White Rabbits, Wonderland and Writer’s Block

White Rabbits, Wonderland and Writer’s Block

Recognise this little fellow? Said to be carved in approximately 1330 and wearing the distinctive satchel of the pilgrim, he graces the archway of St Mary’s Church in Beverley, Yorkshire, a town where Lewis Carroll stayed while he was preparing to write Alice in...

Twenty Questions about Characterisation

Do you remember playing that car game, brilliant for long journeys, where one of you assumes a character and the others have to guess who it is by asking twenty questions? When we were little we whiled away hours playing it on the autobahns and autoroutes of Europe,...
Monet, Monet, Monet…

Monet, Monet, Monet…

Because it’s high summer (!) I thought I’d share with you this picture of Monet’s garden at Giverney just north of Paris. He is reputed to have regarded it as his greatest work of art and if you gaze at it through half-closed eyes you can almost see...

An Exercise in Sensory Deprivation

The sun is shining, I can hear birds singing outside my window and it’s the longest day, so the last thing you probably want is a writing exercise for the weekend, but if you think that the longest day will, by definition, give you more time to write, and allow...

Why I Hate Fantasy Fiction

I’ve never been a great fan of fantasy fiction. I don’t like its expedience or its lack of boundaries – the way that rules can be endlessly changed to suit the author’s creative intent. It’s too geeky for me, too concerned with form rather than...
A Light Touch – A Lesson in Characterisation from Mark Chagall

A Light Touch – A Lesson in Characterisation from Mark Chagall

On a recent trip to France we stumbled upon a stunning window by Mark Chagall in a restored chapel in the town of Sarrebourg. Peace, his extravagant bouquet of scenes from the Old and New Testaments, takes your breath away when you first walk into the room. Although...

How to Make Your Fiction Faultless (Read Your Work Aloud)

This may not occur to you when you are starting out as a writer, but any time spent reading your work aloud is time well spent. Usually, when you stumble over a phrase, it’s a cast iron indication the phrase does not ring true.  Perhaps it’s the...

Fracking for Fiction

“There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.” Ernest Hemingway’s description of the creative process sounds a bit like fracking to me –...

In Defence of Flashback

I know that some writers – and editors – view the use of flashback with some misgivings, objecting to it because the reader is made to look back at events which have already happened and therefore knows there is a positive outcome (your heroine is still alive and...
Hot Off the Press…

Hot Off the Press…

…my picture of the statue of the renaissance man who invented it – Johannes Gutenberg – standing proudly in the square named after him in the centre of Strasbourg. Gutenberg was a goldsmith by profession and modified existing screw printers while adding...

Punctuation – To Be Punctilious, or Not?

I was chatting to a writer friend last night who had recently been doing some editing and she remarked how much the rules of punctuation seem to have changed since she started out. Should you use double quotation marks or single, for example? Though strict grammarians...