Sorry I’m late!


Hi everyone,

I’m sorry – I completely forgot to update yesterday. Top marks, self. But here I am today to try to make up for it. First of all, I’ve written 4532 words this week, which makes 18556 this year so far. I haven’t missed a day yet! Oh, and my Thursday project this week was Father Doesn’t Dance.

Secondly, Kat commented on my previous post that sometimes, people put more thought into their villains’ motivations than their heroes’. This can have the effect of making the villains seem more well-rounded and nuanced than the heroes! Kat also asked about the motivations for my protagonists in Submerge – which I will try to talk about with minimal spoilers today.

As Kat pointed out, it can be very tempting to leave a protagonist’s motivations at ‘it’s the right thing to do’. There are definitely times when that’s the only reason someone has for doing something, but quite often there’s more to it than that.

Think about all those movie cops. How many of them set out to become police officers purely because it was the right thing to do? There are lots of other reasons – because a crime was committed against them and they want revenge, because they want to make the world a safer place for a loved one, because they want to wear a smart uniform and order people about, because they think the police force is corrupt and want to change it from the inside… It might even be that they want to pull off a perfect crime and need insider knowledge to do it. Each of these motivations affects their actions and helps to develop them as a characters.

Now, I want to be careful about spoilers here because some of you won’t have read Submerge yet, but let’s have a look at some motivations for certain aspects of my various characters.

There’s Gina, for example, who collects discarded items from the ground and makes them into jewellery. She does that to make money, of course, and because she likes shiny things – who doesn’t? But she also hates to see things go to waste, possibly because she has been through times of having nothing. She started making broken and abandoned things beautiful at a time when she felt broken and abandoned, and wanted hope that she’d come out of it as something better. And it’s become something she really enjoys!

Addie does comedy. Is it because she was always the class clown, or even because she decided she didn’t want to be the butt of the jokes any more? Is it because when life gets difficult, sometimes you have to laugh or you’ll cry? It’s probably a combination of all of those things, but mostly a genuine desire to make people smile – not only to see people happy, but to be the one making them happy.

Miles and Jamie – well, their motives are perhaps best shrouded in mystery, for now. Hopefully, Submerge gives a good idea of many of their reasons for the things they do!

What do you think makes good motivation for a character? Let me know in the comments!

Talk to you soon!

Villains and Motivation


Hi everyone,

Well, it’s been a week and here I am with a new blog post. First things first – so far I have kept up my resolution to write 500 words each day (I had to cheat a bit on Monday night, when I finished at ten past midnight, but it still counts).

In the last week, I’ve written 4528 words – which brings me up to a total of 14698 so far this year. It’s not NaNo levels of productivity, but it is consistent. For Thursday’s secondary project, I went back to A King’s Ransom because I have more ideas for it than for anything else I’m working on, and sometimes you just have to follow the ideas. I’m still working out a few finer details of my submission for Call to Arms (such as, er, the plot) so that will have to wait for a while!

Today, for no particular reason, I thought I’d write a little about villains (antagonists), and how we approach writing them. You can, of course, write big cartoony villains who come in and make a big noise about how evil they are, bragging about their plans with no shame whatsoever. You can also write very subtle villains – sometimes, they don’t seem villainous at all, but they say or do things that are insidious and make the world a worse place. And, of course, you can have a story with no villain at all – either your antagonist is a perfectly reasonable person who just happens to be working at cross purposes to your protagonist, or the obstacles in your protagonist’s way aren’t actually caused by any specific person.

One thing, however, unites all antagonists and villains, and that is that there has to be a reason for what they are doing (or are) and the way that they feel. It doesn’t have to be a good reason, of course! Sometimes there are no good reasons. But there are always reasons, or at least intentions.

When we write protagonists, it’s usually very easy to get into their heads and pick out the reasons that they want to slay the dragon (to save the princess, or to protect their sheep) or find the hidden temple (to use the healing waters there, to learn about an ancient culture, or for simple bragging rights). It’s harder, sometimes, to get into the head of a cruel or evil character. After all, the reason they’re stealing kittens and turning them into food for the super-rich is just… that they’re the bad guy. Isn’t it?

But the truth is, nobody thinks they’re the bad guy, and people rarely do things (big, complicated things, at least) just on a whim. Perhaps, in the truly heinous example above, they think they’re taking the strain off the animal shelters, or providing a service people really need – or perhaps they’re just trying to make money (whether they desperately need it or not). It doesn’t have to be a good reason, as I say – and for the record, I don’t believe that there is a good reason for anyone to steal kittens and/or turn them into food – but there has to be some sort of internal logic as to why they do what they do. Sometimes, that logic will make no sense to the reader, but as an author, you have to know what that logic is and be able to convey it through the character’s actions. As a reader, it really makes a difference to understand what led a character to do the terrible things they’re doing – even if you can’t excuse or accept them.

At least, that’s my opinion. What do you think? Does knowing an antagonist’s motives diminish their villainy, or add more depth to a nuanced character? Do you often find yourself sympathetic to antagonists based on their reasons for what they do? Let me know in the comments.

Talk to you next week!



Hi everyone,

Well, I’m backdating this by about an hour because I completely forgot to update today. So much for that resolution! Still, next week I’ll try to remember.

This week I have once again been working on a redraft of Sprawl (working title), which I hope will shape up into a passable sequel to Submerge. I had planned to take Thursday to work on my submission for the Call to Arms anthology being put together by Manifold Press, but I got well and truly stuck. So I started writing a new project I’d begun work on before my old laptop died, and never got back to. It’s called A King’s Ransom (working title), it’s built on the remains of The Perfect Garden (whether that will ever see the light of day, I don’t know) and I’m quite excited about it.

I’ve written at least 500 words each day, and I’ve written 10170 words this year so far. I hope I can keep this up!

I’ve also been waiting, somewhat impatiently, for a proof of the Submerge paperback to arrive. I love having a paperback copy of my work to keep on a shelf, and I’m hoping that a paperback edition will also be easier for some of its target audience to access. I will, of course, let you know when that arrives.

Talk to you next week!

New Year’s Resolutions


Hi everyone,

Well, I’ve got some resolutions this year, one of which is to post on this blog more regularly. So let’s call Friday the day, and I’ll try to stick to it.

The other writing-related resolution I made was to write at least 500 words a day (I’m prepared to take an average of 500/day but I’d ideally like to do it on a day-by-day basis). So far, we’re nearly a week in and I’m doing quite well with it. In fact, I’ve written 4586 words of original fiction since the start of 2017!

My original plan was to work on one project, see it through and then go onto the next, but I have a short attention span and my current main project is a redraft (which I find less exciting than a first draft). So I’ve decided that 6 days of the week will be dedicated to one project, and then I’m going to start #ThinkAboutSomethingElseThursdays – a nonsensical and pointless hashtag I’ve made to try to remind myself to stick to my schedule! But the important thing is that I’ll be taking Thursdays to work on another project.

For example, I’m currently redrafting Sprawl, which is a sequel to Submerge I hope will make it to you at some point. But yesterday was devoted to An Englishman’s Home, my NaNoWriMo novel of 2016. It helps to shake things up a bit so I don’t burn out.

Among all that, I’m also working on licensing a paperback edition of Submerge through Manifold Press and CreateSpace. The proof will be on its way soon, so that’s very exciting for me. I will, of course, share any news with you as it comes!

Well, that’s about it for me this week. Feel free to comment and let me know what you’ve been up to in the first six days of 2017.

Talk to you next Friday!