Welcome

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Welcome

I’m James Marson. I’m a writer based in south London and author of comic sci-fi novel “The Colour of Robots”, which you can read more about here.

 

You might also be interested in the Little Apps for Writers which are little handy app tools for storytellers.

Please get in touch if you’re interested in hearing more about any of my current projects.

And now on to my latest batch of silliness: The Lazy Planet Guides….

The Lazy Planet Guide to Valentines Day Eating in London

by Bethan

kitten

Hello!

London is so the hub of the world food thing at the moment. Everywhere you look there are places to eat. So it must be.  And with Valentines Day coming up now’s the time to be treating someone you love –  or admire, or want to have carnal squidgy with – by taking them out and watching them eat.

So join me for my weekly [you’ll be lucky – Ed] round-up of places to eat as I gather together all the places to eat and be taken out to dinner. I’m generally free on Thursday evenings. And if you’re reading this Kyle, feel free to you know, just call me, or return my calls or whatever. It’s polite, okay.
So here it is – my round up of the best places to eat in London for Valentines day or not.
The Beardy Guzzler – Shoreditch High St.
Upmarket cardboard food served on cardboard plates with cardboard cutlery. Bring your own pair of brightly coloured braces, checked shirt and beard. Shit.
Hash Browns – Victoria Park
Where hash cakes meet breakfast. Not ready for your comedown? – come down to Hash Browns. Check with local police for opening hours.
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You have to eat it.
 
Marco Pierre White at Raymond Blanc – Mayfair
They hate each other. Watch them kick seven shades of shit out of each other in the open kitchen while you try to finish an awkward meal with your loved one.
 
The Veggie Sausage Factory – Farringdon
Churning out indistinguishable vegetable platters since 2003. Unrivalled, if smelly.
The Swinging Fifties Burger Palace  Leicester Square
With genuine swinging. Be prepared to go home with someone twice your age.
Pie and a Pint and a Fight   London Bridge
Special reductions for students. Friday is early bird fight night. And so is the rest of the week.
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F**k

The Window Cleaning Platform at the Shard. – at the Shard

 Enjoy this uniquely terrifying dining experience on a suspended, unstable platform, eighty floors up.
RippOFF – King’s Road
Watch your bill rise eye-wateringly fast as business-savvy michelin star chef Arnold Ripp does you slowly over eighteen minuscule courses, delivered with carefully calculated pretention.
Escalattoria – Russell Square
Novelty Italian dining and the UK’s only restaurant on an escalator. Impossibly erratic service.
The Water Bar – Kennington.
Serving twelve different types of tap water at £8 a bottle. Excellent if you’re keeping an eye on the calories/vitamins/nutrients.

Cafe Rouge Alert – Aldwych

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Unnerving
This terrifying dining experience fuses the glamour of nineteen-thirties Paris with the opening few days of the Nazi occupation. Allo Allo it ‘aint.
The Klingon Eatery – Piccadilly
Star Trek themed restaurant serving Klingon inspired dishes and drinks. With everything from the menu to the signs to the toilet in Klingon this is a mind-bogglingly difficult evening.
No! Sushi –  Run out apparently.
Findus Keepers – Dalston
Serving original Findus crispy pancakes only – choose from beef and onion, chicken and bacon, fish bits and unclassified. Genuine original Eighties product. Not health rated.
RAW!  – Balham
For those who like your meat on the sanguine side. The meat is fresh from the animal to your plate as God intended it if God hated cooking.
There is a chef, but she’s ornamental.
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Yep. That’s how it comes.

 

Kebabylon– Clapham High Street
The place to come eat kebabs when you’re so drunk you can no longer speak. Like the tower of Babylon only made of meat. Mind the sick by the front door.
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Well that’s it for this week! Happy Valentines (if you buy that shit).
Bethx

Lazy Planet: How to get about it (London)

Getting about in London can be a pain. Let Lineaus guide you through the variable options.

