Blog 45: A Trip To Pendragon Castle

The 12th century Pendragon Castle is now a ruin located in Mallerstang dale, Cumbria, south of Kirkby Stephen, and close to the hamlet of Outhgill. You can reach the ruins today via the B6259 or if you’re feeling particularly adventurous and confident in your driving skills, you can take the single track Tommy Rd, which is what I did by mistake, but if you’ve read my Wigtown blog you won’t be surprised by that.

Legends say that there was an original castle built here by Uther Pendragon, father of King Arthur during the 5th century. Unfortunately, there is no current evidence that there was a former castle at this location before the 12th century, though given that a previous castle would have probably been made out of wood this is hardly surprising. Many places throughout Cumbria claim connections to the legend of King Arthur, but only the author of the legend, Geoffrey of Monmouth (if he were still around) would be able to tell anyone for sure. However, he probably wouldn’t be able to tell you anything about Pendragon Castle. The first mention of Pendragon Castle was apparently in the 15th century written in Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur. Malory didn’t invent the stories independently either, ‘he translated Arthurian stories that already existed in thirteenth-century French prose and compiled them together with at least one tale from Middle English sources to create his text’. Despite mentioning the illusive Pendragon Castle, Malory left no clues as to where it’s actual location may have been. read more »

Blog 44: The Language And Terminology We Use In Writing.

I already touched on this topic in Blog 37: On The Importance Of Words, but I wanted to write more about the language and terminology that we use.

As a writer getting the language and terminology right for your characters, setting, plot and storyline is important. The writers who nail this often have the best-selling novels, whilst the writers who don’t, often trail behind. Now that’s not to say that every best-selling novel is a good book and every other book is bad, but you can definitely tell when a book is more likely to be good, based on the language and terminology that the author uses.

Language and terminology can be used to add colour and complexity to your characters without compromising on your word count. Sticking to stereotypes for now, the evilness of your antagonists can be increased with the language and terminology that they use. If their language is mean, cold, and/or condescending, it is likely that the reader will ‘dislike’ these characters. Similarly, the goodness of your protagonists can be amplified by the honesty, good-will and politeness that may shine through in how they speak and interact with other characters. Not only this, but the language and terminology used by characters when they talk about other characters, can be used to paint pictures and nudge the reader’s opinions of those other characters. This happens all the time in real life, you see it in advertising, music, the media, and pretty much every single thing that is written, everyone has an opinion and their own lives, and naturally this will come through in their work, their mannerisms and what they say, even if they’re not aware of it. read more »

Blog 43: Notes On Book Marketing.

The idea of marketing your book can be overwhelming, especially if you’re an indie author and you’re just starting out. Below are some of the thoughts and suggestions from a marketing friend of mine who has been looking at the most effective promotional tools for authors. From branding, to online and offline marketing, here is everything you need to know to get started…

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Blog 42: Writing All The Unsaid Things.

The wonderful thing about writing is that you can write anything, including all those things that you really want to say but are too afraid to. Writers are commonly described as introverts, and I would tend to agree since I lean towards the introvert end of the spectrum myself. During my school years I was painfully quiet, every parent’s evening my teachers would praise my work and grades and then they would say the dreaded ‘but’ word, usually followed by something like read more »

Blog 41: Total Originality Is Probably Impossible.

A friend once told me that they had an idea for a book that they wanted to write. When I asked why they weren’t writing it, they listed a number of excuses, but one stuck out to me in particular. They wanted their idea to be completely new and original, and they didn’t want to write something that wasn’t. Now I was puzzled by this, the idea of creating a completely original story is something that I think many authors would love to and dream about achieving, but I don’t feel that this is a realistic possibility. read more »

Blog 40: Why You Should Invest In An Editor.

“The funny thing about writing is that whether you’re doing it well or you’re doing it poorly, it looks the exact same. That is actually one of the main ways that writing is different from ballet dancing.” – John Green

If you’re an indie author and either have, or are considering self-publishing, then let me borrow a few minutes of your time to tell you why I think investing in a good editor is important.

