This is an area where I'll post thoughts on writing, tropes analyses, books I've read recently, etc. It's mostly just my writing toolbox!
Utopias & Realism
I’ve been asking myself recently why we consider violence realistic and kindness unrealistic. It started with me reading Humankind by Rutger Bregman. Bregman’s main thesis in the book is that we have a tendency to believe humans are cruel, selfish, tribal. That, should civilisation collapse, we’d all revert back to monsters. But he challenges that myth with the assumption that humans are, deep down, pretty decent. This is more radical than it sounds. Most of our myths around human nature are negative.
I started wondering about how we could change those stories about human nature, and how to write stories about people who are kind. Read the full post here.
Writing a Series
I have recently been sucked into the Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold, which I can only warmly recommend. I haven’t binge-read an author, or been so immersed in a series, in a long time. I even used a reading guide to be sure I was picking up the books in the right order. As a writer, I immediately started wondering why I loved this series so much. Why do some books speak to your soul? And, especially, why do some series – which are harder to pull off than a standalone – work so well?
Firstly, Bujold’s world feels full. Her secondary characters make the world feel lived-in. Read the full post here.
I’ve talked about why I write, but I haven’t yet mentioned how I write. So, for those of you who might be interested, here’s an insight into my writing routine, and specifically how I came to write Tales of the Edge.
I am always a bit embarrassed when people ask me about my writing routine, because I have none. I wish I could tell you I get up at 6am every morning to write before going to work, but I actually get up around 9ish and tend to walk the dog before getting anything done.
Recently, I found a term I liked: my writing routine is opportunistic. Read the full post here.
Genders & Magic Systems
As part of TBR Con, I had an interesting chat about magic systems on a panel entitled Hard VS Soft Magic Systems. The question briefly came up as to whether magic systems are gendered – I’d like to argue that historically they have been (although they needn’t always be) and that sometimes a gender-divide in a magic system can be done successfully.
Let’s define some terms. Hard magic systems are traditionally magic systems with set rules which the reader understands beforehand and soft magic systems rely on skills which are less easily measured. Read the full post here.
One element of writing a compelling character is ensuring they are liked enough by the readers that they enjoy seeing them on the page. Balancing reader sympathy can be hard, especially for ambiguous characters. But it’s often the most complex and challenging characters who are the most well-loved. Today I’ll be exploring what earns a character reader sympathy, and why it’s interesting to have readers love complex, sometimes completely evil, characters.
A good example is Askeladd in Vinland Saga by Makoto Yukimura. Read the full post here.