Tag Archives: writers on writing

Collaborator and Writer, First Steps in Doing it Together

Collaborator…

Collaborator with colleagueBy temperament, I’m one of nature’s collaborators. Show me a team and I’m spitting on my hands and doing my bit. With enthusiasm.

In my various day jobs, I’ve loved the sense of shared enterprise. OK, I could get a bit testy when we had meetings about meetings. But mostly interaction with other people buoyed me up when I was tired, focused me when I was floundering and made laugh a lot.

And I work a whole lot better than I do on my own.

…or Loner?

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Nice words: he Rats, they Badger, but does anyone Mole?

animal words create images in hearer's mind

Language is a writer’s basic toolkit. Writers — novelists, playwrights, poets, lyricists, and all the rest — use words to trigger emotional responses or to paint pictures in the minds of their readers and listeners.

How can we fail to see layers of meaning in creations like these?

  • the wine-dark sea (Homer, Ancient Greece)
  • sleep that knits up the ravelled sleave of care (Shakespeare: Macbeth, 1606)
  • nursing her wrath to keep it warm (Robert Burns: Tam O’Shanter, 1790)
  • moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black (Dylan Thomas: Under Milk Wood, 1954)

English, a pickpocket stealing words?

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That Unique Moment – Making a Story Special

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.

smell evokes memoryAlthough 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

Imperfection for Writers: Good? Bad? Challenging?

 

imperfection in writing and discarded pages

Imperfection sounds bad. Yet I know all about the dangers of perfectionism. But somehow, when it comes to my writing, I never quite believe them.

It feels too easy, like part of that “everyone gets a prize” approach which I deeply mistrust. The sort of thing that makes teachers say, “Ermintrude is too easily satisfied.” Continue reading

Naming Minor Characters: Fun and Games with Names

One of the fun things about writing fiction is that you, the author, can really play with names for your characters. Hero or villain or somewhere in between? You’re in charge when it comes to naming.

And if you’re writing historical fiction, you have even more scope. Continue reading

Elizabethan York without Dung? Pamela Hartshorne guests

Sadly, today is the last of our series on research. But we’re finishing with a bang!
In delectable medieval York.

author-pamela-hartshorne-specialist-in-york

Today, we welcome Pamela Hartshorne, a York specialist. Her credentials are beyond doubt — she has a PhD in medieval studies — but she manages to wear her research very lightly. She has written dozens of books for Mills & Boon, a publisher that definitely doesn’t want dry background material to get in the way of the love story between hero and heroine.

Every time someone asked whether she’d use her research in a book, her answer was always no.
Until, one day …

One day, no finally became yes. Pamela turned to writing historical novels set in her beloved York, where she’d done her academic research. Was she taking a risk? Could she make the jump from Mills & Boon romance  to mainstream timeslip? Here’s her story . . .

Research may be useful … or not

tudor-york-map

John Speed’s late 16th century map of York

 

By the time I sat down to write a historical novel, I was feeling pretty confident. I’d already written over 50 books for Mills & Boon, so I figured I knew something about storytelling. Continue reading

Gritty Saga Research: Jean Fullerton guests

jean-fullerton-author-picTwo weeks ago, we had Katie Fforde digging in the dirt — with and without Ray Mears! — in order to write about life in the here-and-now. This week, we welcome Jean Fullerton who writes award-winning historical sagas about the not-so-very-long-ago.

It can seem worlds away from where we are now, even though some readers will have lived through the periods of Jean’s stories and experienced exactly the kind of gritty reality she describes. And if you enjoy Call the Midwife, you’ll love Jean Fullerton’s books.

Read on to find out more about the lengths an author goes to in order to get it right

Jean Fullerton, East London Author

Fullerton research 20th century nursing guide

District nurse Jean wasn’t quite like this!

 

I was born in East London where my family have lived since the 1820s.

I’ve written ten novels set in East London (published by Orion) and am just putting the finishing touches to my eleventh. This one is set during the Second World War, and also in East London. I’m now a full-time writer but I was a District Nurse in East London for over 25 years. These days, I live with my hero just outside London. Continue reading

Sugar tongs at dawn? Elizabeth Rolls guests

It’s useful, when researching, to be able to consult people who were there. But go back more than a century or so — to the Regency in Britain, for example — and there are no living witnesses to consult. Elizabeth Rolls authorRegency novelists — like today’s guest, Elizabeth Rolls — have to rely on other sources.

You may imagine that “other sources” means dusty history books and written materials. But there’s much more than that.

And getting to grips with the non-written stuff can present the odd challenge if the author in question lives 12,000 miles away, in Australia.

As Elizabeth Rolls does…

Elizabeth Rolls loves her research

To research or not to research?

For me, research is a must. I’ve had a book kick off in my mind over a snippet about the crossroads burial of suicides in the early 19th century. The past is very much a foreign country, but add 12 000 miles into the equation and you have a real challenge. Continue reading

Katie Fforde & Research: Guest Blog

katie-fforde-author-picKatie Fforde is a true country girl at heart, living in the Cotswold countryside with her family. And she’s a huge bestseller, as well as being President of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Katie believes falling in love is the best thing in the world, and she wants all her characters to experience it, and her readers to share their stories.

We readers love those stories for their warm-hearted characters, their gentle comedy and their guaranteed happy endings.

Katie sets her stories in the here and now. So she doesn’t need to do research, right?

Wrong. Katie Fforde does research too, some of it the hard way. Ray Mears survival training, anyone?

Read on for Katie Fforde’s very individual take on doing research.

Katie Fforde does Research? Yes, really

Many years ago a friend who wrote historical fiction heard me mention doing some research. She said, “But you write contemporary, you don’t need to do research.”

How wrong she was!

Starting with potting

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Fantasy research: sweat the small vampires? Kate Johnson guests

fantasy author Kate Johnson with book The Untied Kingdom

How do you do fantasy research?
Do you actually have to?
Surely it’s all just make-believe?

Intriguing questions, aren’t they?

And we at Libertà didn’t have the answers, so we tagged fantasy and alternate-history author Kate Johnson to tell us how she does it. Being Kate, she gave us explanations with a side-order of slightly weird.

Enjoy the fun!

Kate Johnson’s take on fantasy research, and more

How on earth do you research things that don’t exist?

Well, here’s the thing: you might be writing about vampires or spaceships or magic paperclips, if that’s what your heart desires, but you’ve got to make them believable.fantasy research Spike and Joyce
You’ve got to make the reader trust you, and if you get the details wrong, they won’t.

Sweat the small stuff. Continue reading