Pandragon Dan

Pandragon Dan

Author/Reviewer/Blogger

Reading VS Writing

 

 

One of the most given bits of advice I see from authors when they are asked “what does it take to be a writer”, more often than not it’s “Read a lot”. This seems like pretty good advice and in some ways a no brainer. After all, you need to read in order to learn your craft – because how can you be expected to write a book if you don’t know how to set out your story?

 

However, my problem with this advice is that some authors put across the idea that you need to be a hardcore reader to be a writer, that you need to eat sleep and breathe reading and read about a hundred books before you can even pick up a pen (or keyboard).

 

This I don’t agree with and I would actually contest this. In my opinion, you don’t NEED to be a reader to be a writer.

 

At least to a point.

 

I am sure some of my author friends reading this will be raising their eyebrows here – just hear me out. And remember, this is just my opinion.

 

Firstly, I agree that you need to read books to learn to write them – in fact that needs to be the first thing you should do. But, contrary to what some authors believe, you do not need to read a LOT of books to get started. My belief has always been that, to be a writer, you just need to have a basic grasp of grammar, spelling and, most importantly, an imagination. Books can obviously teach you this, but reading too much can also be counterproductive. Reason? If you spend all your time reading, when are you supposed to find the time to actually write?

 

The only way you’re ever going to learn writing – is by writing! Now I know that there are authors out there that can read five books a day and still find time to write their own books – but that doesn’t work for everyone. I know that there are authors that have wall to wall bookshelves of all the books they’ve collected over the years, but I also know some authors that only have read a few books in their time. You have to find a balance between reading and writing or else you'll never get your book finished.

 

Speaking for myself, believe it or not, I actually am NOT a heavy reader. Obviously, I do read books, and even review them on this very blog – hell I even read manga and comics where I can. However, I work a full time job, play guitar in a band and also have my own projects on the go, so I don’t often find myself sitting still very long to read a novel except on my lunch break – or when nature calls. Ahem.

 

But truthfully, I also find it very hard to get into new authors. Aside from George R R Martin, I haven’t really got into any big name authors. In fact, if I’m being honest, some of the best books I’ve read (and most of my favourite authors) are by Indie authors. In fact, if you were to ask me who I think the top five best authors are at the moment, they would all be Indie ones! But another reason I find it hard to get into new authors is that you just can’t beat Douglas Adams or H.P. Lovecraft in my opinion! XD

 

So... how many novels SHOULD you read before you become a writer? There’s no real “amount” as such, but I would definitely read a couple or more at least to get an idea for storytelling. In fact, pick an author that you admire and see how they write to get some ideas. Obviously don’t copy them, but give yourself an idea.

 

Reading is good and it will help you no end, but it can only teach you so much. The only way you’re ever going to be any good at writing is to write. It’s fair enough reading about a hundred novels to learn as much as you can, but if you spend TOO much time away from writing, then your will never get done. You need to find that perfect balance between reading and writing – of which I can’t advise you on that, you need to learn it for yourself. What? You don’t expect me to tell you EVERYTHING do you?

 

So in closing, if you ask any author for advice and they tell you that you need to read a lot, my view is to take it with a pinch of salt. It’s not necessarily a lie as such – just a half truth. I’d say read a few books to get an idea, learn to write and then start putting down some ideas. Reading is a great way to get started on your way to being a best selling author, but don’t be intimidated into thinking that you need to read a million books first hand. You only need to do one important thing to be an author. And that is WRITE!

 

But I’d also like to make one thing clear, as reading this back, it makes is look as though I’m saying you should rush things in your attempt to be a writer. That’s not true. Take your time. A story is finished when it’s finished. As I said earlier, you need to find a balance between writing and reading, but never rush your work. Great stories take a while to get through after all.

 

Thanks for reading – now go write that novel that you’ve been planning for ages!

 

Agree? Disagree? Please Facebook, tweet or message me or leave a comment with your thoughts.

 

 

-------------------------

PANDRAGON

 

Facebook:  LINK

Twitter:  LINK

Website:  LINK

 

Above image is copyright of its respective owner

Submitting Books To Pandragon Reviews

***PLEASE READ ALL THE INFORMATION BELOW BEFORE SUBMITTING FOR A REVIEW***

 

***UNFORTUNATELY - ALL MY REVIEW BLOCKS HAVE NOW BEEN FILLED***

 

 

 

My blog is now open for book reviews! Got a book you want me to review? This is the place to be! If you are an author and would like to submit a book to me for review then I’d love to hear from you. Please read on and make sure you read ALL the information before emailing me.

