8 Dec 2013

Developing Characters, Part II

This is a follow-up post to Developing Characters, Part I.

I'd like to go into more depth on character voice and how to develop it. I can only speak for the way I do it; some of these methods might not work for others.

Years ago, when I was trying to strengthen my character voices, I would watch/read/listen to stories that had solid, distinctive characters and take note of the rhythms and phrases those characters used—not only in their speech, but also in their internal monologues. There are subtle differences between "Please make me a cup of tea" and "So are you gonna make me some tea, or am I gonna have to do it myself?" — the latter is wordier, yes, but the voice is more distinctive. Voice (dialogue and thoughts) doesn't need to be spectacular in early drafts, but how characters talk and think should be considered at some stage during editing.

Here's a trick to see how distinctive characters are: take a scene or chapter where there's interaction, and select only the dialogue. Paste the dialogue into a fresh document without any speech tags, names, or other identifying descriptions. Read through it, or have someone else read it, and check where the voices merge or sound too similar. Is there confusion as to who's speaking? If yes, either try loosening up one of the voices or make it more formal. Give one of the characters a verbal tick (like the tendency to say 'you know?' at the end of some of their sentences), or a light accent (though use accent carefully) and then re-read it. Better? It should be.

Another way of tempting out voice is figuring out how your characters feel about what's happening. This will inform their attitudes and moods, and consequently what they're saying and how they say it. Have them react, let them feel, give them passion and the ability to speak up. Let them tell lies. We all do it. An angry character might speak faster in short, snappy sentences, and they might swear or exaggerate, whereas someone speaking calmly and formally might use longer, more complex sentences and have a precise thought process.

Listen to conversations on the street, in your workplace and at home. I've mined real people I know for turns of phrase and verbal ticks. But also remember to look for people who are more guarded, who speak neutrally and try to maintain status quo—often you can have fun with a conflicting internal dialogue and thought.

I mentioned in the previous post shoving characters out of their comfort zones, and this also goes for shoving them at other characters. Bring in the type of person they despise, or someone they're intimidated by, or someone they're attracted to, and see how it changes what they say and how they speak. Character/character interaction drives plot and gives scenes energy. If everybody gets along all the time, dialogue can become lifeless. Even if your characters are friends, have them disagree regularly, or give them a rivalry that you can mine for little tensions.

IMO, most importantly, you'll only get to know your characters well by writing them. Outline and do questionnaires and mind-map them, too, but they have to act and react to really shine.

5 Dec 2013

Developing Characters, Part I

A well-rounded character has both good and bad traits, much like we do. A character doesn't have to be particularly likeable, either, but readers must be able to empathise with them, at least somewhat. I think this is what readers connect with (and how to keep them reading)—they see a little of themselves or someone they know in a character. Yep, even in the bad guys.

When I'm trying to find a character's unique voice, I always use their surroundings to influence how they would speak and act. I try to consider the time period, the social background, even the genre I'm writing—all these things will (and should!) effect voice. Saying that, I also think we often worry too much about finding a voice before we've even started, when all we really need to do is write and uncover it along the way. (Of course, it's always nice if a character comes along with a strong voice already. :))

And if they still refuse to cooperate, you can always throw them into random and difficult situations that take place outside your main story. Write some drabbles or flash pieces and toss your characters into a crisis, or bring someone in from their past and make them deal with it. As their actions and decisions take place, you should get to know them better and it can help figure out what makes them tick. (Interviews and character questionnaires are also good for character-building. You can find some examples here and there's a handy tag on Tumblr here.)

Also, the naming process often does my head in and sucks up hours of time. But! Three great resources I've used in the past for finding names (and name origins and meanings) are Behind the Name, Baby Names, and The Surname Database. I nerd out when a character's name has a hidden meaning.

Research is good, but ultimately I find the best way of developing my characters is to just write them—in their own stories, in side-stories, and you can even shove them into other people's stories.

4 Dec 2013

Book launch: A Somersault of Doves, by Valerie Bridge

We're extremely proud to announce that one of our Storyslingers is launching a book next Thursday, 12th December 2013, at Shaftesbury Arts Centre.

