We Are Not Amused

– ‘Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite: Fool! Said my muse to me, look in thy heart and write.’ – Philip Sidney

muse-on-beach-finished It’s Monday morning, it’s raining, it’s cold, and I’m sitting at my desk with a blank screen on my PC and a blank look on my face. I wait in vain for inspiration to come and grab me by the… imagination. Where is my muse when I need him the most? Probably sitting on a beach somewhere, topping up his suntan and watching the world go by while I sit here abandoned and all alone.

So what to do on those days when you’re struggling to write anything at all? Perhaps this piece of advice from Dorothea Brande might help. First off, try getting up a little earlier than normal and begin writing as soon as possible. Don’t talk, don’t read anything, just write down the first thing that comes into your head. It might be last night’s dream, or perhaps a conversation from yesterday, but get it down on paper. Write rapidly and without giving any attention to the value of what you are writing. This is a training exercise in writing in the twilight zone between sleep and the full waking state. Forget that you have any critical facility. The unconscious mind is in the ascendant, so leave it free to rise. Continue reading

Planner or Pantser?

Some authors are meticulous planners.They will develop a rough story idea into a plan that consists of all major events, twists and turning points and they will know exactly how their story ends and how they are going to reach that end. Nothing is left to chance. Every bump and pothole in the road is carefully constructed. Scenes are written out prior to writing, sometimes in as much detail as the actual novel itself. The characters and the setting are meticulously explored. No nasty surprises. Not one ounce of flab. This is a story which is super-fit for purpose.

Other authors are happy to describe themselves as ‘pantsers’. These are the guys  who literally write from the seat of their pants with little or no planning at all prior to writing. These authors will have a general idea of the story they want to write and then simply sit down and write it. The story just goes with the flow until it reaches its natural conclusion. Continue reading

Have Books Lost Something With Their Lack of Description?

There was a time when you couldn’t pick up a book without massive blocks of descriptive prose. It was an art form all of its own.These descriptions were seen to be adding more depth to the story and giving the reader more information about the characters and setting.

Modern writers tend to steer clear of vast expanses of informative, yet mostly unnecessary writing. In fact, authors have gone in the opposite direction, giving only what is needed to leave the reader to imagine the rest. There also tends to be less time given to journeys and the transition of time.The modern method seems to be to get there as quickly as possible and cut out the filler. Again, this works well for me as a writer and a reader Continue reading