All the posts I mentioned at the Historical Novel Society Conference 2016
Life Writing? Travel Writing? Creative Non-Fiction? What are you writing?

Make Your Novel Shine: all the posts I mentioned at the Words Away Salon

It was fantastic to see so many people at the inaugural Words Away Salon, "Make Your Novel Shine" at the Tea House Theatre in Vauxhall. Many thanks from Words Away's founder, Kellie Jackson, and me to everyone who came, and thanks too to the Tea House Theatre for being their excellent selves. It was a great evening: not just cake, wine, tea, and everyone making new writer friends, but a brilliantly insightful discussion with Andrew Wille, editor, writer and book-doctor: thanks most of all to him for his excellent ideas and inspiration.

Andrew and I were talking specifically about how, as a writer, you can do for your own work what an good editor would do: turn your book into the book you thought you'd already written. If you don't know Andrew's website, I can't recommend it highly enough for anyone trying to write; but as we're here, and as in the nature of things I also mentioned various of my own blogposts, these are the links. If there's one missing, or you're interested in another topic which you can't find in the Tool-Kit, do post a comment, and I'll see what I can dig up.

The next Words Away Salon is Creating Characters in Fiction, on Monday 17th October, and our guest is Elizabeth Fremantle. Doors at 7.30pm for a 7.45 start. After the (only very slightly) more formal and organised discussion between Liz, Kellie and me, we slide seamlessly into general questions and discussion, more cake and more drink, which can all go on for as long as everyone wants them to. Liz writes some of the best-written and most compelling historical fiction out there; from creating vivid characters from scratch, to bringing new life to people such as Elizabeth I, she knows what she's doing and can talk about it to. I'm really looking forward to the 17th, and it would be lovely if you could be there too.

At some point I also mentioned the six-week online course Self-Editing Your Novel, which I developed with Debi Alper: the next course, starting in January, still has spaces but be warned: it books up fast!

PSYCHIC DISTANCE: what it is and how to use it : a key technique, not much discussed and not hard to grasp.

FREE INDIRECT STYLE : what it is and how to use it : the huge advantage we have over the playwrights and scriptwriters, so why wouldn't you exploit all the things it can do?

SHOWING AND TELLING: the basics : how to use both to make your story do everything you want it to do.

HOW TO TELL, AND STILL SHOW : how to get on with the story without sacrificing vividness

HEARING VOICES : what is voice, and why does it matter so much?

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

HOW TO MOVE POINT OF VIEW : not just between chapters, but in a single sentence. And why (as long as you do it well) no one can tell you it's not allowed.

GETTING FROM ONE SCENE TO THE NEXT : jump-cut or narrated slide? Doof-d00f-doof ending then crash landing, or taking the reader there in stages?

FORTUNATELY-UNFORTUNATELY : how stopping your characters from staying on the same track powers the story-engine and keeps your reader reading

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

OVERWRITING: has someone told you your work is over-written? : here is what they might mean, and what you can do about it.

"FILTERING": HD for your writing : an unhelpful name for the single, simplest way to revise your writing into greater vividness.

SEVENTEEN QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR NOVEL : before, during or after you write it.

Some others which might be useful: 

THE FICTION-EDITOR'S PHARMACOPOEIA : diagnosing symptoms and treating the diseases in your or someone else's manuscript

HOW TO EAT AN ELEPHANT : so you know what you need to do to your novel, and there's a lot. How on earth do you tackle it all?