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Writing about pop music is a novelist’s worst nightmare – and I should know

inews.co.uk – Tuesday July 17, 2018

For a writer in hot pursuit of that eye-catching new direction, there are not many greater challenges than the world of popular music. In fact, it isn’t going too far to say that from whichever historical vantage point you aim to examine the shambling behemoth of contemporary music, pop is both a novelist’s dream and a novelist’s nightmare: crammed with ready-made material, larger than-life characters, lurking tragedy and flagrant excess, yet simultaneously awash with protocols, jargon and technical detail that most newcomers to the scene will struggle to comprehend.

And then – even more problematic for an art-form that prefers solid subjects, where it can hunker down and modestly establish itself – there is pop’s built-in ephemerality, the suspicion that last year’s top ten smash will very likely be this year’s bargain bin-filler, the thought of an industry which is changing so rapidly that the whole edifice threatens to dissolve beneath the onlooker’s gaze. For the fan of the three-minute single, pop’s oddly provisional quality is part of its charm.

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How to Write a Query Letter That Grabs an Agent’s Attention

authorlink.com – Tuesday July 10, 2018

In today’s chaotic marketplace how can you capture a literary agent’s attention and get him or her to request your manuscript?

Surprisingly, getting an agent to represent your work is not about you.

It’s about what motivates the agent to take you on, and in turn, what motivates the publisher to buy from that specific agent.

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It is easier to win major literary awards by writing a lead character who is a man, Booker Prize-winning authors warn

telegraph.co.uk – Sunday July 8, 2018

It is easier to win major literary awards by writing a lead character who is a man, Booker Prize-winning authors have suggested, as they warn the tendency to laud with male protagonists is “concerning”.

Dame Hilary Mantel, the only woman to have won the Man Booker Prize twice for the first two novels of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, said it “might be observed” that her award success came easier for having a male protagonist than if she had been writing about a woman.

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My top 10 tips for writing a thriller by Nicholas Leigh

femalefirst.co.uk – Friday July 6, 2018

As an author, there’s no better time to pen a thriller. Last year alone, the genre shifted 18.7million copies, outselling other types of fiction for the first time in history. But while our thirst for thrillers goes unabated, tapping into the £117million market isn’t easy. Here, British novelist Nicholas Leigh reveals his top 10 tips for writing an edge-of-your seat thriller that really thrills.

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Taking A Creative Writing Class Can Be Intimidating, But Here's 13 Things To Know Before You Sign Up

bustle.com – Wednesday July 4, 2018

I was lucky enough to take my first creative writing class in high school, and I was instantly hooked. I went on to take classes in college, and then even after I graduated. So, if you're about to start your first creative writing class, I am so excited for you.

But, what is creative writing class, anyway? How does that even work? When I took my first class, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Creative writing is not taught like your typical school subject, but it's not a complete blow-off elective either. And of course, every teacher does things in their own way.

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'Annihilation' Author Jeff VanderMeer Shares the Secrets to Writing Great Imaginative Fiction

space.com – Wednesday July 4, 2018

Aspiring writers of "imaginative fiction" — whether science fiction, fantasy or other kinds — are in for a treat: a new update to the fiction-writing guide "Wonderbook," by Jeff VanderMeer (Abrams Image, 2018).

VanderMeer is a well-known author of some of the strangest fiction today (including the "Southern Reach" trilogy that the recent movie "Annihilation"draws from), and with "Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction," released today (July 3, 2018) he provides an equally strange (but effective) dive into the fundamentals of fiction writing, intermingling text and illustrations to explore the complexities of fiction. The book also includes perspectives from many authors, including Kim Stanley Robinson, Ursula K. Le Guin, George R.R. Martin, Neil Gaiman and more.

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Find yourself a muse (preferably nude but clothed will do) – and 9 more writing tips

irishtimes.com – Monday July 2, 2018

1. If your writing’s not flowing, rip it up. For me, the most successful pieces are always the most free-flowing. If it’s a struggle, be aware that a reader will intuit that too, so pull the plug. After all, Robert Louis Stevenson started 393 works only to finish 27 of them. I honestly can’t think of any job other than writing that involves as much waste – it’s worse than working in an effluent plant!

2. Keep fuelling your brain as you write. As I write this, I’m eating Baked Beetroot & Golden Linseed Tortillas which masquerade as healthy, a bit like myself, but are probably as bad as Monster Munch. While my right hand clicks on the mouse, my left dips more industriously into the tortillas. Testifying to the fact that I’ve just given birth to a new play, I need to lose a few pounds which leads seamlessly into…

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Don’t dip your pen in someone else’s blood: writers and ‘the other’

irishtimes.com – Sunday July 1, 2018

Was there ever any worse advice than write what you know? Who of the greats ever wrote what they knew? Did Charlotte Bronte live in a grand country house with a man called Edward Rochester who tried to commit bigamy with her before she wrote Jane Eyre? Was Gustave Flaubert a woman who committed adultery before he wrote Madame Bovary? And how many of us could write a good book if we only wrote what we know? I would have to write about a middle-aged woman who lives in a midlands town, visits Tesco and tends her garden. No story there. No bestseller. Because it’s not interesting. As writers we have to make things up if we want to spin a good yarn. We have to have a murder or two, a broken heart, a bank robbery, a ride in a spaceship.

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Getting In The Right Zone To Write

forbes.com – Saturday June 30, 2018

We’ve all been there. There’s a deadline looming and all you have is a blank page. Or a mess of scribbled notes. Or reams of writing that feels dull and uninspired. The clock is ticking, and you need a break-through, but it feels like you’re going in circles.

Well, it may seem counter-intuitive but the first thing to do is step away from your computer screen. Many people have got used to thinking and writing from a place of stress. But it doesn’t have to be that way. When you’re in the right energy zone and frame of mind, most tasks – including writing – can be done with flow and ease.

So, here are my top tips for getting in the right zone to write.

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Lionel Shriver and the rigging of the book market

usa.spectator.co.uk – Saturday June 16, 2018

Should the arts reflect the demographic make-up of their society, and be subject to quotas and affirmative action, in the name of diversity? Or should they be exempt from the imposition of quotas, as a meritocracy in which the only affirmative action is the one that recognises talent? This, I reckon, is the question at the heart of this week’s media case, The People (on Twitter) versus Lionel Shriver.

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