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‘Develop your sense of how English works’

Don’t depend on spell- and grammar-checkers   from Get Started in Writing Historical Fiction by Emma Darwin     Don’t rely on the wonders of modern software to do the work for you. True, spellcheckers are very handy for the first-pass picking up of errors, but they’re not enough. They don’t know which you meant […]

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‘Writing “badly” but with vigour is the best way’

  Do you check grammar and spelling as you go along, or afterwards? I tend to check things at the end of the day when I read through all I’ve written. But I have no set rules about this. Sometimes I tinker with sentences when the morning’s work is slow. It becomes about engagement then. […]

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‘Grammar is your tool, not your master’

  What are your pet peeves, regarding grammar and syntax? Too many authors get hung up on writing ‘properly’. For me, grammar flows automatically from the characters and context of your novel. Grammar is your tool, not your master. No reader – or agent! – wants to read a sloppy, badly written book, no matter […]

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‘It’s about first impressions’

  I was asked how off-putting it can be to receive submissions that aren’t as good as they could have been – proposals over which, for whatever reasons, the author hadn’t taken care to perfect. Actually, it isn’t off-putting: it saves me time. That submission is quickly jettisoned in favour of the first one in […]

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‘You shouldn’t let nervousness about the writing rules stop you’

  I have a confession to make: I’m still a little bit terrified by the writing rules. Yes, even though I have an English degree and have worked in editorial for nearly four years, every now and again I’ll trip up over some quirk of English grammar or spelling and have a crisis of confidence. […]

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‘Editing is really where the fun starts’

  How important is it to edit your work? Editing is really where the fun starts. Once you have all the pieces in place, you can start moving them around and ‘prettying’ your work. My first drafts tend to be functional and plot-driven. When editing, you can really work on finding the character’s distinct voice. […]

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What Are the Writing Rules?

This month’s task is about grammar and how you choose to use it. To begin, start a free-write on the topic of your choosing – but write even more loosely than usual – free associate, switch between multiple viewpoints, play with form and language. Now you are going to edit two versions of the same […]

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Black History Month: Top Five Literary Titans You Must Read by JM Holmes

Dear Internet, Black history month often focuses on, and rightfully so, the struggle for equality and justice, but this short post is a simple celebration of some black literary giants (at least in my eyes). Though, I admit that their work is hardly apolitical and, in truth, the work of black artists, could never, would […]

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Middlesex Relegated in Last-Day Drama

Before the final round of fixtures in the Specsavers Championship, Essex were already confirmed as champions and Warwickshire were relegated, but there was a four-way battle to avoid joining the Bears in making the drop. Somerset (127 pts) hosted Middlesex (143) knowing that a convincing win could send them above last year’s champions. Hampshire (140) […]

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Read an Exclusive Extract from Son of the Night

You may have heard of the Hundred Years War. You may think you know about what those times were like. Lots of mud, territorial aggression and religious beliefs. But what if the outmoded superstitions of an uneducated populace were actually true? What if God *would* send an angel to fight by your side, as long […]

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Bringing Your Novel to Life: The Art and Craft of Description

The eyes are windows to the soul, and through artful description of what is seen (and felt, heard, touched, smelled) the writer can magically transport the reader behind those eyes directly into a character’s consciousness. Description and point of view are inextricable: whatever is seen must be seen from somewhere, by someone – even an […]

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Trescothick Century Pushes Warwickshire Towards the Drop

With the week’s fixtures in Division One of the Specsavers County Championship featuring 1st v 2nd, 3rd v 4th, 5th v 6th and 7th v 8th, it was a potentially decisive one at the top and bottom of the table. As it was, the weather had a huge impact on the round, meaning that few […]

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