Tag Archives: George R.R. Martin

20 Inspirational Quotes from Sci-Fi & Fantasy Authors

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 I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
Douglas Adams

OK, so the  first quote, above, is not so much an inspirational quote as much as it is a highly amusing one. The following are some great lines and advice that I have come across on my procrastination occasions. I’m sure that there are several other wise words from esteemed authors of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy vein. If you have any, please add them to the comments, it would be great to hear from you. I have taken the liberty of including E.B. White in the list, because anyone who writes about a talking mouse is writing in the realm of fantasy…

1.  Write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter. – Neil Gaiman

2.   The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story. – Ursula K. Le Guin

3.    There are two kinds of writers. There are architects and gardeners. The architects do blueprints before they drive the first nail. The gardeners just dig a hole and plant the seed and see what comes up. – George R.R. Martin

4.     Don’t be afraid to discard work you know isn’t up to standard. Don’t save junk, just because it took you a long time to write it. – David Eddings

5.     No one can write decently who is distrustful of the reader’s intelligence or whose attitude is patronizing. – E.B. White

6.     Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very;” otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite. – C.S. Lewis

Read. Read. Read.

7.      If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that. – Stephen King

8.     The most important thing for any aspiring writer, is to read! And not just the sort of thing you’re trying to write, be that fantasy, SF, comic books, whatever. You need to read everything. – George R.R. Martin

On Characterisation

9.      Get inside their skin. That includes even the ones who are complete bastards, nasty, twisted, deeply flawed human beings with serious psychological problems. Even them. – George R.R. Martin

10.      I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose. – Stephen King

11.      Listen to the way people talk. If your characters sound real the rest is easy. – David Eddings

12.      First, find out what your hero wants. Then just follow him.  – Ray Bradbury

13.     If you want to be a writer, you must do two things about all others:  read a lot and write a lot…reading is the creative centre of a writer’s life…you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you. – Stephen King

On Inspiration:

14.      Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work. – Stephen King

15.      Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any. – Orson Scott Card

16.     Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way. – Ray Bradbury

Perseverance: Get Started and Keep Going

17.      Keep working. Keep trying. Keep believing. You still might not make it, but at least you gave it your best shot. If you don’t have calluses on your soul, this isn’t for you. Take up knitting instead. – David Eddings

18.      There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write. – Terry Pratchett

19.      It’s the job that’s never started as takes longest to finish. – J.R.R. Tolkien

20.      You fail only if you stop writing. – Ray Bradbury

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Writing in a Fad-Driven Market

Recent Book Fads

For the last couple of years, it’s been Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games and (heaven-forbid) Fifty Shades of Grey (and yes, I have read all three of the books, but that’s an exposition in itself). Before that, it was Steig Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Twilight. Looking back at this list thus far, I realise that have read them all, bar Twilight (NB Twilight has been recommended to me as a great trashy read, but after only managing to stomach watching half of the overly teenage-angst-ridden movie, I have no impetus to read it – perhaps a classic example of should have read the book first. No offence to Twilight fans intended, I know that my younger self would have been relishing the world that Stephanie Meyer created). Before Twilight, there was Harry Potter. ‘nuff said.

But this is just the thing. The entire book and film market has become hugely fad-led. One big thing that turns the tides of commissioning for all the publishing houses. Who in 2005 would have understood an entire section of a bookstore being dedicated to Paranormal Romance? But there we go. Yes, to a degree, the market has always gone in the direction of the big thing. The children’s market sees it a lot: one year it’s aliens, the next it’s cowboys, the next it’s dinosaurs, who can keep up? Maybe it’s just me, but I really don’t feel that the adult market had this sort of tunnel vision until the last decade or so (man, that makes me feel old). Not that there is anything inherently wrong with these books as fads. Some of them are brilliant works of literature, as well as being thoroughly entertaining. It’s just that it makes the market more volatile, and tending towards a singlular pursuit for a given time. Which basically means that if you are not of the correct trope, you’re unlikely to be published, and if you are of the correct trope, you’d better get busy finishing off that novel (my personal debilitating issue).

The particular reason it worries me is the fact that fairy tales are hot right now. Really hot. Look at the movies that are out: Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) and Red Riding Hood (2011) (as well as the upcoming Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), which looks dire btw), and much more prominently the TV series Grimm and Once Upon a Time. Granted, except for Once Upon A Time, none of these has made a huge splash, but they are indicator of the fas. I really enjoy watching Once Upon a Time and recommend it highly, but it does hugely dilute my material. It is pretty much a parallel of the work I’ve had in the pipeline for years. Yes, true, there’s no such thing as an original story, and far less so when you are rewriting existing works. The worry is still there though. I have to get my arse in gear, finish and publish my book Four and Twenty Blackbirds in time to latch onto this window, because it may be a decade or more before it comes around again. My only saving grace (thus far) is that I have not yet come across a new fairy tale-esk novel of note. But it’s only a matter of time. More application of arse to seat and pen to paper is required, methinks.

 

Blood Song: Nearly on par with Game of Thrones

bloodsongAlthough there are many amazing unpublished writers out there, I’m always highly suspicious of self-published books. Not because they are definitively bad, but because there is so much vanity publishing that it’s really hard to distinguish the good from the trash. Even if it does have really good ratings.

For so long, we’ve relied on publishers to be our curators of taste, and to a large extent this is still the case. Self-publishing is in its infancy. Of all the genres that I Five-Stars1thought would definitely require a curator of taste, epic fantasy is perhaps the top of the league table. And this is why I was so surprised at this outstanding first instalment of the Raven’s Shadow series: Blood Song by Anthony Ryan. It was recommended to me by a friend, otherwise I would have been hugely unlikely I would have paid for a random self-published ebook no matter what the star rating or how many people gave it (a sad fact, as I may well have to self-publish my own). BTW the rating on Good Reads and Amazon is 5* with thousands of reviews.

I’ve read widely in epic fantasy from a young age. From Tolkien to Eddings to Gemmell and more recently Martin. Some have been great, others less so. When I first picked up Game of Thrones, I thought that it was the best fantasy I’d read since Tolkien. Anthony Ryan’s writing excites me almost as much as George R.R. Martin’s. Anthony Ryan’s writing is fantastically honed and really tight, I wonder if he did his own editing or hired a professional. It is so impressive that this is such a polished piece of work. Unsurprisingly, Anthony Ryan’s book has now been picked up by Penguin US, and along the Game of Thrones lines, I can visualise a TV series to be made out of this one. Seriously it is one to watch.

Blood Song will be published in hardback on July 2, 2013 in the U.S. and U.K. by Ace (Penguin USA).  As discussed, the book is already available in electronic format.