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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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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 story. Why do we stay with stories? To find out what happens. This…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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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 celebrities and do something fun.' Being creative is not the answer to the question; it's the basic…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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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 with books instead, I'd like to present a further argument to that. One has to take into the…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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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. Now, you're expecting me to tell you that there are no quick fixes…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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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 of the very first story I got published ('Left Hand Drive') was this; A messenger could…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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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 they inhabit the world in which they write. And a surprising number have no style at all…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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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 I was on with Dr Oliver Tearle, the charming, erudite author of 'Britain By The Book'…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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'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 I look for something positive about the experience and do remember that it was an…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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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 there were also thousands of…
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Christopher Fowler
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Reading & Writing
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I did an interview the other day in which I was asked if I had any phrases or watchwords by which to live, and I suggested two; Nobody loves a good all-rounder. and, No tombstone ever read, 'This writer always delivered on time.' By which I mean; it takes whatever it takes, however long it takes. Most good writers I know can turn their hands to pretty much anything, so much so that many never…
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