5 Tips on Writing Fantasy Characters – Guest Post Desiree Villena

5 Tips for Writing Fantasy Characters – Desiree Villena

Most creative writing classes treat writing characters and writing fantasy characters as one and the same. They provide run-of-the-mill tips (create conflict, establish flaws, etc.) and you end up with run-of-the-mill characters — well-developed, but nothing out of the ordinary.

But what fantasy writers need are legendary characters — characters that stay with you for a lifetime, like those that occupy the worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien and George R. R. Martin. Unfortunately, these writers haven’t exactly revealed all their secrets to the rest of us. But by working backwards, I’ve put together five top tips, exclusively for fantasy writers, that should help you think outside of the character-profile box.

1. Interview your characters to get to know them

Whether you adopt the tactics of a police interrogator or Oprah Winfrey, interviewing your characters is a great way to flesh out their motives, weaknesses, history, habits, and hobbies. Sure, the same advice is given to authors of all fiction genres, but when writing fantasy this exercise calls for more creative flair.

For instance, most questionnaires will ask your character about their career: What’s your dream job? What job would you never consider? When writing contemporary fiction, it’s easy to fall back on conventions: I want to become a writer, a football star, a successful entrepreneur. I’d never be a high-school teacher, a telemarketer, a pest control worker. Your fantasy characters, however, will need to produce answers that make sense in the context of their world.

Let’s take the Harry Potter series as an example. Some Hogwarts graduates will join the Aurors — an elite group of Dark Wizard catchers — others take soul-crushing jobs in magic middle management, and I imagine someone has to clean up the mess made by the post-office owls. These jobs are recognizable; we can place them in the real world, and even make assumptions about a character based on their magical nine-to-five. But at the same time, they place the character firmly in the unique world of the books, seamlessly weaving the two together and adorning the bigger picture with original details.

2. Don’t assume that your characters think like you

When a story takes place in a world that’s not our own, its characterizations should reflect that on a deeper level than just creative job titles and otherworldly hobbies. Everyone in your world, good or bad, leading lady or forgettable friend, will share a baseline set of assumptions informed by the world they inhabit, which means that their inherent ways of thinking won’t always resemble our own.

Let’s say your fantasy novel is set in a world where gods regularly show their faces to interfere in everyday life. Though atheism might be common here on Earth Prime, it would make no sense for anyone in that world to be an atheist. This doesn’t have to mean that everybody thinks and feels exactly the same way about the gods; some characters might fervently believe that they reward devotion and punish sin, while others might quietly think of them as meddling pranksters.

Setting up coherent belief systems and knowing where your characters stand on your world’s “big questions” will help you to build more complex relationships among your characters, and between your characters and their world.

3. Build diversity into your cast of characters

In general, creating some diversity in your cast of characters can be a really useful thing to do. Meaningfully different perspectives and experiences will add complexity to your world, and hopefully create intuitive conflict or tension among your characters.

If your world is divided into different regions, for example, then the people in each region might have vastly different cultures due to the influence of climate, landscape, or the way they’re ruled. Take A Song of Ice and Fire. The people in the North live, think, and dress very differently from the people in King’s Landing: the first being sparsely populated, harsh, and independently ruled while the other is crowded, coastal, and right under the thumb of the Iron Throne.

Even within distinct groups, one member doesn’t need to have the same mannerisms, views, and values as the next. In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien has creatures that are familiar to fantasy readers, and certainly employs generic tropes. But his elves, dwarves, hobbits, and wizards are not carbon-copy fantasy races. Among the dwarves, for example, there are good and wicked, eloquent and crass, loyal and traitorous characters.

