The Future of Non-Fiction

Excuse the rather broad title, but recently I’ve been drifting away from fiction books, and trying out more non-fiction novels. Whilst non-fiction books are subjective based on what the book covers, I’m finding some of them to be particularly interesting.

The first example of this, which aren’t exactly non-fiction books, are The One-Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson. Whilst the basis of the book is purely fictional, the book also eludes to important historical events and perspectives such as communism and capitalism. Bizarre but hilarious works of fiction, Jonasson’s novels cleverly disguise a ‘non-fiction style’ which enables to me to learn about these things whilst laughing at the same time.

Perhaps it was his books which started it, as I was then quick to buy Alain de Botton’s News: A User’s Manual. Whilst this book didn’t necessarily have story-telling within the non-fiction, as a journalist I was still fascinated by the book and it remains one of the most intriguing non-fiction books I ever read.

However, the latest non-fiction novel I picked up was So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson (which I hope to buy when I next visit a bookshop). Upon reading the first few pages as a sample, I was drawn to the ‘fiction’ style of writing. By that, I don’t mean that the story was ‘made up’ – of course not – but the storytelling mimicked the style of fiction novels.  Other non-fiction books would be purely factual and wouldn’t have this conversational style.

Admittedly, as a child I was put-off by non-fiction. Despite having a strong love of facts as a kid – which I still had now – I feared that it would just be a book listing all the key points of the topic discussed. But of course, non-fiction has developed and has become more engaging.

But if there’s any way to develop non-fiction further, then it’s through this idea of story-telling in non-fiction. With that in mind, readers put off the style of writing (with my similar belief in mind) will realise that there is more to the intriguing and fascinating genre.

What do you think? Should non-fiction books remain purely factual, or should they contain an element of conversational language common in fiction works? Comment your thoughts below!

Liam

Musical Discovery: Summer Tracks of 2015

At the moment, we are right in the middle of a hot summer, and musicians will be quick to release singles or albums in an attempt to become 2015’s “summer anthem” or number 1. With that in mind, today’s Musical Discovery will take a look at some potential contenders that I’ve happened to stumble across recently…

 

Come and Get It by John Newman

When comparing John Newman’s latest track to his debut song Love Me Again, it’s clear that the artist is exploring a new style. Instead of a fast-paced drum beat, the rhythm feels more laid-back. However, that doesn’t stop the track from being a huge summer track this year.

With a groovy, plucky and slightly off-beat guitar riff, the style of riff is very similar to that of The 1975 (particularly tracks such as GirlsSettle Down and Chocolate). But aside from that, John Newman’s new brand of soulful vocals for this track see the singer take his music in a new direction.

However, that is not to say that Newman has completely abandoned his old style. Especially in the chorus, there’s the traditional fanfare of trumpets combined with simplistic but catchy lyrics that will remind fans of his first album.

Whilst I do like the song, the potential for it to be a summer track is likely. But the track, in my opinion, brings nothing new to what would be a very competitive summer of music.

 

T-Shirt Weather by Circa Waves

Despite the song being released in March this year, there is a slight possibility that this song could resurface and become a summer track for 2015.

I’ve heard this way back in March, then again when I saw Circa Waves at this year’s Glastonbury. Since then, the song has been growing on me…

Straight away, the catchy guitar riff definitely implies that this track has an upbeat and vibrant feel to it. As well as that, the chorus itself continues with the catchy and memorable aspect of the song, containing easy-to-remember lyrics and a ‘bouncy’ drum rhythm. Lastly, the singer’s vocals, also create a style and idea that this song is a perfect summer track to listen to this year.

 

How Deep is Your Love by Calvin Harris and Disciples

Immediately, the deep house style wouldn’t strike listeners as belonging to Calvin Harris (instead it belongs to dance group Disciples). However, this low bass tone quickly mixes with Harris’ catchy piano stabs, implying that this is a fairly balanced collaboration between Calvin Harris and Disciples.

Additionally, a variety of melodies, along with a driving drum beat create a busy but exciting chorus. Later on in the track, the last verse uses synthesised vocals to create a style similar to Daft Punk. Whilst this is something unexpected for Harris’ listeners, it works well with this track which appears to be a mixture of different melodies and styles.

