Archives for creative writing

#FlashPIC 3 Belisha Beacon #writingprompt #amwriting

As part of the Writers’ BLOCKbuster series, here is a writing prompt to kick start a flash fiction story. You can simply use the photo to energise your writing, or use some of the following phrases:- Orange Warning Road Traffic Impact Flashing Black and White Beacon Zebra Bang Crash Skid © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other FlashPIC writing prompts:- Death Valley Moon rocks Plastic bag What are ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’? I want to help you put words on the page. Those words won’t necessarily be the first line of your novel, or indeed anything to do with your novel, but they will be words to fill that intimidating blank space. And it couldn’t be quicker. Writers’ BLOCKbusters is a collection of three ebooks of writing prompts. Why are they different? Precisely because they are short, easy to use, and flexible. Designed for writers of fiction, any genre, novels, short stories, flash fiction, they are suitable for all genre of fiction precisely because each exercise is based on a subject unrelated to whatever you are struggling with. I am not looking over your shoulder.   Ebooks coming in 2019 at Amazon… Writers’ BLOCKbusters: #500 FirstParas Writers’ BLOCKbusters: #500
Read More

Categories: On Writing, Writers' BLOCKbusters and Writing exercises.

#FlashPIC 2 Arrivals Board #writingprompt #amwriting

As part of the Writers’ BLOCKbuster series, here is a writing prompt to kick start a flash fiction story. You can simply use the photo to energise your writing, or use some of the following phrases:- Arrivals Departures On time Delayed Digital Via Destination Journey Train No way back Return ticket Timetable © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other FlashPICs:- Looking over the parapet Stairs to who knows where Between the train seats What are ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’? I want to help you put words on the page. Those words won’t necessarily be the first line of your novel, or indeed anything to do with your novel, but they will be words to fill that intimidating blank space. And it couldn’t be quicker. Writers’ BLOCKbusters is a collection of three ebooks of writing prompts. Why are they different? Precisely because they are short, easy to use, and flexible. Designed for writers of fiction, any genre, novels, short stories, flash fiction, they are suitable for all genre of fiction precisely because each exercise is based on a subject unrelated to whatever you are struggling with. I am not looking over your shoulder.   Ebooks coming in 2019 at
Read More

Categories: On Writing and Writers' BLOCKbusters.

How I write flash fiction

There’s something freeing about writing a short story, compared with a novel, and that effect is exploded when it comes to writing flash fiction. So when I was nominated by writer Lisa Devaney for the ‘My Writing Process’ blog tour, I decided to take the opportunity to explore the way I write flash fiction. But first, something about Lisa [below] who I met at the book launch party for our mutual friend Tina Seskis, whose book One Step Too Far was published in April by Penguin. Lisa’s new novel In Ark is just published. It is a new genre called cli-fi [climate change fiction]. In the year 2044, Mya Brand lives in New York City and pursues her passion—trying to digitally save the life story of every human on the planet before climate change makes Earth un-liveable. Recovering from a failed marriage, she stays laser-focused on her mission. With support from her actress best friend and bartender buddy, she is rebuilding her life and trying to heal her hard shell. For more info about In Ark, visit Lisa’s blog here. Now to my writing process. What am I working on? I have a selection of flash fiction ideas at the moment
Read More

Categories: My Flash Fiction and On Writing.

Great opening paragraph 53… ‘Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“The elevator continued its impossibly slow ascent. Or at least I imagined it was ascent. There was no telling for sure: it was so slow that all sense of direction simply vanished. It could have been going down for all I knew, or maybe it wasn’t moving at all. But let’s assume it was going up. Merely a guess. Maybe I’d gone up twelve stories, then down three. Maybe I’d circled the glove. How would I know?” ‘Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World’ by Haruki Murakami Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Mara and Dann’ by Doris Lessing ‘The Ghost Road’ by Pat Barker ‘The L-Shaped Room’ by Lynn Reid Banks And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A 1st para which makes me want to read more: HARD-BOILED WONDERLAND by Haruki Murakami #books http://wp.me/p5gEM4-m9 via @SandraDanby
Read More

Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Great opening paragraph 51… ‘The Sea, The Sea’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“The sea which lies before me as I write glows rather than sparkles in the bland May sunshine. With the tide turning, it leans quietly against the land, almost unflecked by ripples or by foam. Near to the horizon it is a luxurious purple, spotted with regular lines of emerald green. AT the horizon it is indigo. Near to the shore, where my view is framed by rising heaps of humpy yellow rock, there is a band of lighter green, icy and pure, less radiant, opaque however, not transparent. We are in the north, and the bright sunshine cannot penetrate the sea. Where the gentle water taps the rocks there is still a surface skin of colour. The cloudless sky is very pale at the indigo horizon which it lightly pencils in with silver. Its blue gains towards the zenith and vibrates there. But the sky looks cold, even the sun looks cold.” ‘The Sea, The Sea’ by Iris Murdoch  Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘The Impressionist’ by Hari Kunzru ‘These Foolish Things’ by Deborah Moggach ‘Sophie’s World’ by Jostein Gaarder And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my
Read More

Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Famous writers, writing… John Updike

“A narrative is like a room on whose walls a number of false doors have been painted; while within the narrative, we have many apparent choices of exit, but when the author leads us to one particular door, we know it is the right one because it opens.” I came late to Updike, in the late 70s I read my first, Couples, while at university. After that I got into the Rabbit books. I came across this quote recently though and, as a novelist, liked it.   ‘The Witches of Eastwick’ by John Updike [UK: Penguin Modern Classics] Buy now See these other famous people, reading & writing:- Jerry Lewis Ernest Hemingway Iris Murdoch And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Famous writers, writing… #author John Updike via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-yf
Read More

Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Great opening paragraph 44… ‘The Hunger Games’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course she did. This is the day of the reaping.” ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Brighton Rock’ by Graham Greene ‘The Last Tycoon’ by F Scott Fitzgerald ‘Tipping the Velvet’ by Sarah Waters And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A 1st para which makes me want to read more: THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins #books http://wp.me/p5gEM4-eT via @SandraDanby
Read More

Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

#Writingprompt Writers’ BLOCKbusters… cinnamon

Try this writing prompt from Writers’ BLOCKbusters to get you started writing today. Go to the spice rack in your kitchen and find a jar of cinnamon. Smell it, taste it. Consider the sensations, remember your first reaction. Now write a paragraph about how it makes you feel. Use these ideas to write 50 words of a new story where the air smells of cinnamon. © ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’ by Sandra Danby Want more inspiration? Try these other writing prompts:- Looking Over the Parapet Anonymous People Berries  What are ‘Writers’ BLOCKbusters’? I want to help you put words on the page. Those words won’t necessarily be the first line of your novel, or indeed anything to do with your novel, but they will be words to fill that intimidating blank space. And it couldn’t be quicker. Writers’ BLOCKbusters is a collection of three ebooks of writing prompts. Why are they different? Precisely because they are short, easy to use, and flexible. Designed for writers of fiction, any genre, novels, short stories, flash fiction, they are suitable for all genre of fiction precisely because each exercise is based on a subject unrelated to whatever you are struggling with. I am not looking over
Read More

Categories: On Writing and Writers' BLOCKbusters.

Great opening paragraph 33… ‘The Sense of an Ending’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“I remember, in no particular order: – a shiny inner wrist; – steam rising from a wet sink as a hot frying pan is laughingly tossed into it; – gouts of sperm circling a plughole before being sluiced own the full length of a tall house; – a river rushing nonsensically upstream, its wave and wash lit by half a dozen chasing torchbeams; – another river, broad and grey, the direction of its flow disguised by a stiff wind exciting the surface; – bathwater long gone cold behind a locked door. This last isn’t something I actually saw, but what you end up remembering isn’t always the same as what you have witnessed.” ‘The Sense of an Ending’ by Julian Barnes Amazon Read my review of The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes. Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Super-Cannes’ by JG Ballard ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ by Helen Fielding ‘In Cold Blood’ by Truman Capote And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A 1st para which makes me want to read more: THE SENSE OF AN ENDING by Julian Barnes #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-nE via @SandraDanby
Read More

Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

If books were food, Bridget Jones’s Diary…

…would be a mid-morning snack of carrot cake with a Diet Coke. Because Bridget Jones carefully controls her calorie intake. Carrot cake for the carrots, of course, a very important part of her five-a-day vegetable regime which will make her healthy and slim with glowing skin and bright shiny eyes. Diet Coke because she needs a drink, with the cake, obvs, and the fact that it’s Diet means it’s a negative calorie so making space in her daily calorie count for the cakey bit. Which means the mid-morning snack costs no calories.   ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ by Helen Fielding [UK: Picador] And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: Imagine, if books were food: BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY by Helen Fielding #books http://wp.me/p5gEM4-pN via @SandraDanby
Read More

Categories: Book Love and If books were food....