4. Revitalize common character tropes

Lots of fantasy writers love character archetypes — which is not necessarily a bad thing, because fantasy readers love them too. But if you rely too much on clichés, you might stray into overly predictable territory. There’s also no reason to get anywhere near that black hole when there are so many great ways to revitalize common character tropes. Here are a couple to get you thinking:

  • Deconstruct it: Even if you adhere to its traditions, you can deconstruct a trope by shining a light on its implications and consequences. For example, Harry Potter may be the Chosen One — but only because the antagonist, Voldemort, decided to believe a prophecy and mark Harry out. The notion of the Chosen One only has as much power as Voldemort gives it.
  • Defy expectations: When readers encounter an archetypal character they’ll bring certain expectations to the table (because that’s how archetypes work). But you can give your character a dose of originality by meeting enough of the required standards that make a trope recognizable, while defying other characteristics that are simply expected. For example, the White Witch of Narnia ticks all the boxes of an Evil Overlord, but she defies character conventions by being a woman shrouded in white, rather than a male character cloaked in darkness.

5. Keep the bigger picture in mind

You may have noticed that in fantasy writing, worldbuilding and character development often go hand-in-hand. And nowhere is this more evident (or more important) than in the mood and tone of your story. Whether you build your setting or your characters first, the general tenor of both elements should work together to create the perfect atmosphere.

The easiest way to think of this is to look at some more examples. In the Song of Ice and Fire books, where the dead stand up to fight and swords are forged with blood, even our favorite characters are flawed — Arya is obsessed with revenge, Tyrion is morally ambiguous, and Daenerys is proud and stubborn (and burns down a city). These gray characters meld perfectly with the grim and somber tone that shrouds this highly cynical series.

Meanwhile, the first few books in the Harry Potter series are full of wonder and whimsy. Its magical world features bat-bogey hexes, dodgy spell-checking quills, and wacky divination lessons. So it makes perfect sense that the protagonists be quirky teenagers who are always bickering, fumbling first crushes, and failing to get to grips with Muggle technology (I’m looking at you, Ron).

So take inspiration from fantasy legends JKR and GRRM. Don’t just fill in a character profile. Think about the emotional texture of your book and the kind of reaction you want from your readers. Then approach the task of character development with your mind on the bigger picture.

2020 Writing Round-up

I had all sorts of plans in 2020. Didn’t everyone? 

Stress does not help with the writing process. Some people thrive on stress – I am not one of those people. I looked at my writing plan and knew I hadn’t fulfilled it. However when I investigated further – it was not as bad as I thought.

10 Bundles – not quite one a month 

Here Be Elves

Here Be Brave New Worlds

Here Be Aliens

Light Beyond the Storm Box Set 

Blood on the Cobbles

Angels and Demons

Rainbow Romance

Here Be Pirates 

Here Be Trolls

Here be Zombies

Also Heroika Skirmishers

Print edition of Dark Tales and Twisted Verses, several large print editions and many translation editions. 

I’ve finished a course on Editing and Proofreading, and 19 work-related courses.

Editing for Perseid Press and some freelance editing.

I now have a Fiverr profile.

All things considered, not too shoddy.

In 2021 I plan to finish a couple of novellas, get some more translations sorted, find more editing clients and continue learning Photoshop.

Writer Wednesday -Why Self-Publishing Works for Me

Self-Publishing had, and to some extent still has, a stigma attached. It was for people who can’t find a ‘real publisher’, substandard books and a shoddy attitude.

That simply isn’t true – there are substandard, badly edited, badly written books put out by people, that’s true but that could be said of ‘traditionally’ published books. I read, recently, a book so badly formatted and put together that a simply couldn’t take anymore and gave up. It was from traditional press. I’ve read some rubbish put out from traditional publishers and some incredible books by indie pubbers.

Not every writer wants a traditional publisher, and not every book is a good fit. I suspect mine wouldn’t be – dark, violent fantasy with sex, slavery and vengeance. Indie publishing allows the less mainstream, more varied and adventurous books to see the light of day. Those books that would be serious curbed by a traditional house, the quirky, the off the wall books.  Agreed they aren’t for everyone – no book is.

What are the upsides? You are your own boss. The deadlines are yours – and can be moved. The royalties are yours. KDP pay 70% on ebooks between 2.99 and 9.99 and that’s a decent chunk. It’s very unlikely you’d get that with a publishing house.

You get to control everything – what you want for the cover, uploading the book, keeping tabs on the royalties and how the book is progressing in the publishing cycle. It’s your book, you control it.  You can write the book YOU want to write (and read) – although keep in mind it’s unlikely to be a best seller just because you think it’s awesome.

