Showing posts from June, 2012

The Author's Craft: Plot Devices

There are numerous plot devices which authors of fiction employ which are known by specific terms, some more light-hearted than others. Here is a discussion of a small selection of these tropes: the Sampo, the Big Dumb Object, the MacGuffin, Alien Space Bats, Chekhov's Gun, the Red Herring, and Deus Ex Machina. The first of these is the Sampo . The Sampo is a term derived from Finnish mythology, specifically the tale 'Sampo the Magic Mill'. To digress, the tale is about two brothers. Vainamoinen is a musician, and Ilmarinen is a blacksmith. They attempt to court the same woman, Aino- the daughter of the powerful and apparently fiendishly evil Queen Louhi of Pohjala. The two brothers are set magical tasks to win Aino's hand in marriage while the Queen attempts to thwart their plans (because she is evil, obviously).   Ilmarinen eventually wins Aino's hand in marriage by discovering the magical three words of a giant, a magical formula which allows him to crea

The King of Towering Spires (children's story)

There was once an artist named Umberto Collins. His mother had named him after her favourite actor, a handsome Italian star of the silver screen named Umberto Gazzini. Gazzini had acted in many of his mother's favourite movies. Although the artist's name was Umberto, his mother and father had the plain and ordinary names of Edna and Terry Collins. When little Umberto was teased at school for his strange, foreign-sounding first name, he told the other kids to just call him plain old Bert. So it was that at school, his mates always called him Bert or Bertie. However, when he grew older, the artist decided that he wanted to be called Umberto again, as he thought it made him sound exotic, glamorous and much more sophisticated. He had decided to become an artist at a very young age, as he realised that he had a talent for drawing. He created pictures with pencil, charcoals and ink, and then later he started to paint with watercolours and oils. He created portraits an

Essay on Fiction

My occasional reviews of writers and their works tend to be masterpieces of brevity despite my love of fiction. I don’t particularly enjoy analysing fiction. I often wrote critical essays mechanically during my academic past-life. They were dry, functional assessments formulated with the purpose of attaining a certain level or grade of achievement. By definition, they were simply a means to an end. From the point of view of the creative writer, the practise of analysing and dissecting fiction is almost akin to explaining how a magician performs a trick or illusion, to the minutest detail. It is fascinating for those who wish to attempt to write fiction; to open up the clockwork doll and explore its innermost workings. To the casual reader, there is the inherent danger that all sense of wonderment becomes lost in the aftermath of clinical dissection and proposed theory. The story is a displayed exhibit: the work of fiction might as well be a natural specimen such as a frog. Nature’s c