Category: writing tips (Page 1 of 2)

#34 – Fiona Ross – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 34 with Fiona Ross – songwriter, singer & jazz journalist

“I get more creative and crazy as the day goes on.”

Episode 34 – Fiona Ross – Show Notes
  • Go with the flow – music and lyrics go together
  • A late night writer – daytime writing doesn’t feel right
  • Piano, pencil, notebook and cup of tea
  • Songwriting is always inspired by a personal experience.
  • Journalism and interviews – the purpose is to reveal the person being interviewed
  • Discovering journalism voice – it’s about the artist
  • Interviewing legends, jazz history and research. Women in jazz and bringing jazz up to date
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, F Scott Fitzgerald, Upton Sinclair, Ricki Lee Jones, Billy Joel
  • Family history of writers
  • Didn’t set out to write a concept album but ‘Black, White and a Little Bit of Grey’ has an intertwining story
  • Marketing and genre

“I won the reading cup when I was at primary school.”

“If I’m not jazz and I’m not pop, what am I?”

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#33 – Kim Newman – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 33 with Kim Newman – novelist & film critic

“My novels are my purest me.”

Episode 33 – Kim Newman – Show Notes
  • Novels as favourite medium, loose outlines and historical research
  • Takeout coffee and working in the dressing gown
  • As a critic putting people into boxes but as a writer refusing to be put in a box
  • Reading, time and never having had a real job
  • The way writing as a career has changed since 1980s
  • Buying first computer with money from writing for porn magazines with Neil Gaiman
  • Editors used to have more time to deal with and develop new writers
  • Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Patrick Hamilton, Arthur Conan Doyle, Bram Stoker, Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allen Poe, Ramsay Campbell, Peter Straub, David Thomson, Greil Marcus
  • Criticism and deadlines
  • The need for a continuity person during novel writing
  • Big file full of random film quotes

“Some people don’t realise I’m the same person.”

“My critical range is not good or bad but interesting or dull.”

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#32 – Margaret Skea – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 32 with Margaret Skea – historical fiction writer

“I like taking myself and my readers to a place we’ve never been.”

Episode 32 – Margaret Skea – Show Notes
  • Storyboard on cardboard with post-it notes
  • Silence, chocolate & freedom from distractions
  • Exploring conflict and tribalism after growing up in the Troubles.
  • Self-editing, being ruthless, editing as a puzzle
  • Details, getting research wrong and rabbits
  • Journey into historical fiction
  • Trying writing in 1st person and present tense
  • Katharine Luther as a shadowy character and inspired by 500th anniversary of the Reformation
  • Winston Graham, Daphne du Maurier, Rumer Godden

“The more words I lose in the editing process, the more successful I think the editing is.”

“A good editor challenges me.”

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#31 – Josh Larsen – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 31 with Josh Larsen – film critic, editor & broadcaster

“Sometimes it’s not fair to the film to dash something off the hour after you’ve seen it.”

Episode 31 – Josh Larsen – Show Notes
  • Editing every day
  • Writing outside with tea or an IPA
  • Daily newspaper movie criticism background
  • Pop culture and faith, akin to feminist film criticism
  • Working with good editors, the demise of newspaper industry
  • Still wrapping mind around faith based film criticism
  • Horror movies and faith
  • Print deadlines – stressful but the best training. A negative can be writing too quickly
  • Manohla Dargis, Richard Brody, Dana Stevens, Roger Ebert, Pauline Kael

“I miss having an editor to bounce ideas off.”

“There’s no time for writers block. It’s a luxury.”

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#30 – Angela Savage – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 30 with Angela Savage – award winning writer & Director of Writers Victoria

“Good strong writing comes from using simple words in a compelling way”

Episode 30 – Angela Savage – Show Notes
  • Writing on the train and “the work of the couch”
  • Inspired by songwriters like Springsteen, Waits and Earl
  • Wine for writing like drinking when playing pool
  • South East Asia, reproductive health, kinship, culture and human nature
  • “Just get the story down”
  • Reading, study the craft, learning, playing with verbs, mentoring
  • Critical reading – underlining and making notes in books
  • Why crime fiction is so pleasurable for some readers
  • Overdoing the research in historical fiction
  • Inspired by Emma Viskic, Julie Koh, Barbara Kingsolver, Christos Tsiolkas
  • Deadlier – 100 of the best crime stories written by women
  • Daughter as sensitivity reader

“My writing was inspired by the fact no one wanted to hear my travel stories.”

“You need to know how it ends to know how it begins.”

