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Small But Perfectly Formed – Flash Fiction

November 8th, 2019

First, thanks to Willie for last week’s post. It’s interesting to hear him say that he thought writing for children would be easier than writing for adults. Lots of people phone up for a chat about enrolling on our Writing For Children Course and they often seem to think that this will be the case – unfortunately, as Willie found out, it’s not!

If anything, it’s harder because you have to know what age group you are targeting; you then have to be able to use words and ideas that are appropriate to this particular age group. You have to convince a publisher that you know what you’re doing in this respect and you also have to steer clear of overworked and old-fashioned concepts. What was popular when you were a child – or when your children were young – might not be top of the publishers pops these days. Finally, you’ve always to keep parents and teachers in mind. Because these are the people who have the money and will buy the books you write. If you’re writing books for young children, parents want them to look attractive and be fun to read aloud. If you’re writing for older children they want to be sure that if you do touch on a difficult topic it is done with tact and, let’s be honest, there is always the issue of ‘political correctness’. Read the rest of this entry »




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Gone In A Flash

March 16th, 2018

I don’t consider myself to be a ‘flasher.’ In fact, when I first heard the words ‘flash fiction’, I didn’t know what was meant. I’d seen something (on Twitter probably) called ‘Bath Flash’ and thought it was a cleaning product rather than a writing competition. But I was intrigued. I wanted to know what it was.

I discovered flash fiction is stories under 1000 words. It goes smaller. Some flash says 500 words or less, other flash hovers around the 300-word mark. Then there are Drabbles: 100 words or less. Some micro-fiction goes further. Whatever the miniscule word count, I was struck by the challenge of writing a complete story in so few words and thought I’d give it a go. Read the rest of this entry »




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Dispelling the Writing Blues

January 26th, 2018

You’ve probably not escaped the fact that the third Monday in January has been christened ‘Blue Monday’ by the PR industry. Why blue? Apparently, because the weather is usually awful, our bank balances are depleted, we’ve already failed to keep most of our New Year resolutions and our motivation has dropped to an all-time low (make a note of that last one).

They advise just giving into it and having a ‘duvet day’ instead of facing up to the depressing facts. Well, I didn’t quite do that but I did spend more time than usual browsing the internet. And I’ve come up with a couple of sites that, hopefully, will help you get motivated again and put the January blues behind you. Read the rest of this entry »




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Schadenfreude

November 17th, 2017

At the recent Hong Kong Literary festival Ian Rankin, author of the John Rebus novels, was quoted as saying that in a world of uncertainty, increasing violence and terrorist attacks people were turning away from grittier novels and looking for something more ‘kind and gentle’.

I agree that reading is a form of escapism. But I also suspect that there is a degree of schadenfreude among the reading public. We sit comfortably with our book of choice and enjoy the fact that we’re safe while the protagonists are undergoing all sorts of perils and problems. And it’s not a new thing. You only need to go back to the Bronte sisters. Wuthering Heights…Jane Eyre… very romantic but also very gothic. They must have sent an enjoyable shudder up the spines of many a well-brought-up young lady. Read the rest of this entry »




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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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