The Question Every Writer Is Asked: What’s Your Real Job?

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At Christmas last year, I was talking to my eleven-year-old niece about what she wanted to be when she grew up.

“An author,” she said. I threw my arms around her, mostly in solidarity but a little in sympathy since I knew what she was in for. A bit of success but more often than not a lot of struggle.

In January, just over a month later, at my sister’s birthday party, my niece and I were having the same conversation with my twelve-year-old nephew. “You can get paid to play Fortnite, you know,” he told me. There was a tournament being held at the Australian Open that weekend with half a million dollars in prizemoney available.

“But what will your other job be?” I asked. He looked at me blankly. “Getting paid to play Fortnite is a pretty sweet gig so there will be lots of people who want that job. But not everyone can get paid to play Fortnite so you’ll probably need another job,” I explained. He couldn’t come up with anything else and that’s okay because he’s twelve. Continue reading

All a Writer Wants for Christmas…

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An updated dictionary? A new laptop? A stylish writing desk? A comfy writing chair? A virtual assistant to help keep the virtual scraps of paper under control? If only it was as simple as wishing for our two front teeth. These days, with a quick trip to the dentist, it’s an entirely possible dream. Reference books, computers, furniture and PAs are just as achievable. But a writer’s wish list is a little harder to fulfil.

Time
When you’re working and raising a family and keeping a house clean and maintaining a network of friends and trying to find some you time amongst all that, trying to find some writing time can be near impossible. And if you’re confusing you time for writing time, then you’re doing either yourself or your writing an injustice.

Time is essential to writing and every writer wishes they had more of it. Continue reading

Deciding Who or What Makes a Writer: Is It a Worthwhile Use of Our Writing Time?

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Recently in a writing forum, a poster asked the question, “Can saying ‘I’m a writer’ make you a writer? If so, is this a positive or negative trend in the context of preserving the art and craft of writing?” One witty response was, “Can saying ‘I’m a doctor’ make you a doctor?”

Of course, the answer is no. Just asserting the truth of something doesn’t make it true. In almost everything in life, it is our actions that prove who and what we are. Writers write, doctors study for a long time and then use that knowledge to help people get better. Even love, which is difficult to prove in the abstract, is almost always demonstrated in the small, everyday, practical tasks people in love undertake for each other.

So what are the small, everyday, practical tasks writers undertake that make them writers? Continue reading

Developing A Genuinely Scary and Evil Villain

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I’ve written previously about anti-heroes and villains and how they seem to be the characters of choice these days, at least the characters that seem to resonate most with readers searching for complexity. So, of course, growing numbers of people are attempting to cash in on that. The problem is that we are being flooded with ridiculous caricatures that are no more scary than me in the morning before I’ve brushed my hair and had some caffeine. Every James Bond villain ever may have something to answer for this.

When we examine the more successful and enduring villains, such as Dracula and Frankenstein (or his monster – depends on which of them you think was the bigger baddie), and some of the more recent but no less memorable, such as Dexter Morgan and Hannibal Lecter, we find people and creatures who scare us but who also exhibit vulnerability, meaning that in some capacity they are scared themselves. They’re at the darker end of the light and dark scale but they’re more deep grey than black. And regardless of their villainy, there’s also something attractive about them, something tempting about them, something that draws you in, even when you know you’re probably going to end up dead if you don’t resist.

If you’re planning to give it a go, here’s a few things to consider to make sure you have readers crying in terror instead of with laughter. Continue reading