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!

Cultural worldbuilding


There is a writing trope called “The Planet of Hats” in which each member of an SFF culture wears the same “Hat” or shares the same characteristic. All the elves are playful, all the dwarves are drunkards, all the trolls are violent, etc. This trope is usually used pejoratively, to indicate poorly crafted worldbuilding.


I wanted to have a think today as to how to avoid falling into that trope, and how to create rich, diverse and believable cultures, whether they live on other planets or in an alternative fantasy world. Read the full post here.

The Evil Mentor


Ah, the mentor. They’re such a useful character in fiction. They explain the magic system to the main character – clarifying the worldbuilding for the reader – and they show off cool powers whilst teaching the main character to grow. And then, when things get tough, they die. It’s easy to find a mentor in nearly all coming-of-age stories, especially those with a complicated magic system which requires lots of exposition.

Unfortunately, because they’re so useful, and so plot-driven, mentors tend to have very similar arcs. Which is why the evil mentor trope offers such new, interesting possibilities. Read the full post here.

Animals in fiction

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​Animals are a common occurrence in literature. So much so that I will not attempt to list them all, as Wikipedia has already done so for me. (Yes, that is a non-exhaustive list of all animals in fiction. It includes famous fictional dogs, badgers and worms.) In fantasy settings, animals often have important roles. Horses, especially, tend to feature heavily, from Shadowfax galloping across Middle-earth and the warhorses jousting in A Song of Ice and Fire, to Death’s horse in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, Binky.

So today, let’s speak about animals in fiction.

Read the full post here.

Thoughts on flashbacks


Flashbacks are not fashionable. If you’ve read any writing advice, or agents telling you what they’re looking for, a constant seems to be to avoid flashbacks. But if you change writing ground and head towards what people call ‘literary’ fiction (we can debate what, if anything, that word means another time) you find lots of flashbacks, hidden under the fancy name ‘anachrony’. In short, a story which isn’t told in the order in which it happens.

I am actually a big fan of flashbacks. Here’s why I love them: they help pace the story. Read the full post here.