I want to tell you about themes. When I first started writing (short, literary fiction), I was forever being told about themes, and about how my writing needed more thematic writing in them. I really struggled to work out what a theme was, and how I could get it into my writing without making it look clunky and hokum.
After a couple of years of very minor success, I moved onto writing longer fiction. And, since I read commercial genre fiction (crime / thriller / horror / espionage), I naturally began to concentrate on those areas – writing the sort of books I’d like to read. If they were any good.
No, I’m not talking about *that* disease. This is a disease which isn’t talked about, except amongst writers, artists and other creatives.
It’s a strange disease, to do with lockdown, to do with anxiety, to do with a general feeling of unease.
And it has meant that us creatives haven’t been very … well, creative. I know, Jemima learnt to play the Flügel horn, and Benedict has been sharpening up his ancient Greek proverbs, but for many of us, we’ve just been feeling a bit … meh.
I’d just like to share the fact that I’m now producing 10-minute videos (or so) where I critique the opening section of novels.
For me, the opening scenes in a new novel are THE most important sections of a novel – whether you’re trying to pitch the manuscript to an agent or publisher, or whether you’re self-publishing and you want readers to buy it.
One of the questions writers get asked a lot is: where do you get your ideas from? I think this is particularly interesting when discussing a novel like Deceit. The story began as an idea for a idea NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month – in 2018. I had been watching news coverage of the civil war in Syria. I was particularly appalled by the indiscriminate killing of civilians, including attacking clearly-marked hospitals in the rubble of cities. It is a confused picture over there, and no one seems to know who is doing what. The Russians are supporting the Syrian government. There is talk of war crimes, inflicted by the Syrian government on its citizens.
Wonderful Swanwick – nearly 300 writers in beautiful surroundings, great food, and more writing input than almost any human can bear!
It was my third time there, and it has lost none of its magic. From crime to short stories, teaching methods to character psychology, and a fun-filled agenda of evening entertainment. What’s not to like?