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#29 – Lara Meone Savine – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 29 with Lara Meone Savine – writer & editor of Musae Mosiac

“I have to be creatively engaged everyday or I’d go insane.”

Episode 29 – Lara Meone Savine – Show Notes
  • Getting into a mindset and committing to a project
  • Friday Phrases #FP flash fiction. A mini release of creativity
  • The rewards as a host of word game prompts
  • Safety jacket, tea and K-Pop
  • The journey of the mind and the soul. Symbology of dreams
  • Hypnotherapy and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) to focus energies
  • Tolkien, King, Chris Mahan, Keats, Coleridge
  • Developing “Neuro Creative Reinforcement” techniques
  • Musae Mosiac magazine, 200 Word Tuesday #200WT and community

“K-Pop is super important to my writing.”

“With a destructive mindset, I can’t be creative.”

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#28 – Andrew David Barker – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 28 with Andrew David Barker – author and film-maker

“When you finish something, it gives you the fire to do more.”

Episode 28 – Andrew David Barker – Show Notes
  • Pantser for fiction, Plotter for screenplays
  • Fueled by independent US film makers; Duplass Brothers and Joe Swanberg
  • Writing about 80s kids and movies as backdrops. Harking back to period which personally inspired the creative life
  • Wayward journey into writing; leaving school with reading and writing difficulties, self education
  • Finish everything
  • Playing with Point of View
  • Stephen King, Spielberg, Scorsese, Paul Auster, Cormac McCarthy, Bret Easton Ellis
  • Screen adaption of own novel – screenplays are all story, everything has to drive the story forward
  • Screen writing teaches a minimal and clean approach to prose
  • Renaissance of the novella
  • Making short films

“I’m a creative cannibal.”

“I use movies like John Grisham uses lawyers.”

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#27 – Charles Chu – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 27 with Charles Chu – non-fiction writer & Medium top contributor

“You need to do a little guerrilla warfare as a new writer.”

Episode 27 – Charles Chu – Show Notes
  • Starting with an emotion or aesthetic in essays and non-fiction
  • Walking as a ritual and Japanese coffee
  • As a Chinese American growing up in a white culture
  • Psychology first – consistency, then building on improving writing practice
  • Writing for the internet; how digestible is the writing? Trial and error approach
  • John McPhee, On Writing Well by William Zinsser, copywriting
  • Moving into fiction; the Year of 100 Rejections
  • Gene Wolfe, Haruki Murakami, Ken Liu
  • Juggling lots of projects to balance out the failures
  • Ray Bradbury inspiring the year of 100 rejections
  • Tips on how to get stories featured on Medium

“I grew as a child questioning where my place was.”

“Visualising things from the reader’s perspective.”

“Reframing failure as something I should try to do.”

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#26 – Burhan Wazir – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 26 with Burhan Wazir – award winning journalist & editor

“Why is this happening? And why now?”

Episode 26 – Burhan Wazir – Show Notes
  • Career progression from reporter to editor and back to writing
  • Morning person and productivity
  • Proper Scottish writing fuel
  • Middle East, immigration, Brexit
  • The personal in journalism; adding yourself into the story
  • Constant refining: 20% writing and 80% rewriting
  • Reading other good writers: William Finnegan’s Cold New World
  • More historical context; the world has always been complex
  • History of British mosques and the Rotimatic
  • WikiTribune model: news stories as living documents
  • Madeleine’s tip – strange writing rituals

“20% writing and 80% rewriting.”

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#25 – Stephen Volk – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 25 with Stephen Volk – horror screenwriter & author

“If you can’t write a good scene, write a bad one.”

Episode 25 – Stephen Volk – Show Notes
  • Mixing up different lengths and mediums helps storytelling
  • Surrounding writing space with ‘friends’
  • Alcohol is a truth killer
  • Clash between belief and rationalism, fear of the unknown, how finding out about your past affects your future
  • Exploring horror, asking why are we attracted to the genre and exploring through story
  • Cool down, don’t rush and go back to it
  • Keeping your story secret or testing it?
  • Patrick McGrath, Stephen Gallagher, Taylor Sheridan, Liam Gavin, Yiorgos Lanthimos, Damon Lindelof, Tom Perrotta
  • Exploring repercussions of crime and criminals rather than solving a crime
  • The Dark Masters trilogy; Whitstable with Peter Cushing, Leytonstone with Alfred Hitchcock and a new story with secret true life character.
  • With a long project you can lose impetus if you take a break
  • Madeleine’s tip – battling the mushy middle

“After 30 years, it’s still hard to look at a blank page.”

“Don’t start the day with a problem hanging over you.”

