A different kind of true

Stories are

True stories can sound unbelievable. Though often based on truth, they must often be ‘massaged’ by a writer for various reasons, including:

  • protection the innocent or the family or friends of the innocent… the identity of the person or persons involved who may not appreciate the fame or notoriety;
  • providing the story with a background which ‘makes sense’;
  • to bestow a richly deserved ‘happy-ever-after’; or
  • deliver your ‘character’ the karma they deserve because the slippery eel avoids everything they deserve in real life…;
  • making sense of an event which the writer cannot understand in reality;
  • because the reality sounds far-fetched; and/or
  • to avoid legal proceedings for defamation, slander etc.

Which have you done in the course of your writing or come across in your reading?


Words that mean something

Good strong words

Few deliberately read or write the wishy-washy. Though there are many reasons we read and write, few involve wasting time when there is much to learn and experience which will enrich and improve your life.

Something I find myself repeating often in my editing is, “what do you mean by this?” Some words have many meanings, combining certain words can cause confusion. It is not easy to say exactly what you mean and mean exactly what you say. Specificity is important when conveying meaning.

Take for example “he jumped in his little red car and drove off down the road”. Without specificity, our character might be anyone who drives a red car, from Enid Blyton’s Noddy to James Bond. The car might be a red Ferrari or a child’s toy racing car. He may drive like the chauffeur of a VIP or a professional driver on a Grand Prix circuit.

Especially when word count is limited, each word must work hard to earn its place. Try interpreting the above example in as many specific ways as you can. I’ll start.

“The learner barely cleared the door of his new scarlet MG before hitting the starter, kangaroo hopping, stalling, restarting before putting it in first gear and, attempting nonchalance started off again, his face a similar colour to his paint job.”

“Angry at the insult, he stormed off, slammed the door of his Rally Red Corvette, revved the engine before roaring off in a squeal of tyres on bitumen.”

“Carefully closing the door of his fully restored Salsa Red VW Beetle, he fastened his seatbelt, started the motor, checked there was no traffic coming, indicated and pulled away from the curb smoothly, giving a cheerful beep beep goodbye.”

I’d love to hear your interpretation.


There's always room

Readers enjoy all the (armchair) travel for which they can make time. Any place at all will do me, I’m not fussy. Time travel, global travel, travel into the lives of people I will never meet and some I may be fortunate enough to meet someday.

One of the best things about this is that we are only limited by the time available to us for reading, our imagination and the imaginations of writers.

JK Rowling’s quote is good news for writers. Let your imagination run wild. Write a cracking story and readers will find it. So, why are you still here reading? Get to it.

Writing and Editing


Great quote. Stories, characters, plot bunnies, they can burn inside until you let them out onto the page. It can take some time to write a complete story, almost never in one sitting, especially for full-length novels and family sagas.

First drafts can bear very little relation to the finished book. Unless the writer is very experienced and a rather detailed plotter, the story often changes through the writing process as the writer learns more about the characters, setting and the details of the story. Often the writer doesn’t completely understand the whole story until the first draft is finished.

There are so many ways in which to tell a story. It can take some time and often more than a few rewrites, to find the best and most effective way to reveal, at the appropriate time, all the essential pieces of the puzzle or the fire at the heart of the story.

Ignite the imagination

Ignite the imagination

What can a writer do when writing becomes harder than usual? One thing I ask myself is, how much reading for pleasure have I done lately? It’s easy to get busy and neglect your personal reading, or get bogged down in reading for work and forget to read for yourself.

Read something different, exciting, out of the ordinary. Ignite your imagination.