Monday, 25 July 2016

Flashing Pens - by Susan Price

Another Flash in the Pen
I know it's not the done thing to favourably review a book in which you yourself have a story. It's understandably seen as biased. Well, I would say it's good, wouldn't I?
          So I wasn't planning to review Another Flash in the Pen here. I reckoned I would post the fact of its existence on Facebook and then keep schtum.
          And, to be brutally honest, I had muted expectations.
          I like short stories. I've read lots of anthologies and what I've come to expect is a few stand-out pieces studding a book full of perfectly good but underwhelming stories. Or, perhaps, stories that would be stand-out pieces for someone else but just don't do it for me.
          That's what I expected from Another Flash in the Pen and, had it been so, I would simply have kept quiet.

          What I actually found was a book full of stories that I tore through, enjoying each and everyone. I found I was looking forward to picking the book up again, because the last story had been so good... And putting it down, having finished another story, thinking, "That was good! What's the next one called?" - And finding that I didn't want the collection to end.

          I knew, of course, that my Electric colleagues are good writers but familiarity takes the edge off everything. I'd forgotten just how good they are.
          This book acted as a refresher course. There's laugh-out-loud funny. Elgaic and atmospheric. Haunting - though not always by ghosts.
          Vivid snap-shots of life. Tales of the sea. Stories of life on other planets in the future and stories with a sharp awareness of life as it is here and now.


          When I finished the book, I felt that I had very rarely read a collection of short stories where I enjoyed all of the stories so much.
          So I'm going to stick my head above the parapet and say that I think this is an unusually good anthology which would keep most readers happy - whether because they like short stories or because they want something short to read during commutes or on the beach. I stayed at home and read it over several days, whenever I had a few spare moments.
          It has me looking forward keenly to the AE collection of ghost stories because I love a good ghost story and this collection had raised my expectations.

          Thanks to all the great writers who donated stories, and an especial thanks to Karen Bush who - despite having a great many other things to do - found time to put it together, edit and format it. Though she was helped by whippets.

Another Flash In The Pen


Paperback           UK              US
Kindle                 UK              US

Sunday, 24 July 2016

What do you look for in a travel book? - Jo Carroll

What do you look for in a travel book?

One of the most memorable pieces of advice I was ever given was 'don't write about things people can see on the telly'. And so I have never written about hearing Rigoletto at the Sydney Opera House as both can be found online without too much difficulty (even though it was wonderful).

That mentor also told me make sure I involved my own experience - which meant writing about things I hadn't told my daughters about. I'll never forget steeling myself to tell them about the man with a gun in Lucknow.

But my last trip took me to Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. I spent a few days deep in the upper Amazon basin, where caimans hide in the shallows and tarantulas creep up the hut walls. Google any nature site and it's easy to see pictures of the Amazon (though they can't capture that wet mud smell, nor the wake-up call of the howler monkeys).

I took a road trip through the mountains, where the ground trembles for so much of the time that roads are constantly cracked. Volcanoes spurt steam high into the sky. The air is thin, and clear, and raptors soar on the thermals. I'm sure you can see that if you google 'Andes'. Though that moment when you discover dragonflies copulating is very special:



And so the Galápagos Islands - easy enough to find pictures of tortoises and iguana and parading frigate birds online. But nothing can replace that feeling of being humbled by the whole experience - being so close to creatures like this that are so rare and so precious:



Having said all that, when I read about travels it's the people who intrigue me. How they live and work and raise their families in the mountains or in the depths of the jungle. What stories do they tell? What sense do they make of me, a white woman wandering around and often unable to contain my curiosity about their ways of life? And, because I'm even more interested in people than I am in places, I write about them.

But you - when you pick up a travel book, what are you hoping to find?

You can find examples of my travel writing on my website: www.jocarroll.co.uk. And if you want to know what I got up to in Ecuador, there's always Frogs and Frigate Birds

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Make Good Bad Guys by Lev Butts

Characters are the soul of fiction. They are the first movers of story. Imagine any story you've ever read, then take out the characters. What you have left is essentially a lunatic's National Geographic article: a description of a fantastic landscape or a discussion of a particular group or species daily habits.