A Somersault of Doves by Valerie Bridge is an anthology of poems reflecting the last 100 years of migration particular to one family of Latvian, Russian, Austro-Hungarian origin. It's also a record of flight and resettlement during a time of incessant Uprisings, and two World Wars, shared in essence by many.

This book launch is accompanied by art by local artist David Marl, whose illustrations appear in A Somersault of Doves

The launch is from 3.00pm to 8.00pm, with Russian Mules, Russian Snacks, Russian Music and readings. Everyone is welcome to browse.

As soon as the book has an Amazon page we will add it to our Published Fiction list so you can buy it online.

And massive congratulations to Valerie!

19 Sep 2013

New Collaborative Geofiction website

Johannes Bouchain of Urban Geofiction and his colleague Thilo Stapff have set up a new geofiction community like no other. This is a collaborative geofiction experiment that welcomes cartographers to add to the map.

Using the tools of the Openstreetmap project - http://www.openstreetmap.org -, Opengeofiction offers, for everyone who would like to participate, the possibility to contribute to mapping a fictional planet. Interested? Then
1. Create your account http://opengeofiction.net/user/new (you'll get an e-mail when your account has been activated, it may take a little while)
2. Choose a free (green) area from the overview map http://opengeofiction.net/about#overview-map (please send an e-mail to info@opengeofiction.net and mention the area you've chosen)
3. Start mapping by using the tools available (http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Editors). If you don't have any experience yet, please tell the Opengeofiction team atinfo@opengeofiction.net and they'll try to help you as much as possible.

Find more information about the project and about other ways to participate here:

Examples for what it can look like:
http://opengeofiction.net/?lat=45.22&lon=-21.28&zoom=8&layers=M (Roantra)
http://opengeofiction.net/?lat=47.809&lon=-8.902&zoom=9&layers=M (south of Kalm/north of Sathria, "under construction")

You already have a fictional country and/or city that you would like to place on the Opengeofiction planet? That's wonderful! The free (green) areas at the overview maphttp://opengeofiction.net/about#overview-map can still be changed a little bit, so that your imaginary country hopefully will find its place in one of the continents. Maybe you find an area that already has almost the same form as your fictional country (and is also located in the right latitude, so that the climate is like you imagine it for your country).

30 Aug 2013

Author Talk with Kate Kelly

Whatever happened to that blog schedule? What have we been doing?

Lots of things.

In time, when the summer is over and the nights are dark and less distracting we might write about our adventures. Until then, be satisfied that we are still alive, despite our silence. If you want proof of this fact, come visit us on Tuesday 17th September for an author talk:

The ice caps have melted. The coastal areas we once knew are gone and only scavvers now live in the flooded towns. The world has changed, but as 14-year-old Danni Rushton soon discovers, it isn't the first time... Living with her uncle after the tragic death of her parents, Danni s world is turned upside down when her aunt is assassinated. With her dying breath, she entrusts Danni with a strange, small rock. Danni must not tell a soul that she has it. But what is the rock for, and to what lengths must Danni go to keep it safe? This action-packed adventure takes the reader from the barren terrain of Greenland, to the flooded ruins of Cambridge, and on to a sinister monastery in Malta. In her effort to save her uncle and evade a power-hungry space agency, Danni discovers that friends aren’t always what they seem, and a rock isn't always just a rock...

Red Rock is out on the 12th of September. You can pre-order it via Amazon http://amzn.to/16TLeyB and most good book retailers


{blogger likes things to be centralised}

1 Jul 2013

Author Talk: Suzanne McLeod and Jaine Fenn

Room change alert: We're in the Rutter Room now, not Proctor.

thanks to Dan Morison/ Darkmechanic for supplying the awesome image. http://www.danmorison.com/https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dark-Mechanic/218197158234657 and my design stuff can be viewed here http://jbell-book-designs.blogspot.co.uk/
Authors Jaine Fenn and Suzanne McLeod are coming to Shaftesbury Arts Centre on July 16th 2013, at 6:30pm to talk about their books and writing in general.

Both Jaine and Suzanne are published by Gollancz, and have lots of experience of writing and publishing. Jaine is a British Science Fiction writer, author of a number of short stories and of the Hidden Empire series of novels. Suzanne is the author of the popular urban fantasy Spellcracker.com series of novels.

