Writing tips

Windgat - an interview with Dugald Macdonald 1

Windgat – an interview with Dugald Macdonald

In a wonderfully frank interview that’s not at all windgat, Dugald talks about getting the idea for his book, researching it, writing it, and watching it become a bestseller. Most importantly, he’s got interesting things to say about the writing process. So Dugald, after being turned down by five publishers you have gone on to …

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Food for thought 4 2

Food for thought 4

Food for thought: Well, not food at all but drink. Because, let’s face it, there’s a lot of drinking that happens in novels. I really like associating my characters with a type of drink and often the brand too. It adds to characterisation. In the series with Fish and Vicki, Fish goes for IPAs, particularly …

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Searching for Sarah 3

Searching for Sarah

Lawyer, writer, blogger. Dominique Malherbe is a name to be reckoned with. I’ve known her for a number of years and watched her reputation grow. And now comes her biography/memoir, Searching for Sarah (from Tafelberg). It’s her third book, following two memoirs  – From Courtrooms to Cupcakes and Somewhere in Between. But memoirs are one …

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Food for thought 3 4

Food for thought 3

Food for thought: it’s a touchy subject cannibalism because if anything speaks of extreme characterisation (Hannibal Lecter, for instance) then it is those characters who eat other characters. I came across this issue while writing Power Play. I was using Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus as the vague outline for a plot. As you know, there’s a …

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The writing process 4 5

The writing process 4

The writing process can get off to a slow start. You might wander around for hours, days, weeks, trying to find a way into your story. So, with the Writing Reality course a week away, a good topic is the agony of the beginning. Let’s assume you’ve done the research, transcribed your voice recordings, organised …

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The writing process 3 6

The writing process 3

Two weeks ago (in The Writing process 1), I quoted extensively from John McPhee’s excellent book, Draft No. 4 , about the writing process in general. This week, for those keen to join the WriteOnline Writing Reality course on 29 March, I thought it an especially good time to tap the brain of John McPhee …

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The writing process 2 7

The writing process 2

With the start of the WriteOnline Writing Fiction course next week, I thought it a good idea to talk about an essential aspect of the writing process: characters. We all know that characters make novels: think, Oliver Twist, Mrs Dalloway, Molly Bloom, John Rebus, Pilgermann, Sethe, Piggy. We remember those novels by their characters; possibly …

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The writing process 1 8

The writing process 1

It’s never too late to learn, especially when it comes to the writing process. From my start-out days, I’ve had a copy of E M Forster’s Aspects of the Novel, which every novelist should read, at my elbow. More lately, I’ve been reading books on the writing process by contemporary authors. These books are hugely …

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Writing fiction 9

Writing fiction

Last year Kwanele Kunene did the WriteOnline Writing Fiction short course. She’s at the start of her writing career. So how did she find the course and what are her plans for writing her first stories? In this email Q&A, she talks about how the course got her writing. First off, tell us a bit …

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Food for thought 2 10

Food for thought 2

Food for thought: so you want to use food as a way of bringing your character to life but you’re wondering how to do it? Do you sit them down to a meal? Do you have them sprinkling spices into a pan of sautéed vegetables? Do you have them ordering-in pizzas? As you can see, …

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