If you look up a list of the scariest horror films ever made, William Friedkin’s 1973 movie The Exorcist will most likely be on there. And deservedly so: it’s an absolute shocker of a film, full of horrifying imagery and terrifying implication. The Exorcist is more famous as a film than as a book, even though it’s based on an excellent novel by William Peter Blatty. This Halloween I treated myself to reading the book and, as a writer, I learned a lot from it.Read More
Reading is wonderful. Books are wonderful. But some books are more wonderful than others.
We all have different preferences when it comes to reading. Sometimes it’s down to genre, or to what happens in a story, but mostly, I think, it’s down to a writer’s style and the way they construct a story.
I’ve just finished a book I found a struggle. We won’t mention any names here, but it was a genre I don’t dip into very often. But I like to read around and think that all writers should read widely, as you can learn just as much from a book you don’t enjoy as you do from one which is well-written and immersive. For one thing, you’re not so immersed in it as to stop thinking about the mechanics behind the book.
As a writer, you can’t please everyone, but you can still be mindful of a few pitfalls that make a book harder to read and harder to love. Here’s what I learned from reading a book I didn’t like:
I’m featured in the just-released The Brighton Prize 2017.
Last year I wrote and entered a flash-fiction story to Rattle Tales, a Brighton-based writing collective, for an evening of readings they were hosting. My story Death Rattle was selected, and I got to read it live in Brighton to an audience of rattle-waving writing enthusiasts.
It was a great night – it was wonderful to see how other writers performed the stories they had written, and the audience questions that followed each story were often illuminating. It’s notoriously difficult for writers to take their craft to a public stage, and I was really excited by the opportunity. Sadly, the 2018 Rattle Tales night falls a little close to my wedding day, so I’ve refrained from submitting to it!
I wrote Death Rattle to be read out loud and tried to emphasise sound throughout the story. I also tried to avoid certain tongue-twisting combinations of words that I might struggle with on the night! I’m really proud of the finished tale; I think for such a short piece of writing it tells a much larger story than it first appears.
I’d love for you to check out the The Brighton Prize anthology; not only to read my submission but also check out the stories from the writers I shared a stage with last June as well as the acclaimed tales that were selected The Brighton Prize – the short story competition run by Rattle Tales.
I first read Neil Gaiman’s American Gods in my late teens. It was winter time and I fitted it in between college classes and bus stops and it struck such a chord with me. The book is full to bursting with rich imagination, and images from that first reading that have stuck with me ever since. Which is why I won’t be watching the new TV adaptation of the book. Read More
I first read Robin Jarvis’ The Whitby Witches when I was a child. I can’t have been any older than ten, because by the time I finished the series I had yet to leave primary school. And actually, I didn’t read them – my mum read them to me. It was probably her eyes that first alighted upon that fateful tome, bound with a leering hound front cover that arrested both our attentions in that little library up the road. We devoured it swiftly and ordered the sequels shortly after. After reading and loving those too, I requested the boxset from my Grandma for Christmas (she lived near Whitby) so I could own those fantastic stories for myself.