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Digging for Gold

I came up with a writing joke this week, which made me feel both happy and vindicated (I'll explain why in a minute.)

What part of writing would I be teaching if I put up this slide? 

dire log.JPG

A clue - it's a really very poor piece of timber, wouldn't you say?

Anyway, why did this make me so cheery? 

It's because I was planning the teaching I've got coming up over the summer. And I was going to base much of it on the tried and tested methods I've used before. 

But something wasn't feeling quite right about the work. So I got up for a stretch, happened to glimpse myself in a mirror, and didn't like what I saw. 

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The Privileges of Writing

One of the great privileges of being a writer is how much people are willing to share with you. 

Whether it's discussing a subject they know about, or details of their lives, I've always been surprised how forthcoming they can be. 

Take this example - 

I was sitting in a pub this last week, as I do, staring into space, as I do alot, thinking about something, as I do alot alot, when an older couple politely wandered over for a chat. 

I sensed they had something to share, and the lady produced an iPhone, deftly manipulated it with all the skill of a teenager, and showed me this - 

olDIEs Three.jpg

My capturing of the image isn't great, but it's their wedding day from back in 1959. 

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Skipping Rope Paradigm Shift

One of the breathtaking moments of life can come with a paradigm shift. 

We use it in writing all the time - the bad guy through and through, who turns out to be a hero (think poor old Snape in Harry Potter), or vice versa (The Usual Suspects), or anything similar. 

I had a milder, but still lovely paradigm shift this week courtesy of an unusual inspiration - 

roPE blog.JPG

No, it's not some torture implement I keep handy, before you ask. 

I was doing a bit of throwing out and discovered a skipping rope. Given my attempts to skip at the gym resemble a lame elephant who's had a couple of pints too many, I was going to discard it as well, when...

Inspiration came. 

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A writer's life is all about watching and listening, thinking and feeling. 

I love being an observer of life, but that comes with a drawback. It can get distracting. 

Witness this date I couldn't help but notice in one of my local pubs this week. 

I was trying to get on with some proper work (writing an exercise on dialogue for my teaching this summer), but found the couple next to me far more diverting. 

I won't include a picture this time, for obvious reasons, but thought I'd set out my observations as a list of the good and the bad about the date - 


Good - the couple have unfolded their arms. Bad - it's to start playing on their phones. 

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A New Year Exercise

The turning of a year is often a time for reflection.

So I thought I'd air a brief musing to help - 

I'm fortunate enough to have been invited to do some more teaching of writing in 2017. And one of the courses is going to be on advanced characterisation. 

Here's a simple exercise I plan to include, which works well for writers getting to know their imaginary friends, and for... 

Take your character and consider this - 

What do they hope for from themselves in the coming year?

What do they actually expect?

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