Saturday, 31 January 2015

Where do your ideas come from?

I am interested in writers’ inspiration.
For some writers, stories always start with a place, somewhere that strikes them  so forcibly that the story unfolds around them.
Other writers start with a character, someone so interesting, so intriguing that they can almost tell the story on their own.
Some begin with the story itself, an idea inspired by a newspaper snippet, something someone says, a sudden sense of what if?
Some write for additional reasons, to get a point over, to add to our knowledge of the world or to make us think about an issue in a different way.
Whatever your motivation - and there will be many others - one thing is certain: if it drives you to sit down in front of that computer or lift up that pen, its got to be worth writing about.
So what sparks your imagination?
You can tell us at our Facebook site
www.facebook.com/inscribemedia
 
John Dean

The golden rules of writing


Here are my golden rules for writing.

* Consider the reader - do not write for yourself, always write for the reader.

* Be disciplined - you may wish to pack lots of information in but does the reader need it?

* You may not have put enough information in - you can imagine where a scene is set but have you given the reader the information they need? You may have drawn a character but can your readers see them?

* Be brutal - if you have overwritten, chop out the fat.

So what are your golden rules? You can tell us at our Facebook site www.facebook.com/inscribemedia

John Dean

Who is your favourite fictional detective?


Apparently, Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin is penning another Rebus story, his fourth  comeback since the curmudgeonly investigator closed his first final case in Exit Music in 2007.

This delights me as Rebus is my favourite modern detective (Sherlock Holmes is the greatest of all time in for me) but which is your favourite all-time fictional detective?
You can tell us at our Facebook site
www.facebook.com/inscribemedia

John Dean

Friday, 30 January 2015

Good review for Cyber Rules


You can read this terrific review (and buy the e-book) of the taut novel Cyber Rules by Myra King at  http://www.amazon.com/Cyber-Rules-Myra-King-ebook/dp/B007Y67772

The novel by Australian writer Myra tells the story of a farmer’s wife in isolated rural Australia. Caught up on the addictive side of the Internet, she holds a secret which may prove to be deadly

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Why e-books are here to stay

The subject of e-books can spark fierce debate – are they ‘proper’ books? I have heard people suggest that they are not ‘proper’ because they are not physical items, although you hear such comments less and less as it becomes clear that this is no flash in the pan.
Personally, I love hardcopy books and I love e–books (some of my own works are hardcopy and e-books and my company also publishes some authors ourselves using the technology) and for me each is as legitimate as the other. What's more, e-books are allowing some brilliant new talent the chance to be published for the first time.
But for me, the clincher is stats like this one: AllBrain's recent survey of the Italian book market estimates that Italian e-book sales nearing €60 million and due to grow 30-40% in 2015.
If that’s where the market is, then so must be the book…
 
John Dean
 

Supporting writers


Novelist John Dean is running an online mentoring and writing workshops programme for aspiring authors.

John, who is based in Darlington, in County Durham, North East England, and has had twelve crime novels published by Robert Hale, of London, is a co-director of Inscribe Media Limited, which is running the programmes.

John, who also runs creative writing courses in Darlington, said: “Writing can be a lonely pastime and our programmes help writers tackle some of the many challenges that it throws up.

“We focus on major issues, such as how a story hangs together, what characters are doing or could be doing, what is hurting a story’s momentum and what story elements are not pulling their weight.

“We identify the differences between good and great writing and point out an author’s strengths and weaknesses so that they become more confident.

“We help authors establish good processes and writing goals and suggest markets for their work.”

The programme includes long-term mentoring and short writing courses.


You can also access a free downloadable writing guide at www.inscribemedia.co,uk and find free tips on the blog at the site.

John can be contacted at deangriss@btinternet.com

 

So how do you write a good short story?


 So how do you write a good short story? Here’s some thoughts
 

Rules of the short story

The best stories are the ones that follow a fairly narrow subject line: too many plotlines and you end up with a novel!

An effective short story often covers a very short time span. It may be one single episode that proves pivotal in the life of the character.

