Thursday, 27 October 2011

What The Walking Dead needs to do to survive


I love zombies and like millions of other people I’ve been enjoying The Walking Dead.

In season 2 the viewing figures are way up on those for last season and there will now be a season 3, but like all good shows I think it could do with some improvements.

For one thing, not enough is being made of some characters - what has Glenn done in the first two episodes?

The zombie quotient could do with upping.

And, what’s with the model perfect Lori Grimes?

I think the show needs some changes made and that’s why I wrote 9 ways to keep us watching The Walking Dead over at Shadowlocked.


Why not check it out and leave your comments?

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Give Me a British TV Classic Any Day

Could the Americans have done it any better?


In the UK we have a habit of knocking everything. We moan about the weather. Complain that the country’s going downhill. Talk about emigrating to warmer safer climes.

Me, I don’t get it. I love the weather. It’s got character and I hate the heat. Living in Scotland I also think I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

But the one thing we shouldn’t knock is the great British TV show. We have so many stand out shows that are uniquely British.

Sherlock. Doctor Who. The Office. Could the Americans, even with their big budgets do those shows justice? I don't think so.

That’s why I decided to write a piece on 8 classic British shows America couldn't do
for Shadowlocked.com


Why not have a wee read and see if you can you think of any more?  

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Deid Bastards (or my descent into madness)

Zombies in Glasgow? It has already happened.


Last night I had an epiphany, a moment when I realised what I needed to do to to get my as yet unfinished zombie book published.

Out goes my title The Waking Dead - not used to get sales off the back of the TV show The Walking Dead - although I wouldn't mind, but so called because experts dub my creatures that because they are literally dying and then waking up.

In comes Deid Bastards.

Well, what else would they call dead - deid - people who come back to life in Glasgow where the book is set?

Am I mad for the name change? Only time will tell.

I'll keep you posted on my progress, or inevitable retreat to a padded cell wearing an I-love-me-jacket with daily injections from Nurse Ratchet.




The secret of a great series character


Stop all the clocks, turn of the telephones, prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone...
the new Arnaldur Indridason book is in my lap and I can’t wait to read it.

I love the Reykavick Mysteries, as his publisher has dubbed them.

The main attraction for me isn't the crimes they solve, but Detective Erlendur whose life is every bit as bleak as the Icelandic landscape. He's a man haunted by the disappearance of his younger brother, torn from his hand in a blizzard, never to be seen again.

It seems inevitable that the boy - who'd now be a grizzly man - is dead, engulfed by the snow, but like Erelendur you can't help clinging to the unspoken belief that he someone survived the blizzard and was taken in by a kindly but secretive family.

And therein lies the secret of a great series character - like Erlendur, he should be every bit as engrossing as the crimes themselves.

What every writer would give to create a character like that.

Some tips on creating a series character with staying power

1. Give them something unresolved - a case they didn't solve, a missing/troubled relative - Erlendur has both.

2. Make them different - a zombie/vampire/werewolf detective, an amputee, a war veteran mentally scarred by the horrors they've seen, a priest turned police detective, a detective in a country under occupation. A detective who sees into the minds of dead victims at crime scenes. Let your imagination run wild.

3. Give them flaws. A perfect human being is boring. An imperfect one with a hump, one leg and loaded with self-doubt. Now you're talking. Jeffrey Deaver struck gold with quadriplegic Lincoln Rhyme.

4. Put an obstacle in their way that's always there to keep them preoccupied. Perhaps they have an ill spouse/child they need to take care of.  Maybe they're diabetic and need to eat regularly or they collapse, or they're addicted to booze or drugs or gambling, or they've got a serious illness no one must know about. Be creative. Think ‘what’s not been done before?’

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Why every writer should have paper plates

NOOOOOOOOOOO

If you're a writer, you better get used to the word rejection because it's a fact more people will say no to you than will say yes. Whether it's magazine editors, publishers or agents, you will get a heck of a lot of people saying no. So, if you're going to be a writer you need some coping strategies.

Today I had a piece of work turned down that I had high hopes for. My characters weren't just characters, they were alive and when I put them in perilous situations I worried about them. Like a reader I was eager to know what happened next. Signs that the work was good. At least that’s what I thought.  

Then I got a 'no' from the first publisher I approached and my head's down and I feel like a complete failure; doubting myself and my writing.

Whenever you get a knock back other writers may tell you to soldier on, get on with the writing. Good advice, but only once you've lost your tight grip on despondency that makes you feel like you’re choking, because you need to get it out of your system. You need a break. You've worked hard. You may not have got the result you wanted, but it's not through lack of effort.

Get on with my writing? I felt like throwing my laptop and notepads out of a window and jumping after them. Instead I went to a place out the way and smashed plate. And that's why I buy paper plates because there aren't many ordinary ones left.

There are other strategies to cope with getting a no that I use -
1. Re-read the rejection. Is there anything good you can take from this no? Was there anything positive said about your work? Was it 'well written?' Did the respondent ask to see more of your work - they wouldn't say that if they didn't mean it and your work was only fit for the trash.

2. Take a step away from your writing for at least 24hours. Read a book by your favourite author, watch mindless telly, play a game - hidden object or shoot up games are best. I play Grand Theft Auto and my goal is to go crazy with the flame thrower.

3. Look at past successes. Leaf through your copies of published work. Think back to the day you got that first yes and how it made you feel.

4. Write a blog post like this one to get your feelings out. Hey, it worked for me.