Monday, August 29, 2011

Contemporary Fantasy

Definition: The story must contain magical/fantastical elements within the real world, but these magical/fantastical elements must remain unknown to the majority of the world’s population. (Paraphrased from: Fantasy Book Review)

Often, people consider Contemporary Fantasy the same as Urban Fantasy. Urban Fantasy requires that the story take place in a city; Contemporary can take place anywhere on the real Earth.

The Percy Jackson and Artemis Fowl series’ are both examples of the Contemporary sub-genre, since both are set in the real world with fantastical elements added in.

This article isn’t just to tell you what the Contemporary sub-genre is; I hope to help you with writing it. In order to do this, I will be using my experience in the genre. I have written a few short stories and am writing a novel in this sub-genre, and have tried many different ways of using it.

The first thing you need to decide is what fantastical element you are going to introduce to the world. As a rule of thumb, you should introduce no more than 5, preferably no more than 3. The reason for this is that you need your reader to believe it is happening in reality on Earth they know.

You could add, as I did in The Greater Grater, fantasy creatures (element 1) and a hidden fantasy world accessible only by a select few (element 2). The creatures gave the story a definite fantasy feel and by adding the hidden world I stretched the reader’s imagination as to what reality can hold to its limit. I also pushed the definition of Contemporary to its absolute limits; having a hidden world perhaps doesn’t strictly count as Earth. Though the characters and entrance were on Earth, so it still can count as Contemporary.

A more subtle fantasy element could be angels. Angels can define the culture in your story through their association with religion. Angels don’t have to be good; you could, as I did in Trick or Treat, make them evil. The fantasy element goes deeper when the angels affect your main character directly. If the chosen element changes the protagonist, then you are showing the reader how the element affects reality.

Of course, the most-known element for you to add is magic, which I have used in most of my work including The Magician’s Tattoo. Now, I’m not blowing my own trumpet, but I think the magical system I have is unique. Excess magic is urinated out or converted into grey hair. The magic is stored in ear wax, and if this is eaten by another it is transferred to them. All of this occurs in a world where ‘magic doesn’t exist’. Normal people like you or me don’t see this magic – this is because the magicians have measures in place and humans are just plain ignorant. A line that I plan to write for one of my characters goes something like this:
“The majority of humans are ignorant and unobservant. If they saw bright purple lights consistently fly past, they would say it was a charity event; if they saw a person disappear, they would say they never saw a person there at all; if a whole car changed colour, they would think someone’s a really fast painter. That is why we can hide in plain sight.”
Remember, magic has been done to death over hundreds of years of literature. Before using magic, stop and think whether what you have in your head is creative and unique. If it isn’t, you have three options:

1. Don’t use magic
2. Make your system unique
3. Keep the system, but use it uniquely.

Of course, common systems can still work, but you need to be sure that your story has other unique elements to make up for it.

The key lesson in this article is that Contemporary is a wide sub-genre and there are almost limitless things you can do with it. The only reason it isn’t unlimited is because physics dictates there are not enough particles in the universe to allow limitless options!

The article can also be found here:  Contemporary Fantasy on WDC

Matt B

Thursday, August 25, 2011

GCSE Results

I collected my GCSE results at 10am today. I was rather nervous before hand but I am pleased that I now know what they are.
The result in bold is the result for the subject. The results beneath it is the breakdown.

ICT – A*

I did a yr 10 exam retake and got an A*
In my yr 11 exam I got an A*
In my coursework I got an A*

Double Science – A*, A*

(You get two results for normal double science)

I got an A* in all exam modules
I got 1 A* in 1 coursework module and 1 A in another CW module

Electronics – B

C in yr 10 exam
B in yr 10 CW
B in yr 11 exam
A in yr 11 CW

Mathematics – A*

A*s in all exams

RE – A, A*

(You get 2 grades – 1 in yr 10 and 1 in yr 11)

A in yr 10 exam
A* in yr 11 exam

Business – A*

A* in all exams
A* in controlled assessment

English Language (Yr 10) – A

A in all coursework bar 2
A* in 2 coursework pieces including creative writing
A in exam

English Literature (Yr 11) – A*

A* in all coursework bar 1 or 2
A in the 1 or 2 non A* coursework pieces
A* in Exam (On Of Mice and Men, An Inspector Calls, and an unseen poem)

French – B

Speaking – C
Writing – B
Reading – A
Listening – B

I am very pleased with these results. 7 A*s, 2 As and 2 Bs.
I will be taking Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and ICT for my AS Levels; I hope to continue all 4 into A2 (Final year of A Levels).
The aim is to take medicine at university.

