2015 Bristol Short Story Prize Open for Entries

Another opportunity for writers, as the Bristol Short Story Prize opens its doors for 2015 entries. The key facts: It costs £8 for each story entered Open to published and unpublished authors First prize £1,000 plus a £150 Waterstones gift card, 2nd prize £700 plus £100 Waterstones gift card and 3rd prize £400, plus £100…

Writing courses don't have to look like this to be worth attending

Don’t be suckered by rip-off writing courses

Writing is hard. That’s the first thing you find out when you join writing club. And because it’s hard, new writers are always looking for quick fixes. Don’t worry, we’ve all done it. Fortunately, there are lots of people and organisations offering quick fixes that could just be the thing that helps you get your…

Dangerous Liaisons - a novel told through letters

Add Texture to Your Novel

In a single day, we gain information from a huge number of places. In the morning, most of us may put the radio on and listen to the news and then reach for our smartphones to catch up on emails and texts or social media. We get up and stroll downstairs for breakfast, noticing the morning…


Five Mistakes of the Self Published Novelist

I submitted my first ever novel to MacMillan in 2003. It was 200,000 words long. It was messy, poorly edited, over-burdened with characters, and in every possible way a first novel. That isn’t to say it was rubbish, it was just… my first novel. After a few rejections had rolled in, I decided to go…

Dialogue in a radio drama has to do almost all the work

Putting Dialogue Centre Stage

Some writers find dialogue difficult. I’ve even seen new writers avoid dialogue with the overuse of reported speech. But the best way to tackle dialogue is to tackle dialogue. Listen to people out on the street or in cafes and tune into how they speak. Notice how they don’t always use full sentences. How they interrupt…

We have lift off

First Writers Anon Meeting of 2015

The first Writers Anon meeting will be on Wednesday 14 January, kicking off our year of writing 2015. NOT today, as the blog calendar says (it needs updating). If you’re in the Taunton and Somerset area, feel free to contact us for details on our meetings, which take place on Wednesday evenings. We meet every…

Set attainable writing goals that last past January

Six New Year’s Writing Goals

I try not to make New Year’s resolutions, but it’s good to have some writing goals. The important thing, is to make them attainable, otherwise you’ll feel like a failure, when you don’t win the Man Booker Prize and get a three-book deal by October. Instead, make small changes to how you approach your writing for 2015.

Here’s my six step plan:


A Message from Alexander McCall Smith

  “A few years ago I wrote a poem about winter that I recently retrieved from a cupboard…. It is not news, of course, but it says something about what I feel when I look today out of my study window onto the landscape of winter around me. I know that when I go up…

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice Writing Prompt

Many ancient sites are lined up with the solstice sun, indicating the cultural importance of this astronomical event for our ancestors. But what if we lived on a world with two suns? How would that impact on our culture and our rituals? And what would the world be like? This is an interesting exercise for world-building fantasy or sci-fi settings.