A commenter on one of my older – but relentlessly popular – technical posts about battleship design got a bit exercised the other week when I suggested a particular naval source book was ‘partisan’. He was determined to assert his absolute view over what he supposed mine to be – finally informing me I was … More The key to human understanding is abstraction
It’s possible these days for anybody who wants to publish to do so. Bung the book up on Amazon, and hey presto – you’re published. But it’s risky without proper editing. By editing, in this context, I mean ‘editing the finished manuscript’ – not the stuff an author does to go from Draft 1 to Draft … More Essential writing skills: what editors do, and why it’s essential
It was Ernest Hemingway, I think, who once remarked that he didn’t need to use the ‘ten dollar’ words in order to write well. Too true. Plain is best when it comes to writing. Hemingway didn’t mean that we must then reduce ‘plain English’ to an accounting exercise – you know, the attempt to reduce … More Essential writing skills: when plain English isn’t – and how to write simply
Over the past few weeks I’ve been looking through some of my older books, specifically to see what’s needed in order to prepare some of them for re-release. Out of which has come two thoughts. The first is, ‘wow, did I write that?’- where I’ve discovered something I have absolutely no recollection of researching. And … More Essential writing skills: how to invisibly improve your writing
Every so often I see something on social media that makes me blink a bit. Someone’s just ‘finished’ a novel – they’ve hit a word target – leaving just a spot of editing to do, and it’ll be out on Kindle in a couple of weeks. I kind of go ‘auuuugh’ when I read something … More Essential writing skills: editing ain’t simple
I am often intrigued by the number of authors who, for various reasons, believe they can also be good editors – and market themselves as such. Sometimes it works. More often it doesn’t. Several times, now, I’ve had manuscripts butchered during the publishing process by contract editors who, in fact, were obviously writers. One of them … More The real difference between editors and authors
I have never accepted the notion that authors are supposed to only be expert in whatever their last book happened to be about, as if they are one-trick ponies. The issue was highlighted for me when I fielded a question from a journalist about my science book Living On Shaky Ground. I was known as … More Writers – one-trick ponies or polymaths?