Monthly Archives: April 2013

Lorsch Gospel illuminated page

Okay, my next post was meant to be a review (almost finished the book, won’t be long) but I just saw this and I had to share. As someone who loves books, every now and again I go looking at images of medieval gospels, personal libraries and other beautiful book related things. I recently subscribed to /r/bookporn on Reddit and today a user called mktoaster posted this thread, featuring the below image:

Click for full size
Click for full size

Continue reading Lorsch Gospel illuminated page

6 month review

So I’ve been doing this blog for six months as of today. And I’ve enjoyed it immensely. I’ve learned a lot from it, about structure and marketing myself and all sorts. So here are a few things I’ve pulled out of my experiences:

What I’ve enjoyed the most

The posts I’ve enjoyed the most are those where I’ve had the opportunity to analyse a topic and bring in my experiences and observations. If you look at my Archives page, I’ve listed three poss as “Promoted” – the three I am most happy with, that I like the best. They are Inspiration, Archaeology and the One Ring, Building Worlds Alongside Stories and What’s With all the Kings and Queens in Fantasy? Overall, the posts I’m most happy with are those that I felt driven to produce; the more generic posts like the Best Fantasy Films posts, and the posts where I was wondering what I would post next, didn’t come out so well, I think.

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The Passive Protagonist

Be active, we are told as writers; don’t say “he was walking”, say, “he walked”. Active language is more engaging, and often better paced. It enables stronger prose. It lifts your writing. By contrast, passive language slows the pace and saps excitement by using two words when one will do or placing the character in the position of the object, the thing to whom actions are done. Any writer who’s spent much time on the internet or reading writing advice books knows that (and in fact my friend Brian recently posted on this subject).

On the micro level – on the level of individual sentences and phrases – this advice is followed. On the macro level – with characters over the course of a novel – often it is not.

Continue reading The Passive Protagonist

Inspiration, Archaeology and the One Ring

It has recently been reported that a Roman ring, suggested by some to have inspired Tolkien when he was writing The Hobbit, has been put on display at The Vyne, a Tudor house in Hampshire, in association with the Tolkien Society.

I have some reservations about this story, both from the perspective of a writer and as the holder of a degree in Ancient History and Archaeology.

The media reporting this story, as well as the people at the Vyne and in the Tolkien Society, display a lack of understanding of how inspiration works for a writer. In fairness, I can’t speak for other writers, but I find inspiration is never about one thing. Inspiration comes from a thousand sources, and the way I link my experiences to one another.

The Roman Ring on display at the VynePhoto source: National Trust
The Roman Ring on display at the Vyne
Photo source: National Trust

Continue reading Inspiration, Archaeology and the One Ring

The danger of letting excitement make your decisions for you

You may possibly have noticed me raving a little bit about my short story, Ailith’s Gift, a few times on my blog. You can hardly blame me: it’s my first story to be published. Well, my second, but the first isn’t viewable any more because the ezine it was published in vanished at some point in the last 5 years. Ailith’s Gift was published in Myths Inscribed back in December; I worked hard to meet the deadline and then to improve it with help from Myths Inscribed lead editor Derek Bowen.

Recently I returned to look at it, and found a few errors, a few things I didn’t like about it any more. Don’t get me wrong: I’m still incredibly proud of it and myself, and for the main part I’m still happy with it, but the distance of time and perhaps a little extra experience has granted me a more objective perspective, not just on the story, but also on my frame of mind at the time I was writing and editing Ailith’s Gift.

Continue reading The danger of letting excitement make your decisions for you

Review: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson

I have been aware of Brandon Sanderson for a couple of years. I’ve seen his books on the shelves, read his name mentioned in forum posts, even watched his lectures on Youtube. But it has taken until now for me to read him. I can cite a number of excuses – I have been reading mostly history and historical fiction in the last three years, understandably given that for four years ending in September 2011 I was studying ancient history at university.

As well as being the book’s title, Elantris is the name of a once beautiful city, home to astounding magic and godlike people, who a decade before the events of the story became cursed, the people left corpse-like but undying and the magic cut off.

The story follows Reoden, prince of Arelon, the new kingdom outside of Elantris’ walls who is claimed by the curse and finds himself inside the city; Serene, princess of a neighbouring kingdom arrived to marry him, only to be told he had died; and Hrathen, a high level priest sent to convert the people of Arelon to his own warlike religion and prevent Arelon instead being invaded.

Continue reading Review: Elantris by Brandon Sanderson