Category Archives: Writing Craft

Next stage – the ponders…

I’m at that point.

Today (or at least that’s the plan), after the pre-requisite trips to the green-grocer, butcher and supermarket for anything we can’t source elsewhere, after the cooking of dinners and the referee-ing of small children, I’m going to try to decide what I’ll work on next.

This should be easy (I always tell myself). But it rarely is.

I am blessed/cursed with a lot of ideas, some of them very fully formed and ready to go. New ones spring up all the time and I tend to jot them down and then try to move on with what I’m meant to be working on.

So… I have a series of ideas folders. I have some initial research. In some cases I have a LOT of research. 🙂 (I like research.) At the moment there are at least 5 books calling for attention. Often there are many more. Continue reading Next stage – the ponders…

Edits Smedits

PhotobucketBecause I’m in the midst of edits…

And I want to share the grief…

Well, no, not really. I’m one of those strange creatures that actually enjoys edits. And I am enjoying these ones. It’s just that we’re going on holidays on Saturday morning. HOLIDAYS! And so I want the edits done.

As I am not editing right now I thought I’d write about edits – because my mind is slightly twisted by all the variety of spellings my writing brain came up with in the course of writing the first draft of this book, and my editor brain can’t really take it anymore.

Yes  – two brains. Writer brain and editor brain. They share the same head.

It’s noisy in there. Continue reading Edits Smedits

I am still here, I swear it

Although I am recovering from a weekend trip to Sligo to see Leonard Cohen play in the grounds of Lissadell house. It was a trip in honour of my best friend’s birthday (a significant one) and so we went all out. We flew to Sligo (my first ever domestic Irish flight). Sligo is the dinkiest airport I’ve ever been too (yes, even dinkier than Plymouth!) It has a range of amenites including a bar, toilets and a bar but only before the departure “gate”. It also has the opening hours on the front door. It is AWESOME! Continue reading I am still here, I swear it

When Plotbunnies attack

Plotbunny: A tempting idea for a story that hares off into strange territory upon pursuit. Known for breeding rapidly and dividing a writer’s attention to the point of achieving nothing at all. (

I think we all know the scene. We’re working away, dutifully writing our current WIP, enjoying the character development, the fight scenes and the build towards a showdown between the forces of good and evil (or the showdown between dog and cat for that matter – it’s your story). Maybe you take a break, listen to some music or read a book.


“What ifs?” explode all over your brain. The entire plot for a new book arrives in a blinding vision of glory. Characters start yabbering away inside your head, telling you everything their life story and all the intricacies of their conflicts with each other.

And it won’t. Go. AWAY!

The plotbunnies have got you. aka Teh Shiney! Continue reading When Plotbunnies attack

Musings on Peter Pan

A friend gave me a copy of “Peter Pan in Scarlet” by Geraldine McCaughrean yesterday. It’s one of those books I’ve toyed with the idea of reading, but something has always stopped me. I started it last night and so far I’m really enjoying it. Really. Such a pleasant surprise.

It got me thinking about a number of things, however. Why was I reluctant to read this book? A number of reasons I suppose, chief among them being the fact that I love Peter Pan. LOVE. Almost as much as I love Robin Hood (I’m also strangely reluctant to see the new Robin Hood film). And in my love of Peter Pan I’m reluctant to see that character mangled. Again.

If you haven’t read Barrie’s Peter Pan, (or Peter Pan and Wendy) you should. Not that I am a purist but Peter embodies something about childhood, youth and the wild that I think gets missed in most of the interpretations. You see, Peter, while a hero, a marvellous boy, a dazzling exciting friend, is not a very safe person to be around. And that makes adults very uncomfortable.

Peter is dangerous because Peter has no concept of death. Nor of injury or disaster. Peter can’t conceive of anything “bad” happening because it doesn’t happen to him. Ever. “To die would be an awfully big adventure” he says. And that is that. Prepared with these words, assured of his own continued existence even beyond death (because nothing, not even death, can destroy Peter), he puts fear aside. And of course survives.

Wendy and the boys can’t continue on like this, as we are reminded right from the outset “all children grow up, except one”. Peter will rescus them, no doubt about that, but only to drop them into greater peril  the next moment. Continue reading Musings on Peter Pan

Research and symbolism on the doorstep

(Hells bells this turned into a long post. Sorry in advance!)

On our long walk the other weekend I came across a hawthorn in bloom, growing beside an oak with new leaves, over what appeared to be an old well. A raft of symbolism, right there on my doorstep, all tying into the novel I’ve just finished rewrites on – May Queen – and its sequel which I have been researching – Forest King.

I had to share the picture. Oak and hawthorn are representative of my two main characters, and the story is drawn from the folklore of the British Isles so much of which revolves around trees.

Chatting on twitter the other day, I mentioned process and that maybe I would write up a blogpost on it. So this is that blogpost. And the pretty picture… ah well, that’s part of the process too. All will become clear – or more confused. We shall see.

Continue reading Research and symbolism on the doorstep

Critiquing, editing and other methods of slow torture

I’m been something of a busy bee this last while, so please excuse my lack of posts. Hightlight was the wedding of one of my oldest friends. I’ve known him since I was four. It was a beautiful ceremony where almost everyone told them “it’s about time” and they took it with the affection intended and agreed. I have never cried at a wedding before. So there you go.

But that’s what I’m not here to waffle on about today. That is my excuse note – like “the dog ate my homework” or “please excuse Ruth from gym because she hates it with the fire of a thousand suns”.

I read a comment on another blog (no I can’t remember where, seive-like brain strikes again. If anyone knows, point me there) about editing. And I have my thoughts on editing. They also relate in part to critiquing. Actually it all boils down to one statement.

(Leaving aside grammer and typos) editing, and critiquing, are not designed to point out what is wrong, but rather to point out what can be made better.

There is an enormous difference between wrong and could be better. There’s an enormous difference in how we explain this to others. The words themselves do the trick.

“You’ve got this wrong” – oh bad you

“This could be improved by…” – let me help you.

I had a fantastic conversation towards the end of last week discussing edits and came away invigorated, excited and raring to get to work and make my story shine. I think (I hope) I can do that when I critique for fellow writers – word my comments correctly so that they can see the potential I can see in their work. And while the adage is true that the only response to a critique is “Thanks very much”, I’m not adverse to exchanging ideas, to doing some brainstorming or re-reading rewrites. I like to see things grow. I think to see how ideas take form and work their way through a story. Honesty may be the best policy, but kindness works more wonders. So if you’re critiquing don’t hold back, but choose your words with care, thinking about the person reading them at the other end.

But if you can’t take honesty, it may be better not to ask for a critique.

Editing to me is the final stage of creation – it isn’t something that comes afterwards, its a vital part. It is the details on a sculpture, the polish on the marble. It’s what makes a story shine.

And speaking of which I have a critique to do, and then some edits to get to. 🙂

Musical inspiration

In the absense of anything much to say 😉

I’m working on a YA urban fantasy with an Irish setting. Can you tell?

I’m also using The Call, but can’t embed that. It’s well worth a watch though. There are a number of songs informing this story – from Celtic Woman to Green Day.

I love using music as a basis for stories. Sometimes, as I think I’ve mentioned before, the right song comes along at the beginning, and sometimes its later on when the story is formed but not yet complete. Music acts as the soul of many of the tales I tell. It adds that extra layer and draws everything together. Songs filter through everything I write.

So I like to share them from time to time.