Babelcube – through which I publish the foreign language edition – they are slow and their customer service is a bit pants.  I have to wait until the link arrives to know if a book is published, and for pretty much every single one I have found the book on Amazon by searching my author page BEFORE the link has appeared.

There are pros to a publishing house behind you, without a doubt. The marketing, usually an editor, the clout that the house has. For me it works with Perseid Press for specific stories – the Heroes in Hell, and the Heroika franchises. They are different to my usual work, and part of a greater shared world, and shared theme. It’s a lot of fun to write for Perseid and the owners are great people, wise, experienced and generally awesome. It’s a choice that works for specific stories for me. And I’ll write for Perseid as long as they’ll have me.

Self-publishing is hard work, it’s a steep learning curve. Writing the book is the easy part! You have to learn to be a formatter, proofreader, editor, cover designer, marketer, social media guru, researcher and had a thick skin. It’s better, if you have the budget to hire at least an editor. You don’t see your own mistakes, your brain knows what should be there and overrides your eyes. That scene is awesome right! Not necessarily. Does it bring the story forward? Does it develop the plot or character? Or is it six paragraphs of description?

I’ve learned a lot – far more than I would have had I been traditionally published, and I’ve encountered and befriended a lot of people. The indie/SP community is, generally, very supportive and helpful. It’s daunting – and many people simply don’t have the skills to be a Jack of All Trades. I didn’t.

I’ve learned formatting, editing, cover design, social media platforms I’d never had considered. I’ve been encouraged to write what I’ve wanted to write and to not give a damn if someone doesn’t like it.  And that’s the thing – not everyone will like a book. From Shakespeare to 50 Shades of Grey there are people who think they are bloody awesome, and others who think they are terrible, and everything in between. There simply isn’t a book that everyone will enjoy. That’s fine. It makes it interesting. A publishing house is going to be cautious about a new author, and a book that pushes the boundaries, or is a little odd, is very long, or very short, or is not in a genre that is popular RIGHT NOW.  Self publishing gives an author the opportunity to bring the book to life, to bring joy to readers (hopefully).

Self-publishing and small press publishing work for me – I like being in control of my work. I like learning new skills and solutions. It surely doesn’t work for everyone. Nothing does.

Pros:

You control the timescale and what you write

You get all the royalties

You meet awesome people

You learn new stuff

Cons:

Marketing sucks 😉

You are expected to do everything

If you don’t learn knew skills you have to pay someone

The reality is – most indies don’t sell a lot.

Remember if you choose to self-publish it’s a business. Be professional. It’s not a case of bunging a load of words on a page and uploading it to KDP.  You are asking readers to spend money and time on your work – at least do them the courtesy of producing a well-written product.  Learn the rules of the publishing site – read the FAQ. KDP has extensive help pages and FAQ. Use them. You won’t understand everything required of you – no one does – but you can learn, or ask if you don’t understand.

There are various software packages that allow cover design – Canva, Photoshop etc. And KDP has cover creation options (they aren’t great but they aren’t awful). If you can’t afford an editor then see if there are a couple of people who will beta read, get Grammarly, or see if there is an editor or proofreader who will take instalments.

There are free and low cost courses on English Grammar, and language. Sign up. There are sites that allow you post up your work to get feedback (although remember to take it down BEFORE you publish).

If you are like me, you like to learn new skills, you like to be able to control what you do and not have to rely on or be beholden to others then consider self-publishing.

A Literary Legacy

At the end of November 2019 my father passed away after a long illness. When discussing what to put in the Eulogy with my sisters we all agreed on the legacy he’d left us – a legacy far more valuable and less easy to quantify than money or a house. A love of reading and storytelling.

Dad left school at 16 with a basic education – he was, apparently, rubbish at art, woodwork and behaving himself but excelled at English, maths and history. He was a born storyteller. Times were different then, and even had he wanted to continue in education it would have not been possible financially. He joined the army at 19, was wounded in action and left partially sighted after being hit by a roadside bomb. (Not much changes in war).

Despite this he still loved to read – mostly westerns and historical books – but struggled with the print size to the end of his days. Both parents encouraged us to read, and both read avidly. Often the sitting room would be filled with people – noses buried in books and there were always books in the house. A trip to the local library was a treat.

