Monthly Archives: December 2012


As the year draws to a close I would like to reflect on the last twelve months and look to the future.

It’s been an eventful year for me. I got a job, moved out of my parents house, started this website and then, thanks to a Christmas present, was able to buy my own domain.

In terms of writing, it’s been a bit up and down. I’ve had a few ideas. One in particular stuck around for a while before I abandoned it on the 1st of November, and with it my attempt at NaNoWriMo for this year. Finally I realised the stagnation with writing was due to not doing enough reading – how often have I read and at times given the advice to aspiring new writers that it is very important to read? But I’d failed to listen to it myself. I am now definitely reading a lot more – fiction, non-fiction, traditionally published, self-published, unpublished, long or short. Having received a Kindle from my parents for Christmas, I’m finding reading easier than ever, especially since it fits into my handbag a lot more easily than a book.

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Review: The Swordsman of Carn Nebeth by Tristan Gregory

The Swordsman of Carn Nebeth by Tristan Gregory tells a simple story of a boy growing up in a remote village, when a man who left the village long ago returns from war with tales of his life as a soldier – enough to inspire the young William. It is a short and simple story looking at how the protagonist’ s life is changed by the swordsman’ s arrival.

While there is little space to delve into characterisation, the personalities of the key players are distinct and consistent. In particular Gregory has captured the curiosity of a child, and a child’ s main concerns in life, in the personality of narrator William.

Enough is revealed and enough held back to make the story compelling, to keep me reading; a good measure of pacing can also be credited for this. Gregory knows when to use telling to move things forward, and when not to.

The only thing that I can criticise is two incidents in which the wrong homophone is used, and this a lesser known one most readers won’t notice.

I thus have no qualms in giving The Swordsman of Carn Nebeth a 8/10.

On Freewriting and pulling a story together

I have only recently learned of the freewriting technique, from an article called Freewriting: Writing for Crappy Writers. I decided to try it out. In the last few months, I have not been actively working on a project (except Ailith’s Gift, but that’s only ~3000 words so doesn’t count). I decided to give freewriting a go, see if I could shake out the cobwebs and get my brain moving again.

I set myself a topic: “a settlement”, and I feel it went quite well. A few typos, a spelling error or two, some awkward grammar and quite a lot of rambling nonsense as I tried to keep my fingers moving even though I had nothing to say. But it came out alright. I created a settlement, a small town with a bridge, on the main road between a city and a place of pilgrimage, the main economy of which is to sell objects to pilgrims which they can dedicate to the sacred shrine the other side of the river.

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More great fantasy films to watch

In my earlier article, Films every fantasy fan should see, I listed a few must-see fantasy movies and explained what makes them so essential. But I don’t feel five films is enough, so I am adding a few more.


I had this on video cassette as a child and it was my go-to film when I was ill or sad. It always cheered me up. As I got a bit older, jokes that had previously eluded me now left me sniggering sheepishly. It’s a film that has everything: a princess to rescue, a dragon, a tyrannical ruler, a big scary ogre and a talking animal sidekick. But it had fun with these elements, it twisted things around and made it all fresh and new and modern.

Continue reading More great fantasy films to watch

Announcement: Short story published in Myths Inscribed

It is with great delight and pride I can, at last, announce that I have a short story published in new fantasy ezine Myths Inscribed. The story is called Ailith’s Gift and I am very excited about it. I had some help editing it from the magazine’s chief editor Derek Bowen which really helped turn it from something which was rather rough and ready to a much more polished, tighter story. It involves a witch and a dragon.

So please go and read my story and the whole magazine, which features some brilliant stories and a fantastic poem.

Review: the Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

This will be somewhat of a mixed review, because The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first of three rather long installments chronicling Bilbo Baggins’ adventure in Middle Earth, is somewhat of a mixed film. I will avoid spoilers for those who haven’t seen it yet and haven’t read the book, though I consider the start safe.

Director Peter Jackson chose to start with a prologue giving the background for this quest, the story of how Erebor, greatest city of the Dwarfs, fell to Smaug the dragon. This is the whole reason for the quest: thirteen dwarfs, the wizard Gandalf and little Bilbo Baggins the quiet, respectable, titular hobbit, go on an adventure to retake the city under the mountain from Smaug. It is not how Tolkien chose to begin the tale, but it worked well enough, though perhaps went on a little too long, and in general prologues seem to work better in film than in print.

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Building worlds alongside stories

Worldbuilding is a huge part of fantasy writing. For some – like Tolkein – the story comes about as something to showcase the world that has been built. But for those of us just starting out, it can be daunting to think you have to create an in-depth world for your readers from scratch.

Of course, you don’t have to start from scratch. There are myriad cultures from Earth’s history you can use to inspire your world. Research therefore can form a good starting point, a foundation. Don’t necessarily go for the obvious cultures – medieval western Europe, the Romans, the Aztecs and so on. Pick a time in the last 6000 years, a place anywhere in the world, and see what you can find out about the culture that existed in that time and place. You might be surprised – and inspired. Ptolemaic Egypt, Bronze Age northern Scotland, post colonial Mexico, the height of Great Zimbabwe or China at the time when the Silk Road first opened trade routes with the Roman Empire could all hold gems of information that help you to create an interesting, varied world to set your stories in.

Continue reading Building worlds alongside stories