The Inkitt “Darkest Place” Horror Contest 2015

Today I want to bring your attention to a great website called Inkitt. I was contacted by Lauren, who is head of the author’s community over on Inkitt, and asked if I would write a post to tell you all about the writing competition they are running in February. Of course, I was happy to get involved!

What is Inkitt?
Inkitt is a free platform for writers to cultivate ideas and watch their stories grow. On our site, users collaborate with fellow writers and readers to give each other feedback and improve their work. Our vision is to help writers get the exposure they deserve and the publishing deals they covet without having to jump through the fiery hoops of traditional publishing, or wade in the shark-infested waters of self-publishing.

I love the idea behind websites like Inkitt. They are great places to share fiction with a whole community of like-minded people and can sometimes act as a great platform to get your writing seen by agents or publishers.

So, without further ado, here is all the information you need to know about Inkitt’s “Darkest Place” Horror Contest…

Inkitt's Darkest Place Horror Contest Continue reading

Fantasy: What’s Next?

Well, that’s the title done. Ten minutes to come up with that! Would you believe it? This is one of those posts where I know exactly what I want to say, but I struggle to find a title to do it justice.

Anyway, onto the topic at hand. I want to talk about the fantasy genre right now and look ahead at what I think we can expect from our fantastic fiction in the near future. It feels like the last decade has been a kind of “fantasy dark ages”. Not in the sense that we’ve had no innovation, but in the sense that I feel a great big grey cloud has been hanging over us, stifling our creativity. I speak, of course, about the phenomenon that was gritty/grimdark fantasy. I don’t want to spend too much time talking about this. I’ve already done that elsewhere.

Now, I’m absolutely not saying I don’t like this kind of fantasy yarn. I was an Abercrombie fan right from the off. I love A Song of Ice and Fire (epic fantasy, but I consider it gritty nonetheless) And I’m a bit of a Warhammer Fantasy fan too. Basically, this type of fantasy was original when it started to rear its head. I’m not saying Joe Abercrombie and George R. R. Martin are the same, either, but they could be loosely categorised under a similar grouping.


The problem, though, that I have with this sub-genre of fantasy is that it can all take quite the emotional toll. There are only so many times I can stomach reading a graphic torture scene or a battle where people are being eviscerated and dismembered all over the place. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that I don’t really enjoy this sort of stuff. I read this type of fantasy for the flawed characters, for the disturbingly human conflicts and for the quality of the writing. I don’t enjoy gore for the sake of gore. I know that this is the reality of war and of violence, but it can be executed with a lightness that doesn’t turn the reader’s stomach. Continue reading

Elements of Fantasy #1 – Wizards, Warlocks and Witches

You don’t know how hard it was to resist adding “…Oh My!” to the end of that title. But this is planned to be a (relatively) serious series of articles, so resist I did.

So in this, the first in a brand new series entitled “Elements of Fantasy”, I want to explore one of the most defining elements of fantasy: magic users. I’m starting with perhaps one of the most expansive topics, probably because I’m a masochist, so this may very well end up becoming “Part 1” of an article on magic users.

A magician is someone who uses or practices magic that derives from supernatural or occult sources.
Wikipedia: Magician (fantasy)

Good old Wikipedia. Have you ever failed us? Well, yes, many times, but I’m pretty confident the above snippet is accurate. Continue reading

Niklaus: Part One – An Invitation

Happy Friday, everyone! Today marks the final day in our Festive Fantasy Week celebrations for 2013. I want to share with you now a short story that I’ve been working on in the build-up to Christmas. Now, I’d hoped to have it wrapped up by now, but it’s not quite there yet. However, that might not end up being such a bad thing. I’m going to release it in three parts here on the blog, hopefully having the whole thing on here by Christmas Day.

I really hope you enjoy the story and make sure to stay tuned for Part Two, which should be posted over the weekend.


Niklaus: Part One – An Invitation

Tobacco smoke snaked up from the pipe and obscured the old man’s face like a veil of fog. Impossibly blue eyes danced from behind the smoke, framed by a briar patch criss-cross of wrinkles and scars. The man’s weathered face—so dark, so lined and like old boot-leather—was encircled by brilliant white hair, so overgrown now that the man’s mane and beard were indistinguishable from one another. His thick, pale lips formed a perfect circle as he took another drag from the pipe and let out the smoke in a series of silent whispers.

