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You are a brilliant writer.
But not everyone realises it yet.
What to do?
One of the great truths of writing is that however brilliant you may be, getting someone to read and appreciate your work requires contact with other human beings. I don’t mean publishers and agents, important as they are; but writers; editors; critics; and other, often annoying, people who give you advice on how to improve, polish and market your fiction.
George Orwell: another inspirational author (see below)
Here are two sources of such contacts.
First, I recently had the good fortune to hear the writer Paul McVeigh reading from his debut novel The Good Son in Izmir (the link goes to a goodreads site with rave reviews). He was inspiring and entertaining, and mentioned his blog, which gets a staggering 40,000+ hits a month. (more…)
I had the good fortune recently to attend two events at which the famous Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk was present.
Orhan Pamuk with British film director Grant Gee (Photo: Robert Pimm)
The second was an event to mark the closing of the rather terrific !f Istanbul Film Festival.
I am enjoying Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale in the Folio edition, a welcome Christmas gift. Bond certainly is a dated, post-war creation. But he does have magnificent attributes, many associated with his lifestyle. Take this description of the Martini he orders:
“Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?”
I checked Kina Lillet – it’s a defunct aperitif whose main ingredient, quinine, was removed in 1985.
As Felix Leiter says: “Gosh, that’s certainly a drink.”
But I’m inspired to go into print by Bond’s comment to Jesper Lynd (after whom he decides to name his previously un-named Martini recipe, which I have been drinking regularly since reading the book) at dinner, after she has ordered caviar as a starter. Bond asks the waiter for extra toast.
“The trouble always is,’ he explained to Vesper, “not how to get enough caviar, but how to get enough toast with it.”
So true, so true.
My father died on 29 November 2013.
He left behind many wonderful memories and made many people’s lives better.
But this blog isn’t about him; I’d need a book for that.
This blog is about a list he left written on a tiny scrap of paper:
In his later years my father, a biblio- and logophile, occasionally left the odd piece of paper unfiled or perhaps in a place that was not obviously logical.
So it was my mother, as she sorted through his countless documents, who – rather astonishingly – discovered the scrap of paper; and brought it to my attention recently, thinking I might be interested.
I was fascinated. People love lists.
This one is headed “How to work better” and reads as follows:
- Do one thing at a time
- Know the problem
- Learn to listen
- Learn to ask questions
- Distinguish sense from nonsense
- Accept change as inevitable
- Admit mistakes
- Say it simple (sic)
- Be calm
Wonderful news for the hundreds (yes, I have counted) of fans of the ‘wonderful, feminist and dark’ Hotel Stories.
A fifth story in the series, Ask for Scarlett, is coming soon.
Many readers have asked – please can we see what is going on inside Ms N’s head?
Others have said – surely there must be a few more sympathetic male customers in these five star hotels?
One or two have said – the hotels you’re depicting aren’t luxurious enough. What about some real luxury? (Actually, I made that up. No-one could possibly doubt the luxury of the establishments in Hotel Stories 1-4.)
So watch this space for news of Ask for Scarlett – out soon on Amazon for your delectation.
It will address all the queries and alleged deficiencies mentioned above. Well, some of them.
Incidentally, analysis shows that my most popular post about the Hotel Stories is 5 Ways the “Hotel Stories” can improve your life, featuring beer, fish and chips, the picturesque hamlet of Stow cum Quy and “Don’t get mad, get even”. Check it out.
It’s true. The Hotel Stories can improve your life.
A writer stares at a blank page, sweating. How to get started? If only there were a simple guide somewhere to writing articles for the Internet, newspapers or magazines!
So you want to write the perfect article? Welcome. I’ll tell you how.
The essential starting point is that you must have a clear central message. What are you trying to say? What’s your point? Clarity on this makes everything that follows much easier.
Start by reading part 1 of this series “7 tips for writing the perfect article” (links in bold italics are to other posts of mine on this website). It shows how to decide on your message and make sure what you are writing is relevant. Later, in part 3, How to write great Nut-grafs & Cosmic Kickers, you can see two worked examples based on the model set out below.
Once you are clear on what you want to say, it’s time to get started. “The best way to start work is to start work”. Structure is everything.
Many journalists use a simple template. There are lots of ways of doing this; but the following, based on advice from a US journalist friend, has worked well for me in numerous feature articles during my time as a freelance journalist. A worked example is at the end of this blog.
For more writing tips, follow this blog (hit the blue “click here” button top right)
Your article should consist of the following elements. I’ve set them out in the order in which they will appear (more…)
So you want to write a non-fiction piece for publication as a blog, newspaper article or in other media. Let’s call it “an article”. Where to start? Here.
1. What is your message? A clear message is the most important – and difficult – element of writing an article. If you don’t know what your message is or why you’re communicating it this way, stop right now. The good news? Once you’ve decided your key message, the article is already half-written. Check out this piece, where the message is “if you’re going ski-ing a ski-guide may help you have more fun“. That message must be newsworthy and interesting – are you or the editor confident people will want to read it?
2. How to decide on your message. So what is “newsworthy and interesting”? Two possibilities:
i) a news peg. Something has happened out in the world. People want to know about it. You’re going to tell them. It could be an anniversary, a local or national event, or a personal angle on something people know about. My piece about Berlin traffic-light men, for example, reports on how images designed for East Berlin began to spread into West Berlin in 2005.
ii) a news line. Maybe you have something to say which is newsworthy. Invented something new? Got an announcement to make? Published your new book? Developed a miracle diet? If it’s of wide interest, (more…)