison fleet.

And humanity’s true history survives only in whispers of a secret archive.

Yet there are those who preach a new religion and who want to be free.

A REVOLUTION IS COMING…

The Heretic is the first book in the Beyond the Wall series, an epic story about the future of humanity and the discovery of the truth of its past.

Buy it on Amazon:    US  | UK

Buy it on Kobo

Buy it on iBookstore

Buy it on Nook (Barnes and Noble)

Add it on Goodreads


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I have always been most inspired by what I now know to be ‘hard science-fiction’. I don’t shy away from stories which fall towards the ‘softer’ end of the science-fiction, but my natural inspiration seems to derive from stories which seem to me to be theoretically possible, and therefore more compelling to my mind. We write, at least at the beginning of our careers, what appeals to us most. This is probably the safest course as we learn our craft and we hone our ability to take our readers on the journey we want them to experience. Experimenting with new angles is best left for later stories, or shorter ones.

I can’t say why I am seduced by hard science-fiction, but even when it comes to fantasy, I prefer the worlds in which magic is explained in some way, or operates according to very concrete rules. I find the whole thing more believable. I find the surreal uncomfortable –I simply don’t enjoy it. Perhaps the simple fact I can relate it to something real makes it more chilling, more compelling. More believable. For me, Alien and Aliens, taken together, are at the pinnacle of thrilling, suspenseful science-fiction. They might be said not to be hard science-fiction in the classic sense. The kernel of hard science-fiction is the relationship between the accuracy, and amount, of the scientific detail in the story and the rest of the narrative. In 1993, Gary Westfahl suggested that one requirement for hard science-fiction is that a story “should try to be accurate, logical, credible and rigorous in its use of current scientific and technical knowledge about which technology, phenomena, scenarios and situations that are practically and/or theoretically possible.”

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On the basis Einstein’s theory of special relativity tends to preclude faster-then-light travel, most hard science-fiction authors shy away from it. Others might use it as a device whilst maintaining rigorous scientific scruples in respect of the rest of the story. I wouldn’t want to be the butt of what Westfahl describes as ‘The Game’–the search for scientific inaccuracy in a science-fiction work –I am too concerned such rigor tends to inhibit storytelling, and we all take artistic liberties in storytelling. That said, Westfahl concedes, ‘hardness’ is in reality less a matter of the absolute accuracy of the science content than of the rigor and consistency with which the various ideas and possibilities are worked out. For my part, regardless of recent advances which might make Warp Travel possible, through the auspices of an Alcubierre Drive, I chose wormholes as the device to permit interstellar travel. This was as much about the theme underpinning the entire series as it was a construct to allow my story to move along. To say more would ruin the series, but every hard science-fiction story needs to take some liberties and, often, the way in which those liberties are taken can enhance the storytelling. The world I created to tell the Beyond the Wall story is as important to the story as the characters. It is not just a setting, it is a character in itself.

Yet, the themes explored as Beyond the Wall develops are more akin to soft science-fiction –they are political, psychological, anthropological and sociological. In fact, whilst I have attempted to maintain a hard science-fiction tenor in respect of the setting, the story explores far more human themes than technological. The dystopian theme might well be considered ‘hard’ science-fiction, but by definition it must be soft, dealing with social sciences as it would usually tend to. Such is the danger of to rigid a categorisation of fiction –good fiction is usually a blend of different areas. Science is critical to Beyond the Wall, but only in the way it impacts on the remains of humanity, struggling to find its way.

Apart from Aliens, one of the other significant inspirations for Beyond the Wall was Joss Whedon’s Firefly. In many ways Firefly is Space Opera, yet it also carries with it many of the characteristics of hard science-fiction –no faster-than-light travel, no alien life-forms, no technology which is unexplainable or specifically advanced beyond that which might be expected of the setting. It operates within norms which make it more believable as a consequence. I think that is why it appealed to me and why I began, when it’s run was prematurely terminated, to think about my own setting. Beyond the Wall is very different and will become even more different, but I named Shepherd as a nod to Joss Whedon’s superb show. Yet the themes in Firefly are more properly considered to be soft science-fiction, covering the political and psychological ground as they do. They are very human themes and I think we identify with them far more as a result. In the end, ‘hard’ or ‘soft’, what we really want is a story which is believable; which grips us on an emotional, psychological level and which we can identify with. I think good science-fiction has elements of all of that.


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Lucas Bale writes the sort of intense, thrilling science-fiction and suspense stories which make you miss your train stop. The sort of stories which dig into what makes us human and scrape at the darkness which hides inside every one of us. When he looks up at the stars, he sees the infinite and myriad worlds which are waiting for us, and which need to be explored. He wasn’t always a writer, but who can say that? He was a barrister for fifteen years before he discovered crime doesn’t pay and turned to something which actually pays even less. No one ever said he was smart, but at least hes happy.

His debut novel, THE HERETIC, is the gateway to the BEYOND THE WALL series, an epic story about the future of humanity and the discovery of the truth of its past and is out from July 7th.

Author website: www.lucasbale.com

Twitter: @balespen

Lucas Bale on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/lucasbale

Guest Post: Lucas Bale, “The Heretic”