Archive by Author

Doing it

The other day I was asked for my do’s and don’ts when writing for children. I resisted, with difficulty, the obvious reply – don’t write for children (or at least not if you seek an easy, lucrative living) and attempted to say something sensible. It was more difficult than I thought. So off the top of my head: […]

Plumbing the Depths

I teach creative writing. There, I’ve said it. I feel as if I have confessed to something best kept secret because sometimes I feel that there all together too many books out there and we don’t need any more. Specifically I feel that there are all together too many books out there that aren’t mine and I’m not […]

I could be barking up the wrong tree

From the window of my study I can see the top of a chestnut tree. (Actually that’s a lie because to my shame I don’t know what type of tree it is, but I know that in writing it is always better to be specific.) I spend all together too much time looking at this tree and […]

How not to be popular

Unless you’ve been doing a ‘Sleeping Beauty’ for the last ten years you probably know that the web is awash with writing advice. Some of it is brilliant and some of it will make you want to murder the writer as energetically as I destroy my inner critic. One of the perennials is ‘your characters ought to be […]

Your Point of View

She began the book with her characteristic rush of early enthusiasm, which as usual barely lasted beyond the second chapter. She wrote at speed, spurred on by the inspiration of the Olympics and the testosterone-fuelled enthusiasm for ‘personal bests.’ Within the month she had surpassed her own ‘pb’ and completed a piece of writing so turgid and dull […]

Who do you think you are?

It is fair to say that even the relative anonymity of tweeting and blogging still promote the person above the work. I blame Enid Blyton and her children’s tea parties – her fantasy of what a children’s writer should be. For myself I don’t really care who wrote Shakespeare’s work – all I need to know about […]

Mangling the Language

Today I’ve been thinking about sentences and how to mangle them. In my experience the majority of sentence mangling occurs when writers aren’t sure about what they are doing. I teach from time to time and come across quite a lot of mangling one way or another. Sometimes a student might write a fight scene but hasn’t visualised […]

I’ve just flicked back to read my earlier posts on this blog and have discovered just how cyclical my life is. It may not be governed by the moon, by seasons or by school terms, at least not entirely, but my emotions are as predictable as all three. The New Year always brings determination to work harder, smarter […]

Creative Thinking

I am fascinated by the creative process, particularly when I’m not engaged in it. The more I think about it and try to pin it down the weirder it seems. Do you picture a scene before you write it and then describe what you see or do you bring the scene into being by the act of […]