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
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
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
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