You want to write a story.
What will it be about? Where do you get your ideas from?
As the author of eight novels and eight short stories*, I work hard to find ideas. Here are my four sources of inspiration, and one non-source:
(i) my best source of inspiration is random ideas which pop into my head – when I am reading, walking down the street, in the shower, whatever. These ideas have one thing in common. I write them down. Everyone has great ideas, all the time. What makes a difference is keeping a note of them. Maybe you are a genius and can remember good ideas indefinitely. I can’t. As soon as my mind wanders off – as it will – I forget my good idea. Action point for writers: make a note when an idea strikes you and ensure you can find that note later. Keep a notebook or web page where you store your ideas;
Some things are obviously inspirational. This deserted children’s bumper car ride near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is crying out for a story
(ii) my second big source of ideas is external inputs. If you read the piece about my hotel stories at the link above, (more…)
Every writer wants to write better.
Some of my most popular blogs set out tips on how to do this. That is why I have a “Writing about writing” category (see top left), including such gems as:
- Where to write
- Two great sources of writing inspiration
- 2 sets of brilliant tips on “how to write”
- How to work better: 10 rules? Or not?
- How I write;
- #ViennaWritingInspiration; and
- The 4 elements of the perfect article: Nut-grafs and Cosmic Kickers
The last piece, with the Cosmic Kickers, is my most-read blog this year.
To find out more about these two, see The Russians: Vladivostok
I mention this because this week’s blog consists of three literary quotations of very different styles. One is by W Somerset Maugham, (more…)
The latter drew, with humility appropriate to a neophyte, on the expertise of Wodehouse specialist Plumtopia – recommended for all things Jeeves and Wooster and beyond.
Sadly, I have been devoting an unreasonable proportion of recent months to a well-known trilogy (note to self: insert link later) which, while fascinating, was not quick, easy or pleasurable to read. Review to follow.
So it was with immense pleasure that I returned last week to Wodehouse, with “Jeeves in the Offing”.
The front and back cover of my Folio Society edition of “Jeeves in the Offing”: Jeeves waits, reading Spinoza, outside the Fox & Goose, while Bertie, within, meets Bobbie Wickham
“As night falls on All Hallows, the Zentralfriedhof is transformed into an ethereal wonderland. It seems every visitor throughout the day has lit a candle at a headstone. Kneeling black-clad women rake frozen earth around graves. Candlelight shimmers on stone angels’ wings. Visitors move toward the cemetery gates, their breath forming clouds .”
A stone cherub lit by a candle on 1 November 1986
The central cemetery in Vienna is worth a visit at any time of year. The old Jewish cemetery, its overgrown state controversial, is symbolic and evocative (you may see deer there, or other wildlife). (more…)
What is the perfect martini?
A couple of years ago in Istanbul I was taken out for dinner by two top cardiac specialists.
In between gazing out over the Bosphorus, I noticed that they both drank neat vodka before the meal, when I had a cocktail, and during the meal, when I was sipping wine. I asked why this was.
They told me that, as heart specialists, they enjoyed a drink from time to time; but they wanted to ingest the alcohol in the healthiest way possible. Drinking neat vodka, they said, met this criterion: compared with wine, beer or cocktails it saved calories, sugar and other unnecessary ingredients.
I took this advice, er, to heart. As I was at the time reading Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale (see my review at the link) I began to drink martinis, which involve no ingredients at all which are not alcoholic, unless you include the olive.
How best to explain the effect of one of my martinis?
After all, do you want a drink, or not?
At my reading this week from my Berlin thriller Blood Summit, someone asked when I found time to write.
I wrote a blog on “Where I write” recently.
A blog on finding time to write is a fine idea – I have added it to my list.
Because, it’s a bummer. Finding time to write is hard: lots of other things I dearly want to do, dear friends, dear family, dear visitors, and a job which I dearly want to do brilliantly.
Sometimes things don’t work out.
Writing at the Wolfgangsee in Austria
Like, this week, I have been away from home all day Friday and Saturday and a bit busy and haven’t got around to writing my planned blog.
Interesting take on “50 Shades of Grey”, which I have just finished reading. Will deliver my own thoughts in a blog later.
With the new film just released, Fifty Shades of Grey is being savaged everywhere again – everyone seems to have an opinion, no matter how poorly informed, and those opinions are almost uniformly scathing. Everywhere I look, I see Fifty Shades of Grey being used as a byword for leaden prose, abusive relationships, sordid pornography, and any other evil the author cares to lazily name.
That all irritates me. Not because I love Fifty Shades, but because I believe rather strongly that you shouldn’t criticize things that you don’t understand. I bother, before venturing opinions on books, to actually read them, and I don’t think that that is an unreasonable standard to hold others to. If you are going to criticize something, gain at least a limited understanding of it.
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