Advice from Authors

Stewart Conn

Writing can be like big-game hunting: tracking the wild animals of your imagination. Or like sitting very still, with a butterfly net, for some delicately winged creature to come within range. What's exciting is that the tools for capturing them are WORDS, no matter whether you are pinning down images and moments, tapping feelings, following the twists and turns of a story or creating tense situations in a play. What's important is that they should be yours expressed in your own individual VOICE. Worth remembering, maybe, that no matter how elaborate the stage directions in a play, or how vivid the action, it is through their DIALOGUE that your characters come alive and that without them, there's no DRAMA.

A STORY, while ideally giving the impression of flowing unimpeded, must be crafted to the right length for whatever it is saying. And though there's no need for a POEM to contain formally-shaped stanzas and rhymes, remember that there must be some link governing however the words are set out on the page like items of washing which can flap in the breeze, but need to be pegged to the clothes-line.

A final practical piece of advice. Do folk still knit nowadays, I wonder or even remember what knitting is? I do hope so. Because writing is like KNITTING, in that once you've come to the end, it is important to go back to the beginning and check through it carefully, making sure that you haven't dropped any stitches.

An added thought, maybe for the older ones amongst you If you haven't yet read Pushkin's long poem The Bronze Horseman, do give it a try: not only does it tell its story stunningly, but I suspect it'll have an even more powerful impact and immediacy, in the wake of the recent Tsunami.

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