Category Archives: Writing

Curious Presbyterian’s 2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. Here’s an excerpt: About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year.  This blog was viewed about 240,000 times in 2012.  If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about … Continue reading

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Writers’ quote of the day: Cheryl Rogers on making a start

‘I don’t pretend to understand how the writing process works.  I do know it is never, ever easy.  And that something happens; bits from the past come together to help form characters, plot, even dialogue.  That’s if I make a … Continue reading

Posted in Authors, Writing

Writers’ quote of the day: Andrew Cowan on the importance of reading

‘I don’t believe you can be a writer unless you are also a reader.  If writing is the out-breath, the exhalation, then reading should be the in-breath, the inspiration.’ ~ Andrew Cowan

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Writers’ quote of the day: crime novelist Martin Edwards on improving a manuscript by revision

‘Revision is, for me, a crucial part of the process.  Although, to an extent, I try to improve what I write as I go along, the reality (for me, anyway) is that until I’ve finished the book, it isn’t possible … Continue reading

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My definition of ‘literary novel’

Literary novel: a book which 200 (sometimes 2 dozen) people read and end up not liking, and which is forever after worthless on the secondhand market. [Exceptions to this rule constitute approximately 0.00001% of literary novels.]

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Writers’ quote of the day: Margery Allingham on planning your novel and controlling your characters

‘I don’t want it to be thought that I am one of those dear old ladies who just write down the first thing that comes into their heads and hope the finished page will be entertaining. Rather am I one … Continue reading

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Writers’ quote of the day: James Scott Bell on self-editing, cutting and adding

‘We usually hear that it’s a good idea to cut in order to make our books more readable. That is not quite correct.  The idea is to cut the parts that don’t hold the reader to the page.  Clunky exposition, … Continue reading

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Writers’ quote of the day: Janice Law on ‘writing what you know’

‘One of the cliches of the writing business, and standard advice for young writers, is write what you know.  This is simply good sense, ignorance not being bliss in the writing game. The problem is that writing what you know is … Continue reading

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Writers’ quote of the day: Ray Bradbury, Alfred Hitchcock and James Scott Bell on why fiction is not real life

‘Fiction is not reality!  Fiction is the stylized rendition of reality for an emotional effect . . . Reality is boring.  Reality is not drama.  Reality is to be avoided at all costs.  “We must stay drunk on writing,” Ray … Continue reading

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Writers’ quote of the day: John le Carré and James Scott Bell on how to begin a novel

‘As John le Carré once put it, “The cat sat on the mat is not the beginning of a story.  The cat sat on the dog’s mat is.”  Begin your novel at the point of disturbance, because disturbance is conflict.’ ~ … Continue reading

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Writers’ quote of the day: Flannery O’Connor on Christian writers and poorly written novels

‘Every day we see people who are busy distorting their talents in order to enhance their popularity or to make money that they could do without.  We can safely say that this, if done consciously, is reprehensible.  But even oftener, … Continue reading

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The world’s greatest thriller writer, Deon Meyer, talks about South Africa, series detectives and ‘7 Days’

South African thriller writer Deon Meyer on storytelling, credibility and how crime fiction relates to society I mostly follow the dictum “conflict is the mother of suspense”, so I’ll be looking at as many sources of conflict for the protagonists … Continue reading

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Writers’ quote of the day: James Scott Bell on creating conflict and suspense

‘Conflict has long been recognised as the engine of story.  Without conflict there is no drama.  Without drama there is no interest.  Without interest there is no reader.  And no writing career . . . Suspense arises out of conflict … Continue reading

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Writers’ quote of the day: Angie Abdou on the discipline of writing

‘The discipline of the writing life is much like the discipline of the athletic life.  Set your goal and work towards it every day, even (especially!) on the days it feels like work.  Don’t listen to the people who say … Continue reading

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Should fiction writers really “start with a hook” as American* thriller writer Linwood Barclay claims?

Here’s a quote from highly successful thriller writer Linwood Barclay: Some authors, when starting a novel, imagine a place first.  Others, a character starts taking shape in their head.  I start with a hook, a situation, a ‘what if.’  What … Continue reading

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Writers’ quote of the day: Linda Wiken on good openings

‘I love reading a book that gets you straight into the action.  A body.  A sleuth.  Both in the first paragraph.  However, it needn’t be so.  Only if that’s an indicator of  what the reader can expect on the following … Continue reading

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Writers’ quote of the day: Anne Emery on setting

‘When I read a novel, I want to know where I am without wading through long paragraphs on the gorse or the scrub grass.  Setting is more than landscape, streetscape, architecture.  It’s the culture of the locals, their dialects, music, … Continue reading

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Writers’ quote of the day: Stephen Legault on really good outlines

‘When starting a new project, the first thing I do is create a detailed outline for the book.  This chapter-by-chapter plan includes all the elements of plot and character development, along with a detailed timeline for the novel.  I use … Continue reading

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Writers’ quote of the day: C. C. Benison on how to beat writer’s block

‘Buy a gallon of BumGlue™.  Apply a liberal coating to a chair in front of a computer.  Sit in it.  Do not attempt to get up until you have an idea.  When you have an idea, record it.  Then apply … Continue reading

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Writers’ quote of the day: Camilla Lackberg on marketing and establishing a brand

‘I used to be in marketing so it was easy for me to use those skills in my own career and I’ve never seen a conflict in that.  The first years I took beatings from within the literary world for … Continue reading

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Writers’ quote of the day: Barbara Fradkin on how to create an engaging series character

‘Create a real person you can care about.  Forget the spunky females and angst-ridden guys with the artificial quirks and flaws.  Dig inside yourself.  Create a character you can know well, in a setting and job you can describe from … Continue reading

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C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien show how to begin a fantasy novel

‘There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.’ ~ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.  Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with … Continue reading

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Writers’ quote of the day: Robert Harris on writing thrillers

‘Don’t try to write too much in a single session.  One thousand words a day is quite enough.  Stop after about four or five hours.  Remember that most writing is done in the subconscious (“the boys in the basement,” as Stephen … Continue reading

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Writers’ quote of the day: James M. Cain on tone, or writing as the character would write

‘I make no conscious effort to be tough, or hard-boiled, or grim, or any of the things I am usually called.  I merely try to write as the character would write, and I never forget that the average man, from … Continue reading

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Writers’ quote of the day: Roy Innes on how to make yourself write

‘Starving in a cold garret makes for productive writing; comfortable retirement does not.  There are too many time-wasting, warm, pleasant diversions — lingering over morning coffee, computer games, jawing with friends at the corner garage, delicious naps — all to avoid … Continue reading

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