Ticket to write

In a previous blog post, I likened certain aspects of creative writing to a train journey. It's a fun metaphor - one I'm fully prepared to flog to death by reporting that, while riding my own rickety railroad of writing, I've just had to miss out on two attractive station stops. The first was an … Continue reading Ticket to write

The five stages of editorial feedback

According to Kübler-Ross, the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Most writers will recognise these as matching precisely the five stages of receiving editorial feedback on a manuscript. As in: Denial - "I refuse to believe I've written anything other than an award-winning piece of prose!" Anger - "How dare … Continue reading The five stages of editorial feedback

Black Dog and Britishisms

They say that slow and steady wins the race. I'll buy that, since it describes exactly the progress I've been making on Black Dog. I started the manuscript on August 1st and just passed 11,000 words. That's not bad given that all the writing happens early in the morning before the demands of the day … Continue reading Black Dog and Britishisms

The research funnel

I'm writing a novel set in Los Angeles in 1933. I've never been to Los Angeles. Nor have I ever been to the year 1933. Therefore, research is required (rather more than I'd anticipated, actually, which just goes to show how blindly I plunged into the project). When you're writing a period piece, the details … Continue reading The research funnel

Every character needs a spine

Earlier this year, film-maker Andrew Stanton gave an inspirational lecture on storytelling as part of the Ted Talks programme. One quote in particular stuck with me, and it's this: "I took a seminar this year with an acting teacher named Judith Weston and I learned a key insight to character. She believed that all well-drawn … Continue reading Every character needs a spine

Black Dog begins

Writing fiction is like driving a herd of cattle across the American West. It's fascinating and filthy, it drips with sweat and beauty and it regularly brings you up short against vast lonely vistas against which you're forced to reappraise your soul. It also wears you out, which is why I've been having a bit … Continue reading Black Dog begins

The many lives of a writer – 4

Most people are like cats – they live not just one life, but many. Writers are no exception. Here's what happened when my fourth writing life got underway. Life 4 - Phantom fiction Sometime in the middle of 2007, my agent Dot Lumley asked me if I fancied writing a crime novel for a book packager. Somewhat … Continue reading The many lives of a writer – 4

The many lives of a writer – 1

Most people are like cats – they live not just one life, but many. Writers are no exception. Here's how I got started with my first writing life. Life 1 - The Dragon Years My first writing life began in 1992. I was in my late twenties and, after noodling around for years with odd … Continue reading The many lives of a writer – 1

And … relax

This morning I finally drew a line under the first draft edit of The Frozen King. At just a smidge under 65,000 words the MS is now a little longer than it was, and closer to where I thought it was going to be when I started. I still don't want to tell you too … Continue reading And … relax

Writing a novel is like this

Writing a novel is like all these things: Weaving a carpet Hacking out a sculpture from solid marble Juggling scimitars whose blades have been honed to razor-shapr perfection Getting jiggy with someone you love Embarking on a long journey in a foreign land without map or compass Bringing up a child Building a replica of … Continue reading Writing a novel is like this