I’ve read many books over the years and I’m by no means an expert in the field of writing, but I have noticed reoccurring patterns and feelings. Particularly feelings of disappointment and confusion when a book I’ve been reading has fallen flat or the characters have just acted bizarrely for no apparent reason, and yes I have fallen into this trap too.

As a writer and author, I know how difficult it is to come up with compelling, yet realistic ideas that make sense for your story. When I was writing my first published book Anomaly, which I rewrote dozens of times with the help of a couple of editors, I found that in later rewrites my mind had become so saturated with my story that I could no longer decide whether my writing and ideas were good, or if they were just plain terrible. I experienced feelings of panic and anxiety for weeks and months, even after I finished the book and it went off for publication. In fact, the earliest versions of Anomaly bear very little resemblance to what I eventually wrote and published in 2016. read more »

Blog 39: The Evolution of Fiction Writing

 

‘Once Upon A Time’ to ‘Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive’. How and why did story writing change so much? And what can we learn from it?

Traditionally, word of mouth was the only way to communicate and share stories, but with the advent of writing implements and machines, stories were recorded and eventually, mass produced. Paperbacks and hardbacks adorn our bookshelves today and it is as simple and easy as going to the supermarket to pick up your next novel. We don’t even have to leave the house anymore; the rise of electronic books and portable tablets has given the modern world instant access to billions of stories with just a single touch, and I’m sure stories and technology will continue to evolve in ways we can barely imagine today.

It is argued that the earliest forms of storytelling can be contributed to read more »

Blog 38: On the ‘Heart Of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad.

Image result for Heart of darkness

At the beginning of this year I set myself the task of reading more books considered ‘classics’ in order to widen my literary knowledge and improve my writing skills. After asking a friend and colleague for book recommendations, I have made it to and finished the modern classic and short story, ‘Heart of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad. Previously, I had never heard of Joseph Conrad, so I decided to do some research about the author.

Joseph Conrad was born in December 1857, he was a Polish-British writer who was granted British nationality in 1886. Many of his works feature nautical settings which is not surprising considering Conrad expressed a desire to go to sea and spent time working on French merchant vessels before joining a British ship as an apprentice.

The ‘Heart of Darkness’ explores the effects of European imperialism and colonialism in Africa, both for the African people who lived there and the Europeans who were sent there as part of the now, illegal, ivory trade. Conrad writes from read more »

Blog 37: On The Importance Of Words.

When I was in high school and studying English Literature, we read books like ‘Of Mice And Men’ and ‘An Inspector Calls’. One day that I remember clearly, a student asked the English teacher why we were bothering to study the sentences in such detail. This student was sure that writers would not and did not plan every single sentence they wrote. They thought that if a writer chose to write that the curtains were blue then they simply were blue and that it was not a subtle attempt at drawing out feelings of sadness from the reader. My teacher didn’t have a reply at the time, but after writing a book, reading hundreds of other books and many years later, I do have a reply. read more »

Blog 36: Nine Novel Things You Can Write Which Aren’t Your Novel.

Ok so maybe some of these ideas are not so ‘novel’, but being an author doesn’t mean you have to write novels and huge epic trilogies all the time. Some people just don’t take to writing the longer stuff and that’s ok, because it doesn’t mean that you’re not a writer. Or perhaps you do write novels and you just fancy trying something different with your writing skills? Here are just a handful of ideas that you can try when you’re not feeling up to writing your novel, but you really want to write…

1) Write A Poem Or A Song.

You don’t have to write the next Homer’s Iliad or Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, but a little song, poem, or even just a couplet, might be a secret talent that you never knew you had. Poetry and song writing is a good way to get creative with words, and learn some new synonyms and antonyms whilst you’re at it.

2) Keep A Gratitude Diary. read more »