My favourite writing notebooks

I am quite particular about my writing notebooks. I can’t be without a stack of pristine Muji notebooks. There’s something about the uniformity of the covers, the satisfaction of a pile of used notebooks collected together with a rubber band in the cardboard box I keep for all notes pertaining to my current novel. Everything gets tossed into this box, pages torn from newspapers or magazines, scenes with feedback notes from my writing friends, old photographs, photocopies of pages from books, maps, leaflets from places I’ve visited for research. Inside my Muji I guess the contents are like anyone else’s writing notebook – random ideas, character sketches, research notes from books, first drafts and re-drafts of scenes, diagrams for plot development, even poems if the mood strikes me. My friends and family know I love notebooks too, so my cupboard is full of pretty ones received as birthday or Christmas presents. They all know the most important element – no spiral-bindings, they must be saddle-stitched so the notebook can be opened flat and I can write comfortably from the left edge to the right edge of the page. The notebook comes into its own on days when it seems impossible
Read More

Categories: On Researching and On Writing.

Great opening paragraph 32… ‘That They May Face the Rising Sun’ #write

“The morning was clear. There was no wind on the lake. There was also a great stillness. When the bells rang out for Mass, the strokes trembling on the water, they had the entire world to themselves.” ‘That They May Face the Rising Sun’ by John McGahern Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘The Crying of Lot 49’ by Thomas Pynchon ‘The Fortunes of War’ by Olivia Manning ‘The Impressionist’ by Hari Kunzru And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A 1st para which makes me want to read more: THAT THEY MAY FACE THE RISING SUN by John McGahern #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-mo via @SandraDanby
Read More

Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

New books coming soon….

Three new novels from fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie. The first, Half a King, will be published by Harper Collins next year and is a coming-of-age tale aimed at young readers. It is the story of Yarvi, youngest son of a warlike king, and is set in an alternative historical world akin to the Dark Ages. Yarvi, born with a crippled hand, cannot live up to his father’s expectations. The three new novels are standalone stories, but are inter-connected and aimed at 12-16 year olds.   The Judas Scar by Amanda Jennings will be published in June 2014 by Cutting Edge Press. Her debut novel, Sworn Secret, published by Canvas, has high ratings on Goodreads as a difficult and emotional read leaving some readers in tears. Faber will publish Hanif Kureishi’s new novel in February 2014. The Last Word tells the story of Mamoon, an Indian writer in his seventies, based in England, who faces falling book sales and a wife with expensive tastes. Harry, a young biographer, commissioned to write a book which will revitalise Mamoon’s sales, prompting a struggle to tell the truth. Later this year a film will be released, written by Kureishi, called Le Weekend and starring
Read More

Categories: Book Love.

Great Opening Paragraph 31… ‘Bel Canto’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“When the lights went off the accompanist kissed her. Maybe he had been turning towards her just before it was completely dark, maybe he was lifting his hands. There must have been some movement, a gesture, because every person in the living room would later remember a kiss. They did not see a kiss, that would have been impossible. The darkness that came on them was startling and complete. Not only was everyone there certain of a kiss, they claimed they could identify the type of kiss: it was strong and passionate, and it took her by surprise. They were all looking right at her when the lights went out. They were still applauding, each on his or her feet, still in the fullest throes of hands slapping together, elbows up. Not one person had come anywhere close to tiring. The Italians and the French were yelling, ‘Brava! Brava!’ and the Japanese turned away from them. Would he have kissed her like that had the room been lit? Was his mind so full of her that in the very instant of darkness he reached for her, did he think so quickly? Or was it that they wanted her too, all
Read More

Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Great Opening Paragraph 30… ‘The L-Shaped Room’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“There wasn’t much to be said for the place, really, but it had a roof over it and a door which locked from the inside, which was all I cared about just then. I didn’t even bother to take in the details – they were pretty sordid, but I didn’t notice them so they didn’t depress me; perhaps because I was already at rock-bottom. I just threw my one suitcase on to the bed, took my few belongings out of it and shut them all into one drawer of the three-legged chest of drawers. Then there didn’t seem to be anything else I ought to do so I sat in the arm-chair and stared out of the window.” ‘The L-Shaped Room’ by Lynn Reid Banks  Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Perfume’ by Patrick Suskind ‘Time Will Darken It’ by William Maxwell ‘Mara and Dann’ by Doris Lessing And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A 1st para which makes me want to read more: THE L-SHAPED ROOM by Lynne Reid Banks #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-mV via @SandraDanby
Read More

Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Great opening paragraph 28… ‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“When the phone ran I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along to an FM broadcast of the overture of Rossini’s ‘The Thieving Magpie,’ which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta.” ‘The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle’ by Haruki Murakami  Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘A Change of Climate’ by Hilary Mantel ‘The Pelican Brief’ by John Grisham ‘Sophie’s World’ by Jostein Gaarder And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A 1st para which makes me want to read more: THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE by Haruki Murakami #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-lZ via @SandraDanby
Read More

Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Great opening paragraph 27… ‘The Inheritance of Loss’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“All day, the colours had been those of dusk, mist moving like a water creature across the great flanks of mountains possessed of ocean shadows and depths. Briefly visible above the vapour, Kanchenjunga was a far peak whittled out of ice, gathering the last of the light, a plume of snow blown high by the storms at its summit.” ‘The Inheritance of Loss’ by Kiran Desai Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘Possession’ by AS Byatt ‘Middlesex’ by Jeffrey Eugenides ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A 1st para which makes me want to read more: THE INHERITANCE OF LOSS by Kiran Desai #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-nB via @SandraDanby
Read More

Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Great opening paragraph 24… ‘Family Album’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“Gina turned the car off the road and into the driveway of Allersmead. At this point she seemed to see her entire life flash by. As the drowning are said to do. She thought of this, and that the genuinely drowning can never have been recorded on the matter.” ‘Family Album’ by Penelope Lively Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘The Ghost’ by Robert Harris ‘Armadillo’ by William Boyd ‘Lolita’ by Vladimir Nabokov And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A 1st para which makes me want to read more: FAMILY ALBUM by Penelope Lively #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-7P via @SandraDanby
Read More

Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

Great opening paragraph 23… ‘The Last Tycoon’ #amwriting #FirstPara

“Though I haven’t ever been on the screen I was brought up in pictures. Rudolph Valentino came to my fifth birthday party – or so I was told. I put this down only to indicate that even before the age of reason I was in a position to watch the wheels go round.” ‘The Last Tycoon’ by F Scott Fitzgerald  Amazon Try one of these 1st paras & discover a new author:- ‘The God of Small Things’ by Arundhati Roy ‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier ‘Goldfinger’ by Ian Fleming And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet: A 1st para which makes me want to read more: THE LAST TYCOON by F Scott Fitzgerald #books https://wp.me/p5gEM4-eM via @SandraDanby
Read More

Categories: Book Love and On Writing.

I agree with… Tom Penn

Tom Penn “When someone picks up a book, they ask first, “why should I care? Why should I read it? Why should I stick with it, when there are so many other things to do and so many other things to read?” A biographer has to get into the mind of the subject, “has to find the subject so compelling you can’t push the subject away… you’re the person who has to bring this person, this subject to the reader – you’re the person who has to live with this subject for years, decades, as long as it takes to write.” [Tom Penn, editorial director, Penguin Books, speaking to a meeting of the NUJ’s London Freelance Branch in February 2013] Tom Penn commissions biographies, but his words apply just as well to fiction. It reminds me of the airport test, which someone told me about years ago. Imagine you are at the airport, looking for a book to read on the plane, and you are faced with a selection of books by unfamiliar authors. Unable to choose a familiar name, you turn to page one and start reading. It’s my job as author to bring the story to life, to draw the
Read More

Categories: Book Love and On Writing.