Dad told stories about runaway pork pies and mischievous sausages, not to mention household implements which rose up against their masters. I vividly remember the wicked saucepan that hit its owner when it was replaced, and a hosepipe that went on the rampage. All told with my father’s wicked wit and gleaming eyes.

He loved poetry, particularly Kipling, and even a week before his death was able to recite one of his favourites word perfectly (even though his memory was going, he was confused about most things, in pain and on a whole raft of meds). His whole face was aglow when he spoke poetry.

Cargoes – by John Masefield was one of his favourites. The first verses would be read with wonder and then the final verse – well that was read very fast and loud. Reflecting the beauty of the old, fine ships and the somewhat less elegant British ships…

Of all the things Daddy gave us – love, a sense of humour, a belief in ourselves, not taking crap from anyone, to me the love of the written word was the finest – and the most ensuring.

I’m a writer and a poet, both my nieces write, my sister teaches English and drama, and the other sister is an artist and loves history. We all love books, and have FAR too many in the house.  The love of reading and storytelling will live on, and so it should. Storytelling is what makes us human, and it brings us freedom, adventure and emotion.

Thanks Dad, we will miss you.

This is one of Dad’s (and my) favourite poems Twenty Bridges from Tower to Kew

 

Guest Post – Are Character Interviews Worth the Effort? – T R Robinson

Are Character Interviews Worth the Effort?

Guest post by T. R. Robinson

I first came across character interviews here in Alex’s Library of Erana blog. There have been a couple elsewhere but the majority have been here. Now for a bit of honesty: My initial thought? ‘Silly and pointless.’ As a consequence, I simply glanced (not even sped read) through a couple and thereafter ignored them. I now feel a little ashamed. It is not usual for me to make such determinations prior to fully investigating the validity and seeking to comprehend people’s motivations. Why I did not do so in this instance I am not sure. I suspect it may have been I was new to authoring and probably, as most when first setting out on a new career, felt under pressure to complete a work and to interact in social media. Time pressure in other words: there never seems to be enough for all we want to do. Of course, this is no excuse but I hope it helps readers understand.

Character interviews appear to remain a rarity. I certainly see few. Nevertheless, I now take more note of them. One question that occurs: Who are these interviews for? The author or the reader? I would say both. I will consider them in reverse order.

The Reader

Of what interest are character interviews to readers?

  • (Perhaps with the exception of some self-help or scientific books, the majority of readers are looking to be entertained.)
  • (Usually provide further idea of the character’s true nature, aims and goals.)
  • (Provide some backstory details which will enhance the eventual read. Assuming they do go on to read the book the character is in.)
  • (Build interest in and expectations for a story.)

 

The Author

What benefits do character interviews provide for authors?

  • Display writing skill. (Readers do not readily pick up books by unknown authors. These free interviews provide them with an idea of what they could expect from the author’s books.)
  • Avoid ‘padding’. (Able to fill-out character personalities with additional information that would not fit or be appropriate to include in the primary manuscript.)
  • Know characters. (Authors are advised, for best results, to fully know their charters by writing biographies. Interviews go part way, probably a long way, toward this aim.)
  • Refreshed mind. (Continuous writing on the same theme can lead to fatigue and some degree of stagnation. Writing something different usually breaks the trend.)
  • Marketing/Publicity. (Done right, interviews may set a story’s scene and create intrigue and interest in it.)

Of course, the above are by no means the full extent of what readers and authors may gain from these interviews. Everyone is different.

Worth the Effort?

Back to the original question.

Having now admonished and corrected myself, I may unequivocally state, as far as I am concerned, character interviews do have their place in the reading and authoring world. Now, with respect to Alex’s own books: Fantasy is not a genre I usually read, or if I am honest, really enjoy, at least that has generally tended to be my past experience. Nevertheless, I have read and reviewed Alex’s Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends and have to say I enjoyed it. That was in December 2017. I have not read any others since but admit some of the character interviews here have intrigued and inspired me to contemplate reading more in the genre.