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#24 – Sione Aeschliman – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 24 with Sione Aeschliman – editor, writer & writing coach

“Approaching both praise & constructive criticism with curiosity”

Episode 24 – Sione Aeschliman – Show Notes
  • Pantsing short stories but plotting novels
  • Defining Prose poetry
  • The Beverage Triangle
  • Key theme – being your true self without shame
  • Attitude towards feedback both positive and negative
  • Learning about reader’s expectations and ask questions
  • Giving editing clients at least a week to process their feelings
  • Editing improves ability to read critically. Making notes as you read and going back to analyse why you reacted this way.
  • Learning about structure and storytelling. Working on beginnings
  • Margaret Attwood, Ursula le Guin, Alexander Weinstein, James Tate, Russell Edson
  • #RevPit: annual Twitter contest focused on editing and learning. Starts April 21st 2018
  • Working on four or five projects at the same time, including historical pirate romance novel and an ebook on structure, plot points and pacing.
  • Madeleine’s tip – Grief and change

“It’s hard to know what you’re going to write until you’ve written it.”

“We all need an outlet for our angst.”

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#23 – Dean Mayes – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 23 with Dean Mayes – romance, family saga & thriller writer

“Cherrypick techniques but develop your own style and process.”

Episode 23 – Dean Mayes – Show Notes
  • Balance between structure and disappearing down rabbit holes
  • Writing story notes by his patient’s bedside
  • Writing romance in Star Wars pajamas
  • Spending a lot of constructing characters and people watching, women and men and their responses to challenges
  • Understanding the Aboriginal experience
  • Process of outlining with Scrivener
  • Using pencil to get away from plastic
  • Molly Ringle, Simon Winchester
  • A world exclusive!
  • Madeleine’s tip – Reading Critically

“Outlining has been a positive tool to improve my writing.”

“A love letter to the two towns I’ve lived in.”

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#22 – Kaaron Warren – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 22 with Kaaron Warren – acclaimed horror, sci-fi & dark fantasy writer

“Trusting yourself. You don’t have to write like other people.”

Episode 22 – Kaaron Warren – Show Notes
  • The power of novellas
  • Snatching the moments to write: making the most of time and place
  • Fuelled by chai: cardamon is good for concentration
  • Inspired by darker elements of humanity, inspired by darker fairytales like Bluebeard as a child
  • Exploring the afterlife, fear of death and ghost photographs
  • Practice, reading others, believe in yourself
  • Experimenting with a diary form; each character with a distinctive voice and their public/private face. Part of a new ‘unnamed’ novel about prisoners in a time-ball tower
  • Important to have non-writers as beta readers
  • Inspired by Lisa Tuttle, Steve Rasnic Tem, William Golding, Alasdair Grey
  • Impact of Transcendental Meditation
  • Madeleine’s Tip: How To Publish Your Book by Jane Friedman

“I don’t think there are any definitive rules in writing.”

“In dark fantasy you can’t hold back.”

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#21 – Amanda Bridgeman – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 21 with Amanda Bridgeman – space opera & sci-fi thriller writer

“Take all writing advice with a pinch of salt.”

Episode 21 – Amanda Bridgeman – Show Notes
  • Not necessarily writing every day, but working on the book business every day
  • Dead cold silence to write
  • Fueled by crumpets
  • Sci-fi thrillers but ongoing character driven sagas with a bit of romance
  • Writing military without a military background; research including Facebook groups and input from fans
  • Learning from other writers but with limits. Finding stories you like and analyse why
  • Ernest Cline, Andy Weir, Emily St.John Mandel, Stephen Moss, Lindsay Buroker
  • Time of The Stripes inspired by a walk to the shop to buy chocolate and current events
  • Setting stories in the US
  • Madeleine’s tip – Taking a Break

“Believe in yourself and your voice.”

“The key to a good book is mystery and intrigue.”

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#20 – Caroline Mitchell – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 20 with Caroline Mitchell – best selling crime & thriller writer

“I say ‘how could you not have ideas?’ Look around you.”

Episode 20 – Caroline Mitchell – Show Notes
  • Writing a synopsis and the hook before starting to write
  • Coffee, music and social media before a day’s writing
  • Dark themes, exploring the darker side of human nature and the ripple effects from crime. Nothing is black and white in the police.
  • Silent Victim is a story of grooming and a body buried in the backyard
  • Keep learning all the time, always push yourself
  • Dictation; first draft without touching the keyboard
  • Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Mel Sherratt, Angela Marsons
  • Combination of her past experiences in the police along with fresh ideas
  • Pivoting to reach more readers
  • Madeleine’s tip – explorations in dictation

“If the gin comes out I’m not having a good day.”

