Essential writing skills: fifty-plus shades of character

It was Ernest Hemingway, reputedly, who insisted that fiction authors should not create ‘characters’ – they should create real people. He didn’t mean use real people – oh, except a bit – but he did mean that novellists, playwrights and the rest shouldn’t assemble ‘characters’, Lego-fashion. They instead needed to portray the smooth and complex … More Essential writing skills: fifty-plus shades of character

Essential writing skills: grammar – the writer’s playground

It was Winston Churchill, I believe, who once insisted that ending a sentence with a preposition was something up with which he would not put. As any of us who have dragged through High School English know, grammar is often touted as the basic building block of writing. Which, in many ways, it is; you can’t … More Essential writing skills: grammar – the writer’s playground

Essential writing skills: what Lucas and Tolkien show us about the hero journey

Sorting out a viable character arc and hence plot for your story is perhaps one of the trickiest aspects of writing to get right. But it’s also the most important. Like all writing, it’s a learned skill – practise makes perfect, and you can’t play games with the structure until you’ve mastered it. For beginning writers … More Essential writing skills: what Lucas and Tolkien show us about the hero journey

Essential writing skills: ways to build a real character for your novel

One of the ways to transform a ‘character’ in your story into someone ‘real’ is to start with a good foundation. What makes people tick? At this level, people are simpler than you might think. One powerful motive is self-validation – feeling worthy and valued, even to themselves. This can produce all manner of outcomes, … More Essential writing skills: ways to build a real character for your novel

Finding the balance between writing well and writing weird

Here’s a thought for you as you prepare for NaNoWriMo or that novel you’ve always wanted to write. Archaeologists recently discovered a wind instrument, a bone flute, on which it was possible to play the Star Spangled Banner. The holes in the instrument had been spaced in a way that matched a modern scale. Sounds … More Finding the balance between writing well and writing weird

Essential writing skills: pantsing and planning your writing

Writing a novel – quickly and with quality – demands every skill a writer can bring to bear. It starts, not with actually writing, but with project planning – and moves from there. Project planning? Sure. There’s a school of thought that urges writers to indulge in free-flow – ‘seat of the pants’ writing. You … More Essential writing skills: pantsing and planning your writing

Fellow writers – here’s the 2014 NaNo inspiration schedule.

It’s National November Writing Month again folks – just three weeks to go before it begins, and to help you along I’ve got some posts coming up about writing. These include posts about structure, about how to build characters, and about how to keep writing even when the muse departs. My background? I’ve been writing since … More Fellow writers – here’s the 2014 NaNo inspiration schedule.

It’s NaNoWriMo time again – and here’s the deal

National November Novel Writing Month begins in a few weeks – challenging writers around the world to produce a 50,000 word work of fiction in just 30 days. That’s a pace to challenge the best of the professionals. Although it’s definitely do-able. Don’t forget, Jack Kerouac whipped out On The Road in one three-week writing … More It’s NaNoWriMo time again – and here’s the deal

Essential writing skills: writing as a whole concept

It has long seemed to me that one of the pitfalls of writing is the idea that ‘writing’ is finished when the last word goes on the draft. After that it’s ‘editing’, which I know some authors view not merely as a separate process, but also boring. After all, the book’s really finished… isn’t it? … More Essential writing skills: writing as a whole concept