Selling Snake Oil

Other writing blogs (yes, I’ve glanced at them, I know they exist!) make much of offering advice about how to get published.  Although it would be easy to give you a lot of blah di blah about how you should approach an agent first and send them a synopsis and...

Undercurrents

Here’s a damp Devonly thought for the day.  It seems to me that when people argue, the issue they pick on is often not the one which is really bothering them. A couple might rip each other to shreds about the fact that he will insist on using the drying up cloth...

I’d Like You to Meet…

When you are introducing a character for the first time, it’s an easy pitfall to concentrate on their physical appearance at the expense of other useful information.  Indeed, physical appearance can sometimes be rather limiting: although it helps you to identify...

Repetition : The Get-Out Clause

In my writing class we have the literary equivalent of a swear box, an automatic penalty for anybody committing the offence of repetition.  I’ve blogged before about how slack your writing can appear if you use the same word more than once in close proximity...

Get Set

In a good story (the one you’re writing?) there is an organic relationship between your heroine and the setting of the narrative. Her physical location can provide a great deal of practical information about her – is she a city dweller or a country girl? ...
En Route to Experience

En Route to Experience

David Lodge, in his excellent book The Art of Fiction, maintains that, “All novels are essentially about the passage from innocence to experience,” and while I’m not sure that I entirely agree — the novel that I’m working on at the moment...

A Thin Veneer

Amos Oz talks about, “the pollution of language, making something sound clean and decent, when it should have been peace and violent.” Well, there’s something to get your teeth into, first thing on a Monday morning.  As a writer, I’m fascinated...
Getting Away from It All…

Getting Away from It All…

I’m in Scotland for a short collapse of our house sale break and it’s my birthday today, so I feel fully justified in sitting down with True History of the Kelly Gang by the inestimable Peter Carey and just enjoying myself. It has everything I look for in...

In My Bad Books…

When we thought we were moving house, I started packing up my books and while I was doing that I chucked out some of the bad ones, the ones with gold embossed titles that I felt slightly embarrassed to have on my bookshelves. Silly me for being such a literary snob....

Take a Dictation, Ms Dunn

Stephen King once talked about writing as being a kind of transcription, a thought I’ve often had myself but never really articulated.  At the risk of sounding incredibly cheesy, it is rather like listening to a voice inside your head (call the doctor,...

Carriage Return

A paragraph is a wonderfully flexible thing: it can vary in length from one word to several pages.  Traditionally, its function is to signal the introduction of a new subject which can then be explored at some length, or to indicate that a new speaker is about to give...

Don’t be too Passive

I’m a fine one to talk.  I am the most passive person, mild to a fault (don’t tell my husband I said that) and am happiest sitting in a reflective state, working away at my computer. It won’t do for writing, however. Passivity is the death of robust...

The Readiness Is All

Your first thought is usually your best, so be careful not to have it until you are ready for it. This applies to an idea for a story, the inspiration for a plot twist, or the honing of the perfect phrase. Once you have had the thought, if you don’t jot it down...
All Dressed up with Nowhere to Go

All Dressed up with Nowhere to Go

Apologies for lack of blog.  We had a mad dash at the end of last week to get everything packed and into boxes, expecting to exchange contracts on Friday and then when that was deferred, Monday.  We had the van hired, our haphazard summer itinerary all planned and...

I’m in Denial

I’m in denial about how quickly our moving date will be upon us.  I’m in denial about how many boxes of books I still have to pack. I’m in denial about all the complications of living out of a car with only sporadic access to the Internet.  I’m...

Smiling Damned Villain

Following yesterday’s announcement that Osama Bin Laden, the nemesis of the West, has finally been run to ground, I’ve been thinking a bit about villains. Bin Laden’s reviews haven’t been that good, unsurprisingly, and as a writer it can be fun...

You You You

In a post last week I suggested you might find it interesting to try writing a short piece twice — once in the first person (I) and once in the third person (he/she) in order to find out which you feel most comfortable with. There is another option, one that is...