In my mis-spent early twenties, a friend and I created a fantasy world map for our RPG sessions. Yes, I played Dungeons and Dragons – and later a game we invented ourselves to get around the sillier D&D ideas. The world was designed around what we might call the ‘rule of funny’, with place names made up mostly of … More Three rules for naming your fantasy world
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
Most writers, I realised the other day, hang out with writing groups. Or at least other writers. J R R Tolkien, for instance, was part of a group called the ‘Inklings’, who met in a local Oxford pub – the Eagle and Child, known locally as the ‘Bird and Baby’. Every Tuesday from 1939 until 1962 … More Do you have a writing group…like Tolkien?
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…
I’ve mentioned before that the art of writing focuses on what to avoid – not what to add. Take food, for which we need go no further than J R R Tolkien. This week, the Roxy– a wonderful art deco cinema, literally just down the road from Peter Jackson’s studios in Miramar, Wellington – got … More Write it now, part 30: Middle Earth on a plate?
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
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
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
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
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