Tag Archives: Fantasy

A Game of Thrones – George R R Martin – [Book Review]

Before you start, I know I’m a bit late to the party on this one, but I bought a copy of Game of Thrones because I’m a fan of the show and wanted to read the original work from which it sprang. I’d been told about its narrative structure, too, and wanted to see how it was handled, as multi-viewpoint third-person is how I’ve set my own work.

For those unaware, each chapter in Game of Thrones bears the name of the character it follows (which results in a contents page that looks like a goldfish trying to name all the protagonists).

The problem with coming back to evaluate a story having seen the TV series is, all the characters already have faces – Peter Dinklage will always be Tyrion in my head, Sean Bean will always play Eddard. There’s no imagination involved because those roles have already been filled by HBO.

Similarly, there are no surprises. The first series followed the first book down to the last scene. My friend tells me the show diverts from the books more in later seasons, and outright cuts many characters from the narrative, but this first book is practically the first season’s screenplay. Apart from, of course, this page of differences, which includes nerd-facts like:

  • In the book, Jaime pushes Bran from the window with his right hand. In the show he uses his left hand.

Right. I can’t believe the filmmakers took such liberties.

Continue reading A Game of Thrones – George R R Martin – [Book Review]

The final Act, and the temptation to flee

Writing is like a salsa; for as many steps forward you make, there are as many back, but every once in a while you get to do a spin or a flourish, and those stay with you. They’re the good bits.So it is with me; I bear good news, with bad news, but my catalogue of narrative pirouettes thankfully continues to grow.

The good news? I’ve reached the final act of my novel, Citadel. It’s taken a long time to get to this point, a lot of forward motion, but with almost as much backtracking. Aside from a manuscript of around 105,000 words, I have documents of cut scenes and entire plot lines that amount to 80,000 words. That is a staggering amount of editing. And it sounds like a colossal waste of time, right? Still: FINAL ACT people. That is good news.

The bad news is I’m finding it difficult to wrap it up. I’ve escalated the peril to such a degree, all seems lost, as it should by the end of Act 4. But closing it out and reaching a neat conclusion is proving a challenge.

Continue reading The final Act, and the temptation to flee

Dead ends – and how to rescue your characters from them

Sometimes, we writers can be a heinous bunch. We give birth to our characters, write life into them, give them hopes and dreams, and send them out into a world that we loveingly created just for them; only to dash their hopes, torment their dreams and torture them hideously until they are forced to change in order to cope.

The problem comes when we’re too mean to them. It’s not uncommon for a writer to lead their characters into a trap from which it appears impossible to escape. Then what?

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Dying for a Living – Kory M Shrum – [Book Review]

Zombies! 

They’re bloody everywhere aren’t they? Western media is awash with the shambling degenerates, mindlessly meandering through malls or ineffectively banging against baffling barriers of glass. Of all the stages of human life, only babies are more hopeless.

The zombie theme has reached saturation point – nay! It reached saturation point over a decade ago when 28 Days Later tried to reanimate the rotting genre with super-fast zombies. Cillian Murphy tried to trick us, but we knew what they were. You can call it “the Rage” all you like – they’re still zombies.

So while The Walking Dead went back to basics to find human drama in a world of brain-chomping corpses, Kory M Shrum sought an entirely different form to explore life after death.

Continue reading Dying for a Living – Kory M Shrum – [Book Review]

The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell – [Book Review]

Don't interrupt me
In China, being rudely interrupted whilst reading Cloud Atlas

About four years ago, I picked up a copy of Cloud Atlas on a recommendation from my friend Ben. From the first few pages I was stunned. Here was a book of such quality, it made my own work read like the witless ramblings of an illiterate cretin. I loved it, and loathed it with self-deprecating awe.

I’ve heard some people were thrown by the first chapter’s somewhat verbose Victorian-style prose, but I found it captivating. The vocabulary was astonishing, the choice of words practically perfect.

I was also struck by the symmetrical structure of the book, which, when I realised I would be returning to the initial protagonist Adam Ewing, gave me all the more compulsion to read on and discover the resolution to his plight. Yet, I was enthralled by the next character I was presented with, and the next.

Each tale had its own unique tone, its own genre. And beneath it all there ran the theme of mankind’s predatory nature, persisting through the eras, adopting a different guise to confound us.

It’s a fabulous book and I recommend it whole-heartedly.

But it’s that, I’m afraid, that makes this review all the harder to write.
Continue reading The Bone Clocks – David Mitchell – [Book Review]

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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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.

Continue reading Ideas in a Flash – the benefits of micro-fiction