Tickets on the door of the Rutter Room SAC: £3 to SAC members, £4 to non-members.

No need to book a place, just come along on the night. See you there!

5 Jun 2013

2nd Map Making Competition Results

We challenged writers, artists and cartographers to draw a map of their fictional world. We attracted entries from across the (real) world from cartographers who specialise in the art form known as geofiction: making maps of fictional places.

Cartography and writing are two disciplines that have much in common. Writers and cartographers explore themselves and their environment through fictional place. Both have an urge to explore, to discover new places and things, to learn something about their own limitations by pushing at the boundaries of their surroundings and imaginations. Some people go abroad to find themselves, writers and cartographers find themselves in their work. “You do not put yourself into what you write, but you find yourself there”- Alan Bennett. 


Many thanks to everyone who submitted maps – (32 maps submitted) – we loved them all and really struggled with compiling long and shortlists. Much respect.

1st Map of Western Refractoria
original: inks on watercolour paper
Jeffrey Beebe,
b. Indianapolis, IN
Lives and works in NYC, USA

This map ticks all our boxes. We could imagine the stories and people that might populate this world. The map is beautiful, with wonderful texture and depth and some really quirky details. The humour of the place names fits neatly with the Storyslingers sense of humour.

to see all the lovely details of the map, go here: http://jeffreybeebe.com/?v=collection&collection=4

“Over the last nine years, I have created the world of Refractoria, a comprehensive imagino-ordinary world that is equal parts snotty, satirical autobiography and improvised fantasy. The Refractoria drawings--geopolitical maps, city maps, celestial charts, genealogical trees, etc.--are equal parts draughtsmanship and writing. They are a place in which I dump the visual sum of my experiences--the relationships I've had, the books I've read, the music I've consumed, the conversations I've had and overheard. It all exists in Refractoria.

I make these large drawings for the same reason we knowingly fall in love with the wrong person--it is a spectacle, an act of deliberate misbehavior bound to fail and disappoint . . . but the experience is abject, terrifying pleasure while it lasts. And I'm left undeniably altered--and humbled, wistful and a little sore--at the end of each experience.”

2nd The Map of the Eternal Itinerant
original: Digital
Kate McLean,
Whitstable, UK.

This map is highly conceptual, investigating the notion of a city as perceived by a newcomer. The map works on many levels, it’s intelligent and well designed, there is space for the onlooker to fill with their imaginations, and there is reference to an outer world beyond the scope of the map.

 “As a sensory researcher and designer my primary focus is on developing smell maps of different cities worldwide. As an initial stage in my exploration of linking place, human perception and emotion I investigated the notion of a city as perceived by a newcomer. Taking data from hand-drawn maps of a city seen after one month and six months I discovered that as newcomers to a city we create islands and links between them as a tool to understand where we are; we retain elements from our past such as friends, inner sanctuaries of self and simultaneously project into our future. In the map these elements of human perception are represented using the metaphors of geography, urban design and transport infrastructure. The Map of the Eternal Itinerant is a universally applicable personal visual reference.”

More maps available at www.sensorymaps.com.

Joint 3rd The Old Empire of Lorn
original: Digital
Maxime Plasse,
Lives and works in Lyon, France.

We chose this map for its detail, the imaginative scope and artistic execution. We could all imagine stories playing out in the old empire of Lorn.

“Stories are an essential part of my job and life. The human mind is a powerful resource and imagination is probably one of its greatest jewels. Each one of us has a unique and deep inner world hidden within, where countless stories are taking place.
Writers use words to cast these worlds through our minds. I try modestly to put them into my maps. For me Cartography brings out parts of my inner world and lets them tell their own stories. If you let your imagination be your guide, you will probably hear some of these stories, while wandering the paths through the Old Empire of Lorn. May you enjoy your journey.”

Joint 3rd Kvraagetaan
original: coloured ink on 60 sheets of black paper
Juli Martí Casals
b. Barcelona, Spain.

This map is conceptually brilliant, pushing at the boundaries of cartography and art. The map is hand-drawn to perfection, and really must be seen at full size to be properly appreciated.