By Lineaus
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As I slide gaily through London’s bright and vibrant streets I am often struck by the variety of transport available, and cyclists. While I’ve nothing against cyclists they are very shiny, and largely frictionless which can be disconcerting.
But there are lots of ways to get around in this city. My personal favourite is the Tube.
The tube can be a wondrous place, where all of humanity is bundled together like toys in a toy box. Where the toys are all slightly nervous of each other. It’s a great place for smiling at girls. Girls love to be smiled at.
Also there are free newspapers and if you are feeling adventurous, free sips of coffee and discarded juice. I mean I don’t but I could. If I was hungry, you know.
Pricing varies, but the tube can be the most expensive form of transport in London, and if you have to actually do anything other than walk about and breathe, it can get pricey quickly.
Below is a tube map of places that are accessible by tube if you have less than £20 to spend a day.
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This is here is some map of the tube for under £20 a day.
Alternatively you can get a bus:
A bus
This bus is nearly empty. I would like to sing to her.
Buses are red and go everywhere, and are cheap, and are easy to get on. Here is Lineaus simple guide to getting on bussses.
  1. Find a bus stop and wait
  2. Get on the bus.
Pretty easy huh?
And girls like buses too. I always have my guitar with me so I like to play some songs to amuse fellow passengers. At the moment my favourites are
  1. You’re Beautiful by James Blunt
  2. Anything by Jack Johnson
  3. sometime I just find humming can be appealing.

If you are going by bus don’t stand on the upper deck or stairs. They don’t like it and the driver will throw you off.

 

The Docklands Light Railway is also handy for getting around out east but it is a bit like being driven by a drunk.

 

There are also cars but you must pay the congestion charge and have a car, both of which are pricey and not an option for the casual traveller. Also you have to have a licence apparently.

 

And there are also Boris bikes which are a very easy way of getting around. You will need to have a chip in your arm implanted in order to release one. There is a man at the edge of Hyde Park who will do this for you for money using an unsterilised penknife but I haven’t yet. Let me know if you have.  If you are a good cyclist then maybe this is for you but please remember that the bikes willoperate two levels below your own ability.

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Where the boats live.

Oh and boats but I get sea-sick and there are not so many girls on the riverboats but maybe in another post I will explore this.

Finally there is the unusual option of hiring a crane to get around. I found this a very good way of transporting lots of heavy stuff, but I didn’t travel very far and it wasn’t worth the being shouted at by men in hard hats and being arrested.
crane in Farringdongle
A crane. This is a last ditch travel arrangement and requires a degree of manual skill
So I hope that has been helpful and inspired you to explore this beautiful city in whatever way you would like to. Here is a picture that I took, just walking around. I hope you like it as much as I like it.
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Look at all the red cars in the background! 
Please let me know if there are other transports I haven’t considered. Or if you are a girl.
Happy travelling!
Lin

The Lazy Planet History of London

by Brian Smudge

Brian Smudge
Brian is not qualified in history. Or anything

It’s time to root back through the annals of history to uncover the murky history of London. In this handy print-out-then-cut-out-and-keep-then-use-then-throw-away guide we take you on a brisk Lazy Planet Tour of the History of London.

Please note. As this is the Lazy Planet Guides we may ask you to forgive us some small inaccuracies that may have crept in.

London was founded in 85400 BC by DINOSAURS.

Evidence for this was uncovered in 1896 when eminent Victorian Scientist Billiard Jeremiah Slagheap first dug a hole in his garden in Hammersmith and, finding a hole the size of a DINOSAUR HOOF declared that dinosaurs must have roamed the land in HAMMERSMITH and therefore founded London.

Dinosaurs
Dinosaurs founded London in the Past

London was uninhabited until much later on in history, really until the ROMANS arrived.

The Romans, being very fond of living nice, decided that this small curve in the River Thames was the perfect spot for a trading post, a fort, a massive temple to some of the Gods they made up and some TOGAS. London was born. In AD54.

Roman masonry?
Detail of a Roman thingummy somewhere.

To the ROMANS London was a very popular trading spot where they would meet with people coming from the continent and tell them to go back to the Roman Empire which covered most of the continent. This tradition is commonly practised today.

The Romans brought many things to London including its regularly laid out streets, water, lions and war many of which can be seen on the streets of London today.

