22 November 2013
23 October 2013
16 October 2013
30 September 2013
Now we are going to dig a bit deeper into their back story: Tell me about your family? Where you from? Your best skills? Happiest childhood memories? The most embarrassing thing ever? Most important thing that ever happened? Who are your friends? When did let someone down? Your saddest memories?
Conflict is the crux of any story and any character so here goes with the painful ugly stuff that will give your character extra dimensions: What really annoys you? What don’t you like about yourself? Your main character flaws? Tell me something really mean you did? What would you want to change about your personality? How could you be a better person? What makes you jealous? When do you ‘see red’ with anger? How would you change the world? What could the world do without?
This exercise will help give your characters depth and give you plenty of leavers to pull to upset their world - if your story starts to drag, pull one of these emotional levers to mix things up a bit (you are the puppet master!)
Now you need to repeat this exercise with all your supporting cast of characters. Tedious, but necessary. I like to have more than one main characters so I can play their moral flaws off against each other.
Let me know how you get on and please share any of your ideas.
09 September 2013
11 January 2012
Future Babble, by Dan Gardner: great essays on how the human mind works and can deceive us, but could have been said in a third of the space.
Scrivener's Moon, by Philip Reeve: The third of the Fever Crumb series and the best so far - Mortal Engines back on form. Of all the Philip Reeve books I've read, including the brilliant Here Lies Arthur, this is the first where the story hasn't flagged in the middle.
The Purpose Driven Church, by Rick Warren. Great management tools and concepts for church growth, that fit with our own concept of the 'Fuzzy Fringe'. Very American and corporate in feel, but some useful tools and ideas that can be transposed into an English rural parish with a bit of imagination and a large shoe horn.
28 April 2011
If you are one of those people who despise vampires, you may be perplexed as to why vampire stories are still so popular. I think there is more going on with these stories than first meets the eye, and I think is has something to do with the nature of good stories.
While vampires occupied the classic good versus evil horror slot they were monsters, an expression of the animal within all of us, something other than human, a supernatural threat.
Move the vampire into the romance role and suddenly you have something else. Not only have you mashed together the horror and romance genres, but you automatically have characters full of internal as well as external conflict, and as we know already, conflict is the essence of a good story telling story.
These characters are constantly trying to reconcile their animal and human natures, protect the ones they love not just from others, but also from themselves. Often, their nature is secret from other characters which creates all sorts of conflicting emotions and conflict situations with their human loves – not to mention reader and character reveals. Also, of course, you have the classic romance scenario of forbidden love between a human and a non-human.
In short then, vampire characters come ready made with a whole suit of complex conflicts and contradictions, saving the author a lot of time, effort and thought because everyone knows what to expect.
The same effect can be tracked with the superhero phenomenon. Superhero’s came back into vogue once film makers started exploring their essential character contradictions. Now it is almost expected that any superhero will have a darker side, and as a person will be totally screwed up.
So, if you hate vampire stories, you now know what you have to do: create unique and compelling characters with loads of internal and external conflicts. Not a very easy thing to do, but worth the investment of time and energy, because these sort of characters generally occupy unique and compelling stories.
22 April 2011
I’ve moved into a new writing office. Actually, it would be more accurate to say I have moved out. Now the spring is here, with some decent weather, I’ve taken to driving into the forest, walking to a shady spot with the laptop, and writing for an hour or two. For some reason, now that I’m at home more often, I find it easier to concentrate on writing when I’m out of the house. Here’s a picture of the new office, free-range horses and all.
19 April 2011
I am officially addicted to Wattpad.com. Writing for an audience is both thrilling and pressurising. Nina Swift has over 2000 page reads so far and 77 official fans. It’s great having an audience read your work as you produce it, but also, they need feedback on their own writing and a regular feed of uploads – at least once a week, preferably 2 or 3 per week as I only upload 500 words at a time.
Working the fan-base takes about an hour a day, which is in addition writing.
From a discipline point of view, I need to write often enough to keep at least one chapter ahead of what I’m posting for my fans – that means draft, re-write and one edit. All this discipline is forcing me to get on with completing the Nina Swift novel which is good
Expediency has forced me to streamline my writing technique to become much more efficient. I now draft a new chapter into a notebook, re-write onto the laptop, and edit only once before posting/publishing.
Did I say I love Wattpad? No, well I do, and I’m addicted to it too.
18 March 2011
Space school is brilliant. Writing science fiction for younger children is challenging, I should know, I’ve been trying to do it for years, but in Space School, Tom and Tony Bradman achieve it in entertaining style. The setting is small enough for a young child to relate to: school life aboard a small space ship. The reason for being on the space ship is simple and plausible to young minds: the remnants of humanity have had to flee earth because of pollution. The stakes are high: the families aboard the Buzz Aldrin may be the only ones left as they have lost contact with the rest of the ships.
The story focuses on the relationships between Luke and his Mother (Captain of the Buzz Aldrin), and his two best friends, Yasmin, and Yori who just happens to be a computer genius. The characters are likable and engaging, and you care about them really easily.
The story is simple, straight forward, and not too complicated for a young child to grasp. It focuses on something a child could make happen with a solution in which a child could play a central part without being fantastical.
The writing is straight forward and easily readable, but at the same time, beautifully crafted, and easily assessable by the younger age group. Illustrations, descriptions, and explanations are contemporary and child focused.
I hope Tom and Tony Bradman can keep churning out these stories to fill that gap in the reading market for young boys that only Beast Quest seems to be tackling. Compared to Beast Quest, I think Space School is much better.
I’m impressed (ok, I admit it, I’m green with envy, this is the sort of story writing I would love to produce for my Jumpers series). I wish Tom and Tony all the best with this series, and will certainly be recommending it to friend’s children.