Amazing Books vs Good Books: What Makes a Fantasy or Sci-fi Novel Great?

Most of us could probably list a few fantasy or science fiction books we’d dub amazing, or add to our all-time favourites list. These are books that hook us, keep us drawn tight with suspense or fascination or wonder, tear us through to their endings, then leave us either in a state of catatonic awe, overflowing with enthusiasm or simply scrambling to get our hands on the next one in the series. If we’re lucky, these books come along often, and remind us how wonderful the experience of reading can be.

By the same token, we have probably all read a few good books too: Continue reading

5 Ways to Keep Your Dragons Fresh

Dragons are popular creatures, particularly in epic high fantasy. If you pick up a fantasy book at random, I’d say the chance of you encountering a dragon at some point during that book are high. In fact, doing a brief and highly unscientific survey of my fantasy shelf, I’d say about 15% of them involve dragons in some way (and i’m sure if I read exclusively epic fantasy that percentage would be higher). Personally, I’m not someone that actively seeks out dragons, but I always enjoy a well-wrought dragon when I encounter one.

The question is, when there are so many dragons out there, how do fantasy authors make their dragons feel fresh and interesting? Continue reading

On Pesky Childhood Influences: Are Your Ideas Really Yours?

Have you ever had a moment where you realised that an idea you had—one you thought was brilliant and original and entirely yours—turns out to be someone else’s? And I don’t just mean someone beat you to it. I mean you actually got the idea from another person, then forgot about it?

In a story I’m writing I have been planning a pivotal scene: one where two characters finally kiss. I’ve had an idea for a romantic setting for a long time and I thought this might be the opportunity to use it. Continue reading

Difference for Difference’s Sake

I spent half of the final year of my film degree working as a producer on one short film. For most of this time, I was convinced it was going to be great.

I first heard the story idea in the class pitching session, where a panel of tutors were deciding which six student films would get made that year. The soon-to-be writer-director of this particular film pitched his premise. It really grabbed me. And not just me—the panel were convinced too.  Continue reading