Essential writing skills: it’s OK to write square mountain ranges

It’s almost a cliche these days to say that modern fantasy writers all stand in J R R Tolkien’s shadow. Or George R R Martin’s. But it’s true. Obviously, having two middle names beginning with R is a pre-requisite for greatness in the genre. And it was Tolkien who really defined the field for so many author … More Essential writing skills: it’s OK to write square mountain ranges

Guess which real-world place is most like Mordor…

Last week a British meteorologist at the University of Bristol published a weather analysis of Middle Earth. Tres cool. Here’s a link to the paper: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2013/10013-english.pdf According to the report, the weather in The Shire was much the same as that of Lincolnshire – which is pretty much what Tolkien was envisaging. It’s also like Belarus, … More Guess which real-world place is most like Mordor…

Write It Now, Part 23: Speed + quality = can be done

The pressure’s on these days for writers to produce. Content is getting ever more transient – even print books, which occasionally gained a ‘long tail’ of years, now tend to dwindle after just a year or so. And the advent of e-publishing has produced a colossal market. The reality of this brave new future boils … More Write It Now, Part 23: Speed + quality = can be done

Write It Now Part 18: Logline, the writer’s best friend

I figure a logline is one of the best friends a writer can have. A good one will help sell your manuscript to an agent or publisher.  What’s more, loglines are also brilliant writing tools. A logline is a one-sentence description of a book. Its purpose is to tell the agent or publisher why the public … More Write It Now Part 18: Logline, the writer’s best friend

Sixty second writing tips: how J K Rowling twisted the tropes

One of the secrets to successful writing is offering something readers can identify with, but that has enough originality to be new. The same…but different. J. K. Rowling’s shown us how it’s done. Back in the 1990s, Brit boarding school stories were dead, dead, dead. The world of ripping wheezes at the expense of The … More Sixty second writing tips: how J K Rowling twisted the tropes

Write it now, part 16: hurrah for the sensitive new age vampire

What is it about our obsession with vampires? Vampires, it seems, are where it’s at today. And I don’t mean real vampires – you know, the ones who suck self-esteem. I mean the fantasy types, currently in pop-literature and movies in their sensitive new-age guise. These days, novels about these reinvented suckers are  a license … More Write it now, part 16: hurrah for the sensitive new age vampire

Sixty second writing tips: coining the right name

Some time after The Lord of The Rings was published, J. R. R. Tolkien fielded a letter from Sam Gamgee. A real Sam Gamgee. It wasn’t surprising. Tolkien – a philologist –  mined English convention for his Shire and Hobbit names. Another was Peregrin Took – the first name is known, though Steve Peregrin Took wasn’t … More Sixty second writing tips: coining the right name