Welcome to St. Custard’s College
A wild labyrinth of towers and spires built entirely out of gingerbread.
Here, every night, our specially trained princesses defy their father’s prohibition, visit the forbidden tower and prick their fingers on a spinning wheel.
We then collect the precious droplets of blood, mix them with with unicorn tears, and distil the ink with which we create our free, ten-part ‘snackable’ e-course on novel-writing, called Gateway to Narnia.
Available, free of charge from the gift shop or to those who subscribe below.
Free novel-writing e-course
Get Gateway to Narnia, my free, ten-part, ‘snackable’ e-course on how to write a novel. Write your name in the granite box and get your first lesson in your inbox an hour from now.
Give the first 1,000 words of your manuscript a professional once-over
It’s your first novel, you’ve poured your heart and soul into it. The last thing you want is for all those year’s of hard work to be rejected because of some easily fixed rookie error. Take a look at the article on the right, published on Medium. And if you agree with the sentiment, send me your first 1,000 pages and for £75 I’ll take a look and make sure it ticks all the right boxes.
How to get an agent to read your first novel, using the vacuum cleaner trick.
As a first time novelist trying to break in, what’s the worst thing that can happen to you?
You spend years of your life pursuing your dream of writing a novel. Years of pain, sacrifice, denial, tears, agonising self-doubt, and perhaps a lot more alcohol than is good for you.
You send off the first three chapters to an agent. You start praying. And the agent (or her reader) is so overwhelmed with manuscripts to read that she just skims the first few paragraphs looking for red flags that justify her rejecting your work.
Click on the image to read the article on Medium
Some more articles in similar vein you might find helpful
The week after she died, Lady Di taught me to write.
In order to improve as a storyteller, it helps to have some sort of understanding about what storytelling is. And yet it is surprising how much confusion there is on the subject.
For an object lesson in missing the point you could do a lot worse than refer to the account given by the famous populariser of neuroscience, Steven Pinker in his book, How the Mind Works.
Don’t get me wrong, I rate Steven Pinker very highly and love his writing, but I think he slipped up here.
A Cat called Bartok
(Or how to avoid writing that sounds like writing)
Five years before he died, Elmore Leonard published his Ten Rules of Writing.
I agree with them all, but happily break most of them on the grounds that there is no ‘ Writing Cop’.
But of his ten rules the one I like best is Rule №11:
When you find writing that sounds like writing, cut it.
It’s great advice, especially for student writers, but the problem is, it is clearly a paradox and not immediately obvious what it means.
What exactly is ‘writing that sounds like writing’?
The Greatest Writing Textbook was Written in 1611 by 47 Men.
It’s Called the Bible.
Long ago when I was lost in the Disenchanted Forest seeking ways to write my first novel, I read many books that claimed to teach me how to write fiction.
I quickly forgot most of them but there was one that made a lasting impression on me.
The book is called On the Art of Writing, by a chap little known today called Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch.
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch was appointed King Edward VII Professorship of English Literature at Cambridge University in 1912 and the book in question was a collection of his inaugural lectures.
Three Magical Words that Launched my Writing Career:
You’re under Arrest
It was Monday 25 April, 1988. I stood before the Magistrate in Marylebone Magistrate’s Court awaiting the words the verdict of the learned judge.
Alongside me in the dock were two ladies from Glasgow who had been arrested for soliciting on Edgware Road. And there was me, a humble advertising copywriter arrested for being drunk in a public place.
Representatives of the world’s oldest profession and second oldest side-by-side.
The good judge stared down over his half moon specs and pronounced society’s verdict on the relative merits of our professions — the hooker and the adman — by fining us equally £25.
Not a very auspicious beginning to a writing career, I admit.
Pryce really is in a league of
his own—Time Out
Surreal, absurd and very
Marvelously imaginative…You’ll weep and laugh on the same page. Wonderful—GUARDIAN