Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Foreshadowing Key Details

Let’s be honest from the start. We’ve all read a book or seen a film where the hero / heroine or another main character suddenly develops a previously untold skill. In other cases the killer has turned out to be a character so peripheral to the main plot that logic has flown out of the window along with your interest.

For me nothing kills a story quicker than a new skill / villain first appearing five pages from the end of a novel. This is clearly an author not knowing how to finish the story and deciding to invent a skill or character just to finish off the story.

Foreshadowing is the term for drip feeding information throughout the story so that when the conclusion happens, the plot is plausible and the reader is left feeling satisfied rather than cheated.

It can be something as simple as having a character washing their judo clothes or meeting someone from their judo class for a drink. This tells the reader that the character knows some martial arts, so that when they start kicking butt it’s natural action.

Again introducing a peripheral character throughout the novel works, provided you give the reader enough information to remember the character. Cycling past on page seven of a three hundred page novel isn’t good enough and anyone doing this deserves all the scorn they get.

One of the best pieces of foreshadowing I can bring to mind is the film Die Hard. The hero is tense on a flight and a fellow passenger advises him to take his shoes and socks of when he gets to his hotel and make fists with his feet. The hero duly does this and later in the film when he is still barefoot he is hiding in a room with glass walls, the head baddie who had already seen the hero was barefoot told his men to shoot the glass. The action then cuts to a scene where the hero is standing on his bare tip toes with broken glass all over the floor.

As usual comments and feedback are always welcome.

Monday, 18 June 2012

What’s in a Name?

Quite often when I’m writing I struggle to give my characters the right names. This is because a name conveys so much about the character I’m trying to portray.
A well chosen name can give the reader so much information before the writer even begins to flesh out the character. Take these three names for instance: Mavis, Chelsie and Quentin. 

To my own mind the names conjure up the following details about the characters.
Mavis – A homely woman in her 50’s or older. Possibly a church goer and married to someone called Bernard or Ernest.
Chelsie – A young girl or child. Will probably sport a tight ponytail and wear cheap tracksuits.
Quentin – An upper class gent who is forty plus and is most likely out of touch with the real world. 

The opinions are of course exaggerated but the do show the power of a name. Take Chelsie for example. If it was spelled Chelsea then it conjures up a totally different character. 

Some better writers than me have chosen their character names very well. Zoe Sharp’s heroine Charlotte Fox goes by the name Charlie which alters her persona by making her seem more macho with the regendering which takes place by the shortening of her name.
Michael Connolly’s main protagonist is called Hieronymus Bosch after the painter but his Christian name is shortened to Harry. This gives Connolly the opportunity to introduce Bosch’s back story whenever he wants.
Some character names such as Matt Hilton’s Joe Hunter or Tom Woods’ Victor do little more than offer a “does what it says on the tin” message about the character.

The reasoning above is why deciding on a character’s name is one of the most important parts of writing for me. I feel that if I get that right then I’m halfway to being able to depict what I need to about my characters.

If any of my readers can leave me a comment on how they choose a character name then I’d be grateful for any tips or advice.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Gutshots: Ten Blows to the Abdomen – Now on Sale!

To celebrate the release of my latest eBook Gutshots: Ten Blows to the Abdomen I thought I would share the stories behind the stories.

I hope you enjoy reading where I get my inspiration and ideas from. Please feel free to leave a comment or two.

A Girl I Once Met

This story came from a recent role as best man at my cousin’s wedding. After the obligatory stag party, I started thinking about the possible consequences of a one night stand taken on such an “away day” event. I must stress though that the story is entirely fictional and not based on a personal experience.

Country Goes to Town

This story came from a news story about the demonstration marches in London against plans to outlaw hunting. My own imagination added the “what if” factor.

Author Meets Reviewer

My previous eBook releases have only had positive reviews, for which I’m extremely grateful. I do though expect a bad review one day as someone will not enjoy my work. That’s fine with me and I’m the first to admit that I’m always learning. This little tale comes from me exploring the idea of an author who cannot accept that he can’t please everyone.

Following Full of Fear

This is based on my own worries when following an ambulance carrying my wife and infant son. All I could think about was what I would do if the blue lights suddenly came on. The story is a very honest answer.

