Unblocking the muse: a few writing tricks for NaNoWriMo

It’s National November Writing Month – the month when writers around the world join in a quick-fire effort to complete a story of 50,000 words in just 30 days. I’m marking it this month by re-posting some of the material I’ve published in past years to help writers get to that goal. ++++++++++++++++++++++ It’s mid-November, … More Unblocking the muse: a few writing tricks for NaNoWriMo

How to grip your readers and hold them to your novel

One force that pulls agents, publishers and readers into your novel is tension. Usually that can be generated with good characterisation, but a compelling plot can have a tension all of its own. Dan Brown is a master of that one. Tension doesn’t happen by itself. It works itself into all sorts of levels in … More How to grip your readers and hold them to your novel

How I got confused by Randall Munroe’s new book on science

I had a chance the other day to glance through Randall Munroe’s new book Thing Explainer (Houghton Mifflin 2015), explaining science and technology in ‘simple’ language. It’s something New Scientist has been trying for a while, too. And it’s great to see science presented in straight-forward ways. It’s important. The problem I’ve got is that … More How I got confused by Randall Munroe’s new book on science

Essential writing skills: how to make words your servants

Half the battle for writers is making writing their servant – not being a servant to the words. It’s a lesson novice writers usually only discover after they’re about half way through the first book and are finding the words mastering them, not the other way around. It has to be addressed. And there is, alas, … More Essential writing skills: how to make words your servants