There is currently a heatwave in England. Every weather channel has various diagrams to explain just how toasty it is and invariably there's a lot of red on the map. Those of you from hotter climates may well laugh, but it's currently 30 degrees Celsius and I'm officially melting. And while my office has air-conditioning, my… Continue reading 5# Things do to when you don’t want to write
Last Wednesday, I read out an excerpt from my first chapter at my writing group. You'd think given I blog, enjoying writing and reading, that something like this would be a walk in the park. You might as well ask me to perform open-heart surgery. If you don't know me, I should explain I am the… Continue reading Taking a risk is the Only way to Grow
The eternal question asked by and of writers. Where do you get your ideas from? In response to this frequently asked question, the divine Neil Gaiman has said: 'I make them up,' I tell them. 'Out of my head.' Well, obviously. Whatever we do and say, odds are, it probably originated from out of our heads.… Continue reading Where do you get your ideas from?
They are not idiots. They're hacks. I've written on this blog before about my quiet love for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. It's a book I studied and one, as a teenager, I felt a lot of kinship with. Because what else is Frankenstein about but a Creature attempting to find its place in a cold and… Continue reading The Monster, The Sun and A Tale of Hack Journalism
This week, the Guardian ran a quote from Arnaud Nourry, chief executive of Hachette Livre, saying that ebooks are “a stupid product” which have "no creativity" and have so far only had "one or two successes among a hundred failures." If you haven't heard of them, Hachette is currently the world's third largest trade publisher so we… Continue reading Are eBooks Stupid?
Since I saw Hamilton at the Alexandra Palace and posted my review, I’ve been having many and various fun arguments with friends and fellow musical theatre lovers as to why this is probably one of the greatest musicals in the last twenty years. I’ve seen some amazing new musicals like Groundhog Day and Matilda, but… Continue reading Why Hamilton is Genius
Two of the most stressful things you can do is move house and start a new job. In December, I decided to do both. I have a philosophy that if you have several hard things to do, do them at the same time because how bad can it be, really? Hum... Well, I've finally finished… Continue reading Where do you write?
I've never believed in New Year's Resolutions because they simply don't work! There's a good reason why every article out there which talks about New Year's Resolutions also adds some helpful advice on how to stick to them. If there's anyone out there who has made a Resolution and kept to it for longer than… Continue reading Writing Resolutions of 2018
This is technically part two of my Frankenstein post which I published here on Friday in honour of the 200th anniversary of this book. But there was so much to talk about with this particular character, I thought he deserved a Never Underestimate post! Something I’ve always found fascinating about Frankenstein’s many and various adaptations… Continue reading Never Underestimate… the Igor
How can you tell if your favourite character is, in fact, a manipulative bastard? This character, for me, will forever be judged against the standards of Shakespeare's Iago. Has your character manipulated his friend into a bar brawl so he gets demoted? Convinced his wife to steal a handkerchief he later plants on said friend… Continue reading Never underestimate… the Iago.
Let's talk about the weather. Here in England, we had a massive snowfall last weekend. For those of you living in Canada, or Japan or some parts of America like New Hampshire and Alaska, I imagine you'd wonder why this is post worthy. But you've got to understand, we Brits can't handle the weather. Like over-excited… Continue reading Using and abusing our weather-beaten words
I recently finished reading The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah. If you don't know, this is Sophie Hannah taking on the continuation novels of Agatha Christie's beloved Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. Approved by the Christie Estate and written by a very talent crime novelist who I had the chance to meet at Swanwick Summer Writing School.… Continue reading Never underestimate… the Watsons
I was sitting at my desk at around ten o’clock at night, knowing that I wouldn’t go to bed until I’d finished the next chapter, so hello two o’clock in the morning and I suddenly realized; writing is a terrible hobby. I could be rock climbing or surfing, but oh no. No sane person would… Continue reading Why do we write? Who can we blame?
