Review- False Gods by Graham Mcneill.

This book False Gods by Graham Mcneill is set in the fictional warhammer 40k universe and published by black library owned by games workshop. This is book 2 of the Horus Heresy series, the Horus Heresy is probably the most important part of the lore; or legend of the warhammer 40k universe.

In this space opera humanity has taken to the stars on a crusade led by the Emporer of mankind, his loyal Primarchs and his superhuman warrior space marines. The Imperium is on a war of unification against the alien xenos without and the heretic and rebel within. This book follows Horus the Primarch, (the Emporers favourite son) and his chapter: the Luna Wolves. We get to see into the secret lodge the Mournival that shifts the allegiance of Horus away from the Emporer and to the dark forces in the universe- Chaos. What follows is Loken and his loyal few caught between their loyalty to the Emporer and their loyalty to Horus.

We get to see the appearance of Euphrati Keeler the Saint who founds the religion of the Imperium. We get to see into the mysterious otherwordly warp, and we get caught up in the action of the war on the planet Davin.

The plot is truly mythic and epic and filled with elaborate conspiracies as well as awesome battle scenes. The layout of the story is perfectly intriguing. Graham Mcneill is a great writer; the worldbuilding in this novel is skillfully detailed and immersive. He deals with some noble themes: such as loyalty and betrayl. Faith and science, war, empires and politics. And the characters are legendary! This book drew me in completely and truly inspired me. Loken is an unforgettable character. And the fall of Horus, is epic. Do yourself a favour- go read the Horus Heresy novels.

Outlining- story, characters and themes. (Planning versus improvisation.)

Outlining is step one! I need a story map so I know my route and my destination, otherwise I will just get lost.

I always start with: a vague map of locations and a brief history of the world, a concept map, character sketches and a list of ideas or themes. finally a series of events or scenes.

This creates a sense of place, a sense of time and characters that have depth and drive, it means the characters act in a logical and believable manner or at least an emotional manner. (In short there should always be a reason.)

Once you have finished your outline and you start actually writing you will inevitably have to alter or tweak your original outline. And that is okay, listen to the story, listen to the characters and let it morph into whatever different version it seems to want to be. As you follow the laws of common sense, you will find that some characters or scenes are not quite right, feel free to change them. Also the world that you have built will react to every event, as one character acts it will affect the other characters and have consequences, this is great as it just creates more sub-plots within the main plot. Your fictional world will grow.

There is a tension between structured rigid plot outlining- and intuitive spontaneity. Your job is to find the sweet spot between these two extremes. In the same way an architect will design a house and garden using the same sized symmetrical squares over and over again, and then offset the neat order with a random irregular asymmetrical triangle (to make things interesting.) Consider- the nature of music or the seasons, it spins in a re-occurring loop and yet every year and every song is completely unique. So break out your books and start sketching out your story!

Photo by Skitterphoto on

Everyone has a story; everyone has a voice.

Creative writing, just like any artform seems to be beyond rules; it is an intuitive, private and personal process and different for everybody. Nonetheless, I will share what works for me, perhaps these strategies will work for you too.

Get away from distractions- people, television, internet.

Set aside a regular writing time, make it a habit.

Don’t be afraid of failure, what’s the worst that can happen? You write something, you don’t like it- so what? rewrite it! or write something else! Don’t fear the tyranny of the blank page. Life is merely one disaster followed by another and these humiliating disasters are your stepping stones to wisdom and knowledge.

Don’t compare yourself with others because these great classical authors of the past often wrote a hundred bad, average, or okay books before they wrote their beautiful masterpiece. They are just people, like you or me.

Everyone has a story and everyone has a voice. You have your own unique story, you have your own unique voice. Just keep writing and that will emerge slowly and naturally. Your writing can only get better. So get writing right now!


Review- The Blue Knight by Joseph Wambaugh.

The Blue Knight : Joseph Wambaugh : 9781847243393

The Blue Knight chronicles the last three days of Anglo-American LAPD police officer Bumper Morgan. Bumper, fifty years old and hugely overweight is three days away from retirement and moving away with his fiancĂ© who is a French teacher. Bumpers best friend is a Spanish-Mexican Catholic sergeant Cruz Segovia; Cruz has been his brother in arms for twenty years. This book follows Bumper as he patrols his beat (or puta as Cruz calls it jokingly) coming into contact with alcoholics, drug addicts, strippers, burglars and bikers. We follow his run-ins with socialist hippie protesters and black panthers in the social chaos, lawlessness and upheaval of the 60’s and 70’s. We follow Bumper as he eats at the many eateries, and man this copper can eat! The people on the beat consider him a hero (he is their blue knight) and they give him free meals because he ran the thugs out of his beat.

Joseph Wambaugh writes in a frank and honest style which is naturally witty and humorous. This book is fast paced and its a page turner. His characters are very well written and they ring true. The dialogue and action is fast, exciting and interesting and makes you laugh. And yet he also explores deeper themes: like family and faith, and the tension between the individual and society. The real need for violence and force in policing and the danger of being corrupted into a monster by fighting with monsters. The ever-present danger to the policeman’s soul as he is exposed constantly to the worst of human nature. The Blue Knight is a great read.