Wednesday, 22 March 2017

11 Things I Learned in Malta about Writing – 3 Be Creative

On a 2014 holiday in Malta I saw many things that could help me with my writing. I will be sharing one each week. Sorry I missed a week, I was struck down by a virus. Here is point 3 I learned:

Be creative

Although the buildings are the same colours, and all have flat roofs, every building is different. Some architectural details, especially in the balconies, make each building unique in its area.

Don’t use the same old plots. There are only supposed to be a small number of unique plots, but the books that succeed are creative and find a new twist. Adapt a plot from a different genre, do something unexpected. That way your story will stand out from the crowd.

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Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back, the end. No, really? What could you do to change it? Boy loses girl, boy finds a better one? Boy gets girl back and finds they don’t get on?

Don’t use the limited number of plots to excuse poor writing. The Harry Potter books were a basic boarding school story, but by mixing it with wizards and a really bad villain, it grabbed the imagination of millions of people of all ages.

In my second Flight of the Kestrel book Secrets, some of the crew are sent to investigate rumours of a secret weapon. The mission fails and they escape, taking with them a badly injured man who shared their prison cell. They later find out that he is the secret weapon.

Your initial idea for a story may be fairly simple, but as you develop it, look for ways to give it a twist and do something different. One of the questions you need to answer when you think about pitching your novel to an agent or publisher, or direct to readers if you self publish, is ‘What makes your book stand out from the rest?’ Bear that in mind while you’re writing it.

Ann Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Robert A Heinlein's Best Books

In my history of science fiction series, I wrote last week about Robert A Heinlein. This week I’m talking about some of his most famous books. My favourites are Stranger in a Strange Land and Time Enough For Love. Goodreads ran a listopia poll and these were the top four:

1. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

11 Things I Learned in Malta about Writing – 2 Build with Local Stone

On my 2014 holiday in Malta I saw many things that could help me with my writing. I will be sharing one each week. Here is point 2 I learned:

Build with local stone
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All the buildings in Malta are built from the local limestone, so they are all a creamy yellow colour. When you write, don’t pull things out of nowhere, use what’s around you, even if you have to put it there earlier in the story.

Ancient Greek drama would sometimes get the hero into an impossible situation and then one of the gods would appear and rescue them. It’s called Deus ex machina, and it’s cheating.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Robert A Heinlein, Dean of Science Fiction

Robert Anson Heinlein (July 7 1907 – May 8 1988) was an American science fiction writer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers", his controversial works continue to have an influential effect on the genre.

Heinlein became one of the first science fiction writers to break into mainstream magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post in the late 1940s. He was one of the best-selling science fiction novelists for many decades, and he, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C Clarke are often considered the "Big Three" of science fiction authors.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

11 Things I Learned in Malta About Writing – 1 Rain is a Blessing

In 2014 I had my first foreign holiday, in Malta. Thanks to British rule before they became independent, much is like home. The main language is English and they drive on the left. But, in more than distance travelled, it’s a whole different world. I saw many things that could help me with my writing. I will be sharing one each week.
Here is point 1:

Rain is a blessing

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Saturday, 25 February 2017

Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series

When I wrote about the author Isaac Asimov, I confessed he is my favourite author, and the one who introduced me to science fiction. Before I go on to talk about other authors from the Golden Age of science fiction, I want to introduce you to his most famous works – or should that be work, because in later life he bound them all together in one series.

The Robot series was originally separate from the Foundation series. The Galactic Empire novels were published as independent stories, set earlier in the same future as Foundation. Later in life, Asimov synthesized the Robot series into a single coherent "history" that appeared in the extension of the Foundation series.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Pick Your Pigeonhole

None of us like to be pigeonholed. It’s associated with people making judgements about us, which leads to assumptions, which can be wrong.


But when it comes to books, pigeonholes are vital.