Juli was born in Barcelona but grew up in Paris; between two cities, two countries. He started his professional life as assistant for an architect in Barcelona and then as a correspondent in Paris for the catalan magazine “El Temps”. His geographical and political interests brought him to publish an essay titled “Els Estats contra Europa” (States against Europe), Angle Editorial, 2009. He first showed his mapping works a year ago in Paris, at Le Duplex, and then in Barcelona at the Casal del Barri del Poblenou, January 2013.

“As a necessary support to play with my cars on, drawing maps soon turned out to be my main game. Torn between two cities (Barcelona and Paris), its two cultures, and its three languages, maps were the territory where I explored my own comprehension of the world. As I grew up my interests were more focused on the cartography itself, with its scales, color codes and international icons.

Kvraagetaan belongs to a project about an ensemble of 3 cities. For the moment, it measures 207,9 x 273 cm, it occupies 60 black A4 sheets and it’s still growing… the work turns around the question of borders and the geographical and urban influences from one city to another. In a sort of recognition to all the AZ or Michelin guides we all use.”

Shortlisted maps (unranked)

original: watercolor and colored pencils on paper
Massimo Potì
b. Bari, Italy.
Lives and works in Turin, Italy.

The region of Solitaria is not a lucky one. If it weren't for its vast inner sea of freshwater and the thin fertile strip of soil around it, it would be a deserted waste of space surrounded by a dark, venomous mist. Since without the body of freshwater there would be no means of survival, both cultures living on its shores developed a sacred respect towards the sea up to the point that no human is allowed to cross it from shore to shore. That's how they ended up living as close and faraway as possible.

“I’ve always loved maps; I find they're the easiest way to feed my imagination with vast playgrounds to build stories from. The veins on a piece of wood, the cracks on a concrete sidewalk, an abstract painting, everything can be turned into a map. Sometimes maps spark from what-if ideas popping into my mind, as is the case with Solitaria. Maps create worlds and viceversa. Maps to me are a way to find my way in the real world by getting in touch with an imaginary

original: Digital
Steff J. Worthington,
Lives and works in Chester, UK

Steff J. Worthington has been a map artist for 20 years on freelance projects for game companies but is a graphic designer by trade. Client-wise he's been seen in print for Chaosium, Miskatonic River Press, Mongoose Publishing, Dark Skull Studios, Cubicle7, and Shaun Duke's The World in the Satin Bag. He believes that maps tell more about the perception of the artist than any land they depict. If more maps today contained more mystery, more evocative wording, and more 'Here Be Dragons' notations then we'd see where we live with more wonder and respect. Our lands and cultures may garner the respect and reverence they deserve.

City of Clocks
Digital print (original: Digital)
Steff J. Worthington,
Lives and works in Chester, UK

Steff is a keen advocate of forward looking design and uses his current copy of 'Creative Review' as a knife vest in times of trouble. A student of the 22 string harp and Celtic and Scandinavian languages he is also a frequent contributor to articles and discussions on the Arthurian Cycle. He can often be seen on the streets of Chester, UK dodging cars and unhealthy snacks and dreaming of finding a home back in his beloved North West Wales.

Oh, and somehow finding Excalibur in his back garden.

Map 32P
original: felt tip pen on multiple sheets of notepaper, taped together
David Hyman
b. New Jersey, USA
better viewed here http://davidcharlaphyman.com/images/Map-32p.html (zoom in!)

David currently works as a product designer. He created this map and many others in the early 1970s when he was 14 years old.

“From 1969 -1973 I drew maps on a daily basis, and that body of work grew to include several hundred cities. As a child I moved from the Suburbs of New Jersey to Manhattan. New York for me then was both fascinating and frightening. Everything outside of my neighborhood was just some "other" place, vaguely mysterious and intimidating. I was too young to explore the outer boroughs on my own, so I was left to look at maps and imagine life out there among the miles of monotonous blocks. The maps show a coming to terms with my new urban surroundings; they gave me a way to make some sense of it. My map making, for the most part, ended around 10th grade and was replaced by life drawing and painting.”

In 1980, some of David’s maps were shown at the Children's Museum in NYC, and in 1981 a map was selected to be included in a show entitled "Mapped Art, Chart Routes and Regions" that toured the USA.

Yogo CBD
original: Digital
Potanin Andrey,
Lives in Samara, Russia.