Without characters, The Hobbit, for instance, would read something like this:


Chapter 1: Hobbits live relatively peaceful lives, reside in modestly decorated holes in hills, and like to eat. Like a lot. They have seven meals a day, and do not like to be surpised by unexpected visitors.

Chapter 2: Trolls will eat anything and turn to stone in the sunlight.

Chapter 3: Elves are wise, and kind of pompous assholes.

Chapter 4: Goblins are just assholes.

Chapter 5: Caves are dark and scary, and sometimes people lose jewelry there.

Chapter 6: Wolves and Goblins are friends and often team up to terrorize villages, but giant eagles will sometimes put a stop to those shenanigans.

Chapter 7: Shape-shifters can, indeed, count.

Chapter 8: The woods are ugly, dark, and deep.

Chapter 9: Elves are pretty much pompous assholes wherever they live.

Chapter 10: Humans are generally trifling and gullible, but can also be quite generous.

Chapter 11: Dragons are really sleepy, and can count better than shape-shifters

Chapters 12: Dwarves live in mountains...

Chapter 13: ...and really, really like treasure.

Chapter 14: Humans really are a mixed bag. Thank Eru some of them can shoot.

Chapter 15: When I say dwarves like their treasure, I mean it. They like other people's treasure, too.

Chapter 16: Hobbits make good thieves when they are properly motivated.

Chapter 17: When five armies of various species fight, things get messy. Hobbits generally nap through it.

Chapter 18: Return trips are boring.

Chapter 19: Hobbits will sell all your shit if you vacation too long.

The woods are ugly, dark, and deep.
And I have promises to keep,
So bye.
Clearly then, character is the single most important part of any story. So how do we make good ones? "Good guys" are generally easier to create. We mainly look at ourselves in the mirror, nip and tuck our unsightly flaws, and write down what we see.

This is why so may of the best protagonists appeal to us: they are glorified versions of ourselves. No, we don't make them perfect; we know we, ourselves, are flawed, so imbue our heroes with a few of those flaws or make them relatable: Bilbo Baggins is kind of a passively shy, regular guy until he gets dragged into an adventure and learns he is really brave underneath. Nick Carraway is really just a nobody who is star-struck by rich people until he realizes they are a pretty self-centered lot. Ishmael is a bored twenty-something with no direction looking for adventure.

The point here is that in order to make compelling heroes, you need only give them a character flaw that they must overcome in order to grow into the hero we all know they really are. They are us, after all, and no one really thinks of themselves as the bad guy.

Shut up, Jesse.
Here's the problem: If characters are the most important aspect of fiction, the bad guy is just as important as the good guy. More important in many ways. You don't need nice characters to make a story. Thanks to the concept of anti-heroes, you can have protagonists who are complete and utter assholes.

Tolkien wrote a whole book about them.
Bad guys are a little harder for most of us to do, though. We have a tendency to paint evil in big, broad, mustache twirling strokes.

Indeed so many of our bad guys are just variations of this guy:

Ties young girls to the train tracks.
We have the Western bad guy:

Ties young girls to the train tracks


Fantasy bad guy:
Ties elves to the train tracks

Space bad guy:

Ties Jedi and Rebels to the train tracks

We even have History bad guy:

Ties Jews to the train tracks

But for the most part, these are all guys who are so clearly evil, that they may as well be the same person. And ultimately, with the exception of the last two, they are. Don't believe me? Ask yourself the following questions: What's the name of the impressively mustachioed fellow tying the girl to the tracks? Who's the cowboy? Is the fantasy guy Morgoth, Sauron, The Black Lieutenant, or Shai'tan? Most of us don't know. Because these villains are so interchangeably similar, it doesn't matter. We just need to know they're baddies, and that the goodies are going to defeat them.

