Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Five thousand words deep

Two nights ago something happened that has to do with the book I am writing and that I think I will inflict you.
You have been warned.

Basically, and this is no secret, I am writing a big sea-monster story. A bunch of researchers get on a boat and go looking for a monster. Many shenanigans ensue.

There are four “building blocks” to this story, four pieces I must get right for the story to work.

The first is the monster. Continue reading


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Strength is not just kicking ass (and vice-versa)

Something funny happened the other day – funny up to a point, as I will try and explain later.

One of the usual debates started, about reading and writing and what else, and the discussion turned to strong female characters, and we were given a brief lecture about how

a woman will never be stronger than a man – it’s a matter of muscular mass: the strongest woman warrior will always be at the same level of a mid-range male warrior, and she could never beat a stronger opponent

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Now, this statement is – of course – mindboggingly asinine on two counts1
Continue reading


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Character Profile – Old Master Wei

So – we’ve met the leading lady and my favorite bad guy from The Ministry of Thunder.
Let’s meet another member of “Team Sabatini”.

bb11bfb723a231ace354dfc95409846cOld Wei has the dubious honor of appearing on stage even before the main character is introduced, and he slips in and out of the novel, suggesting herbal infusions and being terribly mysterious.

What’s the deal with the old man? Continue reading


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Supporting cast

It sometimes happens that I fall in love with my support characters.

Now, every series should have a handful of characters the hero can call upon when he gets in trouble – as heroes will.
Not properly a sidekick, more like a recurring character.
Think Marcus Brody and Sallah in the Indiana Jones movies.

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Such characters provide support, continuity, and quite often an element of comedy that the hero can’t bring himself (being heroic AND funny is hard work indeed, for both hero and author).
More generally, they can voice the feelings and the thoughts the hero, for a number of reasons, can’t.
They can act as conscience, provide wise suggestions, or quite simply hand the hero the tool he needs, when he needs it.

Continue reading


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Characters at Large into the Media Landscape

452719337_640I’m taking part in a strange experiment.
As part of my online course on The Future of Storytelling, the 50.000-odd students were asked last week to create a character, give him/her/it a web presence, and let them interact with each other.

So, during this week, some 50.000 imaginary web citizens entered or will enter the net – as Facebook profiles, as blogs, as G+ identities, as tumblrs, as e-mail addresses, as podcasts.
They are out there, or will be soon, interacting with each other, and with… you.
With us.

There will be stories born.
There will be stories, I think, developed across the media landscape – a weird, heady mix of storytelling, multimedia and roleplaying game.

Now, admittedly – setting up a character with a virtual life is no laughing matter.
It takes time, imagination, effort.
Outlining the character was simple and fun – I picked an old character from some stories I wrote 30 years ago.
But then translating it to the web in a believable way… ouch!
It’s a chore – I got bogged down in passwords, nicknames, whistles and bells.
But the results… ah, the results will be fun.
Of that I’m almost certain.