Sunday, 29 November 2009


Tomorrow is another day. That is what you have to say when you think you have become dreadful at writing.

That is how I feel today. But, as I have said many times, you have to keep believing you will make it. There really is no such thing as writer's block. And you must remember your successes and remind yourself that you will do it again soon. Patience is the key. Along with self-belief. Everyone has bad days, moments of doubt and lapses in their self-confidence.

Think about it tomorrow.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Centre Spread

The main body of the action and the development of the main characters takes place in the middle. That's when everything and everyone comes to life. There are diversions and tangents, but they must all be relevant to the theme and also help to move the plot along towards the conclusion.

A lot is said about the importance of beginnings and endings, but the middle is vital too. It's no good having an arresting opening and then it all sinks like an ill-mixed sponge cake in the middle. Then the reader won't reach the wonderful ending. And the brilliant beginning will be forgotten. It's awful to promise much, but deliver little. Far better to have an intriguing start from which a Pandora's box of delights is revealed as you read on, before coming to the great exciting final paragraphs.

When the middle is finished, you might chop some of the opening. It may seem far too banal once you have found out just how thrilling the rest of the story is. However, the writer who plans in advance might be more aware of the forthcoming action, so his beginnings will be more appropriate. But I write as I go, so I never know if the start will be any good until I've finished the middle.

The middle is sometimes frustrating, as you realise there are different ways in which the story can go. I started one that was destined for a women's magazine, but it is now unsuitable for that market because, once I'd reached the middle section, it was off and running in a totally different direction altogether. it will probably be sent to a competition instead.

See where the middle takes you, but never let the interest flag. Adjust the opening to suit the rest. Never forget your theme - that is absolutely essential and will keep you on the right path.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Loose Talk

Why is it that when I'm talking, I can muddle my words, forget the thread of what I'm saying and generally sound incoherent, especially when emotional or uncertain? But writing is different. It flows, ideas are woven in, threads are gathered and tied in beautiful bows and the finished piece is an achievement to treasure.

I suppose it's partly because I know I can change words, delete chunks, swap paragraphs around and cut out beginnings and turn them into endings or make page three into page six if I like. Every letter is malleable. And only by my hand. You can't take things back in conversation with others.

And it's also partly because I'm on my own. No one can chip in, disagree or talk over me. It is total control. The only boundary is my own imagination. And that is one of the few large things about me.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Love Your Successes

Well, you never know what's coming! I returned from a week in Ireland to find a copy of a magazine with my story in it under a new title, two cheques for accepted, yet-to-be-published stories and an email telling me I'd won £100 first prize in a short-story competition! Plus another winning story in the weekly online flash-fiction competition, WriteInvite, that I take part in on a regular basis.

The prizes/income are great, but the thrill of seeing your name there is better! Never give up, because the more you participate, the more chances there are for success. You won't get read just because you write. You must send it out there and let it have the opportunity to be seen. Lots of your work won't be successful, but some will. And it's the successes that count. No one is keeping a tally of near-misses or also-rans. They really shouldn't get you down. Log all the rejections, so that they can be re-marketed. But log the winning stuff too, so you can see at a glance how well you've done.

By the way, the £100-first-prize story I mentioned had been rejected three times before!