‘There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.’

Twain, Disraeli, Anon, take your pick, but the quote is true nonetheless. I hereby state, for the record, that I have committed that most heinous of crimes and told infernal untruths about statistics. Can my backers ever forgive me? Will readers ever trust an author who can’t keep his numbers straight?

Re-Imagining the Flashback: Letting Go and Trusting Your Creativity

I’m back from holiday and writing has started again. Was it a week wasted (from a writing point of view)? Not at all. Stephen King refers, in a famous quote, to his ‘boys in the basement’. His boys are his muses, that play amongst themselves in the darkness of his subconscious. Their games become his stories. What lurks in my subconscious, I have no idea, but I do know it is/they are a lot better at writing stories than I am. Before I left on holiday I was facing the prospect of writing one of those infamous scenes: the flashback.

The First Rule of Writing Speculative Fiction (SF): Be Internally Consistent

  Readers love to discover new things, and so speculative fiction (most commonly the genres of science fiction and fantasy) offers writers a great opportunity. Good SF will grip you by the ****** with the setting, while it punches you in the head with its plot and characters.

Ask the Author – An Interview with T. James?

    Progress So Far: Three Quarters Present and Correct, One Quarter AWOI* * AWOI: Absent Without Information There comes a time in most long-term writing projects where there is a lull, a pause when the only thing to do is wait. For me, that time is now. I’ve just sent an email to Frontier full of awkward questions, many of which probably don’t yet have an answer. Getting answers is pressing in terms of my story, but my guess is that fleshing out these aspects of the game is probably lower down Frontier’s to-do list. It involves game content that is more likely, I think, to be released as a later update or add-on pack. (Frontier hasn’t given me any basis for my assumption, I’m just reading between the lines.) This puts me in the rather strange position (for a writer) of being unable to visualise something that does not … Continue reading

‘Out of the Darkness’ Receives its First Beta-Read

The title is a little misleading as only the first half has had its first beta-read, but now the disclaimer is out of the way I can explain what a beta-read is to non-writers. Oh, actually no, I can’t because Out of the Darkness is still in its alpha draft stage. This isn’t going well, is it? Let’s start again.

What Makes ‘Out of the Darkness’ Different?

What makes a book different is a topic that’s constantly discussed by writers. How to make your work stand out so that it is interesting enough for an agent or publisher to send you that mythological piece of paper known as a contract is the subject of countless blog articles and social media discussions. It’s even come up on the forums and in Elite: Dangerous related videos and podcasts—how will the writers of the fiction differentiate their stories from each others? It’s only after reaching this point in the first draft that I’ve got enough of a feel for where my story is headed that I can attempt an answer to that question.

Legalism and Contracts: The Ties That Bind

When I received my written contract from Frontier on Friday last week, I was extremely excited. Signing something makes it feel so official, so real. Then I read the contract. Frontier, like all companies, have to protect their interests—especially when those interests are vested in intellectual property, trademarks, and copyrights for virtual created items. I’m sorry to break it to everyone, but the Elite: Universe doesn’t exist as a physical entity, but only as a virtual and legal one. To say that intellectual property law is complex would be an understatement. Who owns what, and who has the right to use it and under what circumstances becomes a convoluted maze of legalistic verbage that will twist even the most stable individual in on themselves until they are wibbling and drooling like a wet sponge. I have been floating, mired, in the sucking mental mud that is a legal contract since … Continue reading

The First Draft: Making a Mess

What happens when you leave a writer alone with a PC, MS Word, and a rough outline for the first draft? The same thing as when you leave a three-year-old alone in a room with a box of crayons and a perfectly wallpapered white wall. You get some creativity and a lot of mess. My first drafts are never pretty (except if you like red highlighting), but this one looks more like partially digested spaghetti than most. Things at Frontier towers are still very much in transition, with lots of really basic setting stuff undecided. (Paradoxically there is also a lot of really specific detail that’s been nailed down for weeks—just not what I need for my story.) My protagonist is currently from an unknown planet; lives on an unknown planet; is travelling to unknown planets via more unknown planets. As you can imagine, my story isn’t exactly brimming over … Continue reading

The Art of Creativity, Systems, and Miracles

With a basic story premise approved, it was time for me to move on to the how and the what of story writing. This has been proving something of a challenge. There have been many attempts over the years to find and market the ‘perfect’ method of writing a book. A quick search will bring up several systems developed to standardise and so focus a writer’s approach. For some writers these aids can be very useful – providing a logical framework to hang their work from. For others, sad to say, it’s an ineffective way of compensating for lack of talent. I know in this politically correct age I’m not supposed to write stuff like this, but no amount of practicing the piano is going to make me Beethoven, and I’m never going to win Got to Dance, The Voice, or any other TV talent show. Hopefully, I do possess the basic … Continue reading