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Two great sources of writing inspiration

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.

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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…)

How to write: Orhan Pamuk

I had the good fortune recently to attend two events at which the famous Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk was present.

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Orhan Pamuk with British film director Grant Gee (Photo: Robert Pimm)

The first was a dialogue between Orhan Pamuk and the British film director Grant Gee, whose intriguing film Innocence of Memories explores Pamuk’s book, and museum project, The Museum of Innocence.  

The second was an event to mark the closing of the rather terrific !f Istanbul Film Festival.

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Casino Royale: the book. 6/10 so far

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.

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Robert Pimm at “Spectre” premiere in Istanbul
For: undeniable style, economy with words, terrific internal monologue.  Bond is a creation to die for.  In the books, he has feelings, makes mistakes, and has self-doubt.
Against: dated, sexist and often stereotypical.
P.S. If you enjoy fresh, original writing, please friend me on Facebook or sign up for e-mail updates (top right – see the “click here” blue button).  Check out the range of writing on this site via the sitemap and guide.

How to work better: 10 rules? Or not?

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:

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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
  • Smile

(more…)

Coming soon – a new Hotel Story! Watch this space

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.

Writing tips: writing the perfect article: Nut-grafs & Cosmic Kickers

The standard ingredients of instrumental lede, nut-graf, body and kicker, or cosmic kicker, provide a great framework for writing blogs, articles or other factual reports. 

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.

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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…)

7 tips for writing the perfect article (part 1 of 3)

How to start a blog?  Let’s say you want to write a non-fiction piece for publication as a blog, newspaper article or in other media. Where to start?  Here are seven top writing tips.

1.  What is your message? A clear message is the most important – and difficult – element of writing a blog or 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…)

Blogging tips: how often to post?

How often should you post on your blog?  Daily, weekly, monthly?  What frequency of blogging will attract maximum readership?  You can use social media to increase the readership of your blog posts.

I recently read a blog discussing the case for writing a post every day. The author decided to attempt this for the rest of the year, even if this meant some pretty short posts (“I like waffles!”)

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Robert Pimm at SALT Gallery in Istanbul.  Note rare shirt logo.

I, on the other hand, am torn.  (Aside: my friend Claudia told me in Vienna in 1985 that the words “Keep coming up with love but it’s so slashed and torn”, sung in a raspy voice by David Bowie on the 1981 Queen and David Bowie version sent, to put it politely, a frisson down her spine.  It’s at minute 2.16 on the link.)

Evidence suggests that posting lots of blogs gets lots of readers.  When I started this blog in 2013 I uploaded a couple of dozen of my newspaper articles in 24 hours and instantly received dozens of followers.

My general policy is to post once a week, usually on a Saturday around 1300.  My goal is to give readers around the world something to browse at the weekend.  In the past my goal was to pick a time which would work for my followers in the UK and US, but since I have started accumulating readers in India (hello everyone!) I may have to revise that.

Then we have Facebook.

I post all my blog-posts to my page on Facebook.  It is one of my top sources of hits.

I also use Twitter and Instagram regularly from my @robertpimm accounts to highlight my blog posts and other social media activity.  Usually I try to jazz these up with a photo.  Twitter has the big advantage that you can reach out to people you don’t know, although it is a tough, competitive world out there with hundreds of tweets posted every minute of every day.

Comments welcome!  Feel free to reply in the comments box below or, if you’re on Facebook, comment there.  If you have deep or dark thoughts and don’t want to share them with others, send me an e-mail using the “Contact Me” page above.

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

Disclaimer: fiction and journalism

I want to alert readers of this site to the distinction between the pages listed under “Journalism“, which are based on fact, and the pages listed under “Fiction“.

Anything listed under “Fiction” is a work of fiction.  None of the police officers, journalists, diplomats, politicians, military types, terrorists, assassins, hotel customers, waitresses, clowns, alligators, tycoons or any of the other characters who appears in the works in this category is in any way based on anyone I’ve ever met, heard of, or seen on TV.

The “Hotel Stories” are a work of fiction

For example, the “wonderful, feminist and dark” Hotel Stories do not depict an actual hotel, or a real hotel manager with occasional homicidal tendencies (read them now to learn how to kill someone with a white blouse, or with an iPhone in the hands of an innocent onlooker).

Nor do any of my works of fiction, whether novels or short stories, contain any information which I think might endanger the security of real people.  Indeed, I may lightly morph some descriptions of security procedures, government organisations or layouts of buildings to avoid compromising security.

I hope that’s clear.

P.S. If you enjoy fresh, original writing, feel free to friend me on Facebook or sign up for e-mail updates (top right – see the “click here” blue button).  Check out the range of writing on this site via the sitemap and guide.

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