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  1. Show versus tell
    29 Nov, 2016
    Show versus tell
    This post is also on Huffington Post Max always wanted to tell us a story, but should he have been showing us it instead? Probably not an issue for an entertainer, but something for a writer to think about. Show versus tell comes up a lot in my critique groups. The often quoted approach is to abhor tell, but that's too simple a rule and both have their place. Showing, using the senses, actions and emotions of
  2. Am I a writing planner or a writing pantser?
    25 Jul, 2016
    Am I a writing planner or a writing pantser?
    I always thought I would be a planner. I'm a mathematician and a computer scientist. It's obvious isn't it? Well, no. As I've found with my other creative pursuits, when I want to engage my imagination I have to have some freedom. But not as much as a blank page with only stream of consciousness to guide me. Also, it’s different depending on what I’m working on. So that’s all very confusing… for you and for me. Sometimes, with a clear appreciation that I can easily be wasting my time, I might
  3. First Chapter Content
    14 Jun, 2016
    First Chapter Content
    Have you ever picked up a book and put it down after the first few pages, never to return? That's why the first chapter is very important. After all, the reader is giving up a lot of their precious time for your writing and they need to be sold on the product before continuing. I touched on first sentence in a previous blog entry, but the whole of the first chapter is about hooks. Hooks those reader fish can't escape from, and nor do they want to. Suspense for things to come, intriguing little
  4. Critique - part 1: Low level
    13 Apr, 2016
    Critique - part 1: Low level
    You may hear people say that rules aren't for them, their writing is better because it breaks the rules. Rules can be broken, but first understand them to know when that's appropriate and when it's not. I think critiquing a work is best broken down into levels. I'm not going to give examples because this would become a book. SPaG (Spelling and Grammar) This is an obvious level of checking and is, mostly, objective. Spelling errors aren't seen too much these days, for obvious reasons, but there
  5. Writing groups
    12 Mar, 2016
    Writing groups
    Time to write about the groups I run. I went to few writing groups before I started my own. The formats varied, but all the works, sometimes produced in a short space of time, would be read out on the spot and invariably received just an appreciative acceptance. I wanted critique. The format for my groups, a genre unspecific and now a science fiction/fantasy only group, is to distribute the pieces before the meeting. People then arrive with their thought out comments. I don't enforce any
  6. So easy to let things slide
    01 Feb, 2016
    So easy to let things slide
    I had committed myself to recording at this blog once a week. I thought 'that's not too onerous'. And now I come to do it I notice I have missed a week. Do you want excuses? Not really. It's only fifteen minutes work. So, two week update. Had my usual writing group meet up and the first critique with my new, genre specific group. The new group has made an excellent start; eight attendees and some great feedback. The usual suspects at my 'old' group have been enhanced by some new members and I'm
  7. The new novel
    18 Jan, 2016
    The new novel
    In the last post I talked about my new novel about a generational ship. I think my strength lies in ideas and I know that I need to be pretty diverse or I lose interest, so writing a novel could be quite a challenge. My solution is, in my logical way, to break the problem down. The story will be made up of several 'ages' on the ships long journey, each divided by one hundred years. In that way I only need to plan each age at a time, with some links for the next of course, and I can start
  8. Writing and publishing update
    11 Jan, 2016
    Writing and publishing update
    I started exploring the options for self-publishing my new book, Points of Possibility. It began out badly by making a Facebook faux pas by sending it, and my new writing group link, to all of my friends. This of course makes a notification noise whenever anything happens which is why I expect everyone started leaving the group. But I can't send an apology to everyone because the same thing would happen. Ah well, if they are real friends... A much better way to promote on Facebook is to create
  9. Starting out
    03 Jan, 2016
    Starting out
    Mainly because I published my last book a few days ago (Points of Possibility - see Writing), I decided I should have a website to link in to if I decided to do marketing. But things changed, as is their nature. I ended up putting the book online as free, so there was no reason for the website to be directed at just pushing my book. So, it became a more personal site where I could share much more. I particularly wanted an online blog as well; it is a good ritual for a writer to nurture. So, it