The Act of Writing No. 1

I thought I’d write a series of blogs about writing. Having just published a three volume historical fiction called Azimuth that has taken ten years and 920 pages, maybe I have something to pass on to those who wish to follow literary careers. (For the validity of my thoughts you can see for yourself at
Where does a writer start? Basically there is a dichotomy between clay and lego. If you are clay then your work is organic and you write to see what happens, everything unfolds and you have the feeling that the work is channelled through you. The end can be as much a surprise to you as to the reader. If you are lego then you adopt certain formulae. You immerse yourself in the expectations of a genre, you plan the plot line, you assemble the characters and you plug all the pieces together in a satisfactory whole.
If you are clay then the danger is in becoming rambling, unfocused and with no tension to your narrative. If you are lego then the danger is that your work is creaky and mechanical. You can see from this that to be successful and take the reader on a ride that keeps the pages turning avidly, clay needs to borrow a little from lego and lego needs to borrow a little from clay. A novel must please. In The Act of Creation, Koestler talks about the punch line in a joke. If it’s good we laugh out loud, pleased to have been brought to this happy conclusion. Books are more long winded than jokes, of course, but the same emotive element should endure through their pages. We must feel that reading has been worthwhile, we have experienced the unexpected and we have learned a little by proxy.What kind of writer am I?

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