Saturday, December 28, 2013

The revenge of the not particularly heroic, nerdy wee fella

Earlier in the month, I did a post about how "strong female characters" bore the bits off me, and the same is true of "strong male characters". 'Tis a bit dull to see characters reduced to one buzzword, y'see, or at least in my opinion.

And I shall tell you what else bores me: heroes. Indomitable slabs of beef, who crush their enemies, and hear the lamentation of their women? Peerless warriors at the very peak of physical perfection? You can keep 'em!

I'll take the nerdy wee pleb over that, any day, because seriously, where's the "triumph over adversity" that we all love to see, when the hero in question is already written as being indomitably perfect (when it's a truth universally acknowledged, or in my head at least, that perfect people are, when you get right down to it, gits)?

Monday, December 23, 2013

On Which Planet? - A Cynos Union Christmas Storytime Special

(The following transcript is taken from a data recorder found floating in deep space just outside the Holligomistel system. Due to the nature of the recording, Holligomistel is off-limits until further notice - First Admiral Baraph Trighy, Cynos Security Fleet)

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for what may or may not have been some kind of a weasel thing. Might have been a mouse, I'm not honestly sure. I never was much good at species classifications, to be honest. I find it easier to classify things as "furry, has antlers", or "slimy, eats flies, not a good idea to lick it".

Trust me, I speak from personal experience on that last one.

Anyway, you're not here to talk about taxonomy, are you? You probably want to know who I am, or maybe what I am, right? I mean you did come all this way to find me, so it seems only fair I give you the old autobiography, maybe even some of the juicy bits they leave out of the official story, eh?

Just to check, though, you're not recording this, are you? I happen to like my privacy, thank you very much, and I know what you humans are like for bugging anyone even vaguely famous. I don't want the paparazzi coming round here trying to take photos of me in my smalls is what I'm saying.

So, you're definitely not recording this, right? No? Good good! Then we can begin...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

By embracing the dark side, we conquer the dark side

Ain't it always the first thing mentors and other authors say, whenever they're talking to fledgling writers? It's the same bit of advice that gets trotted out, and it goes like this: "Write what you know."

The thing is, though, that it's absolutely true. That's a large part of the reason why my first book, Messiah's Shard, starts off in a small village just up the road from Sheffield (plus, of course, I couldn't resist the idea of a big, epic science fiction novel being set just up the road from me; there's something ever so slightly awesome about that). The fictional village from which our hero hails, Brakenthorpe, is even based on a village where I spent a big chunk of time when I was a teen (school friends lived there, y'see), and another big chunk after I turned 18, although when we went on the swings after we'd ostensibly hit adulthood, we were considerably less sober.

The point is that anyone who lives in that real world village would find the fictional little hamlet of Brakenthorpe to be hauntingly familiar, because, well, write what you know. It doesn't end there, though...

Friday, December 13, 2013

Nail the ending, or don't even bother starting...

[WARNING: Here be spoilers for Mass Effect 3. And Assassin's Creed 3. Oh, and the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary, as well.]

Hmm, now there's an interesting question. I was having a nice long conversation with someone today, all about why the ending of Mass Effect 3 was such a colossal bag of donkey doings, and said person asked a question about whether a bad ending can really ruin all the good stuff that came before, when the entire experience up to that point had been good.

My immediate was a big fat yes, but it raised a rather intriguing question: why? How come the ending has such enormous power over a story, and thus, how is it possible that a bad ending can ruin everything that's gone before?

Might it be something about how we, as humans, are hardwired that makes the ending of the story the single most important bit of the whole enterprise?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Musings on my influences - HOW has Transformers endured for 30 years?

What I say next, I say completely without shame or irony: I love Transformers. I've always loved Transformers, ever since the age of 6/7, and I honestly reckon that my love of the weird and the epic (seriously, that's a concrete part of my biography and everything) came from the opening of Transformers: The Movie, in 1986.

Y'know, where the first scene has a planet being eaten. Seeing something like that was bound to have a lasting effect on the brain of a 7 year old, and no mistake.

The thing is, though, that it wasn't just my prepubescent brain that Transformers had an effect on; it also somehow went on to become one of the most successful toy franchises in history, and is still going strong today, thirty years later. The big question, of course, is this: why? How did a toy franchise aimed at 7 year old boys manage that?

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Creativity - the bane of society, apparently

I'll be honest, I wibbled back and forth about writing this post, for a very simple reason: how does it actually apply to the whole business of being a writer? Does it fit the theme of this blog to actually talk about it?

Then, though, I had a realisation. By even asking myself that, was I not playing into the very phenomenon that the original source story was talking about? By avoiding writing this, was I not actually being averse to a bit of the ol' creativity myself?

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

'Strong Female Characters'? Seriously? You want to limit your palette like that?

Hoooooo blimey, this one's a thorny issue, and no mistake! Seriously, this one causes no end of introspection and outright navel-gazing, from every imaginable side of the whole gender debate, and since I'm a writer, it's one of those things I have to be aware of. Yes, it's the issue of "strong female characters", and I know I'm going to get flamed to a crisp by people who don't read past the headline, but the simple fact is this: "strong female characters" are dull.

And so are "strong male characters"...