Does writer’s block really exist?

Where does writer’s block come from? Why do so many writers complain about it? What does it really mean? I remember someone saying one day, “If I employed a plumber to fix my bathroom pipes, I doubt he’d ever say he had plumber’s block and couldn’t do the job!” That’s true, but there are a couple of extra elements to the plumber and his pipes. One is that it’s his job and if he doesn’t fix those pipes, he doesn’t get paid. Another is that although he might have to get creative to fix the … [Read more...]

Secrets of micro-revision #3: Testing your sentences

Once we get our words on the page, and rework them over and over, it’s the small things that escape our notice when we come to micro-revision. While we can search diligently for clichés and other language errors that trip us up, the one thing I find writers forget about is their actual sentences, and whether they’re working clearly as building blocks to pace, tone, style and voice. Some of the things that happen when we don’t pay attention to sentences are: Ambiguities and confusion, … [Read more...]

Secrets of micro-revision: #2 Rub out repetitions

There’s repetition, and then there’s repetition.  Good repetition adds rhythm to your writing – it can provide emphasis, and a sense of completion in an image or emotion. An example of this (in a crime novel) is: I stared down at the body by the fireplace – the blood on the bricks, the blood soaking into the Persian rug and the blood dripping from the sooty poker. We get the image – blood everywhere! Repetition of an image can also be used successfully in both short stories and novels. … [Read more...]

Secrets of micro-revision: #1 Crushing your cliches

There are several different stages of revision, from big structural down to micro copyediting. Each comes with its own challenges, but sometimes when you get to copyediting and final polishing, it can be hard to step back and give each and every word a fresh “going over”. One strategy is to scan the manuscript, looking for certain elements and marking each time you come to one that jars. We all have “things” we do in our writing, like tics. We are so used to them that we just can’t see them – … [Read more...]

How to critique Chapter One

We’re told over and over how important our first chapter is. It’s the one you’re asked for by agents and editors, it’s the one people sneak a peek at in the bookshop, it’s the one you’ll put on your website as an extract to get readers to buy it … That’s a lot of pressure on one small chapter! But the bottom line is this is the reality today. We can’t afford first chapters that spend all their time describing characters or setting, or are nothing but setup for the story that starts around … [Read more...]