It was Samuel Taylor Coleridge, he of Ancient Mariner fame, who coined the phrase “suspension of disbelief” in 1817 in his Biographia Literaria or biographical sketches of my literary life and opinions. He did so referring to his contribution, more than twenty years earlier, to the Lyrical Ballads. Published in 1798, these are generally taken to mark the start of the romantic movement in English literature. William Wordsworth wrote most of them, of course.
That unique moment — we all know what it is when we come across it in a book or a movie, an opera. We recognise it the moment we see it.
Although feel it would probably be a better word. And sometimes we don’t even realise what it was until we’re describing the story to someone else.
Lots of people try to analyse it. But essentially, it’s visceral. More like a fleeting scent or a snatch of music than anything we can explain. Continue reading
Do you use exclamation marks? Often? Maybe too often??!!!
Some readers HATE exclamation marks
Exclamation marks used to be all the rage. Once.
But tastes change and, nowadays, some readers count exclamation marks and scream abuse on all the social media platforms if they think an author has used too many. Quite a few of my clients — including bestselling authors — have suffered at the hands of the exclamation mark police. And many have sworn, as a result, never to use an exclamation mark again.
Ever. Continue reading
A few years ago, in company with a Very Distinguished Author Friend, I ran a session at
the Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference on The Romantic Scene.
It was a delight.
We had a ball.
Our participants were enthusiastic, completely engaged. They enjoyed it and talked about it for ages afterwards. Yet it had been one of the most thought-provoking tasks I’ve ever tackled.
Not as Planned
Confession time. Continue reading
May or might? Many writers (and journalists who should definitely know better) have been flummoxed by that one. It seems, increasingly, that may is used all the time, even when it’s actually wrong.
Try this for size:
The Queen may have married someone other than Prince Phillip.
Right? Or wrong? Or something in between? Continue reading
Editorial Advice — Revisions?
Screw the Punch was the first editorial idea to work for me in a big way.
Traditionally published or indie, everyone agrees that authors need to be edited. But what do we do with those editorial reports? One of the most crucial judgements for a professional author to make is deciding exactly that.
You sought an editor’s help. You got it.
Now you have their report and you’re back on your own again. Continue reading
Last time, I gave you four whom examples from the sainted Georgette Heyer. I said the number of mistakes was somewhere between zero and four.
And the answer? ONE. But which one? And why? Read on to find out.
Do I have to use Whom in written English?
Written material can pose difficult questions. If you’re emailing your mates, no one will care. If you’re writing your thesis or a letter to the pedantic godmother who will (you hope) leave you money in her will, you probably don’t want to make mistakes. They could distract your reader from what really matters, like giving you the top marks you deserve. So follow my tips if you want to be sure you can get it right when it matters. Continue reading
Today our guest blogger is multi-award-winning historical author Sarah Mallory who has more than 40 books under her belt, under various writing names including Melinda Hammond.
Although Sarah was born in the West Country, she now lives on the romantic Yorkshire moors, within a stone’s throw of Brontë country which is, she says, a constant source of inspiration. She is also inspired by history, an abiding love, and the Hive can vouch for her wide knowledge of the Regency and other periods. Get her into a corner (with a glass of something) and the discussion flows wonderfully.
At the request of the Hive, Sarah is going to tell us about her experience of writing historical romantic novels in a series. These days, it’s the received wisdom that readers want series books. So a guide from an award-winning author sounds just the ticket. Over to Sarah . . .
Romantic Series : The Infamous Arrandales
Occasional Writing Tips from Dame Isadora Pedantique-Ryter :
#2 English Daftisms: Do I practise in my practice?
Of course, as I type this, the spell-checker — in American English — is giving me a loud red underline to tell me that practise is wrong.
Well, no. Not in British English it’s not. And, funnily enough, on this side of the pond we tend to think that English is OUR language and that Brits make the rules and get the shiny star.
If pushed, though, Brits would usually admit that some British English is plain daft.
I’d say that the distinction between practise and practice is one of those daftisms. I’d add that license and licence are daftisms, too. (“Daftism” is one of my own words, by the way, a Pedantique-Ryterism! It can’t be any dafter than practise/practice.)
American English is much more sensible on this kind of distinction and just uses practice/licence all the time. That being so, American visitors are at liberty to skip to the puzzle at the end — unless, of course, they’d like to have a laugh at the daftness of Brits. If so, feel free to read on.
English daftisms: when is it S and when is it C?
Cover design is a whole new area for me. Before I self published, I sold my stories to big publishers. The cover was part of the deal. Sometimes a good part.
First Pitfall — Absent Author
Sometimes not so much. The Author’s input back then generally consisted of doing a précis of the story and describing the characters’ looks. The designer made of that what he/she would. It could be pretty weird. The cover design where the heroine’s only identifiable feature was a bad case of measles is burned into my soul.