Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Writing Layers – Conflict

As I learned and grew as a writer, I went back over and over my first novel to add more layers to it. In this series I'm writing about each of my 'layers' in the hope it will help someone who is starting out. This week we look at conflict.


I was aware that there needs to be conflict to make a story work. If the hero wants something and then he gets it, that's not a story. There needs to be a struggle. But I didn't think about other conflicts within the story. My story is about a small space ship that spends weeks at a time on patrol, and the crew all get along perfectly fine. Then they get overcrowded, and nobody minds.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Vril: The Power of the Coming Race

This is the title of a book published in 1871 by Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). He was an English novelist, poet, playwright, and politician. In 1862 he was offered the crown of Greece when the king abdicated (he refused), and in 1866 he became the 1st Baron Lytton. He was immensely popular with the reading public and wrote a stream of bestselling novels which earned him a considerable fortune.


His novel Vril: The Power of the Coming Race drew heavily on his interest in the occult and contributed to the birth of science fiction. It tells the story of a subterranean race waiting to reclaim the surface of the Earth.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Writing Layers – Characters

As I learned and grew as a writer, I went back over and over my novel to add more layers to it. In this series I'm writing about each of my 'layers' in the hope it will help someone who is starting out. This week we look at characters.

Galaxy Quest

The film Galaxy Quest is about a group of actors from a Star Trek-type TV series who are kidnapped by aliens who need saving from invaders. They think the TV series is real. One of the actors plays a character with no name. He is convinced that means he is going to die. To keep a TV series going they can't kill off the main characters, so minor characters are introduced so they can be the ones to die.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is a classic science fiction novel published in 1870 by French writer Jules Verne, who I wrote about a few weeks ago.


The book was highly acclaimed when released and still is now; it is regarded as one of the premiere adventure novels and one of Verne's greatest works, along with Around the World in Eighty Days and Journey to the Center of the Earth.

The description of Nemo's ship, the Nautilus, was ahead of its time, as it accurately describes features on submarines, which at the time were very primitive vessels. The book has been able to age well because of its scientific theories.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Writing Layers

When I finally plucked up courage to actually start writing the science fiction stories in my head, I didn't know much about writing. I just wrote. I wrote down my plot, which needed some people to do certain things, so I made up some people. And that was that.


I was really pleased with my plot, but as a novel it just didn't work. For one thing it was far too short. I put it away while I thought about it and did some reading about writing. I learned, amongst other things, that readers need to care about your characters, so they need to be realistic and rounded. My characters were all cardboard: just devices to further the plot.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Journey to the Center of the Earth is an 1864 science fiction novel by Jules Verne, who I wrote about two weeks ago. The story involves German professor Otto Lidenbrock who believes there are volcanic tubes going toward the centre of the Earth.


The story begins in May 1863, in the Lidenbrock house in Hamburg, Germany, with Professor Lidenbrock rushing home to peruse his latest purchase, an original runic manuscript of an Icelandic saga written by Arne Saknussemm. While looking through the book, Lidenbrock and his nephew Axel find a coded note written in runic script which, when translated into English, reads:
Descend, bold traveller, into the crater of the jökull of Snæfell, which the shadow of Scartaris touches (lit: tastes) before the Kalends of July, and you will attain the center of the earth. I did it. Arne Saknussemm

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Square Brackets to the Rescue

When you’re writing your novel, do the words always flow? Do the ideas always come in the right order? Do you always have all the information you need at hand while you’re writing a scene? If you do, I’d like to meet you, because you are a phenomenon.

[Square brackets] to the rescue.

Piers Anthony

Author Piers Anthony writes an epilogue in the back of each of his books about how he wrote it and what went on in his life at the time. They are a fascinating insight into how he works. While he is writing one story, he will often get an idea for another one. He doesn’t want to lose that inspiration, but he doesn’t want to stop the flow of what he’s currently writing. So he writes the new idea in square brackets and carries on.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Alexander Veltman, Russian SciFi Pioneer

Alexander Fomich Veltman (30 July 1800 — 23 January 1870) was one of the most successful Russian prose writers of the 1830s and 40s. He wrote many kinds of fiction, but he was one of the pioneers of Russian science fiction.


He graduated from a military school and joined the army, but later left to pursue a career in literature. This did not bring in enough money to support him and his wife, so he was appointed Assistant Director of the Kremlin Museum of Armaments, eventually becoming Director.