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First, Second Or Third Person?

June 1st, 2018

We give plenty of good advice in the Writers Bureau Comprehensive Course about how to decide whether to write your novel/short story in the first person or the third person.  For the uninitiated, here’s a quick reminder.

First Person:  I did this/I did that.

Third Person: Jack did this/Jack did that.

The main difference between them is that in the first-person you’ll only be able to identify with one person – the narrator – and the various scenes will be perceived through that character’s eyes. The other characters will be described by whoever is telling the tale. But – and this is a big but – the reader will only find out what the narrator knows, so your story will, in a sense, be limited in its action. But done well it can lead to great fiction – think of Jane Eyre! Read the rest of this entry »




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Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

May 25th, 2018

“Sometimes you just have to put your money where your mouth is.” This is what best-selling writer Jo Jo Moyles said in her interview with the Guardian when she was talking about the funding she is providing for Quick Reads. For those of you who don’t know, Quick Reads publishes a series of short, simple books that might appeal to the one in six adults in the UK with reading difficulties. The scheme, established in 2006, is designed to encourage reading and hopefully give slow readers more confidence and help them to move on to full-length books.

I think it’s a brilliant scheme, but there have been funding difficulties and the threat of closure has been hanging over it. When she heard this, the author offered to provide resources to keep it going for three years, providing a lifeline which would give it the opportunity to work on finding additional funding. When you can read fluently, you tend to take it for granted. Nothing beats the pleasure of a good book;  it’s easy to find information when you need it and understanding and filling in forms isn’t a serious problems. But, if your reading isn’t fluent then you’re missing out on so much and life is far less smooth. So, Quick Reads can now start commissioning new books again and I wish them well! This is definitely one organisation that deserves a helping hand. Read the rest of this entry »




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What’s My Motivation?

May 11th, 2018

I would imagine everyone who’s tried to produce something more than a coherent piece of writing remembers the event or reason which inspired them to make a conscious effort to give words to the ideas in their head. Until recently I thought I knew what prompted me to pursue my dream of being an author but it turns out things were far more complex than I realised.

I’d always wanted to write and over the years had made a few stabs at it, but nothing really serious; mostly attempts to entertain my family and amuse my friends.

It was the sudden and untimely death of my sister that finally gave me the jolt I needed to stop procrastinating and write.  She’d been a teacher for thirty-seven years and had given her life to the profession. I was following in her footsteps and had been teaching for seventeen years when she died. But education was changing.  What had started as an enjoyable and satisfying vocation focusing on pupils’ wellbeing had become all about targets and league tables.  This had been exacerbated for me because I was the Director of Humanities in a particularly challenging school. Read the rest of this entry »




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Hooked-up In Your Writing

March 23rd, 2018

First, thanks to Sherry for last month’s blog. The thing that I found most interesting was her suggestion of experimenting with different word-lengths to find what suits your idea best. Many people sit down and if they’ve decided to write a 2000-word short story, that’s what they go for. If they’ve decided to write 500 words, that’s what they write. But there can be so much to gain from a little experimentation – making sure that your story is written in the right number of words to do it justice. There’s no point dragging out a pithy, epigrammatic idea to thousands of words or condensing a character-reliant, romance down to a summary. I get so frustrated when I start watching a series on TV, think the set-up is good and then gradually realise that what’s being told in six episodes would have been better kept to four. I don’t want to waste two hours of my life on padding! Read the rest of this entry »




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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. Read the rest of this entry »




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