There are just three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.
So said Somerset Maugham who in many ways started me writing.
When I was a child I penned avidly and on the suggestion of someone took up a pen name. On my parents book shelves were a handful of Dennis Wheatley's and a novel by the said Somerset. So I called myself M.M.Maugham. For some reason the M M stood for Maggoty Mouldy. I may still use this name if I get a publisher who wants me to change my name. I may even try and get these books published - including the spelling mistakes. There was a notty wind that made all the people koff. (I hope I didn't start the story with this - see later tip about not starting a book with the weather.) Decipher that if you can. A lot of my writings then where accompanied by crayon drawings of hedgehogs wearing shorts.
Apart from Never use the words "suddenly" or "when all hell broke loose." -
with the help of some of our house guests I have made a short list of writing tips. When I visit schools to talk about writing I illustrate the five useful tips I selected with their photo opportunities.
Tip 2. don't make phone calls and keep off Facebook.
Tip 4. Get a pet to keep your circulation going whilst you wait.
This is a tip from the great American poet and writer Charles Bukowski who related an idea to a bug. You might swat it dead or make a friend of it. I have a few dead bugs in my bottom drawer.
I trawled through the internet looking for writing tips and there are plenty of good ones.
every character wants something even if it's only a glass of water
never use a long word when a short word will do.
Never open a book with the weather.
This is the opening of my book The Boy with the Tiger's Heart.
The snow falls heavily that night and in the morning lies in deep drifts ......
Oh well. Isn't there a saying that says never say never?
On the writing front I have just finished the first draft of a new story. There is a black panther in it and in doing some research I was lucky enough to go on set with one. I took this picture in a film studio - the green background enables a different backdrop to be substituted. More than likely a jungle which is where this panther should probably be- though this one is tame. I was amazed at how long their tails are - up close they are at least the length of their bodies.
Panthers are often referred to as the ghost of the forest -as they are so silent - like they walk on vapours. The panther's trainer told me one could take a man sitting round a camp fire in the jungle and his companions would have no idea he had gone. I imagine he was not in mid conversation.
Writing can be a lonely business but as Beezle and Paulo Coelho would say "Blessed are those who do not fear solitude, who are not afraid of their own company, who are not always desperately looking for something to do."
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. (she nicked this from Groucho Marx.)
Letter from a Reader
by Adam Zagajewski
Too much about death,
too many shadows.
Write about life,
an average day,
the yearning for order.
Take the school bell
as your model
Too much death,
Take a look,
in cramped stadiums
sing hymns of hatred.
Too much music,
too little harmony,peace
Write about those moments
when friendship's footbridges
seem more enduring
Write about love.
about the endless patience
of the light.