An Alphabet of Better Writing # C

An Alphabet of Better Writing # C

C is for Challenge…. …and, oh boy, is writing a challenge. It’s a challenge to find the time, to find the inspiration, to stop procrastinating.  It’s a challenge to dig down into the creative, tender, sensitive part of yourself that you will...

An Alphabet of Better Writing # B

B is for Back Story… In many ways beginnings are easy: you think of a dramatic moment in your story and jump in (even though it can take you a little while to find your narrative feet).  The tricky part is managing your back story. This is the information...

An Alphabet of Better Writing # A

A is for Author…. My dictionary (an old pocket Oxford belonging to my Dad, with his name written in the front) defines author as the originator of an idea or event. The word sits between authenticate (part of the writers job being to authenticate or give...
True Love – Too Much Flash and Not Enough Fiction

True Love – Too Much Flash and Not Enough Fiction

I watched the first episode of True Love, Dominic Savage’s series of five short romances filmed in Margate for the BBC. It’s the televisual equivalent of flash fiction – each one is a small but perfectly formed twenty-five minutes long. The filmette...

What’s the Most Inspiring Character Trait of All?

I think it’s resilience, and I’ll tell you why. I never really hit it off with Steinbeck; I tried reading The Grapes of Wrath and found it too bleak, too dusty, so I approached Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell with some anxiety, as both novels deal...
Lost in Translation # 2

Lost in Translation # 2

Ohh, the slippery delights of language! Normally, when I’m in France and don’t know how to say something, I just use the English word in my cod French accent and nine times out of  ten get by okay.  There are, however, moments when the similarities between...
What You Can Learn from John Lanchester…

What You Can Learn from John Lanchester…

Well, loads of things, of course, he’s a brilliant writer.  But having just read Capital, which is set in a single London street and anatomises the effects of the 2008 financial crisis on its inhabitants, what struck me most was the way in which he was able to...

Self-Publishing – the Surprise Revelation?

There was an interesting article in yesterday’s Guardian reflecting on the survey into self (or Indie) publishing recently conducted by the Taleist web site. Taleist’s founder, journalist Steven Lewis, asked one thousand and seven correspondents sixty one...

What’s in a Name?

For the last month I’ve been thinking, in increasingly less vague terms, about a new novel.  I’ve been scratching about at the edges of an idea, teasing out a few strands of the story, mulling over different characters, but nothing has taken flight so...

An Observation about Using Observation in Creative Writing

I was on the bus the other day, whiling away the time by watching two people who were sitting side-by-side in separate pools of tiredness.  You could tell that they were both worn out, but they were worn out in different ways.  The woman was relatively...

In the Presence of Greatness

One of my earliest memories is of my mum scooping me out of the bath and swaddling me, dripping, in a towel; then sitting me on her knee and singing me Harry Belafonte songs: Brown Skin Girl, Come Back Liza and, of course, the Banana Boat Song. So because America has...
Pet Hates

Pet Hates

If you want some “light” reading over the Jubilee weekend, it’s worth spending half an hour digesting Jonathan Franzen’s excellent article about autobiography in last Saturday’s Guardian  I ‘ve only just caught up with it myself...