Today, I'm going to very carefully try and explain how friends and family can help their tortured writers. I say carefully because I hope not to offend any well-meaning soul who has fallen into one of these traps! No, it really isn't. The writer has just spilled out their soul about their amazing idea. The… Continue reading The worst ways to help a writer
What is past is prologue. The Tempest, William Shakespeare Everyone seems to have a strong opinion on prologues. Do a quick search online and you'll find plenty of articles advising you to ditch the prologue. As I've been frequently told, editors don't like them. They’re seen as the equivalent of clearing your throat before getting… Continue reading Prologues: Love ’em or Hate ’em
Spoilers ahead for several movies so beware! Ellen Ripley from the Alien movies (by Sigourney Weaver) Ellen Ripley is probably one of my favourite characters of all times and is one of the first true kickass heroines. It's perhaps unfortunate that the reason for this is Ripley was originally written as a man. But I think… Continue reading Top 10# Female Heroes of Movies
I've been part of the writer group London Writers' Cafe for almost two years now and I find it completely invaluable to my writing life. But I know writing groups are often criticised. There’s an infamous Buzzfeed article which always has me in stitches If Jane Austen Got Feedback From Some Guy In A Writing… Continue reading You should be in a Writing Group
You might have noticed the blog has been a little quiet lately. I usually stockpile a couple of weeks posts but between a new job and some other projects, I've fallen behind! But I should be up and running again soon. But I wanted to send out a short post today to share the good… Continue reading To Hull and Back: Short Competition
What's the most valuable tool you have as a writer? That's right, it's the 'Write your way to Success' app available on iPhone and Android for the reasonable price of £19.99. Get this app and you too could be the next Stephen King in four to six months. That's right, it's the 'Write your way… Continue reading Your most valuable tool: But why?
How many articles or books listing ‘writing rules’ have you read? How many have you read saying that you should break them? Many of you may recognise the title of this post if you’re ever watched, Friends. Rules are fun! Rules help control the fun. The Guardian has an entire page of writing rules from authors like… Continue reading Rules are fun! Rules help CONTROL the fun.
After four years mulling and a year writing, I have now finished the first draft of my steampunk novel. Whew! I have mixed feelings on it all. It most certainly isn't a masterpiece. There are plot holes, too much telling than showing and a lack of cohesiveness which makes it feel more like a string… Continue reading First draft hangover. What have we learnt?
Fiction is written by us. And what we like to see, what we cling to, is the sense that the universe will eventually fix everything. Whether that’s a god, fate or narrative causality, bad people get their comeuppance and good people get rewarded. And when we see terrible characters undergo terrible deaths, it’s okay, even… Continue reading Are your characters victims or dodgers of karmic justice?
I'm back! Full of inspiration and raring to write. Last week, I was at the Swanwick Writers' Summer School and I had the most amazing time. As a writer, it will probably stand one of the most important weeks in my writing career. The realizations I came to, the people I met and the courage I gathered… Continue reading My week at Swanwick: The Writers’ Summer School
Elizabeth Bennet by Jane Austen (as depicted here by Jennifer Ehle) One of my favourite heroines. Elizabeth Bennet is a character who has echoed down the ages purely because of how human she is. She's not at all perfect, laden with pride (and prejudice, surprisingly...), refuses to be stereotyped or dedicated to, but remains a woman… Continue reading Top 10# Female Heroes of Literature
I briefly spoke about the Bechdel–Wallace test in my post about complex and powerful female characters, which you can read here. But as it's such an interesting idea, I wanted to talk about it in depth. The Bechdel–Wallace test was created by the American cartoonist Alison Bechdel. It first appeared in 1985 in her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. Basically… Continue reading The Bechdel–Wallace test and how it can help us
We've all been there. We see a competition for a short story and we're suddenly inspired by the topic. Clearly, cognitive dissonance has already set in, because on some level we know we're going to hate it by the time we've written it. But at the first rush of feeling, ideas like fireworks are lighting your… Continue reading Without hesitation, repetition or deviation
John Finnemore is one of the best comedy writers currently working. He mostly writes for radio and created Cabin Pressure, John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, and Double Acts. His true talent is one all good writers should aspire to; he invites you to listen to his story, holds your attention for as long as he's asked… Continue reading John Finnemore, the spinner of tales
This is a post I'd been working on for about two weeks before the new Doctor was announced, which I wrote about last week. I bumped up this post today as I think it ties in well about our changing view of female characters. Strong female characters, or the lack thereof, has been a hot… Continue reading STRONG female characters? How about we just write better.
