Reading & Writing

Careers In Word-Smashing 3: Pleasing Yourself

I don’t know of many writers who admit to being happy. The good ones are deeply critical of their own material; Alan Bennett seems perpetually amazed that anyone would want to read him, and many writers I know are looking to the next work to properly correct the mistakes they see in their last one. […]

Careers In Word Smashing Part II

I tend to look at all writing, whether fiction or non-fiction, novel, TV series, film and stage play, as stories. For me, a story must have enough structure and linearity to provide the reader/viewer with satisfaction. After that anything else can be added; thematic power, surreality, musical numbers, I don’t mind. You had me at […]

Careers In Word-Smashing

What follows is my personal take on how writing as a career choice works; your experience may be different. Beware of the child who says they want to do ‘something creative’ when they enter the workforce. Creativity can appear in any job, but too often it’s used as shorthand for ‘I want to be around […]

Books VS Socks

And so I finish my week of writing articles with something a tad more light-hearted. \In 1946, George Orwell wrote an entertaining essay entitled ‘Books V Cigarettes’, in which he totted up the cost and pleasure of both and came down firmly on the side of books. After setting out to buy socks and returning […]

Writing: Here Comes The Hard Part

You’ll notice this week all the posts are about writing. That’s because I have been chained to my desk (a former Franco voting desk covered in ink stains and hundreds of bits of paper) trying to produce an idea from thin air. If there’s one element that confounds would-be writers it’s this; the making-things-up-from-nothing bit. […]

First Line, First Page

It’s the fear you hear from many writers. ‘I don’t know how to start’. But getting it right as you set out is important because the opening sets the tone for what follows. You can’t load a momentous or shocking opening into the first sentence very easily without it looking overly melodramatic. The first line […]

What’s Your Style?

Can you tell if a writer has a particular style? I didn’t think I had one until my agent pointed it out. I’d always assumed that most writers don’t have just one style but an infinite number ready for use. Good writers can pastiche and mimic. Great ones perform miracles of assimilation that make you believe […]

An Interesting Question

  On Saturday I appeared at the Stratford-Upon-Avon Literary Festival. I haven’t been to Stratford for a while (not that it’s very far away; I’m just lazy) and the only thing that has changed is the number of Japanese tourists delightedly visiting the Bard’s home town. The event had a terrific lineup of guests, and […]

First Chapter: ‘The Curse Of Snakes’

‘The Curse of Snakes’, my first YA novel in a proposed series of six exploring old myths in a modern world, tanked after a messy edit and a disastrously mismanaged launch (it went through a variety of covers, titles, plans, an abbreviated name for me and eventually no plans at all). As an incorrigible optimist […]

Why I Stopped Writing Horror Stories

Horror stories were once read by adults. They were specifically not for the young. Forbidden fruit, they revolved around unsettling (and unspoken) adults concepts, and were rarely predicated on shock effects. They looked outwards and encouraged the exploration of ideas. Of course there were straightforward classical-minded ghost tales from the likes of MR James, but […]