 

 

How I will conduct my reviews

 

I will review any book by any author. It doesn’t matter if it’s self published, vanity published or traditionally published – if you’re an author who has a book, then I will be happy to give it a look (and you even got a little rhyme there from me!).

 

Reviews will be posted on my blog in the final week of each month (see below). I will also post any review on Amazon and Goodreads, and if you can suggest another place for the review to go, then let me know (I cannot currently put a review on Smashwords without buying the book first, so if you suggest this, please bear this in mind).

 

How I review the book will be based on the following criteria, starting with a brief synopsis of the piece/author:

 

COVER: They say never judge a book by it's cover, but I will spend a few moments talking abou the cover and outline any issues that it may have. This will not effect my overall review though - I'll just be making a comment on it if anything.

PLOT: Essentially: is it a good story? Does it flow well? Is the pace right for the subject?

CHARACTERS: Are they well developed and interesting? Do they stand out? How do they develop during the story? To me characters are a very important part of a story and a large factor in making my decision about a story.

READABILITY: This covers how the story flows and how the different parts join together. I will also include details of any typos or formatting issues.

ARTWORK: I'll briefly talk about the cover if I need to and any other artwork involved.

 

I will also identify the target audience and I will warn you if there is any adult content and anything else the reader needs to know. After that, I'll do a quick pros and cons section of each book and then a final mark. Much like my Read2Review reviews, I'll give a mark out of five and say for whom I think this book is recommended.

 

An example of how my reviews will look is found HERE.

 

Please note that all reviews will be purely be based on my own personal opinion and they will be as honest as possible. However, I will NOT post any reviews that are overwhelmingly negative. I myself am an author and know the level of hard work that goes into writing. That being said, I don’t believe in giving “empty praise” and will make my criticisms as valid and helpful as I can. If I feel that I cannot do a review without it being negative, I will contact you to advise you of this.

 

 

Time frame

 

Due to the fact that last time I got myself into a HUGE backlog of books last time, this time round I will be doing something slightly different, so as not to get myself into too much of a backlog. Therefore I will now be reading ONE book a month - and each review will be done at the end of the month. This way I can fully concentrate on the novel and give it the review it deserves. My calendar will start from September this year (2013) up until August 2014.

 

If selected for a book review, please select a month that you would like the review to be featured. I will aim to get reviews done in the last week of each month. Please note that these spots are based on a first come, first served basis and space can change. If more than one author wants a certain spot, I will have the final say as to who goes where. Please note that I am NOT accepting any review submissions for September 2013 as I have other commitments to focus on, so submissions will be from October onwards.

 

September 2013: CLOSED

October 2013: CLOSED

November 2013: CLOSED

December 2013: CLOSED

January 2014: CLOSED

February 2014: CLOSED

March 2014: CLOSED

April 2014: CLOSED

May 2014: CLOSED

June 2014: CLOSED

July 2014: CLOSED

August 2014: CLOSED

 

Should you require a review by a certain date, please let me know. I will try and accommodate where possible, but this cannot always be guaranteed.

 

 

What I WILL review

 

I will review Fiction novels (I will also accept short stories and novellas) of ANY kind, this means I will review Children’s/Young Adult/Adult/Etc. My main love is Science Fiction and Fantasy, however, I have also reviewed Romance novels in the past and I am more open to them than most male readers. I do not wish to limit myself to any particular genre so please contact me to discuss your book and I will usually accept it (with the exceptions mentioned below).

 

I also will accept poetry, graphic novels, comics and Manga of any style – in fact I openly encourage creators (artists/writers) of those to send them forward to me and I will be happy to take a look. For any artists out there who wish me to critique their work, I am also happy to do that as well.

 

 

What I will NOT review

 

I won’t review any novel that contains rape, bestiality, torture, murder, scat or child abuse if it is portrayed as a sexual fetish. I refuse to promote anything above that tries to pass itself off in that way. So that means no Hentai or anything resembling Hentai. That doesn’t mean I don’t accept erotic fiction – but if your work does include any of the above, please let me know in your submission.

 

I cannot accept any excessively erotic or pornographic artwork of any kind. Please bear in mind I have to be careful of the level of content I can post on my blog and this is the kind of stuff I don’t think I can get away with. If your novel or art contains anything like that then please let me know in advance.