‘Tell me that last part again,’ he purred. ‘About the deer.’ Continue reading

Looking Ahead to 2014 (And a Retrospective)

With NaNoWriMo gone and 2014 on the horizon, I now feel that Fantasy In Motion could do with a little ‘stamina potion’, just to get the juices pumping again. Articles have been few and far between these past months and for that I apologise. I could probably try to lay the blame on a variety of things, but you’re not interested in the whys and whats (and neither am I – those whys and whats are so boring!)

If I had to sum up my contributions to this blog during 2013 in one word, it would have to be ‘casual’. Like someone dipping back into World of Warcraft during a year of AAA console releases, I was only writing articles when I could be bothered, although I did also manage a nice little blog redesign.

Now, it may sound like I’m being overly hard on myself here, but I’m just being as honest as I can. One of the other reasons why articles have been scarce is likely due to a minor identity crisis. I’ve always been torn between:

  1. Blogging exclusively about writing and the fantasy genre.
  2. Taking a more ‘geek culture’ approach and commenting on gaming, movies, comics etc.

Continue reading

Our Author Interviews

We’ve had the opportunity to speak to a diverse bunch of authors here at Fantasy In Motion. So what better way to kick off your week than to check out our interviews so far? This is also a great opportunity to let you know that we have more interviews coming soon, so be sure to Follow us to be kept in the loop!

Author Interview with…

Carl Alves

Kimberli Renee’ Campbell

Morgan L. Busse

Orson T. Badger

Zacharias O’Bryan

Chris Stevenson

Elizabeth Moon

Michael J. Sullivan

Tim Marquitz

Luke Scull

More on their way very soon…

7 Deadly Perils of… Underplanning

Time to kick off another brand new series!

‘7 Deadly Perils’ is going to be a series of short, snappy posts about different aspects of writing and the seven possible pitfalls/disasters that you may encounter. The aim is to try to give you some useful advice in an easily digestible format. When working through my novel-in-progress I tend to come across various problems/ideas/thoughts all at the same time, depending on what I’m currently focusing on. The want to be able to share all that stuff with you while it’s still fresh in my mind is what led to this series’ creation.

So, I hope you find what is about to follow useful. Once I have a couple of these ‘episodes’ out there, I may even compile them together under their own category.

7 Deadly Perils of… Underplanning

  1. You will lose your way.
    Sensible Side of Your Brain: Buddy, I think we should turn back. We probably took a wrong turn somewhere back there.
    Stupid Side of Your Brain: No! If we keep going straight through this field, we’ll get there quicker!
  2. The purpose of your story will not be clear.
    Gandalf: You must carry this burden, Frodo Baggins. You must destroy the ring.
    Frodo: Uhh, why?
    Gandalf: Honestly? I have no idea. Probably just so it’s not left lying around.
  3. You will make things up. These things will not make sense.
    And then he was falling; falling to his death. But then a dragon swooped in and caught him on its back. ‘Phew!’ the walrus said. ‘That was a close one!’
  4. Your plot will lack cohesion and depth.
    I don’t have a piece of comedy gold for this one. Just say the words ‘cohesion’ and ‘depth’ over and over while gently caressing your half-finished manuscript.
  5. Your characters will be Pinocchios.
    Character: I’m a real boy!
    Reader: No you’re not, get back in your cardboard box… the same cardboard from which you are made!
    Character: Nooooooo! *sob sob*
  6. Your story will have no believable conflict. Your characters will experience no inner conflict.
  7. You will give up.
    Author: Well, this story about a magical wizard school and the boy who goes there isn’t going anywhere. Time to consign it to the bin. I’m gonna write a story about casual vacancies… whatever they are!

Next Time: 7 Deadly Perils of… Overplanning!

Gritty Is Good?

You only need to have heard of works like A Song of Ice and Fire, The Grim Company or Prince of Thorns to know that the current trend in fantasy is to practically brutalise your heroes before letting them win (or die). Perhaps influenced by Hollywood and the trend in society towards ‘gritty’ heroes and tales, the fantasy genre has more than followed this trend; it has shaped it.

