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Style

Every writer needs to find their own voice - it is this that will set your novel apart and ensure literary agents read past the synopsis. In this section, you can find a selection of articles aimed at helping you to develop your unique style.


Advantages and Disadvantages of Multiple Points of View

There have been many recent examples of books that employ multiple POVs exceptionally well. George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series and Paula Hawkins’ Girl on the Train are just two successful examples. One of the best, in my opinion, is Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible. Each …

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Choosing Your Narrative Voice

Weightless

In a small town, gossip is currency. In a small town, rumour is truth. 

In a high school, there’s us. In a high school, there’s them. 


When we are young, we know everything. We know everything and nothing. And we think, we feel, we say: almost everything in between. 

The …

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Common Threads Of The Past: Interlinking Novels

Pao, Gloria and Show Me A Mountain are three interlinked novels set in Jamaica against a backdrop of political upheaval, economic crisis and social change from the civil disturbances of 1938; through Independence and the turbulent 1960s; the violence and mass migration of the 1970s; and …

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Creative Process – Your Toolbox for Self-Improvement

In a former incarnation as a Commissioning Editor at a creative production company, I came across many samples of writing by ambitious writers making their first foray into the professional realm. It was always quite outstanding how many writers jumped the gun with the same common mistakes and gaps …

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Developing Your Style: Part I

Creative Writing Lecturer Derek Neale encourages you to encounter a range of genres when developing your style. Packed with ideas for learning from other styles of writing, plus drama and screenplays, Derek also offers you creative exercises and checklists which he provides for his own …

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Developing Your Style: Part II

Making a scene

This is the second in Derek Neale’s four-part creative writing series, ‘Developing Your Style’.

‘Dramatize! Dramatize!’ was Henry James’ famous maxim to himself and to would-be novelists. The advice remains true today.

What James meant was that you’re …

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Developing Your Style: Part III

Finding a voice

This is the third in Derek Neale’s four-part creative writing series, ‘Developing your style’. (Note: links in this article are to iTunes podcasts).

Actors impersonate. And in many ways that’s just what we do when we write a story – we put on the voices of our …

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Developing Your Style: Part IV

Splicing the strands

This is the last in Derek Neale’s four-part creative writing series, ‘Developing Your Style’.

What do James Joyce’s Ulysses and Graham Swift’s novel Last Orders have in common. Not a lot, you may think. You would be wrong. The answer is time frame – the action of …

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Don’t Find Your Voice – Use Your Voice

‘Find your voice’ might be the most daunting thing you can say to a writer. What do we even mean by ‘voice’? It is everything, to a novel, and yet nothing that you can precisely put your finger on. Tone, nuance, flow, form – ‘voice’ might mean a hundred things to me, and a hundred …

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How to Stand Out in the Romance Market

Victoria Fox

Once upon a time, there was a writer who convinced herself she would never be published. The market was too competitive, too many authors were writing romances and they were writing them better. What room was there for her? What could she bring that was anything different? That writer was me - six …

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How To Write A Trilogy

Writing a trilogy almost seems to be the default setting for many authors these days, especially those of us who write in the speculative genre. While thrillers and crime seem suited to either standalone novels or epic series comprised of dozens of books following a particular protagonist – spy, …

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Jumping Between Past & Present: the Payoffs & Pitfalls

The Followers by Rebecca Wait

At primary school, you’re taught that a story has to have a beginning, a middle and an end. What they don’t tell you is that the end can come at the beginning, and the middle can come at the end, and that really the only real rule of storytelling is do whatever feels most interesting to you: …

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Love Writing

Elise Valmorbida


I love asking my creative writing students to write about love. Falling in, being in, falling out of. Why? Because love is so vital, so exciting, so immense. Because love has been written about endlessly. And so love lends itself to cliché. 

Clichés are works of genius. They are great and …

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Magical Realism and The Creative Act

Warfilm

I'm not fond of the term 'magical realism'. The nature of reality is a most mysterious thing and the use of the adjective 'magical' is almost redundant but 'realism' alone would not be apt. I prefer 'Surrealism', “beautiful as the chance meeting on a dissecting-table of a sewing-machine and an …

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Mastering Your Craft

The Mapmaker's Daughter

Caroline Dunford - author, playwright, journalist & short story writer - on how so many different forms of writing have influenced & informed her work for young adults.


'What do you want to be when you grow up?'

 It was my first day at school. I answered instinctively, 'A writer.' Then …

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Narrating Past And Present

My debut adult novel, The Roanoke Girls, tells the story of fifteen-year-old Lane Roanoke who goes to live with her maternal grandparents and cousin, Allegra, after her mother’s suicide. Lane knows little about her mother’s family other than they are wealthy and live on an estate called Roanoke …

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On Reflecting the Real World in the Spyglass of the Future

In this article, author Laura Lam delves into the importance of accurately representing marginalised voices in fiction, and discusses the evolution of LGBTQ literature in an ever-changing landscape. 

