Writer of Weird Fiction and Masher of Notes for the Broken-Hearted

Month: December 2014

Mark Twain’s Rules For Writing

Mark Twain’s rules for writing seem straightforward and still relevant. Do you agree? Comment below.

1. A tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere.

2. The episodes of a tale shall be necessary parts of the tale, and shall help develop it.

3. The personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.

4. The personages in a tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there.

5. When the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be talk such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighborhood of the subject in hand, and be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say.

6. When the author describes the character of a personage in his tale, the conduct and conversation of that personage shall justify said description.

7. When a personage talks like an illustrated, gilt-edged, tree-calf, hand-tooled, seven-dollar Friendship’s Offering in the beginning of a paragraph, he shall not talk like a minstrel at the end of it.

8. Crass stupidities shall not be played upon the reader by either the author or the people in the tale.

9. The personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausably set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable.

10. The author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones.

11. The characters in tale be so clearly defined that the reader can tell beforehand what each will do in a given emergency.

An Author Should:

12. Say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it.
13. Use the right word, not its second cousin.
14. Eschew surplusage.
15. Not omit necessary details.
16. Avoid slovenliness of form.
17. Use good grammar.
18. Employ a simple, straightforward style.


Find out more about Mark Twain here.

To check out short stories by AJ, click here.


Merry Christmas


Tanner’s Department Store Christmas Giveaway


Available to everyone over 18 until the 15th Dec.  The wild story of Tanner’s Department Store and the Christmas that changed a town forever.  Click on the picture or HERE to get yours now before they’re all gone!  Merry Christmas.Facebooktwitterredditpinterest

The Horseman’s Dream Map

A rough map of the British Isles as they will be in the future, having been decimated by rising sea levels.  It’s based on elevation, but also evacuation points for major cities in the event of such a disaster.  Edinburgh and Glasgow sadly did not survive, but two old Navy warships are anchored where they used to be, and they are named after the now-Atlantean cities.  They also guard the Caledonian Straits and prevent citizens escaping from the mainland to the dangerous climes and harsh wildernesses of The Highlands, where they cannot be controlled or surveilled.  Sheffield is now the British capital, and Leeds is a major port.  The most climatically dangerous areas are marked in red, and are generally abandoned.  Dartmoor and Exmoor are exceptions to that rule as these islands house institutions.  In the case of Dartmoor, the prison – and indeed the whole island – is designated for the criminally-insane: those deemed too dangerous or too expensive to rehabilitate roam here.  Exmoor is home to the largest prison complex in Europe.  The structure is built to withstand the drastic changes in climate, whereas many of Dartmoor’s original buildings have been damaged and left to rot, like the inmates.


Having lived near the sea all my life, it has permeated every nook and cranny of my consciousness like saltwater and sand.   My childhood playground was a marsh next to an estuary, and is still my playground now.  It’s something that will never leave me.  It might seem odd to mark the time spent away from the sea, but I feel as if I’ve been locked in a box when I spend too long inland.  There are possibilities when you’re next to the sea, even a large river: it’s a gateway to the world, if you have enough imagination.  The professor’s boat is actually based on a friend’s, moored in North Wales.  I visited him recently, and over a bottle of rum and a hurricane lantern, he imparted that he was leaving for Iceland to clear his head.  I clanged some dreadful quip about Peter Andre and/or Kerry Katona, but he was completely serious, and asked if I wanted to crew.  I asked how long we’d be out there and he replied, ‘a couple of months, probably’.  I turned him down, but the combination of rum and imagination seems to have cemented the idea in my head like a mooring bollard.

I suppose we all have our reasons for going to Iceland.


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