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October 2013


... you put one thing in an essay - your agent says another thing in passing - you remember one of the lives you nearly chose to follow in one of those yellow-wood moments before you decided for something else; your agent says a second thing because of what you said; you remember one of the things you most loved when you were ten; you realise that another childhood love was a place which has been knocking on the doors of your brain for a couple of years now ... - and you have an idea - the first idea... Read more →

Stand back and count to Nine

The big, Tony-winning hits of the broadway writer Maury Yesten are at opposite ends of the scale: Nine, which works beautifully as a chamber opera, and the vast Titanic. So my ear was caught, the other day, when I heard him talking about the difference. Clearly he doesn't scorn the dancing sets and known movie story (Nine is based on Fellini's 8½). Nor does he reject the need to appeal to non-English-speaking tourists (the economic lifeblood of Broadway as it is of the West End). After all, spectacle has been part of the theatre ever since theatre existed, and I've... Read more →

Postiversary Competition Highly Commended: Hairnet Aardvaark, by Lev Parikian

This is the last of of three Highly Commended entries to the This Itch of Writing 500th Postiversary Competition. I liked this post because it made me laugh and it's probably more true - though arguably less detailedly helpful - than all the other competition posts put together with the rest of the whole darned more-than-six-years' worth of This Itch of Writing. Having said that, if you want to bag yourself a Highly Commended, then grossly flattering the competition organiser in the second paragraph is no bad strategy either. "A blog post, 500 words at most, which is helpful, interesting... Read more →

Would love to do a writing course but "don't know any grammar"?

A couple of weeks ago, a writer emailed to say that he was interested in joining the course that Debi Alper and I teach, on Self-Editing Your Novel. He thought it might be what he needed, but was worried that he knows nothing about the technical side of writing, wouldn't be any use at the workshopping aspects of the course, and would look and feel a fool in consequence. He's not the first writer, by any means, to admit in a private email what he or she can't bring themselves to display in even the mildly public space of a... Read more →

Jerusha Cowless, agony aunt: "I have to write a scene but the subject horrifies me"

Dear Jerusha: I have to write a scene in my work-in-progress but the subject matter horrifies me. It’s a crucial scene - I can’t omit it or just allude to it, but I find it difficult to research or think about and I’ve been avoiding drafting the scene for a very long time. Do you have any thoughts on how best to approach writing it? Darling, you're not alone. One well-regarded writer delivered the really-truly-finished-totally-this-time-long-overdue manuscript to her editor, only to get a phone call: "I love it, it's wonderful. Just one thing. That blank page 327, which just says... Read more →