I'd be the first to say I'm a naturally apologetic person. I tend to apologise that I'm so apologetic. I'm the person who apologises when someone steps on my foot on the tube. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I've come to realise that it's killing my writing. Everything I wrote… Continue reading Cast off your crutches
This has happened to me and I'm sure it's happened to you. Let's say you've been to see a movie and now you're walking home. The movie was okay, maybe even great! But there was some missing piece which is starting to bug you. 'Well, how did the McGuffin work?' or, 'But why did the… Continue reading Harnessing the Completion Principle to enthral and annoy your readers
Does anyone find that they the story, but not necessarily the book? Those occasions where a story transcends its source material to take on a life of its own. Perhaps you like West Side Story, but you’d never read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Perhaps you love Bridget Jones’s Diary, but would never read Jane Austen's… Continue reading Not all Classics are created equal
Review of National Theatre: Common by DC Moore
The Busy Bee The busy bee, bright brown and yellow, Flits from flower to flower in industrial glee, With not a care in the world. Just like my neighbour, Mrs Cassidy. The busy bee, ungainly and urgent, Buzzes and bounces against glass panes, Knocking and fussing. Just like my neighbour, Mrs Cassidy. I should probably… Continue reading The Busy Bee
In eighty-five days, heroes have emerged in this country. We need to recognise them.
Ah, cliché. That old unwanted friend who turns up at your party, but you've known them forever and it's too much effort to get them to leave. Terry Pratchett summarised it best: Clichés are the hammer and screwdriver in the toolbox of communication. Read any 'how to write' guide and they'll tell you that clichés… Continue reading This post was six weeks away from retirement
Flashbacks and flashforwards. Why, what did you think I meant? Flashbacks and flashforwards have become a significant part of the language of modern fiction. I hadn't thought too much about until this weekend when I saw the Guardian article Bad memories: Colm Tóibín urges authors to lose the flashbacks. At the Hay Festival last weekend, Colm Tóibín,… Continue reading Is there too much flashing in modern literature?
Pick up any two guides to writing, or check out any number of blogs and you'll see 'the X elements of good story telling'. These range from three to twelve or more. And all of them are different. Hum. It's almost as though storytelling is a subjective art... I spend a lot of time picking… Continue reading Remember these four elements of good storytelling
Did you know that during President Donald Trump’s campaign, he offered to pay for one-way plane tickets of anyone of African or Mexican descent wanting to leave America? Well no, he didn’t. But this article by tmzhiphop.com got 802,000 reactions online. Why does fake news have such a readership? Why did an article in thevalleyreport.com… Continue reading Fake News. Probably the most successful fiction there is
Some of you out there may be Dinsey nuts. Some of you may be Dinsey haters. Some may think Disney is for children, some of you may have had Disney themed weddings. But regardless, Disney is important, shaping the minds of children. And since 1937 with 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' it has been… Continue reading Moana: could she be the best Disney princess?
A friend recently got me into Rick and Morty. I couldn't believe how much I enjoyed it as it's not usually my style of comedy. Massive amounts of toilet humour, pointedly politically incorrect and incredibly near the knuckle themes - this is not a cartoon for children. Nothing's held sacred and everything's a target of… Continue reading Mad, bad and dangerous to know
Two weeks into blogging and I'm already talking about giving up? No not really. In early April, the Guardian online published the opinion article What I’m really thinking: the failed novelist. An anonymous writer bemoans the fact that her two novels were rejected by various editors. Since then, she's 'given up', can't bring herself to read any… Continue reading Should we just give up writing?
Recently I was lucky enough to see Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead with Joshua McGuire and Daniel Radcliffe at the Old Vic. This is one of my all time favourite plays and has been for a long time. I'm a true Shakespeare nut, to the point where I literally flinch if a line is missed in Much… Continue reading Rosencrantz and Guildenstern… what happens when you give minor characters their own play
I've always been a people watcher. You see or overhear a snippet of a conversation, you see a little slice of that person's life. Those of us with an active imagination will know that it can be enough to spark a story. Or ten. Orson Scott Card, the author of Ender's Game once said: Everybody walks past… Continue reading Where to find your characters
I've been creating stories for as long as I can remember. As a child, I would borrow my father's video camera and tell stories, often with props but always bossing around my younger sister (aka the lead actress and stagehand) and my impressive range of made up words like 'blustery-er'. It wasn't until I was eleven… Continue reading I’m going to start a blog. How hard can it be?