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June 2016

Writing Competitions: give yourself the best chance

Competition in creative art is an odd concept, but also a natural one: since the beginning of time there's been a limit on the number of chops you can carve off a goat, and only one place by the fire for a storyteller because our audience - the Lord, the Lady and their top henchmen - had the other places ex officio. We compete, too, to increase that audience: the Palace fireplace is bigger than the Manor's, and the Royal cooks serve roast swan. But it's not only good practice to enter competitions: they can be a very good way... Read more →

And the winner of "Recommend an historical novel" is ...

Well, thank you all so much! The recommendations you posted are fantastic, and show what a wonderfully wide range of tastes and interests The Itch's lovely blog-readers have. It's been very hard to choose, not least because I've read some books and authors, and not others (but will ... soon. Have you any idea what y'all have done to my to-be-read pile?). But the point of the exercise wasn't whether I agreed with you. As this is the Itch, and in the spirit of the Itch of Writing Bookshelp I focused on posts which got specific with why the book... Read more →

The Fiction Editor's Pharmacopoeia; diagnosing symptoms & treating the disease

The Society for Editors and Proof-readers is and does exactly what it says on the tin (and if you're thinking of self-publishing, it would be a very good place to start looking for proper professional help.) So I was delighted to be asked to speak to their Editing Fiction conference, exploring and explaining the decisions that we writers make, so that in tackling writing where the decisions aren't producing a good result, writers and editors can have a common language. As I was discussing in my post about giving feedback, it's one thing to recognise a problematic symptom: over-writing, say,... Read more →

Rhythm, reason and rhyme: what order is your sentence in?

I've blogged about making your sentence work best on the reader's experience of the action. I've dissected a hundred miraculous words of Elizabeth Bowen's, as an education in writing. And as a bit of writerly yoga, I've blogged a whole set permutations of a sentence, just to see how many are possible. But when you're working with the forward-moving quality of long sentences (so much more flexible and profluent than short ones!), there's another reason for practising. A sentence exists in time, and that includes the patterns built into it: not only the way the meaning accumulates as we read... Read more →