Posts filed under ‘Writing Chat’

Bill and Joseph’s series on novel writing Part II: Research

Bill Hussey

Well, Joseph, we’ve discussed The Idea. The germ is in place. After a bit of story development next comes research. How do you approach research?

Joseph D’Lacey

I usually approach it with a very long, sharp object and give it a quick poke to make sure it’s safe to proceed. It usually isn’t – I’m not very keen on research, I’m afraid. Reminds me too much of being at school. That said, there are some subjects you have to look into if you want to avoid producing badly informed fiction. I usually do most of my research online. How about you? (more…)


December 1, 2008 at 11:03 am 2 comments

Part one of Bill & Joseph’s series on novel writing: The idea

Over the course of the next few months these sorry scribblers will be talking about the construction of the novel, from the blueprints to laying the foundations, from shoring up that load-bearing wall to the final decorative flourishes upon the architrave.

They begin with The Idea…

BILL:  So, Joseph, what’s the Big Idea…? Sorry, that came off needlessly aggressive. My question is that dreaded by all writers – where do you get your ideas from?

JOSEPH: I was hoping you wouldn’t ask me that. However… the simple fact is I have no shortage of ideas. They come to me all the time, like flies to poop, and I write them in a notebook. Boring, I know, but true.

BILL:  Ah, the ideas notebook. I always have good intentions when it comes to the ideas notebook. I try to carry mine around with me but generally leave it lying about at home. At the end of most days, I find my pockets full of receipts, restaurant bills and sweet wrappers covered in incomprehensible babble with things like ‘What if there was an X in the middle of X and the whole X had no idea it was buried there.’ Then it’s just a matter of deciphering what the hell I was talking about… But the germ, Joseph. The germ of a novel or short story. Where does it come from? Meat, for example… (more…)

November 3, 2008 at 12:13 pm 1 comment

Cover Story, The Sequel by JD’L

I’m glad Bill brought this subject up. He’s absolutely right in what he says about how people buy books. It’s an attraction thing, just like choosing a lover. Psychologists understand the generalities which men and women find attractive. These generalities appear on the covers of magazines and sell them in their millions per day. We call these generalities models. We call them celebrities.

Of course, selling books can’t work in exactly the same way but similar psychological principles apply. Discovering the secret of what is attractive in the right way to as many people as possible is the name of the game. If not, all books would have plain covers; titles alone would be enough to send people digging for their wallets. (more…)

October 28, 2008 at 9:46 pm Leave a comment


Okay, maybe I’m getting slightly ahead of myself here. Joseph and I are about to launch into a series of discussions on the business of writing a novel, from ‘the Idea’ straight through to the final edit. In the journey of the novel the decision about cover design is, if not the last consideration, pretty near the end. However, in the world of modern publishing a book’s cover is almost as important a factor in the finished product as the merit of the book itself. Many highfalutin’, so-called literary writers would balk at what I’ve just told you. They would stand by the age-old adage that one should never judge a book by its cover. They’re the very same folk who are dismissive about the importance of plot and pacing. My answer to that sort of thinking is quite simply: get real! You want to write? Well then you’ve got to write books that people want to buy. Publishing is not (and never should be, in my opinion) a charitable cause in which people with a few bob throw their money at scribblers who simply want to ‘express themselves’ on paper. Publishers are not modern day patrons of the arts: they are businessmen. Sure, the best of them are invested in the quality and integrity of the books they produce, but those books need to make a profit. With this in mind, the decision on a book’s cover is a vital one. Because, and let me make this very clear, 



October 27, 2008 at 5:00 pm 2 comments

The definition of first by JD’L

I wonder how often a first novel really is a first novel. Does anyone have a statistic for this? 

I’m willing to bet vital portions of my anatomy that almost all first novels are, in fact, second, third or fourth novels. If not, I’m even more certain a ‘first novelist’ will have done two, three or four novel’s worth of work. At least. Perhaps it’s only my experience – and I’d like to hear about it if yours has been different – but publishing a ‘first’ piece of full-length fiction (horror or otherwise) seems to be a matter of writing several others beforehand.


September 29, 2008 at 4:07 pm 2 comments


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