On villains

October 4, 2013 Brightmoon world, The Fire Mages, The Incursors, The Plains of Kallanash 0

Most stories have a villain of some sort to generate conflict (also known as an antagonist). Beginning writers are advised to give their hero or heroine (protagonist) a goal, and to have an antagonist who works against the protagonist, preventing him or her from reaching their goal. The tension rises as the protagonist struggles to achieve the goal and is knocked back more and more decisively; eventually a point of despair is reached, then a solution is envisaged and there is a final confrontation, during which the antagonist is defeated.

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On Religions

September 29, 2013 Brightmoon world, The Fire Mages, The Incursors, The Plains of Kallanash 0

Most fantasy worlds include some sort of religious belief. It’s such an ingrained part of real-world culture that it can be very hard to conceive of a world without some kind of spiritual element. Some authors use the opportunity to explore aspects of belief that are difficult to address in contemporary fiction, since real religions carry so much historical baggage. Some throw in as many different forms of worship as they can, for depth or to create conflict between groups. Occasionally a fantasy world has no religion at all (like Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series).

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More thoughts on Scribophile

September 21, 2013 The Fire Mages, Writing musings 0

[Edited on 17th November 2013] So a few days after posting the first chapter of The Fire Mages, I’ve had five critiques. They’ve ranged from quite negative to extremely positive, full of glowing praise. But from the five crits together, I’ve got a great deal of feedback, both large and small. Some of it I feel safe in ignoring. The critters who wanted the main character named and setting described within the first few lines – it’s a common principle, but it’s hard to do in a first person point of view, and really, fantasy readers in particular are quite happy to wait a while longer to find out about the world (in fact, they enjoy having it revealed in tiny snippets along the way).

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On Scribophile and other online critique groups

September 9, 2013 Writing musings 2

[Edited 17th November 2013] As I inch closer towards editing The Plains of Kallanash (Work #2), I realise I’m going to need other eyes to look over it, both at a low level (for typos and other errors) and at the structural level. That’s part of the reason for putting it out on this blog in the first place, but that’s rather a scattershot approach; maybe no one will read it? If they do, they may not provide any constructive criticism.

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On Posting a Story to Wattpad

September 4, 2013 Publishing/marketing 0

Wattpad is a website where authors can post their writing and readers can read it, free of charge. It’s been touted as a great way to bring your writing to readers’ attention, especially if you have a series of books out and are prepared to essentially give away the first in the series to draw in readers to the rest of the series. It can also work if you have novellas or short stories set in the same world.

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Thinking About Editing

August 28, 2013 The Plains of Kallanash 0

When I finished the first draft of ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ (Work #2) back in May, I followed my standard policy of letting work simmer for a while before doing anything with it. For a blog post or book review, that might be a day or two. For an essay, maybe a week or two. For a book, I decided that three months was the minimum allowable. Ideally, a year would be better, but I wasn’t sure I could wait that long! So I created a new page in Scrivener, and typed in giant letters: ‘EDITING SCHEDULE: DO NOT OPEN UNTIL AUGUST 2013!’. Then I got on with ‘The Fire Mages’ (Work #3).

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On Writing Schedules

August 28, 2013 Writing musings 0

There’s a lot of advice swilling around on the internet for aspiring writers. I’n not sure whether I’d classify myself as aspiring (I just scribble stuff for fun, I don’t have aspirations), but I read any number of blog posts and even books on the subject. Writing fiction for dummies. The no-rules handbook for writers. The busy writer’s one hour plot. Your writing coach. Outlining your novel. Some of them even contain useful snippets of advice.

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On Marriage and Other Arrangements

August 25, 2013 Brightmoon world, Current writings 0

Most fantasy works, however outlandish or alien the setting, accept the standard customs for legalising the relationships between sexual partners and taking care of children. Marriage is (mostly) for life, is between one man and one woman, sex outside that pairing is frowned upon, children born outside that pairing are a matter for social disapprobation, prostitution is immoral and usually illegal. These attitudes, although drifting into a more liberal version in many countries, are still so prevalent in all modern cultures as to be virtually ubiquitous.

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Outline Or Discovery?

August 4, 2013 Writing musings 0

Vast amounts have been written about the process of writing, and one of the most contentious issues is that of outlining or discovery writing. Plotting or pantsing, in more colloquial terms. Outlining means planning every stage of the book according to whatever theory of structure the author subscribes to: the three act principle, or the twelve step hero’s journey, or whatever it happens to be. Character traits, plot points, sub-plots, dramatic twists, big revelations – all are set out ahead of time, before a single word of the book itself is written. Discovery writing is the blank sheet of paper system: the writer simply writes, following ideas wherever they may lead.

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Authors, Writers, Dabblers

August 4, 2013 Writing musings 0

This blog is about the various books I’m attempting to write, and the background behind them. So that makes me a writer, right? Not really. There are lots of definitions of what a writer is, from the very broadest (someone who writes) to much narrower ideas. I’ve never thought of myself as a writer. I’ve posted on writers’ forums and said unequivocally: I am not a writer. Yet, I do write – fiction, book reviews, blog posts. I write a lot, and I write in one of these categories almost every day.

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