Hey, thanks for coming by and checking out my website.
My books aren;t out yet, but the first instalment of the Pain Mage trilogy coming Feb 2013 from Orbit
And now, drumroll please, I have news!
My fantasy series, the Pain Mage Trilogy, coming soon from Orbit books! Check out the details here
So I just got back, and despite dire weather warnings, it was an easy few hundred miles from Wales to Sussex, from what may have been the most awesome weekend of my life. Why so awesome? I shall tell you.
1 – Brian Blessed. ’nuff said.
2 – I got goosed by a dalek and bear hugged by a wookie.
3 – Despite me not liking funk particularly, Craig Charles’s set was su-bloody-perb.
4 – A member of my writers’ group, Gaie Sebold did a signing of her new book (Babylon Steel which you should all buy, cos it’s awesome, and Gaie is all kinds of wonderful) and it sold out.
5 – I met several people I’ve only met before online – Stacia Kane, and Overlord from Fantasy Faction, for starters. Really nice to put names to faces.
6 – Other Half got Dan Abnett’s autograph, including a small note to our son, making us (very briefly) cool.
7 – And here is where the awesomeness really starts. We were invited to a party. We went, and a very nice party it was too. We played some pool and then, because we’d had no dinner, started to lurk in the kitchen where three men were supervising the production of pizza. I recognised one of the men – Adrian Tchaikovsky. Which was a bit of an ‘oooh cool!’ moment. But he’s chatting with the other guys and being generally friendly and nice so I didn’t feel too star-struck.
Until, during the course of the conversation I say to the other two gents, ‘I don’t think I caught your names’. To which the charming guy on the left says ‘Well, I’m Joe Abercrombie’, then points to the equally charming guy on the right ‘And he’s Peter Hamilton. Do you think the cheese is ready on the pizza?’
Just as well I wasn’t holding my glass at that point. But it has to be said, it really topped off the level of awesome on the weekend. And possibly my life.
*I probably swore in my head slightly more than that.
It seems this question pops up on writing fora over and over and over….Can I swear in my books?
The short answer is yes, yes you fucking can.
The long answer is, well, it depends. You can, of course, but should you and when is it appropriate?
First of course you need to consider your audience. If you’re writing an early reader picture book, rude words are probably not going to help your quest for publication. However, if you’re an adult writing for adults then you can.
Is it usual/common in the genre you write in? Dark, gritty fantasy? Yup. High, Tolkienesque fantasy? Not as much, though it’s still there. Cosy, Miss Marple type whodunnits, no, not really.
Do you need/want to? Well, not every book is going to need swears. Because personally I think it’s all going to boil down to: Would this character swear in this situation? If you’re writing a brutal battle scene with lots of roughty toughty soldiers, or a riot where firebombs are going off all over the place, then if someone gets their arm blown off, then writing ‘Oh my golly gosh, that really hurt’ as dialogue…well it’s going to look fairly silly. Unless you’ve set them up to be the sort of character that never, ever, ever uses naughty words.
Because what swears someone uses (or chooses not to use) is a part of characterisation. Think about it – I bet not everyone you know swears (or doesn’t) in quite the same way.
You’d be hard pushed to get more than a ‘damn’ out of my mother, mainly because she was taught as a kid that ladies don’t swear.
I’d be very surprised if my local vicar used anything blasphemous (though non-religious words are, it seems, fair game for him. Mostly)
I know a chap who seemingly can’t finish a sentence without at least one swear – it’s a kind of punctuation.
I have a tendency to string lots of swears together, then end on one that always makes me laugh. Either that, or I make some up. I would not, however, dream of saying anything worse than ‘damn’ in front of my mother, or the vicar. Because I’m polite like that. And my Mum would give me a clip round the ear.
One of my characters never swears – he’s too buttoned up to let go in such a way.
Another of my characters swears because it pisses off the people around him, and he likes doing that.
So, if it’s reasonable in your genre/for the audience you’re going for, and your character is the kind that might swear in this situation, then probably they should fucking well swear. Get inventive. How does your character react to swear-inducing situations? Or, indeed, when confronted with someone they won’t swear in front of, or is somewhere where swearing is going to drop them in a world of shit? Do they use euphemisms? Do they clamp their mouth shut and let steam come out of their ears rather than offend? Or do they just swear anyway?
You may have to deal with those who say that swearing is a sign of a limited vocabulary or a poor education etc etc *yawn* To those people, I give you Stephen Fry on the joys of swearing.
Because if Stephen’s got a limited vocabulary, I’m a fucking tosspot.
‘Oh, so you write? What sort of thing?’
‘Like Harry Potter?’
‘Nooo, not quite….’
‘I’d write a book, but I don’t have the time.’
Which is just silly. I have the same amount of time as anyone else. 24 hours in the day. Two jobs. One Esteemed Other Half who likes to talk to me occasionally rather than be met with a grunted ‘I’m writing!’ Two kids who I like to spend time with, so they at least recognise me. Friends, other family, obligations. Yet I still write books.
If you want to write, you can (almost always)find the time.
So, how do you make time to write? If you really, really want to write, you MAKE time. I work weird shifts, so I have to work around that. When the kids were smaller, it was done after they went to bed. Now it’s more when they’re at school. I don’t watch much telly any more. Don’t miss it either! If there is something I really want to watch, I record it and watch it AFTER I’ve finished my words for the day. I’ve carved a bit of time here, a bit there, and it all adds up. I know writers who get up an hour early to get writing in before work, when it’s quiet, who write on their daily commute, who hire babysitters for a long Saturday afternoon.
Writing doesn’t have to take acres of time. Yes, when you start there’ll be a steep learning curve, but if you can write 1000 words a day, you’ve got an average sized novel (well, the first draft at least) in 100 days. You don’t have to write every day (on days I’ve worked a 13 hour shift, all that’s going to come out is gibberish, so I take that day off!). You do, I think, have to write regularly. A bit at a time, and those bits really add up.
1000 words a day. Not much. Takes me about an hour. Maybe you can only squeeze in 500. You can find half an hour most days, can’t you? If you want to write, you will.