Tag Archives: Fantasy

Counting towards your write-a-day

On the art of writing, literary legend Ray Bradbury is quoted as saying: “Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens.”

This is great advice. But I must admit, I’ve been guilty of not writing a lot this week. Sorry Ray. I have in fact had my editing head on, working on a collection of short stories for a fellow author, my writing head being temporarily placed in its glass specimen jar on my office shelf. Wherever my head is at though, my mind is always wandering. Indeed, with my running head on, I let my mind wander free and it’s often when huffing and puffing through my local park that I come up with some of my best ideas.

By now, I’m starting to look like Cerberus, the ferocious three headed dog from Greek mythology. Or maybe a really lame hydra. I’m going to stick with the head analogy though. Indeed, it’s mythical creatures like this that first fired my imagination as a child. Having the Jason and the Argonauts movie and Tolkien’s The Hobbit evangelised to me by my father were probably a lot to do with a lifelong love of fantasy that hasn’t left me. To take nothing away from the immense skill of CGI artists, it was the second Ray of my blog, Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion labours of love, that first drew me in to the fantasy world. I read a Twitter conversation recently featuring people from different generations all offering their thoughts on how much of an impact the iconic skeleton fight scene from Jason and the Argonauts had on them, their childhoods and their writing.

Role playing games are great too. I’m sometimes a player, using my vivid imagination to paint the scene presented to myself and my fellow adventurers by the Dungeonmaster. Sometimes though, I’m the Dungeonmaster myself, delighting in dreaming up adventures for my players to experience. I’m probably guilty of not spending enough time genning up on the rules and too much working on painting a picture, telling a story and dreaming up dialogue for the characters they’ll meet. But that’s my point, I guess. I’m using the game to nurture my imagination, and I figure my players will forgive a bit of furtive rule book fluttering in favour of a more enjoyable adventure.

What I’m getting at is that, whether you’re not using it all the time to write, your imagination is always there. It’s a well of ideas, some of which will inevitably come to you when you least expect them to. Use your mind creatively in different ways and you’ll be exercising it and keeping it primed and ready to dream up your next creation.

And no, writing a reply to this blog won’t count towards your write-a-day – though it would be really nice if you did all the same! Or, feel free to follow me and say hi on Twitter. I follow back and don’t snore (much).

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Filed under Editing, Movies, Authors, Fantasy, Writing, Books, self-publishing

A Summer of Verne

Jules Verne

I may have been familiar with some of his most popular work thanks to the old film adaptions I watched my childhood, but until this summer, I’m ashamed to admit that I’d never read anything by Jules Verne.

There, I said it. Feels better to get it out in the open. I ‘m still only two books better off, but what an amazing pair of books they are. It’s admittedly a massively overused phrase but 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and its Sequel The Mysterious Island really have stood the test of time as pieces of literature. A good story is a good story and will always trump a work which falls over itself to shoe-horn as many fancy words in as it can. That’s not to say Verne didn’t show literary flair but his emphasis was always on keeping the reader gripped and taking them on a fantastical journey.

All the while I was reading, I was reminding myself that they were translations too, and what skill Verne must’ve had to ensure the many works he wrote in his native French could be enjoyed by everyone. They’re a fascinating time capsule as well, from a time when it wasn’t easy to visit other countries, experience other cultures, or an everyday occurrence to meet someone with a different colour of skin.

In 20,000 Leagues…, Verne not only introduced one of popular culture’s most enduring figures in the enigmatic Captain Nemo, but one of its greatest feats of engineering, his mighty vessel the Nautilus. We take the idea of the submarine for granted now, but in this book, Verne pretty much invented it. The ideas and concepts he introduced in the book surrounding the Nautilus must’ve been nothing short of revolutionary at the time and it’s quite an experience to read about it now, knowing that at the time of publication, no-one had ever heard of such a thing before.

The Mysterious Island has also received the film adaption treatment – twice – but it was of course the original which caught my attention as a child. In it, Verne carefully weaves a stand-alone tale into the continuation of Nemo’s story seamlessly and extremely satisfyingly. In some ways it’s an even more gripping read, and it’s fascinating to behold the ingenuity of its protagonists as they adapt to life on their new-found accidental home.

If you’re a literary stranger to Jules Verne, I’d highly recommend these two great helpings of escapism.

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October 8, 2018 · 8:41 am