Posts Tagged So You Want To Be A Writer

The book or the film? How storytelling differs in prose and live action. Ep 32 FREE podcast for writers

We recorded this episode as the TV-watching world was getting ready for the adaptation of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, from the novel by Susanna Clarke. Straight away, Peter and I were in dispute. Is it ‘NorRELL’ or ‘NORRell’? Nobody has to decide until it’s said out loud.

And that’s one of the key things about seeing a movie or TV show of a favourite book. It’s different from the version in your head.

We had a terrific time discussing dramatisations that weren’t like the original books, in good ways and bad. Some were simplistic. Some were surprisingly faithful to the spirit of the original or took it in a good new direction. We visited Frankenstein, the James Bond novels, Thomas Hardy’s Far From The Madding Crowd, Vertigo, The English Patient, Mash. Did you even know Mash was a novel?

We also deduce some lessons for writers. Storytelling doesn’t work the same across all these media. We unpick some interesting principles.

My co-host is Peter Snell, independent bookseller.

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PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use Bookshop.org. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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Devils for detail – dictionaries, grammar and editing considerations for authors. Ep 31 FREE podcast for writers

This is the pedantry episode! There’s a large part of the bookmaking process that’s about detail. The writer has to pay close attention to factual details or the plot might not work. There are also the details of grammar and spelling. But there isn’t just one correct way, there are subtle variations according to which variety of English you use (US? Canadian?), which dictionary you’re following (Collins? OED? Webster?). What about house style? Each publisher has their own. If you’re indie, you might set your own or discuss it with your editor. What even is house style?

That’s what we’re discussing in today’s episode.

Usually I say that Peter asks the questions and I answer them, but today we are each as opinionated as the other. (Who’s Peter? He’s independent bookseller Peter Snell.)

If you live for this kind of detail, you might also like this post – Love writing? Love the tools of the language.

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use Bookshop.org. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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Live critique – Peter writes a story. Ep 30 FREE podcast for writers

How many times am I allowed to say an episode was a favourite? This is another. Peter gave me the opening few pages of a book he’d been working on and we discussed it. A live developmental critique, editor to writer. Who is this character? Why is this the first thing you want the reader to learn about them? Why did you choose that style?

The Peter is, of course, independent bookseller Peter Snell. The scourging editor is me!

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use Bookshop.org. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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Does a story’s protagonist have to be likable? We discuss! Ep 29 FREE podcast for writers

Does the main character of a story have to be likable or sympathetic? It’s a point that’s frequently raised by writers, readers, editors and critics. But consider this: a story is usually about a person under pressure. And people under pressure don’t always behave well or likably. Because they’re not saints.

On the other hand, they must have something that makes the reader care. So what is that?

We’re discussing that in today’s show. ‘We’, in case you’re wondering, are independent bookseller Peter Snell and moi.

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books (especially my book on characters). If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use Bookshop.org. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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How to run – or join – an authors’ collective. Ep 28 FREE podcast for writers feat @triskelebooks

An authors’ collective is a half-way house between solo self-publishing and a formal publisher. Peter and I were thrilled to secure this interview with two members of Triskele Books (@triskelebooks ), crime author Jill Marsh (JJ Marsh or @JJMarsh1, bottom left ) and designer and author Jane Dixon-Smith (bottom middle).

We bombarded them with questions about how the collective works, what the members do for each other, how they make publishing decisions … and how they fit all the extra duties into their busy lives.

Who’s Peter, you might ask? He’s independent bookseller Peter Snell.

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.


PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use Bookshop.org. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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From fragments we build a book – Ep 27 FREE podcast course for writers

Just before we recorded this episode I’d been chairing a roundtable at a writing conference. I was struck by how our books come together from fragments. Snippets of inspiration and research; structures that reveal themselves in pieces which we join together like a jigsaw puzzle; snatches of voice that suggest characters or perhaps the narrative tone of the entire work; the contributions from beta readers and editors later on; the way we might be pleased with certain parts but have to sweat over others. Books are long haul; they come together from so many directions. This creative process is what we’re talking about in today’s episode.

Asking the questions is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me!

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use Bookshop.org. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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How to write your book – a writing and publishing course in 9 songs. Ep 26 FREE podcast

It was Easter when we transmitted this episode. We were in holiday mood. A time to slacken belts, silence alarm clocks, wind down for a few days. Instead of ploughing into another brow-furrowing discussion about writing and publishing, we thought we’d recap the most important points from the series so far, presented with the music that best summed them up.

Oh all right, it was an excuse for me to spin those tracks again. Here it is, a set of 9 songs to tune up your writing habits.

My co-presenter is independent bookseller Peter Snell.

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use Bookshop.org. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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Hello Earth – questions from a writing and publishing conference – Ep25 FREE podcast for writers

Just before we recorded this episode, I’d been teaching at WriteCon Zurich, run by my friends Jill Marsh and Libby O’Loghlin (who are also the chiefs at The Woolf literary magazine, which you might remember from this post). I’d spent the weekend with published and aspiring authors, all jazzed with one common, noble aim – to get their work from page to bookshelf, into the hands of readers. Back at the bookshop ready to record, I thought that would make a great subject for a show – to recap material we’d already covered, to talk about new and surprising angles we hadn’t yet got round to. And a terrific excuse to begin with Kate Bush’s sublime track Hello Earth. The reason for that will become clear (also, I like Kate Bush).

Asking the questions is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me!

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. If you’d like to support bricks-and-mortar bookstores (US only at present) use Bookshop.org. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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Slipped resolutions! Get your writing back on track – Ep 24 FREE podcast for writers

Oh my! We begin with a different song. And it’s a real treat. I promise.

Why did we begin with a different song? Because we’re talking about routines that have gone awry. Specifically, writing routines. Resolutions that seemed possible and exciting and shiny and life-changing… then didn’t work out. And how to change things up to find a routine that will work for you. So we put our beginning music at the end, and a new song at the beginning. You get the idea. We don’t just throw these shows together.

Most of all, your failed writing routine is the chance to build a much better one that works for your particular needs. Honestly.

Asking the questions is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me!

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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All about ghostwriting and its fringes, including book packagers – Ep 23 FREE podcast for writers

In the last episode, we discussed how to make a writing career out of your special expertise and knowledge. This time we turn to another kind of writing career – writing secretly as other people. Aka ghostwriting. Also, writing for book packagers, which is a junior form of ghostwriting.

You might already know I have a secret past as a ghostwriter. Some might call it murky. There are certain things I’ll admit to, certain things I won’t.

Asking the questions is independent bookseller Peter Snell. Answering them is me! Peter was dead-keen to get me spilling the beans. For years, he’s been looking around his shelves, stroking his beard and wondering which titles I wrote. This episode contains magnificent silences and the sound of tumbleweed. But a lot of info too. If you’re seriously interested in ghostwriting, I also have a professional course.

Stream from the widget below or go to our Mixcloud page and binge the whole lot.

PS If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, find my latest newsletter here and subscribe to future updates here.

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