Why is it that some writers need a series to tell a story while others take only a single volume? How do you know how many books it will take to tell your story? The answer is different for every writer, but for me, the key to writing a series is understanding why it needs…

A friend emailed me after reading The Last City (the first book in the Demon War Chronicles) ‘good but where’s the sex?’ The same friend emailed me after reading The Forgotten City (the second book) with ‘still good, but where’s the sex??’ And she was right. There were some brief mentions of it in The…

THE second act. It makes up over fifty percent of your novel, and it’s frequently the source of greatest conflict and character growth. Get it right, and it will be the beating heart of your book, providing the context that gives your climax in the third act meaning. Get it wrong, and your book will feel…

WRITING a scene involving a cyclone shouldn’t be that hard, should it? I’d witnessed a few after all. One of them while on my father’s boat in Hong Kong, with my mum, who couldn’t swim. Cyclones provide terror, anticipation, awful sounds. Tearing tree limbs, howling winds, smashing glass – all delicious sensory backdrops for various characters…

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…

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