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The Creative Writer's Toolbelt
19 minutes | Feb 27, 2017
Episode 95 - Empowering your work with symbol dilemma and innovation
In episodes 92 and 94 we explored the landscape of genre and trope, theme and moral, and in this episode we continue that exploration with a look at symbol and motif. We step back to look at how all of these aspects of creative writing are connected and how we can use the power of symbols, the fascination with diemma, and the potential to subvert tropes as tools to empower our work.
22 minutes | Feb 21, 2017
Episode 94 - Jesse Pinkman meets Lady Macbeth - integrating theme and moral into your story
In this episode we explore the right and wrong way to handle themes in our work. We say no to preaching and lecturing the reader, and yes to weaving the themes we want to present into the story, and giving the engagement of the characters with those themes real consequences. We explore some great examples of how themes can be explored in story, from Elizabeth and Darcy to Harry Potter, and Jesse Pinkman to Lady Macbeth.
41 minutes | Feb 13, 2017
Episode 93 - Interview with Adrian Tchaikovsky
This episode is an interview with award winning author Adrian Tchaikovsky. Adrian and I talk about the long road to producing publishable quality material, how to work with genres and their tropes, the writer’s life, and why it’s always helpful to have a contact at the Natural History Museum.
15 minutes | Feb 6, 2017
Episode 92 - A home and a market for your story. Navigating your way around trope and genre
What genre does your story fit into? And how can you use the tropes of that genre to make your story fresh, original, and compelling? In this episode we explore the challenge of identifying the genre or genres of your story, and looking at way to embrace the tropes of that genre by re-imagining them and subverting them to keep your work interesting and cliche free.
22 minutes | Jan 31, 2017
Episode 91 - Stay on target! How to write a great action scene.
For this episode I am again joined by Jessi Rita Hoffman (jessiritahoffman.com). Jessi is a former publishing house editor-in-chief and award-winning magazine editor now offers professional book editing services and author coaching. In this episode Jessi and I discuss the key elements of the action scene. From the need to keep the prose tight, to managing the rising tension, from dumping those ‘hedge’ words, to not telling us how much your protagonist is bleeding. Remember - keep the girl, or guy, fighting!
28 minutes | Jan 14, 2017
Episode 90 - Let the romance do the talking! Writing a great love scene
I’m joined for this episode by Jessi Rita Hoffman (jessiritahoffman.com). Jessi is a former publishing house editor-in-chief and award-winning magazine editor now offers professional book editing services and author coaching. Jessi and I talk about the essential elements of writing the romance scene. Creating a compelling romance scene is essential for any genre, and Jessi and I discuss how to keep the scene real, why the Victorians were so good at romance, keeping the lovers together and apart, and finally the merits of getting cosmic.
19 minutes | Jan 7, 2017
Episode 89 - Power up your prose! Making sentences paragraphs and scenes work for you
In this episode we look at the way in which the building blocks of prose: the sentence, the paragraph, and the scene, work. We explore the fundamental principle that drives all of them, and how you can use these structural tools to enhance your work and captivate your reader
13 minutes | Dec 27, 2016
Episode 88 - My favourite reads of 2016 and the CWT Survey
This rather Christmassy episode is a review of my favourite reads of 2016. It’s a subjective review, just stuff I’ve read that I liked, and a bit about why I liked it. Also news about the CWT 2017 listener and subscriber survey.Take part to be entered into the prize draw and get a copy of the Overview of the forthcoming Handbook.
94 minutes | Dec 21, 2016
Episode 87 - Inside the publishing house - conversations with the team at Gollancz
This very special episode takes us inside one of the most iconic publishing houses in the world. The episode comprises four conversations with press, marketing and commissioning staff at Gollancz; the fantasy, horror, and science fiction imprint. The episode includes a conversation with Gollancz’s Publishing Director, Gillian Redfearn. Many of you will know Gollancz as the publisher of prominent authors like Brandon Sanderson, Ben Aaronovitch, Stephen Baxter and Al Reynolds as well classic books from the likes of Arthur C Clarke, Philip K Dick, and Terry Pratchett. These conversations cover issues that apply to writers from all genres; from tips on submissions to what a publisher wants from their authors, and from the the importance of voice through to the mistakes aspiring authors make in their manuscripts, and how to avoid them. And for those interested in submitti [...]
14 minutes | Dec 15, 2016
Episode 86 - Handle with care! Writing and placing the flashback scene
Loved and hated in equal measures, the flashback remains a firm favourite with authors. When it’s done well it can enthrall readers, give them a poignant and dramatic experience, and drive the engine of your story. Done badly, and it will leave your reader confused and frustrated. In this episode we look at the good and bad of the flashback scene, and identify the guiding principles for using this type of scene appropriately.