So why are the other two different?

Because to a great degree, we can see ourselves in them. Darth Vader is intriguing to us because, like a good hero, he is flawed. We understand what he wants: He wants order, he wants to protect his family, he wants to make the galaxy safe. That he has to destroy all impediments to this in his quest is unfortunate (especially since the impediments are our well-meaning heroes), but unavoidable. He is evil, not by nature, but by circumstance. He cannot balance his lofty goals with fair action. He believes, like many of us (like all of us from time to time, if we're really being honest) that our lofty ends justify the horrible means we have to use to attain them.


So what about Hitler? Surely we generally don't see ourselves in him. Well, we do, but in a way that is perhaps way more disturbing for us. Darth Vader (or Silence of the Lambs' Hannibal Lecter or Breaking Bad's Walter White) represents our own ideals taken to the extreme excluding all other moral concerns. He represents what we can do if we myopically focus only on our own initailly laudable goals and desires.

We cannot say the same for Hitler (or Charles Manson or Norman Bates), though. The argument that Hitler let the laudable goal of fixing Germany get out of control falls kind of flat when you consider that there was never a time in his career when his solution to the problem was anything short of skull-kissing crazy. Why, then, are we so fascinated with him? Because even he, even Hitler, had a tee-tiny spark of humanity in him. He loved dogs and children. He was a vegetarian. He was an artist.

Though not the best boyfriend, I guess.

We are fascinated by bad guys like Hitler because unlike Darth Vader's type of bad guy, these guys didn't let their virtues become so powerful that they became evil. These bad guys became evil in spite of their humanity, not because of it. And that is, in many ways, a far more frightening concept.

These two types of bad guys are far more intriguing to us because they do essentially the same thing as the fascinating good guys do: They reflect on some level aspects of ourselves. Good heroes reflect an idealized version of ourselves; great heroes reflect that but also keep some amount of our flaws. Good villains reflect flawed versions of ourselves, great villains do that but also retain some spark of humanity or pathos within them that makes their evil tragic instead of completely terrifying.

All this is a long-winded way of saying if you want to make charismatic, believable, and unforgettable villains, you have to make them at least somewhat sympathetic. You have to understand that they are the heroes of  their own stories. And you have to care about them just as much as you care about the heroes.

P.S. If you think it is impossible to make Hitler a sympathetic villain without somehow excusing the horrors he created, I urge you to read Unto the Beast by Richard Monaco. It truly is a perfect example of what I've been talking about here.

Though you might wait a bit until Venture Press re-releases it 
and Monaco can make a little cash from it.










Friday, 22 July 2016

Feelings not facts - from novel to short story, by Ali Bacon

Since my recent post which touched on the early photographs of Hill and Adamson, I’ve not only paid a flying visit to St Andrews (my old university town and always a good place to go) but also been invited to read a selection of my historical fiction at the St Andrews Photography Festival. This is a huge thrill for me and has given me the nice job of making sure that by the time of my event on Sept 9th. I've assembled the right words in exactly the right order. 

Reading Silver Harvest in April at  Stroud Short Stories
I’m planning to read five or six pieces which have already been written in one form or other, but I don’t want to read for more than 10 minutes at a time  - i.e. 1500 words max - and although the pieces are linked in theme, I would like each one to stand alone. 

Looking at my raw material, only Silver Harvest fits the bill exactly. The others are either too long or, on closer inspection, betray their origins as fragments of a novel. ‘Repurposing’ them is proving an interesting task and one that’s making me aware of the strictures of short story writing. 


Here are a few rules I’ve made for myself in my reverse-engineering project of cutting my cloth to suit my new coat!

