Feeding back on someone’s writing

Giving a view on someone’s writing is not the stuff of PhDs, yet poor quality feedback can devastate and destroy a person’s confidence in their creativity. Conversely, undeserved positive feedback does no one any good, either. If people constantly tell you your work is good but it doesn’t sell, then it is lacking. If a […]

Random writing advice 1

Trying something a little new, which is to choose at random a writing meme and say something about it. So, here goes. Wish I could just talk through it, really …  Ok, well this baby is obviously about editing, which just goes to show that you can spend hours on something making it perfect one […]

Getting published

I used to co-own a publishing business, where we created local history/interest titles, but also had some massive print runs of larger, full-colour books, which we primarily sold by the direct selling method back in the 1990s-2000s. We also sold to bookshops. My role was as writer/commissioning editor. Loved editing this one! The profanities from […]

Improve your English

Sure, we all make occasional errors, usually typos, when tapping away on phones or tablets using ‘auto-correct’. However, if you are making lots of regular writing errors, it soon becomes embarrassing for the adult you. Your grammar lessons at school were probably boring and incomprehensible (mine were) but you only need to know rudimentary punctuation […]

Are magazine articles SE-centric?

I used to write magazine articles as a freelance feature writer. 1000-1500 words with pictures, and interviews with experts and parents (yes, experts). I was once even shipped down from Lancashire to London (Hampstead) to interview Penelope Leach. My subject matter was parenting: fertility, miscarriage, pregnancy, birth, childcare, being a parent. It was, at that […]

Considering Charlotte

Fiction is fun but there is something about real life that is better, stranger, compulsive, compelling. I know when I become obsessed by something or someone that I have to follow it through. That woman is currently Charlotte Payne-Townshend. Photo credit: LSE. Charlotte was the companionably celibate wife of George Bernard Shaw, and a keen […]

Is everyone creative?

  Science seems to accept that everyone has an element of creativity.  However, there seem to be links between the spontaneous brain and the evaluative brain, the rational side which asks: will this mega idea work? This is perhaps where some writers fall down. We all enjoy the spontaneity of creativity, the brainstorming of ideas, […]

Judging your own writing

Having listened to a Radio 4 programme where Andrew Marr interviews “intellectual superstar” Yuval Noah Harari about algorithms and big data (scary stuff) I wondered whether we are deluding ourselves in many ways, not least regarding human creativity. Conversely, I read a magazine article about the award-winning author, Kate Atkinson, who says: You will not know […]

The importance of research

Listening to Dr Helen Rappaport discussing her latest book, The Race to Save the Romanovs, her account of her detailed research was impressive and striking. Certainly, as a historian, she needs to be factual yet also to weave a fascinating, engaging story. Fortunately for Ms Rappaport, she is a linguist, a fluent Russian speaker having […]

Social media – why self promotion bores us all

Many writers, especially self-published ones who need to self promote more than others, use social media to get their message out. It’s the obvious call for it is free (except for time) to use. We are all told we must use social media to the max. How often do you sigh with irritation when someone […]

Pimp Your Prose

“One pearl is better than a whole necklace of potatoes,” so said the French mime artist, Etienne Decroux. In writing, the same applies. One descriptive gem beats a hundred mundane words. My writing students have been writing descriptively and imaginatively; they have come up with some stunningly strong visual images. One great rule to remember […]