Starting to Write 7 – Adding depth to your characters (Lockdown Version)

Welcome back. Well done for coming so far. That proves you’re developing as a writers. Writers stick with their writing. You now have three characters you’ve written about – the child, the grown-up and the person in disguise. Perhaps you based them on people you know. Or maybe you completely imagined them (everyone works in […]

Writing and Shit – part 47 – What has happened in between then and now?

This is important. This is one thing that you can often forget. (I do.) You will have a clear idea of then (the time of the action) and a clearish idea of now (the time of the storytelling), but you won’t think enough about what the events that have taken place in between then and […]

Writing and Shit – part 43 – Who is writing? Who is speaking?

Last time I suggested that, in order to write with a convincing, consistent, compelling voice, you needed to be able to answer to these five questions – Who is doing the telling? Who is doing the reading or listening? When is now? When is then? What has happened in between then and now? We’re going […]

Writing and Shit – part 38 – Descriptions which are crap because they’re too good

  PLACES  Welcome back. I hope you’ve been keeping well. We have already looked at written-about places in several ways. We know that a story happens because a person or thing is in the wrong place. (A story takes place.) And we’ve built an entire haunted house up, out of a flat white space, as […]

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)

Welcome back. A story needs four things, and I’m going to tell you what they are. But Let’s be clear – I’m going to be making some strong statements about how stories work and what they they need. Yes, there are exceptions. There are always exceptions. I know this. And you can spend your time […]

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 […]