 

Also, I won’t review fan-fiction of any kind. That’s not to say that I have anything against it, I just don’t feel right reviewing something that uses other peoples work. Unless of course it is a semi-canon source that is meant to be part of the same continuity. If your work falls into this, please let me know beforehand.

 

Finally, I will not accept Non-fiction books as I do not think I can give them a fair review. I also won't review autobiographies as I (personally) don't find them very interesting to read unless it's about a person I genuinely care about or have an interest in.

 

 

How much will I charge for reviews

 

I will NEVER charge any author/artist for a review of their work. This also means that I will NOT accept bribes of any kinds, so don’t even think about doing that – it will not make me review your book any quicker. I will review the books in the order that I get them, so please be patient.

 

 

And now – the important thing... How to submit to me for a review

 

I will accept ONE title per author. If your book is part of a series, please send me the first part of the series. If you have more than one book currently out, please send me the one that you most want reviewed. If I like what I read, I will be happy to read more of your work.

 

Please send all review requests to pandragonpublishing@gmail.com with the subject heading “Review Request” and then the title of your book. All you need to do for this first email is a little synopsis of your book, telling me about the story, characters, genre, etc. You don’t need to go into too much detail, just a few paragraphs is fine. By all means include a link to your website or blog for me to check you out if you so wish.

 

DO NOT send me any review requests via my Facebook or Twitter - I do not read DM's on Twitter and my FB is purely to promoting my own stuff (ie, my writing and my blog) and other stuff. Any review requests sent this way may be ignored. Therefore send me an email.

 

If I like what I hear, I will ask for a copy of the book. DO NOT send me a copy of the book on your first email. I need to make sure that I can give a full and honest review of the book first, based on the synopsis you give me, so don’t send it until I tell you that I am ready to accept it. By all mean, send me any promotional material and a book cover – just don’t send me the book straight away until I ask for it.

 

I will ONLY contact authors who's book I have an interest in, so if I do not contact you - it's nothing personal, I just don't feel I can give you a proper review of your work.

 

For comic and graphic novels, it’s ok to send me some sample artwork if you so wish. I will probably only ask for one issue in the case of a long running series. If it’s a one off, the full issue will be fine.

 

When I ask for the book, it is probably easiest to send them in PDF or Mobi files. However, if you only have hard copies of the book, I will accept them as well – however please see the disclaimer below.

 

 

Disclaimer

 

Please note that the above information is subject to change without prior notice.

 

I reserve the right to not review a book based on the above and I reserve the right to cancel a review at any given time. I will always give a reason for doing so in this instance.

 

By the same token, you have the right to ask me to cancel a review if you so request prior to its posting.

 

Should you wish to send me a paperback copy, you are responsible for your own postage and packaging. I will not return any paperbacks sent to me.

 

As previously stated, I will only contact those who's book I want to review. If I do not reply, within 7 working days, it means that I have chosen not to review your work this time.

 

By sending me a copy of your book, you acknowledge that I can use any material provided (ie, cover art) for review purposes. You will retain full copyright to the book and its contents. You also agree that any comments I make on your work will be based on my own opinion.

 

 

Guest posts/blog tours

 

For those wishing to do a guest post or wish to have me as part of their blog tour, or to include any of my works on their blog, please email me at the address above to discuss.

 

 

Reviews of my books

 

If you wish to express an interest in reviewing any of my books - please contact me at the above email to discuss.

 

 

So there you are, hopefully the above is ok for you and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions.

 

 

Regards

Pandragon

Facebook:  LINK

Twitter:  LINK

Website:  LINK

Happy Or Sad? Which Is The Better Ending?

Todays topic is something that has been widely discussed by many writers/readers since - well since before blogging started I guess. But today I'm having my say on the matter.

 

In my opinion, an ending is probably one of the most important things of any story - be it in book or film or even game form. The ending in the last scene in the story, the moment where the reader/watching looks back over the course of story and thinks either "damn, that was a great story," or "that was the worst piece of s*** I've ever seen/read in my life since Battlefield Earth." An ending should leave you with a lasting impression of the whole story and make you want to recommend it to your friends - or better yet, read/see it again.

 

The big question is, how do you end your story. I think it's fair to say that a common opinion is that every story should have a happy ending - but then there are some who consider that cliched and prefer to go with a "darker" or "sadder" ending.

