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“Go West, Young Man”

October 12th, 2018

First, thanks to Lynn for last week’s blog. It’s always easy to imagine yourself as a professional writer, sitting at your desk with your ideas flowing through your fingertips. But you don’t always realise that if you want to earn your living from your writing you’ll have to do the boring admin as well as the creative bit. So, thanks for that timely reminder.

A few weeks ago, Colin Bulman wrote a piece which looked at how to write good openings for your stories, and one of the examples he used was True Grit by Charles Portis. That got me thinking.  I couldn’t remember the last time I’d read a Western and wasn’t even sure if it was still a genre that appeared on bookshelves.  So I started doing some research and I couldn’t have been more wrong. Read the rest of this entry »




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Treating Your Writing As A Business

October 5th, 2018

I self-publish a cosy crime series featuring amateur sleuth Lord James Harrington. I’ve now released eight books in the series and, prior to releasing the first one, I asked myself an important question: Am I going to write professionally?

Regardless of whether I would be successful or not, the answer was: Yes.

Confucius said: Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.

What he didn’t say was that you’ve still got to do the paperwork!!

Most creative people hate the admin that goes with running a business. I am no different. But, if you’re serious about writing, you have to treat it as a business and that means doing the grotty tasks. Failure to do so could get you in a mess further down the line, especially if the royalties start coming in. Read the rest of this entry »




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Is Mentoring Right For You?

September 28th, 2018

First, thanks to Diane for last week’s post – it just shows how successful your writing career can be, even without an agent. But it also demonstrates how much hard work you have to be prepared to put in if you want to achieve your goals. It’s never going to be easy!

Many writers get to the point where they know they’re good, they’ve had a modicum of success but they are aware that they’re still ‘not quite there’. And it’s at this point that you might want to consider mentoring.  This involves working with a professional writer on a one-to-one basis with the focus completely on yourself and your work. This might sound selfish, but sometimes it’s the only way to go if you really want to take a step forward in your writing career. Read the rest of this entry »




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Discovering Literature

August 10th, 2018

First, thanks to Sally for last week’s post and her tips for writing a psychological thriller. This week I realised just how good her advice is about not making your protagonists either all bad or all good. I was watching Debbie Horsfield’s new comedy drama on TV – Age Before Beauty. I found myself shouting at the TV in irritation because nobody could possibly be such an out-and-out bad ‘un as the Leanne character. I know we’re not talking noirish thriller here, but characterisation still needs to be realistic enough for you to be prepared to suspend your disbelief for the duration. Just one redeeming feature might help. Perhaps we’ll see it in future episodes; perhaps not. Read the rest of this entry »




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Opening Shots

July 20th, 2018

What is one of the commonest faults in stories written by writing students?

Before I answer this, peruse the opening of a novel by the prolific Irish novelist Amanda McKittrick Ros:

“Have you ever visited that portion of Erin’s plot that offers its sympathetic soil for the minute survey and scrutinous examination of those in political power, whose decision has wisely been the means before now of converting the stern and prejudiced, and reaching the hand of slight aid to share its strength in augmenting its agricultural richness?”

Pause, and take a moment to recover, if you need to!

You will not be surprised to hear that Amanda self-published most of her  work and she is regarded as one of the worst stylists in literature – and this may well be the worst opening to a novel ever. Read the rest of this entry »




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