So far I have not undertaken interviews for any of my own characters. This is primarily due to the fact I write in the memoir and biographical fiction genre where, most frequently, who the person is forms an integral part of the tale. However, in view of how much I have enjoyed Alex’s character interviews, I may consider undertaking a few for some of the fictional charters I have utilised to enhance the real events within the biographical fiction and short story collections. There, see, I have been inspired. From sceptic I am now a believer.

Thank you Alexandra for giving me this opportunity to share some of my thoughts with your readers.

 

*********************

 

In addition to authoring T. R. Robinson provides free guidance, tips and ideas for both authors and readers.

T. R.’s Primary Website and Blog: https://trrobinsonpublications.com

T. R.’s More Personal Blog: https://trmemoirs.wordpress.com

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Adventures in Self-Publishing – Marketing 1.1

One of the primary skills needed to sell your book is marketing. Many people don’t like pushy sales people – so don’t be pushy. If little and often works then go for it but if someone doesn’t want to buy your book then, they don’t. Don’t pester folks.

  1. Marketing
  • Marketing (no one is going to buy your book if they don’t know it’s there. Many people don’t like the pushy salesperson (I certainly don’t), but there are ways and means. I took a course (Diploma in social media marketing) with Shaw Academy. This was a bargain – the course is usually a couple of hundred pounds but a friend put me onto Living Social which offers all sorts of stuff at real bargain prices. It has everything from weekend breaks, to courses, to laptops or whatever. As I understand it – they have a small amount at the low price and when they are gone they are gone.  Check out these bargain sites – you’d be surprised what you find.
  • Facebook – There are zillions of pages and groups on FB. Set up an author page (you can do this from your main account). If you have somehow managed to avoid FB then I’m sorry it’s a good idea to get an account. There are lots of groups devoted to blogging, genre books, author groups, writing groups, promo groups – you name it there will be  FB group for it. Join a few – and CHECK THE RULES. Some let you promo, some let you promo with restrictions (once a week/once a day), and some are non-promo but good for advice and networking. Facebook really wants you to spend your money and buy ads. I haven’t as yet – and I have heard mixed reviews on whether it’s useful. But I understand you can spend a small amount to have a small ad. You can promote in some groups for free – but the reach is limited. Prepare to spend a lot of time on social media…
  • Twitter/Tweetdeck – If you are going to use Twitter to promote then get Tweetdeck. It’s free and it makes managing your Tweets much easier. You can schedule tweets, add graphics, and see what you’ve booked in and when. You can attach more than one Twitter account to it.  Does Twitter help? Probably – there are a lot of cross-tweeting groups, and many people follow there.
  • Linked-in – This is more of a professional site – many employers look there. I’ve been contacted via LI more than once about jobs (all of which were utterly unsuitable), but it’s another forum. 
  • Pinterest – I love pinterest. I set up a page for all the interviews and promo from the blog, but mostly I use it for pics of animals, Phantom of the Opera, and random interesting stuff.  Again there are reader and author groups.

There are countless others but keep in mind how many sites you’re going to have to manage. Even with Hootsuite (for FB, Linked in, Tumblr and Twitter) and Tweetdeck it’s still a couple of hours a night for me. That’s two hours not writing…

You could ignore the marketing, do less than I do and it MIGHT work, but then again it might not. Promotion of your book will get you sales. No one knows it’s there – no one buys it. Simple as.

Blogging/Website. 

Set up an author website if you can – again if you aren’t very good at that kind of thing then look for a course or watch You-Tube. There is plenty of free/cheap advice about if you look. WordPress is fairly easy (and free for the basic package), Wix, Squarespace, Blogger etc are other options. Also, set up a blog. My website is the ‘official’ author site – it lists the books, about me and is updated when there is something new. The blog is more informal (and gets more traffic). You can blog about anything – books you’ve written, books you’ve read, your cat/dog/rabbit/degu, plants, recipes or whatever. It’s good writing practice – builds a network of followers who might check out your book(s) and it’s fun. I will say this – pick what you blog about carefully. If you want to go rant about some reviewer leaving your book a 1-star review on Amazon; politics; what someone famous has or hasn’t done then go ahead but keep in mind what goes on the internet stays on the internet. It’s easy for a reader to misunderstand a comment, and if you start bitching then someone will notice and it’s likely to end up with a slanging match – which is public. You’re the author, you’re the brand. Being a jerk can harm this brand. You can’t undo it. I’ve seen authors behave badly – slagging off readers who rated a book low, or making some derogatory comment about a reader’s opinion or intelligence. It didn’t end well.  You have been warned.