“Dialogue is lot more natural when you dictate.”

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#19 – Karen Rose Smith – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 19 with Karen Rose Smith – Romance & cosy mystery writer

“Writing, along with cats, is my therapy.”

Episode 19 – Karen Rose Smith – Show Notes
  • Writing after back surgery to deal with pain
  • Husband and cats
  • Dictation; more editing involved but writing goes faster
  • Relationships; family, romantic and in small towns
  • Writing every day hones your instincts
  • Writing 13 books before being published
  • Getting manuscripts in early and saying no
  • Daisy Tea Garden mysteries; tea shops, Amish country, family relationships
  • Emilie Loring, Glenna Finley, Kathleen E Woodiwiss, Harlan Corben, Jodi Piccoult, Dan Brown, Lisa Scottoline
  • Madeleine’s tip – dealing with comparisonitis

“When I’m alone in the dark with the tape recorder, I’m good”

“Reading a genre you don’t write sharpens your skills”

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#18 – David Moody – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 18 with David Moody – Horror writer & indie-publishing pioneer

“I’m a torturer at heart.”

Episode 18 – David Moody – Show Notes
  • An extreme plotter
  • Best time for plot development is during running
  • Procrastinating as a full-time writer
  • Hybrid publishing and the dark ages of indie publishing
  • Writing in 45 minute chunks
  • Ordinary people in extreme apocalyptic situations
  • Setting rules and having discipline
  • The cloud – accessible from everywhere for when inspiration strikes
  • Richard Matheson, John Wyndham, and learning from James Herbert; the writing and the man
  • The ‘sidequel’: creating two trilogies to create one big story
  • Madeleine’s tip – the Four Tendencies

“Definitely, irritatingly, a plotter”
“The less time I’ve got, the better my writing is.”
“I always feel dirty when I say this but I’m just a people watcher.”

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#17 – Abbie Williams – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 17 with Abbie Williams – Historical family saga & romance writer

“There’s a different thought process when you write long hand”

Episode 17 – Abbie Williams – Show Notes

  • Plotting the story as a bridge
  • Exploring family dynamics and gritty historical detail
  • Giving a voice to women working as prostitutes in 19th century American history
  • Trusting your gut and the story
  • Building a writing community to commiserate
  • Poetry as inspiration
  • Larry McMurtry, Sherman Alexie, Walt Whitman, Langston Hughes
  • Ending a series
  • Balancing two series at the same time
  • Madeleine’s tip – Twenty Solutions

“Punching you in the guts with words”

“Writing the first draft is telling myself the story”

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#16 – George Mann – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 16 with George Mann – Paranormal mystery & Dr Who comic writer

“You’re chasing ghosts if you’re chasing trends.”

Episode 16 – George Mann – Show Notes
  • Dreaded Chapter 7
  • Inspiration from music – songs associated with every book
  • Theme of Identity
  • Mystery and fantastical, the bizarre and the weird. More Peake than Tolkien.
  • Trying to be Peter F Hamilton, Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter, and failing.
  • Wychwood was a switch into a modern day setting.
  • Getting police procedures right
  • Initial premise for Wychwood – a BBC Sunday night crime drama with dark spooky elements
  • M. John Harrison, Steven Eriksen, Susan Cooper, Peter Robinson
  • Madeleine’s tip – Artist’s Date

“Write something for yourself.”
“It’s part of the writer’s job to read widely.”

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#15 – Angela Ackerman – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 15 with Angela Ackerman – best-selling writing reference book author

“Embrace the fact that there’s always more to learn.”

Episode 15 – Angela Ackerman – Show Notes
  • Chocolate Boyfriend of the Week
  • Helping writers with descriptions for emotions and setting
  • Wounds, flaws and negative character traits
  • Learner’s mindset
  • Critique partners who encourage you to grow and extend yourself
  • Building structural tools for writers helped Angela to become more structured
  • Ransom Riggs, Laini Taylor, Alli Sinclair
  • Madeleine’s tip – The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

“Understanding what your character’s wound is in the story, is a critical element in understanding their behaviour.”

“Emotional wounds are critical in a transformative arc.”

