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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.

Introducing the remix

Mohana RajakumarThis being my second year as a guest blogger, we’ve covered a lot of the startup issues related to writing: what publishers are looking for, how to get a writers’ group started, why keeping at writing even during change is important, and now that skill none of us (even Hemingway) can do without: revision.

I notice that as writers we tend to make one of two errors when it comes to revision: we either think it has only to do with grammar and so do it too early, or we think it has to do with our concept, and do it too late. In this post, we’ll talk about the basic principle of revision and in succeeding entries, various aspects of revision which do involve both grammar and revisiting your general concepts. This piece begins the first in a four month series on revision.

When I taught university students I often had to explain to their disbelieving faces that a paper should have been worked at least 2-3 times before landing in my in-box or on my desk. Whatever they sat down to …
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Leaving no loose ends

I make no apologies for this blog being about Harry Potter.  My daughter, who has been a competent but disinterested reader for the last two years, has suddenly discovered the Harry Potter books.  As a direct consequence of this, she has also discovered that the 'film of the book' is never quite the same as the written text.

At least JK Rowling managed to keep editorial control over the story changes in the films - unlike most authors - so the travesty of the film of  Philip Pullman's Northern Lights - (The Golden Compass) - (where the complex and dark ending is just completely ignored) is avoided.  He is pretty terse on the subject - as you can see from his website.

You may be wondering what this has to do with you, especially if you are concentrating on your written work, not dreaming of Hollywood.  Well today we watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and decided to watch the deleted scenes on the extra disc.  It was an interesting …
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Tips for peace of mind

It's a horrible moment, the moment when you sit bolt upright at 3am and realise that you've made a critical error.  Regular blog readers will know that we encourage writers to check, and check again when they are submitting, but errors still creep through.  We've all done it.  So here are my top five tips for getting a good night's sleep.

1.  Do not rely on spell check. And if you have relied on spell check, double check it.  The cautionary tale for this tip belongs to a friend of mine, who discovered she was pregnant shortly after signing up to a gym membership.  In pregnancy, she suffered from symphysis pubis disfunction (SPD), a painful condition that relates to the softening of your pubic bones in preparation for birth.

She wrote a letter to the gym, explaining that due to this condition and her pregnancy, she would like to stop her membership.  It was a few days later, after she'd sent it, that she looked at the saved document on her …
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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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