Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Moving the blog

Hello readers,

Sorry I haven't posted for some time. I've been a little busy and very tired. But I'm back from my holiday in Scotland now and ready to start posting again.

However, as you may have guessed from the topic, I'm moving the blog. If you want to keep reading my entries you'll have to go to my new wordpress.com blog to do so. Hope to see you there.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Writing Book Review - Successful Novel Plotting

There's one thing I find frustrating. Well actually I find many things frustrating, but "Successful Novel Plotting" by Jean Saunders only hits on one of them. What is this thing? Books that are jam packed with good advice, but which I find the tone too dry to absorb properly.

And that's exactly what I find with this book. It's annoying because in many ways it does everything right. It's well organised, exhaustive and the writer acknowledges that everyone writes differently and attempts to deal with that. Taken as a road map to organising your plot it can only help.

But to me it was also boring. The tone did not engage me at all, so I had to keep stopping. Even now I feel like I haven't properly got to grips with all the advice in it simply because I found it hard to focus on. There's nothing wrong with the way it's written per se, it just didn't suit me. Even with the problems I have with it I'm sure it's going to be very useful to me. I suspect many other people would find the tone and style fine - it's a matter of taste.
This is a book that I'd suggest find in a bricks and mortar store if you're considering it. That way you can look and see if you get on with the tone.

It's also a hard one to rank because of this. It's a good book that I don't like due to what i can see are taste issues. I'm giving it 3 stars because of this.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Quick Link Post and writing update

Okay, I confess, I'm at a bit of a loss what to blog about today. So I was nosing round the web looking for inspiration and I came upon this wonderful post about writing scenes over at Charge of the Write Brigade. It strikes me as a really useful piece, so I thought I'd link it here.

I've started doing some preliminary work on some scene ideas myself as part of my outline for the same story I've been doing the weird worldbuilding for. And I've been researching wind turbines of all things.

I'll try and do a proper post tomorrow, but having skipped yesterday I didn't want to miss another post.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Beginnings are delicate times

I just invented a new post tag "brainstorming ramble". A blog post in which I ramble about writing issues I have in order to clarify them to myself.

Especially when you're writing fantasy with a non-real world setting and you're torn between not indulging in back-story and infodumps, and not confusing your readers. Ifodumps bore readers and the leave, but confused readers leave as well. It's about balance I suppose.

The problem is sorting out what the reader absolutely has to know in order to not be confused into putting the book down. This is what I'm struggling with at the moment. And I don't really have the answers. The initial setting is a former eco-holiday park that's become a kind of post-apocalyptic refugee camp/frontier town because it's still got electricity and similar. Why society collapsed doesn't need explaining yet (especially since exactly what happened is a mystery to the people in the story as well), but I do need to make it clear that it's collapsed. I'm only outlining at the moment, but my mind is looking at the synopsis and going 'how the heck do I show that?'.

I suspect a leap of faith is in order. I'll just jump into the story and trust that it will be obvious from context if I do it right. It's not like the opening scene doesn't establish that weird shit is going on anyway.

Yeah, hopefully that'll work.

Friday, 31 July 2009

Fiction Book Review - Raising the Past

I read Raising the Past by Jeremy Robinson superfast when I got it in December 2006.

It's a really fast paced read and a great deal of fun. I've read criticisms elsewhere that the characters are shallow and underdeveloped but in a relatively short and fast paced science fiction thriller like this character development will always take a back seat. There could perhaps have been more three dimensionality in there, but it certainly did not ruin the book for me by any stretch. The plot took front seat and took me on a rollercoaster ride to rival the best any theme park has to offer.

And it does have it's deep side in its theme of good, evil and free will. What they are and what it means to have the freedom to choose between them.

It's a decent action story that with a bit more character development could have been worth 4.5 or 5 stars. As it is I give it 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 with the warning that it isn't for you if you only like novels with well developed characters.

Thursday, 30 July 2009


I once said I wouldn't blog about everyday life unless it impinged on my writing. Of course it does sometimes - like today.

Today I got up and went to work as usual, but just before lunchtime I had to give up and come home because I was ill. I won't go into details but I don't think it's Swine Flu or anything - probably something I ate.

As a result I've slept most of the day and not done any writing or related activities today. I don't even have the energy for a proper blog post.

Hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow and be able to return to my regularly scheduled blogging. Actually since it's fiction book review day tomorrow I can just grab one of my old reviews from Amazon if and paste it in if I'm not.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Writing Book Review - The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier

The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier - How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing by Bonnie Trenga is very useful. In fact it makes my list of writing books that every writer should own and use. Where Self-Editing for Fiction Writers deals with showing and telling and other editing problems, and the Writing the Breakout Novel deals with plot, tension and characterisation - this book deals with grammar and copy-editing. This is why I think it's a very useful addition to any writer's library.

It's slender, but packs a lot of punch for its size. The book consists of seven chapters and four appendices. Each of the chapters is dedicated to a common grammatical "crimes" found in writing from passive voice to wordy writing. The chapter starts with a passage written using the problemic form, and then explains why it's a problem and how to fix it. Finally as an exercise you are supposed to fix the passage at the start of the chapter. Really useful stuff.

The appendices are "the top ten writing misdemeanors" - ten other problems that weaken writing, an answer key for the exercises, a glossary and a "weak writing check sheet" that you can use as a quick reference when editing.

It's also well written. Grammar books are often dry and boring, but this one is light and often amusing. Especially the example passages which are so badly written it's hilarious.

Definately a book I highly recommend. Four Stars.