Don't have too many characters. Each new character will bring a new dimension to the story, and too many diverse dimensions dilute the theme. Have only enough characters to effectively tell the story.

Make every word count. There is no room for unnecessary expansion in a short story. If each word is not working towards putting across the story, delete it.


Beginning your short story

However you start your story, the beginning should have The Question, something that hooks your reader. You need to grab them from those first lines.

One way do to this is intrigue the reader. For instance, “Bill Bloggs was dead” may give the end away but the readers wants to find out why he died and if he deserved it.

The dropped introduction can also work: “Betty was a pleasant woman. She would do anything for anyone. Everyone liked old Betty. A true angel, they used to say. Which was why it was such a shock when she was killed by a Mafia hitman.”

There is another way of hooking readers, in which the writer can draw us in with the sheer quality of their writing, as in books like Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee.

Whatever you do, remember that all stories begin in the middle - the people you write about have already plenty of history. What you are doing is catapulting the reader into their life.

 

 

The middle of the story

The middle is there to keep the story going, fill in gaps, create tension and allow the story to develop but it should only be as long as if needed, not overwritten or underwritten.

Write your short story in a series of episodes, maybe only a few lines long. Short stories are a series of small chapters, maybe only a few lines but representing a development in the story.

This requires really effective writing because, whereas in a novel you might have eight or nine pages to recount an incident, that luxury simply does not exist in a short story.

If you take our competition, our limit for a story is 2,000 words. Sounds a lot but not if you let your episodes run too long.

So, how do you achieve such tight writing? Well, it might be that you describe a location in a line rather than a paragraph, produce only sparing details of your character or recount a conversation in four snatches of dialogue rather than a page.

Many winning short story authors in competitions around the world have been those who achieved such effective writing.

All of this is not to say that when you write a novel, you can waffle on to your hearts content. Indeed, the disciplines of short story writing can be invaluable when you tackle a novel. Whatever you write, every word must do its job. its a good mantra to live by.

 

The end of the story

There are all sorts of ways of ending a short story but the most popular is some kind of twist, something that startles the reader, or perhaps makes sense of the rest of the story.  On the other hand, you may go for a poignant ending.

There is also a growing trend for stories that simply stop.

Any of these is fine: the really important thing is that you do it well.

 

John Dean

Seven stories


Continuing the subject of ideas from my last post, the theory is that there are only a small number of stories to be told - the children’s writing centre on Tyneside, here in the North East of England, is called Seven Stories because that is the number of children’s stories, apparently.

It is the same theory as racehorses - that ever racehorse in the world is related to just three bloodlines.

What makes writing endlessly fascinating is the way writers take those stories and tell and re-tell them, infusing them with their own passions and style, giving them their own original twists and their own personal insight.

John Dean

The power of ideas


I am interested in where writers’ ideas come from.

One of my big messages in my teaching is that writing has two sides -  technical (most writers can string words together in a competent fashion) and added value - the emotions, images, the concepts, that make what would be otherwise 'competent' writing jump off the page.

So where does that added value come from? Strong characters will provide it, yes, vivid description, of course, but also the power of the idea. Come up with a strong idea and it will take you a long way because the reader keeps thinking ‘that’s clever.’

So the question is where do your ideas come from?
 
 

You can give your experience over at our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/inscribemedia

John Dean

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

A touch of the real stuff


I am always struck by the way that writers from different countries hone in on strong human stories when they tell their stories. It does not matter where they are writing, or what culture shapes their work, authors come back time and time again to real people and real stories.

This makes me recall my late father, Stan, because he was the one who taught me that drawing from reality informs writing. He always told me when I was a teenager that I should write about what I know. Because I was a bolshy teenager, I did not listen for many years but Dad was absolutely right, of course.

I certainly draw on my experiences as a writer. I find that having gone through an experience, or seen others go through it, helps me to bring a sense of reality to my writing.

But why does that matter? Well, if we are to truly draw our readers into our stories, they have to feel the reality of the situation. That’s what the best of our short story entrants do time after time after time.

