TWELVE TOOLS (NOT RULES) OF WRITING : just what it says on the tin
TWENTY THINGS WHICH NO ONE SAYS OFTEN ENOUGH : about writing
THE FICTION-EDITOR'S PHARMACOPOEIA : diagnosing symptoms and treating the diseases in your or someone else's manuscript
THE FUNDAMENTAL TOOLS & SKILLS
SHOWING AND TELLING: the basics : how to use both to make your story do everything you want it to do.
HOW TO TELL, AND STILL SHOW : how to get on with the story without sacrificing vividness
THE REAL SIXTH SENSE: writing uses all SIX of your senses - here's how.
DESCRIPTION : how to stop your descriptions being slabs of scene setting, and turn them into storytelling
6 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR DESCRIPTION : more on the how and why of evoking places, people and everything else.
PING-PONG DIALOGUE: a common habit and what to do about it.
HEARING VOICES : what is voice, and why does it matter so much?
STYLE AND VOICE : a post which explored the difference between the two, and why I think 'voice' is a much more useful thing to talk about.
VOICE AND TONE : the effect of a similar plot is entirely different depending on how it's written. Is your false-accusation-of-adultery story Othello, Figaro, Feydeau, or Much Ado About Nothing?
19 QUESTIONS TO ASK (and ask again) ABOUT VOICE : whether you're having trouble finding the voice for a project, or had feedback that it's not distinctive enough.
LONG SENTENCES and why you should use them : there's a prevailing orthodoxy that short sentences are punchier and more pacy. Here's why I think it's largely not true, and certainly not that simple.
SENTENCE STRUCTURE : have you ever thought about the order in which you put the elements of a long sentence? An exploration of what's going on.
STRUCTURING AND PUNCTUATING A SENTENCE : an example from my own work
PSYCHIC DISTANCE: what it is and how to use it : a key technique, not much discussed and not hard to grasp.
FREE INDIRECT STYLE : what it is and how to use it : the huge advantage we have over the playwrights and scriptwriters, so why wouldn't you exploit all the things it can do?
PLOT vs. STORY: what's the difference and why does that mean for your writing?
CHARACTERISATION-IN-ACTION : how to develop your characters-in-action and make sure their journey is really compelling.
POINT OF VIEW & NARRATORS 1: the basics : what point of view is, what a narrator is, and why it matters
POINT OF VIEW & NARRATORS 2: internal narrators : character-narrators who narrate in first person
POINT OF VIEW & NARRATORS 3: external narrators : limited, switching and privileged point of view in narrators who narrate in third person
POINT OF VIEW & NARRATORS 4: moving point of view and other stories : how to work with a moving point of view, second-person narrators and other stuff
HOW TO MOVE POINT OF VIEW : not just between chapters, but in a single sentence. And why (as long as you do it well) no one can tell you it's not allowed.
PAST AND PRESENT TENSE : the pros and cons of both : the different issues that arise with first and third person for each tense, and why the new creative writing orthodoxy is wrong
WRITING SEX: ten top tips : writing sex is notoriously difficult, but this should help.
REVISING, RE-VISITING, RE-ENVISIONING
DON'T FIDDLE : how to stop yourself endlessly tweaking, poking and mini-editing and getting in a muddle, and keep moving steadily forward whether you're drafting or revising.
OVERWRITING: has someone told you your work is over-written? : here is what they might mean, and what you can do about it.
HAVE YOU HEARD THE ONE ABOUT "WAS"OPHOBIA? : why cutting "was" from your writing isn't just a stupid idea, it's also a dangerous mis-taking.
DANGLING PARTICIPLES AND MODIFIERS : what they are, how they happen, and how to sort them out.
SPEECH TAGS: how to use them best : why "he said" is often the answer but not always, and how to handle the latter
WHAT IS PASSIVE VOICE: and why are you told to avoid it? : and why it's actually a vital tool in your toolkit.
MAKING A SCENE : what is a scene, should each chapter only have one, and other questions.
WRITING A SCENE: when to Show/Evoke/Dramatise, when to Tell/Inform/Summarise, and how to work with both to control how your reader experiences the scene.
