‘Having a message’ or ‘wanting to say something’ is seen as preachy, cheesy, old-fashioned and generally a detriment to the development of great art. Not so, says Zoë Marriott, we all have a message to express.
How far does the art of turning ‘true life’ into biography, film or television lead to a dilution of the facts, or a manipulation of the truth, asks Deborah Chancellor. Sometimes the more entertaining the story, the less truthful it may become.
A change of place, finding a new muse, pausing on a London bridge, all can stimulate the writer's imagination again, says John Greening. From a sexual potency operation for W.B.Yeats, to Clive James’ terminal illness, there are many ways to trigger inspiration.
Could artificial intelligence and big data predict the bestsellers of the future, asks Brian Clegg. Or would these algorithmic dark arts lead only to cookie-cutter bland titles, instead of original fiction.
Regional dialects used in writing can offer a richness and vitality not to be found in works written in standard English, argues Ray French. Then why are publishers wary of committing to this kind of writing?
Stephanie Norgate reflects on why are there so many films with a writer as the central character and why the writer in question is so often a man.
Arriving in Amsterdam to research a novel set during the Occupation, Christina Koning found herself in the middle of the city’s annual street party. At first this carnival atmosphere seemed a distraction from the themes of her book, but then she began to see that it might prove relevant after all.
Plot is often the hardest thing to get right when starting a novel, argues Beatrice Colin, but surely (as F. Scott Fitzgerald is said to have remarked) plot and character are inseparable? She outlines some of her own strategies for getting to grips with the story.