66 minutes | Nov 27, 2016
Episode 85 - An interview with Anne Perry editor at Hodder and Stoughton
This episode is a wide ranging interview with commissioning editor Anne Perry from Hodder and Stoughton. Anne draws on her experience to talk about how the commissioning process works, what an author should be prepared to do to help with the process, and what she wants to see in a manuscript. Anne also gives us some advice on writing action and romance scenes, and how to tackle the presentation of characters from diverse backgrounds. Enjoy!
21 minutes | Nov 23, 2016
Episode 84 - Finishing well. Principles for writing a great closing scene
Writing the closing scene of a story is more than just tying up the loose ends and sending our characters off into the sunset. We want to leave our readers with the best possible impression of our work, so that they have fond memories of reading what we have written but also to ensure they come back for more, and tell others why they should read our work as well. In this episode we look at the principles for finishing well, as they apply to the stand alone story, and one of a series.
19 minutes | Oct 27, 2016
Episode 83 - Curtain Up! Essential Principles for the Opening Scene
We all know the opening scene in any book is the critical moment to make your mark on the reader, to grab their interest, to set out your stall, and to keep them hooked. This episode explores the four principles that make an opening scene work and give your whole story a great start
37 minutes | Oct 15, 2016
Episode 82 - Interview with children’s author Bob Hartman
This episode first appeared (briefly!) back in 2014 but mysteriously disappeared, making it a missing episode. It’s a conversation with the writer Bob Hartman. Bob is a children’s writer and storyteller, he draws inspiration from the Bible and classical sources like Aesop’s fables for his work. In this interview he talks about the essentials of writing for children as well as storytelling and how to approach a publisher.
14 minutes | Oct 5, 2016
Episode 81 - You have a deal with your readers - here’s how to deliver your side of it
In this episode we use the development of a scene to illustrate a critical element of the author:reader relationship, that’s the implied deal that you, the author, have with your readers. We are going to look at what that deal is, and how you can make good on the reader’s expectations that you are going to be competent and honest. We’ll explore some techniques that you can apply, scene by scene, and to help us we’re going to borrow a practice from the world of the theatre known as ‘blocking’.
20 minutes | Sep 24, 2016
Episode 80 - The absolute essentials of writing a scene
The scene is a key building block of a story, so how can we make sure that the scenes in our writing work? In this episode we explore the three key questions that every writer needs to ask about each scene they write:what is the objective of the scene? How does the scene begin and end? And what gives the scene energy and direction?
20 minutes | Sep 14, 2016
Episode 79 - The sound of your writing is critical to your success - here’s how you can improve it
This episode is a round up of everything we’ve been talking about concerning the sound of writing over the last few episodes. We look at tone, style, and voice, the importance of clarity, brevity, and precision and then go on to think about the problems and solutions related to sentence structure.
42 minutes | Sep 9, 2016
Episode 78 - Conversation with Becky Chambers and Nisi Shawl + Indiegogo launch for the Handbook
In this episode I’m excited to announce the launch of the Creative Writer’s Toolbelt Handbook, a project to gather the very best advice and insight from all of the podcasts into book form. Development of the book is being crowdfunded through Indiegogo, please check out ‘The Creative Writer’s Toolbelt Handbook’ at indiegogo.com. The main part of the podcast is a wonderful conversation I had with the authors Becky Chambers and Nisi Shawl. We talk about physicality and writing, the difference between a romance scene and a sex scene, the nature of joy and compassion in their work, and then each of them reads a passage from their respective new novels.
25 minutes | Aug 29, 2016
Episode 77 - Listen to the voices! What we can learn about voice from great writing
In this episode we are going to look at a number of very different examples of writing that excel in the area of how the writing sounds. They are deliberately different in terms of style, and authorial voice, but each of them can teach us something. And because they are very different the benefits that they bring to their respective stories is very different.
20 minutes | Aug 19, 2016
Episode 76 - It’s not just what you say it’s the way that you say it. Why the sound of your writing matters.
There’s a lot of truth in the old adage: “it’s not what you say, it’s the way that you say it”. We all want to tell a great story, but part of that is how we tell our story. Some authors seem to have a captivating and beguiling sound to their work. How do they do it? What are the problems that can occur with the sound of writing, and how can we avoid them? In this episode we look at some of the problems that can make your work sound stuttering or clunky or dull - and then we go on to discuss the key to making your writing sound good: it’s all in the editing.
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