the big lie

The Big Lie

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave… when first we practice to deceive.” ― Walter Scott. Any historical novel, however well researched, is still a work of fiction. To my mind that means writers should focus on telling a great story and should incorporate only enough anecdotal history as is necessary to bring the plot…Read More

chronos and kairos

Chronos and Kairos: The Gods of Time

“Every kairos is a chronos, but not every chronos is a kairos.” — Hipporates It seems simple enough on the face of it, but what does time really mean? If you’d asked an ancient Greek to define it, he would have asked you which aspect of time you were talking about. You see, the Greeks…Read More

moral compass

The Moral Compass

 “Morality, like art, means drawing a line someplace.” – Oscar Wilde I had insomnia last night, which is why I was watching TV at three o’clock in the morning. It was a gripping drama, brilliantly presented: a lurid cocktail of murder, intrigue, and political cover-ups—of naked self-interest and personal ambition. No, it wasn’t the world…Read More

Swiss autumn landscape

Autumn Transition: Shifting Gears

“Autumn is as joyful and sweet as an untimely end.”— Remy de Gourmont Late autumn has come to Luzern, and we’re enjoying an Indian summer. Days are still sunny and the afternoons warm, but mornings are nippy and the sunshine is paler. It’s a time for fleeces — a time for layering. Autumn won’t mean…Read More

language barrier

The Language Barrier: Encounters with Swiss German

“If you speak to a man in a language he understands, it goes to his head. If you talk to him in a language he speaks, it goes to his heart” – Nelson Mandela Which language a character speaks is something all fantasy world builders must deal with though few have Tolkien’s mastery of inventing…Read More

story timelines

Beyond Flashbacks: Dual Story Timelines

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts…” – William Shakespeare Everyone has a history. But when it comes to fiction, how much of a character’s past is relevant to their story? The answer…Read More

What Every Villain Needs

“Res non Verba” I described in “Archetypes and Stereotypes” how character archetypes perform functions in stories. Be it hero or villain, trickster or mentor — each brings something unique to the plot. But what matters is not their individual contribution. It’s how they work collectively to tell the story. Plots need conflict as well as…Read More

romance in fiction

R is for Romance (in Fiction)

“Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs.” — William Shakespeare Fiction and romance go together like bread and butter. They make up some of our best-loved stories. But when it comes to genre — Romance with a capital R — the entire plot must revolve around the love interest. What’s more, a…Read More

Archetypes and stereotypes in fiction

Fictional Characters: Archetypes and Stereotypes

“I imagine hell like this: Italian punctuality, German humour and English wine.” ― Peter Ustinov The world has four cardinal bearings: north, south, east and west. So powerful is their grip on our psyche that they convey more than direction. They give us a sense of place. They shape our myths and cultures. I was…Read More

sense of wonder

Sense of Wonder: Evoking the Numinous

“Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” — Marcus Aurelius Numinous is an adjective derived from the Latin word Numen, meaning divine will. In a more secular context, things that are numinous have an otherworldly quality that arouses a sense of wonder in magic or the supernatural. The Other The fun of fantasy…Read More

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