Blueprinting Stories

If you’ve ever read a blog post about story structure then you’ll be familiar with the whole Hero’s Journey… thing. You know he’s got a thousand faces, and there’s this thing that’s like the big rock from 2001 only it represents myths? The guy who does the soup also does literary criticism? It’s confusing, I know.

If we’re going by the blogological output alone, there are three schools of thought: Continue reading


Coping with Ejection

It’s December, the Dead Month. Agents are otherwise engaged or closed for submissions, your family is climbing down the chimney to scream about your lifestyle choices, and all your anxieties are focused on the holiday season rather than on your work.

Submissions season is over, and the ejections have been sent. Here’s how you deal with them. Continue reading

Strangling the Gardener – Things I Learned

When you finish the first draft of a novel, your natural instinct is to tell someone. The predictable response amongst writers is for the listener’s head to detach and start rolling through the air, drawing breath through unknown means and screeching the word ‘rewrite’ until the walls begin to close in. Dark circles blossom beneath the wallpaper. Is it blood? It might be. Continue reading

Review: CRASHING HEAVEN – of Puppets and of Punk

I first encountered CRASHING HEAVEN a couple of years ago while interning at Conville & Walsh. When I wasn’t breaking champagne glasses and accidentally sending out mass-rejection letters I would read and report on submissions. Here I was free to spew forth many passionate and ill-informed opinions.

A few manuscripts stuck in my memory after I left. One of them was a powerfully imagined corporate dystopia, a vision of decay with one foot in operatic cyberpunk and the other in a rain-soaked detective noir thriller from 1940; real ‘he was in a dark place, between two gams and a Smith & Wesson’ material. Continue reading

A Rude Letter to Ryan Boudinot

(Note: before publishing I asked myself whether this letter was too mean-spirited and unprofessional to publish. Then I imagined what it would be like to read Ryan’s article after having been one of his students and stopped worrying.)

If I had more money I’d buy one of those days-passed-since-last-incident counters for the wall above my desk, so that I could record the frequency with which self-congratulatory internet thinkpieces send me into a frothing rage. Today’s candidate is a twelve-hundred word article about writing, by internationally-renowned bestselling author Ryan Boudinot. Really? Never? Well, I suppose you’re just not interested in real writing by real writers, then. Ryan is a real writer, and luckily for you he’s happy to explain why. Continue reading