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Clocking up Some First-hand Experience

April 7th, 2017

A while back – maybe a year maybe two – I’d listened in to a radio article about the public clocks in Edinburgh and how they were all to be fully automated by the end of 2016. I wrote a flash fiction out of that listening. Then early this year I re-read the flash and thought there was a fuller story to be told, so I started in on it… only to discover how little I knew about clocks and big mechanisms. I needed to do some research.

Usually my research involves trawling the internet, but what was missing for my story was the feel and the smell and the sound of turret-clocks. There are no records for that. I needed to see for myself. I wrote to St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. I knew they had one such clock and I knew they did tours of the Cathedral, but I did not know if these tours took you inside the clock-tower. I was put in touch with David, The Beadle. Read the rest of this entry »




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Flash Fiction And The Power Of The Unreliable Narrator

January 27th, 2017

MaryBevanWebJust now I am fascinated by the way flash fiction challenges us writers. We are given so few words to play with, which means we have to do a lot with every single word, choosing each for maximum meaning and suggestiveness. It also seems to me that flash pieces offer us a chance to experiment with new forms that will enable us to do more and more with less and less.

One of the first decisions you have to make in writing a flash piece concerns the ‘voice’ of the story. Will you choose third person narration, where you’re telling a story about people and events as seen from the outside, or first person narration, where you create an ‘I’ who tells the readers the story, giving his or her version of events? If you choose first person narration then you can go one step further and plump for an ‘unreliable narrator’, that is, someone who offers an account of events in whose literal truth the reader is led to disbelieve as the story unfolds. Read the rest of this entry »




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Writing By The Rules

March 7th, 2016

five sensesIt’s the first Monday in the month again (doesn’t it seem to come round fast)?  And because we’ve just launched our Flash Fiction Competition I thought I’d find an interesting clip on the subject for you. In it, Katey Schultz outlines her rules for writing good short fiction, and this involves the Five S’s. Read the rest of this entry »




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Where’s the ‘Man’ in Romance? (A Flash Fiction Competition With a Difference)

September 14th, 2015

Romance_blogSummer’s nearly done here in northern England. The kids are back at school, days are getting shorter, the first yellow leaves of autumn are just starting to show. All of which makes our family holiday (fifteen days in a caravan in Brittany) seem like a lifetime away.

I got loads of reading done in that caravan, and one of the books I devoured was a sci-fi novel by English writer Jacey Bedford called Empire of Dust. It’s a romping space-opera, like something by Isaac Asimov, but mixed in with all the interplanetary politics and wham-bam action is a boy-girl romance straight out of Mills & Boon. I’d never read anything quite like it. It was great.

Chatting with my wife about Empire Of Dust, we started up a holiday-long conversation about romantic fiction for men. Was there any such thing? And did stories have to be specifically written for men? Couldn’t they just enjoy the same stuff that women read? To this I had an immediate response – No Way! And why? Mainly because of the way men are depicted in women’s romances – all those wealthy, chisel-jawed hunks. They may be the stuff that dreams are made of, but they’re so far removed from everyday life, us ‘normal’ guys just can’t relate to them. Read the rest of this entry »




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Constrained Competition

June 23rd, 2015

typewriter-BlogSince we did the limerick competition back in May (click here to read the winning limericks) I’ve been looking into constrained writing – any kind of writing that has to fit a pattern or obey particular rules. We all know some of these: haiku; sonnet; iambic pentameter. Even if you don’t know the specific structures involved, most of us have an idea what they are. But what about univocalic poetry, where verses use only one of the eight available vowels, or chaterism, where the length of words in a phrase increase or decrease in a uniform way, like: “I am the best Greek bowler playing?” Read the rest of this entry »




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