Category Writing

Write Stuff

“When I was eight, I got my first pen-pal. Forty years older than me, he was a prisoner on Death Row in Columbus, Georgia.” So began a presentation my daughter gave last week to an advertising agency. “I would write to him about who’d stolen my satsuma at break and as time passed, my suspicions […]

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 […]

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 […]

Causley for Thought

Last week, posting Derek Walcott’s The Schooner Flight on our blog, I linked to an audio of him reading aloud. Hearing a poet’s voice – the tone, the pace, the intonation, the inflection – can enrich appreciation of their work.  At other times it’s disastrous. Each year the Today Programme on Radio 4 invites finalists for […]

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 […]