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#14 – Gareth L. Powell – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 14 with Gareth L. Powell – near-future thriller & space opera writer

“The more I read, the better I write”

Episode 14 – Gareth L. Powell – Show Notes
  • Losing the knack of the short story
  • Writing relics – Tiki, rune & painted pebble
  • Always character focused – the story is a learning experience for the characters
  • ‘William Gibson’s short story collection kicked me in the head’; writing real people into scifi
  • You don’t know if you’re measuring yourself against the right people
  • Write 100 words every day
  • Balancing two different novels in different genres at the same time
  • Space opera inspired by technology available for the Titanic; the call for help
  • Madeleine’s tip – The Heroine’s Journey

“Ack Ack Macaque is the bastard child of Biggles and John Belushi in the film 1941”

“I wanted to get back to sarcastic self-aware spaceships.”

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#12 – Oscar de Muriel – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 12 with Oscar de Muriel – writer of Victorian murder mysteries

It’s not sipping a glass of wine and staring out the window.”

Episode 12 – Oscar de Muriel – Show Notes
  • Fuelled by wine and cheese
  • Jurassic Park (the book) the first inspiration
  • Discipline
  • Spreadsheets
  • Being a chemist is very useful for murder mysteries
  • Isaac Asimov – The Black Widower’s Club and Lucky Starr series
  • Banshees, MacBeth and Bram Stoker
  • Not a whodunnit but a ‘who will do it’ – balancing reader’s expectations while trying something new
  • Madeleine’s tip – Text to Speech functions

“Thanks to Malbec for its contribution to this book”

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#11 – Steve Turnbull – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 11 with Steve Turnbull – Fantasy, steampunk & erotica writer

“The thing that improves your writing is writing.”

Episode 11 – Steve Turnbull – Show Notes
  • Don’t feel guilty for not writing
  • Themes include ‘all your favourite prejudices’
  • Changing and developing as an artist. Inspired by Bowie
  • Not necessarily trying new things but rather telling a story the way it needs to be told
  • Kymiera from screenplay to novel and back to screenplay
  • Cider with Rosie
  • Don’t write too many series at once, your fans will be demanding sequels
  • Madeleine’s tip – Reading Widely

“Don’t you pity our protagonists and what we put them through.”

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#10 – Dee Dee Chainey – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 10 with Dee Dee Chainey – Folklorist & freelance content marketer

“Bringing magic to the mundane”

Episode 10 – Dee Dee Chainey – Show Notes
  • Do your writing first
  • Instagram pictures of cake
  • Dark folklore; Krampus, hand of glory and the tooth fairy
  • Confidence
  • Don’t keep rewriting the same piece, move on
  • Squeezing a massive topic into an introductory book
  • A non-fiction writer mainly influenced by fiction
  • Aubrey Burl, Carrie Ann Noble, Jackie Morris, Phillip Pullman
  • Madeleine’s tip – 10 story ideas per day

“What do you want to say to the world and to yourself”

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#09 – Garth Nix – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 09 with Garth Nix – uber best selling YA & children’s fantasy writer

“The foundation of my writing is reading, and broad reading.

Episode 09 – Garth Nix – Show Notes
  • Having multiple stories on the go all at once
  • Momentum in writing – spending 80% of his time to write first half, 20% to complete the second half
  • Writing stories for yourself, which make you curious to find out what happens
  • Reading widely equips you with instincts for your writing and gives you the broadest set of tools to draw on
  • The role of a good editor to make you a better writer
  • Experimenting with form and points of view but the story dictates how it should be told
  • Madeleine’s tip – Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages

“As you add more energy into it, it (the story) takes on a life of its own”

“I don’t think ‘how am I going to challenge myself?’, I think what is the best way to tell this story.”

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#07 Dominic Dulley – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 07 with Dominic Dulley – writer of rollicking space adventures

Critiques Groups, Spreadsheets and Con Women in space

“When I didn’t get picked up, the next book I’d write I’d try something different, another tangent, to give myself the best chance to get a deal”

Episode 07 – Interview with Dominic Dulley – Show Notes
  • Great fan of spreadsheets
  • Plotting only a few chapters ahead
  • Hunting down chocolate hobnobs
  • Exploring friendship, loss, wealth and privilege in space
  • Critiquing others is equally important as receiving feedback in your improving writing
  • Debut novel ‘Shattermoon’ inspired by True Grit but in space
  • Madeleine’s tip (or is it a fail?)

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#06 – Harmony Williams – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode o6 with Harmony Williams – Period romance, cosy mystery & ghost writer

Romance, Co-writing and Regency Research

“I want to lift you up from your daily problems for a few hours and drop you off feeling better”

Episode 06 – Interview with Harmony Williams – Show Notes
  • If you write 500 beginnings, you will only get good at beginnings but not middles or ends
  • The co-writing process
  • Inspiration for the Regency period; Austen, Clarke and Novik
  • Humour and romance
  • Madeleine’s tip: musings after GenreCon

“Everything’s better with dragons”

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#04 – Kristy Acevedo – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode o4 with Kristy Acevedo – YA Sci-fi author & writing community leader

In and Out, Diverse Voices and Dried Mango

“It’s getting harder to be in survival mode and also produce art.”

