I use a variety of writing exercises to help trigger ideas for stories though a lot of these are also useful for generating thoughts for articles.
One joy of going to a great writing event such as the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School is discovering so many wonderful writers and their amazing range of work.
It is my pleasure then to introduce Elizabeth Hurst, another Swanwick stalwart, who writes the Lost Souls series.
The defining thought for my recent CFT posts has been how writers can pick up on the zeitgeist, long before we know there is one to tap into!
This summer the topic has been about changing direction. Some writers do this a lot, others only every now and again. Some make the change a permanent one, others see the variation as a detour from what they usually write though they will resume that in due course. My recent interviews with Scottish crime writers, Val Penny and Wendy H Jones, are good examples of this.
Another author changing direction is Jennifer C Wilson who has gone from writing ghost stories crossed with history in her Kindred Spirits series to romance with The Raided Heart and is now writing non-fiction with her recently released A Novel Approach.
Paula Readman and I have publishers in common. We’ve both been published by Bridge House Publishing and Cafelit. We’ve shared the great joy recently of both of us having two stories in The Best of Cafelit 8 and also a story each in Nativity, the most recent books published by Bridge House. Naturally we are both keen on the independent small presses!
Paula is going from strength to strength and is starting 2020 off in great style with a recently released novella and a short story collection to come later in the year but more on that in a moment.
I learned a long time ago if someone makes something look easy, that same someone will have worked very hard for years to get to that point. This is true for Paula and she’ll share more about this too.
How do you decide something is a good story? Do you judge that by the genre or by the quality of the characters?
For me, the latter is by far the most important criterion. Really good characters stay with you long after you’ve finished reading or listening to the story.
This year’s performance by the MDG Players is a pastiche of sci-fi storytelling that lampoons radio plays and the stories of Stephen King and John Wyndham. Presented as a radio play, Welcome to Our Village, Please Invade Carefully is filled with clever humour and wit that results in a very original, fun way to spend an evening.
The plot is simple – the village of Cresdon Green, Buckinghamshire, is a normal English town that has just happened to be slowly invaded by aliens. It starts with a dome being placed over the village and then Uljabaan, an alien trying desperately hard to impress his superiors, attempting to blend in with the villagers. Whilst some embrace the aliens, others, led by the rebellious Katrina Lyons, want to see the aliens gone. Hilarity ensues. [Read more…] about Review: Chandler’s Ford MDG Players: ‘Welcome to our village, please invade carefully’
I conclude with contributions from Bridge House Publishing/Cafelit colleagues, discover what two fine Scottish crime writers would save if push came to shove (that’s an apt expression given what they write!), and will finally answer the questions myself. [Read more…] about What Books Mean To Me – Part 3
Any writer will say to write well, you must read well (and widely). Every writer I know is as happy to talk about the latest great book they’ve read as well as what they’re working on. Why would you write if you didn’t love books and stories in the first place? There are two sides to this coin.
Image Credit: A big thanks to my guests for supplying photos. Unless otherwise stated, the book and library pictures come, as always, from those magnificent people at Pixabay.
Image Credit: Unless stated otherwise, all photos were taken by Allison Symes
I’ve recently returned from my annual trip to the Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, which is based at The Hayes Conference Centre in Swanwick, Derbyshire. I had a fantastic time learning from the courses and workshops, meeting up with old friends and making new ones. [Read more…] about Swanwick Writers’ Summer School
Janet and I will have seen The Chameleon Theatre Group’s latest production, They Came from Mars and Landed Outside the Farndale Avenue Church Hall in Time for the Townswomen’s Guild’s Coffee Morning, by the time this post goes live. The play is written by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Junior and I look forward to sharing a review next week.
This production easily has the longest title of any play I’ve seen but it is a great illustration of one of the prime purposes of a title for any piece of writing. That is, it should give you some idea of what to expect! No doubts here – this title practically screams out “sci-fi spoof” at you! I love a good spoof so this ticks all the right boxes for me. [Read more…] about Titles
I had the great joy of being at the Winchester Writers’ Festival on Saturday 15th June and a lovely time was had by all. As ever, I learned a great deal from the courses I attended. I also loved chatting to friends, old and new, including Scottish crime writer, Val Penny, author of the Edinburgh Crime Mysteries, who I interviewed for CFT a little while ago. [Read more…] about Writing Legacy
I make no apology for the pun! Reading aloud is encouraged in youngsters to help them develop their vocabulary and rightly so but, unless you are a performance poet or oral storyteller, this habit is forgotten in adulthood. I think this is a shame. I find it is a real treat to be read to and it makes a lovely connection to the old oral storytelling tradition too. [Read more…] about Reading Aloud Allowed (and Local Author News: Allison Symes)
In almost every walk of life there are those who are behind the scenes, who are easily overlooked but without whom life would be that much poorer. In any organisation or indeed on a website like this, there is at least one person driving it who makes things happen (take a bow, Janet and Neil).
I guess it is like housework in a way. Nobody notices when you’ve done it. They do notice when you haven’t! [Read more…] about Behind the Scenes
Can someone ever define what a good book is given everyone has different tastes in genre? I think so. [Read more…] about What Do You Look For In A Good Book?
Does it seem like an odd thing to do for a writer to regularly analyze stories? Does it take the joy out of reading? I suspect many an English Literature student, at whatever level, may well say yes to that, but I feel that would be a shame. It certainly isn’t the point of analysis. [Read more…] about Story Analysis – Why Bother?
One great thing about playing Scrabble is it does increase your vocabulary. It’s amazing just how many three and two letter words there are. I play on a mobile app so there are no worries about losing any of the tiles either!
Mind, there have been times many years ago when I’ve played the traditional board game when I would happily have stuffed the Q, X, V, and Z somewhere I could guarantee they’d not be seen again but that’s another story! I’m less hostile to the Q now I know you don’t always need the U to go with it. [Read more…] about Experimenting with Words and Form
What are your favourite types of fictional characters? Mine include:-
1. The deserving hero/heroine. (This is one reason why I love fairytales, they’re full of these!). [Read more…] about Character Types – and Why It Matters to Get Them Right
Do you like adaptations of your favourite stories? I guess the answer to that is “yes, if it works” and then it is up to us to decide whether it does or not.
Famously The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock is an adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s short story of the same name so it isn’t just about novels being “translated” to a different media. [Read more…] about Adaptations