Inspiration

Reblog: 6 signs your novel may be pretty damn good

This week’s reblog (the first in quite awhile) comes from Damien Walter, and has some advice on what makes a story attractive to readers – while this advice probably won’t let you write a best seller, it’s definitely something to keep in mind when you plan your story (and maybe more importantly – pitch and blurb it!)

Damien Walter

Why do readers love some novels, but not others? Often we do hand wavy gestures at this kind of question, while intoning the magic word “subjective subjective subjective”. Yes, different people like different things. But there are a few qualities which many, many popular stories have in common.

There are six core qualities for a strong commercial novel, which I use as signs that a novel might be pretty damn good! I can’t guarantee that every writer, editor or publishing professional knows these, but I can say that if your aim is to create popular stories that reach a wide readership, hitting these markers certainly won’t hurt.

If you find these useful, take a look at The Rhetoric of Story, a short course exploring the 7 foundations of powerful immersive storytelling. Turn to Page 2 below to see the first 3 signs.

High Concept – the whole concept of…

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Reblog: What’s the Problem with Men?

Hello, Dear Reader – it’s been awhile.

My life is finally starting to approach something resembling normalcy, but I will get back to that.
I’m easing into this, so have patience with me.

My first reblog in far too long, this one is from Mark Manson and deals with the struggle of traditional masculinity vs modern society – well worth the read:

What’s the Problem with Men?

Reblog: In defense of my adopted country

My reblog for this week is on a current hot topic – the one of my homeland, crime and immigration – from a foreign national who have adopted Sweden as his new country.
I do not know Neil, but I have at least a dozen friends and acquaintances from abroad who have come to call Sweden their home, and almost every single one of them have expressed views and opinion that mirror what Neil writes here:

Watching the Swedes


Sweden’s reputation is currently under attack and I feel I must respond, however unpopular this might be. I feel angry, frustrated and saddened about recent events. This is my angle….
I am proud to live in Sweden and I am proud, and fortunate, to have received Swedish citizenship. This is a country that, in my mind, builds on equality and solidarity. This a country that tries to do the best for its people. This is a country that stands up and does the humane thing, even in difficult circumstances. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

In some foreign media, Sweden is currently being dragged through the dirt. Stories based on lies and fabrication are spreading. Sweden is falsely being depicted as a failing country on the edge of collapse. This is total and utter bullshit. It is nothing more than the poisoned school gossip trying to bring down the…

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Reblog: How to write 52 short stories a year

My first Reblog in awhile – and perhaps something I should consider, since my writing has fallen to the wayside…

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

short-story

It was the great Ray Bradbury who said: “Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad stories in a row.”

Chris White at A Writers Den posted a lovely picture quoting him.

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I’ve been writing a short story each week, posted on my blog on Fridays, since May 2013. I was going to say two years, but it’s three and a half already! I started taking it easier last summer, reblogging an earlier story at the end of the month with the Flashback Friday meme.

I couldn’t have done those stories without without a prompt.

I found a guy called Chuck Wendig, who has been posting prompts for around 1400 followers each week, who then added links to their efforts the next week.

Chuck’s blog is not for those that shy away from rants and bad language, but his take on all sorts of…

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Feature: Hopeless, Maine

Here it is – finally – as promised and teased early last week:

Hopeless, Maine – The Gathering!

“Welcome to Hopeless, Maine. An island steeped in evil—I mean—steeped in history.

Meet Salamandra, an ordinary orphan girl, just one of many other orphans on the island (come to think of it, where did all the grown ups go?)

Sal faces the normal, everyday struggles of growing up in a small town—avoiding fell creatures of the night, trying not to get eaten by the aquatic fauna and mastering her supernatural powers.

Like all young people, Sal can’t wait to get out of her dead-end home. If she doesn’t get out she probably will wind up dead, after all.
At least Salamandra has a best friend! It’s a shame that no-one else can see or hear her friend, but then nobody’s perfect are they?”


Created by Tom and Nimue Brown, published by Sloth Comics, and you can buy it online here:

International:

http://www.bookdepository.com/Hopeless-Maine-Volume-1-Nimue-Brown-Tom-Brown/9781908830128

Or why not pop over to your local comics store and ask for it?
If they do not already have it in stock (they should, and be sure to tell them so) I am sure they can order it for you!

(Did I mention it makes a great christmas present?)

Now excuse me while I go off to secure a copy for myself!

Interview: Tom and Nimue Brown

Dear Reader, when it rains it pours! 

Last week saw the release of a new urban fantasy series, and this week sees a new edition of one of the most interesting comics I’ve come across – Hopeless, Maine by husband-and-wife creator team Tom and Nimue Brown – sees the light of day, released by Sloth Comics.

