Guest Blogs

Guest Post by R.N.Morris: Plotting the Perfect Crime (Novel)

R.N.Morris is an old writer-friend of mine, and ever since his debut, A Gentle Axe, starring Dostoevsky's Porfiry Petrovitch, the examining magistrate from Crime and Punishment, I've known his work for pulling no punches but also being subtle, complex and thought-provoking. Has a superb sense of setting and period and (which isn't the case with every good writer) he's also good at articulating what he does. I'm not a crime-writer, though I love the detective/mystery end of the genre particularly, and am awed by anyone who can fit all the bits together and simultaneously make one care, shiver, and stay... Read more →


Guest Post by Jenn Ashworth: Making the Rules: Physics and Fell

One of the questions I suggest asking your novel is "Who is telling this story?" And the next is, "Where are they standing, relative to the events they're telling?". So I was excited to discover that Jenn Ashworth was building her new novel, Fell, on one of the most interesting - and fruitful - answers to that question that I've yet come across. I was lucky enough, a while back, to have a tiny role in her working-out of the considerable writerly challenges it posed, and when I read the book a few weeks ago I just loved it (its... Read more →


Jerusha Cowless, agony aunt: "How much should I reveal of my antagonist's intentions?"

Q: Dear Ms Cowless - I am struggling to make what should be a simple decision, and I'm stuck because I can't make it. Basically, I have my Antagonist sitting down having a catch-up meet with his top guy to discuss the direction of their plans. The Antagonist is using the skills and abilities of his top man to exact his revenge. The reader will be carried through the story and will see the good guys caught on the back foot, i.e. they obviously have no idea about the impending act, but the reader will if I choose to have... Read more →


Postiversary Competition Highly Commended: Dark Matter, Dark Glass and Anne Tyler by Sophie Beal

This is the second of three Highly Commended entries to the This Itch of Writing 500th Postiversary Competition. I like this piece because it made me laugh, in a rueful, recognising sort of way, but also because it its own blog-sized way it's doesn't shirk the big questions. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by literary ambition. I aim for the prose quality of Anne Tyler, the themes of Tolstoy and hope I’ll produce it at the speed of Dickens. Today is a good day. I’m happy to be someone trying her best with an English GCSE, a recordable IQ and no one... Read more →


Postiversary Competition Highly Commended: Is it wrong to describe a fart? by Debbie Ash-Clarke

This is the first of three Highly Commended entries to the This Itch of Writing 500th Postiversary Competition. I liked this because it tackles a subject which we all have to deal with - how much is Too Much Information, how little is cowardice? - in a calm and thoughtful way, unpicking the issues without issuing a "rule". Is it Wrong to Describe a Fart? Have you winced? A lot of people do, even at the mention of it. Why would you want to read a story where the author tells us a character farts, or a blog post which... Read more →


Postiversary Competition Second Prize Winner: Loving, Hating and Writer's Block, by Anne Goodwin

Congratulations to Anne Goodwin for this terrific post, which won second prize in the This Itch of Writing 500th Postiversary Competition. Anne wins a year's free Full Membership of WriteWords, Full Membership of WriteWords, which apart from anything else in the way of Groups, Jobs&Opps, Directory and so on, is the place that about 50% of all my posts here started out, as thinking-aloud-in-the-forum. What I love about Anne's post is that she acknowledges both ends of the spectrum of what gets said about writer's block, and then unpicks what's really going on, from both her own experience, and one... Read more →


And the Winners of the Itch of Writing 500th Postiversary Competition are...

I was so thrilled to have so many great entries for This Itch of Writing's 500th Postiversary Competition. It was terribly difficult to chose, (as well as terribly difficult to find enough time to choose carefully), between so many posts which made me laugh, and think, and gave me so much insight into how other writers think and feel. It's the readers who make this blog what it is, and it's lovely to know that y'all are as fascinated as I am with the whole business of how writing happens. So thank you hugely to everyone for entering, and another... Read more →


Guest Post: Where Writing Meets Baseball

One of the pleasures of blogging is meeting people who I might not have met otherwise, and such a person is Barbara Baig, a hugely experienced writer and teacher of writing in the US. Her new book How to be a Writer is a fascinating how-to book which can guide anyone to become a better and more interesting writer than they are, and therefore also an exploration of the practice of writing, in all senses of the word: the kind of thing which I think of as yoga for writers. So when Barbara told me about the research which suggests... Read more →


The Hoops You Must Jump Through: an insider's view of writing competitions, part 2

This is Part Two of a guest post by short story writer and winner of the Scott Prize, Susannah Rickards. In Part One she explored the role of the First Filter Reader, who will be the one deciding whether your work should be seen by the named judge, and here in Part Two she discusses just what it is that separates the 94% of stories which don't make it onto the longlist, from the 2% which do. And just to make it even more fun, one reader can win a signed copy of Hot Kitchen Snow. Leave a comment by... Read more →


The Hoops You Must Jump Through: an insider's view of writing competitions, part 1

Susannah Rickards won the Scott Prize with her debut collection of short fiction, Hot Kitchen Snow and it's just out from Salt. She's also the teaching a workshop on entering writing competitions at the Claygate & Esher Short Fiction Festival, which is running 26-28th November as part of National Short Story Week. For many writers competitions are their first taste of trying to get their work noticed, but most of us have little idea of how they work and therefore little idea of how we might improve our chances of getting onto the longlist. So when I heard that Susannah... Read more →


A very Itchy birthday

Today's the third birthday of This Itch of Writing, and a good moment to thank everyone who's joined in over the years. I really didn't know, when I started this blog, whether I would find I had anything to say, or anything I wanted to say, let alone whether anyone would want to listen or respond. So it's been a delight to find that I have, and people do. Indeed, it hasn't just been fun: I've thrashed out ideas on here which ended up in my PhD, and your comments have enlarged not just my ideas about writing, but my... Read more →


Writing for radio 3: meeting

I walked down the hill in the sunshine to meet the producer of my story for Radio 4 - let's call her Rosamund - trying to assemble my thoughts about what and how I write, in the hope that I'd be ready to hitch that onto what she wanted. With any new piece of work, but particularly one which is being written to contract, there's always a finely-balanced decision about how much to play to your strengths, knowing that it's a safe(ish) bet that you'll get an okay story, and how much to challenge yourself in the hope of getting... Read more →


Guest Blog: Writing for radio

When my friend Kellie Jackson started telling me how she came to write a story for BBC Radio 4, and what she learnt from it, I found it so fascinating that I asked her to do a guest blog for me. So here it is. The story itself, The Indian Hospital, is broadcast tomorrow, Wednesday 19th August, as part of a series of threePavilion Pieces stories (the first is this afternoon, the third on Thursday). Listen again link here. ----------------------------------------------------- After completing an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmith’s College, I’ve been blundering along trying to complete my... Read more →