• Books on the craft……

    'On Writing' by Stephen King

    'Writing down the Bones' by Natalie Goldberg

    'Self-Editing for Fiction Writers' by Renni Browne & Dave King

    'How to Write a Damn Good Novel' by James N. Frey

    'The Art of Fiction' by David Lodge

    'How Novelists Work' Essays by various novelists

    'The Craft of Novel Writing' by Dianne Doubtfire

    'Writing Fiction' by Janet Burroway and others

    'Writing Short Stories' by Ailsa Cox

    The First Five Pages' by Noah Lukeman

    'Stein on Writing' by Sol Stein

    'The Seven Basic Plots' by Christopher Booker

    'Plot and Structure' by James Scott Bell

Texture, colour, shape ….

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Too many adjectives fight with one another and weaken prose.  Too few and the reader won’t be immersed in the scene.  Add texture to your writing by taut, spare descriptions using all the senses but necessarily in the same scene.  Touch in one scene, smell in another and so forth.  That way it won’t overwhelm the reader but bring your scenes alive.

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If you want fresh eyes don’t use them.

We’re at the editing stage of our work.  We’ve been over it four or five times.  Still tweaking the same old passages?  Still skimming over the great bits?  We’re all prone to missing the lazy sentence, the rambling paragraph or image, wordiness, messiness, adverbs gone wild.  So how do we look at our work afresh?  The best way is to read it aloud.  We have to slow down.  We have to read every word and not skim.  We will hear when a paragraph or a sentence goes on too long and where we haven’t been clear.  Still tempted to skim?  Cut anything that holds you up.  If you’re not interested in it then neither is your reader.  Ears are the new eyes, folks.  Use them.

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On resolutions…..

One resolution covers them all.  Be mindful.  Spend time being in the present, enjoying – or at least truly experiencing – whatever it is we are doing.  If we are are mindful we won’t spend hours in front of shite TV, scrolling through pages of old or depressing news on the web, needlessly shopping.  We would see those distractions for what they are.  Instead we would get on with our lives, living every moment and inevitably have time for the things we love.  So, let’s be present, be awake, feel the moment.  Hold.

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Photograph courtesy of Sweet Pea Path on tumblr.  

I asked God for a bike….

Theft

Ah yes, the inevitable tension between being creative and feeding the creativity.  As writers we need to be reading often and widely but we also need to be writing regularly and routinely.  There are only so many hours in a day.  So take Al Pacino’s advice and turn your creativity on your problem.  Listen to audiobooks while you’re commuting, doing the housework, jogging, cleaning the car, raking leaves.  Not only do you ‘read’ the book but in hearing rather than reading the words, you can tune in to the musicality of the sentence, feel the beats and rhythm of the text, learn what works, what doesn’t.  When does your interest start to flag?  When have you lost yourself in the story and why?  What could you do better?   And of course, if you’re like Al, you might also find the odd thing you can steal…..

What lies beneath….

face

Spend time with your characters.  Go for a walk.  Wake them early and ask a few questions, maybe using the Proust Questionnaire here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proust_Questionnaire, or find out what they dreamed about.  Take them to a party or the supermarket, or watch children play, if you dare.  Look at the world through their eyes and find out what or who makes them tick.  Then let them loose on the white page….

I will follow you, will you follow me…..

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You’ve heard it before; writers need a social media platform. What is it? How do you get one? Why should you? This article by someone with 1.2 million Twitter followers – a writer no less – shares his wisdom here http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2013/02/guy-kawasakis-10-social-media-tips-for-authors045/

Or you could just write your novel?

Art work by Aoki Tetsuo.

Short form, long form…..

Word

Make time and gear up for long projects.  Break them down into manageable size.  Turn off the web, phone, children and dogs. Seek help  Call on friends.  Network  Research.  Read more. Put your shoulder to the job…. whatever it takes.

Rinse and repeat ….

repeat

Wanted to talk about repeating words and phrases, when not to, when to use to effect, when to avoid.  But someone got there first.  So, hats off to The Daily Post for this excellent bit of advice.  I can do no better than send you all this link http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/04/29/repetition-literary-device/.

Tune in and enjoy.

Get on with it.

Time

Instead of reading, listen.

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I once listened to ‘The Old Man & The Sea’ five times within a few days.  It was better than reading.  I heard Hemingway’s sentence structure, his simple language, the cadence and music of his prose.  I went away and wrote a story, copying him almost.  I called it ‘The Old Man & The Suit.’  I entered a competition and it did well.  

There are thousands of audiobooks out there, hundreds for free at Open Culture (http://www.openculture.com/freeaudiobooks) and some at Spoken Ink (http://www.spokenink.co.uk/).  

Listen to your favourite author or one of the classics for inspiration.  You know what they say about imitation…..

 

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  • Write like this ……

    What comes from the heart goes to the heart.

    Samuel Coleridge Taylor

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