Magnus Mills

Bryant & May: World-Building For Beginners Part 1

  Which books have created a world for you? It’s not just for fantasy writers. The creator of every story has to make his or her world convincing. The most extreme examples are practiced by authors like John Crowley, Ursula LeGuin  and Paul McAuley, but we all have to do it to different degrees. The […]

Nothing Happens

Sometimes a novel can benefit from a little less action. You often find that the best bits of books, films, plays or sitcoms are the parts near the beginning where nothing much happens, the calm before the storm. I like these quiet moments because characters still have room to breathe before becoming subject to the […]

‘A Good Idea Has A Thousand Fathers’

How often have you read a book and become convinced that you’ve read it somewhere before? Sometimes a particular scene will resonate and I’ll go searching for another version of it. In his immense volume ‘The Seven Basic Plots’ Christopher Booker argued that  there are only seven archetypal themes which recur throughout every kind of […]

Today’s Topic…

I start at the top of the blank page and work my way down to the bottom. 1. Grumping about the Last Night of the Proms is the tip of the iceberg; humanity as a whole is irredeemably, incorrigibly misguided. We are unreliable, chaotic, annoying and deeply, deeply stupid. 2. The idea that a civilisation […]

Stuck For A Title

Okay, so you’ve written your story, short or doorstop-length, and you no longer like the title you started out with, or maybe you never had one in the first place. What do you do? I know it may seem that I have it in for ‘The Girl on the Train’ (I have) but the one […]

When The Devil Isn’t In The Detail

Poor old Oscar, endlessly quoted, and not always accurately. I wonder what he would have made of the modern Twitterverse? Would he have loved dropping aphorisms onto it or would he have been horrified by its egalitarianism? I really enjoyed Jon Ronson’s ‘So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed’, an exploration of modern-day online witch-hunts which could not […]

Why Each Book Needs A Single Memorable Moment

I have a friend who wants to be a writer. He tells me he’s about to start ‘a huge series of books, which will be better when they film it as a series’. He still hasn’t started a single one after ten years, despite being obsessed by the idea of quantity. The author Magnus Mills […]