  1. Stay in the moment.
    I'm trying not to hark backwards to previous stories or things I know happened, and since there is no option for the audience to read on, I'm avoid ‘foreshadowing’, i.e. hinting at what’s to come (or even jumping ahead to tell people!)
    St Andrews Cathedral, an iconic ruin 
  2.  Make sure each short story has a structure of its own, i.e. each one should have its own story arc, however brief. A piece of narrative which is there to fill a historical gap will just be exposition.
  3.  Avoid too many scene changes. I don’t particularly like ‘static’ short stories, but in 1500 words there are only so many places we can go without things feeling rushed. If necessary, history can be compressed!
  4. Examine minor characters and decide who is really needed. Short stories traditionally have a narrow focus rather than a big cast of characters. If a character is required, don’t linger over a description, just let them play the role that’s required. It might be they don’t even need a name.
  5. Strip down the dialogue. Every word counts so skip yes’s no’s and maybe’s – just let them agree or otherwise! If it’s just for plot, you could use indirect speech which holds things up less. ‘He thanked them but said he would leave that night,’ is slicker IMO than, ‘thank you, but I will leave tonight,’ he said.
  6. Feelings not facts! i.e. beware exposition/info dump. I’m writing historical fiction and would like my audience to know how much I’ve found out about these people and their time, but sticking in extra facts, events or characters is either insecurity or showing off. An eagle-eyed beta reader has found one of these I didn't see for myself.

In writing down these rules I can see I have broken quite a few of them (3 and 4 especially!) so it’s time for another look at the writing  - or maybe the rules!

Finally, I can also see that most of them could be applied to a novel, which confirms my belief that the process of writing a novel and short story are not so very different. However a novel takes a lot longer!


If you would like to know more about the St Andrews Festival of Photography, please visit their Facebook page or my own website.









Ali Bacon was born in Fife and lives in Bristol where she writes, reads, reviews, and occasionally takes to the stage. Her novel A Kettle of Fish is available in print and as an e-book.





Thursday, 21 July 2016

Taking your Kindle to the Beach? - Katherine Roberts


It’s the holiday season! Long summer days, schools are out or almost out, and if you're like me you’re probably thinking about a beach somewhere... I’m lucky in that I live about ten minutes' walk from one of the best sandcastle beaches in the country (according to an experiment carried out by the BBC a few years ago). Above is Preston beach - the one with all the beach huts in the English Riviera resort of Torbay. The red colour of the sand comes from the local sandstone cliffs.

You can get here by train on the intercity to Plymouth, which runs along the coast from Exeter via. the recently repaired sea wall at Dawlish. Hop on to the branch line at Newton Abbot, and you'll end up at Paignton, where you can either walk past all the bucket-and-spade shops and casinos to the beach, or board the steam train to continue at a more leisurely fashion down the line to Kingswear and from there via the passenger ferry to the Naval port of Dartmouth.

Travel by steam in Torbay (picture credit: Geof  Sheppard)

Along the way, you might like to request a stop at Greenway Halt, where Agatha Christie holidayed on the banks of the River Dart. Today the house and gardens are run by the National Trust and are well worth a visit if you’re in the area. It's like stepping back in time.

Greenway House - Agatha Christie's holiday home
In the house, you can hear a short recording of Agatha herself talking about the writing process (she apparently did not give many interviews about her books, but gets straight to the point: "First you spend a lot of time worrying about the plot, then you have to find time to write the book...") New this year, you can even try out Agatha Christie's typewriter, set up as part of the Writing Places residency with a rather charming notice on top "How to use a Typewriter" warning people that the keys might stick if you try to use it like a computer keyboard. It certainly brought back memories, since I typed my first two novels on my childhood typewriter. Here I am, starting to fill that blank page...

'Agatha' Roberts  (picture credit: A Corkill)
Greenway encourages ‘green’ transport and slots in the car park are limited so the train is a good option for visiting, with either a 30-minute woodland walk to the house from the Halt, or a free shuttle bus from the local station. You can also sail down the river to the house by taking the ferry from Totnes.

