Sunday, May 31, 2009

The first workshop has begun

The first in a series of very interesting workshops has begun today at

These workshops are being run jointly between myself and The New Author Website and they will span a wide range areas over the next few months. I encourage all writers to go along and have a look, take part in as many as you can so that your mind is always being exercised, learn as much as you from the group and from any guest presenters we hope to have from time to time, and enjoy the experience.

Writing is fun, it is also something many of you reading this blog were born to do. We hope these workshops will take you a little further along your path and maybe give you that one idea or one thought that gets your writing to where you want it to be.

Good luck and great writing.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'm back

Hi all, I apologise for not having posted anything in the last couple of weeks but I have been in Cairns promoting my books and doing some research on a new book. Cairns is where Room 22 and Arlington Reef are both set and whilst the sequel to Room 22 is set in Canberra (Australia's capital) and Arlington Reef's sequel, if it ever gets one cannot be set in Cairns (you'll have to read Arlington Reef to understand why) there is scope for a whole new idea to blossom into a manuscript set in this tropical paradise.

I will keep you posted on my new writings as I am embarking on two, maybe three, very interesting journeys through the writing world in the next few months, including a collaboration, which I am very excited about.

On the poetry side of things I have also taken a new direction with my writing in recent times in an attempt to capture the latest trends in this genre. The poetry workshop I promised a little while ago is about to start (finally, and I apologise to those who have been waiting ever so patiently for me to get this together) and I will be interested to see the directions poets, both old hands and new, take with this.

Exciting times ahead in the world of writing, but isn't that always the case?


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Poetry workshop

Good morning all and welcome.

In the last few days I have been talking to Brian from The New Author about a number of projects, and one we would like to run in the next week or two is a poetry workshop where we will give you an image and ask you to write a poem about that image. I have done these exercises before and they are very useful in getting the imagination flowing but we would like to do more than that with this one so we will be asking you to concentrate on certain things within your poem as well. Not the creative stuff, but the mechanics of what makes a good poem.

If this sounds like something you might be interested in doing please let either myself at ( or Brian ( know of your interest so we know how many we have. I plan to be available throughout the entire workshop at any time (unless asleep) to help along the way but the extent of that might depend on the numbers.

This exercise will be lots of fun and we will all learn quite a lot from the exercise if past experience is any guide.

Have a nice weekend and I look forward to posting the outline and the aim of the workshop next week.

Drop by and have a look at Brian's site ( your going if you have not visited it yet, its a great site with tremendous posts on writing.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Now fix it up

Finally I am back to finish off my brief series on writing a manuscript.

Last time I talked about putting the manuscript down and leaving it a while. Now it is time to pick it up again and read it from start to finish the first time. You will do this many times over the next year or two but this is the most important read in my opinion. This first pass will tell you if the story line makes sense, it will tell you if the book tells your readers want you want it to. I always find it a good idea to read this first edit reading with the point of the entire story in the back of your mind so that you can see if there are any inconsistencies to your premise.

Most times I change almost every line of this first pass through and I often loose as many as five thousand words. They were words I could afford to lose of course.

Listen to the feedback that others give you on your story as well. Make sure the time lines are right, listen to their questions and what confused them and please take note of anything they say does not fit. If it is wasted then it does not matter how good the piece of writing is, if it doesn't help the story or play some part then get rid of it. If you have to then cut it out and paste it in a folder that contains all the great pieces of writing that you want to use later.

Once you think you have it roughly where you want it call this the second draft and break it down a little bit. Join a writing group and ask for feedback on the first chapter. You might be surprised at how helpful other writers are and how on the mark some of their feedback is. They have all been through the process of having their manuscripts turned down (or most have).

Once you have the first chapter perfect take a look at the second. Give it to the writing group and don't be afraid of their criticisms. Welome them eagerly and once you have reached the end of the third chapter send it off to a publisher or an agent.

