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Sky Thieves and Desert Thieves illustrations by James Fraser

The Light Hunters illustrations by George Ermos

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Writing and researching


So, after the flurry of promotional activity last week, it's back to the grindstone. I find it hard to focus on writing new material when there's lots of other stuff going on, so I've spent this week re-writing the YA sci-fi book I've been working on since March. I'm about halfway through the plot, maybe slightly more, and I'm happy with the book so far. One thing I've noticed down the years is that the more I write, the better my first drafts have become, which has left me with less work to do on subsequent manuscripts. Thankfully, this appears to be the case with my current book too. Really enjoying the getting to know the characters better, and the plot's shaping up nicely too. Plenty more work to go, though. Looking forward to writing new material again in a couple of weeks.


I've also spent a lot of time this week reading (and watching videos) about story-structure. This is one of my favourite things to do outside of writing, and I never tire of learning new tips and tricks about how to shape stories, character-arcs, etc. At the minute, I'm re-reading an excellent book by a guy called Christopher Vogler, who used to help doctor stories at Disney. His book is a rewrite of Joseph Campbell's 'Hero With a Thousand Faces,' about the Hero's Journey. This material is essential to any writer, whether you're writing the most avant-garde story about a cockroach, or the next Harry Potter. I've also been watching some excellent analysis of movie storytelling techniques on the 'Lessons from the Screenplay' channel on YouTube. Absolutely excellent critique on there, and well worth checking out.


Last but not least, I've been continuing to chug away at 'New York 2140,' by Kim Stanley Robinson. Now, if you don't know, I'm an enormous Stan fan, but this book really isn't his best. Stan is known for interesting ideas, (alternative history, colonising Mars,) but the flooded New York in this book just ins't cutting it. Put that alongside some overly-familiar character work and I have to say it's probably the most average book I've read of his. (Sorry Stan!) On a more positive note, I'm playing a game called Uncharted 4, which is as good a piece of storytelling as you're going to find in a game. The guys at Naughty Dog did a good job of building up Nate Drake's character over the course of the first three games, but they've taken it to a new level of sophistication in the fourth. Outstanding storytelling, well-paced, with likable characters. Can't wait for The Last of Us 2 now.

Ciao.

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