And, yes I know that writers can create fictional scenarios without ever having experienced them. Yes, I know that they make them work through the power of their imagination. And yes, I know that science fiction writers have never been to Neptune and fantasy writers have never conversed with gnomes (well, most of them anyway).

But even in those imagined scenarios, what shines through is the writers’ ability to draw on real life, real people, real characteristics, real situations.

It really is a simple maxim: write about what you know because if you believe it, the reader will believe it.

So, thanks Dad.

John Dean

Why is there a rhinoceros in the living room?


On the subject of beginnings, one sure-fire way of starting a good short story is to pose a question in those first few lines, something that makes you want to read on.
Why is the person in that situation, what are they nervous about, what are they about to discover, what ordeal are they about to experience, why is there a rhinoceros in their living room?
Or perhaps it is a few lines about a character who immediately intrigues us. We have all walked into a room and found our eyes drawn to one person in particular and found ourselves wondering what they are like. Writing is like that and a good way of starting stories is to draw the reader’s eyes to your character in a way that makes us want to read more.
Or perhaps, neither of the above fits your writing style. Perhaps it is simply a piece of descriptive writing that is so wonderful, so evocative, so beautifully crafted that your reader simply has to experience more of it.
Whichever option you choose, there is one golden rule on which we can all agree. Don’t bore us in those first few lines - grab us at the start and you’ve won the first battle.

John Dean

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Show not tell

There is a growing debate within writing circles about what has become known as ‘show and tell’.
No, this is not about small children excitedly showing scabby things found on the beach to their classmates, rather an important writing technique.
The argument goes like this: for you to truly engage your reader, you must dispense with reported action (tell) and make them feel that they are there when the action is actually happening (show).
As I have developed my own writing, I have focused more and more on that theme because in some of my early work, I had a tendency to distance the reader from the action by telling them what had happened instead of allowing it to unfold in front of their eyes. Now, I hope that the reader feels part of what is happening.
And it matters because if you fail to draw your reader into the story, your tale will lack something, an immediacy, a sense of drama, a sense of narrative.
How do you do it? I think it comes back an image that I use time and time again when I teach creative writing classes: reach out a hand to your reader and say ‘come into my world, walk alongside me, let’s discover together.’ Do that and they are hooked.


John Dean

TIght and bright


As a writer, I am interested in the idea of flash fiction and the way it can help writers specialising in other formats.

Flash fiction, as I am sure you all know, is very short writing: some stories can be as short as six words, even less.

I know that flash fiction is not for everyone but I believe it does have applications if you are writing short stories because of the way it concentrates the mind.

It might be that you are tempted to spend two or three paragraphs describing a place or a person. That could well be fine but how much better in a short story if you can do it in a single line? Why much better? Because it leaves you those other paragraphs to take your story on.

I am one of those writers with split opinions about flash fiction. I like the idea of novels - after all, I write them - in which writers have the time and space to develop their themes, where you can devote half a page to describing something if the story requires it, but I can also see the advantage of an economical way of writing as promoted by the supporters of flash fiction.

Even though my novels run to 65-000-70,000 words, I have increasingly embraced the idea of economy, taking out words, lines, paragraphs, sections, extraneous material, all in the interest of creating a sense of pace and focus.

In my early years as a newspaperman, I worked with a news editor, who was also a much-respected poet in his spare time. Barry MacSweeney’s mantra when his young reporters came to write their stories was ‘keep it tight and bright.’  It’s a useful mantra to bear in mind when writing fiction as well.

 

John Dean


 

Getting it right from the beginning

One of my students came up with a cracking first line the other day and it got me thinking about one of my favourite topics.
A busy and harassed judge/editor/agent reads so much that anything that makes them notice you has got to be good. Compelling, gripping, intriguing, it has to get the reader interested.
I went back to some of my favourite examples taken from the top 100 of a recent poll of all-time great openings.
* Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. —Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
* It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984
* It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
* I am an invisible man. —Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
* Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested. —Franz Kafka, The Trial
* If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. —J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
Each one draws you into the story right from the off. Do that and you have given yourself a great chance of success, assuming your story lives up to the promise of the opening lines, of course!
 
