Category Words

Processing Data

During a telephone interview for a writing job this week, I was asked if data was singular or plural. ‘Plural’ I gulped with fingers crossed, ‘Though people use it as both.’ After the call I went dashing to Wiktionary and was relieved to have data confirmed as a plural noun (singular, datum). I was grateful […]

Winter Mission

The evening started well with fizzy drinks and olives in the bar of a small London theatre reviving a play once describe as ‘elusive’.  On entering the auditorium the two old miseries sitting at the end of our row reading newspapers, refused to let us pass. “You’re sitting in the middle. Enter from the other side,” […]

Show and Tell

Storytelling is the key to all good communication. If you give an audience context and evidence within a clearly structured narrative, they are more likely to engage emotionally with the particulars, the person, the product, the politics, or the policy embodied within that story.  They will think about what they’ve heard, finding markers with which […]

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 […]

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 […]

Grape Expectations

At a wine tasting last night, I was discomfited by my clear lack of sophistication. Others smelt figs and melons, fire and grass. All I could smell was grape. The Chablis grape was so acidic, I got a sour taste in my mouth just on raising the glass to my nose. The Riesling, apparently, was redolent […]

Mew and Cry

Like a lot of people, I struggle to retain poetry. While writers like Simon Armitage are retelling epic poems, those that we most commonly encounter recall a single scene or a feeling, a thought or sensation, and there isn’t a full narrative that we can take away and discuss over dinner with friends in 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 […]

Shopping for a Publisher

I had a message over the holiday from a Facebook friend wanting a steer on getting poetry published. Alas, I was only able to offer the most basic advice, which is to shop around before you submit. Many brilliant first novels were rejected dozens of times before someone saw their potential. The work of JK […]