It’s easy to imagine how the locals were awed by the presence of so many men with swords who told them what to do. They left quite a legacy!

Then they left around 341 AD. Things were getting busy in the Empire at that time what with it collapsing and it was decided that keeping Britain or Britannicus as it was known was no longer a priority and anyway it was cold.

Picture of Forest?
This is what London looked like when the Romans left

 

The leaving of the Romans left a sizeable gap and local tribes were allowed back into the area. These were made up of Angles and Saxons from Germany and were basically VIKINGS. They raided the coastal town of Londonwich which was today where the Strand is only less busy. After a few raids the Londonsfolk moved back into the walled city of London where there were walls, locked the door and no-one saw them for several centuries during which time they invented the congestion charge.

After the Vikings stopped being so violent and had explained they weren’t really raiders they’d just run out of space for their sheep, the Saxons begun to accept them. Suddenly a new threat appeared on the horizon when the Normans – who were essentially NORSE MEN and so VIKINGS started to eye up the land of the Angles who were DANISH or sort of and the VIKINGS  who were from Sweden.

And so the battle of Hastings was born and in 1066 the Normans took over the country and began numbering the kings. They built the great big Tower of London to mark the event and opened it as a tourist attraction where you could watch beheadings for 10/6 as long as you didn’t eat the ravens or make fun of the beefeaters. This practice still continues today.

England was ruled by the Normans for years and London prospered where it grew around what is known as the City today. It remained the captial all through the WARS OF THE FLOWERS where two groups of Northerners the Lancastrians and the Yorks fought about who should be king and which was better the North or the South and within the North whether the West or the East was better. This is a tradition that continues today.

A map of London from the time of the Elizabethans who are not covered here for obvious reasons.
A map of London from the time of the Elizabethans who are not covered here for obvious reasons.

 

Well that’s all we could be bothered with. But then there was a bridge, a plague, some fire a new St Paul’s, a theatre, some bear fights, lots of georgian town houses, a parliament builidng, some sewage works, fog, a tube network, cars,  the Blitz, a smattering of hideous 60’s high rise, bankers, and airport, Canary wharf, the Dome, a pointless cross-river cable car, congestion charge and a building that burns cars. But nothing is quite as interesting as the Romans or DINOSAURS

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This is what it looks like now

Leave us a comment if you’d like to hear more and tell other people because unless you do I don’t get paid for this.

I have some leaflets that covers other things here so I could copy them out. But otherwise I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief introduction to THE HISTORY OF LONDON!
Thanks

Brian

The Enneagram – Part 1

Part 1 is an explanation of how the Enneagram works. Part 2 will explain how to use it in your writing.

Quite simply, the Enneagram is a neat little way of categorising your characters by their psychology.

According to Enneagram theory, everybody falls into one of nine character types and each character type exhibits certain behaviours, based on what drives them. For some it’s the need to put things in order, for others it’s the need to be in control, or be original, or be helpful.

As a writer, I use the Enneagram a lot.

Here are the character types, along with a brief description:

  1. reformer The Reformer or Perfectionist – who likes to see things in order.
  2. Helper The Helper or Giver – who likes to assist others and receive love.
  3. Achiever The Achiever or Performer – who likes to win.
  4. individualist The Individualist or Romantic –  who dreams and likes to be original.
  5. investigator The Investigator or Observer  – who likes to know everything going on.
  6. loyalist The Loyalist or Skeptic – who needs to trust and be trusted.
  7. Enthusiast The Enthusiast or Epicure – who loves to indulge in everything life has to offer.
  8. challenger The Challenger or Protector – who craves security and control.
  9. peacemaker The Peacemaker or Mediator – who brings harmony to situations.

It’s easy to see how having a relatively short list of potential character types immediately creates a range of characters who all have different goals and desires – which opens the door to a wide variety of conflicts, much more subtle than simply good guys versus bad.