Matt B

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Away with the Fairies–A Comedy Drama


I come with another link to some great work by a friend of mine. Last time it was a a cover of Mad World by Will, this time it is a fantastic comedy drama by my friend Jack.

I will warn you that it had very strong language from the start and is not for younger readers.

The main character, Alex, finds his life breaking down around him and, in this episode, goes to a friend for help.

I am sure anyone who studied Of Mice and Men in English will enjoy Scene 9 and really emphasise with Alex.

If you’re a member of WDC, I urge you to give him a review. He’s new to the site and I hope that he’ll want to stay on the site.

Matt B

Friday, August 19, 2011

London Visit

On Tuesday I left for a 2 day visit to London to take in 2 musicals:  The Phantom of the Opera, and its sequel, Love Never Dies. We stayed in The Royal Trafalgar, which was positioned perfectly. Both Her Majesty’s Theatre and The Adelphi Theatre were walking distance, as were Buckingham Palace, The Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square.
m & m men in m&m world, London
After finding the Hotel and settling in, we headed off to Regent Street to find stores such as Hamleys and Apple (that store was amazing!). After spending a few hours looking around we headed back to the hotel. Of course, you can’t go to London without getting a little lost. By a happy coincidence we found the M and M world. 4 floors of m&m products. Seriously, it was huge and one of the most surreal shops I have been in.
At around 6.45 we headed off to Her Majesty’s Theatre for Phantom. Although the theatre was small, it fitted the musical perfectly – being about a theatre. The story was amazing, the singing was fantastic, the music was brilliant, the effects and makeup were spell bounding, the whole thing was stupendously great!
Buckingham Palace, London
The next day we went to Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guards. It was really good.
We also went to Trafalgar Square and went to see Big Ben (well, the clock that houses the bell, Big Ben – Thank QI for that factoid!). London is really actually quite a pleasant place, and not anywhere near as stressful as some make it out to be.
At 1.30 we headed off to the Adelphi Theatre for the matinee performance of Love Never Dies.
Although very different from Phantom, and set 10 years later, the musical was, again, amazing. With a few rock pieces and an absolutely wonderful 10 year old singer playing Gustave, the whole show was a thrill to watch. The effects were astonishing and I still can’t work out how some of them were done. The ending was stunning and almost (almost:  as in it didn’t, but nearly did) brought a tear to my eye.
Sadly, Love Never Dies received little acclaim and is ending on the 27th of August. I seriously can’t see how any one wouldn’t love the show, but it seems I’m a minority there, and so it seems is the whole of the Adelphi Theatre when they gave it a standing ovation.
All in all I had a superb couple of days in London.

Matt B

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mad World


As my last 2 posts were about the riots in London and the UK in general and , I thought I'd post some good stuff.

My friend, Will Clare, sings and this latest song he's posted is very good. OK, so the lyrics are a tad depressing but his voice is good.

What it does showcase though is that teenagers are not the thugs and yobs that the rioting showed us as. I can assure you he did not loot his mic from poundstore (Leicester rioters were kinda stupid - of all the shops in Leicester they could loot they chose poundstore!) and his computer was legitimately purchased.

If you're interested in the lyrics you can find them here:

Matt B

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

UK Rioters


Each and everyone of the UK rioters are hated by me. As if it wasn't bad enough having riots in London they spread like wildfire into other cities, including my city, Leicester.

The riots have no logic. Why the hell would they want to destroy their own town? The logic lacks - if they're rioting for economic reasons then why are they are causing millions of pounds in damages? If they're rioting because no ones employing them then why destroy business that could and why would an employer employ them now? If they're doing it for fun then why are they destroying places of entertainment like restaurants and theatres? It's just stupid.