Hannah’s Last Hurrah

I based this story very loosely on an old joke and the fear every parent has over the next drug craze.

My Job is Murder

After having a story accepted into an anthology about action heroes who were larger than life. I wanted to write another in a similar vein albeit with a darker feel. My Job is Murder tells the tale of a most unusual assassin.

Not to be Sneezed at

I wrote this after a half heard radio topic rekindled an old biology lesson. Of course me being me, I couldn’t help but add a different perspective.

A Day of Deception

This story was born from mixing my day job and my love of crime fiction together once again. This story is entirely fictional although I know for a fact that it could happen. One of the aspects of my day job is to see that it doesn’t.

Accounting for Dummies

I derived this story from a short online piece I wrote. I fleshed it out differently as I wanted to explore the causes a little further and there’s something to be said for keeping accurate and detailed accounts.

Suburban Combat

With most of my stories revolving around the seedier side of life I wanted to see what would happen if I pitted a couple of middle class neighbours against each other. The results surprised even me.


When I first wrote this story it was a piece of micro fiction for a Facebook group. When Near to the Knuckle were looking for submissions, I fleshed out the earlier story and was delighted when they featured it on their site. http://www.close2thebone.co.uk/

Downloading Disaster

I co-wrote this story with Rosalind Smith-Nazilli after a mutual friend’s encouragement. The story spawned from Rosalind having to reset her computer’s settings as she couldn’t download Ebooks at her home in Turkey. An idea sparked, so I laid down the basic plot and Rosalind polished and buffed the story into shape. It first appeared in her eBook Fourteen Flashes of Fiction.

The Mourning After

I wrote this story as a practice exercise as I have a Harry Charters story I want to tell in the second person point of view. A friendly editor over at Near to the Knuckle ran an eye over it and found a home for my story on the site. http://www.close2thebone.co.uk/

Star Struck Shooter

After writing Shooting Stars I knew that the story couldn’t end there, so this is basically the next chapter. This story first appeared at ThrillsKills’n’Chills as did Shooting Stars. http://thrillskillsnchills.blogspot.co.uk/

Mad Dog and Evers’ Bird

This is a little exercise I gave myself, where I put four characters into a room and tried to give each one an individual voice and speech pattern to see if they were recognisable throughout the piece. I made it my goal to tell a story and solve a crime entirely through dialogue without any speech tags such as said, asked or queried.
It first appeared here on my blog, where it received enough positive comments for me to feel confident enough to share it.

Monday, 4 June 2012

The Birth Of True Brit Grit by Paul D. Brazill

Today I welcome the Grand Master of the Brit Grit scene. Paul D Brazill gave me one of my first breaks as a writer by including my story Adult Education in True Brit Grit. 
Here’s what he has to say about True Brit Grit.

At first, I spotted the odd one, here and there.  

Then I peeked another.  

And then they seemed to be everywhere!  

The first one I saw was Banks, I think, then Quantrill, Williams, Guthrie, Black. Later, Griffiths, Bird, Sant, Morrigan, Ayris, Rivers. And more!

The Brit Grit mob were here. Crime fiction; social realism; horror; black comedy.The lot!
And it was great!
So, I had the half-bright idea of trying to nab a few of them together into an anthology. A taster of this new bitter-sweet sub-genre.
And so I asked a handful of writers to donate stories. Then loads of other people. And you know what? They almost all said yes!

And then I really lucked out.
Luca Veste, who had edited and published Off The Record, offered to publish the anthology –now known asTrue Brit Grit- through Guilty Conscience publishing. And co-edit, too. Then Steven Miscandlon designed a brilliant cover. And the legendary Maxim Jakubowski agreed to write the introduction.
And then we were LIVE! And kicking ass!
How nice is that?
True Brit Grit is available from Amazon.
And in print from Lulu.
Paul D. Brazill’s blog, You Would Say That, Wouldn’t You? is here.

In addition to having Paul D Brazill on my blog today I’m delighted to announce that the other anthology which features a story of mine is being given away free for two days on Amazon.
That’s right folks Action:Pulse Pounding Tales is free on the 6th and 7th of June so head over to Amazon and grab your copy of this excellent action thriller anthology.