Jun 23

Inspiration: The British Library 

I love libraries. All writers should. Hell, everyone should. One of the first jobs I had was working in the school library and one of my first “real” jobs was working in my local library. Sadly I don’t work in the British Library (yet) but on the 11th May 2019 I officially became a member.

I’ve wanted to discuss the British Library, in the same vein I wrote about the British Museum (see that old post here) for some time but I needed a reason. After I became a member and attended the Writing: Making Your Mark exhibition I thought now would be the ideal time.

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Jun 09

Five political speeches that you’re glad you haven’t heard of.

The other week I stumbled across a job as a script writer online. You can imagine how delighted I was… until I opened the job description and discovered that it was a job to write political speeches. Although I’ve listened to a few political speeches I don’t think I’ve ever read one but in a strange way, a political speech is an art form in itself. They certainly contain memorable phrases such as:

“Brexit means Brexit.”

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman…”

“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds… “

Although I didn’t apply for the job I did some research into their work. A political speech writer creates a speech for every outcome meaning that the politician in question will always have something to say and that the general public only hears half of their written work.

Here are five political speeches that you’re glad you haven’t heard of.

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May 26

Spitfire review: Game of Thrones

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Game of Thrones is over…

Now we’ll wait for the next global phenomenon to hit our screens. I think the last TV show I was this invested in was Lost back in 2010. Does anyone else remember Lost, a plane crashed on a tropical island that contained polar bears and a mysterious hatch in the ground? Like Lost, Game of Thrones has had it’s ups and downs and although I adore the show I’m still going to give it a fair review. This review will focus on the TV show but it will also contain elements of The Song of Ice and Fire book series of which the TV show is based.

Spoiler alert for The Game of Thrones TV show and The Song of Ice and Fire book series. 

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May 12

Spitfire Review: Tolkien

Hello everyone,

I know I said that my next article would be “Five historical speeches that you’re glad you haven’t heard of” and that is still going ahead. That post is currently in draft form, due to be published in a week or two. On Bank Holiday Monday I watched the film Tolkien at the cinema and because Tolkien is one of the greatest writers in the fantasy genre I thought his film deserved a Spitfire Review.

This review contains spoilers for the film Tolkien. Do not read if you have not seen the film yet. 

Tolkien is famous for writing The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion (the former two having been turned into blockbuster films and The Lord of the Rings being a cult classic). Tolkien is also famous for being a skilled linguist, knowing English, Finnish, Old Norse and Old English as well as inventing several languages of his own, most notably elvish. Tolkien attended Oxford University, fought in the First World War, worked as a code breaker in the second and died in 1973.

The plot of the film follows Tolkien fighting in the trenches during World War One as he experiences flashbacks to his younger self in England. During these flashbacks we watch as Tolkien helps form the T.C.B.S. (Tea Club and Barrovian Society) with three other creatives and balance his time between writing, falling in love and studying for his university entrance exams. Tolkien survives the war only to discover that out of his three friends in their “fellowship” only one survived. This inspires Tolkien to write his most famous pieces of work, The Hobbit and later The Lord of the Rings.

The biggest draw for this film, if you are a Lord of the Rings fan, are the references to Middle Earth. For example, while in the trenches Tolkien and his friend (who themselves mirror the relationship between Frodo and Sam) are attacked by German soldiers with flamethrowers. Tolkien visualises these soldiers as the dragon Smaug, from The Hobbit. Also in the trenches Tolkien spots a white horse (the rider killed in battle) which closely resembles Shadowfax, Gandalf’s horse and sees imposing figures in the mustard gas and smoke that resemble Sauron and Saruman. Tolkien ends the film by telling his children to speak to the trees like he did when he was a child, referencing the Ents of Fangorn Forest and in the final shots of the film he writes the opening line to The Hobbit.

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

The film tells a powerful story highlighting the fruitlessness of war (a theme Tolkien used in his works as he became a pacifist in later life) and it’s destructiveness, the classism of the 20th century, the stresses of student life and having a forbidden love. The acting is, of course, brilliant and particular praise goes to Nicolas Holt, the lead actor.

Unfortunately it is unclear how much creative licence was used in the film. The Tolkien Estate have tried to distance themselves from the project despite Nicolas Holt’s claim that members of Tolkien’s family supported the project while it was being filmed. The director, Dome Karukoski, and the writers glossed over the religious aspects of Tolkien’s life. This may have been to avoid alienating the audience or for time reasons but it was clear that this was a big influence in Tolkien’s writing. If there are any more inaccuracies they have yet to be announced but as a whole the film appears to be very respectful of its subject.

I’ll award the film seven rings out of ten. If you like films such as The Imitation Game or Goodbye Christopher Robin then you’ll enjoy this. The trailer is below if you want to find out more.

I love the romantic idea of a fellowship of writers, like Tolkien and C S Lewis or Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. If you want to start a fellowship with me, let me know.

