Category Archives: Writing

Things I wrote in my notebook that no longer make sense

…but do now seem vaguely poetic.

Do all writers have unkempt hair? Tom Clancy?
Are all my thoughts worth sharing? Doubt it…
Random writing thoughts: trick arrows/explosive sheath/fuse?/pocket flint/patent law/brands
Literary lords? High.
Ancient antiseptics?
Selecting one from the crowd for drama.
Old mercenaries like to wake up early
Do I want to be a teacher?
Meniscology @ the cafe


…but thinking about posting on various topics, including:

    Smart tagging for WP in place of categories
    More on zombies & hard sci-fi
    Lots of anecdotal stuff from several great weekends/evenings out
    The difference between wine bars in London and Tallin…
    Bluetooth portable keyboards and PDAs
    Xbox360s, PSPs, and the Nintendo WII

& more. But it will have to wait for the moment whilst I try to fend off a cold that seems to be making its best efforts to take me out after a very relaxing and entertaining bank holiday weekend.

Happy May-Day to all for now, more to follow soon.

Short posts

I met Hugh at GapingVoid at a recent blogging conference I went to with work. He had some interesting things to say (particularly about Stormhoek wine, which I’m now quite keen to try), but most interesting is the fact that he writes about 20 posts a day on his blog, most of which contain less than 50 words.

Admittedly, a number of them contain comic strips, but particularly thanks to my manual blogging initiative, think I would like to see if something similar works for me – after all, I am best appreciated in small doses. So apologies in advance if a few future posts are only a sentence or two long. Odds are, most of them will be tagged ‘observational’ and all of them will be tagged ‘short’.

L’il black book

At Waterloo I thought it might be nice to pick up a PDA with wireless capability so I could blog remotely. I looked and looked for a notebook that suited the requirements, but whether due to Dixons decision to rebrand as Currys Digital or some other circumstance of fate, there was a rather limited selection of electronic notebooks available.

So I got a lower model.

Ages ago (back when I was blogging with motime for cryin’ out loud), I wrote about ‘manual blogging’ – using archaic ‘writing’ technology to pen my thoughts on a convenient napkin of sorts. Now, I bring you manual blogging 2.0 — my very own little black notebook, in which, much to the frustration of my family, I have been writing down every joke I (or anyone else) has made, random observations about life, and occasionally just a list of what I ate for dinner in the hope that it will provide useful fodder for blog posts, and, in the main, for the upcoming novel…

We’ll see. It’s definitely fun — feel I’m capturing valuable imagination capital that might otherwise be lost. Like Jerry Seinfeld, however, there is the occasional scribble that doesn’t make sense to me the day after… For example, why did I write down ‘nun with soft-boiled egg’ on the first day here in Bruges?

Of course, now that we’ve piggy backed onto a wireless network in the hotel I can blog directly, but I like the little black book and it may come in handy in the future. At UKP2.75 it was a damn site cheaper than a WiFi enabled PDA, anyway :).

Binary star system

I decided that the world of my novel was going to have a binary star system, but some initial trawls on Wikipedia (which is concerningly down at the moment) seem to indicate that, unless my characters are all Jovian-like balls of gas, that might not be possible.

But I may see if a different kind of binary system – a la Clarke’s 2063 world – would suit better…


I’ve spent the afternoon dreaming up my world — understand a little better now why every other time I’ve started writing I’ve collapsed into a self-conscious vortex and given up. Setting the context in a structured way is giving me so much more scope to visualise characters, peoples, cultures, political drivers, and – crucially – is getting me really excited about getting started. I’m going to keep a reign on writing until I’ve decided on a broad plot structure, which is yet to take form, but its reassuring that there are a few ideas beginning to crystallise.

Also decided on a few protagonists, the principal of which is going to be a girl, I think. Not sure I’ll be able to successfully write for a heroine, but we’ll see how we go. Her name is Elieonor. I’m not sure about the spelling, but I like the name.

I will, at some point soon, start asking my friends slightly peculiar questions on how they think certain personalities might interact, on what kinds of life forms would evolve successfully on a slightly dry world with two suns, on what kind of weather an Earth-type planet could have if in orbit around a binary star system (if such a thing could be, I think it its theoretically possible) – on cataclysmic events, on the nature of faith, and how to weave humour into a fantasy novel and not make it seem like I’m (purely) paying homage to Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. But I’ve a bit more thinking to do myself first.

Commence writing…

Well, I’ve almost started. There’s been more life-admin than I’ve been able to easily handle, but I’ve written a few things down on my first A3 sheet.


The idea is to begin to piece together the characteristics that define my world – yes, its going to be a fantastical novel. Not really sure whether its going to be more like Gaiman or Pratchett or Eddings, but we’ll see. Probably some bizarre hybrid.

Still quite exciting though!

On loving characters

One of the things on my to-do list is to write up a bunch of blog posts on specific topics is to write a few posts that have been brewing in my head. Before I forget why ‘Batgal/Buffy/Serenity-loving characters’ is scrawled on my to do list, I thought I’d fire off a couple of posts.

Arvind’s written about the hero mythos before (as have others…), but I’ve noticed of late that all my favourite television is massively character driven. Buffy and then Firefly/Serenity, Stargate SG-1, LoTR, the Bartimaeus trilogy, the Peter Hamilton novels (ok, all my recent sci/fi & fantasy) – but also books like Catch 22 (still on there as one of my favoure books ever), and Chabon’s brilliant Adventures of Kavalier and Clay — all really focussed on character development, and making people come to life that you really care about. The Sci/Fi / fantasy element is only necessary for the additional enjoyable escapism, I think – its the character led fiction that I love.

Thinking about my own writing, I want to try to go down this route. Every time I’ve set pen to paper in the past I’ve always led with something pathetically post-modern or puerilely philosophical. The next challenge has got to be working the philosophy and plot around characters my readers will like. Which is why I plan to make use of the A3 pad my sister bought me yesterday to sketch out some ideas and characteristics I’d like to see…

It’s so exciting! Feels like I’m actually getting somewhere. At least I now have a new list of thank yous to write in the acknowledgements of the book – when its eventually written – “Buffy Summers, Earl Hickey, Bill Adama, DEATH, Arthur Dent, &c’ – characters and heroes, one and all.”