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March 2012

February 2012

Blow by blow?

Back when I was talking about writing sex scenes, I talked about how they can confuse your writerly compass into forgetting a basic rule of writing: "you only need to write as much of the scene, and as much of the detail, as needs to be in there for the larger purposes of the story." Of course "larger purposes" doesn't just mean the bare bones of a plot - the particular details in a detective story which are red herrings or express the character of the victim are just as important as the actual clues and the murderer's motive. But... Read more →

Jerusha Cowless, agony aunt: "if I find out I don't have what it takes, it might take my enjoyment out of my writing"

Dear Jerusha; I am scared. I have written two books of a series, and the first is out with a couple of agents, but I know that I'm likely to get a standard rejection, which won't tell me anything except that today, that agent thinks they can't sell that novel. But I am working on other novels - I have loads of ideas from children's books, to YA, to adult. Time is lacking. Eventually, when my daughter goes to school I would love to devote my time to writing novels. The thing is that I started writing to escape and... Read more →

In other news: courses, competitions and fireside chats

I've been busy in various places lately, so just in case anyone's interested, here's some of it: On 25th February Debi Alper and I are running another six week online course in Self-Editing Your Novel. Debi and I have taught together for years, and it works brilliantly. Feedback from these courses has been terrific, so if you're at that stage, do drop by and see if you think it's what you need. For a taster, I did a "Prose Microscope" dissection on the Word Cloud, where the course is hosted, which will give you an idea of how it works,... Read more →

Why does it hurt more, the closer you get?

If you've been collecting standard rejections (wonkily photocopied, unsigned, spelling your name wrong) for your novel it's easy to believe that any squeak of interest would have you celebrating. And the maths and psychology of submissions (very well described here by Sarah Davies and Julia Churchill of the Greenhouse Agency) mean that you know you should celebrate - you DO celebrate - being asked for the whole manuscript. And you celebrate more if you get a long email about the novel, or are taken on by an agent, or hear a publisher is interested... Each step, if you've got any... Read more →