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Writing Advice

In this section, you will find a collection of blogs dedicated to writing advice. So, if your manuscript is starting to drive you crazy, or you’re not sure how to get started, read on for the push you need to create your masterpiece.

Literary Lessons: Gratitude

Rachel Knightley

From The Flame by Leonard Cohen (Canongate)

Leonard Cohen’s poetry was sometimes set to music, sometimes sung, sometimes accompanied cartoons, sketches and symbols – the Order of the Unified Hearts intertwining two Stars of David with heart-shaped bends at their tops; the brimmed hat he would doff in concert to the music, to its source, to his audience, to life itself – but whether it appeared in books or in albums, it was always poetry first.

The Flame is edited posthumously, and published just under two years after Leonard Cohen’s death on 7 November 2016. There is a foreword by his son, Adam Cohen, and his editors by Robert Faggen and Alexandra Pleshoyano, in which each says of Leonard Cohen what Leonard Cohen so often and well said of life itself: how unworthy we feel our choices might have been, how unequal we feel to the task. Yet what his verses, his music and, yes, his singing, taught with heartbreaking clarity was that that very appreciation – that gratitude – was

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Is Writing For TV the Same as Writing a Book?

‘I’ve written for children my whole career, writing a novel for children will be a piece of cake, right?’ WRONG.

I have been writing for CBeebies for nearly seven years now, scripts, sketches, poems, songs – you name it, I’ve written it. The turnover of writing at BBC Children’s is fast paced, relentless and absolutely I thrive off it!

I can chat your ear off about how to write a script for Elmo or a song about brushing your teeth, but writing a novel? I’m a complete newbie. 

Last year I decided to go part time and face a new writing challenge, my thought process being something along the lines of: I already write scripts for a living, writing a book is just the same but in a different format, let’s give this a go.

Wow. I did not anticipate the gear change. 

I did not anticipate how utterly lost I would feel in a world that I am supposedly so familiar with. 

But tell me I am not alone in this? There must be some writers out …

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Literary Lessons: Voice

From Melmouth by Sarah Perry (Serpent's Tail 2018)

Rachel Knightley - Melmoth

If you’re reading this I’m sure you’ve felt the ‘what now?’ at the end of a book you’ve loved. It’s most likely to happen with the strongest authorial voices, those fully in command of their world and message. Sarah Perry’s Melmoth is full, sharp and wittily observant in both the story and the telling. Distinctively articulate, it remains unassuming, clarifying without upstaging the action. This is a masterclass in authorial voice, and a solid marriage between research and originality, creating a sparklingly authentic world. 

Melmoth begins with a chance meeting in the street between Helen Franklin – a Prague-based translator living in self-made isolation and penitence for a secret crime of which she accuses herself – and one of the rare people who have managed to slip under the net of her self-denial to become a friend. His panic, and the papers that have come into his possession by the death of a friend …

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Literary Lessons: Editorial Investment

From When The Curtain Falls by Carrie Hope Fletcher (Sphere 2018)

Rachel Knightley - Blog 3

Theatres and ghost stories have both played starring roles in every era of my life and, as a result, of my writing. The idea of a ghost story set in a theatre immediately had me on its side – especially one written by a former west-end Eponine in Les Miserables which was another huge plus as far as my inner child was concerned. Carrie Hope Fletcher turned up on the theatrical, music and literary scenes long after my actual childhood but she certainly connects with a whole lot of it; I’m not surprised her emotional intelligence and courage to recognise and discuss her experiences and mistakes have made her “honorary big sister” to Youtubers all over the world.

Actress Fawn Burrows and apprentice doorman Walter Brown fall in love during a production of When the Curtain Falls, Fawn’s first starring role. But their producer is in love with, if not Fawn herself, then what being seen with Fawn will do for his career …

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Are You A 'Non-Writing' Writer?

Hands up if you’re one of those writers that doesn’t actually write.  

Be honest. You love the idea of writing, you follow writers on Instagram, you read about other people who write, maybe you subscribe to literary newsletters and websites like this one, but actually writing? You’ll get round to it. One day.

I am a writer who doesn’t write. At least, I was until very recently.

I was always envious of the ‘real’ writers I read about, people who never have their heads out of their work, dedicated to the core, passionate about storytelling and have something to show for it. 

The closest I came to this was as a five year old, proudly waiting to present my hand written story in show and tell… only for Karl from year two to point out that my protagonist changed gender from page to page. Needless to say, I kept my story to myself and didn't really write after that.

So last year I decided to do something about it. 

I set myself a …

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