November 22nd, 2016
Little read today, Somerset Maugham was one of the most popular and bestselling authors of novels and short stories in the 20th century. He once challenged himself to write a short story about a totally good man. It is probably his least successful story.
There is a good reason for this. While most people are not villainous, neither are they perfect – or totally good. And characters in fiction are more interesting if they have weaknesses and, occasionally, are very bad. They don’t come much nastier than Hannibal Lector in Thomas Harrison’s The Silence of the Lambs, yet the character and the novel have been immensely popular. Regrettably, perhaps, goodness can be boring. Read the rest of this entry »
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July 7th, 2016
Most people are familiar with the Costa Book Awards but since 2012 they’ve also been doing a Short Story Award.
In order to choose the winner, the public votes for six shortlisted stories that have been chosen by the five judges. You can download and listen to, or read, all the shortlisted stories at the appropriate time. I’m quite looking forward to this stage, as the shortlisted entries are invariably of a high standard and you can learn a lot from the way they are crafted. It also gives you a clue as to what the public enjoys and you might want to take this into account when you’re putting together your own entries for future competitions. Read the rest of this entry »
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June 24th, 2016
I’m delighted to have this opportunity to re-introduce myself as a tutor after a few years away following a bereavement.
For those of you who read Writing Magazine, you probably know me best as the columnist of ‘Notes from the Margin’ – the humorous final page. The reason I mention this is because I owe my long-running column (seven years and counting) directly to the Writers Bureau course.
I started my writing career many, many years ago as a student and only signed up because I wanted to learn how to write fiction for the women’s magazine market! Instead of starting with the fiction modules, as I could have done, I wanted to learn all I could about writing and elected to take the comprehensive course. As a result, every assignment led to work being published in a vast variety of magazines in several countries – and one of the assignments also brought about my first humour column in Living France Magazine. Read the rest of this entry »
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April 22nd, 2016
I can’t say that I’m particularly interested in reading crime novels, though if one is recommended or catches my eye I’m more than happy to give it a go. But I have noticed, when I visit my local library, that the crime section seems to be growing and there’s an insatiable appetite for it on Amazon. Plus every time you turn on your TV the channels seem packed with crime dramas, both original and based on books.
So I thought I’d have a look at The Crime Writers’ Association Not everyone can join – you have to have a crime novel or non-fiction book published before you can apply for membership. They don’t accept self-published books or ones where you’ve contributed towards the cost. But they do accept plays, screenplays plus radio and TV work that has been professionally produced. And if you’ve got a valid contract for a book that will be published within the next two years you can become a Provisional Member. Benefits of being a member include networking with other writers and useful contacts; conferences and other events; their monthly magazine; a free tax helpline (not to be sniffed at when you’re starting out) and the opportunity to sell your books through The Crime Readers’ Association. Read the rest of this entry »
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