On WDC I have created what's known as an In and Out for people to post suitable punishments and their own opinion on the UK riots. I am allowing imaginative responses.

I don't know if you need an account, but it is free and a great site so I'd recommend doing so anyway.


Matt B

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

London Rioting


The rioting in London has disgusted me. Despite being 16, I have only utter disapointment and hatred towards others of similar age to me who have been involved in the rioting. Peoples' homes and livelihoods have been selfishly destroyed. Each and everyone of the rioters are imbeciles who deserved to be locked up and the key thrown away.

The images on the news are the most shocking I have ever seen for something like this. Those who claim to be rioting with reason are wrong. There is never a just cause for such destructive behaviour. I would post images and videos to enhance my point, but I find them to awful to watch and would not want to force you to see them.

The employment crisis is the same for the majority of people, and yet I don't see the majority of people rioting. All I can see is a large number of yobs and prats destroying not only business and homes, but the reputation of young people - of which we were slowly increasing.

I do not understand how anybody could view this rioting as right. Those in the riots are there to cause as much disruption as possible and to gain as much looted product as they can.

I can only hope that if this post is read by any of the rioters that they understand I feel they have no place in civilised society and should be punished severely.

I have had to hold back my language for this post as I am so utterly dismayed by the havoc the rioters have wreaked.

Below is a link to a brilliant poem by a friend of mine about the London Riots:

Words, Scribbles and Passion: Londiniensis Flagrans: "Just a short 1st Draft of a poem. It's not great, but I felt there is little else I can do but write about the disheartening events taking p..."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I'm back!

I am back from my relaxing holiday in Palma Nova, Mallorca (Spain). With the exception of one morning the weather was hot and the suncream annoying. Lazing by the pool stupidly hoping to get the tan that never comes reading a good comedy crime or one of the New Scientist magazines I took with me or just sleeping. It was bliss.

Then I decide to cool down by going for a swim in the pool sometimes lying on the far too small semi-deflated inflatable. After a splash around I return to the sun lounger and dry off with very little help from my towel. Again I lose myself in Humpty Dumpty murder case willing Jack Spratt to succeeed.

After I realise I'm melting I go to out cool room on the second floor of the hotel. I throw myself onto the bed and rest until lunch. At lunch I enter the air conditioned dining room and am confronted with an all you can eat buffet (the holiday was all inclusive). After finding a food stuff I like I eat it with ravish. I rise and collect seconds (sometimes even thirds) and eat that too. I rise again and find the puddings. For some reason in Spain there is always some kind of blamanche/table cream/set thing that I always love. After my fourth lot of pudding I realise that they're clearing the lunch stuff away.

I return to the sun lounger and rest/read for a while. At some point I'll go into the pool or maybe go to the room for some escape from the unforgiving sun. Dinner goes much the same as luch, but with nicer food and higher quantities.

I either return to the sun or retreat to the room where I stay until the entertainment.

The entertainment was... varied. Yes, varied is a good way to put it. Some nights it was shockingly bad and other shockingly amazing.

As a family we would go for evening walks along the beach which were pleasent and cool - with the nightime breeze being a god-send in comparison to the unrelenting sun of earlier.

So most days played out like that and I loved being able to relax. On one day we had a game of min/crazy golf. My golfing skills are reasonable and I got a hole in one on a par 3, so I was very pleased despite not winning overall.

On two of the days we went to the beach. The beach had pedalos with slides available and so we hired one for an hour on both days and pedalled out to sea (within the sectioned area, ofcourse). After we reached a reasonable depth I started the sliding. It was really fun. I mean it was the best bit of the holiday for me. I'm a confident swimmer, but have never gone much further than where I can stand in the sea so sliding in and going under was a bit of a shock. The sea was cool, but not cold which made it even better. I can't really explain in to you as it was just sliding and jumping from a boat with pedals, but it was fun.

Also I am glad to take the hotel band off after wearing it non-stop for a week!

Matt B


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