In preparation for an upcoming blog, I was leafing through my copy of The Elements of Style, which is generally considered a writer’s bible. It was originally written as a textbook for a Cornell University English course by Professor William Strunk Jnr in 1919. In 1957, the author EB White (who coincidentally took that course) was commissioned to revise it for general publication. Yes, that EB White. The one who wrote Charlotte’s Web.
As I leafed, I was struck by how much of the advice is now irrelevant or ignored. Plenty of it is still important and even now I recommend it to anyone who is serious about writing well. But nearly one hundred years has passed since its advice was first committed to paper and all languages evolve. Not just new words coming into usage and old ones falling by the wayside but the meaning of words changing and rules being completely subverted.
So I thought it would be interesting to explore the advice in The Elements of Style that is no longer as definitive as it once was.Continue reading
This is one of the old practice novels I started writing when I still thought I was going to be the next queen of romance fiction and I’d considered posting it before and dismissed it as just too awful.
But then as I was researching names for my 200 Thank You’s on the Occasion of my 200th Blog Post post (because I’m terrible with names if you’re someone I’ve met personally – you’ll have to become famous if you want me to remember your name for all time), I pulled out a bunch of amateur publications from when I was at Holmesglen TAFE. And there, amongst them, was a collection of first chapters from my Novel 2 class. And this was in it.
I shuddered. But I figured if it was already out there, it might as well be out here, too.
It’s way too long for a first chapter of a category romance novel and it’s unnecessarily complex because both the main characters have men’s names even though one is a woman. But aren’t these exactly the kinds of things in relation to which we insist on sticking to our guns when we’re young and learning to write and don’t know any better?Continue reading
I bought this book because I’m embarking on a reading challenge, which is to read a series of books that have been made into movies that I’ve already seen and thought were pretty good. Usually I find it hard to read a book if I’ve already seen the movie of it because I spend a lot of time doing comparisons. “That’s not what happened in the movie.” Or anticipating what’s about to happen. “This is the part where he gets shot.”
This is a book of James Thurber’s short stories, one of which is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. It was probably a good book to start this challenge with because the titular short story is only five pages long. It’s hard to get caught up with comparisons on such a short piece of text. In fact, apart from his name and the fact that Walter Mitty gets caught up in daydreams to alleviate the boredom of his life, there aren’t too many similarities between the short story and the movie starring Ben Stiller. But it’s a good short story.Continue reading
Over the past year and a bit since starting this blog, I’ve written a lot. At the beginning it was easy. I had so much material that had never been seen anywhere except writing classes and quite a bit more that had never been seen at all. Bit by bit, I would dole it out along with whatever else I came up with along the way.
I still have plenty of novel chapters, poems, song lyrics, creative pieces in reserve. But posting them all would be indulgent. So I try to sprinkle them sparingly throughout blog posts that offer something more to others who also write.
And I always have opinions, so a steady stream of articles and advice on writing and editing was the inevitable result. Until this month. The ideas boards were starting to get empty. The remaining ideas on them were starting to get less inspiring. I had to admit a hard truth. I was running out of ideas for blog posts…Continue reading
Thank you to my sister Liz Holmes-Truscott (1), the soon to be Dr Mrs Elizabeth Mawson, for letting me pick your brain about blogging (read Sewn by Elizabeth here), reading the first draft of Black Spot and providing important feedback, such as to remove “Louise” words.
Thank you to my sister Natalie Campbell (2), the former Natalie Truscott, for reading the first draft of Black Spot and providing important feedback, such as to remove the peeing scene.
Thank you to my dad, Alan Truscott (3), for trying to read my first novel, Enemies Closer, even though you fall asleep when you try to read anything, even the newspaper.Continue reading
I picked this book up in a second-hand store simply on the basis of the title on the spine. I couldn’t see the front cover, I hadn’t heard of it before, I didn’t know anything about it other than what the title implied – a book that told “her version” about an unknown story.
When I read the blurb, I realised it wasn’t fiction, which is what I was primarily looking for but I thought it might be useful as research for a book I want to write in the next few years. Written and published in the mid-1990s (making it more than twenty years old now), Leigh Cato started with a simple concept as she watched “perfect” marriages disintegrate around her (her own included) and friends becoming involved with married men. How did the women being left and the women they were being left for see the two sides of the same story?Continue reading
I was reading the writing tips of a published author recently and amongst rather a lot of them was the advice that almost all dialogue attribution should use “said”. If the dialogue is a question, then “asked” is acceptable and if someone is responding, then “answered” is also okay. But nothing else. And even better, don’t use dialogue attribution at all.
Leaving aside questions of verb tense, I can’t tell you how much I disagree with this advice. Because while it tells me that a character was speaking, it gives no indication of how the character said the words. And often the words themselves just aren’t enough for me to know.Continue reading
I’ve never read James Salter before. When I read the blurb, it didn’t seem like it would be the sort of book I would enjoy but I was seduced by the cover, a white background to a vortex of parallel ocean blue and metallic silver swirls. But I think we all know what they say about not judging a book by its cover.Continue reading
“Don’t write reviews. Ever. That’s the work of specialist critics. Do what you do well – i.e. fiction writing – and stick to it. I mean, really, you want to review your friends and enemies in broadsheet newspapers???”
Novelist James Phelan (from jamesphelan.com.au/faq/)
“Reviewing is an important investment in my professional profile. I appreciate that people are time poor and even the most avid readers have a limited amount of time. Before a reader commits to purchasing my book, reviews ranging from 250-500 words are examples of my writing.”
Novelist Lynette McClenaghan (from “Staying Connected” in Issue 9, 2015 of The Victorian Writer)
For writers still learning the craft and the trade, it’s easy sometimes to become confused. Two diametrically opposed and conflicting pieces of advice from published authors like the ones above can be part of the reason why. Anyone with even a passing familiarity with this blog will know I post book reviews every Monday, so it’s clear which side of the divide I fall on. But does that make me (and Lynette) right?Continue reading