Guy Gavriel Kay is a Canadian writer who helped Christopher Tolkien edit The Silmarillion, so he’s steeped in Tolkienesque lore, and it shows in his writing, which is magisterial! Reading one of his novels is like taking a masterclass in writing fantasy fiction. Continue reading
Names are important. Especially for major characters, because you have to live with them for a whole book (or a series of three books). Getting the names right was important to me, so I didn’t just pluck them out of the air. Obviously, since I was retelling a story, I had some names to work with, but were they the right names, given that there were different versions of the same name? How did I go about deciding which one to use? And what about minor characters? Where did they come from? Were any of my characters real people? Continue reading
Everyone tells you to hire an editor to polish your text. And I’d love to do just that. But my book is over 140K long and at roughly £12 per 1000 words to edit, that means it would cost me about £1700. That’s just not in my budget! And, to be honest, I haven’t been that impressed by the couple of sample edits I’ve had. Call me old-fashioned, but I like to have a verb in my sentences, and I don’t like the POV to change within a single sentence. Both occurred in suggestions for sample edit ‘improvements’ to my text. Maybe I was unlucky, but it’s made me a bit nervous about shelling out a load of cash for line/copy editing. Continue reading
I envy fantasy writers because they get to make everything up. But what a lot of work that must be! On the other hand, writing a historical novel involves a lot of research. I, however, have the best of both worlds. I set my novel in a poorly documented historical past (Dark-age Scotland) so there’s not that much research I could do. And because so little is known, I get to make lots of stuff up. Continue reading
The legend of Tristan and Isolde is a great story – a classic love triangle of Tristan/Isolde/King Mark with lots of adventures, and is part of the Arthurian body of tales. So why isn’t it retold as often as is the Arthur/Lancelot/Guinevere story? I have a number of theories which I won’t bore you with here, but the fact remains that it really isn’t retold that often, which is why I’m redressing the balance with my own retelling.
But enough of me and my story (until the end). This blog post is about the classic retellings, and they go right back to the beginning of the 20th century. Continue reading
A book needs a cover. A cover should have a title, the name of the author and some sort of image that relates to the content of the book. How hard can that be? Turns out it’s REALLY hard. There are lots of mistakes to be made, and I’ve made most of them in the few covers I’ve designed for my books. And then there’s the book’s internal design. I’d thought that was all about inserting page numbers. WRONG! There’s a lot more to it than that. Continue reading
Some people have a million stories rattling around their heads just waiting to be told. But I’m not one of them. Faced with a blank page I’ve no idea where to start. Nevertheless, I like writing. I love the creative process and the craft of writing, the feeling of something forming, of giving it shape, of saying something, of discovering something about the world and myself. Continue reading
A long time ago I enrolled for an on-line writing course because I wanted to write a novel and thought I’d better learn how to do it. So imagine my disbelief when the first thing I was asked to do was write a poem. A poem? What did poems have to do with writing novels? But I’m an obedient soul so I did it. It wasn’t very good and to prove it, here it is: Continue reading
Who hasn’t had a mentor in their life? Perhaps it was a parent, teacher or friend. Writers often have special writing mentors. This could be a creative writing tutor, or authors who’re generous with their advice to newbies. As in life, fiction is awash with mentor figures. But what is their dramatic function in a story? And how can you use the mentor archetype to strengthen your novel? Continue reading
Naming characters is one of the most fun things to do when writing a novel, but there are a few pitfalls and I’ve fallen into most of them. So I thought I’d share a few tips I’ve picked along during my writing journey.
1 Keep a list of your characters
If you don’t, you might accidentally use the same name twice, as I did, or use a similar name, which could be confusing (see tip 2). A list is also useful to generate a dramatis personae: common in historical and fantasy novels. But what about short stories, where there are only a few characters? A list is a good idea here too. When I collected my short stories together for publication, I discovered I had 5 Julias and 2 Julians as main characters. If only I’d kept a list … Continue reading