Starting to Write 3 – How to make sure your stories keep going (Lockdown Version)

Very often, people start writing stories but stop after a page or two. There’s nothing wrong with that if what’s been told is a complete story. There are types of short story that are very short. You can find them online as ‘flash fiction’. The Amy Hempel story, ‘Housewife‘, is just one sentence long. But […]

Starting to Write 2 – What does a story need? (Lockdown Version)

Exceptions I’m going to be making some strong statements about how stories work and what they they need. There are exceptions. There are always exceptions. I know this. And you can spend your time trying to think of exceptions. ‘But what about…?’ Or, you can take my statements on trust. You can try them in your […]

Writing and Shit – part 35 – If you want to be published, you mustn’t write for the dead

If a reader doesn’t know a word, if they are forced to look it up in an online dictionary, it will stop them dead. It will break them out of the reading trance (I’ll write about this soon). And – almost certainly – it will them feel lacking in intelligence, stupid. It’s not a good […]

Writing and Shit – part 28 – Non-stories, the Eiffel Tower and North Korea

Here is a non-story. A waiter works in the café at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Every smoking break, he goes and looks at the view. Afterwards, he goes back inside the café and continues serving customers. Here is a story. An old Korean woman who lives in North Korea has a […]

Writing and Shit – part 25 – Hip-speak and and stuttering

Pushing further away from expositional dialogue, we come to what I call ‘hip’ dialogue. Hip-speech is a version of slang, similar to criminal slang – it is a way of communicating without fear of being overheard and understood. The jazz musician Lester Young came up with or popularized a lot of hip language – language […]

Writing and Shit – part 12 – The Epic Flipchart of Will It? Won’t it?

I’d like to move on from my two definitions of a story, but do keep your marked up story-start because we’ll be going back to it. I have tried very hard to find another way to talk about this next bit that avoids the phrase ‘Story-Time’. It has associations – not bad associations – of […]

Writing and Shit – Part 9 – Never do only one thing at a time

Welcome back. You have now – from inside you somewhere – dug out the three elements of a story. It should be one that you wouldn’t have considered writing, before starting this guide. Why? Because with each exercise, in each case, I have nudged you toward doing more than one thing at once. NEVER DO […]