 
John Dean

The unreliable narrator

I am teaching a course part of which focuses on the unreliable narrator, a character who tells the readers in first person a story that the reader cannot take at face value. This may be because the point of view character is mentally unwell, lying, deluded or for any number of other reasons.
The technique has been used for many centuries but only became known as such in the 1960s and is a really powerful one to play around with.
Sometimes, the narrator is unreliable by the nature of the character, such terrible people that they cannot tell their stories objectively and resort instead to lies and deceit.
There is another type of unreliable narrator. This narrator is unreliable due to having incomplete or incorrect information although initially neither the narrator nor the readers is aware of this.
Or the unreliable narrator may simply be deluded, suffering perhaps from an illness which clouds judgement (dementia is becoming a popular theme for many writers).
All are terrific techniques but there are dangers in using the unreliable narrator. For a start, readers do not always understand that a narrator is unreliable.
To counter that, the unreliability of the narrator can be gradually revealed as part of the resolution. It is important to plant clues along the way to ensure that the reader understands and perceives the situation in a way the writer does not.
How can a writer do this? There are a number of ways, including showing the reactions of other characters, telling us that all is not as it seems.
Although usually, the unreliability of the narrator is gradually revealed, some writers opt for a revelation at the end which shocks the reader.
 
John Dean

Monday, 26 January 2015

Enjoy our ebooks

We have published seven ebooks, including

Harry’s Torment by Michael Beck Set in the fictional east coast port of Thirlston and centred on the heroin trade.   Unlike some other crime novels this is not a ‘who done it’ as we very soon discover identity of the local drugs baron. We see how the officers try to piece together various bits of information in their pursuit of him and how he attempts to stay one step ahead of them.

Lost Souls by Roger Barnes When young women start to go missing in Africa, the kidnappers warn not to investigate but the police do and the women’s hideously mutilated bodies are returned. After that the investigations are stopped and a continuing flow of traumatised victims are returned alive, having being used in the most brutal and degrading ways

Cyber Rules by Myra King. The novel by Australian writer Myra tells the story of a farmer’s wife in isolated rural Australia. Caught up on the addictive side of the Internet, she holds a secret which may prove to be deadly

Global Shorts - an anthology of short stories taken from the early years of the Global Short Competition

Vegemite Whiskers - a selection of some of the finest writing from Australian authors who have entered the Global Short Story Competition


White Gold by Roger Barnes A thriller by first-time author Roger Barnes taking the reader into a world of intrigue and danger set amid the poachers of Africa

Haghir the Dragon Finder by John Dean, a comic fantasy for older children.  Haghir and his hopeless comrades are dragon slayers seeking a new challenge           

All can be obtained by keying their titles into the search field of the Kindle shop at www.amazon.co.uk  Australian readers will have to purchase via Amazon US at www.amazon.com

If you don’t have a Kindle, there is a free Kindle reading app for your PC at 

You can find out more about us at www.inscribemedia.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Mentoring and workshops


Inscribe Media runs authors’ mentoring programmes and writing workshops.  More information on this can also be found at http://www.inscribemedia.co.uk/writing-courses---bespoke-mentoring.html

Now there's a funny thing


There’s an old saying that if you are not a humorous person, don’t try to write humour.

Well, it is only part-true. It is certainly the case that a straight-laced, humourless person might well struggle to write side-splitting comedy but if you are an author, that might not be a good enough excuse.

Why? Because humour is vital to creating good fiction. Even if you are not writing an out-and-out comic piece, humour has a role to perform.

For a start, it can create light against the dark. Take an example: you are writing a sinister piece with the tension building as the tale unfolds. You might decide to keep the tension going right to the end, which would be one way of writing it.

However, you might decide that a flash of humour, a single line of dialogue by a character, could momentarily ease the tension, cause the reader to relax slightly, and provide an even greater impact when you suddenly strike with the next piece of drama, or horror or fear. Ghost and horror writers know that trick well - they are past masters at toying with their readers.

Humour also works well with novels because a relentlessly heavy theme in a story can benefit immensely from the odd break for something a little lighter.

