Don’t be dull.


One week to go until I must flee Turkey or face imprisonment for outstaying my welcome. (Might be worth it for the material for a bestseller it could give me: Midnight Express 2). As the clock ticks down on my Turkey time and my writing sabbatical I’m taking stock of a few things. Today I feel the urge to make an entry in my CWAP diary for posterity.

The Internet is littered with pithy gobbets of writing advice attributed to famous authors. Erudite phrases that are like word-windows opening onto fields of literary possibilities. I might not be a famous author but I have a bit of writing advice to impart to would-be novelists – my two-penny-worth: don’t be dull.

It might seem obvious to strive not to be dull as a writer but I have read – make that started and discarded – a number of books this year that have proven to be ‘dull’ reads. (Yeah, I know dullness is a subjective thing.)

Technology is allowing increasing numbers of people to realise that dream of writing and ‘publishing’ the book inside them that we are all supposed to have. Good luck to them all, I say. But a word of caution: it’s not enough to be able to write coherant sentences, organise paragraphs, keep a narrative arc going from start to finish. Not if it makes for dull reading. Writing doesn’t have to be gripping but it does need to be engaging. Pace, humour, horror, suspense, twisting plots, colourful characters, startlingly original figurative and/or descriptive language, snappy dialogue – there are many ways one can engage readers. The more strings you have to your bow the better. Obviously. Just dont be dull.

As a writer one must be a reader. More than that. You’ve got to read masters of the craft and learn from them. Understand what it is about their writing that hooks you the reader and learn from it.

Now might be an opportune time to recommend a read. (Don’t worry, it’s not one of mine.) The best book I have read in a long, long time. Certainly my of my top five reads. It’s got everything. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. An easy ten out of five from me. And I’m nearly finished with the follow-up Hannibal. This guy is simply brilliant. He has many strings to his bow.

(In response to the suggestion that everyone has a book inside them, the publisher Michael Joseph is reputed to have once said  that most of them should stay there.)

Don’t make yours one of them. Don’t be dull.

14 thoughts on “Don’t be dull.

  1. It is a shame that you have to leave Turkey, but why does it signal the end of your writing sabbatical? You can still write wherever you are, you just have to have a very firm self discipline. I remember you once said to me that it was easier to write in Turkey because things like TV weren’t such a distraction, but as you have been away from the UK for so long you won’t be caught up in any of the programming here and you just need to remain strong willed and resolute about not getting involved. To be honest, what comes out of your head is far more entertaining than most of what appears on the goggle box.

    Whatever happens my good wishes go with you and I sincerely (even if not for entirely altruistic reasons) hope you get back to writing soon.

    Best wishes

    • Hi Dawn,
      I won’t bore you with the details but it’s all about other commitments. Mostly of the property maintenance variety. My home in the UK needs a lot of attention and if I don’t do it no one will. I will, of course, try to find time to write, but it won’t be like it is now – several hours a day. And i need a bit of a break actually. See next week’s blog-post about when the well runs dry.
      Thanks, once again, for your kinds words and support. Like The Terminator, I will be back.
      Best wishes.

      • Shame and I won’t be nosy!!. I hope everything works out for you and that you can come back if you want to. I do appreciate that you have a lot of non-writing work to do in the UK, but hope it won’t be too long before you are able to “put pen to paper” again. Best wishes.

  2. I am almost finished with White Knuckle Christmas. I am enjoying it very much. If you go back to England will your home be on one of English author’s tours? If I ever make it to England I could stand outside and, take pictures.

    • Hi Brenda,
      Good to know you’re enjoying AWKC. Thanks for sharing. Yes, of course, my home is always available for readers to visit – I’m the fourth cardboard box after the bus stop opposite the village public conveniences. Drop by anytime. 🙂
      Best wishes.

    • Going out through Kos is option B if they don’t let me go by plane.
      In Dymers you’ll find me running on the beach now and again. I’ll be the one who looks like I’m about to keel over.
      Best wishes.

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