Category Archives: On Writing

Where do ideas for novels come from?

I’ve been thinking recently about a question that’s often intrigued me,  both as a writer and reader: where do ideas for novels come from? According to Colm Tóibín, ‘the first sentence of the book comes to you unbidden, unexpectedly, as … Continue reading

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What is Good Writing?

When I was studying for my MA in Creative Writing, a few years ago now, the characters in my fledgling novel weren’t allowed to nod. Nor were they allowed to sigh, smile or frown. My tutor banned these and many … Continue reading

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Hygge for Writers

The past year has been the same as every other year: a mixture of good and bad. At one point I made the mistake of thinking, and even more dangerously, saying out loud, that my life was running smoothly with … Continue reading

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The Meaninglessness of a First Draft

I attended an author’s event recently at which Maggie O’Farrell gave a reading from her latest novel, followed by an interview and Q&A. When asked how many times she drafted her novels, she asked the audience to guess. ‘Twice? Three … Continue reading

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Competitive Writing

Next weekend I shall be competing in the European Masters Swimming Championships. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? But it’s really not. I’m just a plodder, not one of the serious swimmers. My goals are to post a decent time (for me), not … Continue reading

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Writing as Therapy

I am just emerging from one of those stressful periods in life that come along every so often. One of those periods when you wake up in the mornings with your heart racing and your mind whirring. Days filled with … Continue reading

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Warning: Writer in Residence

I recently took the opportunity of a few clear days to book myself into a hotel for some dedicated writing time, away from it all. I splashed out on a really nice hotel in the Cotswolds. I splashed out on … Continue reading

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On Failure

The other day, a pretty miserable day in general as it happens, I discovered my novel hadn’t made it from the longlist to the shortlist of a well known competition. All in all, it was a ‘I’m this close to … Continue reading

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Does it Matter if Novels Aren’t Plausible?

Does anyone care about plausibility in novels anymore? Or are readers just so hungry for twist upon twist, they don’t mind how improbable this renders the story line?   Read a book like ‘Gone Girl’ and you could well believe … Continue reading

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Write What You Read

As I start to think about my next novel and what kind of book it might be, I remember the advice meted out by a lecturer on my MA. She recommended trying to write, not the kind of book you … Continue reading

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