GETTING FROM ONE SCENE TO THE NEXT : jump-cut or narrated slide? Doof-d00f-doof ending then crash landing, or taking the reader there in stages?
FORTUNATELY-UNFORTUNATELY : how stopping your characters from staying on the same track powers the story-engine and keeps your reader reading
FLASHBACKS AND BACKSTORY : how to handle the stuff from Before The Story Starts.
THE WAKING-UP OPENING : why some editors don't like it, and what's really going on
ENDING THE NOVEL : how to make the quietest finish as big as it should be; how to end on a bang, not a whimper.
REVISIONS: Taking down the scaffolding: many writers find it hard to spot the things which needed to be in the first draft, but must be fished out in revision. Here's how to spot them.
FILTERING, SCAFFOLDING & HOW TO PERFORM AN EXPLAIN-ECTOMY : more about how to get rid of the extra clutter which is blurring and smudging your story's impact.
SEVENTEEN QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR NOVEL : before, during or after you write it.
PROCESS, PLANNING AND HOW TO GET OUT OF THE DOLDRUMS
PROCRASTINATING AGAIN? AND AGAIN? AND AGAIN? : My most recent discoveries, and links to all the earlier posts on the different reasons that you might be procrastinating.
THE THIRTY-THOUSAND DOLDRUMS : somewhere between 20k and 40k, and decided that the whole thing's a disaster? You are not alone.
THE NOVEL-PLANNING GRID: one way (my way) of planning out your novel : a recent post, with a downloadable grid which you can then bend to your own purposes.
TRACK CHANGES : how using the Track Changes facility in your word processor can really help
SCRIVENER SOFTWARE : why I'm a complete convert to the only writing software real writers use, whether they're pantsers, planners, or imaginers-on-paper.
THE SYNOPSIS: Relax! : the synopsis won't make or break your novel's fate, but it can help to give it the best chance. Here's how.
CROSSING GENRES: The Perils and Pleasures : being rejected because your book is "neither one thing nor the other"? A exploration of the issues.
WHEN DO YOU STOP REVISING? : how do you know you're not sending it off half-baked, without getting stuck in an endless loop of fixing things?
GOING OUTSIDE AND GOING PUBLIC
BOOKS FOR WRITERS: a partial view and a partial list : whether you're looking for help with writing sex, or for a present to give the peculiar creature called a writer who you seem to have spawned or made friends with, here are some of my favourites.
HOW TO GET THE BEST OUT OF AN EDITORIAL SERVICE : Does just what it says on the tin.
HOW TO GET THE BEST OUT OF A ONE-TO-ONE SLOT : Make the most of your ten minutes with an agent, an editor or a book doctor.
WRITING COURSES: the pros and cons : Should you do one? Which one? When?
HOW TO GIVE FEEDBACK : Whether it's informal writing-chat on a forum, or a written report.
WHAT IS LITERARY FICTION? : for writers, for readers, for the industry.
CREATIVE WRITING COMMENTARIES: don't know where to start? : how to write a reflective, analytical or critical commentary on your creative writing.
HOW TO PRESENT A MANUSCRIPT : these are the industry standards. They're not difficult, they exist for very good reasons, and you'd be mad not to follow them.
ENTERING COMPETITIONS : The first person your writing has to delight is the First Filter Reader. Two posts by writer and veteran judge Susannah Rickards, from the coal-face of competitions.
CREATIVE WRITING PhDs : the paradoxical beast : Wondering whether to do a PhD? Wondering how anyone ever could? Some answers, lots of thoughts.
ACADEMIC WRITING : my twenty-or-so top tips for writing well at all levels of academic study - which should also help you to get a better grade.
GIVING A READING : Part One - Getting Ready : Does just what it says on the tin, from why it's worth learning to enjoy events, to leaving the house.
GIVING A READING: Part Two - On The Night : Everything from arriving at the venue to catching the last train home.
HOW TO COPE WITH PUBLICITY : An exploration of what's going on when you find that the publicity you long for - interviews, reviews, trade dinners - is much more stressful than you'd expect, and tips for how to cope.
HOPING TO MAKE A LIVING WRITING BOOKS? : A realistic picture of the models that (sometimes) work, and the ones that really don't.