Fan fiction (fanfic)—fans writing fiction based on an author’s book—hit the headlines in 2011 when E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey became a best-selling self-published ebook. The publishing rights were purchased by Random House and the (eventual) trilogy went on to become a mainstream best seller, with the first novel becoming the fastest selling book of all time, outstripping (cough) even Harry Potter. (The series was originally inspired by Stephanie Mayer’s Twilight novels, but later morphed into something quite, well, different.) At the time it was vilified by “proper” writers and shredded by critics, but the books have sold over 65 millions copies. Fan fiction splits opinion, both of authors and readers, but recently I started a new writing project that has forced me to re-examine mine. Continue reading
So what do you do when your creativity goes to sleep? How do you respond when readers tell you that your character’s actions and speech are inconsistent and erratic? How do you smooth out those kinks in your plot? When your creativity implodes, rolls over and dies; or when it’s buzzing along so fast on turbo-charge that your characters morph and change faster than Play-Doh being pummelled by a hyperactive four-year-old; when your plot has more holes in it than a rusty cheese grater—it’s time to stop writing, give the right side of your brain a rest, and reach for your internal Mr Spock. Continue reading
Since I self-published my first eBook in March this year there has been around 200,000 books added to Amazon’s Kindle eBook store; that’s over 65,000 new titles per month. If my guess is correct, then this may only be the start and the floodgates have yet to open. Continue reading
When a writer writes, should they play it safe and live comfortably in the knowledge that no one will be offended? Do they push their craft to the limits of their imagination, even if others hate what they do? Is there ever a valid reason for breaking with ‘good taste’? These are some of the questions I’ve been thinking about this week.
Last month I tried an experiment: I gave an opinionated, obnoxious and thoroughly unlovely character some of my blog space. Most blog posts that feature fictional characters are careful to let the reader know what is going on; in my blog posts I deliberately kept that fact hidden—instead I left some clues in these posts for readers to find. Some clues were discovered, some were not.
I received a wide range of responses: some thought it was clever and funny; others did not like it; still others felt as though it was a joke made at their expense. So my question is, as a writer, do I follow my creative whims or do I censor what I write to avoid offending people? Continue reading
This week I found a new toy—the I Write Like online writing analyser that apparently compares your writing style to those of famous authors. So I decided to experiment, to see what it could tell me about my style and maybe even a little about my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. The results were quite interesting (at least for me).
I thought it would be fun to cut-and-paste in pieces I’d written from different genres. Before we start, I thought I’d include the necessary reality-check and disclaimers: I’ve no idea about the algorithms they use under the hood, so I can’t comment on how accurate or thorough the analysis is. Also, the analyser doesn’t profess to assess the quality of the writing it looks at, so however much I would like to be able to claim my writing is as good as these authors, the analyser gives me no basis for believing that claim, however much I would like it to. Continue reading
Everyone says, “Make a backup. Always make a backup,” of everything—photos, files, music. Why? Unless you have been living under a rock for the last thirty years everyone knows that computers fail, hard-drives fail. Breath on them funny, look at them funny, switch them on when the wind is in the wrong direction, and they’ll break, crash, and take all your valuable information with them. They are the weak link in the chain, right? Wrong.
Who says, “Beware of the Cloud?” In the mindset of most people, myself included, cloud storage has been touted as the panacea for all our storage woes. It seems everyone, Apple, Google, Microsoft and hundreds of smaller companies, are heralding cloud storage as the great Fluffy Knight in the Sky, our protector and saviour, guardian of our virtual world. Computer fails, it doesn’t matter, just download your stuff from the cloud. All is well.
Then you have your completely online solutions, e.g. Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365, Blogger, WordPress and others: Don’t just backup to the cloud, but do all your work there, reports, emails, everything—your information is safe with us. Is it? Continue reading
Image - open license from WikiCommons.
Now entering the final stages of editing my latest story I have been pondering the writer’s eternal question of, “What next?” What incredible, completely new, inspired, never-before-seen idea will seize hold of my inner essence and set me alight with a creative fire that burns brighter than for any work that has gone before?
Answer: Not a sausage.
So instead I am left pondering the meaning of my existence as a writer, and a human being.
The mood has been set by the subject matter of my last piece, depression, infidelity, cancer, and unemployment. In other words my character’s life sucks – which is entirely my fault. Guilt gnaws away the last vestiges of my self-esteem. Logging onto my blog I find 145 spam messages awaiting me. This is the fruit that now bends the boughs of my creative tree. I therefore feel the need to issue dire warnings and pontifications on the future of writing, creativity, and society in general. You have been warned….
Recently, I have read several blog posts that told me how I ought to write. I’m up for some constructive criticism. In fact I need constructive criticism, but these diktats seemed to be based on the assumption that our readers do not have two brain cells to rub together.
The advice given by some is that we should always use the simplest language when writing, regardless of the style, genre, intended readership group, or subject of the piece concerned. Comments like, “Why use a $10 word when a 10 cent word will do?” illustrate the thinking.
I will put my neck out and say I disagree. As a reader, writer, reviewer, crit-partner – whatever your role – shouldn’t we look at how well the language used works within the context of the piece, and not just seek to see how well it adheres to a set of predefined ‘rules’? Continue reading
It’s the New Year folks, when we all start to think about our futures… While
skiving off taking a break from writing my current short story I came across these two videos on Youtube. They got me thinking about mine, but what do you think about yours? Continue reading