Potanin is a map collector and designer, rail and metro fan, urban-lover.

“I started drawing maps when I was 6 and this passion hasn’t gone as my natives supposed. I don’t know why it's happened. It's a question of personal taste and individual preferences. I just can tell about some positive merits that the hobby of drawing this kind of maps brings into your life. It’s planning, aiming, strategy, tactics, details, creativity, integrity and much more. It’s absolutely helping in solving your tasks in ordinary life. The only thing for using it is to be fond of maps.”

Arden Maps: The Icathian Imperium and its neighbour states.
original: Archival-Ink on Fabriano-Paper, Digital Composing, Photoshop
Josephe T. Vandel
Lives and works in Leipzig, Germany.

Josephe T. Vandel works as a freelance Cartographer and Art director, creating maps and concept art for novels, board games, RPGs and digital media. He graduated with an M.A. in Communications Arts (Photography and Illustration), an M.A. in Fine Arts (New Media, Film and Installation Art) and finished his theoretical Thesis with the Topic: "The creation of fictional worlds within Western media, from the 15th century literature and art to contemporary media" at the University of East London (England) and Braunschweig University of Art (Germany).

“Home is a foreign word for me. My parents were refugees from the Vietnam war and met in a refugee camp in Germany, in the eighties. All the books we had were the Catholic Bible, Grimm's Fairytales and a German Dictionary of Complex and Anachronistic Terminologies. My world consists of words, and from this books, it became a colourful, weird and twisted mixture. Since childhood, every cardboard or package box was implemented in a giant canvas, on which I painted an ever-growing map, my first map, my first love. I am no German, I am no Vietnamese. Where ever I go, I am foreign. Creating maps lets me create places that belong to me. I close my eyes, lines and symbols unfolding on my map inside and there I find a way home, a home that never was and will never be. I am mapping my life.”

original: graphite on paper
Samantha Martin (age 14)
Lives in San Jose, California, USA

Samantha is 14 years old, we thought her map was so accomplished that we shortlisted her map among the maps made by adults. What particularly delighted us about Samantha’s map was the imaginative scope and inventiveness of the locations. She won the children’s category. 

Samantha grew up with a love of literature and art. She has gone through seven years of private schooling and was homeschooled the past two years. Samantha started making maps as a way of helping her with her fictional writing, and it became more of a hobby than a tool. Now she finds herself drawing maps of new places in her spare time. She is very excited to explore where these fantasylands will take her in the future.

 Children’s competition.

1st Gust, Samantha Martin (age 14)– see above

2nd Gran Angeles
original: coloured ink on paper
Lucas Ezequiel Breska (age 16)
Lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Lucas is 16 years old, from Buenos Aires, Argentina. He’s making maps of the fictional country: The Republic of the Trinity (population 15 million).

My name is Lucas Ezquiel Breska, I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I'm 16 years old. The maps are of a city, the capital of a fictional country. The name of the city is Official Capital of the Angels (or Los Angeles). The name of the country is the Republic of the Holy Trinity. The estimated population of the great Los Angeles is 15 million people .”

3rd Los Angeles
original: coloured ink on paper
Lucas Ezequiel Breska (age 16)
Lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina

This is a map of the capital of a fictitious country, The Republic of the Trinity, the population of which is 15 million.

“Tengo 16 años, soy de hincha de boca, no se que mas decir. Los mapas son de una ciudad, capital de un país ficticio. El nombre de la ciudad es Capital Oficial de Los Ángeles. El nombre del país es República de la Santísima Trinidad. La población estimada del Gran los ángeles es de 15 millones de personas.”


The maps are being informally exhibited in Shaftesbury Arts Centre throughout June & July, (not in the main gallery, but along the main corridor). We hope to raise funds to print them at or near full size and get them framed in order to exhibit them formally. All donations towards this project would be gratefully received, please email Jennifer on zomzara@googlemail.com.

Interested in geofiction? Hungry for more? Check out the cartographers guild, urbangeofiction, maproomblog, 1/10000, no sense of direction blog and the cartographers' websites listed above. Cartographers from the above guild are available to commission, so if you’re an author who needs a map made of their fictional world, check out their forum. Award-winning cartographer Maxime Plasse (joint 3rd in this competition) is open to commissions.