If you had asked anyone if they had heard of Game of Thrones before the TV series made such a huge splash, they’d probably have just stared at you blankly. Nowadays, the series is everywhere and its followers encompass fantasy fans and ‘average joes’ alike. It seems people really love the brutal ‘fantasy realism’ (is that even a thing?) of the show and just can’t get enough bloodshed, betrayal and incest. Other TV shows hold a similar appeal (I’m looking at you, Breaking Bad).

Gritty, dark, grimdark, grim and err… horrible?

Fantasy likes to invent different names for things that are practically the same (in fact, all genres do). It seems that every day more and more authors are being included in the mentions when discussion about ‘grimdark’ takes place. Joe Abercrombie and Richard Morgan are two of the first to have been grouped under this banner. But just the other day I saw Scott Lynch referred to as ‘grimdark’. Hmm, I’m not so sure.


Genres and sub-genres change all the time and gritty fantasy is no exception. For his time, Tolkien’s writing was just as gritty and complex as perhaps George R. R. Martin’s is now. Perspectives change over time and, the truth is, putting your characters through hell is an essential part of many stories, not just the ‘gritty’ ones.

Our heroes now are almost anti-hero in nature. We’re meant to root for the thief, the assassin and the mercenary. Where are our knights of justice, our superheroes? Well…

The ‘Dark Knight’ Problem

When Christopher Nolan’s Batman reboot, Batman Begins, stormed onto the silver screen back in 2005, all the talk was on how superhero movies had been made relevant once again. But let’s not forget we had Spider-Man back in 2002; also successful, also with elements of darkness. For me, at least, it feels like Chris Nolan kicked off this ‘new’ idea of gritty, grounded superheroes and cemented it into the public’s subconscious. Now it’s led us down the road where Superman no longer has red briefs, Batman can fight no villain with supernatural abilities and Captain America’s mask must take on the design of a helmet, just so it’s all believable.

But they’re god-damn superheroes! Do they need to be believable?

Yes and no. Yes, the audience needs to be able to relate to them. No, every detail doesn’t need to be scientifically consistent. We don’t really care how Batman’s grapple-gun actually works, or how he has a powerful enough sonar in his suit to summon clouds of bats, so long as it looks cool and is at least consistent within the fictional world.

So… Fantasy?

OK, so we’ve established what gritty/grimdark is, but how does it fit into the world we’re concerned with: the world of fantasy fiction? Well, it turns out the fantasy genre is in the grip of the concept of ‘gritty’ right now. Namely, a drive for realism (and the occasional penchant for visceral gore). This trend has been intensifying for a long time now and I personally believe we’re reaching critical mass. Joe Abercrombie’s work was pretty violent and dour, giving you a sense of hopelessness as you read it. Following on from that was Mark Lawrence with Prince of Thorns and then the latest entry in the ‘grimdark’ arena is Luke Scull. With each new work, things get darker, more gory and far more grim. It’s only a matter of time before readers decide they want something fresh, something upbeat.


I think a great way to wrap this article up is with a list of recommended reads, of what I consider to be some of the best gritty fantasy out there. What you need to understand is that I am a huge Abercrombie fan and I do enjoy the odd gritty tale or two. Lately, I’ve been exploring other works that you wouldn’t really classify as ‘gritty’, because I’m growing tired of the similar style and atmosphere in my fiction. I want to see a return to the great epics of old, but with a decidedly modern twist. It’s something I hope to at least try with my own writing.

The ‘Gritty Is Good?’ Reading List

  1. The First Law Trilogy (Joe Abercrombie)
  2. The Lies of Locke Lamora (Scott Lynch)
  3. Prince of Thorns (Mark Lawrence)
  4. Waylander (David Gemmell)
  5. A Song of Ice and Fire (George R. R. Martin)
  6. The Black Company (Glenn Cook)
  7. Malazan Book of the Fallen (Steven Erikson)
  8. Acts of Caine (Matthew Stover)
  9. The Darkness That Comes Before (R. Scott Bakker)
  10. The Dresden Files (Jim Butcher)

Honourable Mention: The Engineer Trilogy (K. J. Parker)Can this be characterised as gritty? I’ll leave that for you to decide, but be sure to check this one out. K. J. Parker is somewhat under-appreciated and deserves a lot more attention.