River Dart from Greenway

If you enjoy historic towns, Totnes with its independent shops and Friday market is just five miles inland, and there are several traditional Devonshire villages with thatched cottages in the area, including one in the middle of Torbay itself... Cockington Village, where I learned to ride a pony by falling off in the mud on my first canter through the woods. The stables have since been converted into holiday homes, although you can still take a carriage ride through the parkland surrounding Cockington Court, which is now a crafts venue for local artisans where you can watch rocking horses being carved, glass blowing, and buy some wicked chocolate creations from the Cockington Chocolate Company. Or if you fancy a working holiday in the area, the old gamekeeper’s cottage has just been converted into accommodation for long term volunteers to help maintain the country park:

Gamekeeper's cottage (before conversion - it now has a lovely new thatch!)
If you're driving, we have a brand new bypass that opened at Christmas connecting the end of the A380 dual carriageway to Torbay (a notorious bottleneck previously, now possible in just five minutes). We all love this new road, since it means we can get to Exeter airport in less than half an hour, and reach the mainline station at Newton Abbot in ten minutes connecting with London in a shade over three hours.

Paignton Pier - just over three hours from London

So if you're stuck for holiday ideas and the euro is looking expensive, why not give Torbay a try this year? It's been a seaside resort since the Victorian era, but lottery funding has brought several changes in recent years with other projects ongoing. There's always plenty going on during the summer months - miles of red sand to build sandcastles, a shallow tide for warm and safe bathing, country and coastal walks, the Victorian pier, pretty fishing harbours and plenty to keep the kids happy on Paignton Green (there’s usually a circus earlier in the year, an August fairground, donkey rides, firework displays, and a multiplex cinema). You can stay in one of the grand old hotels, at a choice of smaller guest houses and B&Bs, or in one of the holiday lodges in the outlying caravan parks. Last month we hosted our very first airshow with the planes flying low over the sea and a brilliant view from the beach. For motorcycle enthusiasts, Bikers Make A Difference (BMAD) hold their festival here in the spring, and if you’re thinking about retiring beside the sea we have palm trees, very little frost or snow, a lovely new library and just about the best value houses in the entire county. Plenty of bungalows and spacious 1930s houses with sea views, or if you're quick you can pick up this historic cottage in the old part of town for under £130,000.

The new Paignton library

For holiday reading, nothing beats relaxing in a deckchair with a favourite paperback. But if your suitcase is bursting at the seams and you need some fiction to fill your holiday Kindle, the Electric Authors offer a wide variety of ebooks for all reading tastes, and for those who enjoy historical fiction with a touch of magic and romance my Legend of Genghis Khan trilogy is on summer promotion until 25th July:

1. PRINCE OF WOLVES – FREE download.
2. BRIDE OF WOLVES – countdown deal 99p / 99c (price rises in 2 days)
3. BLOOD OF WOLVES – only £1.99 / $2.99


Katherine Roberts writes fantasy fiction with a focus on legend and myth for younger readers, and historical fiction with a bit more romance for older readers under the name Katherine A Roberts.
Find out more at www.katherineroberts.co.uk

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Another rave about the joys of words by Sandra Horn



I don’t know if there’s a word for the condition of being just a teeny bit obsessed with place names, but if there is, I’ve got it. It might have started somewhere around Oxford, when I first saw the sign reading Milton Chilton Didcot Wantage. Lovely, yumpty-tumpty rhythm. It makes me smile and shout it out every time we drive past it. In case you’re wondering, I have not been ejected from the car. Yet.
In contrast, in Laurie Lee country, there’s a sign at the end of a gloomy lane through overhanging trees which reads Cold Slad Only. It’s enough to strike chill into the stoutest heart. Who’d ever want to go there?
Up towards Basingstoke from here there is Nately Scours. It’s what a very rafeened lady might whisper to her doctor about an embarrassing nocturnal problem.
Somerset is a particularly rich source of these delights: Bishop’s Hull Within, Bishop’s Hull Without (what?); Nempnett Thrubwell (can one thrub badly?); Wumbrock (badgers?); Hammoon (wolves?); Ryme Intrinsica ( anglo-saxon verse form?); Withiel Florey (I don’t know. Have you seen ‘im?); Catcott Burtle (as opposed to ‘your tongue’?); Huish Champflower (ideas on a postcard, please). I could go on.  And on. Idle thoughts of an idle mind.