With soulful vocals, this song has all the fundamental styles required for a memorable summer dance anthem. With the piano stabs being mimetic of Harris’ 2014 summer hit Summer (one of the biggest summer tracks of last year), I think this track may follow suit and create another successful summer track for the DJ.

 

What do you think will be this year’s summer track/anthem? Comment below!

Liam

Writing Update: Word Count Problems

At the moment, I’ve written a fair amount of my book in one big Word document. For that reason, I haven’t really split up scenes into chapters. But aside from that, I’ve written quite a few scenes, yet I’m still only on 5,000 words (or thereabouts).

Whilst the whole idea of target word counts has always been mysterious (is it a guide or mandatory goal for authors?), having only 5,000 words after writing three or so ‘scenes’/chapters is a bit concerning.

Initially, I had intended to write 100,000 words for my first draft, and then in editing it could be decreased down to something between 85,000 to 90,000 words. Whilst that may still be too high, the best scenario is to edit out words, rather than add more in.

But of course, these numbers and change all the time based on the genre of the book, the publisher you ask and the website you look at. Another issue I have is the genre of my book. It is of course crime fiction, but then there’s the sub-genres such as thriller, suspense and mystery which I’m not sure as to which one my book belongs to.

But of course, I’m not going to worry about that until I have finished writing! So, without further ado, here’s my current word count!

Current Word Count: 

Liam

Thoughts on the Guardian Insight Day

Recently, I received an invitation to attend an insight day at The Guardian. So yesterday, I went down to London, to the Guardian’s headquarters for the day to learn more about the Guardian and journalism.

Upon arrival at their offices, I was in awe at how funky and post-modern it was. Unfortunately I was unable to take any pictures, but throughout there were pretty decorations and designs on the walls, plus views of the canal outside. Even whilst I was waiting at reception, I found out that it was true what they say about the chairs at The Guardian – that they are exceptionally comfy.

Anyway, moving on from comfortable chairs to journalism, the day was full of interesting talks and activities. From a tour of The Guardian’s fascinating headquarters and its departments, to designing our own front page in around 75 mins, to talks from sections of the newspaper such as News, Sport, G2, Multimedia and more. All items on the jam-packed agenda were incredibly useful and interesting.

Overall, I left with an experience of what it’s like to work for different sections of the Guardian, and how the newspaper itself works. As well as that, I left with a lot of questions answered.

I’d just like to say thank you to everyone at The Guardian and The Guardian Education who spoke to us yesterday, the information and insight you gave me was incredibly useful!

Liam

Review: ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ by Robert Galbraith

Sadly, I did take a huge break from reading for most of this year. From January to June it was one big preparation for my A-Level exams in May and June and so of course I had to give them my undivided attention.

But come mid-June, when exams finished, I finally started to get back into reading and chose The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith. I was still a bit busy throughout June but I finally finished the book yesterday. So for today’s post, I thought I’d review the book.

Immediately upon hearing about the book’s plot, I was intrigued since it definitely had the style of a traditional mystery/crime novel. But what made the plot unique within this genre was the diverse characters. Whilst the caring and enthusiastic Robin was a bit of a cliché side-kick for private detective Cormoran Strike, the relationship between the two as the investigation continued made both of their characters believable. In particular, though, I was drawn more to Strike’s character, whose direct and sometimes blunt attitude made him an intriguing and sometimes humorous character to follow throughout the plot.

However, whilst the two main protagonists were well-developed in terms of character, J.K. Rowling (who uses Robert Galbraith as a pseudonym for this book) once again decides to introduce a large amount of characters into the story. All these characters are well-developed and add key details to the mystery and the plot, but by setting the reader the task of remembering all of these characters, there’s a chance that they’ll get confused and probably won’t remember everything. On a separate note, Harry Potter manages multiple characters well, but as for The Casual Vacancy, I felt as though the book expected me to know who all of the characters were straight away. With The Cuckoo’s Calling being a crime novel, I expect to remember all of the characters so I can have my own suspicions when it comes to the mystery.