The world is not made up entirely of straight, white people. Yet take a look at the …

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The Getaway Car

Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett, the thrice-nominated and once-winner of the Orange Prize, turns her hand to memoir-writing for her latest release, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. With entertaining and moving stories on everything from her tumultuous childhood and the excitement of selling her first book …

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The Historical, Political, & Literary Audacity of the Biographical Novel

Michael Lackey

Non-fiction author Michael Lackey explores the biographical novel; why it's one of the richest and most surprising aesthetic forms of contemporary literature and why it's a genre we're only just beginning to understand and appreciate.


In a 1968 forum about the uses of history in the novel, Ralph …

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The Musicality of Writing

Louise Beech

I always listen to music when I write.  There are certain albums in my collection that remind me of short stories or novels I wrote while playing them.  Listening to these songs now has me right back in the place I was when creating those stories – on the sea, in an eerie house, in the …

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The Writer’s Choice: Short Story Versus the Novel

Blood Entwines

Author Caroline Healy writes. She writes literary fiction, magical realism, experimental literature, short stories and young adult fiction. Here, she tells us why she refuses to fit neatly into one box and why she loves all of her genres equally. 


When I tell people that I am a writer, …

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Tips & Advice for Writing Romantic Fiction

Make a wish come true by Fiona Harper

Fiona Harper is a successful author of romantic fiction - in this article, she gives her tips and advice for writing romantic fiction that will have readers rooting for a happy ending from the very first chapter.


A love story seems pretty simple when you think about it, right? Boy meets girl, they …

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To Boldly Write in the Voice of a Child…

One of the questions I’m asked most about The Night Rainbow is the rationale behind - and challenges of - writing a novel in the voice of a five year-old child. Some find the idea of it off-putting, whilst others find it intriguing. To my relief, the vast majority of readers have, in the end, …

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To Write Without Fear

Jax Miller

The page is where a person should hold no reservations; where we come to purge our demons, to have our dreams come true vicariously through our characters, where we go to be completely and utterly forced to face ourselves. It’s a place for brutal honesty and an openness we’d never dare display …

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Why I Write Cross-Genre Fiction

Himself started with a challenge I set myself, to get down on paper the twisted Irish village that had been haunting my imagination for years. It was place like no other, full of charm and magic and malevolence, dark and twisted, with secrets just clamouring to be solved. In the resulting book …

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Why I Write Romantic Comedy

Let me start by saying that writing romantic comedy is not an easy option. For some reason it’s seen as a ‘lesser’ skill than some genres. I've never understood that, as every author worth his salt makes sure that every one of those 100k+ words count and contribute. And I certainly have my …

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Writers' Block: The Art of Letting Go

Elizabeth Jackson

This advice was given me by a celebrated author a number of years ago: always write about what you know and ensure your characters are larger than life. His advice made sense then and does today - so that it is what I try to do. 

Having been raised in the settled community, yet born half gypsy, …

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Writing Dual Narratives

Our Endless Numbered Days

Gone Girl, How to be Both, Instructions for a Heatwave: everyone’s at it - using dual or multiple narratives to interweave two or more stories often from different time periods. Less common are books that use a dual narrative from the point of view of the same character.

In Our Endless Numbered …

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Writing For Listeners

Bestselling author Mark Billingham discusses how the adaptation of book into audiobook isn't a straightforward one...


Audio books and audio drama give listeners a very different experience from that of the reader with a physical book. Of course, the pictures are always better, but it goes beyond …

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Writing Real-Life Romantic Comedy

In a way, romantic comedies can be quite predictable. Usually, your heroine ends up with the hero – even if the hero isn't who readers first thought it would be. So what makes a story in that genre memorable is everything that happens in between: the characters’ personalities and back stories, …

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Writing Romantic Comedy: More Than Meets The Eye

Let’s face it, the premise of a ‘rom com’ is pretty straightforward: girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets the boy in the nick of time for the happy-ever-after. We know pretty early on what’s going to happen on the last page and who our happy couple will be. Writing a successful rom com …

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Writing the Difficult Third Novel

Stephen May

Like most male writers of my vintage I suppose I really wanted to be a rock and roller. And if you’re a serious, ambitious rock musician then the third album is key. The list of game changing third albums is quite extraordinary. The Clash’s London Calling, Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, The Jam’s …

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Writing Within Four Walls

Robyn Cadwallader

Robyn Cadwallader offers advice on how to make a restricted setting compelling.

Thirteenth-century England. Sarah is an anchoress: a religious woman enclosed, voluntarily and for life, in a stone cell nine paces by seven, its door nailed shut, its only windows covered with curtains. No daylight, no …

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