 It doesn’t stop there, though. There are road signs too. I can’t help it! I wish I lived in Plumyfeather or Shovelstrode or Land of Green Ginger. Maybe not Slugwash Lane, Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate, Squeeze Guts Alley, Minge Lane or Slappers Hill, though. As for No Name Street, how would the postman ever find it?



I thought I’d begun to get it under control a few months ago, but then – disaster! A shiny new book of road maps arrived because Niall has been in the AA since 1066 or something. There’s an index in the back... I should never have started reading it, but the spirit is weak. However, I didn’t just list all the intriguing or funny place names. Oh no. Being a creative type, I added some more mundane ones, organised them into verses and set them to music. It’s a WiP, but here’s the first part. It goes to the tune of Ravel’s Bolero, in case you didn’t get it straight away. Do try it!

Poole, Kelmscott, Bagshott, Theydon Bois, Cooper’s Green
Rowley, Weyhill, Jesmond Dean,
Ware, Milton, Chilton, Carbis Bay
Drum, Dippie, Duddon, Byker, Hay, Wray, Sway,
Calf of Man, Brough, Grimpo,
Wylie, Tiree, Sutton, Westward Ho! Clink, Whelpo, Wigwig, Wyke, Wick, Piddinghoe,
Low Biggins, Solva, Hull, Dicker, Trull
Prickwillow, Boghead, Pull, Wincle, Mull
Mavis Grind, Plush, Pegwell, Papworth, Parr, Cleator Moor,
Allaleigh, Stepaside, Send, Durdle Door.
Crewe, Box, Hassocks, Trossachs, Tresco, Splott, Herstmonceux,
Davidson’s Mains, Alloa, Ware, Solva, Sullom Voe,
Church Norton, Byker, Wetwang, Stiffkey, Virginstow,
..............................................Dibden Purlieu.

That’s as far as it goes because I’m stuck on the rhythm leading to Dibden Purlieu. I’m not giving up, though.
PS as many of these have been collected as we whizz by in the car, I have no pictures of road or street signs with which to embellish this blog,  I’m resorting to using book covers. Sorry.














Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Writers’ Software: and the verdict is? by Chris Longmuir


Authors Electric. The clue is in the name. We are a collective of writers who embrace technology and the electronic world. We are not a bunch of luddites who turn our backs on anything electronic. Nor are we the kind of people who would not give house room to a computer, who shudders at any mention of the internet, and who would never deign to read an electronic book on an ereader.

As the resident techno-geek who builds computers in her spare time, there is nothing I like better than exploring all kinds of software, although I will reserve my discussion today to writers’ software. Was that a collective groan I heard? It wouldn’t surprise me, because it became apparent from the comments on my last post, that not everyone is enamoured with writing software. In fact, the feeling is stronger than that, and the impression given is that you cannot be creative if you use said writing software. This was despite the fact that the post reviewed editing software, and editing is the process that comes into play after the creative work has been finished.

So, in consideration of the views expressed, I decided to have a look at all the writers’ software we use when writing our books. How “appalling” is it? And should we really “burn all writing software”. And I intend to be a hanging, or should I say burning, judge.

The fire is ready - bring on the software

I will divide the software into two sections – the specialist software that not everybody uses, and the basic software which we probably all use.

Specialist Writing Software

Top of the list is editing software and there are various editing programmes on the market. The one I reviewed in last month’s post was Autocrit, but you can also choose from Grammarly, ProWritingAid, SmartEdit, Hemingway and a host of others. The use of this type of software, which has the audacity to highlight various grammatical and writing issues in a completed manuscript, apparently interferes with creativity. I’m not entirely sure about the last part of that analysis of the software, because by the time I come to editing and revision I’ve switched from right brain thinking – the creative side – to left brain, the analytic side, so I reckon the objection is to the mechanical nature of the editing, or is all editing the issue. In which case do flesh and blood editors also interfere with the creative process. Here is a link to a review site for a selection of editing software.
http://thewritelife.com/automatic-editing-tools/  but last month’s verdict was unequivocal – so, let’s burn the editing software, although I’d hesitate to burn the flesh and blood variety.