The rpocess has started and there may be lots of frustration, heartache and hard work ahead, but their is the chance of getting your book published and nothing in thios world quitte feels the same as that.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

For use on those days when the words just aren't flowing. It allows the air to clear your thoughts, the wind to create abstract art from your hair, and the police to wonder just how fast it might go.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Sleep on it

Once you have taken your manuscript to the point where you are calling it a first draft, sleep on it.

I have tried reading a draft within a week of writing it and I missed so many mistakes because my head was still in the story and I was reading what I thought I wrote instead of what was on the page. Nowadays I give it to someone else to read while I take a hard earned rest for a 5 or 6 weeks and write some poetry. The person (if it is a gripping yarn) will get back to you inside a week and I have had them back to me before the weekend was over, and they will give you feedback on typos and on things they did not understand. Do not be tempted to reach for the bottom drawer where you have strategically put your copy of the manuscript to go through it and see what they are talking about. Let the feedback float around in the back of your mind and get back to that poetry. Its therapeutic.

When the time is right and you go back to it you will be amazed at what you find. I have been through a manuscript in the last six months where I changed over 75% of the lines (most in very small ways to do with wording)and I am sure I would not have made that many changes if my head was still where it was a week after writing it.

My sister read one of my books once and gave me feedback that the woman could not have done what she did in the time frame suggested, it was physically impossible for her to recover form the trauma she had been through in that time. The urge for me was to argue the point but I let it float around in my head for a month and then went back to the book. When I read that part I found I was right and my sister was wrong, and when I rang her and explained it she got it.

I put the phone down pretty happy with myself.

Then I began to think about this book being a bestseller and what my phone bill would be like if I had to ring every reader and explain the time line to them so it made sense! I rewrote the section thinking from the perspective of the reader and not the characters or myself, as we all knew what was going on!

Even when you are right you have to bow to the needs of the reader and if you rush into the revision phase of your work you may not see that as clearly as you would like.

So when you are done with that first draft, accept congratulations from me on a great effort, drink a bottle of champagne (and please put strawberries in the glass, it is so much better that way) and go and write poetry or short stories or perhaps just go on a little holiday. Whatever you do let your mind recharge and then tackle the hard stuff of revision.

And one last word, when revising be ready to cut what does not fit, even if it is brilliant writing.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Write, don't edit (yet!)

Today's post is a short one, which is odd given I am talking about ways to help you write more.

When you sit down to write, don't turn on the computer's auto editor, or the one inside your head. Let the words flow and avoid the distraction of having to get it all right as you go. There will be lots of time for that later so just let the story flow. your characters will thank you for it. There is nothing worse for an exciting character than to have his creator continually telling him or her to wait until they fix up something irrelevant to the story. Remember, your characters aren't interested at all in spelling and grammar, they want to get to the resolution of the story. They want to catch the bad guy, fall in love, or strike it filthy rich, and sometimes they want to do all that and more.

Let them be. Let them have their moment and enjoy themselves, for it wont be long until they are scrutinised by thousands, hopefully millions, and their lives will never be their own again.

If having errors in your manuscript is going to keep you asleep at night then after the days writing is done and the story has gone as far as it is going today, then jump in and do an edit, but make it a cursory one, for you will miss things in this pass anyway and we will talk later next week about when you come back and catch all those sneaky errors that hide so well even when in plain view.

Enjoy the story, let the editing come later. If, I mean WHEN, your manuscript is picked up by a publisher you will have had enough time already to do the first half dozen edits and when they say yes you will frantically edit again and look for all the mistakes you are now sure must still be there, so why spoil the fun of the first draft by swinging from creative writer to pedantic editor hundreds of times every session?

I put all this to the test last week and wrote for a whole session with the spell checker and grammar checkers on the entire time, and it was extremely successful in distracting me. So good was it in fact that anytime I don't really feel like writing I will turn it on because it will stop me in my tracks (not that I ever don't feel like writing).

So for now, write, don't edit, and when we get to that stage we will have so much more to edit!