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

Essential writing skills: mastering word count

Welcome to 2014 and a new year of writing tips – quick essential skill tips on Fridays, longer posts Saturdays, and sometimes other stuff during the week. I’m going to cover a fair number of things in coming weeks and months, including editing techniques and ways to publish. First off – word count. Those who’ve … More Essential writing skills: mastering word count

How to write and not be driven to eat your own weight in lard

After four weeks cudgelling words into existence and watching that count rise, National Novel Writing Month’s over. And now …what? I figure there are three possible scenarios: 1. I hit the target and have a 50,000 word novel drafted. 2. I didn’t hit the target and have something less than 50,000 words. 3. I would … More How to write and not be driven to eat your own weight in lard