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October 2009

September 2009

Equals and egos

If you hang around on writing forums for a while, you'll discover that one of the guaranteed topics to get everyone hot under the collar (or rather the keyboard) is how - and why and how often and if - members spend time critiquing other members' work. Indeed, the only times a forum member - let's call him Caliban - has got their knife into me have been on that very topic, I should imagine because it is, exactly, a guaranteed recruiting ground for strong feeling among the members. (Though it didn't really work, because strong feeling is not always... Read more →

The scent of a snuffed candle

A cracking post on the always-reliable and delightfully crabbit Nicola Morgan's blog nails some of the reasons why so many aspiring writers overwrite. Not that I worry much when students' work is rather over-written, because it does usually come from a very honourable state of being drunk on words. As Peter Wimsey says in Gaudy Night, he finds it so easy to get drunk on words 'that to tell the truth I am seldom perfectly sober'. But as anyone knows who's ever tried to revise a piece of work when they're two glasses down, sobriety is also necessary to the... Read more →

(The right words in) the right order

Have you ever actually thought about the order in which you put the words - and sense - in a sentence? In In Praise of the Long Sentence I was thinking about how long sentences flow forwards - provide profluence, aka narrative micro-drive - in a way which short sentences can't. But there's also a flexibility about the structure of a long sentence which means you can control the order in which the reader experiences its elements. Narrative takes place in time even more unavoidably than music does, since we don't even have the equivalent of chords, so it's as... Read more →

Whores, dishes and crackly feedback

A while ago a US writer said that if you allow any thought of the market to affect your writing, then you're not a writer, you're a whore (and the comment made me so cross that I'm not going to try to find dates or names). And now I see that my post The Market for Ropes has been picked up as expressing my strong views about writing for the market. Well, I do have strong views about lots of things, but that wasn't quite what I was getting at in that post. What I was trying to express there... Read more →