Category Short Stories

You’re Bookered

Many years ago I was on a theatre awards panel. The judges had to see around 90 West End productions across 12 months. Even when a play was truly awful, there was the possibility of an award winning performance. Then there were the costumes, the lighting, the set, the sound, the direction… After a while, […]

Only Connects

Too often we overlook how important word placement is in the simplest of sentences. There are words that imply the same thing, but are differently nuanced. I am in a hurry, is slightly less frenetic than I am in a rush. Writers will agonise over word placement. Graham Greene wrote only 500 words a day […]

Face Values

On Monday, Tricycle Readers analysed a story by Salman Rushdie. After the reading, one of the group admitted she’d struggled to listen because she doesn’t like Rushdie: ‘He has a mean face. He doesn’t look a nice man’.  I was taken aback but not in a position to challenge her as, the previous night in […]

Fundamentals

Until recently the Royal Literary Fund’s website was, like the organisation, discreet and traditional. The pages were the colour of parchment, like leaves from leather-bound books found on second-hand stalls at Sunday markets; like the 1970s newspaper cuttings that fall from my mother’s cookery books – forgotten recipes for avocado mousse or ten tricks with red salmon. […]

Rhythm Sticks

Yesterday at our first Tricycle Readers meeting, we touched on the importance of punctuation. Punctuation supports and highlights meaning. The jacket of Lyn Truss’s book on English grammar shows a hand holding a smoking gun. It is titled, Eats, Shoots and Leaves. If you remove the comma – Eats Shoots and Leaves – we’re discussing the […]

Flying by the pants

Today I’ve been designing our Tricycle Readers flyer and think it looks rather good. I’m not sending it out quite yet, however, as there’s bound to be a typo somewhere, or a sentence that can be shortened or improved. The nature of writing is that you keep going back and finding things wrong. It’s why […]

Heavens Forfend

Was my mother a robber in a past life? We grappled with this notion during a debate over lunch on the difference between destiny and karma.  I say they are polar opposites. Destiny is a belief in inevitability, in a grand scheme. Karma on the other hand, is a cycle of cause and effect: good […]

Water water everywhere

Water water everywhere nor any drop to drink…  It’s been a bit like the Rime of the Ancient Mariner in our house this week – outside is puddled and muddy and inside the water’s switched off. The Ancient Mariner is a hoary old sailor whose ship is cursed after he shoots dead an albatross. His […]

Thinking Allowed

Last Wednesday I had lunch with the novelist Wendy Perriam whose current project is a book of short stories, Bad Mothers Brilliant Lovers. Wendy is a planner. The stories she tells have been mulling in her head, each twist meticulously mapped, before a word is written. It was her planning that led us to meet: […]

Our Tryst with Destiny

Walking through Central London last night, with many buildings in darkness commemorating the lamps going out all over Europe in 1914, I thought about the power of single lines. Consider: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country (Kennedy); I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, […]