Not in the zone

I have to admit to becoming quite agitated about the forthcoming Scottish independence referendum. It is a huge decision and one that will have repercussions for years to come, whichever way it goes.

One week to go and the result is clearly too close to call. So while I have been trying to write, I have to confess that I can’t really concentrate: I am too concerned about how I should vote and how the rest of the country will vote. Continue reading

Writing a synopsis first?

Five months into my book writing project and I still haven’t finished the planning and research stage. Why? Because I’m keen to get the basic plot structure and characters fixed in my mind before I start drafting, as I know this has let me down before.

I am following a particular writing method – the Snowflake Method – which is definitely helping me sort out my plot. The only trouble is that I’ve now hit the point where I need to write a four-page synopsis of my still-to-be-written novel, and I am finding it hard going… Continue reading

The bare bones approach

One of the problems of being wordy is that you often become… well… a little too wordy. Why take three words, when ten will add so much more depth and meaning?

I actually think that I have the opposite problem. In my former life I was a lawyer – a role that brings with it so much legal jargon and so many unnecessary words that I rebelled. I became a fan of the Plain English Campaign, and left my ‘hereinbefore mentioned’s’ behind me. Continue reading

The Dark Island

I was at a concert the other day, listening to the Training Choir of the fabulous National Youth Choir of Scotland give a heartfelt performance of a Scottish folk song called ‘The Dark Island’.

It’s a song about Benbecula – a small island in the Outer Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland – and expresses the longing that people often have for the days and places of their childhood. I think that there are several versions of the song, but the one I heard was written by David Silver and set to music by Iain MacLachlan. It begins: Continue reading