Category: News

#WriteHereWriteNow: Can we learn to write better?

I was on assignment in Stockholm last week and looking for an idea.

We obsess, as writers, about the words. We analyse the craft and devour books about the technique.

Writing in the Guardian recently, the columnist Ian Jack discussed the perennial question: can writing be taught?

He suggests that, while we can study templates and consult with experts, nothing beats the age-old concept of practise. He says:

Writing is like riding a bicycle: its techniques are best not dwelt on.

For me, it’s about the ideas.

If the ideas are poor then, no matter how erudite the words, then the writing will not shine.

If there’s no angle, no hook, no reason to grab the attention of the reader, then it’s just more words on a page. And we have enough of those already.

The writer David Quantick says ideas are gold.

In his book, How to Write Everything, he describes the craft of coming up with good ideas as even more crucial than the craft of writing itself.

A good idea is simply one that inspires something you are capable of writing, something that might sustain.

But can we learn to have good ideas?

We’ll consider this at the next #WriteHereWriteNow meeting.

As for me, wandering around Stockholm in search of a good story?

Well, let’s just say a visit to the Abba Museum [pictured above] and a night at the Pop House music-themed hotel may just make a Scandi-pop story about Eurovision-crazy Sweden.

Thank you for the music.

Liked this? Try A new writing group comes to Storyhouse, Chester.

Questions? Follow me on Twitter and DM me, or sign up for my newsletter.

Inside fatherhood drafts: newly reunited dad Chris Hardy

Chris knows extremes.

Indeed, he had seen the more extreme side of life at close quarters.

But he relinquished a life spiralling into self destruction and violence for the love of his son — and they’re now planning their first summer holiday together.

I recently interviewed Chis [pictured above] for Inside Fatherhood, my forthcoming book to be published by BRF in 2018.

Here’s a preview of his moving story:

“I was overcome with rage against the unfairness. I simply locked myself in my room and remember consciously declaring war on the world. I wanted revenge on my bullies — and I had it within months. I wanted to give the world a good hiding. After that, violence follows wherever you go.”

Do you have an experience of fatherhood to share? Contact me if you would be interviewed for the book.

 

Cannes Film Festival and Riviera for Telegraph Travel

Cannes. It’s getting to be a habit.

I’ve been three times on assignment in the past year and recently returned from another and very timely sojourn.

The reason? The Cannes International Film Festival opens tomorrow — May 17. This year marks 70 years of cinema heritage [mural pictured above].

I was there to report back on preparations for a feature in this weekend’s Telegraph Travel.

But, joining an escorted tour for a few days, I was also trying to put the glamour of the Riviera into context.

I explored some of the reports, spanning the French-Italian border, frequented by the British gentry long before the likes of Brigitte Bardot [pictured below] arrived with photographers in hot pursuit.

Casino Royale 

Here’s an extract from my first draft, based around a visit to Monte Carlo Casino. 

I’m not a natural high roller.

If I was Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, then I’d be sporting a freshly pressed tuxedo, sipping a martini, shaken not stirred of course, and nonchalantly placing all my chips on black 17.

In reality I’m budget Bond: a Ben Sherman shirt, sipping an espresso and observing the oligarchs at play from a safe distance.

Still, at least I can still admire the Belle Époque ceiling and renaissance frescos in the Europa gaming room of Monte Carlo Casino.

After all, I have paid 17 Euros just to walk inside.

Read more in Telegraph Travel this Saturday.

 

A new writing group comes to Storyhouse Chester

Image: Storyhouse.com

Storyhouse opens this week.

The new arts centre is big news for Chester and already riding the crest of local support.

But it’s not just a new theatre, cinema and library. A major aspect of the project is the community programme.

That’s why I’m leading a new writing group, based at Storyhouse, from this month.

It’s called #WriteHereWriteNow and open to anyone who wants to find their voice as a writer.

THE CONCEPT

We all have a story to tell but not everyone has the opportunity or confidence to do so.

This new creative community offers an opportunity to express yourself in a supportive environment.

Expect workshop-style activities and occasional guest speakers, based around Storyhouse events.

We will look at ways of getting your story out there — from blogs to flash fiction via magazine features — and craft our work together.

Never tried a writing group before? No problem. Here’s an outlet for your creativity.

JOIN US

We meet monthly on the last Thursday, starting May 25th. It’s free. No, really.

The sessions run 7.30-9pm and we will be in the Meeting Room. Subsequent dates are June 29, July 27 and August 31.

To find us, take the cinema stairs and follow it round to the left to the meeting room. You can take drinks up from the bar, or we’ll retire there afterwards.

There’s space initially for 14 people.

Please bring your own iPad/laptop or similar device.

You will need to create an account via the Storyhouse website in advance to use the free public WiFi. No need if you have already bought show tickets through the site.

More events listed at the Storyhouse activities page.

Questions? Follow me on Twitter and DM me, or sign up for my newsletter.