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Are Women Really From Venus and Men From Mars?

September 4th, 2015

boyd-blogFirst, thanks to Iain for last Friday’s blog. I hope you enjoyed it and that it made you smile. I’ve worked with Iain for more years than I care to remember and he’s one of the most accomplished people I know for injecting humour into his writing. You don’t always have to be looking for a belly laugh from your audience – a sly chuckle is often just as good. And, you shouldn’t have to try too hard – it should come naturally from your material and your turn of phrase.

But I’m sure you can now understand why Iain has been the judge in our annual Short Story Competition for so long. I can assure you, though, he doesn’t just look for humour when he’s picking his short list. There have been some pretty dark tales among the winners over the past few years.

Have you read any books by William Boyd (his latest Sweet Caress: The Many Lives of Amory Clay has recently been released)? Apparently, he’s as comfortable writing Booker nominated work as he is writing page-turning spy novels. He was recently interviewed in the Sunday Times and what interested me most was his attitude toward characterisation. We often have the idea that male authors find it difficult to get inside the head of their female characters and women have the same problem with their male leads, so they tend to produce stereotypes or two dimensional people. Boyd had this to say:

Ignore everything you know about sexuality and gender, throw it out the window and concentrate entirely on personality, on nature and character. Any question in your story that seems gender-related or gender-driven is easily resolved by saying: what would she do in this situation given the kind of person she is? Not because she’s a woman or he’s a man.

I couldn’t agree more!

The NAWG (National Association of Writers Groups) is currently holding their open writing competitions – so you don’t need to be a member to take part. There is both a short story and a poetry competition with prizes of £250, £100 and £50 in each category. The entry fee is £5 and there is also an optional critique of entries for a further £5.  The short story judge is our very own Simon Whaley and the poetry judge is Maggie Harris.  The closing date is 31st October so you’ve still plenty of time to enter.

Finally, on a totally different subject, if you fancy a free iPhone app, why not try Story Wars? It allows you to team up with friends or strangers and write together. If you’re an old hand but suffering from writers’ block it could help you. And if you’re new to writing it involves you in a community and provides feedback from the others on your work.

My guest next week is Simon Whaley, who I mentioned earlier,and he’ll be talking about ‘Surprises’!




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