 

 

 

Adventures in Self-Publishing – Part 1.1 – The Basics

(C)A L Butcher

I have been trying to think of useful and interesting posts to share in 2019. I love the interviews, and these will continue, but I’m going to try the ‘Adventures in Self-Publishing’ series of posts – detailing advice, pitfalls, highs and lows and upskilling.

When I read the KDP forums (that’s Kindle Direct Publishing – Amazon’s publishing system), it never ceases to amaze me the newbies who write a book (or occasionally scrape content from the internet, or upload a public domain book with barely any new changes) and then wonder why they aren’t the next Stephen King or JK Rowling.

I’ve posted up KDP advice before:

KDP: A Noob’s Guide

KDP: A Noob’s Guide Part 2

KDP: a Noob’s Guide Part 3

However there is a lot more on offer than just KDP, and a lot more to do that writing.

Most indie authors have little or no money to spend buying services or advertising – so the easiest way to get around this is to learn how to do these things yourself, network (really important), or trade skills.

I published my first book in 2012 (yep that long ago), and since then I have learned about many, many things.

Depending on your genre you may do research (I love research but I am easily distracted), but there is more to it. Unless you’re a wiz at everything (If so I hate you) then you’ll probably need to be proficient in the following:

Marketing, cover design, editing, networking, formatting. And that’s just the start. If you can write, then you can learn these things. It takes time, and patience.

Let me see in the 6 and  half years since Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles was published I have learned:

Networking (this is really important); editing (currently editing for Perseid Press so I can’t be that bad); cover design (I’m learning Photoshop); marketing; formatting; how to convert to Epub/Mobi etc; how to produce audiobooks; how to format for paperbacks; MSWord; Calibre, Book bundles. Not to mention courses on creative writing, grammar, historical fiction writing, copyrighting and lots of other fascinating (mostly) stuff.

If you are on a low budget then check around. Sites like the ones below are useful.

  • Living Social – offers bargain prices on courses. I got the Diploma in social media marketing and the Creative Writing Certificate for less than 20 GBP each, instead of several hundred pounds.
  • Udemy  – discounted online courses – currently using for Photoshop, and they have lots of writing/marketing based courses. You can pay full price but usually if you wait then a course will appear in the sale – for as little as $10 or $20. You can do them in your own time.
  • Coursera – mostly free but you can pay for the more advanced ones.

And there is You-tube of course.

Much of it comes with practice, but it’s not a simple case of writing a couple of hundred thousand words down and whacking it onto KDP (not that writing is simple – I’m not belittling the craft). None of the publishing sites which let authors publish for free will edit/format or promote the book. That’s the author’s job. It’s a steep learning curve.

Look out for more posts on Adventures in Self Publishing.

 

 

A Day in the Life of Gustavo Bondoni – Sci-Fi Author/Meet an Author

Welcome to a day in the life of Gustavo Bondoni

Please give us a brief outline of who you are. I’m a novelist and short story writer from Argentina… or at least that is what I am by inclination.  By training, I’m an engineer with an MBA who has always worked on the commercial side (sales and marketing) of companies varying from tiny startups to massive Fortune 100 enterprises.

My passion for writing came about because I love to read.  And my selection of genre came about because Asimov and Robert Asprin and Douglas Adams were the men on the racks of my local bookstore when I was twelve and began to read adult fiction.  With names like that, how can one not be hooked?

As an interesting aside this was the eighties, and I still have the battered copy of Heroes in Hell I bought at Waldenbooks way back then.  I assume it’s the only copy in Argentina.

You’re a writer – how is this reflected in your typical day? I’m a writer, and it basically consumes my day, even when I’m not writing.  On the practical side, I’ll be obsessively checking my email for acceptances (or rejections, sadly), contracts, edits, or just about any other communication with the publishing world.

