The Font of All Wisdom?

What font do you write in? Are you a Times New Roman person, or Arial? Do you obsess about it and try lots of different variations, or just stick to the default? I tend to tinker a bit.  My current book is written in Lucida Sans, size 12 (n.b. it should always be...

Plot Structure — Preludes and Aftermaths

Following on from last week’s post about how you need a turning point in your story to bring about change, I’ve been thinking about preludes and aftermaths and that you shouldn’t neglect either of these in your eagerness to concentrate on the main...

Make Your Writing Ring True

You can generally spot someone who is being insincere with you a mile off.  It’s a subtle con trick that makes you feel uncomfortable. In art as in life – authorial insincerity can leave the same bad taste in the mouth.  It can often take the...
Plot Structure: It All Hinges on Change

Plot Structure: It All Hinges on Change

Every story needs to have a turning point, some kind of fulcrum or pivot that radically transforms your narrative.  You could (if you were me and had a door fetish) think of it as some kind of hinge enabling the heroine, and your reader with her, to pass from one...

The Yin and Yang of Creative Writing

Much of the power of fiction derives from the tension between what is present and what is missing (the Yin and Yang of creative writing?)  Often, it is a sense of yearning or curiosity to explore this gap which drives a plot forward, so this is a factor which is...

A Quick Calculation

In his absorbing history of American Art on BBC 4, Andrew Graham Dixon described what he called Jackson Pollock’s “calculated incoherence”.  I thought it was an interesting phrase.  Its neatly differentiates art from mere accident. If you...

How to Avoid Cliches in Your Writing

Think laterally. That’s basically it.  Don’t settle for the first thought that pops into your head.  Probe a little more deeply.  For example, one of the cliches which makes me cringe most of all is the device of conveying your...

Otherwise Evil-Adverbiously…

 …is a great phrase of Charles Dickens’ which wittily refers to the folly and shortcomings of using adverbs in your work. Jasper was walking slowly along the road when a car came suddenly round the corner.  The driver frantically hit the brakes...

Reading Between The Lines

One of the key things which, as a writer, you have to do, is to form some kind of a relationship with your reader.  There are a number of tactics you can use: if your story affirms their own experience of life they will warm towards it and you.  Another ploy...

Starting to Write – Another Door Opening

On the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning they had a feature about why so many of us forget what we have come into a room to do – you walk in, and it’s gone.  Apparently, it’s because doors have an effect on the way our minds work. Its...

Intricacies of Articulation – Putting Thoughts into Words

A couple are sitting at a table.  They are wearing their outdoor clothes.  He is smoking a cigarette and gazing over her shoulder into the middle distance.  She is smoothing the fingers of her left hand, staring at her wedding ring, with a kind of bleak...

What’s the Point – of View?

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, over the summer I started a sideline in giving fresh life to old household objects – new lamps for old, if you like — and as I was sitting in the gallery yesterday, it occurred to me that you can do the same thing with...

An Antidote to Writing

Mostly I think that all I ever want do is write.  In the white heat of working on a novel I forget that it is a solitary and solipsistic occupation and that there is another world beyond the engrossing one inside my head. However, in recent months a friend and I...

Aspirations

What I aspire to most as a writer is clarity, both of vision and expression.  Being able to look at something and communicate what I see with such freshness that anyone reading what I have written will think differently — even for a moment — about...

A Tuesday Evening Exercise

Describe a room in which something has just happened.  It could be that the curtains around the French windows are curling in the breeze because somebody has just made a rapid exit, or that some china has been smashed as the result of a heated argument, or that...

A Life in a Day

We watched A Life in a Day last week, Ridley Scott’s compelling knitting up of You Tube footage showing one day in July 2010, crafted out of video diaries from all four corners of the world. It was a vast tapestry showing pretty much all of human life, a...

Characterisation – What’s Not to Like?

The protagonist of the book I’m working on at the moment is a middle-aged man who is struggling (and not always succeeding) to be more than the sum total of the disappointments life has visited upon him.: his marriage ended in divorce and in the process he...

Taking the Medicine — How to Respond to Criticism

In haste, because I’m just about to dash off to teach my creative writing class — to give feedback to the group on all the work they have been doing during the last month.  I’m in buoyant mood, having just had feedback on my own work.  My...

Six Characters in Search of a Different Reaction

Mostly I think of doors, or gates, or entrances in general (which by now you will know that I love), as enticing. A worn and flaking door is an invitation, freighted with possibilities, or even with secrets… But not this one. This is a kind of fortification,...