Monday, 30 January 2017

Science Fiction Magazines (History of Science Fiction)

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries pulp fiction magazines appeared and quickly gained popularity, particularly because of their low price. Their label came from the low quality paper on which they were printed, which cut down on costs. They covered adventure stories, westerns, and many more subjects, but there was a hungry readership for the science fiction magazines.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Necessity is the Mother of Invention – Boost Your Creativity with Restrictions

Nearly seven years ago I had a stroke and lost the use of my right arm. Think of how many things you need two hands for! I can’t do up zips or tie shoe laces for example.

But the restriction has made me find other ways of doing things. It’s surprising what you can do if you think creatively. Clothes that need hand washing aren’t too hard, but how do you wring them out? Roll them in a towel, lay the roll on the kitchen floor and walk up and down on it!

Saturday, 21 January 2017

The Golden Age of Science Fiction

The 1940s and 50s are often referred to as the Golden Age of science fiction. The appearance of the atom bomb at the end of World War II led to increased interest in science but fears of nuclear power, and the rise of the Cold War led to Communist paranoia. There was also a public desire for sensation, to be lifted out of their dull war and post-war lives.


Thursday, 19 January 2017

9 Things I've Learned About Being a Writer

Here are some of the things I’ve learned since I got serious about being a writer.

  1. Write. It’s so easy for life to get busy, and you think you’ll have time later. Write every day, even if only for 5 minutes.
  2. Live. On the other hand, don’t get so immersed in being a writer that you shut yourself away. You need your family and friends. You also need to experience life in order to write about it. You don’t need to experience everything you write about – I don’t think I should murder somebody just to make me a crime writer – but when you’ve lived a little, you know about love, hope, fear, despair, anger, laughter.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Lost Horizon 1937 Film

Lost Horizon was directed by Frank Capra and starred Ronald Coleman. The film had the largest amount ever allocated to a project up to that time, yet exceeded its original budget by more than $776,000, and it took five years for it to earn back its cost. It created a serious financial crisis for Columbia Pictures.

Robert Conway is a writer, humanitarian, diplomat, and former military man, all of which have made him a public hero. But he is remarkably unfulfilled in his life, something he does not tell anyone. On March 10, 1935, he is in Baskul, China, where a violent revolution is taking place. It is his job to evacuate the ninety British subjects in the area, before he himself heads back to London to become British Foreign Secretary.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Revising and Self-editing

You will never write a piece, much less a book, and have it perfect first time. The best advice is to write your piece, whatever it is, and then put it away for some time before you look at it again. That’s because, having written it, you’re far too close to it to be able to see it clearly. You know what you wanted to say and how you wanted to say it, so when you read it back you read what you meant to write.

This applies to short pieces like blog posts or flash fiction, just as much as longer pieces, but especially when it comes to a book. Hopefully you wrote to some sort of plan, even if you worked it out in your head as you went along. Hopefully you have some sort of notes about the characters, so you don’t give the hero blond hair at the beginning and dark hair later, or change his name or place of birth. Even so, in the flush of creativity, these things can get confused.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Flash Gordon 1936 Film

In my history of science fiction series I have paused to consider early science fiction films. Flash Gordon (1936) was a serial film of a comic strip. First published January 7 1934, the strip was inspired by and created to compete with the already established Buck Rogers adventure strip, published since 1929. Flash Gordon is regarded as one of the best illustrated and most influential of American adventure comic strips.


Three earthlings visit the planet Mongo to thwart the evil schemes of Emperor Ming the Merciless.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

To Make a Short Story Long

Here’s some good advice from Adrian Magson, from Writing Magazine December 2009:

How do you go about making a short book into a longer one without padding it into a soggy lump of dough?

Does it have ‘legs’?
If you are convinced about the strength of your work – that it has the ‘legs’ to be more than just a short story – you need to consider objectively what makes it so good in the first place. Is it the theme? The power of the characters? The pace of the storyline? The timing or relevance for the market? … Do you have such a genuine conviction about its quality that you can’t bear to drop it in a drawer and forget it? If so, then you have to look at ways in which you can use what you’ve already got, and build on it.