Reading about writing craft

Flower: writing craft

I told myself I wasn’t going to write about writing too often on this blog. Writing about reading about writing is different though, right?

Okay, I know it’s not really different. But this is my blog, and I can write about writing or write about reading about writing too much if I want to.

Now that that’s out of my system (you’d think I was drunk, wouldn’t you? I’m not, I promise), I want to talk about reading books on writing craft.

I wrote for a decade before I realised writing craft books were a thing. Now I love them and I read them all the time. Maybe you don’t. Hey, I’m not judging.

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Why I write

Greek muse
It doesn’t matter whose muse is the prettiest.

Hang out in writer circles on this interweb thing for long enough and you’ll hear all the classic reasons people write. Because they’re bursting with stories that are screaming to be told, because they have something to say to the world, because writing keeps them sane in insane times.

Reading these reasons, it’s easy to feel inadequate.

If I don’t write for the same reasons does it mean I’m not a real writer? I’m not filled with stories wriggling inside me like intestinal worms. Does that mean I’m just making stuff up?

I like to think it’s the writing that counts, not the reasons behind it. If you write a stunning story that people love it doesn’t matter if it was driven by a stormy-eyed muse in a flowing chiton or by industrial quantities of coffee and a hard chair.

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My subconscious is a somewhat slow toddler

My subconscious is a toddlerI think my subconscious wants to help, it really does, but it’s like a toddler that spends more time falling over than running, and it was headed in the wrong direction anyway.

Then I give up and make myself a comforting cup of tea, only to turn back and find the blocks are arranged in a tower that’s colour-coordinated, structurally sound enough to withstand a siege, and elegant enough for a Disney princess.

Okay, maybe it’s not that good. Disney princesses are really picky.

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The solution to fantasy writer’s block

Fantasy writer's block
Fantasy writer’s block: push all you like, it ain’t moving.

On Twitter recently, @MLSpencer1 suggested what we really need is a magic 8 ball for writer’s block faced by fantasy writers. When you can’t figure out what happens next, give the magic 8 ball a good shake and it comes up with a helpful suggestion like “they all die”.

Other genres have their fixes for a stuck plot, like a man runs in with a gun. Guns are out in a lot of fantasy worlds, but we have other solutions.

So next time your plot grinds to a halt, roll a die and throw in one of these guaranteed fixes.

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How to make a dragon fly

A dragon that can't fly
A dragon. Sort of. It can’t fly.

I said I wasn’t going to write about writing (much), and you’ll see I’m not. I’m writing about dragons, and that’s entirely different.

The seed of the idea for my current work in progress comes to me when I’m watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My thought process goes approximately like this: “Wow, fantasy is more fun than real life. I want to write a book about dragons.”

I didn’t say it made sense.

Having made this decision, I have to deal with the big question faced by everyone who decides to write about dragons: How do I make them fly? My physics is a little rusty, but I’m guessing any creature as big as a truck would need football field-sized wings, and if its muscles could even get up the strength to move them, flapping would snap its bones in two.

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