Readersforum's Blog

April 1, 2014

Ten rules for writing fiction

Get an accountant, abstain from sex and similes, cut, rewrite, then cut and rewrite again – if all else fails, pray. Inspired by Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing, we asked authors for their personal dos and don’ts

CityElmore Leonard: Using adverbs is a mortal sin

1 Never open a book with weather. If it’s only to create atmosphere, and not a charac­ter’s reaction to the weather, you don’t want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead look­ing for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways than an Eskimo to describe ice and snow in his book Arctic Dreams, you can do all the weather reporting you want.

2 Avoid prologues: they can be ­annoying, especially a prologue ­following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in non-fiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want. There is a prologue in John Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday, but it’s OK because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: “I like a lot of talk in a book and I don’t like to have nobody tell me what the guy that’s talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks.”

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July 31, 2013

Mixed response to Man Booker longlist

 

booker-longlist-2013-smaller-pic  By Joshua Farrington

The newly released Man Booker Prize longlist has been praised by the media for its diversity, but criticised for missing several big names and including multiple titles that have yet to be published.

The Guardian praised the judges, and said: “This is a jury not afraid to be experimental.”

It commended the scope of the longlist and said: “The longlist casts a wide net in terms of both geography and time, ranging from the slimmest of novels—Colm Tóibín’s stark, surprising The Testament of Mary conjures the gospel according to Jesus’s mother in a mere 100-odd pages—to vast doorstops, playful with genre and form.”

The Daily Mail focused on authors it saw as being “snubbed” from the Booker list, describing the nominated authors as “obscure . . . mostly unknown”. It said: “This year’s longlist is notable for the number of big-name authors who have been overlooked, including J M Coetzee, Roddy Doyle and Margaret Atwood. Five of the books have yet to be published.”

The Daily Mail also quoted Alex Donohue of bookmaker Ladbrokes, which has appointed Jim Crace as the current favourite at 9/2.

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March 22, 2013

Doyle on Carnegie shortlist

Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle

| By Charlotte Williams

Roddy Doyle has become only the second author ever to have the chance of winning both the Booker Prize and the CILIP Carnegie Medal, with his book, A Greyhound of a Girl (Marion Lloyd Books), among those shortlisted for the prestigious children’s prize this year.

Meanwhile, Helen Oxenbury and Emily Gravett are each on course for an unprecedented third win of the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal, with both illustrators featuring on the eight-strong shortlist.

The awards, which honour writing for children and children’s illustration respectively, and are supported by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), are judged by a panel of children’s librarians.

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October 3, 2012

Shortlist for Canada’s Big Fiction Prize Announced

By Leigh Anne Williams

The shortlist for Canada’s biggest prize for fiction, the C$50,000 Scotiabank Giller Prize, was announced Monday morning in Toronto.

The jurors — Irish author and screenwriter Roddy Doyle; Canadian publisher, writer, and essayist Anna Porter; and American author and satirist Gary Shteyngart — read 142 submissions from 51 publishers in Canada. They selected the five finalists from a long-list of 13 books.

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March 12, 2012

Roddy Doyle: the joy of teaching children to write

Roddy Doyle with children at a Fighting Words workshop in Dublin. Photograph: Patrick Bolger for the Observer

Inspired by his friend Dave Eggers, Irish novelist Roddy Doyle set up Fighting Words to nurture the creative skills of deprived children – with a little help from some big names

By Elizabeth Day

It is a Monday morning in the heart of Dublin. In a light, airy room situated in the shadow of the city’s looming Croke Park stadium, two dozen schoolgirls in matching navy blue jumpers sit attentively on coloured beanbags. The room is lined with bookshelves. High up on one wall there are a series of framed posters entitled “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction”, compiled by different well-known authors. In Anne Enright’s rules, there is the warning: “Only bad writers think that their work is really good.” Number One in Richard Ford’s list is: “Marry somebody you love and who thinks you being a writer’s a good idea.”

The girls, aged eight, nine and 10, are not at that stage quite yet. They gaze around the room wide-eyed, cowed into silence by the excitement of unfamiliar surroundings and a morning off school.

“Does anybody know why you are here this morning?” asks a woman standing at the front.

A tentative hand goes up. “To write a story,” comes the reply from a pupil called Sophie.

“That’s right – and we’re here to help you.”

The girls’ legs jiggle in anticipation. This is Fighting Words, a workshop set up by the author Roddy Doyle in 2009 to encourage creative writing in students of all ages across Ireland. Since its inception, the centre has seen several thousand come through its doors. The majority are from local primary schools in Ballybough, an economically deprived area of Dublin, but other students have travelled hundreds of miles. Fighting Words, which relies largely on volunteer staff and offers all its lessons free of charge, has proved so popular that sessions are booked up a year in advance. “The interest is huge,” says Sean Love, the executive director and co-founder. “We’re obviously filling a gap that is not filled in formal education.”

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September 2, 2011

Edinburgh international book festival launches publishing project

The Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland. UK Photograph: Murdo Macleod

Collection of specially commissioned work from authors including Roddy Doyle and Amy Bloom will be produced in collaboration with McSweeney’s.

By Severin Carrell

New work by around 50 leading authors curated by the Edinburgh international book festival is to be released in a new collection under an innovative publishing deal involving an award-winning publisher.

Nick Barley marked the end of this year’s festival, sponsored by the Guardian, by announcing that the new work, which has been commissioned over the last year with Scottish government funding, will be published in a box set produced by a new Glasgow-based publishing firm, Cargo.

The four-volume collection, on the theme of “elsewhere”, will be designed by McSweeney’s, the critically-acclaimed San Francisco-based imprint founded by Dave Eggers, famed for the eponymous quarterly literary journal which uses iconoclastic designs and typography.

In the past, these have included an issue with two spines, another with a magnetic binding, one in the form of a newspaper, “an issue that looked like a bundle of junk mail, and an issue that looked like a sweaty human head”.

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November 18, 2010

Nick Hornby opens Ministry of Stories

Filed under: Authors — Tags: , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 4:00 pm

Nick Hornby opens Ministry of Stories to get Britain’s kids writing again

Children will be lured in by ‘monster supply shop’ – and volunteer teachers including Zadie Smith and Roddy Doyle

Since 2002, Dave Eggers, the American author best known for his novel A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, has been reinventing himself as something of a….read more

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