Episode 04 – Kristy Acevedo – Show Notes
  • The 100 page discovery draft
  • Dried mango as a writing aid
  • Getting in and out of a scene as soon as possible
  • JK Rowling and Stephen King as inspirations but not for the reasons you might think
  • Championing working class and disadvantaged voices
  • Madeleine’s segment: The Monthly Twitter Writing Challenge
Links
Episode 04 – Interview transcript coming soon…

#03 – Angela Slatter – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 03 with Angela Slatter: award winning dark fantasy writer

“I’m a hybrid mess.”

Episode 03 – Angela Slatter – Show Notes.
  • Whiskey and the morning writer
  • Reverse engineering for writers
  • Reading like a fat kid at the dessert table
  • Frankenstein-ing her debut novel ‘Vigil’ together
  • Madeleine’s segment – The Foolscap Method
Links

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Someone ought to do something – Evangeline calling me a wuss

I realised something today. One of my main characters is influencing my life.

I write fiction. I make stuff. I make people up. My main character in The Antics of Evangeline series is Evangeline. She’s a busy-body feisty teen in an action-adventure series, solving mysteries and kicking derriere.

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Recent reads – Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley

Today I’m talking about Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley, a collection of personal essays by science fiction author Kameron Hurley, published by Tor in 2016.

Hurley is an award winning author and her personal essays covers feminism, geek and internet culture, the perils of being a writer, health and rebellion. Hurley critiques and challenges in a raw and honest way, drawing on her own personal experiences and life story.

Coincidence is a funny thing. I picked up this book right after finishing The Female Man by Joanna Russ (a feminist sci-fi novel I reviewed a few weeks ago). Hurley credits Joanna Russ with lighting her feminist fire. In fact, the book is dedicated to a “Joanna’.

The book is divided up into sections starting off with a section about writing and  the rollercoaster ride of a writers life. As a writer myself, I found this section heart-warming and depressing at the same time. My favourite essay was the first, named Persistence and the Long Con of Being a Successful Writer. The title says it all.

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Marty says you can ‘Finish the Damn Book!’

Apparently 80% of Americans want to be authors. Today I have a guest post from Martin McConnell. Marty is a writer and first-class motivator and he’s here to convince you (if you’re one of the 80%), that you can “Finish the Damn Book!” And if you read to the end, there’s a little treat for my blog reader. 

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First of all, I want to thank Madeleine for allowing me to write this post. In case you haven’t engaged with her directly, she’s a terrific person, and someone any writer would be lucky to count among their friends. Even though she’s an ocean away, I’m glad to have the honor of regular communication with her.

I’m here to talk about writing, maybe for those of you who have thought about writing a book someday, but are having trouble finding your muse, or maybe you think that you don’t have what it takes.

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Birching, medieval peasant life & Norse names: random writing research

I’m in the midst of Nanowrimo and closing in on 50k. Hoorah! I dip into research as I write and so I thought I’d share a few random links for interesting things I’ve researched during the past few days. My Nanowrimo manuscript is fantasy, so I’m going all medieval on your arse.

Birching

The use of birch rods for punishment and birches were always my favourite tree. I now look at them in a different way.

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The tale of two projects: kidney stone or maple syrup?

I still don’t have my writing process down pat. This has become bleeding obvious with my two most recent projects.

The Production – a high gothic YA novel – was a constant struggle, getting out 60k words was like passing a kidney stone. Whereas my current Nanowrimo project – The Ravens of Ambrovna: fantasy –  is flowing out like maple syrup.

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My novel writing process is like making a fancy layer cake  

I’m in the process of writing my umpteenth novel (I’ve no idea how many exist on dead computers or in notebooks probably recycled into toilet paper) but I’m still learning what my process is. I’ve decided my process is like making a real fancy layer cake.

Warning – this blog post is going get a bit hippy-dippy. You have been warned.

I can be a force of nature when I put my mind to something. Get out of my way, people. I can make anything happen through sheer will power and hard work. Until I can’t and I end up banging my forehead against a wall. The universe kicks me in the bum quite often and tells me I can’t force everything. Like creativity and inspiration.