 

Now, I like happy endings - but I also like bad endings. But which is better? There's only one way to find out! 

Actually, that's just a joke. I just wanted to get Harry Hill in my blog. :)

 

Anyway, onto the subject at hand. To be honest, I don't think it should be too surprising that happy endings are more popular. After all, in the old days of film, these were the ONLY types of endings we got - as the Film Code of Authority prevented evil of any kind from succeeding. Nowadays, story tellers have a lot more freedom in the way they tell their stories - and even many video games include multiple endings (some good, some bad) to make the player decide the outcome based on their choices.

 

If I'm being honest, I'm actually a fan of BOTH types of ending. In the old days, I used to always try and avoid a "happy" ending and tended to go for something a bit darker. But as I grew more experienced, I started to realise the importance and power of a happy ending. But at the same time I appreciated the power that a "bad" ending could have.

 

I'll try and explain below.

 

Whilst it could be argued that happy endings are somewhat of a cliche and overblown, I actually do not have a problem with them. See, for any good story to work (and it doesn't matter if it's a Fantasy, Romance, Comedy, whatever) the protagnoist needs to go through a journey. Along that journey, he or she has to suffer somewhat, ie, lose everything, fail along the way, etc. Therefore, when he/she achieves their goal, the audience feels elated and pleased for them as they have suffered with him. A happy ending for the audience is somewhat of a "pain relief" as they have wanted the character to survive. Sometimes a happy ending can be sad as well, as the hero can look back on what they lost along the way.

 

Two examples of where I think a happy ending can work (and I should warn you this part contains MINOR SPOILERS) is the film Slumdog Millionaire. In that film, the kid is fighting to become a millionaire and is able to answer the questions quite easily - but it's only because the questions bring up moments of his traumatic past and the horror he's had to go through. Because we are seeing his past torments, we really want the kid to win. I actually really felt myself routing for the protagonist and hoped it would have a happy ending. The other example is Pursuit of Happyness, based on the real life experiences of Chris Gardner. In that film, Chris (played by Will Smith) has to struggle with homelessness, no money, whilst trying to look after his son. It's so heartwrenching to watch as Chris is a nice guy and you really want him to do well. Then when he becomes a millionaire, you feel so happy for him as he geniunely had to struggle to get there. Or, as another example, the struggle that Frodo has to go through to destroy the One Ring in Lord of The Rings and the happiness that we feel once Sauron is defeated.

 

I think the general feeling of a happy ending is that it makes a reader or viewer feel fulfilled and relieved - whereas a sad ending leaves them disappointed and unfulfilled. But you should NEVER underestimate the power of a bad ending. They can have just as much dramatic impact as a happy ending, filling the reader/viewer with a sense of fear and terror, or mourning for the loss of humanity. Horror movies, for instance, usually like to put a twist at the end of it to fool the viewers into thinking that the protagonist escaped the horror - when in fact there is something else out there to put a downer on their happy moment!

 

But at the same time, a bad ending doesn't necessarily have to be bad in the sense that the hero didn't win - they can be poignent and have real emotional depth to them - especially if they are based on true events. For example, Titanic didn't (and in my opinion, couldn't) have a happy ending because of the people that died when the Titanic sank. Ok, so the main heroine lived on - but they still didn't excuse the fact that she lost so much, and that people died. By the same token, movies about the Holocaust can't exactly end well due to the subject matter. I even once watched a film based on the Hiroshima incident and knew full well that wasn't going to have a happy ending.

 

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that a happy ending is great and I think I would prefer it over a bad ending. But bad endings (if done well) can have a massive emotional impact and make us really emotional.

 

For me personally, though, ANY ending, no matter bad or good, has to be right within the context of the story. It has to feel like a natural outcome. If you're just trying to force a happy ending into a story for the hell of it, that's wrong. And if you just want to have a bad ending just because you feel like it, that's wrong also. An ending MUST fit in with the theme of the story, no matter the genre.

 

For myself, I will most likely go down the route of a happy ending - but I want to make sure that my protagonists suffer along the way, so that the ending feels like a justified outcome. I do occasionally go with a bad ending now and then, I'll make sure that it is justified. My lastest book, All Hail Emperor Gothon, for example, is quite depressing and doesn't have a great outcome, given that it's a prequel to the main villain - but if you read Trapped on Draconica, you know that the story ends ok at the end.