More of this in part 2…

Additionally the Enneagram describes some key traits of each type:

  1. holyidea HOLY IDEA – what the character truly believes in. Where their moral compass firmly points.
  2. egofix EGO FIXATION – when they’re at their most selfish, they’re here.
  3. desire BASIC DESIRE – what they really want on a psychological level
  4. fear BASIC FEAR – what this type of person hates and takes great pains to avoid.
  5. temptation TEMPTATION – what is the characters compulsive behaviour.  What they revert to under pressure.
  6. virtue VIRTUE – what redeeming behaviour this character has learnt. What they’re capable of at their best.
  7. vice VICE – what they’re up to at their worst. What foul habits they have.

Again it can really help to build a character from being mostly driven by one particular aspect of their personality. It comes to define them and drive.

The traits a character displays are all related and form a consistency that makes it easy to build up an image of a particular type that is easily accessible.

Perhaps you’d like to try to work out which type you, or some of your  (favourite) characters are!

To summarise the various traits of the types I’ve grabbed this little table. All of this, and descriptions are available in the App.

Type Ego Fixation Holy Idea Basic Fear Basic Desire Temptation Vice Virtue
Reformer Resentment Perfection Evilness Goodness Hypocrisy Anger Right Thing
Helper Flattery Freedom Being Unloved Unconditional Love Manipulativeness Vainglory Altruism
Achiever Vanity Hope Worthlessness Value Pleasing Everybody Deceit Truthfulness
Individualist Melancholy Origin Commonness Originality Self-blame Envy Equanimity
Investigator Stinginess Omniscience Uselessness Competency Overthinking Greed Detachment
Loyalist Cowardice Faith Vulnerability Safety Suspicion Fear Courage
Enthusiast Planning Work Boredom Experience Rashness Gluttony Sobriety
Challenger Vengeance Truth Loss of Control Self-Protection Rejecting Help Lust Magnanimity
Peacemaker Indolence Love Loss Peace of Mind Submission Indifference Serenity

 

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Click to go through to the App store

If you’d like to have a pocket guide to carry around with you, then please check out the App

And, in case I haven’t laboured the point enough already… more on how to use the Enneagram in part 2! (which is coming soon)

Thanks for reading. I always love to hear your comments! – James

The Enneagram – Part 2

So.. how to make the Enneagram work for your writing?

Enneagram Image
The Enneagram for Writers

The Enneagram, to my mind, serves two main functions.

  1. It helps avoid some common problems by creating a consistent set of diverse characters.
  2. It helps fuel the imagination about character-specific plot points.

What more could you need from such a simple tool! Let’s look at these in turn.

Avoiding Problems

The first and most obvious way, is to make sure that you’ve got the bases covered – that all your characters are different types.

Designing the Cast

When designing your cast – make sure you have Reformers, Achievers, Helpers, Individualists… Having a diversity of Enneagram types creates a diversity of characters – who all see the world in different ways, want different things and react differently.

Write Distinct Characters

One of the biggest traps writers fall into is to write all the characters the same. By having different types the chance of this happening is greatly reduced.

Don’t Write Yourself

Another problem is writing every character as yourself.  And that means characters sound like you, and act like you. They do what you’d do (because, you know, you’re a hero too).

By getting a handle on a particular Enneagram type you can make sure you don’t make this mistake – (be the hero of your own story, not the one you’re writing!)

Fuelling the Imagination

But more importantly, the traits of the Enneagram can really help bring rounded characters to life. How? Let’s have a look.

Acting to Type

Start by giving a particular character a type, then get to know that type

Reformer
Reformers like things to be neat and perfect

Look at the various traits and drivers that a Reformer has – they’re perfectionists and they like everything to be in order. This means different things are going to bother them (messiness for example) and they’re going to have a distinct reaction to being under pressure (they get angry). With seven different traits for each character there’s plenty of scope for creating well-rounded variations of Reformers.

It can help to build extreme characters (i.e comedy or small characters) around one particular trait – a Reformer who gets REALLY ANGRY about things (Basil Fawlty, anyone???)