Ring  Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring Ring

 

 

Apr 27

End of Camp NaNoWriMo and escaping on a writing retreat

Hello everyone, I’ve temporarily escaped the toxic smoke that is London.

I’ve ended my Camp NaNoWriMo project at 30,000 words. My target was 40,000 but due to a mixture of work commitments and health issues I wasn’t able to reach my goal. It’s disappointing but 30,000 words is better than 20,000 or 10,000 or nothing at all. I’ve learnt a lot about the novel itself. I’ve finally discovered the correct ending (which has been bothering me since last November when I started the project), I’ve discovered a new title and I can reveal that this novel is going to be longer and darker than Empty Nights. Hopefully it won’t take me as long to write!

A big thank you to everyone in my cabin and all the London based writers I met on our write ups in Pret for their support throughout the month.

Unfortunately my writing retreat doesn’t have Wifi, so I won’t be online for much of the following week. Although this means I’ll miss the Camp NaNoWriMo celebrations (and Game of Thrones), a lack of Wifi should also mean that I won’t procrastinate too much and actually complete the first draft of my screenplay.

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I’m returning to the big smoke on May 4th (which by coincidence is International Star Wars day) and I’ll be returning to this website the week afterwards with my next article “Five historical speeches that you’re glad you haven’t heard.”

I look forward to seeing you then.

Apr 21

Five biblical stories based on real events.

I am not a religious man. I do not believe in any gods or higher powers, I believe in science and facts. That being said, I do enjoy some religious stories (although most of them are tales from the Greek and Egyptian pantheons where the gods are more numerous, flawed and complex) but because I was brought up by a Christian family in England and attended a primary school where each assembly was started by a Bible reading, I’m familiar with the Christian faith. Although I found the Bible dull and ham-fisted in it’s moral messages, I did enjoy researching the facts behind some of the stories. Every legend has a grain of truth in it.

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Apr 14

Top five dreams that inspired books

Did you know that scientists don’t understand why we dream at night? They don’t even know how we dream, only that our sub-conscience plays a role and that dreams happen during a part of our sleep cycle called REM sleep. What purpose do dreams serve us? Is it our body training us for a fight or flight situation? Is it a message from some higher power? Is it our own mind trying to tell us something? If you go online you will find thousands of websites that will help you translate your dreams. What do you think my mind was trying to tell me when I dreamt the following?

I dreamt that I had sold an American friend of mine a pink Ford Anglia (like the one in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) and that for some reason I HAD to get it back. I sat in bed, groggy, for a full ten minutes, believing I had made this horrendous mistake before remembering that not only have I never owned a Ford Anglia, I have never even owned a car!

If we know one thing about dreams, we know that they can serve as brilliant inspiration. Paul McCartney claimed he heard the melody for Yesterday in a dream and wrote it down when he woke up. Albert Einstein reportedly dreamt he was sledging down a mountain and noticed that the stars changed their appearance in relation to his movement. Some people train themselves to be lucid dreamers which means they can control some, or even all, elements of their dreams. They can literally create and manipulate worlds in their sleep!

Today I’ll be looking at five famous novels that were inspired from dreams.

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Apr 01

Camp NaNoWriMo 2019

Hello everyone,

No. This isn’t an April fool’s joke. I am taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo 2019.

Last November I took part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and wrote 50000 words in thirty days. Camp NaNoWriMo works along the same lines. The main differences are that it takes place in April, you are placed in cabins with other writers and the rules for completion aren’t as strict.

Because of this last point I’m only writing 40,000 words this month which combined with the previous 50000 should put me at 90017 words (or there abouts). The reason I’m only doing 40,000 words this month is because, for the last week of April, I’m going on a Writing Retreat.

Similar to last year I will be spending a week on the south coast of England working on a writing project. This project isn’t the manuscript from NaNoWriMo (which I’m hoping to see finished by 2021/2022) but a screenplay for the BBC’s Writer’s room. Although I mostly write novels and short stories I also love screenplays and I’ve wanted to start work on this script for just over two years. I think that a week away is the perfect time to rattle out a first draft.

I’ll be posting updates on my Facebook Writer’s page (which you can reach by clicking anywhere in this sentence) of my process in Camp NaNoWriMo throughout April. If you’re also taking part, let me know and we can cheer each other on.

Best of luck to the other competitors.

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Mar 10

Five first drafts of famous characters

Last month I wrote two website posts on “Firsts”. They were first drafts of famous novels and first drafts of famous films which you can read by clicking on their titles. Whilst researching these articles I found so much interesting information that I had enough content for a third post. This will be the last of the “first” posts for a while and my next update should be more varied.

But for now here are five first drafts of famous characters. Enjoy!

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Feb 24

First drafts of famous films

Last time we looked at first draft of famous novels including Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If you haven’t read that article, you can do do so by clicking here. Today we’re looking at the first draft of famous films!

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