Archive for style

How do you learn to write?

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , on October 11, 2017 by Kate Jack

I started writing when I was about fourteen. I’d always been good at writing essays at school and very much enjoyed it. I made stories up in my head too and this graduated into putting my day dreams down on paper, to feed my ever growing imagination.

However, apart from the essays, I had no formal education in writing fiction. Yes, I read, and even gleaned bits of other writers’ techniques, as a result, but I was mostly self-taught when it came to composing my own work. As a result I had no writing style, but a mish-mash of words, which resulted in some pretty bizarre results. My writing was, and still is, to a certain extent, instinctual. 

Now with some writers, instinct is enough, but most of us need a guiding hand. With that in mind, I joined a writers’ workshop. As a means of meeting other writers and gaining new friends, it was great. However, most of its members were hobbyists, which is okay, but for someone who wanted genuine feedback on how to improve their technique, or fresh ideas, instead of a mutual appreciation society, it was somewhat disappointing.

I then moved onto a writing group, which was much smaller and consisted of serious writers, and fared much better. The feedback was ruthless, the praise hard earned, but genuine. I learned about the overuse of adverbs, gerunds, and the use of naturalistic dialogue. This encouraged me to do an MA course in writing at John Moores University, in Liverpool, which enabled me to obtain a more “formal” education in the techniques of writing.

Even after that, I still had an awful lot to learn and assimilated more writing knowledge as I wrote my books, learning as I went along. I’m still learning and suspect, as far as writing is concerned, will continue to accrue knowledge as trends, genres and techniques continue to develop and evolve. 

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Writing with style.

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2013 by Kate Jack

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Whatever your actual writing technique is, it should always be presented with as much panache, verve and style as is possible. You owe it to yourself. You owe it to your work and most of all, you owe it to your readers.

As some of you may know, I have a real bugbear about bad writing, especially in terms of presentation. I’m sick to death of hacks who think it’s perfectly okay to present unreadable crap, filled with typos, no, or very little punctuation, and the delusion that when a publisher picks up their work, they will correct any mistakes. For God’s sake, it’s more than past time that such idiots woke up and smelled the coffee. There isn’t a decent publisher or agent alive who will read past the first paragraph of such rubbish, let alone do the writer’s job for them. Yes, some editing may be carried out, but they sure as hell won’t rewrite a work that’s riddled with errors.

What amazes me, is that when mistakes are pointed out to these egomaniacs, they’re absolutely outraged! Where are the plaudits for their “work?” Where’s the awe for their “masterpiece?” Why all this criticism? Why aren’t the plebs falling over themselves to sit at their feet and marvel at their “talent?”

I’ve just read a piece of work that is unreadable in terms of gross content and little or no punctuation, and as for the grammar – don’t get me started! The sad thing is, is that the writer considers it to be a work of genius and has literally stated this. Now don’t get me wrong I have an ego, just like everyone else, but the difference is that I’m also aware, thank God, of my limitations. I’m a good writer, with a vivid imagination. What I’m not, and never will be, is a literary giant. The best I can hope for is that one day I’ll be a popular writer, in that people will want to read my work. If and when that happens, I’ll do my damnedest to give them the best quality of book that I possibly can.

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Dressing up to dressing gown.

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , on November 1, 2012 by Kate Jack

Yes, it’s that time of year again when we all wish we were hedgehogs, or some other form of hibernating creature. My way of retreating from the cold is to wrap up in my dad’s old dressing gown – not a pretty sight!

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m something of a clothes horse. I love getting dressed up, but not when we’re on the cusp of winter. All my dress sense goes out of the window and I’ll wear anything clean and comfortable – not necessarily ironed. I just don’t care, not while it’s dark in the mornings and I’ve got to haul my backside out of bed at 6am and start scraping the car windscreen – one of my favourite past times – not.

And so it goes, until lighter and warmer days come round again and I “blossom” back into the peacock my friends love to mock, because I’ve reached the age where “mutton dressed up as lamb” is starting to apply. But hey, I never said I had good taste. 😀

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Energy, enthusiasm, style & verve.

Posted in General with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2012 by Kate Jack

How much of the above do you put into your writing? Or do you mistake these qualities for rushing the words onto the paper, with no regard to the plot, flow, continuity and characterisation? I ask because I have some, if not all, of the aforementioned traits. As a result I have to really watch how I write.

“Patience is a virtue”, they say and although an extremely irritating quote it’s also true. Where does impatience get you – nowhere. It results in either shoddy work or having to go over and over a piece of writing, which most authors have to do anyway. However, if time is taken to plot your story and make sure your characters are as three-dimensional as possible, then it cuts down on the amount of editing needed.

What should also be borne in mind is how do you want to be remembered – as a good writer or someone who can barely construct a sentence correctly – let alone tell a decent story? I know which one I’d choose.

Coming soon, Land of Midnight Days, YA urban fantasy.

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