How to Create Tension – Am I Keeping You in Suspense?

Suspense is the tension that is created when you are waiting for something to happen. You might be waiting for news of a loved one; you might be waiting to see if the creak on the stair which sounded suspiciously like a footfall sounds again; you might be waiting,...

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...

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,...

Breaking the Spell

As a writer, you’re an illusionist: you create brave new worlds for your reader and go to great lengths to make them seem as real and as plausible as possible — that is what writing good fiction is all about. The subversive in me is interested in the...
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...

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...

Plotting with Polonius

In Hamlet, Polonius suggests tso his son Laertes that he should, “by indirection find direction out.” In other words, it can be helpful to take a lateral approach to something, that by going the long way round you will eventually arrive at the heart of the...
En Route to Experience

En Route to Experience

David Lodge, in his excellent book The Art of Fiction, maintains that, “All novels are essentially about the passage from innocence to experience,” and while I’m not sure that I entirely agree — the novel that I’m working on at the moment...

Literary Leger de Main

As a writer, you’re an illusionist: you create whole worlds for your reader and go to extraordinary lengths to make them seem as real and as plausible as possible — that is what writing good fiction is all about. The subversive in me is interested in the...

You Always Hurt the One You Love

I seem to be in song title mode at the moment (see my earlier post It Ain’t What You Say It’s the Way That You Say It) but here’s a little pinch of plotting snuff for you to breath in deeply. When you are thinking about constructing a plot, at some...
Demystifying the Myth

Demystifying the Myth

Hollywood script consultant Christopher Vogler, who worked on epic films like The Lion King and Fight Club wrote a book called The Writers Journey which has since become a seminal text for anyone interested in how to use myths and archetypes to help resolve the...