There is another good reason for using humour in your writing because it reveals things about your character and can show another side to them that the reader might not have seen before. Or it can reveal in a brief conversation the depth of two people’s relationship.

And it does not need to be side-splitting humour, that is not the intention: it has other roles to perform.

As one critique of the great William Shakespeare said: “Humour is a tool that allows us to see the subtle details of their minds; a glimpse at the inner workings of each character’s personality. It is through the humour that Shakespeare employs that we are able to see “roundness” in characters that could be otherwise doomed to exist as “flat” characters. Shakespeare uses humour to give his players new life, to help them expand beyond the bounds of mere characters and turn into real people.”

And look how well he did!

John Dean

Grabbing the reader

As mentioned in previous blogs, opening lines are crucial in story competitions and first chapters going to publishers because you need to do something to grab a judge’s attention straight away.
A number of writers go for openings that start quickly, no slow-burns but statements or scenarios that grasp the reader immediately.
When you have grabbed the attention, it is you alone who can lose it. Yes, over the years I have read great beginnings followed by awful stories and yes, I have read great stories with less-than-impressive beginnings (there is a real art form to stories which start slowly then deliver the punch in the final sentence).
But I have also read great stories with great beginnings, stories that grabbed the attention from the first words and did not let it go.
So worth spending plenty of time getting that first line right.

 
John Dean

Indian writing


As mentioned before, the latest stats for our site shows that we get plenty of Indian writers reading the blog.

Indian storytelling blends some beguiling elements. On the one side is the ability of the Indian writers to use the rich and bustling surroundings of the country’s cities and villages as backdrops for their stories.

I have always valued a strong sense of place as an important part of writing - I know there are debates about how much detail you give - and Indian writers have plenty to work with in the country’s crowded streets, vibrant cities and stunning landscapes.

They can also draw on a host of remarkable characters, men and women who provide rich material for authors seeking inspiration.

Indian storytelling is also noted for its sense of the mystical and the spiritual. Of course, not every Indian writer takes advantage of this but those that do use it to give their stories an added frisson.

So, all in all, delighted to have India on board with us.

John Dean

Icelandic writers


Some friends of ours are going to Iceland on holiday this year. This reminds me of a superb tour of the island that my family took several years ago. Easy to see why its writers are so inspired by such a beautiful place.

As a crime writer, it also interests me because Iceland loves its crime writing and its crime writers. 
It is one of the hotbeds of creative crime writing, helped by the winter darkness which allows writers to create a distinctive feel to their work.
It is a further reminder of the way surroundings influence writers.

 

John Dean

Storytelling

I am part of the team that co-ordinates the Darlington Arts Festival (more at www.darlingtonforculture.org), part of which involves working with storytellers.
For all storytelling can be a different art form, more performance that writing, there are, of course, a great many affinities with the writing of fiction.
There is the creation of characters and places, of pace and tension, of evoking strong emotions in the reader/listener, of leaving people changed even if only in a small way. Both a storyteller and an author would regard that as job done.
I tried my hand at storytelling a few years ago. I was a real novice and relied on notes the first time I did it. The kids were ok but I felt it lacked something so I threw away the piece of paper and next time just winged it and let the stories tell themselves. It was a liberating experience. Mind, I was never asked back!
John Dean

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Shortcuts


As a writer, I love the little touches - the acute observations of a room, the way a place smells, the way a person walks, what they are doing as they talk. They are important for helping the reader become involved in your story.

I know some writers would argue that you can get away without them,  that the story is all and everything else slows it down, but my view is that these kind of details are important.

I think they are particularly useful in a short story because you do not have a lot of  space to play with and you are constantly seeking shortcuts to get your ideas over.

That is where the little things come in handy: if your character says something to another person who then turns away and does not reply, busying themselves clearing the dirty dishes from the table instead, then in just a few lines you can speak volumes.

John Dean

Viewpoints


Writers must make a major decision before they start writing: which viewpoint?

Most authors go for the conventional third person approach in the past tense. It is my natural instinct, too. I like it because it means I am standing above the action in the role of nebulous narrator.

