Do you want to escape?

Get out of your head

As a reader, I want to escape into a story and don’t want to return until I absolutely must. This kind of escapism is not unusual. Life is not ideal. We can’t always afford to take ourselves away from the life we have. Books and movies give us a more affordable way to live a different life, if only for a few hours. When we escape like this, the last thing we want is to be dropped out of our fantasy world and brought back to reality with a thump.

When editing, my job is to look for things which will drop a reader out of the story. Some of these can be:

  • spelling, grammar and punctuation errors;
  • characters acting ‘out of character’ or stupidly;
  • inconsistencies;
  • awkward phrasing, lack of clarity;
  • breaking the rules of the story world;
  • breaking the rules of the genre (killing the hero in a romance story).

These and others are dangerous to the career of the writer because once a reader is ‘dumped’ out of the story, they might:

  • remember all the things they should be doing instead of reading;
  • get so frustrated they throw the book at the wall; and/or
  • never forgive the writer and write them on their blacklist.

Someplace to go…


The setting of your story can be almost as important as character and plot. The same story set in different times and places can change it completely while demonstrating that despite the advances in technology and differences in lifestyle, humans are basically the same no matter where or when we live.

Fairy Tales have always triggered the imagination of writers, becoming some of the most popular tropes like Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. Echoes of these stories can be heard around the world in every conceivable time and place.

Jane Austen’s original classic English Regency romances have been rewritten or “updated”, set in different times and places with varying degrees of success. Even adaptations for movies based on Pride and Prejudice vary widely from the miniseries of 1995 (starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth) and the 2005 movie (starring Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen) to variations like the 2004 Bollywood movie Bride and Prejudice, or the London of Bridget Jones’ Diary. Each has a very different feel and atmosphere while telling more or less the same story.

Look at the novels of Agatha Christie. She definitely knew how to make setting work for her story. Murder is murder whether it happens on a train, a river cruise, an island or in the middle of London such as of Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, And Then There Were None and Sparkling Cyanide.

As a reader, I am grateful to writers everywhere who can spirit me away from the dentist’s waiting room, the sickroom, a long commute or a relaxing holiday to anywhere in the world or outside it from deepest darkest space, anywhere in time or to the familiarity of my own town and time, making stories come alive.

The habit of reading


How do you escape from an interminable journey or meeting you’ve lost all interest in, a boring lecture which has no relevance for you, or a yet another retelling of a long story by an Alzheimer’s sufferer?

When you don’t want to give offence or can’t get up and walk out, the habit of reading can give you a place of (mental) escape which is fresh in your mind. Puzzling over where the author is leading you and what will happen next should be able to keep your mind quite happily occupied.

When you need to take your mind off your own pain and suffering, when medication isn’t completely effective, reading a good book is a great alternative. Escape to a different time and place, a world where anything can happen and probably will and have a lovely little mental holiday.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not advocating a mental holiday from a conversation, meeting or lecture which has a legitimate claim on your attention.Most times we can not and should not lose concentration on what we are doing, especially if we are driving a vehicle. A fantasy world can be a dangerous place to live. Unfortunately, reality must intrude on our fantasies now and then.



Yes. Guilty. I read the dictionary. For fun.

Why? I love finding new words to use, coming across old friends I’ve forgotten and learning a word for an idea when I hadn’t known one existed. Zoetic Words are my favourite..

Wonderful words I come across which I’d forgotten all about, or learning the different nuances of meaning expressed by variations of the same root word.

Every home needs a good dictionary and not only for playing the dictionary game (for how to play see Fictionary) or Scrabble. Gift suggestion – a beautiful big dictionary. They are not cheap to buy but make a beautiful addition to a home library. Not something a lot of people, except writers and editors, buy for themselves.

I once gave a gorgeous big gold-edged dictionary as a wedding present to a couple I knew, new Australians whose first language was not English. I was so chuffed when, some time later, the groom thanked me and said it was one of the best presents they received. The bride confirmed that he definitely sat down to read it at every available opportunity. My kind of people.

Do you also look up new words you come across when reading? I do. Modern technology makes it so easy when reading online or on Kindle etc with built-in dictionaries.


Words in your soul

“You’ve got words in your soul”. A lovely way to describe the bibliophile.

One of my earliest memories is of getting some “pocket money”. We didn’t often get pocket money. Probably only three times in all my school years. I was one of seven with only one parent working. We lived 8 miles out of town on a farm. I was somewhere between five and eight years old because we left the farm at the end of grade three.

Anyway, this shilling (yes, it was the olden days before decimal currency) was a lot of money in those days, a veritable fortune! Well, I left the school grounds and went shopping. I spent all pocket money on, ta da, a Little Golden Book called “Out Of My Window”. It began with “Out of my window I can see, my Daddy coming home to me…”

Well, I went back to school and was showing my friends my brand new book, the first one I’d ever bought with ‘my own money’. So, what happened? Someone dropped their paddle pop (icecream) on my book and left a big juicy chocolate mark all over it. I was devastated, to say the least. I may even have shed a tear.

I remember my Mum from the time I could read, going crook on me for reading after lights out. I’d stand up beside the door and read using the light which came through the crack between the door and door jamb. If I’d had a torch it would have been under the blanket with me.

Reading was my escape, my solace, my friend, my way of living a million lives. Boarding school books, The Bobsey Twins, Enid Blyton – I read them all. Well, every book I could get my hands on. Every second day, if not every day, I went to the school library to change my books.

Things change, life goes on but books are a constant. These days I don’t get to read as often as I ‘d like to, but words and story are a big part of my life. Working as a writer and an editor is my dream job and I’d like to thank my clients for helping me make my dreams come true.