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Creative Characterisation

November 28th, 2016

reading-blogFirst, thanks to Colin for last week’s blog. As he points out, there really is nothing new under the sun and today we’re still following the same ‘rules’ as writers were centuries ago. And they’re still helping us to write successful and gripping stories.

Long after readers have forgotten many other features of your book or short story, it will be your characters who will live on in their minds.  And the stronger, the more striking your characters are, the more memorable they’ll be.

So, here are some tips for ensuring that your characters are unforgettable:

  1. Aim to create individuals who leap off the page, exuding energy and creating dramatic impact. They must be more exciting, and more attention grabbing, than the people we meet in our normal workaday existence.

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Lessons from the Past for Fiction Writers

November 22nd, 2016

colin's-book-blogLittle 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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Show Don’t Tell

October 7th, 2016

the-japanese-lover-blogYesterday was National Poetry Day – if you took part in any way I hope you enjoyed yourself. To mark the event we’ve been offering £25 off our Art of Writing Poetry course and this offer will be available until 16th October.  So if you fancy brushing up your poetry skills, now’s the time to do it.

I live in Rochdale, near Manchester. It doesn’t often get good press. Some parts come very high on the list of most deprived areas in the UK, there was the grooming scandal involving young girls and who could miss the allegations against Cyril Smith the former Liberal MP.

But it’s a town that’s set amidst beautiful  Pennine countryside,  it has some truly outstanding Victorian buildings and it’s really trying to put all that behind it and move on.  One of the many ways it’s doing this is by holding an annual literary festival later in the month. Read the rest of this entry »




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Romance is in the Air

April 1st, 2016

winter's-fairytale-blogI’ve just been reading about one of our students, Maxine Morrey, who has secured a two-book deal with Carina UK, the digital printing arm of publishing giant HarperCollins.

I must admit that I hadn’t come across them before, but do go and have a look at their site as they are open to new writers, and you don’t need an agent to approach them. Plus there’s a really clear Question and Answer section on anything you want to know about them.

Something else I learned while looking into this is that Harlequin Mills and Boon is now also part of HarperCollins, so they’re teamed up with Carina too. Each month, Mills & Boon publish 120 new titles, with manuscripts from 200 authors living in the UK and a further 1,300 worldwide. Every five seconds there’s a new Mills & Boon book sold in the UK! (Watch that exclamation mark – we’ll be coming back to it later.) Read the rest of this entry »




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Last Call for Competition Entries!

November 27th, 2015

manga-boy-blogI’ve just got back from a holiday in Japan – somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. It was a terrific experience:  wonderful autumn colours in the mountains and forests; imposing Shogun castles and enough temples and shrines to keep you going for a lifetime (and who can argue with people who are so relaxed about their religion that when you find a Buddhist temple it often has a Shinto shrine in the same complex). Read the rest of this entry »




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