You Always Hurt the One You Love

I seem to be in song title mode at the moment (see my earlier post It Ain’t What You Say It’s the Way That You Say It) but here’s a little pinch of plotting snuff for you to breath in deeply. When you are thinking about constructing a plot, at some...

Chicken or Egg, Which Comes First?

In the world of writing fiction, which comes first — character or plot? Much more interesting than chicken or egg… Strictly speaking, I think that situation beats both of them.  I saw True Grit yesterday and you could sum the situation there as: Young girl...

Stuff and Nonsense

Following on from my hymn of praise to Roget, of Thesaurus fame, I thought it would be good to have a little Lewis Carroll moment, because I think it was that nonpareil of the nonsensical who made the following remark: “Take care of the sounds and the sense will...
Roget and Out

Roget and Out

I love my Roget’s Thesaurus. I love it so much that I have taken the trouble to scan it in so that you can see how well-thumbed and fondly-used it is. It was given to me as a birthday present by my grandmother, whom I adored. If I had to choose a desert island...
I Can See Clearly Now….

I Can See Clearly Now….

I went to have my eyes tested a couple of weeks ago and as I have at least three different things wrong with them, it was quite a challenge for the optician. She put one of those glasses — as — cages contraptions on my nose and then added in so many lenses...

It Ain’t What You Say, It’s The Way That You Say It…

Dialogue is fun – I really enjoy writing it.  It offers a chance to change tempo, it is more relaxed and, well, conversational than descriptive prose.  It is quick to do, you can be funny or dramatic and it’s a great way of really getting to grips with...

Having a Hinterland Helps

The American novelist and short story writer Flannery O’Connor once said, “If you’re going to write, you’d better come from somewhere,” perhaps because good writing, like good wine, does have a sense of terroir – landscape, climate,...

Black Swan Down

I went to see the film Black Swan last weekend and if you haven’t already, let me save you the trouble. Natalie Portman has been nominated for an Oscar for best actress and I can only conclude that the Academy has completely lost its marbles – she...

Brevity – Thanks Blaise

My mum recently reminded me of a wonderful quotation, “I am sorry to have wearied you with so long a letter but I did not have time to write you a short one,” which has apparently been attributed to the 17th century French mathematician and philosopher...

Glitterature

I think it’s brilliant that the BBC is running a series about books and literature and it is great to see interesting programmes popping up on both the television and the radio.  I was particularly looking forward to Sebastian Faulks’ series on writing...

A Different Perspective

In real life, people often experience the same event in profoundly different ways – eyewitness accounts of an identical situation can vary wildly for a number of reasons — it can be that people bring their own preconceptions to what they are witnessing, or...

Don’t Count on Me

In the majority of novels, the writer chooses a character to act as the narrator of the story, delivers the plot through them, using what they observe and do as a vehicle, and what you see is what you get. In the majority of novels… However, there is another...

Research Junkie

That’s me! I love a good bit of research to get me going with a book, whether it’s set in the present or the past, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, digging around for information is a great stimulus of the creative juices; with me, it slakes a...
The Unkindest Cut?

The Unkindest Cut?

With more than four hundred libraries threatened with closure at the moment, I just want to add my voice to all the others raised in protest (thank you Philip Pullman and everyone else who has spoken up with passion and commitment). The origins of the word educate...

Mind Your Language!

I’ve been reading quite a lot of poetry lately, boning up for World Book Night and my great giveaway of Carol Ann Duffy’s book The World’s Wife and reading prose as well (Carson McCullers’ The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter is top of the pile beside...

The Suspense Is Killing Me….

As a writer, you want keep your reader in a state of extreme tension, at least for some of your story, although it is not a bad idea to let them have time off for good behaviour occasionally.  Since I’m in mythical mode at the moment (see my previous post on...
Demystifying the Myth

Demystifying the Myth

Hollywood script consultant Christopher Vogler, who worked on epic films like The Lion King and Fight Club wrote a book called The Writers Journey which has since become a seminal text for anyone interested in how to use myths and archetypes to help resolve the...

Give Yourself Room to Manoeuvre (Subplots!)

When you’re thinking about a story, or are actively involved in writing one, it is easy to get transfixed by the main event and concentrate on the dramas and adventures of your central characters, but don’t neglect the preoccupations of your minor...
Cooking with Kate or How to Get Started

Cooking with Kate or How to Get Started

I was thinking the other day  that writing these blogs sometimes feels like writing a recipe – take 4 oz. of inspiration, a pound of persistence, half a pound of linguistic flair, a pinch of editorial ruthlessness etc etc and you end up with… If a Pain aux...

World Book Night – March 5th

Today is a red letter day – I’ve just heard that I’m one of the people lucky enough to be taking part in World Book Night on March 5th – another red letter day. It’s a fantastic scheme : twenty thousand people are going to be given...