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.
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.
Writing is the fulfilment of many people’s dreams (and being published even more so) but, as with any other area of life, there are those prepared to make money out of your dreams and rip you off doing so. When you start out, it is knowing what to look out for that can be tricky. Also, where do you go for advice? (Answer: The Society of Authors, The Alliance of Independent Authors, and talk to other writers. Word does get out about scams and the like).
Now that doesn’t mean Val is leaving her (writing) life of crime (!), but she has turned to non-fiction with the recent release of her Let’s Get Published.
One of the things I love most about writing is it keeps you on your toes. There is always something to learn. For my flash fiction, I am always inventing new characters to write about. So the chances of (a) being bored or (b) running out of things to write about are zilch. I like that!
And for non-fiction work, such as my posts here, there are always topics of interest to look into, research, and write about. It is also a joy to share local author news (and a nice bonus when I can include myself!).
Being stretched mentally, whether you’re writing or what have you, is good for you. It makes you think. You develop much more as a person and I am sure that is one of the unspoken roles of any of the creative arts.
Taking part in any of the creative arts will make you assess where you are, where you might like to head with your chosen form, and so on.
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.
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
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?
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
I’ve talked about my writing journey before but how about the reading one? Do you remember which book you first read by yourself or the one that was always read to you as a child because it was your favourite?
I can’t remember what was the first book I read myself though it wouldn’t surprise me if it was a picture book. Once you pick up a few words, going through a picture book to find those words for yourself because you can now read them, is special. This is yet another reason why a well produced picture book is important in a child’s reading development. They build confidence in reading and with that comes the wish to read other things. A child that lacks confidence in reading will be reluctant to try something they don’t already know. [Read more…] about Reading Journeys
Over the years, you pick up many useful writing tips and then you need to work out which are the most useful to you. Following on from an earlier CFT post of mine about writing tips, I thought I’d take a look in greater depth at why I use the tips that I do.
In general, I don’t look at those tips for playwrights, given that’s not my specialism, but one that is aimed at them (read your work out loud) is good advice regardless of what type of fiction you write. It also works well for non-fiction given it can help you pick up on whether your prose flows as well as you thought. So how do you deduce which writing tips are the most useful? [Read more…] about Tried and Tested Writing Tips
There are many ways to raise money for charity and often people will do something extraordinary like bungee jumping or having a parachute jump etc (though it is not a good idea to try the pair of these at the same time!). All kudos to those who are brave enough to have a go but this kind of thing is definitely not for me.
The idea of writing a book for charity is much more up my street and this is what Barbara Large, MBE, has done recently. Barbara was the founder of the Winchester Writers’ Festival (formerly the Winchester Writing Conference), which is one of the major writing conferences in the country. Barbara has also run creative writing classes, including at the Dovetail Centre. [Read more…] about Scrumptious Cooking, Charity, and Barbara Large
The world of literature would be much poorer without its fantastic fiction and its realistic opposite (and I am including non-fiction in what I term reality writing). Both show worlds we can identify with in some way.
For example, in The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkein’s epic fantasy work the way Saruman attempted to destroy the natural world to make his weapons and build his power is a direct reflection of how things have been on our own planet time and time again. I needn’t name the dictators and while Tolkein always denied any comparison to the build up to World War Two, you can see why people made that link. An absolute evil had to be destroyed. An unlikely hero did so. (Who would have thought Britain would win the Battle of Britain? We weren’t supposed to!). [Read more…] about Fantastic -v- Reality Writing
Following on from last week’s post about the best and worst decisions made regarding writing, I thought I’d share here some of the most useful writing tips I’ve picked up on my writing journey to date. The great thing about making mistakes is, if sensible, you learn from them. It is true of life in general you learn what to do by getting it wrong first!
[Read more…] about Writing Tips
This is my look back at the recent Hursley Park Book Fair. Many thanks to Glenn Salter (aka author Simon Fairfax) for organising the Fair. So much hard work (and generally unseen at that) goes on behind the scenes to make these events happen. For an inaugural event, I thought the Fair worked well but more on that shortly… [Read more…] about A Look Back at the Hursley Park Book Fair
Don’t forget the inaugural Hursley Park Book Fair takes place this weekend.
Amongst the authors taking part are Richard Hardie and I. Two former interviewees of mine, Anne Wan and Felicity Fair Thompson, will also be at the event. [Read more…] about Reminder Post: Hursley Park Book Fair – 23rd and 24th June 2018