But where’s the cake, you ask? I’ll get to it…

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Writing round-up (without that toxic chemical)

When I read informative information on how “optimise my author platform”, there is always a mention of a consistent blog content strategy. Mmm, well, big fail here. This blog and my blogging is awfully random. I’ve decided to go with my randomness and only blog when I feel inspired, which waxes and wanes.

Today is a little round-up (and not the noxious chemical) on what’s going on with me. Something new, something old and some classroom time.

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What inspired The Antics of Evangeline stories?

Now, what inspired the stories in The Antics of Evangeline?

Since I was a child, I’ve loved the weird, the wonderful and the supernatural. I am a big fan of Dr Who, Whedon-worlds, Hammer horror, the X-Files, folktales and all manner of forteana.

The Antics of Evangeline combine a steampunk setting with an exploration of folklore and the paranormal.

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Writer’s Residence in a Scottish Castle – interview with Margaret Skea

Hmm…who would like the opportunity to write for a month in a Scottish castle?

Um…me.

So when I heard that Margaret Skea – fabulous historical fiction writer – had secured a residency at Hawthornden Castle, I was overcome with jealousy.

I caught up with Margaret after her experience and she shares a glimpse into the writing fellowship program at Hawthornden Castle as well as the imposed periods of silence, broken boilers in February and eating porridge from a pewter bowl.

Hawthornden Castle

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What I learned this week

My own Yoda told me to work on something new while querying.

This is great advice, designed to stop me going nuts and checking my email forty thousand times a day.

So I went ahead and worked on something else. The sequels to my querying manuscript. So I’m ready to go with Books 2 and 3 when the call eventually comes.

But the anxiety crept in…. I started to fret and worry.

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Recent listens: How to Publish Your Book by Jane Friedman

I like my audiobooks. But for some unknown reason, I can’t focus on fiction in audio. My mind wanders and I miss sections of the story, so I’ve learned to stick with non-fiction for audiobooks.

A recent listen was How to Publish Your Book by Jane Friedman, available through The Great Courses. This is available through Audible and you’ll also receive the accompanying lecture notes in PDF.

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Three tips improved my writing in 2015

It’s the time of year between Christmas and New Year, like the lull between two waves. Time for planning and reflecting.

Here are the three writing tips I learned in 2015. These three tips definitely made me a better writer.

  1. Specificity
  2. Simplicity
  3. Different scripts

*Disclaimer – I can’t remember where I got these tips from. If it was you, thanks and sorry.

Specificity

Let’s get specific. Lazy writing is full of things, stuff and them. This year I learned to be specific about what I am writing. In 2015, I got out my nouns. First drafts can be full of vagueness but once the red editing pen comes out, it’s time to be precise. But specificity must be paired with tip#2, otherwise the words will grow and multiply like mice. And there’s nothing worse than a mouse plague…shudder…

Simplicity

Why use ten words when you can use two? My writing style is simple, mainly because I don’t like verbose writing personally, but this year I learned to use embrace the simple (and specific). Why use an adjective when I can find the right verb? He didn’t walk, he strutted, she plodded, we ambled. There is more power in brevity.

Like botanical illustrations, I strive to be both simple and specific.

Different Scripts

The third tip is about dialogue. Any scriptwriter knows this stuff but it was a revelation for me. This year I learned that each character has their own agenda in any conversation. Everyone has their own desired outcome from any discussion and our agendas will clash. This tip has helped me to stop my dialogue from being an exposition fest

In normal conversation, there are misunderstandings and confusing conversations when someone doesn’t say what they actually mean. There are a myriad of reasons why we don’t speak our minds. This is also true in dialogue. Each character is reading from their own script and the scripts don’t match.

Your turn – what great tips did you learn in 2015?

When did you feel like a “real” writer round-up?

In early December, I ran a series of posts asking writers…

When did you feel like a “real” writer?

I was lucky enough to get responses from Gail Carriger, Val McDermid, Joanne Harris, Ben Aaronovitch, Victoria Schwab, John Scalzi, Kim Newman, Neil Gaiman, Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson, Barbara Freethy and Kate Elliott.

There were a few themes running through the responses

  • Doubt and the imposter system persists (regardless whether you’ve sold millions)
  • Sometimes it’s your first big deal or success
  • Sometimes it’s not until you reach magic book no. 5

But mainly, you are a real writer when you write….

Now it’s your turn, when did you feel like a “real” writer?

 

How I “finished” – Tip#8 Listening to my gut

Listening to my gut

Feedback from others is super important but I’m learning to listen to my own internal feedback – my gut instinct.

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Sometimes I fretted about a scene or a character but doubted myself and did nothing about it. Only to receive the same feedback from someone else.

