Welcome back. Very often, people start writing stories but find they end or stop after a page or two. There’s nothing wrong with that if what’s been told is a complete story. There are different types of short story that are very short. You can find them online if you look up ‘flash fiction’. The […]
Exceptions In all these Lessons, I’m going to make some very strong statements about what stories need and how they work. There are exceptions. I know this. There are always exceptions. And you can spend your time trying to think of those exceptions. ‘But what about…?’ Or, you can take my statements on trust. You […]
Welcome to the Starting to Write Course. Thank you for at least taking a look at it. The aim of this Course is to get you writing and reading with energy, to help you avoid some painful mistakes, and to show you how you can rapidly improve your short stories. I always tell my students […]
Just so I have it all in the same place, I have compiled an incomplete list of former students on the Birkbeck Creative Writing MA (some taught by me, some not) and what they’ve gone on to write: Annalie Grainger: author of Captive, Simon & Schuster, 2015, In Your Light, Simon & Schuster, 2018. Abi Dare: author […]
The Passion According to G.H. by Clarice Lispector My rating: 5 of 5 stars I’m late to this, but – Clarice Lispector is the most interesting, probably the best, writer I’ve discovered in the last five years. When I read Agua Viva, I was really startled. She was writing a distillation of something. I wasn’t […]
Do you want to learn about writing? You’re in the right place. Maybe you’ve thought about taking a Creative Writing MA, but seen how much it costs. Or perhaps you’d like to go to a local writing group, but there isn’t one, or it meets at a time you can’t make. Or perhaps you just […]
My mother had a stroke. Luckily, it was quite minor. She was still able to read, though more slowly. There was a gap in her vision – an absence where sight simply didn’t take place. Because of this, she wasn’t able to drive. My mother’s stroke changed our family. None of her children had started […]
A Voyage For Madmen by Peter Nichols My rating: 3 of 5 stars This is a good follow up to Bernard Moitessier’s The Long Way, but Peter Nichols is too head-screwed-on to get into the solo mindspace Moitessier reaches. What Peter Nichols is best at is giving a balanced view of the nine different men […]
This – a new story about the band called okay – has just gone online in The Manchester Review. To give you some idea how seriously I took it, that’s what I called my first solo album.
‘Defeat, and the vulnerability of admitting defeat is perhaps necessary to the tone of non-fiction.’
Some words on life-writing, time-envy, and getting the tone of your memoir right.