Category Archives: Rant

Purposes For Which Dragons Seem Ideal But Are In Fact Useless

1) Cooking. They burn everything.

2) Home Protection. They deter most burglars on sight, but legitimate tradesmen also. The one alarm your insurance  provider won’t give you a discount on your premium.

3) Airline. Quite turbulent to travel on as the critter keeps snapping at its handler.  Particularly unpleasant to sit in the front rows.

4) Bodyguard. Nobody messes with you if you have a dragon by your side, but they aren’t exactly discrete and won’t fit into most houses without tremendous alterations.

5) Matchmaking.  The demands of dragon slaying doesn’t leave much time for other interests. Being good at slaughtering them doesn’t make you an ideal spouse for their prisoners. While all you want to talk about is dragons and how to kill them, they want to avoid the topic altogether for the rest of their lives.

6) Banking. Sure, your money is safe. Dragons don’t tend to mess with dodgy financial instruments. But, where is the interest? And attempting to withdraw part of your savings can be a nightmare.

7) Defrosting the car. Best avoided unless your vehicle is made of asbestos.

8) Demolition. They are simply too good at this. You might want a wall removed, but they’ll tear down the whole house.

Advice On Farming In A Fantasy Secondary World

1. Don’t be a farmer. Particularly if you are in no way jolly, lovable or quaint. You are likely to die.

2. Be ready to run if monsters attack or heroes start talking about the necessity of bravery.

3. Chosen ones are dangerous to adopt. If a mysterious baby is left on your doorstep, drop it over to your neighbour’s house, knock on the door, and run.

4. Make sure that you use the most advanced farm technology that the anachronisms in your secondary world allow.

5. Don’t waste your money on unicorns. They are lovely to look at but aren’t much good at pulling a plough.

6. Have a good pest management plan in place for rodents, foxes, wolves, and orcs.

7. Your choice of crop should be maize. If your winter store is hit by dragon fire, you can still eat the resulting popcorn.


Click Bait

There are a lot of good on-line articles on writing and publishing, but there are some not-so-good ones also. Nothing is more annoying than coming across a tweet with a link to say The Three Key Things You Must Know Before You Publish only to find when you click on the article tells you absolutely nothing of any use. Or, like Fifty-Five Short Story Competitions for Jack Russell Owners, the article turns out to be just a list of links, half of which don’t work, with a disclaimer at the bottom that the author isn’t entirely sure that these are short story competitions or that the organizers like dogs.

With that in mind I’ve written my own bait click article.

Ten Critical Things You Must Do To Write A Book:

(1) Breathe. Dead people cannot write a book.

(2) Open your eyes. Otherwise, you cannot see what you are writing.

(3) Have an original idea. It can be fiction or non-fiction. Non-fiction is generally truer than fiction.

(4) Have something on which to record your story. Examples include word processors, blank pages, vellum, papyrus, and clay tablets.

(5) Use the appropriate tool to record your story. For example, pens and quills work well for blank pages, but not for tablets and computer screens.

(6) Write in a language you understand.

(7) Make sure you understand the concepts of ‘book’ and ‘novel’. Check them out on Wikipedia.

(8) Read lots of books about writing and publishing. You can find these books in book shops and on-line stores. They will cost money, but they are worth it if you want to build a successful career.

(9) Get a dictionary. If you don’t know what this is, look it up.

(10) Read my book as a good example of how the finished product should look. It’s cheap and it’s on sale at Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, Itunes, etc. There’s even a paperback.

DISCLAIMER: The author of this article does not maintain that this is an exhaustive list of steps, or that all steps listed are required in every case to write a book. The order of the steps is not prescriptive. The reader should do his/her own research.


The Worst Advice On Prologues


Some people love them. Some people hate prologues. Some skip them. Agents don’t like them, apparently.

Personally, I don’t like prologues that have only tangential relevance to the story, and I don’t like infodumps. Some people love a good six page history lesson. Some people might love tangential prologues too, though I have never come across anyone who publicly stated it.

If a prologue is interesting and relevant, I have absolutely no problem with it. I have even written one or two.

This post is not really about the virtue of prologues. It is about the lack of virtue of a certain piece of advice related to them. It runs something like this:

A writer walks into a bar and says to the barman, “I want to keep my book’s prologue but, if I do, my book will never get an agent. Prologues have gone out of fashion like the letter thorn.”

The barman scratches his head and answers, “I just serve drinks, but it seems to me, the best thing you can do is scrap the prologue.”


The barman waits for the writer to calm, pours him a stiff drink, and says, “Okay. This is what you do. Make the prologue the first chapter. Agents will read it and never realize you slipped them a prologue.”

If this reads like a joke, it is because it is. Don’t be the butt of it.

Turning your prologue into Chapter 1 is a terrible idea.

(1) Readers will assume Chapter 1 is the start of the story and the characters it introduces are important to the plot. When that turns out not to be the case, they will be confused/betrayed/annoyed.

(2) Agents will work out that Chapter 1 is a disguised prologue when they start Chapter 2. Will they be impressed? No. Their reaction is likely to mirror that of the readers.

If a prologue can successfully pass as the first chapter, then it was never a prologue in the first place.