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Writer & tutor. Serialised fiction author. Producer of the Writing Life podcast at the National Centre for Writing.

I’m trying something new with my next project. It’s the most ambitious speculative fiction book I’ve attempted so far, simply in terms of the scale of the setting. As a genre mash-up that blends science fiction, high fantasy and police procedural (yup) it requires more detail in the up-front world building than normal, so that the detective mystery angle is fair to readers.

World building in Trello
Planning things out in Trello

When I’m planning out a new setting I have previously gone down the route of lots of post-it notes (usually on Trello) with a handful of more detailed notes for fiddlier elements. It’s all quite scrappy and…

I’ve been using Scrivener to write my projects since 2012 and it’s no coincidence that was the turning point for my writing. Prior to 2012 I had never completed a major project. Since 2012 I’ve written three complete novels.

After a slightly weird delay, Scrivener 3 is finally out on Windows as well as Mac and it is very, very good. I’ve been using it to edit my third book No Adults Allowed and it’s proved very useful. Before I talk about how and why I use it, let’s deal with the two pesky issues that always come up:

  1. Why…

Is ‘lore’ something which excites you or provokes a roll of the eyes? If you’re not a regular reader or viewer of genre fiction, especially science fiction and fantasy, you may not even have heard the term in this context.

a body of traditions and knowledge on a subject or held by a particular group, typically passed from person to person by word of mouth.

The ‘particular group’ relevant to this conversation is, of course, geeks. I’ve spent countless hours, especially when I was younger, poring over the fine details of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars

A quick how-to guide for charities, arts orgs and non-profits

I produce and co-host the National Centre for Writing’s podcast, The Writing Life. It’s a pleasure to put together each week and is surprisingly doable, even if you’re operating on tiny or non-existent budgets.

Here’s an example of a recent episode:

This is going to be a no-frills guide on how to make a podcast for your organisation, from start to finish.

What’s it about and who is it for?

Before diving in, you need to work this stuff out. …

I just finished writing and serialising my third novel, No Adults Allowed. It’s my most overtly metaphorical story to date and loops in a bunch of themes that have been bubbling in my head for a long time: AI, social media, prejudiced algorithms, inherited bias, why young people are better than old people and how everything — literally, everything — is the fault of the parents.

This is going to be a detailed debrief of the book. If you haven’t read it yet, you can do so for free over on Wattpad. …

How arts organisations can keep up with the world

This week The Writing Life podcast hit 100 episodes. I’ve been producing this podcast at the National Centre for Writing since mid-2018, which has turned out to be fortuitous.

(practical tips on how to produce a pod can be found down below, if you’re taking your first steps)

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity, as someone clever once said, and the pod perfectly demonstrated that as we descended into the hellscape that is the year 2020. …

I grabbed an Oculus Quest towards the end of 2019, attracted by its (relatively) affordable price, its untethered nature and it not needing to be powered by a nearby PC. Spoiler: it’s fantastic. Not least, the lack of faff and required technical know-how makes it a far more social, family affair rather than being an off-putting techie thing stuck next to my PC upstairs.

I wrote a couple of articles on storytelling in games a while back. You can find them here:


At the time I’d not experienced VR to any great extent, hence it being conspicious by its…

I’ve had an international notion of identity baked into me my whole life, due to a combination of good fortune and timing.

I grew up in Hong Kong, the UK and Italy. I was too young to actively remember being in Hong Kong but it feels like the experience actively imprinted on my young brain regardless. When I lived in Rome as a pre-teen I went to an international school; nearly every child in my class was from a different country. Even at 13 it was evident that there was more connecting us than dividing us.

When I was 15…

I’ve never enjoyed editing. Have avoided it like the plague, in fact. So much so that I fell into a serialised form of writing novels whereby I write and publish a chapter online every week, over on Wattpad. It works for me and keeps me productive, but the Wattpad versions of my books are evidently not going to be as polished as something you’d buy in a bookshop.

In 2016 I finished my first novel, A Day of Faces, and immediately moved on to writing my second. I’d considered ADoF to be complete, in as much as it had always…

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

In August I completed an online serial which I’d been writing every week for three years. That was a long period in which to be writing a single book, especially in such a live, public fashion. Once I’d wrapped The Mechanical Crown I then had to consider what I was going to do next.

Turns out I’m going to try doing more than one thing at a time. The simpler one is to go back to my previous book, A Day of Faces, and do a full edit pass. Story Machine Productions head honcho and National Centre for Writing alumni…

Simon K Jones

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