Nina, Author at The Open College of the Arts
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Nina


Creating great character voices: Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible

Writing in many voices within one novel is a challenge, one that can demonstrate a writer’s prowess, as it does here, but  one that can fatally wound a promising idea for a story, weighting it down, making it over-complex, and pushing a student writer’s skills to the very limit.

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What would we do without villains?

Not all stories have a bad guy or gal. Conflict, and the thwarting of desire, can come from many other sources. In fact, having a villain at all could be thought of as an artefact of certain genres; action, crime, romance and adventure, for instance, although for the purpose of this blogpost, I’m casting my net more widely. Some of the greatest literature features ‘the villain’, Shakespeare being master of the purposefully evil human intent on destruction and full of hate, and Dickens taking up that mantle willingly, creating iconic villains such as Uriah Heep.

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Burrowing into your writing –Close observation

One of my own methods of creating new ideas, new characters or new scenes for my stories, is to begin a regular, gentle, mindless activity (walking alone is my favourite) to allow those deep, deep insights to emerge. I can return from a walk, or from listening to a piece of music, with new scenes ready to be written, or new understanding about my character’s lives.

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Only Artists

Although all the artists have fascinating things to say, as a creative writer I prick up my ears when writers are talking, to see if I can pick up any tips, or just have that moment where you think…yes, that’s so true!

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Hatching characters

They remind me now of this prototype protagonist, who has been newly hatched from the egg of my mind with no idea of what their world might hold for them…because I haven’t thought that world entirely through yet!

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Learning from the experts; David Mitchell

Always keep an eye open for advice from pre-eminent writers like David Mitchell. They often have hit on ideas, devices and techniques that helped them get from an initial thought to an acclaimed book. By tapping into their ingenuity, you can only further your own writing.

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The Hogarth Project: Re-examining The Bard.

In 2012, it was relaunched by Penguin, with a similar but specific mission; to publish reinterpretations of Shakespeare’s plays in the modern novel form. Some of the most acclaimed and popular novelists of our time have been commissioned to write for the project and so far, six have delivered – Jeanette Winterson, Howard Jacobson, Tracy Chevalier, Edward St Aubyn, Anne Tyler and Margaret Atwood.

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From OCA student to published author – one student’s experience.

“Take your writing seriously. If you don’t, no one else will. Don’t try to do a perfect first draft. You should see mine – they’re pathetic. Writing is re-writing.”

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Finding a writing soul-mate

My favourite writing resource even has a name…Gail. Yours should have a name too…Jim or Hilary or Sue. Because, in my opinion, the best resource a writer can have is a writing soul-mate.

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