Wednesday 30 December 2015

Force Awakens, Specter - Are Scripts for Films Assuming Audiences are Stuipid?

Do film makers think their audiences are stupid? 

Spoiler alert. 

OK -- Specter and The Force Awakens were entertaining -- but come on film makers! In Specter, Bond blows up an underground bunker with one shot by hitting a surface gas tank, with sufficient delay to meander to a helicopter. What sort of health and safety was in the Villain's base? Was it rigged to blow up?

The Force Awakens was truly daft, yet another Death Star so easily destroyed. Hadn't the Empire learned anything from the previous two. It also was destroyed with seconds to go. OK we need a bit of excitement, but will Star Wars episode 20 be Death Star 16 destroyed with seconds to go. Also, novice Jedi defeat Master Jedi whereas Luke, the strongest Jedi in centuries, took months of training to fight Darth Vader.

What is happening to scripts? Do film makers think audiences are duped by CGI and nothing else matters? Why spend millions on films but allow daft plots? Spend money up front on a good tale. Audiences aren't daft.

Sunday 13 December 2015

A Book Review: The Devil in Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson

The Devil in the Marshalsea (Tom Hawkins, #1)The Devil in the Marshalsea by Antonia Hodgson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The book is about a debtors prison in the 18th century. It is a grim place and the author has clearly done her homework, as attested by the facts at the back of the book.

The main character, Tom Hawkins, is a flamboyant character; a womaniser and a gambler. Even his best friend acknowledges that Tom is fated to find his way to the infamous debtors gaol. The novel is nicely written with a good and lively pace. There's twists to the plot that leave you wanting more. The characerisation is good and Fleet is a great addition. This is an interesting period of history that is well presented, with the squalor of the period nicely captured.

View all my reviews

Thursday 10 December 2015

Win a FREE book, Prophecy of the Kings by David Burrows

Win a FREE copy of the OMNIBUS edition of the Prophecy of the Kings. That's all three books in one volume - and the tale starts and ends in this volume. A concise and compelling tale for you to win. Hurry ends soon. Check out my Fantasy Jokes blog and see if you can do better. 

Visit my website for more information about my books]]

Sample joke: 

An Orc is stopped for speeding and the cop asks him to get out of the car.

"You're staggering," the cop warned.

To which the Orc replied, "You are quite handsome yourself."

Good reading 


What a Con: Weapons in Fantasy Role Playing Games

As a fantasy reader I feel a hole in my life when there are no good fantasy books to read and a fantasy RPG game can sometimes fill that void. I have played a few games but wouldn't say I am an avid fan. My favourite RPG is the original Diablo. With all the better graphics, Diablo 3 is a fantastic game on the eye, but has the game itself suffered?

For me, finding the holy-Grail of weapons is a big driver and I love playing an archer. Bows seem really useful at range and I loved some of the flame spells in the original and also in Diablo 2. By Diablo 3 though the weapons seem almost pointless as the characters seem indestructible.

What frustrated me most of all was playing Diablo 2 and at the very end of the game, having killed Baal, I was finally given a bow which was absolutely ideal. It gave +3 to all archer skills and did some hefty damage. But why was this at the end of the game when killing monsters was so difficult throughout? I spent ages on some of the Chiefs, being killed and having to go around the battlefield again and again. What was it though that kept me searching for those elusive weapons? It wasn't the same as a Barbarian or other class. Not for me at least. I would turn over every lose bolder, smash every vase and traipse around every level searching.

So what was it about the original Diablo game that was superior to the other two games? I liked being able to drop weapons in the market and use combinations of weapons to read spells, by increasing my spell casting ability, albeit briefly. The weapons also seemed more important the way they looked and the way they were named. By Diablo 3, weapons were more plentiful but the way they were presented was not the same, as a card of facts. By Diablo 3, money and buying weapons seemed pointless as the weapons in the armoury were always inferior by far and training the Artisan only made the weapons out of reach for my level. I completed an entire game without buying or crafting anything. There just seemed no need. Did I miss something?

Perhaps I will search for the ideal fantasy game in the same way I search for weapons. Any suggestions, let me now. I have tried Guild Wars, Morrowind, Neverwinter Nights, Baldur's Gate and many more and that elusive hunt for magical weapons continues.

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Not a Good Read: Son of Blood, historical fiction

Son of Blood (Crusades, #1)Son of Blood by Jack Ludlow
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It's not often I on't finish a book and this is one such occasion. It started off very promisingly and the character Bohemund was nicely developed. However, it ground to a halt. I read about half the book and found it slow paced and lots of talking. I have read a few books about the Normans in Italy and I was looking forward to this tale.

View all my reviews

Sunday 6 December 2015

How Long Does it Take to Write a Book?

This is a difficult question to answer. My experiences are:

My first novel (Prophecy of the Kings) took many years to write and re-edit on many occasions. My more recent novel (Drachar's Demons) only took me about 5-6 months to write and then about the same to have it edited. So what's the main difference between the two timescales?

My first book was a learning experience and my English developed over writing the trilogy, I also didn't have a particular drive to deliver and so I could take my time. A lot of time was spent on the plot, which I hadn't formulated before hand and which developed as I wrote. There were long periods where writer's block was a real problem with my heroes trapped in a seemingly impossible situations. It took months to think through a way forward and often inspiration struck at unlikely times. I have a separate blog on writing a plot.

Drachar's Demons was different as it was a prequel. I had the plot pretty much mapped out, having written the trilogy. However, what the tale lacked was the detail and the characterisation.

So, how long might it take you to write a book? The key is having the plot already developed and not being tripped up along the way. I think I can manage about 4-5 pages per day. That's nearly a chapter. Assuming 30 chapters then I could write a book in a month, assuming no sticking points. Would the book be good? Very unlikely? At this rate of writing there's likely to be plot holes and inconsistencies in the tale, like having 5 donkeys on moment and 6 the next. It takes time to resolve these issues and often chapters need a rewrite. The editing process can be slow. If you have a full edit, the editor will help to find inconsistencies and may suggest re-ordering chapters. That's a lot of work. This process can add several months.

A copy edit is quicker as they are looking at spelling and grammar mainly and so edits can be turned around reasonably quickly.

Self publishing requires cover designs and layout of the typeface. Again, this is a lengthy process, Learning to use the self-publishing tools is an experience and can introduce significant delays. I had a particular problem with one package on Smashwords and it was getting books published to itunes. The difficulty was indexing the chapters and that was a nightmare. The slightest mistake meant the publication was rejected.

So the answer to the question, how long does it take to write a book is about one month, assuming the plot is already pretty much developed and you can face writing 5 pages per day. However, getting it to print would take about a year. Some established authors may be a lot faster as they will have an editor and book publisher on hand to help. The self publishing route adds considerable time.

Any authors with a different experience, drop me a line and let me know.