Writing like nobody else

Found this blog about finding your unique author’s voice (to write that novel that will make J K Rowling look like a total failure).

I met an author a while ago who said he doesn’t believe you can learn to write apart form grammar and stuff, of course. I hope that’s true. For my sake. Apart from the grammar. Life is unfair because if you’re famous enough you don’t have to bother about grammar, you’re supposed to be flippant about the whole thing, just like that.

I guess we, as readers, immediately recognise an author we know well when we start a new novel, but it’s very difficult to pinpoint exactly what it is about the text that makes it unique to that specific author. I know what I’ll do about finding my unique author’s voice: just keep writing.

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A new villain

At the moment I’m writing on the sequel to The Wall and it keeps me occupied. I already have the villains sussed out in this book, so this one belongs to a project for the future (involving the occult, a bit of mystery and murderous villains). This is just a draft so a lot will happen.

‘Most interesting, would you not agree?’

Hannah yelped at the sight of the gaunt man appearing suddenly in front of her, a rictus of a grin on his sallow face. She had not seen him kneeling in front of the altar, lips working fervently as if in devout prayer, as she entered the chapel. His emaciated body was wrapped in heavy black cloth, threadbare in places and with a definite whiff of mothballs barely masking a sickly sweet smell of decay. There was something not right about him. As he took a step closer she noted that his eyes had the same dull quality as her father’s catch when he came home from a fishing trip.

‘Yes, I am fortunate to look very much like my Master.’ Somehow his dead eyes noted her shock at seeing the small painting on the altar; it showed the head of a knight in armour – a proud and evil man. The tongue darted out and licked up a globule of spittle from the corner of his too wide mouth. He took a step to the side to allow her an unobstructed view: they could be twins. The difference was startling when, at last, she spotted it: the eyes of the medieval knight were scrutinising her, boring into her head until it hurt. It was as if the black eyes were trying to find her innermost secrets.

She broke free with an almost physical effort. The stained glass windows depicted medieval knights in black armour riding fanged and winged creatures with crimson talons. The eyes were all on her, knights and beasts alike: assessing, contemplating and sharing the result silently. The knights, identical to the man in the old fashioned suit and identical to the knight on the altar, were all smirking at her and pointing the dripping swords at a girl whose body lay broken on the ground under the beasts. She put a hand up to her neck as if to protect it from the knights and from the man standing next to her. What frightened her was not so much that it was her on the ground – in all the scenes – but that the girl had somehow lost her essence, her soul and her mind, long before her death. She knew she had to get out of there before it was too late, but there was a voice at the back of her mind warning her it might be too late.

The evil minds in the room seemed to converge in the man who was blocking her escape. He glided up to her until he was so close she could feel his fetid breath on her neck.

‘We have been waiting for you.’

Writing stuff – but it’s not written in stone

Apparently writing was used at least 8000 years ago when people used tortoise shells, stones, sticks and clay to record stuff. Texting on one’s mobile phone is so much simpler than the Viking Age high tech method: a massive standing stone with chiseled out runes telling the wife he’s gone fishing with his friends – back for supper in ten years’ time (travel was also a bit more cumbersome in those days and the poor Viking who got lost and ended up in America was probably told off by wife when the meal got burnt).

My writing is mainly done using a laptop – though I go through an endless number of notebooks (I buy them from Paperchase – next to Carluccio’s). This means that my readers have to download my writing from the big elusive Internet. The good thing that this week it’s for free as well.

Also, I want to make everybody aware of that May is Short Story Month, arranged by StoryADay.org. The short story is experiencing a revival as people want to download a reasonable amount of text to their modern day Viking rune stone. Read ’em and write ’em.