Lost in Translation # 5

Lost in Translation # 5

I love the weird dissonance that can happen during  translation – the way in which two languages collide and send words glancing off in unexpected directions. Here’s something I saw in Venice last autumn… On the contrary, I think historical pasta might be...

The Coffin and the Sharpened Stake – Accepting Criticism

I’ve just sent the first three chapters of my new novel to my writing friend and mentor, so I’m feeling a little unsettled and unstable. I want her to like it, but I don’t necessarily want her to tell me that she does, as I don’t think that...
The Literary Come-On

The Literary Come-On

Ooh, I’ve been writing so hard I feel as if my head is spinning and I could easily have parked my bicycle high on the wall of this French restaurant and in fact perhaps I did! Although I hardly know whether I’m on my head on my heels, I do recall rash...

Story Structure Made (Very, Very) Simple

In my previous post I made a few suggestions about how you might approach the plotting of your story and finished with rash promises about offering some thoughts about structure, so here goes… I’ve never read how-to books on structure, other than...

How to Achieve Plotting Perfection without Really Trying

Finding the perfect plot is something which writers agonise about, but asking yourself a few simple questions will soon help you to tease out the germ of a good idea.  Girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl wins boy back and they live happily ever after. Think of...

Time Travelling – the Use of Tenses in Fiction

In my manuscript-appraising life, I’m prone to slashing and burning when it comes to the pluperfect tense – cuts here, red lines there – I think it should only ever be used sparingly. I know that when they teach you grammar in school, they tell you that...
The Multi-Tasking Manuscript

The Multi-Tasking Manuscript

We’ve become so adept at multi-tasking – bringing up children, sustaining a relationship, running a house, keeping down a job, writing a novel – and that lot’s just for starters. Doing one thing at a time doesn’t really cut the mustard any...

Steinbeck’s Rule for Writing Fiction

The Grapes of Wrath…Of Mice and Men – okay, okay, John Steinbeck knew a thing or two about writing fiction, so I was interested to come across this quote from him on the Goodreads site, “If a story is not about the hearer, he will not listen. And here I...

Scrabbling for Metaphors…

I found my parents’ ancient set of Scrabble in our loft the other day – the box (which boasts New Plastic Tiles!) endlessly repaired with yellowed sellotape. Inside was a record of all the scores of all the games they’d ever played. Forty two years...