We will continue to periodically post stuff about geofiction, map making and our shortlisted cartographers on this blog, so please subscribe and check back here frequently for more geofiction and cartography. 

Fictional Worlds Event

On Saturday Storysilngers got together at Shaftesbury Arts Centre to celebrate fictional place. We came up with ideas for other worlds, exhibited the shortlisted maps from our map making competition, read out stories set in fictional places and played mind-expanding surrealist games whilst being serenaded by wonderful live guitar music. James, Holly and Peter baked the most incredible cakes, and we were able to give away free lollipops made by the fabulous PomPoms sweet company:

 Informal exhibition of the shortlisted maps:

Zines, pamphlets, comics and books we’ve made and been published in, plus a book swap. (on the wall: the foreword to the New Cartography anthology, The New Wolf, various fictional places described in the Dictionary of Imaginary Places).

Readings of stories set in fictional places:

James Broomfield (and projection of the Arden map)

The results of our map making competition were exclusively announced. Go here forthe results.

We played Exquisite Corpse here's our favourite creations:

A most enjoyable afternoon! Thanks to everyone who helped out and to the cartographers for submitting their maps. 

23 May 2013


The deadline for our fictional worlds map making competition has now passed (we might accept more maps if you send them before the end of Friday 24th though no guarantees). We've had submissions from cartographers, writers and artists from across the world, the quality far outstripping our expectations and our own ability.

While we begin the judging phase I'd like to share some cool mappy things with you.

New Cartography anthology from the excellent magazine The New Wolf.

Juli Marti Casals' geofiction project 1/10000 https://www.facebook.com/undixmillieme.

An interesting article in the Guardian about hand drawn maps being cutting edge http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2013/may/15/hand-drawn-map-cartography-new-york.

Gloves map from Mapping Manhattan

the cartographers guild http://www.cartographersguild.com an excellent forum/ community of cartographers who specialise in making maps of fictional places. Authors take note: members of the guild can make you a map of your fictional world - seeing as many of us are too busy writing to have time to map our worlds, it's good to know there's professional map makers out there willing to come to our aid. http://www.cartographersguild.com/mapmaking-requests/.

13 May 2013

Show and Tell

It's fast becoming a universal truth, that just about anyone of a literary bent is only too keen to trot out: the importance of 'showing' rather than 'telling' in fiction. In other words, don't say 'he was an angry old man', instead describe how 'he leapt out of his mobility scooter and shouted at the children dropping sweet wrappers'.

Showing not telling is an easy rule to remember and once you get the hang of it it's simple enough to apply to any fiction you read. But I have my suspicions about it. Should something as complex as literature really be judged by so simple a rule? More importantly, are we not in danger of imposing an arbitrary constraint on our writing, and therefore putting a limit on our powers of expression - the one thing that should have no limits?

As it happens, my natural inclination is indeed to show rather than tell. This stems in part, I think, from my having previously worked as a journalist which, unless you're employed by the Daily Mail, is (or should be) about specifics - who, what, where and when - and a semblance of objectivity. It also comes from my admiration of works by authors such as Cormac McCarthy and JM Coetzee, where exposition is either completely absent or kept to an absolute minimum.

But over the past year as I've written more short fiction I've allowed myself the luxury of a bit of telling here and there, as I strive to pack as much as possible into a limited word count. Is this at all a positive development in my style, or simply a bad habit I'm getting myself into?

Ultimately that's for others to judge, but I can't help thinking that the show-and-tell rule is as much associative as causal. Just as watching lots of TV may be associated with obesity and ill health, that does not mean the former is the thing that always causes the latter.

Likewise, you are likely to find that writing which includes a lot of telling isn't going to be terribly good. But the use of telling need not itself be the principle reason it's no good.

I recently found support for this idea by reading Paul Auster's novel, Sunset Park. Right from the start this book is nearly all tell, with the showing saved for the most crucial moments in the story. And the big surprise is that it works - the prose is alluring and quickly draws the reader into an absorbing story - with the novel's weaknesses relating to overall narrative arc and a slightly unsatisfying ending, rather than Auster's writing style.

I don't doubt there's a strong basis for the show/tell rule, and for most people most of the time it probably is the best way to ensure effective prose. But even so, perhaps we should keep minds as open as possible in the quest to produce writing that works.

