Sentence, Eloquence and Exercise: books for sentence wranglers
Painters have paint, choreographers have bodies, sculptors have bronze, musicians have chords and tunes. Writers have sentences. Not words, sentences, because a word which isn't in relation to another word can only be something, not do anything. In a letter Flaubert once described himself as "Itching with sentences", that is, with chains of words connected up to make a meaning. Flaubert's itch wouldn't be cured until he got the sentences - the meanings - out, and heading towards readers.
I do love reading good sentences, and try to write them, and I know from the response to my sixty versions of exactly the same sentence that many who read this blog do the same. I've talked about the wonders of the long sentence, and thought about what happens to the storytelling in a sentence when you rearrange its elements. And now a couple of enjoyable and useful new books which are all about sentences, and the voices built into them, have landed on my doormat, so I thought I'd have a seasonal round-up.Read Full Post
First person plural: on being a wee bit of we
The first person plural point of view is relatively uncommon in fiction, so hurrah for Chuffed Buff Books for inviting submissions with a group narrator for their latest short story anthology. But does it work? Well, as Iím one of the five Ďbits of weí in the collection I must think so, but not everyone may agree.
Read Full Post
I normally try to talk about myself on this blog only when it might help to illuminate something for others, but I was asked to write a piece about why I write for the forum of the Royal Literary Fund Fellows. It occurred to me that it might amuse or, better still, get you thinking about your own reasons for writing.
I write, I used to say, because it's the only respectable reason I've found for not doing the washing up. Then my first novel was published, and writing became another kind of washing up: not an escape from the business of life, but part of it. Writing, as we all know, is a frustrating, unpredictable and generally badly paid thing to build your life round, but that's what I seem to have done.
I've always had a fierce drive to create things, but that doesn't answer the real question of why I write, rather than making photographs or singing or cooking or acting, all of which I've taken seriously at times.Read Full Post
6 lessons from history's creative minds
Myths abound about how to nurture creativity. If I drink like Ernest Hemingway will I come up with a twenty-first century For Whom the Bell Tolls and bag myself the Nobel Prize? Somehow, I think it might take a bit more than that, but it neednít stop me opening another bottle of wine.
Many of us believe we have to do things in a certain way to get the creative juices flowing. Itís hard to let go of our treasured beliefs but do any of these routines actually work? Mason Currey has trawled the daily rituals of historyís creatives to identify six common themes. Itís not exactly a randomised controlled trial but, if youíre looking to boost your creativity, itís a reasonable place to start. As youíll see, I donít measure up so well against the criteria. Can you do better?Read Full Post
The obstacle within: lessons on character from a novelist and a psychotherapist
Thereís lots of advice for writers on overcoming the internal barriers to making space for our writing, but I haven't found much on creating characters who similarly sabotage
their own pursuit of their goals. Generally, weíre encouraged to create protagonists with clearly defined aims who go all-out to achieve them, although novelists who subvert this can still deliver a page-turning tale.
Tied in with my latest debut novelist Q&A Iíve been considering the character of Iosif in Anthea Nicholsonís The Banner of the Passing Clouds. His internal obstacle to happiness feels so real to him, it has a physical presence and a fear-inspiring name. Iosif is defined by his inner Stalin, compelled to appease him even as he wrestles against him. He cannot find fulfilment while this moustachioed squatter taps on his ribs, churns his bowels and steals his voice.Read Full Post
In the Next Room or the vibrator play at St James Theatre
Much of the humour in the play rests on the assumption that the Victorians didnít know that the Ďparoxysmsí induced by direct stimulation were of a sexual nature. The spectacle of the straight-faced doctor (Jason Hughes) applying a buzzing contraption to his patient (Flora Montgomery) lying under a sheet while he stands beside the couch with a stop-watch is hilarious; even more so when he extends his practice to include a local male poet (Edward Bennett) who has experienced a romantic disappointment. Soon everyone wants in on the treatment, including Mrs Givings (Natalie Casey ), whether the doctor is present or not.Read Full Post
Who gives a shit for World Toilet Day?
I hope you donít mind me asking, but have you been to the toilet today? No,
Iím not interested in the condition of your bowels, or whether you put the seat down or washed your hands afterwards, but did you thank the toilet for the service it provided?
No, this isn't another post about pseudo-hallucinations, itís rather that Iíd hate for you to miss out on the World Toilet Day celebrations. Because Iím assuming that, like me, you have a lot to be thankful for in that regard.Read Full Post
Agonising over your Creative Writing PhD proposal?
One of the things that happens, when you blog about Creative Writing PhDs, is that people ask you for advice - including the whole business of applying for the thing in the first place. As you'll know if you've read that earlier piece, a CW PhD is at once delightfully broad and free-form, and - well - nightmarishly broad and free-form. And, as ever, what gets said about other kinds of PhD often doesn't apply, or only applies in a mutatis mutandis sort of way, which wouldn't matter except that it can be very difficult to know exactly which bits of the normal way of doing things you need to mutate, and how.
So, for what it's worth, this is what I said to someone who asked me about their PhD proposal.Read Full Post
Starting to write - one huge step for Caroline Coxon?
A new project. Starting to write? One huge step for most writers, not just me, I would assert. And the joy, when the title page is complete and...oh, dear, can't stop at the title page. But it's a start, isn't it?Read Full Post
How to make a drama from repressed emotions and genteelly-expressed opposition is a challenge, especially in such a large theatre. One answer to the staging problems presented by Mansfield Park may well be to heed Willy Russellís Ritaís advice and ĎDo it on the radio.í
Read Full Post
Previous Blog Posts
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | ... | 168 |
Top WW Bloggers