 

So that's my two cents. Sorry for being a bit neutral in the arguement, but I just can't choose one ending over another. However, I always love to hear your opinions, so please leave a comment below to let me know what type of ending YOU prefer.

 

Thanks for reading guys. Have a great weekend!

 

 

Pandragon

Facebook:  LINK

Twitter:  LINK

Website:  LINK

Book Series I Probably Should Be Reading - The Hunger Games

So with the release of The Hunger Games movie this week (I believe), I have heard a lot of buzz around this book series. It seems to be the one series that everyone in the book world (and beyond) are talking about. People are even asking me what I think of The Hunger Games being made into a film. Some people have asked me if I read the books before.

 

Well, I got to be honest with you guys - and I know I will get a lot of raised eyebrows for admitting this - but until recently, I never even HEARD of The Hunger Games. But then again, if I'm being honest, before it was made into a movie, I never heard of the Twilight series either.

 

(Pauses for the shocked gasp of everyone to pass).

 

Now you may be thinking that I've been living under a rock for admitting this - but let me explain.

 

See, the truth is, even though I write books, I actually didn't read a lot of them until the last two years. If I'm being honest, being a book writer wasn't my first choice - I actually wanted to be a comic writer as I more into comics than novels. That's not to say I didn't read books - I read Lord of the Rings and Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy and I knew about Harry Potter - but I never really heard of books like Twilight or The Hunger Games or any of the crap that Dan Brown was bringing out. None of my friends ever talked about them (even the ones who were avid readers) and I never saw any of these series advertised heavily so as far as I was concerned they didn't exist. In fact when I did first hear about Twilight my first reaction was "a vegetarian vampire? That's just ripping off Count Duckula!" And, if I'm being honest, I'd much rather watch Count Duckula than the Twilight films (that's just my opinion remember. Hopefully I won't get any abuse from the Twilight fans for that remark!). I have actually seen the first film and... well, I think I'll keep my opinions to myself on that one. Let's just say it won't be on my top ten best films list.

 

Anyway, coming back to my old point, I actually don't think I'm alone in the whole not knowing a book until it becomes a film thing. At my job, for instance, no one ever talked about the Twilight series - until the movies came out. So I have to wonder how many people really DID know about these films before they were made into a film. Obviously I appreciate that they had a strong following to begin with (or else they wouldn't have been made into films), but now I wonder how much more richer Stephanie Meyer and Suzanne Collins is now that their works are turned into films.

 

The point is that, in view of the above, I probably won't be in too much of a rush to see The Hunger Games films, nor read the books. Does that mean I have no interest in them? Not at all. In fact, from what I've heard, The Hunger Games sounds like my kinda book. An apocalypic future, a strong heroine and some kick ass action. In fact, the story sounds a little like Battle Royale in some way so I probably should be checking them out. However, at the moment I'm still trying to catch up to the rest of the A Song of Ice and Fire series - and the thing with me is that when I start a book series, I like to see it through to the end as much as possible (books submitted to me for review being the exception), so I want to make sure I get through this series first before I start another one. And seeing as all these books can be 700+ pages each (and some even split into 2 books) I think I'm going to be on this series for a while first.

 

That being said, I will possibly check out The Hunger Games trilogy in the future and maybe check the film out when it comes to terrestrial television. I do hope for the sake of the fans and the author that The Hunger Games does the books justice, but I don't think that I will be reading them any time soon for the reasons above - at least not until I finish the series I'm on at the moment.

 

Hope that explains things and people understand my reasons for not wanting to see The Hunger Games straight away. It's not that I don't want to. I just don't have the time at the moment.

 

Until next time.

 

 

Kindest

Pandragon

Facebook: LINK

Twitter: LINK

Website: LINK

Winters Respite Read-A-Thon 2012

Looking for some great reading giveaways/competitions? You may be interested by the Read-A-Thon Winters Respite!

Hosted by The True Book Addict, this is a wondering opportunity to participate in some great giveaways AND discover some fantastic new authors. I myself have put up a copy of my latest book The Wandering Valkyr as part of this giveaway and it would be great for you guys to show your support of this.

Simply go to http://thetruebookaddict.blogspot.com/2011/12/winters-respite-read-thon-2012.html for more information and how to take part. Thanks to The True Book Addict for hosting this fantastic event!

 

Kindest

 

Pandragon Dan

Blog Stats

  • Total posts(313)
  • Total comments(333)

Forgot your password?