Thursday, 17 December 2009

Writing advice and new fictionfire courses

Christmas madness prevails, so I'm a bit behind with blogging. Was downtown today and found the state of the imminently-closing Borders branch terribly depressing. I know that some branches of Borders may find buyers and wonder if the Oxford branch will be one of them: on the plus side, Oxford is a bookish city, on the negative, the shop is a huge retail space so must cost a fortune and it's very close indeed to the local Waterstone's, Blackwells and W.H. Smiths. Sad lines of beaten-up bookshelves and trolleys were for sale (none too cheaply, I thought, given the state of them) and garish discount posters everywhere. Made The Works look classy in comparison.

Borders is certainly not going out of business through any fault of mine! Its disappearance may actually be good for my bank account.

Second item on the agenda - pop over to Tess Gerritsen's blog (listed on my blogroll on the right): having sent off her latest novel to her publishers she writes about the process of writing a novel from idea to final draft. Twenty two novels in, she's knows what she's talking about. Of particular significance is her advice that what matters is not so much idea/theme as the situation/crisis you put the character in. She's right: readers need to be emotionally engaged, they need the human dimension, however worthy or high-concept the notion/message behind the story. Secondly (and I stress this all the time, dear ex-students of mine!) she recommends that at first draft stage you do nothing but write that first draft: you push on regardless until the thing is done. There will be time enough at the redrafting stage to fuss and reorganise, smooth out the prose, enrich the characters, sharpen up the dialogue, tidy up the plot. Don't try to be all things at the same time: just write. Then edit.

Which brings us, happily, to my preparations for fictionfire courses, one of which will definitely be on editing. I intend running them again at Trinity College and they'll be in early May - a time when Oxford looks particularly gorgeous. I hope you'll be able to come! I know some of you were interested in my November courses and couldn't make it, so I hope I'll get the chance to meet you this time. Likely dates are the 1st, 8th or 15th May. If you would like to come, you can always register your interest by popping over to the fictionfire site or contacting me at


Denise said...

It's very sad Borders is going, I really love the enormous one on Oxford Street. They have things nobody else does.

I might well be interested in the editing course, I'll be well into editing by May (no, really I will!) and doubtless could use the advice!

Hope you have a fun and stress free Christmas!

Lorna F said...

Hi, Denise. I'm delighted you might be interested in the editing course - and congratulations on how your writing has gone. I've just confirmed dates with Trinity College - 1st and 15th May (just imagining May helps to cheer me on this freezing day!): the editing course will probably be on the 15th. I'll keep you posted. Meantime, have a wonderful Christmas!

Lane said...

If it makes The Works look classy it must be bad!

Merry Christmas Lorna and wishing you a very splendid New Year.



Lorna F said...

Thanks Lane - wishing you also a very Merry Christmas and all the best for a happy and creatively productive New Year. x

Karen said...

Sounds like you've got a very busy time ahead Lorna!

Hope you had a lovely Christmas, and all the best for 2010 :o)

Lorna F said...

Karen - thanks for your good wishes. Have to say I'm having real trouble getting a grip on things so far this year and part of it is the fact that I have too many things on the go and struggle to prioritise. Maybe by February I'll be functioning more effectively! I'm convinced 2010 is going to be a great year for you! x