It’s not a race… It’s a marathon

Something I learned just recently, which has changed my approach to writing for the better, was the idea that writing a piece of fiction is not a race. For years, I was competing to write my novel as quickly as possible in order to get it out the door and sell. But it doesn’t work quite like that (at least, not for us amateurs). No… writing is a marathon, you see. It isn’t so much a question of when you finish, but a game of seeing if you even can finish.

When you’re rushing your writing, you rarely have a chance to pause and actually enjoy what you’re doing. Characters don’t develop in your head, so much as splat onto the page in a bloody mess of literary abandon. Plot lines become knotted abominations, settings broken and/or bland and your own mood takes on a dark, savage quality. In short, you are no longer writer and story; you are now raving madman and word-scramble.

The greatest thing you can do for yourself as a writer is to take time over what you are doing. The time you might think you’ll be saving yourself writing the first draft will come for payback, doubling, trebling even, when you come to re-drafting, IF you rush! Who cares how many words you wrote today, or yesterday, or last week? Is your story moving along? Are your characters developing? If so, what have you got to worry about?

As an old friend of mine said recently, everyone has time to write at least 100 words every day. Whether you bash them out on your phone while waiting for a train, or on a scrap of paper during a boring meeting, or even on a napkin (a NAPKIN, dammit!) while you’re knocking back your morning Starbucks… *pause for breath*… it doesn’t really matter.

Oh, and if you think you need to get your story written and out in the world ASAP because you might get hit by a bus next week, I have these pearls of wisdom for you:

  1. There’s more of a chance agents/publishers will reject you if you’ve rushed your manuscript.
  2. Your manuscript probably isn’t that good anyway (no offence, but let’s be honest with ourselves).
  3. What do you care if people read your story or not once you’re dead? Just relax and have fun haunting that guy at work you don’t like!

In all seriousness, though, just enjoy your writing. When you’re having fun, your best work will come through.

Back With a Vengeance!

You may have noticed the brand new blog design that’s just gone up. If not, don’t worry, I forgive you.

The exciting news, of course, is that Fantasy In Motion is back in business. With my novel-writing going well and really coming to life, I thought I should really get back to blogging. I’ve learned a lot about writing, about people and about the fantasy genre, so I have plenty to share.

As always, you can also find me on Twitter and Facebook.

This month, I’m planning to write and enter two pieces of flash fiction into contests at SFFWorld and Fantasy Faction. Fingers crossed!

Writing 1K a Day

If you’ve ever had a go at writing fiction, short story, flash fic, full-blown novel or otherwise, you’ll know how difficult it can be to maintain a good pace. By that, I mean it’s not only hard to write something every day, but also to write enough every time you put pen to paper/fingers to keyboard. I know I struggle with both and for the last six months (at least) I haven’t really been that serious about my writing. Various events are to account for this (birth of my son, getting married, getting a new job) and, when I realised that, I gave myself some slack.

But now I am back in the saddle and ready to write. And not just write, but write and FINISH a novel. I know, right? Who would have thought I hadn’t ever achieved that in twelve-ish years of writing. Continue reading

Spirit Thorn at

For those of you who remember our interview with Mr. Zacharias O’Bryan, you’ll be pleased to hear his book Spirit Thorn was recently picked up by Best Thinking (Thinker Books). I encourage any fantasy fans to go check out the brilliant eBook. Here’s a short blurb:

Do parallel worlds exist? Searching for proof, Professors Rodger & Cassie Swift vanish. Kestrelle, a spirit-like girl claiming to know their fate, tells their son Braden he must brave a whitewater tooth-sprouting river into a land where wise vultures predict the future and blue minds inhabit lava caves. Only two powers can help: Kestrelle’s Blood Thorn and Braden’s vine-painted guitar.

Zacharias O’Bryan’s novel Spirit Thorn: A Tale of Parallel Worlds unifies spiritual ethics with both ecological mandates and the mind-bending cosmology of cutting-edge physics. Written as a science-fiction/fantasy adventure, Spirit Thorn captures seekers of all ages, from precocious ten-year-olds to questing adults.

Get Spirit Thorn today at!