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June 2009
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August 2009

July 2009

Courses for horses

Over on the always-interesting Strictly Writing blog, crime writer Helen Black has been discussing writing courses. I'll leave her to tell her story – I'll just say that only course she tried wasn't right for her at all. Many of the commenters agree: why not just write? Another describes herself as a serial course-doer, and wonders about it. And it got me thinking about writing courses, because on the one hand I've heard worrying things from aspiring writers about what their writing teacher said they must 'never', or 'always', do. And agents beef about the shortcomings of the MA novel,... Read more →


Such creatures

A writer friend, whom I called Marguerite before, is grappling with feedback on her novel from her agent: the writing's wonderful, the world is fully realised, but although the main character bears much the largest part of the burden of what sounds like a very fascinating novel, he's a bit baffling, and we don't really get to know him. The problem is, says Marguerite, that he is solitary, reclusive, super-defended, perhaps slightly mad, and the reason, and the mainspring of the story, is a mystery in his past. 'In other words, you've given yourself a built-in problem,' I said, as... Read more →


In Xanadu did Kubla Khan

A friend, the novelist Rosy Thornton, went to hear Sebastian Faulks talking, and reports thus:* He said that the advice ‘write what you know’ is the worst advice given to anyone, ever. He says that when he talks to young writers he says, DON’T write about what you know. He tells them, write about the past, the future, other words, a Bohemian desert, the south pole - but absolutely not about what you know. Now, I often get asked about 'Write what you know' at readings, because it's so very obvious that I don't. And as I've said before here,... Read more →