Stoke Conflict

Having a range of different characters also creates that all important conflict.

individualist
Individualists are dreamy and creative

An Individualist (who is dreamy, touchy and obsessed with their output) and an Achiever (who is driven, competitive and sometimes deceptive) are going to create a unique dynamic. There’s a sitcom right there…

You could put them on an oil rig, in space, or in a chip shop. Or in a chip shop on an oil rig in space – but the core conflict is going to be there.  And it’s those human conflicts we crave – when two people want different things – and go about getting it in different ways…

Unity

We’ve talked about differences here. But there’s also something unifying in recognising your character as a certain type.  Examining the traits of a Challenger, for example, it becomes clear that they’re driven by a need for security… They challenge as a way of protecting themselves. They want to know the truth. They risk pushing others away… And this adds a completeness to the character… As an audience member we GET this character. Immediately a back-story begins to emerge… what hurt them? Why do they want to be protected?

Audiences are not particularly forgiving of inconsistent characters either. Would your Challenging protector trust someone they had only just met because it helps your plot? Not for a second. They might appear to trust them but would certainly take steps to hedge their bets, or find more about their new friend. This is rewarding to the audience. of course they’d do that… they say. How do they know? They recognise the type…

Character-specific plot points

As you can see from the above, simply by assigning characters an Enneagram type puts a spin on their interactions with everything – in a justifiable and satisfying way… How each character reacts to the same situation is a very telling route into the character – think about how each of the characters in The Usual Suspects reacts to being interviewed by the police. We know instantly that these are very different individuals.

Themes for Enneagram Types

I will touch on various story themes in another post – but for the time being it’s worth understanding that there are certain themes that suit certain Enneagram characters better.

Story Themes
The various story themes. To be covered in another post…

For example a moral crusade tale suits a Reformer at its helm, a detective tale might suit a driven investigator type – and a lone hero action movie would almost certainly want a Challenger taking the action to the bad guys.

The Enneagram Journey

Enneagram Journey
The Enneagram Journey relates character traits to major stages of the character story

Relating specifically to storytelling I have also created something called the Enneagram Journey. This particularly applies to the hero, but can apply to any character.

The idea behind the journey is that a character must grow and change throughout the story. And each of the traits that a character displays can be indicative of a certain stage of that journey.

 

 

Journey of a Hero

Act One egofix holyidea Ego Fixation and Holy Idea

When we first meet a character they are often self-obsessed and unreformed. Here their dominant trait is their Ego Fixation – that dark little part of themselves. For an example, an investigator type, who is Stingy and ungenerous when we first meet them.

But they also hold, or are aware of, a noble concept – their Holy Idea  – for the Investigator this is Omniscience – they long to know everything – to uncover the truth. In our detective story this might be to uncover the murderer –  and more importantly HOW it happened. Their Holy idea is a chance at redemption.

Act Two feardesire  Basic Fear and Basic Desire

Pushed into the second act, into new circumstances they have to face their Fears and Desires. They are tested  Our detective has a strong desire to appear competent and capable, and face situations where they feel useless – back and forth proving themselves, failing and trying again…

Crisis  temptationTemptation

Normally they reach a crisis point towards the end of the second act where they face their Temptation – that behaviour they resort to when they’re under intense pressure. For the Investigator this can be Overthinking – paralysis through analysis – being stopped in their tracks – unable to see the way forward. To proceed, they must overcome that temptation…

Act Three vicevirtue  Vice and Virtue

Finally in the showdown finale there are two possible endings – They face their all-consuming and damning Vice to achieve their redeeming Virtue.

For the Investigator, this is a choice between being overcome by greed – being corrupted as the killer revealed tries to bargain them out of it, or having an opportunity to profit immensely by keeping the truth hidden. Or maintaining that cool analysis and delivering the truth while those around around them lose their heads.  Either can be the result keeping the audience guessing to the end. A positive ending or a negative ending – just make sure you’ve given the audience enough reasons for them to reach that end (if they fall victim of their vice, we like to see it coming, if they’re rewarded for their great virtue it’s because they’ve earned it)

 

So I hope you’ve got a sense of how the Enneagram can help keep track of your characters and inspire your imagination.

As always take as much or as little as you like from this – it is not prescriptive merely intended to help fuel your imagination as a writer.

To get a handy pocket guide for the iPhone to keep with you, study and store your own character types head over to the App Store!

Enneagram for Writers
Click to head over to the App Store!

Thanks for reading and as always all comments welcome!

James