Tag Archives: Fiction

#Meanwhile… Strong Writing Made Easier

Starting today, I’m going to be devoting Fridays to fellow bloggers I discover on these here internetz. You may not believe it, but sometimes other people have already said it better than me – yup. I know.

So, strap yourselves in, you writerly, readerly bastards, for here’s the first instalment of my #Meanwhile series…

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Writer progress: I am no longer a slush puppy!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been sending short stories out to magazines this year, in the hope of building up a portfolio of credits, not to mention to validate my assertion that “I am a writer”.

You may remember my frustration at receiving so many rejections. But what are rejections, if not slightly painful stabs of encouragement? Rejections are just psychologically damaging bullets of motivation, right? Sure, they hurt, but they drive you to improve.

This is shit – try harder.

Stop sending trash – learn to write.

What the fuck is this? – Go back to school.

REJECTIONS ARE GREAT, SEE?

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The final Act, and the temptation to flee

Writing is like a salsa; for as many steps forward you make, there are as many back, but every once in a while you get to do a spin or a flourish, and those stay with you. They’re the good bits.So it is with me; I bear good news, with bad news, but my catalogue of narrative pirouettes thankfully continues to grow.

The good news? I’ve reached the final act of my novel, Citadel. It’s taken a long time to get to this point, a lot of forward motion, but with almost as much backtracking. Aside from a manuscript of around 105,000 words, I have documents of cut scenes and entire plot lines that amount to 80,000 words. That is a staggering amount of editing. And it sounds like a colossal waste of time, right? Still: FINAL ACT people. That is good news.

The bad news is I’m finding it difficult to wrap it up. I’ve escalated the peril to such a degree, all seems lost, as it should by the end of Act 4. But closing it out and reaching a neat conclusion is proving a challenge.

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Head hopping – that most derided of narrative blunders

When I was about six years old, one thing scared me above all others – watching my brother play Aliens on the Commodore 64. It was terrifying, and I remember it vividly to this day. Sure, the graphics don’t exactly cut the mustard these days, but in 1988, it was the stuff of nightmares.

Two things about that game got me hiding behind furniture. The first was the sound of the motion tracker beeping quietly when an alien was nearby, rising to a continuous klaxon when one was in sight, as my brother panicked to move the cross-hair over the attacking monster.

But whenever I mustered the courage to have a go myself, it was the game’s central mechanic that got my skin tingling with fear. The player takes control of Ripley and the marines Hicks, Gorman, Vasquez, as well as the android Bishop and heartless corporate stooge Burke, all at the same time. Not that the characters had specific traits. They were just conduits for terror.

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This is a writing blog, this is a writing blog, this is a writing blog…

It’s been more than a month since I last posted anything on this blog, and that’s because I’ve been too angry to adequately form a response to my compatriots’ collective decision to leave the European Union. I’ve been making my thoughts perfectly clear on Twitter, so I’ll leave it at that. I just can’t…

So! In an effort to break this writer’s block down and rebuild, I’m going to avoid politics, socio-political grievances and the surge of rampant racism, and JUST TALK ABOUT ME.

That may sound self-absorbed – and it is. But honestly, I’ve written a few articles I could have posted, but didn’t because they’d all descended into total despair at the world. I mean look at us: from the shootings in the States, to mass murder in France, Germany and Japan, bombings in Syria, Somalia and Iraq, political “cleansing” in Turkey – for fuck’s sake, we’re putting dystopian writers out of work.

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12 top tips for wannabe writers

People often approach me and say, “Hey, Tim, you’re a hugely successful though inexplicably unpublished author; have you got any tips for us lowly writers who’ve yet to achieve your level of uncompromising genius?”

It’s flattering, sure. But, genuinely, I empathise. It might sound self-deprecating, but even I was once a snivelling novice like you.

So, to that end, I’ve compiled some of my favourite writing tips, for those writers who spend most of their time reading writing tips other than actually writing. Learn them… and write your masterpiece!

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Dialogue tags, action beats and punctuation – a quick guide

Among the most debated topics in the writing community – aside from the Oxford comma, of course – is the humble dialogue tag. I’m not going to say which method I prefer, because I like a mixture. But I am going to show you how to punctuate them properly – I’m a sub-editor by trade, after all.

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Rejections are my hubris-humbling chums – but that’s enough now

I must have read it a thousand times: “You’re a writer if you write.”

For the most part, it’s true, if a little self-serving. Yes, we writers belong to a little club, whose only membership requirement is that you jot your vacuous thoughts down in word form. But there’s something missing, isn’t there? The other half of the writer’s symbiotic relationship.

A writer needs readers.

Suddenly the statement “You’re a writer if you write” seeks to obfuscate the fact you’ve failed to get published. Now there’s a worthy milestone.

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Dead ends – and how to rescue your characters from them

Sometimes, we writers can be a heinous bunch. We give birth to our characters, write life into them, give them hopes and dreams, and send them out into a world that we loveingly created just for them; only to dash their hopes, torment their dreams and torture them hideously until they are forced to change in order to cope.

The problem comes when we’re too mean to them. It’s not uncommon for a writer to lead their characters into a trap from which it appears impossible to escape. Then what?

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Fiction is hell

Fiction is hell.

Not one word will seep from my pitiful brain on to this accursed page. I don’t have a single idea worth the spirit-sapping monotony of 12pt Courier. My paragraphs are formatted to double-spaced lines, but you couldn’t tell – you’d need two lines.

Utter dejection.

It was all going so well. I’d read about creative writing; I even did a course.

Back then I was happy, naïve. Everything seemed sprinkled with potential; every real-life encounter manifested an event to be mastered; in every sunrise shone the promise of perfect prose.

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