Author archive: Caroline

Echoes of the City

I’ve recently been involved in a fascinating project. @EchoesoftheCity has recorded site specific podcasts linked to various locations in the city of Edinburgh, designed to be listened to as podwalks. When the call first came out for writers to submit stories for this project, there was also a list of suggested sites. As soon as I saw Broughton Street on the list, my story came to me, fully formed, and took little over half an hour to write. That was a first draft, of course, which required editing, tidying, etc, but the basic core remained the same, and I am…

Everything but the kitchen sink

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but less is more. On my fourth draft of current project and I’m paring right back to find the story is getting stronger and stronger. I’m learning that my default reaction is to say, ‘oh that’ll be good’ and ‘what about if this happened’ and ‘wouldn’t it be fun to add this’… Yeah that’s all good up to a point, but eventually you have to make choices and get rid of stuff. A book doesn’t get stronger the more you crowbar in, it improves when you take all those extra ideas out, and find…

The Jane Austen Writers Club – what a great book for writers.

I don’t usually blog about one particular book, but for this, I will make an exception. Not a beginners book – you need to know what PoV and characterisation etc are for instance – but for someone who wants to improve, particularly in plotting and editing – this is an excellent read. I particularly loved the last chapter which was full of encouragement for those who are serious about writing but not yet published or agented. Most ‘how to’ writing books use examples to illustrate certain points of technique, and while this can be helpful, if the extract they’re referring…

Best books of 2016

The decision to keep a book journal was one of my better moves this year. Having only started in March, my year to date total is 60, which implies my total read was probably in the region of 80-90. Not too shabby. Could do better, if there wasn’t quite so much choice on TV, methinks, and how many hours wasted on Spider Solitaire when I could have had my nose in a good book? I’m going to aim for 100 next year, not least to diminish the ‘pile to read’ a bit. Re-visits There are always a few old favourites…

Plagiarism or homage?

In these days of social media, it almost feels as if plagiarism doesn’t matter. How often do you see a picture or a quote retweeted, without credit given to whoever spent time and mental energy creating it in the first place? As someone who has made a living being paid by the word, it is a sensitive subject. I’ve watched payment rates for writers decrease every year, and am sure much of this is to do with the lack of respect for those who create content. There is an argument that if we continue to devalue original content, eventually no-one…

Creating a book journal

Back in March, on this blog, I bemoaned the fact that I had ‘too many books to read, and too little time.’ I was convinced that the growing pile of books awaiting my reading attention was the result of my reading too slowly, or not often enough, not the result of living too near Waterstones, Barter Books, or of browsing on Amazon rather more frequently than might be good for me. So in March I decided to start a book journal. In this I would write down every book I read, together with a brief summary of what it was about,…

Lessons learnt from Story Shop

I had my glorious moment of fame, performing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Fifteen minutes, one hot Monday afternoon, reading out my short story Be Careful What You Wish For. When I decided to apply for Story Shop, I hadn’t really thought about what would happen if I was successful.  I just sent off my story and fully expected to receive a polite rejection at some future point. I was not prepared for: We are delighted to inform you that you have been successful. Next was a workshop: Speaking in Public. No problem.  I’ve done that before. It’ll be fine. Alex, the…

Get yourself out there

I have to admit that a recent flurry of rejections almost had me retreating into my cave. Even though there were all nice rejections; i.e. not bog standard, depressing “your work has been received and if you don’t hear from us, then just go away”, they were still rejections.  But the fact that publishers took time to reply to me personally did give me a bit of hope. One even said, “Both of us have now read the complete MS. I have to say that I did really enjoy it – I also gave it to my daughter (18) to read on holiday…

In praise of Nanowrimo

It’s the end of April, and I’ve just finished ‘Camp Nanowrimo’. It’s hard to describe what Nanowrimo is all about. You just need to sign up and have a go. This is how it is described on their website:  “National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.” http://nanowrimo.org It was from a writers’ group in Inverness that I first heard…

Are writers sadists?

“I think writing about unhappiness is probably the source of my popularity, if I have any-after all, most people are unhappy, don’t you think?” So said Philip Larkin. I’d agree with that. No-one wants to read a happy story about lucky people having a lovely time. We want our heroes to go through torment and then some. Is it because we are all sadists? Or is it because we just want to know there is someone out there having a worse time than us? Actually it’s neither. The reason we want to read about unhappiness is because this drives plot….

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