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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.

Countdown to Keep Your Novel Pacey

Over the summer I had the pleasure of reading Colm Toibin's Brooklyn.  For all the routine of his female protagonist's days, I found myself compellingly drawn less into the narrative and more with the narrative. A personal lover of jazz, there is a rhythm here that pays homage to another time, another pace.

10. So, musicality is one technique for drawing the reader on.

9. Formatting is another.

But the myriad of ways in which this can be done are magical. First, look at Passoa's The Book of Disquiet. Here he presents the internal thoughts of a man simply sat at his office desk and yet, with the first person narrative segmented into journal entries, each new entry revives us.

So Diary format makes 8. Conversational tone makes 7.

Over the course of his literary career, Passoa himself wrote in many different and contrasting styles. But going to the top of my list of a single book that does this superbly would be English Passengers by contemporary novelist Matthew …
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YA Fiction - Process - Part III

How much do you think about the demands of the YA market while you’re writing?

bridgetBridget Collins: Well, while I’m actually writing, not much! Although we’ve been talking a lot about what YA books are like, and what makes them different, and so on, there’s definitely something to be said for just writing the book you want to write. That said, of course the process gets a lot easier once you’ve got an established relationship with an editor, because she or he can help you think about all the things you’ve ignored up to that point. But my advice for anyone, whether they’re already published or not, is that bearing a market in mind is all very well, but you’ve got to follow your heart while you’re writing, or the book won’t be any good... Sometimes books can surprise you – you might find that the book you’ve come up with isn’t what you thought you were writing. In the end, what matters is the quality, not the market – as long as there is one, obviously! So my …
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YA Fiction-Style & Content-Part II

What sets YA fiction apart?

bridgetBridget Collins: What I love about it is the intensity, and the freedom – because it’s in the middle of children’s and adults’ fiction, as it were, you have the best of both worlds! You can do things that in an adult book would marginalise you (The Traitor Game, my first book, has a strong fantasy element, and A Trick of the Dark, my second, is a supernatural thriller) and still be taken seriously, which is brilliant. And in a sense, the experiences that YA fiction tends to be about (coming of age, first love, first grief, and so on) don’t ever really get resolved, so even when we’re adults we can read YA fiction and find that it addresses our concerns. Unless that’s just me, and I’ve never grown up...

juliaJulia Green: Well that applies to me too, then, the not growing up!  I actually think it’s a necessary part of being a writer for young people, that ability to remember accurately the feeling of being the age of your young …
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YA Fiction-Dual Perspectives-Part I

What  is YA fiction?

juliaJulia Green: It’s a publishing category, really, rather than a genre with particular characteristics, although we might find some of those if we look closely enough. It’s fiction that’s  published by children’s  (as opposed to adult) book publishers, aimed at the top age group of young readers,  ie for readers about  14 years upwards , as distinct from ‘teenage’ fiction which is often read by younger readers ( from about 11 years),  although these are very blurred categories. 

bridgetBridget Collins: I think it’s certainly true that it’s mainly a publishing category – and one which is maybe still “settling”, still deciding where to locate itself and who its readers are. Because YA books are generally published by children’s publishers, or as a children’s imprint, they’ve been seen as a subsection of the children’s market, and I wonder whether that has influenced the way we think about them – and, by …
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How do you (physically) write?

[Hemingway_writing.jpg]I'm asking today about how you actually get words onto a page.  It's a question that authors are often asked at readings.  'How do you write?'   The answer varies, from the highly technical (those who use the latest computer), to the traditionalist who writes in long hand on foolscap paper.

Jane Austen's manuscripts are part of her legend, that she carved herself out a creative space in tiny words, on cramped paper, not inconveniencing anyone.  She wrote, of course, in a time when paper was a luxury, and everyone hoarded their words carefully on this precious commodity.

The picture from today's blog is of Hemingway writing in his preferred method - with a pencil - which he felt improved the flow of words.

We still use terms that relate to how authors used to write - manuscript - for scripts written by hand ('manu') and typescript for typewritten scripts.  Is there a word out there for a computer-written script?  'escript' perhaps?  …
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