We don’t out fight conservatives. We out create them.

This post is my answer to the political battles of the last 12 months. To Brexit, to Trump, to the resurgent racist #AltRight, and most of all to a kind of conservatism that I do not see as an enemy, but which seems to see me as one. But it doesn’t quite begin there. I’mContinue reading “We don’t out fight conservatives. We out create them.”

Disney will remake the Star Wars prequels. The Last Jedi proves why.

The only thing I’m going to say about The Last Jedi trailer is…it looks just as great as Force Awakens and Rogue One. It’s great to have Star Wars back, and greater than ever. Now if we can just forget the whole decade where it was not great… “Anakin Skywalker is Anders Breivik, Timothy McVeighContinue reading “Disney will remake the Star Wars prequels. The Last Jedi proves why.”

What is the most important skill any writer can master?

Regular readers will know that I’m more that a little bit passionate about the power of storytelling. Over the summer I’ve been creating a course in The Rhetoric of Story, filming a series of seven video lectures in locations including Bali, France and Italy. The full course is almost complete, with just one more lectureContinue reading “What is the most important skill any writer can master?”

Ted Chiang, the science fiction genius behind Arrival

In the small world of science fiction short stories, Ted Chiang is a superstar. It’s easier to list the major SF awards he hasn’t won than those he has, and he’s equally acclaimed in the broader field of literary short fiction – all for a body of work that could probably fit within half aContinue reading “Ted Chiang, the science fiction genius behind Arrival”

Quick thoughts on Westworld

Just caught the first episode of Westworld. I suspect it’s a show I’ll be writing about more. Some first thoughts, not so much about the show, as about why I think it matters. Science fiction is the art of metaphor. It gives us ways of thinking and talking about things we can’t otherwise easily talkContinue reading “Quick thoughts on Westworld”

Game of Life: the coming attention economy

I like this story in The Independent about China’s plans for a social scoring system. In this world, anything from defaulting on a loan to criticising the ruling party, from running a red light to failing to care for your parents properly, could cause you to lose points. And in this world, your score becomesContinue reading “Game of Life: the coming attention economy”

Doctor Strange : Nope, Buddhism won’t give you magic powers

SPOILERS AHEAD. It’s a familiar story by now. A straight white male – and it almost always is a straight white male – is living a kind of ordinary life when BAM! Events transpire that send Mr. Straight White Male on an epic adventure through which he gains Incredible Powers of magic and / orContinue reading “Doctor Strange : Nope, Buddhism won’t give you magic powers”

This exercise will make you a stronger writer (WARNING: it’s hard.)

My experience, during 6 years teaching creative writing to university students, is that most writers don’t want to do this exercise. To be fair, it’s hard work. But it’s also the single best way I know to develop your skills as a writer, or any other kind of storyteller. “But Damo,” I hear some folksContinue reading “This exercise will make you a stronger writer (WARNING: it’s hard.)”

Twitter is the protocol for human psychic communication

I’m a writer. And so, of course, I’m on Twitter. Somedays it feels like 90% of Twitter’s users are writers, and that I suspect is a big part of Twitter’s problem at this time. Problems which have lead in turn to the possibility of its sale to Google, or Salesforce, or Disney, or please dearContinue reading “Twitter is the protocol for human psychic communication”

The first rule of contract negotiation for writers

The reality of life as a jobbing writer is that, like anybody running their own business, you have to do a lot of negotiating. Which for writers, all too often, means getting walked over. The Society highlighted the case of Horrid Henry author Francesca Simon, who has not received any royalties from the television andContinue reading “The first rule of contract negotiation for writers”

Non-Aristotelian storytelling is a thing. Just don’t expect it to box office.

To make sense of the world we tell ourselves a story. That’s the starting point of the Rhetoric of Story. As storytellers we imitate the kind of story the human mind tells naturally, which makes our stories seem real to the audience. It’s a conjuring trick, but one with some truly wonderful uses. The first personContinue reading “Non-Aristotelian storytelling is a thing. Just don’t expect it to box office.”

Learn a lesson from the slush pile

​”the experience of reading mounds of badly written fiction gave him an an indelible lesson in what constituted badly written fiction” 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami There’s a lot to learn from awful writing. But the slush pile isn’t even awful. Awful writers, like great writers, don’t tend to submit their work to contests or openContinue reading “Learn a lesson from the slush pile”