Scrivener is another specialist writing software tool and many writers, even best-sellers, swear by it. This one is an organisational tool. It helps you structure and organise your manuscript and works like a word processer but with more bells and whistles. I’m inclined to like Scrivener, but organisation and structure are left brain activities, so going by the criteria set down it could be considered alien to the creativity process, and therefore, is eligible to be sentenced to burn.

The flames are increasing - software makes good fuel
What about speech recognition software? Dragon heads the field here, but again the process is automated, and it is mainly used by writers. So, although it is an excellent programme, it does come under the umbrella of writers’ software, therefore off to the furnace it goes.

Basic Writing Software

Few people would argue that Microsoft Word leads the field, although there are other software programmes available, such as, Open Office, Libre Office, Pages, and probably a lot more. Provided a writer does not write solely with a pen, pencil, or quill, they use a word processor of some sort. But, this is also writing software, so off to the fire it goes.

And, of course, all software requires an operating system or it simply won’t work so you could argue that operating systems are writing software as well. It doesn’t matter whether you use the Mac OS, Windows 7, 8, or 10, we are going to have to burn them as well.

Now, what are we left with? Yes, you’ve guessed it, an ornamental box full of wires, fans, circuit boards, and other electronic bits and bobs. It’s not much use for anything, and it is technology, after all, so into the recycling skip it goes, and we can now be happy we’ve got rid of every last bit of software and technology that fits the criteria of writers’ software.

Wot no software?

But, I’m not finished yet, because I want to look at creativity. Blame yourselves, you brought it up. As I recall, creativity is about a “human using their skills to create something, not a machine”, but that’s OK because we’ve got rid of the machine. But another comment suggested that the “very best writers don’t use common sense”. That may be a valid point while a writer is using his or her right brain during the creative process, but there comes a point after the completion of the first drafts when a writer needs to be more analytical during the revision and editing process, unless of course that writer does not believe in editing their work, in which case ignore what I’ve said.

Then there is the issue of craft. Writing is a mix of creativity and craft, and both are needed to hone the finished work. Even the artists who were quoted had to learn their craft before they produced their finest works. And artists also need to use both right brain and left brain before their masterpieces are complete. There are canvases to be prepared and stretched, boards to be treated with shellac, and brushes which require to be cleaned. Sable brushes cost a small fortune.


Likewise, the writer goes through a creativity phase when the writing flows. But the plotting, the structuring, and the synopsis are probably a mix of right brain and left brain activities, unless you are a stream of consciousness writer when it is pure creativity. And the editing and revision process is tackled once the creative process is complete.

I think it is also worth mentioning that creativity is not the sole province of writers and artists, software designers are equally creative, you only have to look at the computer games industry to realise that, so perhaps we shouldn’t disparage them. When we do that, it reminds me of various authors and publishers who frown on indie authors and self-publishers. We really don’t want to fall into that trap, do we?

Right, I’m off now to see what I can rescue from the fire, so I’ll leave you with your pad of paper, pens, pencils, and quills, and I expect to see you all on the best-seller list very soon, because there is nothing left to get in the way of your creativity.



* * *
I’m afraid this tongue in cheek post was my swan song as I am bowing out from Authors Electric for the time being. The balancing act has become impossible to maintain and something had to go. Unfortunately it is Authors Electric. In the meantime, all power to your quills, and I wish you all, every success in the future.

Chris Longmuir, a traditionally published author as well as an indie, is a major award winning novelist who has six books in publication and a seventh about to be born. She is a self-confessed techno-geek who builds computers and plays with software in her spare time.



Chris Longmuir




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