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April 2010
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June 2010

May 2010

Publicity for Writers: several rabbits at once (take 2)

I wrote this post seven years ago - good grief! Twitter was by then more than an irritating twitch at the corner of its creator's eye, but it was nothing like as big as it is today. Still, it seems to me that not all that much has changed in the relationship of one's inner, writerly self, and the nasty, noisy, beloved (and hated) Outside World. But what has changed - thanks to social media but also to the tectonic shift in the book industry towards self-publishing as a route to the reader - is the degree to which writers... Read more →


Mechanistic vs Responsive

One of the things which is being really interesting about teaching Creative Writing for the Open University is that, in the nature of things, how work is assessed and discussed on such a course can't be completely free-form: it must be fair across all kinds of writing and students, and it must make it easy to be consistent from student to student, tutor to tutor, and year to year. And it must also be useful to the student: they need to be able to look at the criteria, and understand why they got the mark they did, and what they... Read more →


Help yourself: the novel-planning grid

A friend has just had feedback from a publisher who wants to buy her book. The main plot is great, but one of the subplots needs to go, and the other doesn't work, so it's a case of cutting one, replacing the other, and knitting the whole book back up together again. Much discussion ensued, because the issue is partly about getting the new stuff right in itself, partly about weaving it into the existing stuff, and partly about making sure she's fished the bones of the old subplot out completely, so that readers don't choke on them. Coloured highlighters... Read more →


Anarchy rules

One of the things that you have to learn, as part of learning to write, is what to do about feedback. As I've said in various places, including the post in Resources on the pros and cons of writing courses, it's basically a choice of accepting, adapting, or ignoring what you're told. That's true whether the feedback is about work in progress or work that's published, and it's true regardless of who's giving the feedback, although who that is will affect your choice. In fact, I sometimes think that the most comforting thing to remember, when criticism stings or even... Read more →


Re-readivists and other WhoDunnits

A few times now, in a discussion about writing, I've been floored by someone saying, "Why would you read a book a second time? I never have." Sure, I know that people vary in how many books they re-read, and whether twice is enough or they're hardcore re-readivists, and in a general conversation I might have been (slightly) less surprised. But these have all been aspiring writers of one sort or another, so, Never? I do have a bus test for how good a book is: if you left it on the bus, how much time and money would you... Read more →