Narrative Transport. The official Michael Pryor website.
  • July24th

    When you think about it, we writers spend an awful lot of time trying to make our stories convincing. On one level we want to convince you that our stories are worth reading and, even better, worth spending good money on or worth borrowing from a library.

    Professional convincers

    But it’s more than that. When we’re writing, we’re hard at work trying to convince you that our characters are credible, that our plots are compelling, that our settings have the sort of verisimilitude that lets you step easily into the events we’re unfolding in front of you. Of course, this whole business of convincing can be even more challenging for we writers of Fantasy and Science Fiction, where we have to work extra hard to convince you to go along with a whole world that is often vastly different from our here and now.

    The techniques we use so that our stories are convincing are legion, but I’d like to point out one that is extremely useful and often overlooked both by novice writers and those who are experienced. I call it the Reaction Shot, borrowing from the world of cinema.

    We’ve all seen the moment in the movie when something dramatic happens – the bridge blows up, the train crashes, someone delivers a heartbreaking speech. And every director worth her salt then cuts away when this moment ends to those who are nearby, for their reactions. It can be entirely visual – facial expressions, movements of various sorts, gestures – or it could be verbal – screams, cheers, noises of affirmation or denial. The reaction underlines the dramatic event but it also emphasises that the event is real, because of course a dramatic event would inspire responses from those nearby, whether they’re bystanders or intimately involved.

    shocked crowd

    When we’re writing, too often we forget this important moment. We get bound up in the events, the happenings, the moments of drama – emotional or action – and after these heightened moments we forget to pause, draw breath, and dwell just a little on the reactions of those involved. Show these reactions, let the reader experience them, and the dramatic moment is emphasised, made more meaningful, and more convincing.

    Think cinematically and make sure you include Reaction Shots after your wonderful moments of drama. Your writing will be more convincing and far better off if you do.

  • July9th

    I thought I’d get it up on the website so everyone knows – I’m set up, available and more than happy to conduct online sessions. Workshops, talks, presentations or chats are all viable options. Get in touch using the Contact tab above, or email me at misc(at)michaelpryor.com.au, if you’d like to discuss any or all of these possibilities.

  • June15th

    It’s been a long time, but I have a new ‘Laws of Magic’ novella for you: Brink of Disaster.

    It’s a totally free digital book for you to download and enjoy. Click on the image above, or the link in the final paragraph below.

    Eight years after the publication of the last of the series (Hour of Need, 2012) I found myself wondering what they’d been up to after we parted company, Aubrey, Caroline, George and the rest of the characters I’d grown so close to over the ten plus years of writing the series. In the intervening years, surely they would have embarked on all sorts of adventures, faced so many challenges, and generally coped with the exigencies of adulthood – in one way or another.

    So I decided to rejoin them, see what was going on with them and their lives, and share this with you.

    I don’t think revisiting characters after such a long time gap has been done in OzYA before. Some writers have followed characters over a number of years, but a time jump of a decade, almost reflecting the real time elapsed since the last book, is refreshingly different. YA characters become A?

    Covid-19 also had something to do with this project, as I thought it might be something to help alleviate the unease of these straitened times. I’ve striven for the same ‘Laws of Magic’ historical/fantasy/comedy/romance feel that gained so many readers when the series was released, and doesn’t the world need a little panache, style and grace right now?

    You can download it at Smashwords, and it’s one hundred percent free, my gift to you.

  • November4th

    On Saturday (2nd November) twenty-nine intrepid sightseers gathered in inner Melbourne to explore some of the locations of my books Gap Year in Ghost Town and Graveyard Shift in Ghost Town. I was a little worried about the viability of the occasion, because I woke up that morning to hear heavy rain on the roof – and it didn’t let up all day. I put my trust in the Bureau of Meteorology, though, and it promised that the rain would be clearing by the evening. Even so, I had my trust Bladerunner umbrella with me, just in case.

    I’d done my planning, plotting our course in Google Maps and walking it in rehearsal, but these things are always dicey affairs. How fast would people walk? What questions would they have? How long would they laugh at my jokes?

    Here are the locations:

    • Fitzroy Gardens
    • The Conservatory, Fitzroy Gardens
    • River God Fountain, Fitzroy Gardens
    • Allen and Unwin, Albert Street
    • Victorian Artists Society, Albert Street
    • Eastern Hill Fire Station, Gisborne Street
    • Royal Exhibition Building/Melbourne Museum
    • Royal Society of Victoria, LaTrobe Street

    At each stop, I regaled the crowd with some history (absolutely true) and some ghostiness (totally made up).

    As a bonus, Ellie Marney and Lili Wilkinson had agreed to be part of the night, with Ellie popping up at Allen and Unwin HQ, reading Poe’s ‘The Raven’ and sharing some juicy details about Melbourne’s ghoulish history. Lili appeared at the Hochgurtel Fountain in front of the Royal Exhibition Bulding and treated us to a scary reading from her work in progress. Monsters!

