ONE of the greatest difficulties when writing convincingly well-rounded characters is maintaining a willingness to observe rather than shape their personalities. This concept can be difficult to grasp. Writers are by necessity crafting their work, so why would we step back to allow a character to develop in scene, as opposed to guiding the reader to…

I expect many people begin the writing of a memoir by looking through old photos. Pictures, after all, belong in the past, and they hold out the promise of delivering it to us again: everyone is younger, surrounded by yesterday’s world, a moment fixed in time. Even the size of the photo paper and printing…

THERE is a scene in my first novel, The Running Man, that ended up being one of my favourite moments in the book. It concerns a minor character called Mrs Mossop. The strange thing is, it was a scene that I hadn’t planned to write. In The Running Man a shy, fourteen year old boy named…

We define poetry as the unofficial view of being. ~ Wallace Stevens You don’t need to be inspired to write a poem. You need to reach down and touch the thing that’s boiling inside of you and make it somehow useful. ~ Audre Lorde Poetry is an economic, expressive and effective means to bear witness to the…

EVERYONE writes books in different ways. But sometimes, if you’re stuck or unsure, it can help to look at another writer’s process and steal the bits that you think might work for you. With that in mind, I’ve outlined my writing process here—it’s the process I’ve used to write all four of my books so it…

DEBRA ADELAIDE once described, in her grave, quiet voice, the exquisite pain of rushing towards the end of a book to find out what happens, while at the same time delaying it for as long as possible so as to remain in the story. I was unsurprised, a few days ago, to find myself digging my…

I’VE met hundreds of people who tell me they’d like to write a book. But most of them never do. The first thing I always ask my writing students is: ‘Do you want to be the person who has tried to write a book, or the person who always looks back on the idea of…

I AM working on a new short story this week. About a fortnight ago, I finished one to enter in a competition. I don’t know what this week’s story is about, since I’m figuring it out as I go. At least half the time, I learn what a story is about, like many writers do, in…

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