Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

On poetry

Yeah, I can read. Get over it.

I read a lot. I recently started reading a poetry book (to go with all the other books I have on the go - sci-fi graphic novels, Idoru by William Gibson, Guardian Style, Oxford English Dictionary, Green Party new members' guide, Society for Editors and Proofreaders' Code of Practice, and a veggie cookbook bigger than my head).

This collection is written by one of my friends, The Shape of a Forest by Jemma King. One of the things I love about poetry is the way words are used so concisely, not one word wasted, always the correct one chosen. Long fiction writers can learn a lot from this. Here are some that struck me as I started this collection.
The damning thing was
the finger bone. Hers, they said. 
(Amelia Earhart)
Words, slipped into a narrative where you don't expect them (e.g. on turning a page) can have the ability to shock and pause.

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Friday, 9 May 2014

The Artist

I'm always interested in succinct ways of telling a story, whatever the media: campfire tale, novel, microfiction, graphic novel, film. I think that's one of the reasons that I enjoyed The Artist so much. It's amazing that a story can be told in so few words, and those used were apt. It teaches many lessons in what we show and how we show it as writers. Everything is done to perfection. The music, cinematography, acting ... all are really charming and without a wasted scene or any time when there was nothing worth looking at. The main performers were incredibly charming and likeable. It's not often I see a film where I can't see any flaws at all. I really recommend it as evening viewing if you have nothing else lined up this weekend! Here's the trailer:

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Friday, 2 May 2014

Sci-fi city names

Great place to live. That or Jockstrapberg.

A while ago I had a discussion with another writer: he was looking for ideas for fictional city names and had run out of magical inspiration glitter. It's an interesting query. Often it makes sense to use real locations, as I have done with my novels so far, but sometimes it is nice to be able to start afresh. This applies particularly to sci-fi novels. In some of those cases you will want something exotic and completely new, but in others you want names that could be real world cities.

Coming up with that kind of name is fun. I like to use serendipity: open a dictionary at random then try the words in combination, or with suffixes such as -don/den, -berg, -ville, -ester and so on, or with a prefix such as San or New. Or pick words from the dictionary that have some positive connotation or sound. Silverdon, Angelberg, Glowville, San Aqua, Worthester, New Canville and so on. You’ll probably get 60 options within the hour to pick from, at least one should work (probably something more subtle than those above).

I also have letter dice, originally used to come up with fantasy names for roleplaying games, but they could work here too. Just throw, shuffle, see what comes up, modify it if necessary.

Here we go: what fictional city will you live in?
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