Reading Responses

Stained GlassLast week we attended a concert of classical music performed by the South East London Orchestra. We heard some stirring Mendelssohn, a very interesting piece by Fung Lam and Dvorak’s crowd pleaser, the New World Symphony. I get quite teary when listening to dramatic music like this and my husband squeezed my hand sympathetically as I dabbed my eyes. Afterwards he commented that the Dvorak had obviously gotten to me.  No, I said, the tears sprang into my eyes while the orchestra was tuning up. Sadly it seems mine is a purely Pavlovian response to the ‘A’ note the musicians tune their instruments to, and little to do with the music itself, beautiful though it was. Continue reading

What’s the point?

Fiction – is there a reason for it? A point to it? Why do we read it, or write it?

The main function of fiction has always been to entertain. Losing oneself in a good book on a rainy afternoon is an enormous pleasure but we don’t usually expect a novel to be life changing; that is not the primary reason for reading fiction. But novelists have always written about the human condition. In fact, you could say that it is one of the duties of the novelist to draw attention to the ills of society and encourage us towards change. This is why some draconian regimes condemn the writing of novels as a subversive activity, which has to be banned. These governments fear novel writers because they offer a different version of the world to the one they are keen to perpetuate.

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Brave New Worlds

When you’ve spent a long time precisely constructing a mythical world as a backdrop for your fantasy or science fiction novel, make sure you don’t fall into the trap of allowing the real world to intrude.

Popular fiction set in the real world is full of cultural references – what the characters say, how they say it, the slang terms they use, even their names, are all rooted in the culture and traditions of the real world. Your characters might talk about recent events in soapland or the escapades of the latest reality television victims. They might sing snatches of popular songs or recite poetry. They might refer to historical or fictional figures; they may even be named after one of them. This is fine, because your characters inhabit the real world, even though they are playing out an imaginary story within it.

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Last Lines

If my previous post didn’t help free up the creative juices, here’s a list of last lines – writing a story from the end, backwards, requires a different sort of imaginative leap, but it can be very entertaining. As before, you can delete the last line after you’ve finished. One of these last lines is the conclusion to one of the novels from the first lines list.

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