Archive

A new leaf: writing and observation

Write a paragraph describing the leaf in as much detail as you can. The only rule is you’re not allowed to use the words ‘green’, ‘red’, ‘yellow’ or ‘brown’.

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What I’ve learned from travelling around the world (in short stories)

There’s a whole, diverse world of amazing fiction out there, and exploring it is a lot cheaper than other ways of travelling around the world.

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Ekphrastic Poetry

It’s easy to look at a painting, for example, Van Gogh’s yellow bed and chair,, and respond with words. You might write a short story or a narrative poem about someone, possibly Van Gogh himself, who lived here. You might write a poem reproducing what you see in the painting, or something slightly more philosophical about bedrooms and their owners. But what do you write when the painting you are looking at is abstract?

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When is a collection of short stories a novel?

It might seem obvious whether a book is a novel or a collection of short stories, yet I keep coming across books that seem to straddle both categories. So how can a book be both?

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Right up the bracket

Parentheticals in a script are mini descriptions put into dialogue (in brackets), usually to describe emotion, or what the character is doing while talking, or the way the character delivers the dialogue.

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Join the new OCA Book Group!

Do you like books? Do you like tea? Then join the OCA’s new online Book Group

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Writing about other species

I’m currently writing a collection of short fiction exploring our relationship with animals. When I tell people this, they often ask me if it’s a book for children, and it’s true that many classics of children’s literature feature animals: Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (1908), E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (1952) and Richard Adams’ Watership Down (1972) all spring to mind, and if you search online for animal stories, many of the results are stories for children. But thinking about and appreciating the lives of animals shouldn’t be something we associate only with children.

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Burroughs and Bowie- Using The Cut Up Technique. Part 2

The Cut-Up technique- in which words, or fragments of ideas are combined in random combinations- has a long artistic tradition. It is popularly associated with William Burroughs (although it can be traced to the Dadaist artistic movement, who used surprise, shock and absurdity to confront the audience in new and often frightening ways). The cut-up […]

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Using the cut up technique. Part 1.

The idea is that you can ‘use the site to read and/or write stories that take advantage of the possibilities of the digital medium by building in a lot of randomisation, so that a given story is different each time you load it.’

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Letting a book settle

It’s only since I’ve been regularly reviewing books every month for a magazine that I’ve started to think about how I read, as well as how I write

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