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Christopher Fowler
Posted in
The Arts
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This is a new occasional column about the nuts and bolts of writing. Today we look at copying your work from others, or merely being influenced by them. First, listen to this. It's Hans Zimmer's music for the title sequence of the TV series 'The Crown', and if you think it sounds familiar, that's because it's a note-for-note lift of 'Memorial' from 'The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and her Lover' by…
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Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
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Me, I'm the master of the split infinitive, can't spell 'receive' and still sometimes get confused about when to put full stops inside brackets, but other than that, my editor doesn't have to waste much biro ink on me. Or should that be Biro ink? However, while I'm as exercised as anyone by signs like 'Potato's £1' I try to remember that the English language is in a constant state of flux, and if…
21 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
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Seriously, they'll be able to republish your first novel while people are feeling sorry for you. It'll be a good career move. It's a long-standing maxim that while 'no man except a blockhead ever wrote except for money' (cf. Samuel Johnson), no-one can really make a living doing it. The traditional answer to that statement is 'Look at JK Rowling', to which I'd answer 'Look at all the better…
8 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
London
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Sorry, what was the question again? Oh, the internet. Hang on, let me Google it. Last week there were several hand-wringing articles by Will Self and others about the digital age creating shorter attention spends that are damaging our ability to concentrate. The authors worried that immense literary novels - and there are such things, ' The Luminaries' by Eleanor Catton won the Man Booker last…
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Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
When I first started writing, a cruel fan immediately initiated something called 'Fowler's Howlers', which listed the prose mistakes I'd made, usually very nitpicky ones, the kind dug out by someone with limited imagination. (Never work with the public if you're sensitive; you'd kill yourself within days). I rarely make grammatical errors, but I believe in making the reader do a little work rather…
20 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
This is a new occasional series for both readers and budding writers, about some of the tricks that can be used to improve stories. This one's a classic. Oddly enough, it's use has been made much easier since the advent of computers, because you can go back and revise manuscripts accordingly. It involves the planting of moments in the first half of your story that pay off reader satisfaction in…
8 comments
Christopher Fowler
Posted in
Reading & Writing
My publisher wants me to write 'something big', so I'm sitting here staring at the screen with my four thousandth cup of tea today, wondering where the flying flip I am going to find a killer hook, and I realise that the books I've written which have spiked sales all have aspirational and slightly sexy ideas. These are possibly the hardest things in the publishing world to come up with. So, I idly…
8 comments
Christopher Fowler
Bookshop shelves are currently stuffed with Mr Brown's 'The Lost Symbol' and the hunt is on for the silliest dialogue line - something that will top the one above from The Da Vinci Code. It's second only to 'That man there! He's got the map to the Holy Grail!' (shouted by Sir Ian as he's carted off by the cops). And yet, when movies take bad books seriously they can throw up good moments - such as…
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