Now, what is Hopeless, Maine you may wonder? Well, I will do a full feature later in the week, when it’s been released, so for now I’ll just give you a little teaser:

Hopeless, Maine is more than just a name: it is a place (an island, to be exact), a graphic novel series, a wealth of stories (told as well as hinted at); it’s a mythology of it’s own, even. Tom and Nimue have created a wonderful world – one which I myself have really only begun to explore – rich with myth and mystery. Nimue’s writing is really brought to life by Tom’s gorgeous artwork, and together they create a very unique style which really fits the story they are telling. Hopeless, Maine is a creation that stands solid in it’s own right, and the feeling I get from it reminds me of those first forays into the fantastical worlds of people like Ursula Le Guinn, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe and most recently Joe Hill. Yes, it’s that good!

In preparation for the launch I had the honour of doing a mini-interview  with its creators, Tom and Nimue Brown:

Hopeless, Maine began its life as a webcomic – what were the principal reasons for bringing it to book form?

Tom: It was meant to be printed comics from the beginning, really. We just got impatient waiting for a publisher, mostly, and wanted to get the story out there. First, we started the Hopeless, Vendetta, which was a weekly “newspaper” from the island. This was a lot of fun and we had people coming and roleplaying island residents of their own creation in the comments section. Then, we launched the webcomic with The Blind Fisherman going up all at once and then pages weekly. It helped keep us going, and improved morale, greatly because people were commenting and theorising about the story and waiting for pages. Having the webcomic succeed as it did actually helped us land our first publisher, so it is a thing that I would recommend to people starting out in comics. Webcomics also has a great and vibrant community, and i’m glad we didn’t miss out on being a part of that.

Every creative team has their own unique approach to the work, so what’s the dynamic between the two of you? How does a typical project start, grow and develop?

Nimue: There’s an ongoing process of passing things back and forth, and bouncing things off each other. So, we don’t have a specific system, we talk about things, we wave ideas at each other. A lot of the best ideas come when we aren’t deliberately looking for them – when we’re out walking, particularly. We try not to spend too much in-bed time talking about work, but early on that happened more than it should have done. We both tend to get excited about /obsessive over whatever we’re working on, so the bigger issue is often holding boundaries so the projects don’t totally take over our lives! A big part of what makes us work as a creative team is that we are both excited about each other’s work, excited to see what the other one does with an idea or where it goes, so we throw things at each other in a really unstructured way and just let it happen. It’s a very fertile way of working, but it depends on high levels of trust and being on the same wavelength, and always being willing to let go of things to accomodate the other person’s vision when they’ve got the better idea.

Tom, you don’t ink your artwork – which gives it a unique, almost visceral style that I really admire – how has that changed the way you approach colouring?

Tom: Yes, i’ve fallen away from ink as a way of finishing art. I did the first two page spread for Personal Demons in rendered pencil and have not looked back, since. For colouring, well, in the early years of Hopeless, Maine I just used a very limited palette and saved the saturated colours for magic and emphasis. Brightly coloured pages would not have suited the story. All of this was done in digitally. Later i discovered that textures gave an organic and aged quality to the art. For Book two (Inheritance) we were living on a narrowboat with limited electricity so I used watered down acrylic transparently over the pencils to save on computer colouring time. From book four and onwards (and on the cover art for The Gathering) Nimue is doing the colours with posh coloured pencils over the roughs and i’m doing the finished rendering on top. (This is resulting in the best looking art so far, I think!)

Finally, who would you say are your greatest inspirations?

Nimue: Shared inspirations – Hayao Miyazaki, Clive Barker, Ursula Le Guinn, Margaret Atwood, Robert Holdstock, and many others. We’ve got a lot of enthusiasms in common, I think that’s part of why we’re so much on the same wavelength. It’s not just famous people – we are part of a fantastic circle of creative folk locally, and in the wider world through the internet, and they inspire us and keep us going, and we hope we do the same for them. Landscape and big skies are always a source of inspiration for us, we go dancing and bat watching, and we play music together and all sorts of things. We’re always looking for things that lift, engage, inspire us that we can share and immerse ourselves in. Both of us find being exposed to other people’s creativity – whether that’s on deviantart, or a story telling session, some else’s book, or a gig… that feeds us, and it makes us both want to keep doing the things.

Thank you Nimue and Tom, for taking the time to answer my questions.

There you have it, Dear Reader – I will post again as soon as Hopeless, Maine – The Gathering is available. The book is a re-release combining part one and two (Personal Demons and Inheritance, respectively) along with some new material and – for the first time in print, I believe – The Blind Fisherman. I can’t wait!

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