Articles, Blog, Story Mechanics

Contrary Writing Advice Untangled

story mechanics course contrary writing advice

Writing advice is everywhere. All influential authors have been quoted on their craft, and novice writers are bombarded with this curated wisdom. New to the craft? Got stuck? Prepare to be thrown a random selection of ‘writing truths’ and be convinced that these contain the solution to your problem.

It’s tempting to believe that “if this worked for these famous authors, it will work for me!”

Yes, it may. It may be that eye opener you needed. Or it will feel like forcing a square peg into a round hole: as painful as it is futile. That isn’t to say that writing advice is bad advice. Not at all. But we tend to elevate simple quotes to religious creeds, and too many writers stress themselves about not being able to comply.

Needless self-torment, because many of those truths are often quoted out of context or sorely misinterpreted. These are my three pet peeves:

Articles, Blog

Worldbuilding 2.0: Bridging Gaps With Historical Fiction

writing historical fiction blog post messina sicily

Past, future and wistful dreams seem to have little in common, but when it comes to writing fiction, these peas fit snugly in the same pod. So what does historical fiction have in common with sci-fi and fantasy?

Indeed, many an epic fantasy saga has been set in a twin of medieval Europe, but despite the opening credits of Star Wars starting with ‘long ago’, this space opera doesn’t qualify for the ‘historical’ genre label.

So where do these worlds meet? Exactly there: the worlds in which the stories are set.

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Why You Can’t Kill Dragons (And Don’t Need To)

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get rid of all obstacles in your life? Just imagine how much easier you could obtain your goals – money, power, love, success, self-actualisation – if only you could kill the dragons that stood in your way.

Your cannot kill dragons
Source: HBO, Game of Thrones

But life is never that easy, is it? Still, there is hope. For those who dare, anyway.

Let’s say your goal is a treasure chest. To get to it, you must surmount obstacles. No path is ever straight forward, and your path to the treasure leads into a deep, dark cave. And in that cave dwells a living, breathing dragon.

Now you have two options.

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Ghosts of The Ypres Salient

gassed sargent ghosts ypres salient

On November 11th of this year, a full century has passed since the Great War came to an end. The war that left a ravaged continent in the wake of millions of casualties. On the Western Front, names like the Somme, Verdun and the Ypres Salient have become synonymous to unprecedented loss of life.

After all that time, are there still soldiers on these battlefields? Not so long ago, many of them still walked the fields of Flanders and France. But since then, memories have become history. As their old haunts (literally) vanish and life goes on, many ghosts have disappeared. Many, but not all…

Whenever you visit the Belgian town of Ypres, keep an eye out for signs of people hanging about a lot longer than most tourists.

Articles, Blog

5 Painful Truths About Mercedes’ Paris

5 painful paris truths

Setting a story in history requires tons of research. It’s one of the reasons I love writing historical fiction. While writing The Devourer, I dug up numberous dark details that didn’t make it into the story, but some of them are too delightful not to share.

The year is 1858, and in Paris…

…drinking tea is a capital crime.