Author archive: Caroline

Descriptive writing

I’m currently writing a book which is set on a mythical island somewhere in the South Pacific. (Albatross is the working title of the novel). I want the island to be large enough for the islanders to be self-sufficient, but small enough so the rest of the world would leave them alone. I need the climate to be pleasant enough so that daily life is not a struggle. It would be better if there were no indigenous mammals (for various plot reasons.) Before the internet, such a setting would probably have been impossible without the author either visiting somewhere similar,…

Finishing a book

I’ve had a reasonable level of success writing non-fiction. As my agent reminded me a few weeks ago, non-fiction is “where the money is” and I have to agree that my experience to date suggests that most writers will only make money through ventures other than writing fiction. I’ve met countless authors whose work I admire who earn their crust teaching, not writing. Non-fiction however, is a way to earn a reasonable living, though it’s still a struggle. But it was always my dream to write fiction, and I realised about two years ago that as long as I carry…

Holidays are for reading

I love being on holiday. It’s great to be somewhere new, with different food, climate, scenery… but to some extent it doesn’t matter where I go because the thing I most enjoy doing on holiday is working my way through an enormous pile of books. As I always have more books waiting to be read than time in which to read them in, holidays give me a good chance to clear the backlog a bit. I like nothing better than total immersion in a book: hours go by, sunburn is ignored, there are no deadlines to worry about, no tasks…

Pantser or Planner?

Nanowrimo is less than one month away. So if you are intending to take part, do you spend October planning out your novel in meticulous detail, or do you wait for 1st November, switch on the PC and see if inspiration strikes? Last year – which was also the first year I tried to participate – I had an idea floating around in my brain. There was a setting, a rudimentary plot, plus a few scenes and some characters. Plenty to be getting on with. After all I’d started to write my last novel, Emily’s Dreaming, with no more than…

Narrators – reliable or otherwise

The aspect of writing fiction which is perhaps hardest to grasp when you are starting out, is that you have to choose someone to tell the story – and that person might not be you. In fact, it may well be easier if it isn’t. I was walking in the mountains recently with a good friend who kindly let me rabbit on for far too long about my current struggles with voice and narrator and point of view, and after I’d exhausted both myself and, I suspect, her, she told me that as a reader, she’d never even noticed any…

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…

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