Monthly Archives: February 2016
The internet creaks with people giving you writing advice, telling you exactly how to construct your tale. My writing advice: don’t listen to writing advice. Including this, if it doesn’t suit you. Write what makes your heart sing, your mind spark and your inner self go whoop-di-doo. Write people you fall in love with and characters you despise. Create beings who shock you and betray your trust, sending your story spinning off into uncharted skies undreamt of when you filed your flight plan. Write people. People with reasons for the things they do. People who think they are the goodies. Or, you know, sprout-creatures from the planet Pobble if you’re writing weird SF.
Ignore any ‘expert’ that tries to restrain what words you can use before you actually use them – they also likely believe that their anus emits sunlight. Especially dismiss that often-repeated shit about never using adverbs. Employ deftly; elegantly bedizen your doing words with adverbs like shimmering jewels on a smooth cleavage. Use the buggers, but yes, use them sparingly, with meaning and thought. Telling a new writer not to use adverbs is like taking the screwdriver out of a toolkit. Well alright, maybe a spanner.
So, no blanket rules, okay? Although… is “Edit the shizz out of your drafts, then edit again, then get someone else to edit them” a rule? I’d advise that one. Otherwise, write what you want – then edit it to a high sheen so that the reader will almost smell the sprouts. These are metaphorical sprouts – you get that, right?
So don’t listen to writing advice – but do listen, intently, to editing advice, even it comes from inside your own head. Oh, and if you can’t be wazzocked to edit, re-edit, re-re-edit yourself, then hire a good editor. I happen to know a superb editor – she’s here.
“This took me on the best dark journey. Loved it!”
“Poetry, ancient history, and a need to sate vengeful passion with a black twist of fate.”
“A deliciously dark tale right from the poetic start. Loved it!”
“Filled with vivid images, poetic language, and bloody vengeance!”
I’m Chuffed to little mintballs that my story The Croaking Raven was placed second in this year’s Love Bites competition. There were some cracking stories submitted this year, and I’m honoured to be considered in the top three.
I went to see this with a little trepidation. It had received mixed reviews, but those that criticised it did so either because it wasn’t exactly the original. Watched on its own terms this is a well-played comedy, with laughs, some excitement and not a little poignancy.
Mind you, my comedic gland (it’s just inside your elbow) might be a little odder than everyone else’s. I guffawed loudly, the only one in an otherwise silent cinema, at the following exchange:
“Just what the men need. They’ve been dragging their feet a bit lately.”
“Yes, they have been a bit lax.”
“There’s no need for Latin, Wilson.”
The cast is generally excellent, although Bill Nighy put in his usual performance as Bill Nighy, rather than Sergeant Wilson, and I found Pike’s character rather too gung-ho. The rest are superb, however, and each gets their chance to shine. In a lovely touch, the vicar is STILL played by Frank Williams, and there is a small part for Ian Lavender. We finally get to see the fearsome Elizabeth Mainwaring, who is well portrayed, with one or two touching moments when her love for her husband glints through her brusque shell.
To sum up: a very good comedy. It made me laugh. The film made enough nods to the original without slavishly copying it. Go and see it without expecting the original and you’ll have fun.
Oh, and don’t leave when the credits start to roll. Stay to catch some fun outtakes, including one where Michael Gambon’s mobile goes off during filming, and everyone stays in character.
Four smiling wombats out of five for Dad’s Army.
So, I get back from the gym and I’m ready to start writing. The problem is that I can’t think of a sub-plot to delay my protagonist by a day underground while parallel plotlines 11B (Moss) and 11C (raven/reeve) reach plotpoint GAMMA. Were I less of a stickler for continuity I could just write the strands and sod whether they match temporally, but no. I’m a stickler for stuff like that, me. I stickle.
Or, you know, why can’t I ever just write a novel-length story that just goes in a straight line? Warren Peace had two parallel plots, chuntering on together in alternate chapters. In Fog I kind of folded Finn’s tale of mystery, weirdness and showers back on itself and plaited the strands (that was fun!). In The Raven’s Wing there are, let me see, at least four things going on at once in different places, all important to the tale.
Herein, though, lies the beauty of Scrivener. First of all it makes stickling easy by allowing me to look at parallel timelines by judicious use of keywords. In addition, I can actually leave John festering underground not caring what he’s doing while I write future chapters, secure in the knowledge I can come back to him at that moment later when a light bulb hits me about what he might actually be doing there.
Looks like I’m writing after all. Well played, Scriv.
Character sketch from The Raven’s Wing, coming this summer. Drawn for me by the talented @TheRogueHeart.
My entry for the Love Bites 2016 anti-Valentine flash fiction challenge, which you can find HERE.
“The croaking raven doth bellow for revenge.” – Hamlet
From the ebon pit where foul worms writhe and creep, black as Beelzebub and cold as bare winter, she crawled at midnight’s bell, clawing noisome ooze from her misshapen eyes. Her malformed, demonic gait dragged rotting feet through corpse-fed grass, stinking gobbets of once-flesh falling upon the rank ground.
Eternal rest had not been hers to grasp. What chance of rest when her fiery wronged heart and the acid taste of betrayal deep in her soul both cried without cessail for bloody revenge?
She had loved him as a fire sparks, dancing to the tune of an autumn wind. She had loved him as the enridged sea surges unrestrained on a spring tide. And she had made him love her. Yet he had thrown her love aside like a snake’s skin. He had betrayed her adoration, and he had murdered her, destroying her in a fire of traitorous fury.
Stronger than a lover’s adoration is a lover’s hatred, and stronger is it still than even Death, who, mighty sable wings unfurled against the turbulent lightning sky of purgatory, had looked her in the eye and roared “Go! Fulfil your dread purpose ‘ere I take you.”
Starless, this black night; a night for hell to breathe out contagion into the world, and she was that disease. Her poisonous intent was to drink hot blood, and with patient cruelty draw exquisite agony upon her lover’s face, as pale as a grave. He had spat away her love, and for that he must suffer tortured agonies. She uttered a raven-croak of promise, the only sound that the remains of her throat could now make, a sound of rising vengeance.
She was close now, fluttering like rivulets of hellsmoke through crevices, between thin gaps, finally materialising by his bed, a hollow ghost inside her remembering warmer times there with him. She pulled the sharp bone out of her left arm and raised it high with her right, ready to strike, to pierce him through as he slept, to finally sate her need to be avenged.
He whirled, a blur, a flashing blade severing her arm so that both flew across the room.
“Did you think to surprise me, witch? I knew you’d come. Christ, you stink more than you did alive. And you even gave me warning. You know, in Sweden, ravens that croaked at night were thought to be the souls of murdered people who didn’t have proper Christian burials. I think the Swedes might be on to something.”
He swung his blade again, and again, in violent sweeping arcs. Her limbs fell; her torso writhed, shedding rotting flesh across the floor.
“Why do you think I killed you, witch? I know that you cast a love spell on me, as I know full well your powers now, and I say that I will have no more of you! I was a fool, believing that the fire would rid me of a sorceress. I know better now. I know the true doombringer of a witch!”
He hacked off her head and, gathering all the pieces of her, plunged them, still croaking faintly, deep in a barrel of consecrated water. Its sting pecked at her withering soul, and awareness left her.
“Welcome back,” said Death. “Are you ready to go now?”