What Makes a Writer?

What Makes a Writer?

What makes a writer? Is it the talent to have hundreds of books published
like James Patterson, the ability to write a top class comedy programme that
would run for many years – like Roy Clarke and Last of the Summer Wine.
Maybe it’s the desire to be a great poet and be in the running for the next
Poet Laureate?

I started writing when I was quite young. At school I would get ideas and
scribble them anywhere. Once I got a comment from a form master who said
‘I enjoyed your story but in future please do not write on the back of your exam papers’.

I have been with Frome Writers’ Collective for about two years or so and have enjoyed every moment. My main fault is that I have a butterfly mind! Although the short story is my favourite field, I can be writing one story and then get an idea for another. This is why I have several portfolios at home with stories of all genres – at least 280 of them.

I have written several plays, both short and full length, as well as poems and three novels. The first two novels were written by hand and, unfortunately, the second one has got destroyed along the way. My first one is still here but was typed by a friend and now has numerous errors – not because the friend was a bad typist, but because she couldn’t read my handwriting!

I now have two finished books. One which I am currently editing and the other one (a short story compendium) where I am having difficulty deciding which stories to include and have changed three of them in the last week.

I enjoy writing and through the help of one of members of my Friday morning writing group, have had a slim volume put out containing seven stories and called ‘Seven Sides of Life’. But I must now think about what to do with my other work. Submitting to short story competitions is about the only way that I have attempted to publish a story. Maybe I am afraid of rejection slips?

It was attending a course several years ago that set me on my journey on the short story trail. During one lesson, it was suggested that we write from the opposite gender. I found I liked this, so mostly have female characters as my lead.

I will keep on writing because I like it and like doing it. Although a number of people have said they like my stories I often do not believe them. It is just me! My novel has now been seen by at least eight people too. One of these days I will take the plunge and submit it for an editorial critique. I will then incorporate suggestions and, from there, see where my writing leads me.

Alan Somerville

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Up hill and down dale: the landscape in your soul

Up hill and down dale: the landscape in your soul

Nikki Copleston reflects on the landscapes in your soul.

Nikki Copleston

When you’re out and about exploring new places, do you find yourself instinctively drawn to a particular sort of landscape? In spite of yourself, do you sense an affinity with the open, flat countryside of the Fens, or the dramatic ranges of the Peak District? I can’t imagine living anywhere that wasn’t within reach of the sea, but at the same time, I’m in love with the hills and combes, the trees and hedgerows of the West Country.

Do our childhood surroundings imprint us with a love of a certain type of landscape? Even in towns and cities, you’re aware of the topography underlying the buildings and streets. When I used to catch the bus home from work in Islington, I loved the ride northwards, climbing up through Holloway and Highgate to Finchley.  But how delighted I was when I first took the Metropolitan Line as far as Uxbridge, to…

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In Praise of Bad Housekeeping

In Praise of Bad Housekeeping

A local radio interviewer asked me what research I’d done for the Edwardian time frame of my novel, ‘The Tissue Veil‘; someone at my book launch had done the same. Admitting that the internet had been invaluable, I cast around for examples, managing to drag up a London Underground map from 1902 and to acknowledge the usefulness of the library’s subscription to the Times Online. I knew there had been much more and, suddenly, the other day I realised it was all still there.

My virtual housekeeping is pretty much the same as the actual variety when it comes to filing documents or deciding what to chuck or keep. I went to my internet ‘favourites’ to click on the local health centre website and there was the story of much of my research, interspersed with recipes, local bus timetables and a template for an elephant head mask –…

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Stage writing for beginners – knowing your characters inside out

Stage writing for beginners – knowing your characters inside out

Check out Nikki’s fantastic article on stage writing and the hidden stories behind your characters.

Nikki Copleston

I wrote my first play when I was 8. It was called ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof’. I’d heard the title and thought it sounded good, so I wrote my own little drama about a cat that climbs up onto a shed roof on a summer’s day and can’t get down. It owes little to Tennessee Williams.

I haven’t written any plays since but I was drawn, a few weeks ago, to a workshop on stage writing, run by Sian Williams and Anne Pearson of the Boiling Kettle Theatre Company.  And what fun it was! Five would-be dramatists chucking ideas around on a Sunday afternoon at the Merlin Theatre in Frome – and emerging with the bare bones of five plays.

Now we’ve met again and spent another busy Sunday afternoon putting flesh on those bones. How? By getting to know our characters inside out.

If you’re going to create…

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Help, I’m a Published Writer!

Help, I’m a Published Writer!

And you thought writing a novel was the hard bit….

Help! An inner voice says as you stand on the edge, toes inching forward, peering down into a particularly black abyss – the realisation has hit, your book needs publicity. You are a writer now – yes, a published writer – and these words do have a certain quality when rolled round the tongue. You’re probably not quite an author though, that’s after the third book; the first is just serendipity, the second a lucky strike, but the third will show consistency. Having braved the radio station’s receptionist and landed your first radio interview an unsuspecting public awaits.

But, there are pitfalls. An interview is not an unhindered opportunity to run through your CV, but the moment you collect together the best bits – the bits that relate to your book and your writing – just enough to make nice short, friendly anecdotes. You could practice being your lighter self…

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From hyphens to Hunting Raven Bookshop – a busy twelve months

From hyphens to Hunting Raven Bookshop – a busy twelve months

When is a hyphen not a hyphen? Author Nikki Copleston shares her journey from submission to publication.

Nikki Copleston

A year ago, I submitted the manuscript of  my crime novel ‘The Shame of Innocence’ to Silver Crow Books, a new service begun by Frome Writers’ Collective.  During the next few weeks, trained readers assessed my manuscript and compiled a report for the FWC trustees responsible for Silver Crow.

When I got that report, I was horrified. I’d always prided myself on presenting my work well, so it was a bit of a shock to see how inconsistently I’d put digits instead of words for certain numbers, and how profligate I’d been with hyphens.  The general rule is that you spell out the number if it’s smaller than 10.  I’d usually done that – but not always. And had I really got this far without realizing you shouldn’t put a hyphen in an adjective like ‘heavily built’. Why not? Because ‘heavily’ ends in -ly, and that’s the rule. Apparently. So someone…

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First Post

First Post

Hi there – this is our first ever blog, so here’s a bit about ourselves:

We’re a writers’ collective, based in Frome, Somerset. We started the group around three years ago with the idea of writers sharing information, organising literary events and generally supporting each other with encouragement and ideas to help our writing.

We’ve grown a bit since then – from having ten writers involved at the start, to having over ninety of us now in the network. We’ve promised ourselves a party when we get to a hundred members!

Now, seems to us like a good time to begin a blog – with different people posting thoughts, notes, quotes, queries and tips, as well as sharing the frustrations and funny bits that go with being a writer and part of a group. We’d love to hear from other collectives/groups/writers out there too.

If anyone would like to look us up, we’re at fromewriterscollective.co.uk and on Facebook and Twitter.

We’ll post again soon, but – meanwhile – back to the writing!

Frome Writers’ Collective (FWC)

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