My copy of The Thorn Birds used to belong to my grandparents. It’s a hardback and missing its dust jacket, and other than the title and the author’s name printed on the spine, I knew absolutely nothing about it before reading it – not the blurb, not the genre, not a single thing. I’d never heard of it before. It was an unknown adventure in reading.
If I’d have looked the book up on Goodreads before I delved into it, I probably would never have started it. Apparently, The Thorn Birds is a sweeping romance novel that documents the lives of an Australian family over the course of three generations. Meh, boring – that doesn’t sound like my cup of tea at all. But oh, how wrong I was. I loved it!
This book is a soap opera. It’s got family feuds, long-hidden secrets, dreamy romance, saucy sex scenes, gruesome deaths, the horrors of war, natural disasters, handsome priests, beautiful women, and plenty of scandal. Continue reading “The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough | Book Review”
If you’ve ever struggled with your mental health, or you’ve known somebody who has, the short stories in Concealed will no doubt resonate with you in an incredibly powerful way. If you haven’t, you can treat Concealed as a window into the minds of those who battle with mental illness. Continue reading “Concealed: A Compilation of Short Fiction by V.P. Grey | Book Review”
Here I am, living my life, maintaining a routine, going about my day to day as best as I can, when the old bastard turns up and ruins everything.
He doesn’t even knock first. He just walks right into my house, marches up the stairs, wanders into my spare bedroom where my little desk is set up, and glares at me until I cry. Continue reading “A Visit from Self Doubt | Blog”
Goodreads told me I would love this book. The internet at large told me I would love this book. The guy in the bookshop told me I would love this book. And luckily, I did love this book, ‘cos if I hadn’t I’d have been sorely disappointed.
Rivers of London is a mishmash of urban fantasy and classic crime. Protagonist Peter Grant, a probationary constable, finds himself taking a witness statement from a ghost after a very grizzly murder. Soon after, he’s drafted into a specialist department which tackles crime that is linked with the spooky and the supernatural. Someone’s face has exploded, random people are experiencing sudden bursts of violent rage, and there’s a turf war going on between Mother and Father Thames. Continue reading “Rivers of London, Ben Aaronovitch | Book Review”
You think you know how to write fiction? You probably don’t. Not unless you follow these four cardinal writing rules.
Remember: some highly successful writers break these rules and still write great stuff. But you are not one of them. It is not possible to break these rules and write great stuff unless you are already a successful writer. Got it? Good.
1. Show, don’t tell
You’re telling me a story, right? Wrong. You need to show me the story. You don’t need a pen and paper or a keyboard — you need a stage. Perform for me, monkey.
You could act out the story, mime it, or come up with a contemporary dance routine. Whatever you do, don’t you dare tell me what happens, because that’s bad writing. It’s boring. What readers really want is a series of ideas which they can interpret in a million and one different ways without fully understanding what your story is all about. Do you understand? Of course you don’t. That’s exactly my point.
Now, there is a very subtle difference between showing and telling when writing fiction, and I’m afraid I can’t share with you what that difference is. Why? Because I have no idea myself. Nobody does. All I know is that “show, don’t tell” is the most repeated mantra known to fiction writers the world over, and we must abide.
2. Never carry dialogue with anything other than “said”
You don’t want your writing to become too pretentious, right? In that case, don’t even think about using anything other than “said” when you’re telling — sorry, showing — us how your characters interact.
Continue reading on Medium >
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I’ve got a hell of a lot of unread non-fiction books languishing on my shelves and lest they find themselves destined for the charity shop, I need to get stuck into them. I started with A Single Swallow, which is a mishmash of nature writing, travel writing, and history, with a touch of autobiography along the way.
Horatio Clare documents his travels as he follows the annual migration of swallows from South Africa to Wales. He journeys across Africa and up into Europe, finding himself making plenty of friends and losing an awful lot of money – and a touch of sanity – along the way. Continue reading “A Single Swallow | Horatio Clare”
Dear Lost Forks,
I’d like to begin by thanking you for your vital, if short-lived, service. Over the past few months, you have done important work in aid of my taste buds and my stomach. You helped me to shovel pasta into my mouth at a rate that is almost superhuman. You allowed me to mash avocado onto toast so beautifully that my Instagram followers were driven wild. You even helped me to tackle the ring pulls on my Diet Cokes when I was afraid of breaking a nail, a task that is far beyond your intended role.
I know that I haven’t always been kind. Many a time I woke you from your slumber in the cutlery drawer, only for you to lay idle beside my plate as I threw my manners out the window and ate my food with my hands. You didn’t pass judgement on this lewd behaviour of mine, even when I ate so viciously that you were splattered with sauce and crumbs like mere placemats. Following this, and to my shame, I would simply mark you as ‘unused’ and replace you, unwashed, in the cutlery drawer.
Without a doubt, it is antics of this nature which have forced you to leave without saying goodbye…
Read the full post over at Medium >
Yeah, I’m writing on Medium! I’m hoping to post one new post -either fiction or silly non-fiction such as this – each week, so be sure to Follow me if you’re a Medium member. I’m looking forward to connecting with more people over there, too, so let me know if you’re a Medium writer.
It’s awesome when you read a book or a story and you think, “I wanna write stuff as good as this!” You come away feeling all excited about the possibilities of these little things called words. It reignites that passion to practise, practise, practise in hopes that you’ll one day be even just a fraction as skilled as the author who penned that brilliant piece of fiction.
What’s less awesome is when you read said book or story and find yourself subsequently scribbling a cheap, knock-off version of the same thing. Reading is an important part of learning how to write, but there’s a fine line between being inspired by great fiction and being influenced by it. Continue reading “Being Inspired, Not Influenced, by Other Writers | Blog”
Sass, magic, time-travel, and a talking snowman. If that doesn’t make you want to read A Witchly Influence, I don’t know what will. Continue reading “A Witchly Influence, Stephanie Grey | Book Review”