I can look down and draw attention to events happening in various places, creating tension and variety.

Many writers tell the story from one character’s viewpoint and there is a very strong argument that such an approach is the best one, particularly for short stories, that you simply do not have the space to develop different viewpoints.

But is that necessarily the case? As a novelist I use several viewpoints but can it work for short stories when space is so tight? I think so.

I often use the example of an aspiring writer which whom I once worked. He told a story of a fishing vessel in wartime. It was moored in a bay when round the corner came a U-Boat. There followed a scene of drama as the attack was told from the crew’s viewpoint. Very nicely written it was, too.

But how much better, I contended, if the scene had been written rather like a film, flicking from viewpoint to viewpoint: a scene with the crew mooring up, a scene with U-boat appearing on the horizon, out of their view but seen to us as readers, then flicking between the scenes, contrasting the crew’s happy banter with the U-Boat crew’s  deadly intent, until they came together for the climax of the story?

Other stories go for first person, still telling their stories in the past tense. Telling stories that way does give a certain intimacy to the writing, and encourages a more personal way of storytelling in many ways. Trouble is, unless you provide other first persons you are rather restricted to what ‘I’ experiences.

Then there are stories that make use of either first person or third person but tell their tales in the current tense. Don’t be put off by the fact that this is footballers’ favourite technique, along with plenty of cliches - ‘Billy slings the ball over to me and I leaps like a salmon and nods it, wallop, into the old onion bag” - this also can be very effective, giving the reader the strong impression that events are happening here and now.

And which one is right? Anyone who has been reading my blogs, or talked to an author, or attended a creative writing class will know that there is no right, no wrong. If it works as a technique for you, use it.

John Dean

Indian fiction


The latest stats for our site shows that we get plenty of Indian writers reading the blog.

Indian storytelling blends some beguiling elements. On the one side is the ability of the Indian writers to use the rich and bustling surroundings of the country’s cities and villages as backdrops for their stories.

I have always valued a strong sense of place as an important part of writing - I know there are debates about how much detail you give - and Indian writers have plenty to work with in the country’s crowded streets, vibrant cities and stunning landscapes.

They can also draw on a host of remarkable characters, men and women who provide rich material for authors seeking inspiration.

Indian storytelling is also noted for its sense of the mystical and the spiritual. Of course, not every Indian writer takes advantage of this but those that do use it to give their stories an added frisson.

So, all in all, delighted to have India on board with us.

John Dean

Gripping the reader


I am always struck by the way many writers are drawn to the very toughest of times in people’s lives.

I am always gripped when I read writing like that. Sometimes, you read a story and think, good set up, decent writing and yet something is missing. Something essential.

For me, if you are going to tackle a tough subject - serious illness, death, betrayal, separation - the best writing is the writing in which the author plunges him or herself deep into the action and drags the reader with them whether the reader wants to go or not.

John Dean

Friday, 23 January 2015

Creating intrigue and tension

Good short stories and novels are often by writers that have a keen understanding of the need to intrigue the reader by creating tension.
Intrigue works in various ways and it is an important tool if your reader is going to stick with your work.
One way of creating intrigue is something in your early lines, something that makes you sit up and want to read more. It is called The Question and it lifts the start of a story into something special. Catching the reader’s attention is crucial and a good early question does the job beautifully.
But there is another, more subtle way, and done right it can be very effective. But, for the writer, it comes with a gamble.
The idea is that, in the middle of ‘straightforward’ narrative, you drop in something, sometimes just a line, sometimes just a word, but something that nags away at the reader. Maybe they missed it first time around then go back to check.
It is like having a conversation with a friend who suddenly says: “Of course, there’s that other thing that has been worrying me.” At first hearing you might miss it but within seconds you are going back to the line and saying “Thing, what thing?”
 
John Dean

Writing support programme


Novelist John Dean is running an online mentoring and writing workshops programme for aspiring authors.

John, who is based in Darlington, in County Durham, North East England, and has had twelve crime novels published by Robert Hale, of London, is a co-director of Inscribe Media Limited, which is running the programmes.

