Language As a Precision Tool

Good writing is the living, breathing heart of a great book, and by good writing I don’t necessarily mean  soaring arias of prose, although they have their place.  I mean using the fewest number of words to convey the most meaning: every phrase should carry its...
Compare and Contrast

Compare and Contrast

That phrase – compare and contrast – underpinned just about every A-level essay I ever wrote, it became a default way of thinking when I was a student, but in the real, grown-up world of writing fiction it’s something that is easy to forget. I...
Re-Imagining Material – How to Use Research in Your Writing

Re-Imagining Material – How to Use Research in Your Writing

The allure of an interesting doorway is very similar to  that of a gripping book; it is to me, at any rate. Both provide a portal to a vivid new world and every time I pick up a book, even a dog-eared paperback, the literary equivalent of the battered old door above,...
Characterisation — How to Read a Face

Characterisation — How to Read a Face

While we were in the seductive book village of Cuisery (see my previous post) we wandered into the little church of Notre Dame, originally begun in the 11th century and completed in 1504. I was stopped dead in my tracks by some beautiful frescoes in a side chapel....
Bring up the Bodies — Old Books Laid to Rest in Cuisery

Bring up the Bodies — Old Books Laid to Rest in Cuisery

As promised, here is another ravishing bookshop from the enchanting book village of Cuisery in the Saone et Loire department of France. We wandered around the ancient streets peering at irresistible doors, including the one to the 13th century chapel, with its...

What the Dickens?

Just back from hearing Claire Tomalin give a wonderfully erudite and amusing lecture about Charles Dickens, as part of Bristol’s Festival of Ideas. I find it incredibly inspiring to hear writers talking about their work and Tomalin has a breathtakingly...
Bookshop Heaven

Bookshop Heaven

Just back from a watery couple of weeks in France.  When I die and go to bookshop heaven, I believe it will look something like this… This was one of several divine bookshops in Cuisery, the French equivalent of Hay on Wye, although France has four  “book...

Losing my E Book Virginity

Windswept with the weather on the Saone – wind, and then when you think it can’t blow harder, more wind, making the light dance on the water.But I’m breathless with excitement anyway as I’ve just downloaded my first ever ebook: it had to happen...

Tales from the River Bank # 1

I’m sitting overlooking an almost medieval mooring at the confluence of the rivers Saone and Doubs. I’ve spent the morning feeding the tiniest, new-hatched ducklings yesterday’s bread, then some of today’s because they were hungry. I’ve...
Going fishing….

Going fishing….

Am off to see legendary Canadian band The Sadies tonight, with their spine-tingling blend of country, psychedelic, rock and surf music. If brothers Dallas and Travis Good perform their party piece – Dallas strumming his guitar while doing the fret work on his...

Expectation is All – Or is It??

It’s weird how expectations influence your experience of something.  Last week I went to see the South Downs/Browning Version double bill at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London, partly because Nicholas Farrell, whom I hugely admire, received rave notices from...

Why Characters Should (Sometimes) Keep Their Own Counsel

Still on the theme of creative spaces, or more particularly, how you can fashion spaces in stories which both you and the reader can use creatively, having glanced at characterisation yesterday, today’s small and imperfectly formed thought concerns dialogue. ...