Blog Archives

Greater Minds: Stephen King’s opening sentences

The first sentence turns a potential reader into a concentrating reader. Stephen King’s first sentences hook the reader with tension and introduce his voice. If the first sentence doesn’t do its job, later sentences won’t be read. King says, ‘to

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Posted in Greater minds, Wednesday Pontification

How I write: Horror

The horror writer co-opts the reader’s imagination to scare the pants off them. Violation, possession, mutation, confinement and insignificance are all terrifying. Engaging the character’s senses engages the reader’s emotions. The protocols of horror can be adopted for other genres.

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Posted in Wednesday Pontification, Writing

How I write: Crime

Crime stories revolve around resolving a mystery. The nature of the crime may illustrate the society it happens in. The mystery format can drive stories that are not about a crime. Crime and mystery fiction demands more attention to plot

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Posted in Wednesday Pontification, Writing

Fractal tension over the red line

Today’s pontification, Fractal Tension, is posted as a guest blog at The Red Line. It’s well worth a look around The Red Line, home of short stories from around the world. Many thanks to the Red Line crew for the

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Posted in Notification, Wednesday Pontification, Writing

How I write: Historical fiction

Historical stories are born of interest in a particular time and place. Story-specific research is necessary as the story develops. Details of the setting and dialogue make a story feel authentic, but overdoing it will lose the reader. Period-specific objects

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Posted in Wednesday Pontification, Writing

How I write: Fantasy

Fantasy has many subgenres, the commonest being epic and urban. Fantasy tropes can be deconstructed and subverted while retaining the power that made them tropes. The reader of a fantasy story will assume anything is possible unless shown it isn’t.

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Posted in Wednesday Pontification, Writing

How I write: Science fiction

An idea drawn from current science or politics is likely to end up being science fiction. The story needs characters impacted by the idea and a situation that forces them to confront it. A story set in the present can

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Posted in Wednesday Pontification, Writing

Greater Minds: David Grinspoon on Visions of Life

Tension in science fiction derives from the problems the technology can’t solve. Predictive science fiction is unlikely to be accurate because technological progress is not linear. What science can tell us about other planets offers plenty of scope for tension.

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Posted in Greater minds, Wednesday Pontification

Is the path to a novel littered with short stories?

If you want to write a novel, is it best to develop craft through short stories or jump straight into writing the novel? Short stories build craft through a short cycle of writing and feedback, building skills that can be

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Posted in Wednesday Pontification

Setting 2: Invented places

You need to know more about the setting than you will use in the story. It’s harder to invent a setting than to research a historical setting. A map of the setting keeps it consistent. Using places I’ve been is

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Posted in Story development, Wednesday Pontification, Writing
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Lindisfarne Causeway

Goswick Sands

Fields of Green before Gold

Face Fly

Lumps of Rope

Delivering the Fish

Kittiwake Neighbours

Bamburgh Across the Sea

Brownsman Island Ruin

Inner Farne Islands

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