The Diversity Trap

A Twitter friend complained the other day. He pasted a screenshot of some writing advice, in which the author said it might be a good idea to consider adding diverse characters to a book because publishers like them. As long as they fit organically, that author had added, I suppose to avoid blushing with embarrassment every time they passed a mirror. My friend’s complaint? It approximated to “Stop using us as bait.” Continue reading The Diversity Trap

When Characters Go Rogue

I had such high hopes when I met Natalie Griffiths for the first time. She had just died (Stroke. Felled her like a tree.) without finishing her cigarette and she was bent on having another, however long it took. While she argued her case with her account manager Natalie managed to cause the death of her husband and antagonise said manager so much that she, the manager, bungled the procedure of preparing two deceased for the after life. On top of it all, Natalie — and her husband — escaped from the waiting room of the Great Beyond setting the stage for many ghost adventures. And a cigarette, obviously. Continue reading When Characters Go Rogue

A Writer’s Five Greatest Horrors

There are things we’re all afraid of and there are things some of us are afraid of while others enjoy, such as, say, snakes. And then there are work-specific horrors like client briefs or, I don’t know, oil price updates. And then there are the horrors of writing. While I’m nowhere near a representative sample I have been communicating with other writers. We tend to be great big whiners but some things truly scare us and with good reason. Continue reading A Writer’s Five Greatest Horrors

We Want to Invest in Your Book

Anyone who’s had any experience whatsoever with publishing, even with a single short story or a poem, must have acquired the kind of uneasy feeling that this is a sea full of sharks and other life forms that do not exactly have your best interests at heart. Sadly, it seems that sooner or later most of us run into these life forms. Continue reading We Want to Invest in Your Book

The Beta Reader Conundrum

How do you know your book is good? You ask someone to read it and tell you what they think. Or several someones, if you’re feeling brave. Continue reading The Beta Reader Conundrum

Write Them Real, Write Them True

There’s a topic that has been nagging me for quite a while, demanding attention and asking that my opinion on it be shared with the world. My usual response has been “Shut up and go sit in the corner, you’re too politicised as it is” but a recent chat with a fellow writer sort of convinced me it was possible to write about it without enraging armies or even your discussion partner. The nagging topic is about men writing female characters and, gasp, women writing male characters. Continue reading Write Them Real, Write Them True

One Word: Discipline

I’ve been having trouble getting up in the morning. The waking up part is easy enough but the getting out of bed part is giving me trouble. So I use the magic words: “That thing won’t write itself, you know.” Works like a charm. And I’ve got lots of magic words. Continue reading One Word: Discipline