Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Writing Critique Partners   1 comment

I came across the idea of finding a critique partner while listening to a podcast from Helping Writers Become Authors (

This seemed like a brilliant idea – a different way to get a perspective on my writing, and to help others with theirs – and a good supplement to my monthly writers’ group meetings.

The podcast suggested that getting a critique partner whom you could trust was a hard, time consuming task. After all, you need to find someone you are comfortable with, so you can share ideas and criticisms without taking each comment as a personal insult.

I thought I’d pursue the matter further and so a quick search on the web took me to this great resource: which contains a list of online writing forums and critique communities, most of whom are free to join.

Having gone through the list, I delved into the ( workshops because the community there was started for science fiction and fantasy writers, and a lot of my work fits into those genres.

It was a simple process to register on the site. It involved picking a workshop (there are workshops covering different writing genres) and completing a short form to supply my contact details and a short bio. Once completed, I was rewarded with a username and password, and a commitment to critique a piece of work at least once a week. I’ve done this a couple of times already, and it’s a fun process. You have to remember to follow the critique response guides as you don’t want to be rude or discouraging to fellow writers, and there are a few style rules to follow, but you can’t really go wrong.

Next step for me is to submit a piece for critique, and then hold my breath and wait for the responses. As long as I keep submitting critiques back, then my piece should be reviewed a few weeks after submission.


A Question of Titles   3 comments

Does anyone know which of these sentences is the most correct:

“Mr Smith went to the market.”

“Mister Smith went to the market.”

Would there be occasions when one form would be preferred over the other?



Posted June 10, 2016 by Alan Clark in Grammar, Question, Uncategorized, Write, Writer, Writing

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Info-dump Podcast   Leave a comment

I’ve just listened to the 335th podcast in the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast by KM Weiland, and very interesting it is too. I’ve been impressed by the quality of the information in this series since I came across it, but was particularly interested in this episode on Info-dumps where she outlines four different types of exposition a writer can succumb to when writing.

According to her, these categories are:

  1. Back story
  2. World building
  3. Technical
  4. Emotional

The emotional info-dump was new to me. KM Weiland defined it as when a character shares their state of mind, their emotions, or their current thinking. I found this interesting as an idea because I recognise that I’ve been guilty of writing this way from time to time.

So, I guess I need to set myself the task where of showing my way out of passages where I have the urge to share the emotions of my characters, so that readers can see the inner conflict, rather than being told about it. This might be harder than it sounds…



Bird by Bird   Leave a comment

I’m reading Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life” which I picked up second hand from Amazon, and am loving every minute of it.

This is a humorous look at how to write well, with an accessible delivery that makes it easy to take in.

Two lessons have stood out for me so far:

  1. That when writing, it’s a good idea to imagine holding a one inch picture frame up to the scene you are writing about, and only describe what you see within that frame; and
  2. When faced with a large project such as a novel writing, the best thing to do is break it down into small pieces. This is where the ‘Bird by Bird’ idea comes from (and I paraphrase): A boy was confronted with a deadline on a school  project about birds, and daunted by the looming deadline. Seeing this, his father was clever enough to realise that the work would be easier to complete if his son wrote about one bird at a time rather than trying to do the whole project in one go. Clever, hey?

If you enjoy writing then go pick up a copy of this book for yourself. You’ll love it as much as I do.


Posted April 19, 2016 by Alan Clark in Bird, Book, Learn, Poetry, Project, School, Story, Write, Writer, Writing

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Dalbeattie Writers’ Group   Leave a comment

I attended my second ever Dalbeattie Writers’ Group at the wonderful Nail Factory  on Tuesday night. This is a lovely venue, and came complete with coffee and cake, so I’m definitely won over.

There were only five of us at the seesion, including the Chair, Mary, and we had a wonderful chat that wandered between recitals of our recent work and discussions on the definition of Fairy Tales.

Email addresses were exchanged – something that hadn’t been done in the group before, for some reason – and a tentative process put in place for distributing work to each other for review before the next session. By doing this we aim to make it easier to offer advice on our work, having had time to consider it before the next get together.

Looking forward to the next meeting in April.


Posted March 11, 2016 by Alan Clark in Dalbeattie, Dalbeattie Writers, Reading, Writer, Writing

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Writing Tools   Leave a comment

I’m reading Writing Tools – 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peter Clark, at the moment. What a great book! I reckon my paperback will quickly become dog-eared through re-use.(ISBN: 978-0-316-01499-1)

I’d highly recommend it.

Posted March 4, 2016 by Alan Clark in Book, Reading, Resource, Writer, Writing

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Trains   Leave a comment

At least the trains have started to run again. Storm Frank has a lot to answer for. When it made the viaduct at Lammington unsafe, it also made my commute to the Big City that bit longer, which meant earlier starts in the morning, and later finishes in the evening. It also curtailed my writing a little. I’d found the train journey handy for putting pen to paper, using those moments to be as productive as I could. Having this taken away – albeit only for a short time – wasn’t going mean hours of fruitless driving though. I quickly discovered a bunch of fantastic podcasts to keep me company during my journey. Needless to say I am now a big fan of Writing Excuses, Grammar Girl, and The Geeks Guide To The Galaxy. Keep up the good work folks!

Posted February 22, 2016 by Alan Clark in Commute, Podcast, Train, Writer, Writing