Writing Nice and Accurate Prophecies

Spoilers for Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (book and television series). Pictured: The same man twice.(Good Omens, television series, promotional material) By their own admission, neither Gaiman nor Pratchett expected Good Omens to be as popular as it subsequently became. There is a nice and accurate reason why: it…

How to Invent a Religion: Part 4

A Day in the Life Theology describes what, in theory, believers of a religion ought to believe, for a given value of ought. In practice, however, members of all religions live lives at variance with what they claim to profess, from the evident truth that few people live up to their religious ideals and others…

How to Invent a Religion: Part 2

Eschatological Escapades Eschatology is the theology of endings, the counterpart to ætiology. Eschatologies are as varied as ætiologies, and just as important for shaping religious practice. Norse mythology's final battle at Ragnarök, the Buddhist prophecy of Maitreya revealing to a once-more-benighted world the concept of dharma, the theme of a time of judgement shared by…

How to Invent a Religion: Part 1

Edifying Ætiologies An ætiology is a beginning of something expressed in historical or mythological terms, and therefore a highly appropriate concept with which to begin this short series. Last week I spotted a tweet which drove home to me the inherent problems with discussing religion in fiction. In the West, our experience of life is…

Write Like You Mean It 1

An erratic guide to consistent writing. Good writing is easy to describe but almost impossible to define. A significant part of this dichotomy is to be found in what some writers call 'the window': is the point of writing to show a beautiful world beyond the window ('clear glass') or is it to display the…

Writing a Hitchhiker’s Guide

Spoilers for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (radio and book series). That said, if you are worried about spoilers, it came out in the '70s! Get your act together! A very short time ago, a very short way from here - in astronomical terms - an author from an unfashionable clump of islands at…

Writing Strangely Familiar Things

Spoilers for Stranger Things (television series) seasons 1 - 2. On 15th July 2016, Netflix released the Duffer Brothers' Stranger Things (ST), a nostalgic love-letter to the '80s filled with concentrated fun and then ground down into an addictive substance and unleashed on the world, ensnaring an entire generation of unsuspecting viewers. Many fans resorted…

Passive Activism

Thanks to Thematically Meandering for featuring my article about the passive voice. Follow this link for the original article and TM's own journey of discovery in the wacky world of words, as well as his reflections on the hard life of doctoral study. If, like me, you learnt to type in the 1990s or early…

Writing 40,000 Hammers

Spoilers for Warhammer 40,000, Warhammer Fantasy Battle, and derived media. The biggest fantasy here is that a sword will be of any use against... wait a minute...(Artist: Dan Scott - info for the artist's page greatly appreciated) In the last of the current series of fictional worlds we shall be examining the fantastic oddball that…

Writing Fantasy-hammer

Spoilers (maybe?) for the Warhammer Fantasy Battle franchise. The biggest fantasy here is that a sword will be of any use against a three-foot tall creature from the back of a fifteen-foot tall mount. Nottingham is famous for three things: Robin Hood, knife crime, and the headquarters of a cynical corporation preying upon the pliable…