But in terms of the plot’s development, I must admit that the book does start at a rather slow pace. However, the book then starts to explore this style of investigation which was almost like a to-do list. Throughout the plot readers are told who Strike would interview or what he would investigate next, which for me was a good aspect of the book as it felt as though I was following the case at the same time as Strike.

Without wanting to give away spoilers, another good section of the book aside from the intriguing character of Cormoran Strike is how well the mystery is executed towards the end of the novel. The twists and red-herrings worked well and the solution was something that I have always wanted to see in a crime fiction book. But whilst the big reveal at the end was a clever, the explanation of this reveal wasn’t as well executed, leaving a few plot holes here and there.

Despite the ending being a relatively satisfying conclusion to the novel, I felt as though more could have been done by Galbraith/Rowling to ensure that the reader was keeping on top of the plot developments, so that the final twist in the novel is more of a shock. For me, part of the reason why it wasn’t a shock was because, with all the information to remember, I had forgotten certain parts of the novel that prevented me from understanding the ending completely. In summary, the plot felt a little crammed in terms of details, with the story feeling a tad over-developed or ‘busy’, lacking simplicity in areas.

Before having read the first book, I was quick to buy the second book in the series, The Silkworm. Now that I have finished The Cuckoo’s Calling, I will read The Silkworm since the plot does sound intriguing. But I hope that Galbraith’s second novel sees a limitation on the amount of characters in the plot, and that the plot itself is perhaps a bit more simplistic than that of The Cuckoo’s Calling.

With an interesting premise, Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling fits perfectly into the mystery/crime genre. Whilst the large amount of characters and an over-developed plot may put off some readers, crime fiction fans will definitely enjoy the unique investigative duo that is Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott in J.K. Rowling’s crime writing debut.  

Rating: 3 out of 5

Liam

Musical Discovery: ‘Cut Your Teeth’ by Kyla La Grange (Kygo Remix)

At last, I can finally share with you this track. After hearing it played constantly at the weekend, and then hearing it at Glastonbury, this song definitely got my attention. Annoyingly, my Shazam app was never around so I was clueless, with only a slight guess at the song being by Kygo to help me.

But I was right, as last week I finally found out the name of a song I’ve been dying to find for a few months at least. So this week’s Musical Discovery is Kygo’s remix of Cut Your Teeth by Kyla La Grange.

This is the radio edit of Kygo’s remix. A longer, six-minute remix can be found on YouTube and iTunes.

It was Kygo’s melody which immediately drew me to the song. Upbeat and using his ‘exotic’ synth melodies, the track demonstrates Kygo’s unique style which has made previous tracks such as Younger and Firestone such a success.

In particular, Kygo’s ability to respect the tracks he remixes should be commended. Whilst Younger has a more ‘childish’, jolly melody, Cut Your Teeth has a more laid-back style which makes it a chilled summer track to listen to.

In summary, Kygo’s remix of Cut Your Teeth shows the DJ’s respectful attitude  and diversity when it comes to creating remixes. But at the same time, each track by the artist contains his signature style which makes tracks like these such a success.

The only downside to this song is the vocal style of Kyla’s vocals. Whilst the low tone of her voice adds to the relaxing feel of the track, I struggle to hear the lyrics which is a shame.

What do you think of this track? Comment below!

Liam

Writing Update: Writing Doubts

Despite saying a week ago that I was beginning to understand my characters, I’m coming to the point in the novel where I am having doubts about my work…

But do not worry, this isn’t doubts over the whole plot. Usually, if that’s the case, I’d be worried as that tends to lead to me giving up on the book as a whole. Thankfully, the doubts I’m having are over characters, not the plot. Is this character believable? Are they too cliché? Are they a unique protagonist in a crime fiction novel?

For now, I’ll continue to write in the hope that the characters become more 3-dimensional. If not, it’ll be something I’ll change in editing.

But I’m not going to give up again! I’m still writing and after going back and tweaking a few more things, here is the latest word count!

Current Word Count: 4,261

As for a deadline for when I finish this book, hopefully I can get a first draft completed before the end of the year (preferably December latest so I can meet one of my New Year’s Resolutions!). I can then leave it for six months and then return in summer 2016 for editing! But we shall see how that goes…

Liam