May 2013

Truth is stranger than fiction

Truth is stranger than fiction

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”  Creative writing tutors, in their wisdom, caution against justifying an outrageous plot twist by saying, “but that really happened!” My favourite writing book, How NOT to write a novel, devotes at least a page to the subject (I’d check exactly how much but, as usual, it’s out on loan. Incidentally, the cover has to be the best ever for a ‘how to’ book . Don’t understand the relevance of the kitty at gunpoint, but it’s cracking). Science fiction probably contains the weirdest possible scenarios, but if you think about it,…

Seasonal writers

Seasonal writers

My agent told me that in her experience,  writers don’t tend to do much writing in the winter months, but are far more productive in the spring and summer. I found this really surprising. Surely it’s easier to hunker down when the weather outside is cold and uninviting? I’ve tried writing outside sprawled on a deckchair in the sun, laptop perched precariously on my knees, cool drink within arms reach… doesn’t work for me. First of all it was really hard to see the screen, then the damn laptop got hot and I started to worry that I was going…

Desert Island Books

Desert Island Books

So which ten books would you take to a desert island? (I know, you could take a kindle, but humour me. Imagine somewhere with no electricity, so after a month your kindle will be useless. The box of books will last forever). For me, well, I guess if I knew I was going to get off again fairly soon, then I would take some of the books I haven’t got around to reading yet, but really want to, in the hope that I would get through them all before I was rescued. But that is another list… However if rescue was not…

Literature

Literature

Just attended a conference organised by NALD (National Association for Literature Development). Nearly didn’t go, but now I’m glad I did. Several things. Firstly, it struck me that there are an awful lot of people working and being paid for doing something associated with writing. Poetry society, librarians, National Book Trust, that’s before you get to publishers, etc. I began to wonder how all this is funded and that sort of thinking always leads me into a cycle of terror; bear with me, it’s a bit long and incomprehensible, but hopefully you will follow…. imagine that food is our commodity…

The New Novel

Well it is the New Year and I have started it as I mean to go on, new book, 6,000 words a month I feel is a reasonable target, and so far I am sticking to it. This is my second novel, and some things are easier second time round, some more difficult. For instance I am already thinking about viewpoint, which did not happen until I was well into the previous one. I am toying with the idea of doing it first person, not sure. I wonder how late into a book one can make that decision? I am…

Books and more books…

Books and more books…

I was in a book shop last week and managed to resist buying any more books. That is probably a first for me, but I’m trying to be mindful of the two shelves of books waiting to be read (that is of course forgetting all the books which have now been shelved elsewhere in the house, unread).  I was cheered by a comment from AA Gill that everywhere else in the world, literate people have a list of books they have read, it’s only the English (I am sure he meant British) who have a list of books they haven’t read.   I resolve not…

Death, plumbing and writing

Death, plumbing and writing

Just had a great night out watching Ardal O’Hanlon on stage doing stand up. Amazes me how stand ups remember everything they are going to say; I wonder if there is a trick to remembering several hours worth of material? Anyway watching him reminded me of course of Father Ted, ie Dermot Morgan who died age 46, and then I thought too of Douglas Adams who died aged 49. Both men were born early in 1952, both died of heart attacks. Is being genuinely funny a death risk I wonder? Both men seemed fit and active – in fact I…

Why do writers ignore the world of work?

Why do writers ignore the world of work?

I have just finished reading PD James’ The Lighthouse, and without spoiling the plot for potential readers, it involves writers and their writing and the plot was threaded through this to some extent. I remember also reading a crime thriller by Elizabeth George where the murderer was an artist, who murdered her victim as revenge for having a piece of her art destroyed. This made me reflect on a couple of interesting thoughts. Firstly would a piece of work you created- novel, painting, sculpture, etc – be so personally meaningful to you that you would commit murder for it? Perhaps…

Romantic fiction

Romantic fiction

I have been pondering some feedback I was given about a sample chapter from my novel. I was told that it was a “bit Mills and Boons”. Argh! Horror! Mortification! Luckily no-one else has agreed with this rather damning analysis, including my agent whose job it is to make sure I am producing something reasonable, but when I took this feedback to other writers, one said, “Actually what’s wrong with romantic fiction? Have you read any recently? Some of it is quite good.” And I have to admit, no I have not read any since I was 15 and used…

There is no such thing as a favourite book

OK here is a challenge for you. I believe that it’s impossible for a writer to have a favourite book. Having a favourite book means a) you have not read enough books and b) you have not changed over time. Both fatal flaws for a writer. I have literally (sic) thousands of books in my house, nearly all of which I have read, and which I am hanging onto because I think I might want to read them again. Then there are many, many books which I have read and not kept because I did not like them, and then…

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