Author archive: Caroline

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….

How quickly can you write?

How quickly can you write?

I hesitate to say I’ve read everything there is to read about the process of writing a book, because there will always be more to say. Is it better to plan in detail or should you just go for it and fix everything afterwards? Should you list everything there is to know about your characters before you start, or should you get to know them as you write, following the same sort of process as your readers? Each time I am convinced anew that I “should” do it this way. But as I embark on a fourth draft of my…

So many books, so little time

I find myself regarding the ever growing pile of “books to read” and castigating myself for being such a slow reader. ‘What have you read recently? Really? You just slob in front of the telly.’ Well there is a lot of great stuff to watch at the moment, it’s true. Add in all the DVDs I got for Christmas (Ink, Primed, Lord Peter Wimsey complete box set) all the series I’ve become hooked on (The Returned, The Bridge, Spiral, Orphan Black) everything saved on the planner (Vera, Shetland, Canal Journeys – yes I know, but watching Timothy West mishandling 50…

Just a few good reads of 2015

I have to admit to being a bit of a nerd when it comes to books. I like lists of books. I like to hear what other people have read. I’m always interested in other people’s thoughts about their own reading habits. After all, if you want to be a writer, you have to read. A lot. My problem is remembering what I’ve read and where I read it. You know, that excellent bit of characterisation, that fantastic plot structure.. but where was it again? Worse if you use the library or if someone raids your bookcase and doesn’t return…

Rules and more rules

Rules and more rules

There was a fantastic adaptation of one of Agatha Christie’s best novels on TV over the festive period: “And then there were none” (which has been reissued with several titles, the original having had the n- word). I immediately sat down to re-read the original, and was struck for the first time that Christie’s writing would be torn apart by modern day writers. Too much telling. Adverbs tacked onto so many speech tags. Too many speech tags. And yet it is easy to read, zips along, and despite having so many characters, the reader does not get lost or confused….

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