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October 31, 2010

The lessons I learnt writing my first novel

It's been a while since I looked back at my first manuscript. Many of us have one; the first baby we laboured over and poured love into, and thought was wonderful in every way...back when we didn't know any better.

I first started writing just for me. Back before I'd ever read another novel analytically, trying to see what worked. Back before I'd ever read any of the writing 'how to' tips. Or more importantly, tips on what not to do. In other words, back before I'd ever put any effort into thinking about how to express my ideas in a way which would be interesting for others to read.

October 22, 2010


You may not know this about me, but I suffer from humour envy.

I did promise my posts from now on would be gems of honesty and personal insight. No safely hiding under an umbrella while the heavens open around me. No pretending my closet is oh-so skeleton free. I'm going to let the rain fall where it may, and the skeletons walk free. It is almost Halloween, after all. So here goes.

October 21, 2010

Confessions and promises

Okay, there have been confessions happening all over the place lately. In fact I've been weighing in with confessions about a number of things in comments on other people's blogs (I really can't keep track of what, my memory isn't that good). But I know I have confessed. To, oh, lots of things...from a weakness for a good recipe, to chocolate cravings, to not passing on blog awards, to not reading enough and instead, watching too much TV.

October 9, 2010

The facts beneath the fiction

New River Gorge Bridge, West Virginia, USA.Image via Wikipedia
New River Gorge Bridge, West Virginia
 Research is an important tool for the writer. It can help you breathe life into your work, evoke a particular time or place, and add complexity to both your characters and settings.

Of course, it's worth remembering that all the research in the world does not a novel make. It's possible to fall into the trap of researching too much, and ending up with writing which is fact-heavy and lifeless. The aim is always to use what you've gleaned from research judiciously in your writing to enrich and enhance the reader's experience - not to beat them over the head with how clever you are.

October 3, 2010

What's in a name? On picking a pseudonym.

 "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

 Some authors have achieved considerable fame writing under pseudonyms; George Eliot, George Orwell, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain and more recently, Lemony Snicket spring to mind...among many others.

A pseudonym is, of course, a fictitious name or 'pen name' which an author may choose to use for a variety of reasons. Perhaps to maintain privacy by concealing their real identity; perhaps to keep identities separate when writing in more than one genre, or for more than one age-group. Perhaps so an employer or prospective employer doesn't doubt their commitment to their everyday 'paying' job.
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