Tag Archives: writing

Norman’s Conquests

This term, Tricycle Readers reads have included short stories from Chinua Achebe, Rose Tremaine, Julian Barnes, Salman Rushdie, and Nadine Gordimer. All these classic writers provide profound insights into the human condition through single scenes and/or singular narratives. People assume writing shorts is easier than writing novels. That isn’t necessarily true. Characters and situations have to […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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, […]