How to Make Your Reader an Accomplice

Have you ever watched someone you love hurtling headlong for disaster? I hope not. It makes you want to reach out and physically contain them – in your arms, in a safe place, even in an institution, if that’s what it takes. When a person is, for whatever reason,...

A Long Day’s Journey into Writing

I’ve had a long day’s writing and I’m tired. You would think this might mean that it’s time for me to shut down my computer and go and have a cup of tea – even a biscuit! However, I’ve learned over the years that I often write best when...
How to Give Your Writing Voltage  –  by Voltaire

How to Give Your Writing Voltage – by Voltaire

Voltaire,  historian, philosopher and designer of doors (see my earlier post) was no slouch as an author either, his satirical novel Candide, which charts the passage from optimism to disillusionment, vying for attention with other literary and philosophical...

Writing – A Kind of Renewable Energy?

When you’re preparing to write a novel or a story, you need to be in a receptive state, alert to all the diverse scraps of conversation, news, visual images and situations that come your way. As Margaret Atwood wisely observed, it’s all material. How you...
Pathetic Fallacy in November

Pathetic Fallacy in November

I’m sitting in my writer’s block (shed) gazing out at the downpour outside. The sky is like wet newsprint, running with grey. The rain that is currently drumming on my shed roof, reminding me of wet camping holidays as a child, expresses some of the gloom...

Drama v Reality

I watched Michael Winterbottom’s new film Everyday on Channel 4 last week. It’s been described as a sketched drama, which is a difficult term because although I think it means that it was largely improvised, it could also imply that it wasn’t fully...

Nick Dear – A Masterclass in Writing From Life

It was a play about writing, and words, and love, and what inspires them all. It was full of beauty and sadness, cadenced. I’m talking about Nick Dear’s new drama about the poet Edward Thomas, The Dark Earth and the Light Sky, which has recently opened in...

All Work and No Play

 Yesterday I wrote for twelve hours with barely a pause for breath and I’ve done six hours today: write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write, write – you get the picture. I’m off to London now, to see Nick...

Creative Writing – Making Plans

I’ve been appraising manuscripts for a couple of literary consultants in London recently and there is one thing which crops up time after time in the books that I’ve been reading and that is a lack of planning. The most brilliant conception is going to...

At the Edge of the Precipice with F. Scott Fitzgerald

The other day I started re-reading The Great Gatsby because it’s recently out of copyright and as a result there has been a lot of brouhaha about it, with dramatisations and new editions galore, and I wanted to remind myself what all the fuss was about. Then I...
Throwing a Sickie…

Throwing a Sickie…

Vile cold. Here’s a lovely door for you to be getting on with. It might lead you somewhere… Normal service will resume shortly.  

Help from Your Favourite Heroines

What is it that makes a character in a novel memorable? Perhaps it would help to answer this question by asking it in a different way: who are the characters you most remember? If you can come up with the who, it might lead you to the why and that in turn might be of...
Room With a View

Room With a View

Pulitzer Prize winning American author Edna Ferber once observed, ‘The ideal view for daily writing, hour for hour, is the blank brick wall of a cold-storage warehouse. Failing this, a stretch of sky will do, cloudless if possible.’ Perhaps the blank brick...