Looking at Narrative Motifs with Elizabeth Wein

I read a wonderful book last year called ‘Code Name Verity’ and have since been telling everyone I meet that they have to read it. It is a superbly crafted piece of writing, which is brave and gutsy in more ways than one. So I am thrilled to welcome to the blog today, Elizabeth Wein, the author of said book.

The Green Flash – A Look at Narrative Motifs

The suggestion of writing a post about narrative motifs and how they’re used is so fabulous—and so different from most of the posts I’ve done lately—that I found myself getting all nervous about what to say. I actually went back to read over the section called ‘Literary Forms and Usage’ in the back of my Norton Anthology of English Literature, as though I was getting ready to write a paper for a school assignment. I didn’t want to get my definitions wrong!

So I’m going to begin with a definition. Continue reading

Avoiding Adverbs

After the Plain or Fancy post from Gillian Cross, I got to thinking about adverbs. How and when should we use them? Is right to cull a manuscript of the little blighters? Or do they have a role to play in our prose. I came to an interesting conclusion. Continue reading

Gillian Cross Shares the Secret to Keeping Things Simple

I’m delighted and honoured to welcome to the blog today Carnegie Medal winner, Gillian Cross, who has some revealing things to say about writing style.

Plain and Fancy

I once told another writer that I try to avoid using adverbs and adjectives unless they’re absolutely necessary. He looked at me as though I was crazy. ‘But adverbs are where it’s at,’ he said.

I went away feeling incompetent. How could I call myself a writer if I couldn’t even manage a few measly adverbs. Was my writing laughably simple and lacking in refinement? Maybe I should try a more elaborate style. Continue reading

Is This Politically Correct?


The idea of political correctness can be a bit of a hot potato. However, one of the most valuable things I’ve learnt from working with an editor has been the importance of being sensitive to stereotyping, particularly when writing for children and young adults. Continue reading

7 Steps to Improving Your Prose

If you want a ‘how to’ book on writing a compelling story, there are plenty out there. They talk about character development, scene structure, creating believable settings. It’s a harder job to find a simple guide to improving your prose.

One book which fits the bill is The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman (also available from Amazon.com).

It was recommended to me a few years ago by Nik Perring, and I love it because it showed me I could ‘learn’ to write good prose. It doesn’t have to be all inspiration from the muse. There are techniques. Knowing that made me keen to discover more.

So I’ve dug out a first draft of my novel, Wolf Soul, to find examples of seven useful things I’ve learned:-

Continue reading