OCA tutor and assessor Liz Cashdan looks at the work of BA (Hons) Creative Writing student Lindsay Peaston.
How do you end your story?
Unfortunately for me, this is a subject which has been a painful one to address this month! I have long preached to my students on how to end a story, and the two key components that I think need to be in place in order for an ending to feel final. But having this week – after seven years – finished a novel that was supposed to be my first I realise I had been overlooking a third component for how to end a story.
I guess all good writing like all successful visual art has to start with observation. Maybe, that’s too sweeping because sometimes we might start with imagination. But I would still maintain that imagination has to feed on observation.
Personally, I think it’s not a question of how much description, but what description is offered by the author, to help the reader imagine a living and breathing world they can really immerse themselves in.
The stories that draw me back time and time again tend to be the ones that immerse me in their world, and it needs to be a world that’s very different to the one in which I live. Which books do you read more than once, and why?
In the first part of this blog I offered five tips to help the beginner writer come across as more advanced than they actually are. From establishing the gender of your protagonist, where they are in the setting, their Point of View and then keeping the story moving I reflected on a few key components. So now I’ll resume…
Part of my job as a tutor is to look at some of the first creative writing people have shared with another person. It is a part of the job I relish, and I think it important to meet people’s first shared work with positivity and enthusiasm – where possible. I think it takes real guts to express yourself on the page and then offer it up to other people for feedback.
It’s got to be the easiest way to start writing, hasn’t it? Most people have kept a diary at one time or another, and most of us have written letters. Writing from the ‘I’ point of view looks like a doddle compared with handling a number of different characters, because you’re viewing the action from inside one head instead of many. But this approach brings its own problems.
The science fiction author JG Ballard (most famous for his novel Crash) was adept at making the most of the settings of his novels. They even managed to offer psychological insights into his characters. I therefore think that the settings of his stories are useful to look at as a case study – they were certainly influential on my writing.
Dumping of rubbish can be almost as much of an issue in creative writing as it is in the countryside. Keep your writing broom to hand, so that, once you spot the dumps you can clean them up promptly – but not too promptly.
We all know how important it is to grab the reader right away. When I mark students work, I often find myself making very…
The idea of developing ‘your voice’ is not just an idea limited to X Factor. Or, for that matter, Britain’s Got Talent. It is a term publishers and agents often use when critiquing new writers. How strong is their ‘voice’? But what is meant by this term, and how can we develop our voice, as a writer, to make it stronger?