Wanted : Goethe’s Dog

Wanted : Goethe’s Dog

Wandering through the rain-soaked streets of Strasbourg recently, we passed a house where the playwright Goethe lived for a time… …and I was reminded of a remark that he once made: wanted, a dog that neither barks nor bites, eats glass and shits diamonds....

Summer Reading

I’ve had a rush of summer reading – well, let’s just call it reading: not much sign of summer here – and it’s made me realise how much I miss feeling besotted by a good book. I’ve done a lot of work reading over the winter, which is always...
How Detail and Context Work Together in Fiction Writing

How Detail and Context Work Together in Fiction Writing

We’re currently stuck in the rain on a broken boat in eastern France, so whiled away an afternoon in Strasbourg. In the cathedral we spotted this mason’s moment of madness, or sentimentality, or rebellion, or joie de vivre… This little dog is tucked...

Telling the Difference Between Showing and Telling

This is a tough one, the mistake most writers, but new ones in particular, are most likely to make: telling the reader something, rather than bringing it to life by showing it happen. In a sense it’s the art of dramatisation; it’s certainly the raising...

Plotting – Taking Affirmative Action

I’ve recently finished reading My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young. You’d think that everything  which could possibly be said about the First World War has already been said, truth, in this instance, being considerably stranger than fiction, but...
Rainer Maria Rilke’s Rubbish Lorry

Rainer Maria Rilke’s Rubbish Lorry

I’m just back from New York and still dazzled by the vibrancy and brightness of the city – the vast electronic hoardings that pulse with colour in Times Square, the vivid yellowness of the taxis and…this! It’s an American garbage truck and even in...

The Three Rs of Creative Writing

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I’d passed the the first three chapters of my Work in Progress to my writing mentor to see if she thought I was working along the right lines. Like a good friend, she responded incredibly swiftly with some trenchant and radical...

It’s There in Black and White – and Grey?

We are complex beings and our behaviour frequently lands us in complicated situations, something you should try and reflect in your fiction writing. Things are rarely cut and dried in the real world, so it is a good idea to tie some intriguingly complicated knots in...
A View from the Bridge…

A View from the Bridge…

….in this case, the bridge in question is on the Queen Mary 2 and the view is of the North Atlantic, where I’ve been busy on a press trip hence my silence on the blog front this week, but am now safely back home and full of literary inspiration… As...