Chipping Away at the Writer’s Block

Chipping Away at the Writer’s Block

Progress a little slow, as you can see, because the Steves are busy doing other jobs around the house – there’s a little bit of light waterproofing going on and some more noggins going in, but at the moment the main focus of the action is somewhere else....

Advice for Fiction Writers

A quick thought for a Friday afternoon with the whole weekend ample with promise ahead: leading on from yesterday’s post about writing the first draft of the first chapter, the most important advice is… …WRITE Having denied yourself the pleasure all...
The Blank Page – Writing the First Few Words

The Blank Page – Writing the First Few Words

Although my shed is still mostly made up of holes, if you look closely you can see that some are door-shaped holes, and some are window-shaped holes and it’s all starting to feel rather exciting… In writing terms, you have probably done enough preparation...
Think About Setting Before Things Get Set

Think About Setting Before Things Get Set

Four walls — almost — and a roof : the Steves are zipping ahead with the construction of my house-shaped shed. Before we started working on building it, we did think quite a bit about location: no room in the house itself and the pitch of the roof was too...
Playing the Line – Structuring the Narrative of Your Story

Playing the Line – Structuring the Narrative of Your Story

At this stage in the writing process, you are likely to have a number of bits and bobs coming together.  You may have captured a snapshot of them in your synopsis, but already your ideas, fluid and free, are moving on, changing shape and direction. When you have a...
Writing a Synopsis

Writing a Synopsis

You see?  There are just the beginnings, a glimmer, of the size and shape of my shed; an intimation of the height of the structure and the amount of space it will take up, as well as an impression of how it will sit in the garden, of its location. It’s a little...
Displacment Activity – A Vital Tool for Writers

Displacment Activity – A Vital Tool for Writers

Well it isn’t dawn, but the sky is so overcast, it could be… …which means that rain has stopped play, but in writing terms this is a good thing, an excellent thing.  One of the commonest mistakes that new writers make its to charge in and start...
Thinking about the Foundations of Your Story

Thinking about the Foundations of Your Story

Dawn again, in the drizzle… Even in the murkiness, you can see more clearly the shape of my house-shaped shed. The Steves have had to make a few adjustments, lowering the foundations so that the finished structure will be within height regulations – the...
How to Build a Story from the Start

How to Build a Story from the Start

Dylan Thomas had his boathouse, Philip Pullman has a garden office, and very shortly I shall have a – shed.  When you’re writing seriously and over an extended period of time, it helps to have a dedicated space to do it in if you can manage it, so we are...

An Exercise in Autobiography

To a greater or lesser degree, most people draw upon their own experience of the world, when they are writing fiction.  No matter how much you refract and filter it, there’s bound to be a few grains of your core thoughts and feelings lurking in your work, and...

Structure — Keep It Simple

Yesterday I was reflecting on the fact that overwritten prose is no substitute for truth in writing – it’s a law which I think applies on the macro as well as the micro scale.  Just as an overblown phrase or paragraph can be used to compensate for a lack...

Description — the Real Deal

Write for truth, not for effect — it’s a cardinal rule.  I read a phrase in someone’s blog: water remembers you, and it struck such a hollow note, largely (I think) because it is inaccurate. Of all the elements, it seems to me that water is the least...
How to Respond to Feedback

How to Respond to Feedback

Having just received notes on a recent draft of my novel back from my agent, I would say this: take all praise with a pinch of salt, and any criticism very seriously indeed. Onwards and upwards. new doors (or ancient ones) are always opening…...

How Not to Write an Identikit Heroine

When I first started writing, a friend of mine told me that the prospect made her nervous.  “You’ll put me in one of your books,” she said uncertainly, “Won’t you?” But actually, in my experience, it doesn’t work like that. In...

If I Wrote More in the Conditional Tense…..

The New Year strikes me as being a conditional season.  It’s full of aspirations (coupled with a dash of self-delusion): If I lost a stone, I would feel better about myself / If I gave up smoking, I would live until I’m ninety / If I tried harder at my...

Editing – The Ghost in the Draft

I turn sentences around.  That’s my life.  I write a sentence and then I turn it around.  Then I look at it and I turn it around again.  Then I have lunch.  Then I come back in and write another sentence.  Then I have tea and turn the new sentence around.  Then...
Your Starter for Ten (or Twelve, Actually)

Your Starter for Ten (or Twelve, Actually)

A new year starting, a mass of writing  resolutions to live up to, a new door opening… Here’s a little exercise to give you some momentum now that 2012 is upon us. Take a random selection of five objects: on my desk at the moment I have a diary, a CD, a...