On a more interesting note, I’ll always be plotting the story or book in progress, or cooking up ideas for new ones.  That doesn’t change just because I might be working on something else.

Do you have a family? What do they think of your job? Do they assist you? I have a family.  My wife and I live with four children: two that are hers from another marriage and two baby daughters of our own (2 years old and one month old as I type, respectively).  The older kids seem more interested in their tablets than in books, but my wife is amazingly supportive… although she does sometimes get annoyed at my habit of not even realizing that people are talking to me when I’m writing.

How do you fit in ‘real life’? What in the world is real life?  Actually, I try to live a normal existence.  Unless I tell them, most people can’t even tell I’m a writer.  The truth is that I can fit my target wordcount (around 1500 words a day) into the slots between other tasks.

Do you have a particular process? The only process I really swear to is to write every weekday, and to try to get 1500 words in.  Anything else is a bonus.  Some people like to outline… I prefer to find out what my characters are going to do as they do it.

Are you very organised? I try to be.  Life has a way of biting you… and also, my wife is the Mistress of Chaos…

What is your ideal working environment? My ideal working environment would be an office with a closed door.  But this is sadly not possible at home… and right now, my corporate job is also home-based.  But one can dream!

What do you eat for breakfast? Tea with lemon and a type of cracker that you can only buy in Argentina called cerealitas.  Unlike most crackers, these actually taste good and are therefore probably bad for me.

Would you recommend your chosen craft to those interested in doing it? Wow. Loaded question.  It’s very difficult to make a living from writing fiction.  Anyone looking to write for that reason would likely be better served by becoming a journalist.  However, I have found no satisfaction greater than receiving an email confirming that something you invented was judged good enough by an editor you’ve never met to be shared with others and paid for. That rush is indescribable.  So yeah, on balance, I’d say everyone should give it a try.

Links/samples/etc.

Site: www.gustavobondoni.com

Twitter: @gbondoni

Most popular novel: Siege

Review – Spell It Out: The singular story of English spelling #Writing #Language #English

Spell it Out UK Amazon print

Spell it Out Amazon Kindle UK

5 Stars.

Spell It Out: The singular story of English Spelling – David Crystal.

Why is there an ‘h’ in ghost? William Caxton, inventor of the printing press and his Flemish employees are to blame: without a dictionary or style guide to hand in fifteenth century Bruges, the typesetters simply spelled it the way it sounded to their foreign ears, and it stuck. Seventy-five per cent of English spelling is regular but twenty-five per cent is complicated, and in Spell It Out our foremost linguistics expert David Crystal extends a helping hand to the confused and curious alike.

He unearths the stories behind the rogue words that confound us and explains why these peculiarities entered the mainstream, in an epic journey taking in sixth-century monks, French and Latin upstarts, the Industrial Revolution and the internet. By learning the history and the principles, Crystal shows how the spellings that break all the rules become easier to get right.

You can tell I’m a logophile (lover of words), as this book really appealed to me.  I love the vagaries of English, the whys and wherefores, the ‘really – that’s spelled like that?’ and the etymology of language. This book is a great resource – it covers the history of the English Language, and the ‘rules of spelling’ – many of which get defenestrated at every available opportunity. Crystal explains why.

English is a very confusing language – and I’m a native speaker! Similar sounds – such as ‘ou’ or ‘gh’ can be used in a large variety of words with different pronunciations:

(Spelling in red) coff as in cough; ow as in boughruff as in rough; thru as in through; doh as in doughnut. 

Thorough, plough, tough, borough etc.

And we have the one everyone knows – I before E except after C… unless … well Wiki has a whole page of them:

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Category:English_words_not_following_the_I_before_E_except_after_C_rule.

There are reasons – from lazy scribes to printers being things look nice, to foreign words being adulterated, to regional differences to text speak. It all makes sense (sort of).

Crystal keeps the book interesting, easy to understand and amusing. He knows his stuff, and it shows. I found it fascinating, and will definitely get the author’s other work. Mr Crystal – you have a new fan.

Recommended for logophiles, writers, and the curious.