Despite the undeniable glamour of being a Blog Awards contender, I’ve sadly neglected my blogeen of late. But it’s back-on-track time now – back to school, back to the fire, back to the drawing board. That also means back to the weekly herding of any gems I come across in my eternal quest for writing-related tips.
Making the book case
I laughed a lot at this lively post on American writer Chuck Wendig’s blog. 25 Reasons Why I Stopped Reading Your Book explores why he struggles to read these days. It’s partly due to being taken up with his own work, but he admits to also being harder to please because being in the trade has made him all-too discerning:
‘I have strong reactions to novels. Stronger than I used to. I’m like a stage magician where it’s harder to fool me with your magic because I know all the tricks. I can see the misdirection coming a mile away. That means I probably start and put down four novels for every one that I pick up and finish‘
In one of the most colourful, passionate pieces I’ve read in a while, he lists the many ways a book can lose a reader’s attention (specifically his). Some of those things are simply personal preference and can’t be helped. Others are very practical points for the trainee writer to take heed of:
‘If your book’s language is muddy or bombastic, I’ll check right out. Aim for clarity above any kind of GRAND MAJESTY OF THE HUMAN TONGUE. You’re not trying to impress us with frippery. Writing is a mechanism. It is a means to an end. Writing conveys more than itself. Writing is a conveyance for story, for idea, for character, for theme, for vision. Seek substance over style. Pursue precision in language over a noisy parade of words’ – Chuck Wendig
Even if you don’t learn anything, this is worth reading for entertainment value alone.
Words of wisdom
I also enjoyed this oddly awkward interview with DBC Pierre, winner of the Booker Prize and Whitbread First Novel Award for his wonderful debut Vernon God Little back in 2003. He talks here about what drove him to write in the first place (and how he used his prize money to pay off debts incurred during a decade of ‘dissipation, drifting and deception’).
His latest book, Release the Bats, is non-fiction – a guide for writers in the mould of Stephen King’s On Writing. It’s a book of advice from someone who confesses to never following advice, preferring to learn everything the hard way. Does that make him an ideal or inadvisable person to learn from? Certainly an intriguing one, if this candid article is anything to go by.
Short story competition
There are still a couple of weeks left to polish up your shiniest words and send them off to the Manchester Fiction Prize. Hosted by The Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, the annual competition is open internationally to writers aged 16 or over. Stories should be a maximum of 2,500 words. First prize is £10,000 and the entry fee is £17.50. The closing date for entries is September 23. More details can be found here.