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Literary Vending Machines

August 18th, 2017

First, thanks to Elise for last week’s blog. It just goes to show how different writing for film or TV can be from writing a novel. In the former, you have to be able to produce something visual for your audience whereas when writing a novel you are providing the structure and the ideas which will allow your readers to use their own imagination to understand and visualise your story.

I read an interesting piece this week in Writing Magazine about vending machines having been installed on 35 French railway stations. But these aren’t your standard machines offering drinks, sweets and crisps – instead they provide short stories. If you get to the station and have forgotten your book, or don’t want to fiddle with your mobile phone, you can press a button and print out a story. And you’ve even got a choice of length – do you want a one minute read, a three minute read of a five minute read? (Don’t worry, if you’re train is delayed you can always go back for another as they’re free!) Read the rest of this entry »




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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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Something for Everyone!

September 28th, 2016

Iseo-096-blogFirst, thanks to Jacqueline for her blog earlier this month. I must apologise for the lack of posts over the last couple of weeks, but I’ve been away on holiday. I love the Italian lakes and having already visited the three most well-known ones – Garda, Maggiore and Como – we decided to try Iseo.  It’s quieter and less geared up to English tourists but the scenery is fantastic, the walking/cycling is great and there’s so much to see and do using the local trains.

But I had to smile when we arrived at a little station, in the middle of nowhere, after a long walk. The train was delayed, the man in the ticket office had gone off to lunch (obligatory in Italy) and the ticket machine was broken. But there, in pride of place, was a stand containing lots of books with a notice asking readers to leave the books they’d read and feel free to take a replacement. The UK’s obviously not the only country pushing this scheme! Read the rest of this entry »




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Flash Fiction Competition Winners!

May 27th, 2016

Alyson-Hilbourne-photo-blogLast week I promised that we would be announcing the winners of our Flash Fiction Competition soon… and here they are:

1st Prize (£300 and a course of her choice) – Alyson Hilbourne with ‘Searching’.

2nd Prize (£200 and a course of her choice) – Gail Armson with ‘Heaven and Earth’.

3rd Prize (£100 and a course of her choice) – Maxine Sinclair with ‘Blind Date’.

You can view them all on our website and I’m sure you’ll agree that they all pack a great punch in a small number of words. Both Gail and Maxine are students of the Writers Bureau, which just goes to show that our methods really do work! Read the rest of this entry »




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