Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction is published on 10th March

I'm ridiculously thrilled to have my author's copies of Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction sitting on my desk. It really does embody all the things I find myself saying when I'm teaching workshops and blogging, not just about historical fiction but writing fiction and creative non-fiction in general. Whether you're new to writing of any kind and have just fallen in love with a person or a period and can't rest till you've had a shot at bringing it to life on paper, or you're an experienced writer who's always loved reading historical fiction but have never dared to... Read more →

Ping-pong dialogue

ETA: since I wrote this post I've developed a lot more thoughts on dialogue, though the problem I've unpicked here is still very common, and very easily solved! *** A writer friend had feedback which said that her novel suffered from "ping-pong dialogue". Had any of us heard of this particular ailment, she asked here. None of us had, but the example she posted did suffer a bit from something I've seen a lot over the years, and no doubt I've been guilty of too; in fact, I'm rather grateful to have a name for it. It's not that the... Read more →

Cake houses and paper games

Children instinctively know what makes a satisfactory story: if that knowledge isn't coded into our genes, it's certainly wired into our brains. But I've been wondering what else in my childhood has fed into my writing self, and I realise that one thing I'm grateful for is childhood paper games. Adverbs: The first person draws say ten lines across the page, then on the left-hand side writes a vertical column of ten quantities - a hatful of, a fathom of, a milligram of - and folds it to hide them, so only the lines show, not the words. The next... Read more →

Up close, and impersonal

Close writing and close reading seems to be what we've been talking about in the comments trails of the last couple of posts, and this from Writer Girl resonated particularly: I think I first discovered the power of individual words in a story when I began to translate parts of novels from French into English... The translater has to find the right combination of words that will provide the correct meaning, rhythm and flow to the sentence. The writer does this without having an original script to work from. My question to you is this: do agents and publishers, with... Read more →