If I’d trusted my instinct, I could have fixed the mistake earlier.

So I’m learning to take my inner voice seriously too. My inner voice is just as important.

 

This is the last tip in my series. I hope you found something useful from my navel gazing.

Your turn – what are your tips for finishing a novel?

When did you feel like a “real” writer? Part 6

Back again with another two writers answering the question…

When did you feel like a “real” writer?

Today we have two successful women with the same perspective.

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You’re a real writer when you write!

Words of wisdom!

I have one more answer up my sleeve, which I will post with a wrap-up of all the comments.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the pithy insights so far.

 

How I “Finished” – Tip #7: Being Selfish & Competitive

Being Selfish & Competitive

Now being selfish and competitive is generally seen to be a bad thing, but these two negative traits helped me go from a lump of words to a “finished” manuscript.

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Books don’t write themselves. I work full time but I find time to write because I’m selfish. Writing is really important to me, so it takes priority over other stuff. I’ve learned to be comfortable saying “no”.

I’m also competitive. Now I’m associating with an online community of writers and every day, my fellow writers are launching books, getting agents, getting publishing deals and 5 star reviews. I’m happy for them, (I believe in abundance not scarcity) but I want what she’s having.

What have you given up for writing?

Tomorrow – Tip#8 Listening to my gut.

When did you feel like a “real” writer? Part Three

Two more great writers answer my question…

When did you feel like a “real” writer?

Today

  • Victoria (VE) Schwab – writer of multiple fabulous YA/MG series and my fave, A Darker Shade of Magic
  • John Scalzi – Hugo Award winner and prolific twitterer

 

VE Schwab

 

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Two different perspectives here. Do you need money or being published to feel like a “real” writer?

Tomorrow, another two authors answer my question.

 

How I “finished” – Tip #4 Thwarting Resistance

Thwarting Resistance

Resistance is the evil force standing between me and everything I want. He’s the naughty voice in my ear telling me stay on the couch, just another episode or have another slice, you deserve it.

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Resistance is mean and wily. He changed tactics and got stronger the closer I got to finishing. He told me I was wasting my time and I’m no good. He filled my head with fears I was going to stuff up my manuscript and I don’t have the talent to finish this.

Once I became conscious of Resistance and his mean tricks (thanks to War of Art), I am vigilant. I know what he’s up to.

I have my defences ready.

I just ignore him and keep going.

How do you thwart Resistance?

Tomorrow – tip #5 Craft Work

 

How I “finished” – tip#3 Marinate for 4 weeks

Marinate for 4 weeks

When I’m in full on editing mode, I go cross-eyed. I can’t see “the wood for the trees.”

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Putting aside my writing to “marinate” is important. Like marinating meat, putting your writing aside makes the flavours richer.

I’ve got a bad memory and when I put something away in the drawer, I completely forget the details. After a period of a month or so, I regain some objectivity about my work. I can see flaws and where to focus next.

And on occasion, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my own work. Hoorah!

Do you have a rule for resting your work?

Tomorrow – Tip#4 Thwarting Resistance.

 

How I “finished” – tip #2: Finding my tribe

Finding my tribe

Writing takes up loads of time and not everyone understands the highs and the lows. Sometimes I need someone to whinge to!

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While my off-line support team are brilliant, finding a tribe of writers online has been really helpful.

The Monthly Writing Challenge twitter group has especially helped with accountability, habit-forming and general encouragement.

They understand when I’m having a writing day where the words are like pulling a pineapple from an orifice.

Have you found a tribe?

Tomorrow – Tip #3 Marinate for 4 weeks.

 

How I “finished” – Tip #1 Discipline

Discipline is not a dirty word

Discipline and routine isn’t sexy but it’s necessary. Books don’t write themselves. Unfortunately. But creating a daily writing habit really helped to finish my project.

With the help of the Monthly Writing Challenge, I developed a routine of writing or editing every day. Every single day. The Monthly Writing Challenge has a target of 500 words per day or 1 hour editing. (More about the Challenge in Tip#2). There’s an online spreadsheet to record your work efforts and a little bit of public accountability helps.

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Now, daily writing and editing has become a habit.

For example, I wrote this blog post while at the hairdresser in order to get my 500 words down for the day. I’ve written in parks at lunchtime, at airports, dictated while walking and other weirdo behaviours to get my words in.

Generally, I’m a boringly structured person anyway (I’m an Upholder according to Gretchen Rubin’s framework) but having regular accountability has made the habit stick. Then the word counts and drafts follow.

What helps you stay on track?

Tomorrow – Tip#2 Finding my Tribe

 

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