8 May 2013

Storyslingers Fictional Worlds Event & networking party 1st June

Storyslingers Fictional Worlds Event & networking party 1st June 3-5pm (with after party from about 5pm).

with thanks to Maxime Plasse, cartographer, for supplying the map/ image for this poster http://www.cartographersguild.com/members/-+max+--albums-max%27s+maps.html

Storyslingers is putting on a series of mini events on June 1st, culminating in a networking party for creative people. We will be celebrating fictional place and the art of cartography. There will be an informal exhibition of fictional maps created by cartographers from across the world who specialise in the art form known as geofiction: making maps of fictional places. Don’t miss this chance to see some of the best fictional maps in the world, right here in Dorset.

There are three informal events that are open to the public to drop in on any time throughout the afternoon:

3-4pm Fictional Worlds writing workshop. Creating fictional worlds, thinking about their rules and limitations. Open to all levels. 

4-5pm Open Mic reading event. Share your work with other writers and whoever happens to drop by. All stories must be set in a fictional world/ some new spin on reality. Take us somewhere we’ve never been before. Stories should not exceed 7 minutes or 1000 words. Stories of 3-5 minutes are best (600-800 words). We have short attention spans. Extracts from longer works are welcome. In the case of extracts the focus should be on the fictional world - delight us with a new place we wish we could go to if only it really existed.

5-6pm:  Networking party and drop in session. Writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, cartographers and readers are invited to come along and talk shop. Working on a piece of fiction? Just read the best book ever? Want to talk about it? Come along.  Let’s chat creativity over cakes and wine. 
Also, book swap and stall. If you've ever been handed a world book night book and it's got stuck on your shelves, now is the time to pass it onto someone new. Same goes for any book you have idling that you're happy to pass on. We'll be displaying some of our handmade books too, which will be on sale.  Published writers/ artists are welcome to add their publications/ cards to the stall. 

The announcement of the results of the 2nd Map Making competition will happen sometime during the day - most likely at 5pm (Results will be published online later in the following week.) The maps will be on display throughout the event.

Tickets are on the door and it'll work by a system of paying what you think it's worth in relation to your bank balance, from £1 upwards. All profits will go towards funding a future Storyslingers event: specifically a (roving?) exhibition of the winning and shortlisted maps entered in the map making competition

Come to all or some of the events, pick and choose, drop in and out. Invite your mates along too.

Join the facebook event page:

1st June 2013 3pm-6ish
The Rutter Room
Bell Street

6 May 2013

On inspiration

“Inspiration comes to us slowly and quietly… prime it with a little solitude and idleness.” – Brenda Ueland

The irony doesn’t escape me. I have attempted to write a little something on the topic of inspiration now quite a few times, and each time I find myself struggling to find the very thing I’m trying to blog about. My first attempt was on a plane, some thirty thousand or so feet up in the sky. I felt that six hours in a confined space, while my fellow passengers lost themselves in a variety of interactive entertainment, would be the perfect opportunity to at least get the bare bones of the subject on paper to be later fleshed out when I was back on more solid ground. These thoughts evaporated quickly, like the small beverage the stewardess had handed to me just prior to the opening of my notebook, and I found myself instead jotting down observations of that day so far. Why do I always go looking for inspiration? Inspiration is the one who slowly creeps up on me, jumping out and grabbing hold when I am alone, isolated and not expecting it.
So it’s caught me, and more often than not it’s caught me with my pants down both metaphorically and physically. An idea has sparked and it has to circulate and brew in my head to stay alive until I’ve been able to make note of it. The response to a question of “what if?” or my mind working through an annoyance or situation I’ve experienced.  Guilt even. If I’m luckily it’s playing out in my head like the scene from a movie, which just leaves me the task of getting those images translated into words and onto paper.
And it’s not that I couldn’t find it on the plane because I was in among other people, nor is it true to say that all my ideas have come during moments of isolation. Like almost every other aspect of pure creativity there is no one answer as everyone is different. Whether alone or in a crowd, busy in thoughtful or physical activity, there is no predicting exactly when inspiration will strike. Just be sure to have a way of recording it when it does.
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” – Pablo Picasso