The Kindest Cuts of All – A Guide to Editing

Having exhorted you to slash and burn in a recent post, I thought it might be helpful to give you an idea of the kind of things you should be cutting when you are in editing mode. Take the scissors to any adverbs (or -ly word). You shouldn’t use two words if one...
Lost in Translation # 4

Lost in Translation # 4

There’s a lovely moment in Cider with Rosie, where Laurie Lee is told  wait there for the present on his first day at school and he waits, and waits, but there is no present… I was reminded of this when we were in France over the summer. We saw this sign...
Extended Gardening Metaphor Alert

Extended Gardening Metaphor Alert

Over the weekend, while the weather was still fine, I edited my garden. By editing, I mean sawing off whole branches of our aggressive Buddleia, cutting back leggy shrubs and unwinding bind weed, endlessly. Slash and burn, horticultural style. By the time that we had...

Lies, Damned Lies, and Anton Chekhov

I watched  Imagine on the BBC the other night, Alan Yentob’s reflective programme about the new memoir Salman Rushdie has written about the time he spent in enforced hiding following the Ayatollah’s fatwa. The book is called Joseph Anton — this...

Writing Groups – What’s Not to Like??

During the last couple of days I’ve been moving into a new computer — nightmare — and for a twenty-four hour period it has felt as bad as moving house: all my metaphorical boxes are piled up just anyhow and I can’t find where anything it is....

Turn, Turn, Turn…

I’m up against a deadline today, so forgive me if my post is rather brief, but with a nip in the air and the summer on the turn, I thought this fascinating remark made by the inestimable Hilary Mantel in the Guardian on 16th of August might provide food for...

A Timely Timon…

I went to see the National Theatre’s dazzling re-imagination of Timon of Athens last weekend. Director Nicholas Hytner has worked wonders with what has traditionally been regarded as one of Shakespeare’s problem plays, bringing it radically up to date by...
On Crusade for Complex Characters

On Crusade for Complex Characters

Time to raise the tone a bit, I think, so here goes… I came across this little fellow in Tournus, gateway to the south of France. St Guilhem was a ninth century fighter of Saracens, and a cousin of Charlemagne.  Apparently when he died, the church bells rang of...
Lost in Translation # 3

Lost in Translation # 3

In this instance, probably better if it had stayed lost! I’m sorry, I know, I know, I just couldn’t help myself…

An Alphabet of Better Writing # Z

Z is for…Zeal Hearty, persistent endeavour!  Yes! That’s what you need as a writer, almost as much as you need talent and patience.  My dictionary also includes fervour in its definition and it helps if you feel this for your story and your...