science fiction and fantasy writer

Archive for March, 2014|Monthly archive page

Managing the size of your stories

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2014 at 12:28 pm

(guest post on the CSFG blog)

When I set out to write a first novel (or, rather, to finish writing a novel for the first time, having started and abandoned several), I had been writing and selling short stories for a number of years and was conscious of the vast difference in breadth and complexity of storytelling from shorts to novels. Perhaps too conscious.

I wanted to write an Australian novel and, specifically, I wanted to set it in a magical, colonial-era alternate Australia that I’d been developing through some of my short stories. So, I started looking at historical events that I could fictionalise. This was a mistake. Why? Because real life is way more complex than fiction.

I had settled on an alternate history of the Eureka Stockade gold miners’ rebellion, in Ballarat, Victoria in 1854, in large part because of the ready-made set of larger-than-life participants. The problem was that these events had far more players, major and minor, than I – as a first time novelist – could comfortably manage, far more that most writers who aren’t George R. R. Martin would ever create to populate a story that is entirely fiction. The result was that, even after massively cutting and consolidating real-world characters and their interweaving threads for my fictionalised story, I still ended up with a first draft that was 229,000 largely meandering words of a 100,000 word novel.

Which isn’t to say that you should never set out to write a historical novel or, as in my case, a fantasy novel that jumps off from real historical events.  Historical fiction and alternate history are both thriving genres and many writers deliver those stories very well. (Have you noticed how historical novels have a tendency to be big fat books, though? And yes, Mr Rutherfurd, we’re looking at you.) Rather, this was a bad decision for me.

So, what went wrong?

Read more…


Half price CSFG e-books at Smashwords!

In Uncategorized on March 19, 2014 at 10:51 am

Next_front_cover_26Margrinding_house_cover_coverwocfrontUse the coupon codes below to get a 50% discount on the normal e-book price of USD $4.99.

Winds of Change – AP65D
The Grinding House – RL93F
Next – GT72L

Lifeline Canberra Autumn Bookfair

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2014 at 11:18 am

Bazillions of second-hand books! Games! Comics! Music! Movies! More stuff!

In Canberra on the last weekend of March:BookfairAutumn2014

..Everything We Know About Storytelling We Learned from The Lord of the Rings: Part I

In Uncategorized on March 6, 2014 at 4:52 pm

The Fellowship of EWKASWLFLOTR: Nine Rules for the Kings of Men
(guest post at on behalf of the CSFG Hivemind)

Earlier in 2014, we had a discussion at CSFG about the storytelling lessons we collectively learned from The Lord of the Rings (both the books and the movies). Parts II and III will follow in due course, but here’s Part I:

I: The One Ring to Rule Them All Rule

Let’s get this one out of the way right up front: for a supervillain to put all of their power into one small and easily misplaced object is really, really, really fucking stupid. What the actual fuck was Sauron thinking? The dude’s effectively the evil Superman and he goes and turns himself into evil Green Lantern instead. It’s such an utterly transparent plot device it’s laughable.

So why does it work?

Read more…