So you’ve got a fictional town. It has a name, Worton, great. It has districts- Too many at first but they’re eventually cut down to a manageable level. It is still, however, the size of Bolton and any town that size is going to need a rough geography at the bare minimum. If you just throw things in as and when you need them you’re going to end up with a continuity nightmare. A good geography provides a framework for your characters and plot to bounce around inside, it constrains them and stops them getting out of hand, it directs them and influences them. It also gives the reader something to latch onto, something to help them better imagine the story. Continue reading “Building Worton | Based On Reality”
The other week I was sat on a train out of Lime Street Station- It was after that jaunt to New Brighton- and then a whole family with a kid gets on and sits directly in front of me. Most of them were quiet, even the kid. It was the fully grown man that was with them who was being loud. First of all he started shouting to the kid about head lice. Some would argue that he was ‘only being playful’ with the kid… But he was literally shouting the word ‘nits’ (and only that word) over and over again at the top of his voice. That’s not just playfulness, that’s uncalled for. Then he started speaking to his wife or girlfriend or symbiotic flesh partner or whatever relation she was and he still shouted. No indoor voice, just spoke in as loud a voice as he could to a woman who was right in front of him. He was an arsehole, basically. No respect for anybody else on the train. Continue reading “A Problem with Noise”
As children we were all, you will probably agree, blessed with a plethora of folk stories, folk songs, myths and legends. Meanwhile, the first songs we heard and learnt by heart were nursery rhymes- Little Jack Horner, Wee Willie Winkie, Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush and Pop Goes the Weasel. Though most of us had no idea what they were on about half the time. Mulberry Bush? What the fig is a mulberry bush? Rice I can understand… But tuppeny rice? And half a pound of it? What, does it cost fifty pence? It’s fair to say that metric measures and the introduction of decimal currency have turned Pop Goes the Weasel into an impenetrable dinosaur. But back to the matter at hand… Our early stories were fairy and folk stories- The Brothers Grimm, Jack and the Beanstalk, Puss in Boots. The rest of our stories were littered with elves, goblins, witches and all manner of other beastly, folkloric creatures. Our childhoods were steeped in folklore.
Some of our childhood traditions and stories, particularly the nursery rhymes, are only a couple of centuries old- Pop Goes the Weasel dates to only the mid seventeen hundreds. Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush is a century later. Many of the folk stories, however, are as old as the hills. In some cases, for example if you live in North Wales, those folk stories are the hills.
In the end, all our childhood traditions and stories and creatures come together to form a rich cultural legacy, a tapestry which we are all well aware of and can recite and recall even into adulthood. As adults, however, we tend to dismiss all of it as exclusively for children, as nonsense, something to put to the back of our minds. Unless we’re reading or watching fantasy we cast aside elves and goblins in favour of more rational fair. But should we leave it all for the children or should we be prouder of this aspect of our heritage? Should we embrace it all a bit more?
When I came up with the plot of Dark Legend I didn’t set it to any formula. In fact, originally, the overarching plot was very loose and the linking threads were only going to come together at the very end. It was extremely episodic in its nature- A fact that is still reflected in the format of the books. As it grew and developed I allowed it to organically knit together into one story, basically the story of Will, a kid who sets out to save the world (because nobody else will,) accidentally becomes famous for it and as a result gives birth to a modern legend. Continue reading “Building Worton | Will & The Monomyth”
This one will make all British archaeologists bury their heads in despair… Oh, and it’s supposed to be set in the sixties though that isn’t made clear in the story.
Dark Legend has gone through a lot of changes over the years, in terms of both plot and how the story is told. I’ve toyed with TV scripts, movies, books, radio adaptations… But when all is said and done the one thing that I’ve never done is written a spin off, though I have had ideas. Most of these I had before I had the ending or even the whole plot properly fixed. As such they tended to involve characters who, these days, don’t even make it to the end. Continue reading “Building Worton | The Inevitable Spin Off”
Dragons are some of the most fascinating and persistently enduring creatures in world legend. They’re pretty hard to get wrong and most people don’t feel the need to tamper with them to any great deal, at least physically speaking. Most dragons in Western mythology and popular culture are of the big, fire breathing lizard variety. Sometimes they will be guarding a mountain of gold as well. This is particularly evident in older works like Beowulf, which has gone on to further influence the shape of the dragon, including Smaug, perhaps the most famous dragon of modern times. The Hobbit borrows heavily from the latter part of Beowulf, where Beowulf fights a dragon guarding a treasure of gold and gets himself killed. Tolkien even admitted this himself. This isn’t surprising when you realise that Tolkien was a scholar of Anglo Saxon literature and an expert on the former. Quite frankly, dragons are a bit badass and when using one you can’t go much wrong. Your story and your writing style can go wrong, just look at the film adaptation of Beowulf with Ray Winstone, but your dragon likely won’t be. Continue reading “Dragons & I”