Writing

If you find it hard to concentrate on writing, try a pomodoro

Writing requires concentration, yet we live in a world with more distractions than ever. Writers need self-discipline but if you're just starting out it can be incredibly difficult to break unhelpful habits such as checking social media, reading the news, going to grab a biscuit, making a cup of tea, playing a game... That's why, at least to start with, it makes more sense to find a way to manage those habits alongside your writing, rather than trying to quash them entirely, so that they can co-exist happily. The best approach I've found for this is called the pomodoro technique. (more…)

By Simon Jones, ago
Writing

Creating quick book covers with Canva

Before I go any further, this isn't about creating professional covers for your novels. If you're putting together a book to self-publish then you'll want to do this thing properly, which most likely involves hiring an artist and/or designer. However, you probably won't want to commission covers for one-off short stories and smaller projects - they don't quite justify the expenditure. That's where using more off-the-shelf components can be useful and still yield visually pleasing results. (more…)

By Simon Jones, ago
Movies

How Blade Runner 2049’s world building has its roots in 1982

Most of my discussions about Blade Runner 2049 have been about its gender politics and depiction of women. Specifically, whether it's deliberately troubling or just troubling. Or a bit of both. That's not what I want to write about here, primarily because I haven't yet made up my mind. Instead, I'm going to take a look at the storytelling techniques the film uses to establish its future setting. Spoilers will ensue. (more…)

By Simon Jones, ago
Games

How to steal from a giant spaceship

Heat Signature is fantastic at telling unauthored, emergent stories. Here's a cool video all about its procedural generation of characters: https://youtu.be/y-3xJ86zNaQ And here's a personal anecdote, generated entirely by a combination of the game, my actions and circumstance: (more…)

By Simon Jones, ago
Games

Returning to No Man’s Sky

Just over a year ago I did something I very rarely do these days, which is buy a game at launch. Due to a daft backlog and not much time to play I tend to wait for heavy discounts before committing, but No Man's Sky grabbed me with its early trailers and I couldn't resist diving in to explore its universe. (more…)

By Simon Jones, ago
Professional

Redesigning Noirwich

The Noirwich Crime Writing Festival 2017 is fast approaching and tickets are swiftly disappearing. It's going to be a pretty great festival when it hits next month. Noirwich 2016 was the first major event I got my teeth into after starting at Writers' Centre Norwich last year. Though crime fiction isn't my thing, I do get genre fiction - even if mine tends to be scifi/fantasy, so it was something I immediately understood and it proved to be a lot of fun. This year I've been involved from the beginning and as a comms team we've refreshed some of the core design principles behind the festival. I thought I'd take a look at some of the thinking behind the changes to the logo. (more…)

By Simon Jones, ago