John, who also runs creative writing courses in Darlington, said: “Writing can be a lonely pastime and our programmes help writers tackle some of the many challenges that it throws up.

“We focus on major issues, such as how a story hangs together, what characters are doing or could be doing, what is hurting a story’s momentum and what story elements are not pulling their weight.

“We identify the differences between good and great writing and point out an author’s strengths and weaknesses so that they become more confident.

“We help authors establish good processes and writing goals and suggest markets for their work.”

The programme includes long-term mentoring and short writing courses.


You can also access a free downloadable writing guide at www.inscribemedia.co,uk and find free tips on the blog at the site.

John can be contacted at deangriss@btinternet.com

Facebook


If you wish, you can offer your thoughts on the at of writing our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/inscribemedia

Being different


I have always thought - and I know I will be shot down for this in some quarters - that writers view the world differently.

Talking to writers certainly bears that out, though, the way a word, a phrase, an image, an idea can create a train of thought that evolves into a story.

I was talking to a writer the other day and he told how a line he used in a conversation triggered something deep within and produced a story that did very well in a competition.

Never is the writing process more pronounced, in my view, than when writers take something ordinary, routine, part of our daily lives, and present it in a way that is somehow different.

Saving the short story


I came across an interesting article on the BBC website the other day. It relates to their BBC National Short Story Award. Part of the article was quotes from celebrities about the importance of the short story in the modern world. Reading the comments makes for encouraging reading.

BBC Radio 4 broadcaster James Naughtie, who has acted chair of the judging panel, said: “The short story is still a writer's opportunity that offers something distinct and exciting. The best of them are alive with passion, perfectly crafted to make every word count and beautiful artefacts that can't be pulled apart. They are also tales for our time. A short story can sit happily on the ear, and on the page, on your phone, or your screen; it travels well and it fits into even the busiest life.“
Di Speirs, well known as BBC Radio Editor Readings and another panel judge, said: “Five years ago, there was a very real sense that the short story form was endangered. Year on year since, we have seen a resurgence of interest and commitment to the form from readers and listeners, and from publishers and authors. More published collections are crossing my desk and every year a broader church of writers recognise and respond to the unique appeal and deceptive simplicity of short fiction.”

Very true - we are indeed seeing a renaissance in the short story as people realise that, like a endangered animal, it would be a disaster if it disappeared.

John Dean

Open mic night


The Open Mic night for authors season continues on Thursday January 29.
The nights, supported by Darlington for Culture and which offer a forum for writers to read their material and audiences to enjoy it, run at Voodoo Café/Cantina, 84 Skinnergate, Darlington, on the last Thursday of the month. Each session starts at 7pm and the cost of entry is £3 paid on the door.
More information is available from Inscribe Media Limited at deangriss@btinternet.com
 
John Dean

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Rules of dialogue

A few thoughts on dialogue, which should mimic the rules of conversation
 
* A lot of the time, we do not speak in correct sentences/we often use short sharp phrases.

* Keep your dialogue crisp - we can tell a lot about a person in a short snap of conversation.

* We interrupt a lot.

* We assume a lot. Not Your brother has been murdered.

What, my brother Brian?

Yes, thats him. Your only brother. The younger one. The one with the brown hair. Keep it realistic.

* Dialogue must take the story on. Only write small talk if you need to, ie showing how tedious a person can be. If you dont need it, dont write it. Make sure each word does a job.

* Do not pack dialogue with extraneous information. Dont write like this:

‘I saw William, although everyone calls him Bill, my neighbour of ten years in Acacia Avenue, in Darlington, and observed that he was his normal glum self, to which we - that is my wife, Edith, and I - have grown accustomed in the weeks since his wife left him for a younger man and filed for divorce. I assumed that the darkness which seems to have assailed him since then has not lifted. If you need to slot in that information, find a way of doing it more subtly: ie Saw Bill this morning. His usual gloomy self. The divorce really has knocked him backwards.’
Whatever you, it has to sound real
 
John Dean