Teaching the teachers

A first in the life of Hall beckons.  I've been asked to do some education work of a type I've never tried before - a case of teaching the teachers.

It's lecturing the education students at Plymouth University.  It's a great privilege to be invited, and I'm flattered.

But, as ever in life, there's a but...

It's also more than a little intimidating. 

These are keen and talented young men and women who are au fait with the ins and outs of all areas of education theory.  They spend three years learning how to be teachers, and know... Read more

A Long Run Up

I'm not thinking about bowling in cricket, or an attempt at a long jump, but the way I deal with major writing projects.

I've been writing the final details of the six talks I'm giving on next month's cruise, and I realised I've now been working on them for almost a year.  Now, that's a long run up!

But such seems to be my way when faced with something new and sizeable to tackle.

I noticed it when I did my first extended spell of teaching of writing, at the wonderful Swanwick Summer School last year.  I started the... Read more

Talking clothes

I had a little wardrobe issue at my talk at the Sherborne Literary Festival today.

First aside of this ramble - thanks to all those who came along for being so kind, and to the organisers for being so effective and excellent.  I had a splendid time.

Right, back to the main point.  This may come as a surprise but I always think carefully about what to wear for a talk.  I never claim to be a master of fashion (an apprentice might be more accurate), but at least I can try.

The balance I try to strike for talks... Read more


"Regrets... I've had a few... but then again... too few to mention..."

Fear not, I don't intend to burst into song on you.  Even via a blog, that would be a cruel and unusual punishment, as I believe the saying goes.

Today I'm thinking of regrets about writing.  Or, more accurately - regrets about not writing.

It's an issue which has come up several times in recent weeks in my chats with aspiring authors.  They very much want to start writing a book they say, but they can't find the time.

I understand the problem. Who wouldn't?  Life is busy. ... Read more


There'a a particular area of that writing I'm very much enjoying at the moment.  Are you now?  Oh, yes.  What's that then?  Well, since you ask...

Yes, it's dialogue.  (And yes, as I can sense you thinking, the World's Funniest Man does indeed strike again.)

I've always just got on and done dialogue without really thinking too hard about it.  It's important, of course, for conveying character, moving a plot along, giving a sense of reality to a book, and for so many other reasons.  But this new tvdetective book is the first time I've stood back and really studied... Read more

Dream thinking

So many times now I've gone to sleep thinking about a problem I need to resolve in a tvdetective book, some teaching work, or a talk.  And so very often I've woken to find I know the answer.

It happened again this morning.  I spent some of last night working on how to communicate a strangeness in a character, without resorting to something obvious like have them running down the street naked apart from their undies, waving the flag of the European Union. 

I was tired and not getting anywhere, so I got fed up with it and put... Read more

The Packing Priorities of a Writer

I'm going shopping this morning, for a large case for next month's cruise.  And it's got me thinking about what I need to take with me.

Socks, pants, shorts... fear not, before you stop reading right here, there's more to this blog than a laundry list. Or I hope there is, anyway.

I was thinking about the priorities of what I need to take.  And I've realised that the first things I pack whenever I go away for a writing event are the tools of the trade, and they're very simple - it's a notepad and pen.  The... Read more

A surprising discovery

I've often said that this writing lark is a fascinating journey of discovery.  Well, that thought has just come upon me again.

I'm doing some teaching of creative writing tomorrow at Cheriton Bishop Primary School in Devon.  Every time I do a session, I like to vary it from the last one, or try something new.  That way I don't get bored, and I can also find out what works well and what doesn't.

Tomorrow, once more I'm going to try something a little different.  But it's different in a samey kind of way.

Perhaps I'd better explain...

I... Read more