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All the posts I mentioned at Arvon/Historical Fiction with M C Scott

These are all the posts I think I mentioned at Arvon Lumb Bank, when M C Scott and I had the pleasure of spending a week talking about writing historical fiction with fifteen writers who are rash enough to want to join us - and then wrote some truly fantastic stuff. We also had a splendid evening with Robert Low, ex-Para, ex-journalist and current Viking.

If you were there, and remember me mentioning a post or a book or a topic which I haven't put here, do say so in the comments, and I'll do my best to dig it up. If you've been digging in the Tool Kit section of the blog, quite a few of these will be familiar, but some may not.

And I distinctly remember mentioning Sarah Stovell's novel The Night Flower, as a great example of first-person historical voices working in parallel, because it wasn't at that point published (it is now). And also Linda Buckely-Archer's children's time-slip trilogy Gideon The Cutpurse (calle Time Quake in the US). I know there were others, obviously, so let me know if I mentioned anything else you haven't been able to track down.


AN EDUCATION IN WRITING:  in which I dissect 100 words of Elizabeth Bowen's The Heat of the Day. Just watch those verbs...

BOOKS FOR WRITERS : all the books I mentioned should be on this list, including The Seven Basic Plots, and if you remember one that isn't, mention it in the comments here.


SHOWING AND TELLING: the basics : even though you know this stuff...

PSYCHIC DISTANCE: what it is and how to use it : the examples will be familiar...

CHARACTERISATION-IN-ACTION : some of these will be familiar from our Arvon week, but there's more

MORE ON CHARACTERISATION : which comes more naturally to you: thinking about characterisation from the outside inwards, or from the inside outwards?


PROLOGUES : why you probably shouldn't, why occasionally you should.


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

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

FLASHBACKS AND BACKSTORY : how to handle the stuff from Before The Story Starts.

SIXTY-PLUS WAYS OF ARRANGING THE SAME 11 WORD SENTENCE ; yoga for writers, in other words

SENTENCE STRUCTURE AS STORYTELLING: how the order of the elements in your sentence can make such a difference


HOW THINKING ABOUT GRAMMAR can help your prose to sing 


THE COMMON SCAFFOLD: all the things which get into your first draft for good reason, but then need fishing out again

CLUSTERING : as a way of finding material, with a picture of the clusters I worked to develop a story.

WRITING SEX : now everyone's blushes have subsided. And this one is about the sex/p**n divide

TWELVE TOOLS (NOT RULES) OF WRITING : just what it says on the tin

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 : 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.