F*ck, Frack or Fiddlesticks? – What to do about swearing




Profanity – it’s the best. It can be funny, shocking, cruel, cathartic, revealing and frustrating all at the same time. Use it. Use it in your writing, in your emails; even at your mum.

This is not a blog about whether or not we should use profanity in fiction. The answer to that is: “Do what the voice demands.”

If your character is the kind of person who would swear in a given situation, by all means, let the filth spit from their lips.

Don’t worry about offending prudes. If you’re specifically writing for prudes, you’ll likely not have any characters that would swear anyway. After all, elves and fairies and kiddy-winks and magic stoats don’t swear, do they? No…

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The march of progress – #writerslife

Swarana and I have been back in the UK for three months now and life still feels like its in transition. We were travelling around south-east Asia for the first six months of 2015, having a look around and eating all the foods, so getting back into office/school-life has been, shall we say, taxing.

Now that we’re back, we’re renting a small bedroom from a friend, sleeping on a mattress on the floor every night and using a pokey airing cupboard as our combined wardrobe.

Living in a little room to save cash
Pokey

It’s cheap, mind, which was integral to our returning to London; I had to provide for both of us until the school year started and Swarana could return to work.

But, thankfully, we’ll be moving back into our house by the end of next month, which is exciting. When we bought it last year, it was an ant-riddled shit hole that needed a huge amount of work. We worked on it solidly until Christmas Eve last year, when we finally had to leave it to the estate agents.

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Arbitrary milestone! Hurrah!

It might seem small, or of little consequence to others, but my blog just reached 100 WordPress followers and I’m chuffed to bits, so I wanted to share that… “chuffedness”, so to speak.

Chuffed
100 WordPress followers
Boom!

Now, I’m aware the blog has changed slightly from the outset – when it was a travel blog first and foremost – but I always wanted it to be a place where I could share my thoughts on the writing process, and the progress of my project.

Thank you to everyone for reading, especially those taking the time to comment. It really means a lot. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these posts as much I have writing them.

As an aside, I am consistently surprised by the value of this endeavour; it has manifested focus, productivity, community, inspiration and – dare I say it – friends. I’ve no doubt, too, that once I have published works for people to peruse, a platform of this kind will surely lure readers as well.

Absolutely invaluable.

Thanks again!

Social media screamers & automated steamers

Oh ye gods! What has my Twitter feed become?! How have I created this monster? It dribbles vacant prattle down my screen like the spilled brains of a long-dead marketing executive. Vacuous screams that echo over and over…

BE INTERESTED IN ME;

BE INTERESTED IN ME;

BE INTERESTED IN ME…

Yes, it’s the Automated Twitter Author, saturating the internet with their soulless sales strategy.

Well, I’m not interested, frankly. You go ahead and try to accrue an audience with this zombie-marketing – but it’s not going to work, because you’re a dullard. You’re just a ticking automaton, one that I have the power to switch off and never be disturbed by again.

Here’s a round-up of why your social media presence is putting me off mankind.

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Authors – keep your eyes on the prize

In an effort to make my dream seem more attainable, I decided to etch the name of my book into stone. You can see it, up there, at the top of this blog… see?

What the Hell, let’s stick it here as well…

Citadel Book I
Inspirational title-in-stone image

(Hopefully, I’ll have more luck than Ed Miliband, who carved his goals into a giant monolith during his general election campaign and then failed miserably to achieve them. Poor bloke.)

As for me: I’ve never been so focused on anything in my entire life. I have the wordlust – from the moment I wake up to the moment I rest my head, the stories I have to tell are falling over themselves to get out.

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Ideas in a Flash – the benefits of micro-fiction

I enter a flash fiction competition every Friday. I do this for a variety of reasons:

1.) It’s fun.

2.) I meet other writers.

3.) I hone my craft

4.) It generates ideas.

My latest effort was limited to 150 words. That’s not a lot if you hope to include compelling characters, potent plot lines, convincing dialogue and rich descriptions all in the one piece.

Therefore, often, you have to focus on one or two aspects of a story – the idea, the conflict, the character, the prose.

Last Friday’s prompt was inspired by the Iliad, which I studied in my sixth-form Classics A-Level. I’ve always loved Homer – I’ve got old drafts of “Modern Odyssey” story ideas that I was toying with as a 17-year-old fiction smith.

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Brave New World – Aldous Huxley – [Book Review]

Authors! Remember all those writing tips you trawled through, hoping to find some secret formula to producing winning fiction? Remember all those RULES?

Rules like:

A killer first page – punch your reader square in the chops with an attention-grabbing, scene-setting, character-revealing, action masterpiece that straps their eyes open like a Clockwork Orange civilising machine.

The hero’s journey – have your protagonist endure a change, struggle against adversity, suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and at the last, prevail!

Deep POV – write from inside the character’s head, so the reader feels what the character feels; but don’t jump around from mind to mind or you’ll confuse your audience – whose thoughts are these?!

Dialogue tags?! Kindly remove all your naïve instances of “bemoaned” or “murmured” or “whispered” or “specified” or “enquired” or whatever other word you found in the Thesaurus under “said”. Dear oh dear…

AND WHILE YOU’RE AT IT

Drag your adverbs from your writing and burn them in the street, thank you very much; and apologise to the Gods for your sacrilegious blasphemy. You may find it polite to flog your back with barb wire in penance, you fucking heathen.

Apologies. You read a lot of writing tips when you can’t bring yourself to actually write anything, because it makes you feel better. It almost feels like working – like you’re building up your power bar before re-entering the fray.

Continue reading Brave New World – Aldous Huxley – [Book Review]

Defender of the Corn – Flash Fiction

Matthis woke to the thump of the planet’s heartbeat. It rumbled though the earth, shaking his sod house. Daub dropped from the rafters over his bed, soiling his sheets. It was not yet dawn. Had it been, he’d have risen to plough the fields still damp with morning dew.

Instead, this rhythmic pounding threatened to level his house. He tore the bed sheets aside and pulled a sheepskin cloak over his undergarments.

Thump, thump, thump.

Matthis burst from his house. His land (as far as a peasant might lay claim to the land he toils) was swarming with soldiers. Their unified step quaked the ground.

“Oi!” Matthis cried, waving his sickle. “You bloody bastards! What are ye doin’?”

As though bidden, a horseman galloped forward. “Hail King Anders,” he said from his mount.

“Oh, bloody… Hail!

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