    We finished spot on 9.30, as advertised, a tribute either to my excellent organisation or the gods of good fortune.

    Many thanks to Lili and Ellie, but also to all those who attended. It was an atmospheric, convivial and wondrous night.

  • September30th

    Mmmm …

    I posted the above pic on Twitter and Instagram, and it prompted such enthusiasm I thought I’d share the recipe I use. Don’t be intimidated, it’s very easy – much easier than making jam.

    The only slightly tricky part is sterilising the jars and lids. I just pop my jars in the oven at 100 degrees for fifteen minutes or so, and I boil my lids in a saucepan for about the same time. Because you store this lovely concoction in the fridge, all should be fine. It won’t last long enough to go off, anyway.

    Here’s the lemon butter recipe I use.

    Ingredients

    3 eggs

    1 cup sugar

    1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

    Half a cup lemon juice

    60 g butter, chopped.

    Method

    1. Combine ingredients in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. (It’s obvious when this happens).
    2. Remove from heat and pour into warm, sterilised jars. When cool, label and date. Store in the fridge. Smother on toast, crumpets, scones, whatever takes your fancy.
  • September12th

    For the spooky Halloween season, I’m holding a Ghost Town Ghost Walk, where I’ll take participants to some of the locations featured in Gap Year in Ghost Town and the sequel, Graveyard Shift in Ghost Town. It will be an amiable night time amble over an hour or so and roughly two kilometres in distance. I’ll provide a commentary full of ghostly and historical interest, and quite possibly a few jokes. While ghost sightings aren’t guaranteed, possum sightings are.

    Date and time: Saturday 2nd November, 8 o’clock.

    Depature point: Corner of Treasury Place and Lansdowne Street, Melbourne.

    Bookings here: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/ghost-town-ghost-walk-tickets-72204645037

  • July24th

    Apollo 11 50th got me thinking, so here are Five of my Favourite Science Fiction Moon Novels.
    The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein. The moon is revolting! Or its denizens are, anyway. One of the last good Heinlein novels?
    Seveneves by Neal Stephenson. If the moon explodes in the first line, is it really a moon novel?
    Steel Beach by John Varley. A heavily populated moon, because aliens won’t let us go any further into the universe.
    Rogue Moon by Algis Budrys. An existential moon. Mind bending.
    A Fall of Moondust by Arthur C Clarke. A dusty moon, which is a problem.

  • June30th

    One crafty technique that should be part of every writer’s toolbox is using foibles, quirks and mannerisms in your characterisation. You should do this for two very good reasons:

    1. They individualise your characters. All humans have foibles, quirks and mannerisms. They’re the minor and unconscious ways we do things, from the way we walk to the way we talk to the way we eat our food. Allocate a handful of these to each of your characters in incidental description, and instantly they’re more realistic, more human, more convincing.
    2. They can create a Moment of Recognition™. As a writer, we’re all aiming to engage our readers. One of the most subtle – but most powerful – methods is when a reader recognises something in one of your characters that is like someone they’ve seen, or like someone they know or – best of all – just like themselves. Dropping in well detailed foibles, quirks and mannerisms is a useful way of providing opportunities for those Moments of Recognition™ that help your reader develop a deep and enduring engagement with your story.

    For example, consider someone who cannot finish drinking something without adding a satisfied ‘Ahh!’. We all know, or have seen someone like that. If your character – major or minor – displays this foible/quirk/mannerism, it instantly individualises them (because this character is the only one in your story who displays this FQM) and creates a potential Moment of Recognition™. Achievement unlocked.

    As a writer, you should practise observing people, noticing these tiny aspects of our behaviour, then collect them and roll them out to make your characters more realistic, more individual and, with luck, create that wonderful moment of recognition hook for your readers.

  • June11th

    Graveyard Shift in Ghost Town is due for release on 1st of July. Here’s a book trailer I put together to tempt and tantalise.

  • April16th

    Yes, good stuff gets left out of any final version of a novel – and for many good reasons. Still, that’s no reason they can’t see the light of day, right?

    But do you know how hard it is to ignore ghosts, when you’re supposed to be a dedicated and conscientious ghost hunter? Correct answer is, “very hard” but with the avalanche of ghosts right now, that’s what Rani and I had to do. On our way to jobs, we saw ghosts everywhere. They spilled out of old buildings, blundered around alleys and lanes, wandered across busy streets, and basically made nuisances of themselves. And they weren’t solo manifestations, either. Pairs, trios, bunches of them skulking around together. Mobs and packs of a dozen or more. Crowds, even, drifting around, doing their ghosty thing, enjoying—if that’s the right word—their spooky existence.

    It was as if someone had stuck up a sign saying “Worldwide Ghost Convention Here!” and then forgot to arrange any accommodation. It was really lucky that politicians couldn’t see them otherwise they’d be frothing at the mouth about roaming gangs of ghosts up to no good and using this to justify some sort of law and order crackdown.

    Graveyard Shift in Ghost Town is coming in July, from Allen and Unwin. Pre-order now!