Word Count 70: Dean Burnett webinar, BAFTA Rocliffe comedy script comp, podcast with comedy author Joel Morris

March 12, 2024

Plus new profit-sharing publisher, why the names in Dune are actually great, Amazon sued over counterfeit books, and more! Hi there, Lots and lots of interesting stuff to share with you this week, so it’s a bit of an epic newsletter. But there is a cute photo of Copurrnicus at the end to reward you […]

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The paradox of originality

March 6, 2024

Grist: Creating characters with personality In the next Grist conversation, which will be at 19:00 GMT on Monday 11 March, we’ll talk about how to construct characters with real personalities by using frameworks such as The Big Five personality traits to Myers Briggs and even astrology (!!). Find out more, and take out a free […]

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Word Count 69: Script competition, next Grist convo, radical empathy writing exercise

February 27, 2024

Plus Women’s Prize for Non-Fiction longlist, fake biographies on Amazon, Hugo/Worldcon furore. Hi there, It’s yet another grey day here, after yet more rain and with more rain to come. The water meadows are full again and the river’s towpath is still flooded. Yet there are hints of spring everywhere I look – daffodils and […]

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Tell that watcher at the gates of your mind to eff off

February 21, 2024

Creativity is about radical acceptance of your first ideas and resisting the urge to second-guess yourself. I’ve been reading Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre by Keith Johnstone recently. First published in 1979, it shows its age not just in some of the language, which wouldn’t be acceptable now, but also in some very dated concepts. […]

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Word Count 68: Fern Academy essay prize, C4 New Writers’ Scheme, writing tip from David Milch

February 13, 2024

Plus a serial plagiarist, developing agency, generating husbands, final chapter of Argleton now online, and Grace. Hi there, Lots to share with you this week, including a couple of great opportunities and some even better writing advice, so let’s get on with it! Opportunity: The Fern Academy Prize Penguin imprint Fern Press has joined forces […]

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Maybe it’s not us who are broken. Maybe it’s the system.

February 7, 2024

How do we survive in an industry that that has commoditised us? Back at the beginning of 2020, in the Before Times, I finally took the decision to prioritise my writing. My husband had just started studying part time for a master’s degree and I decided that it was high time I finished off a […]

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Word Count 67: Fellowship opportunity, ghostwriting conference, Grist, we see/we hear

January 30, 2024

Plus great advice from Matthew Dow Smith, a fun thread from Alex Paterson, Hugos eligibility furore and hopefully the last update on Grabbity’s poorly eyes. Hi there, The next Grist webinar will take place on Thursday 8 February at 19:00 GMT, and we’ll be taking a look at Plan Continuation Bias and how you can […]

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When do you get the opportunity to really observe people?

January 24, 2024

And I don’t mean through binoculars. Like a lot of self-employed people, I work primarily from home. I became self-employed in 1998, so that’s a long time working on my own. Like a lot of writers, I’m quite a self-contained person. I’m used to living in my head and I enjoy my own company. And although […]

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Word Count 66: Two submissions, a Fieldwork update, BBC Comedy Collective and Cheshire Novel Prize

January 16, 2024

Plus yet another article about how broken publishing is, a tip from Cavan Scott, a selection of the finest links, and an update about Grabbity’s eyes. Hi there, Happy New Year! We might well be halfway through January already, but 2024 still has that new year smell. I hope that yours is just bursting with […]

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What’s in store for Fieldwork in 2024?

January 12, 2024

In which I make a plan for the next year and publicly commit to a deadline. Eek. In May last year, I broke down the process of writing Fieldwork into four stages: Background research Comedy research Script development Funding for production I’ve largely completed Stage 1. Last year, I did ten interviews and picked up […]

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What can you do less of in 2024?

January 10, 2024

Sometimes we should resolve not to add more to our lives, but to make space by taking things away. I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions. I used to make them, but I rarely kept them. The New Year, falling as it does in the middle of winter, season of damp grey days […]

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Word Count 65: Best SFF of the year, British indie bookshops blossoming, book launch tips

December 19, 2023

Plus an online kerfuffle illustrates why publishers and agents should do more to support debut authors, and young Grabbity under a Christmas tree. Hi there, The festive season is truly upon us, which means that there is a four day weekend in the offing for us Brits. I’m taking a couple of weeks off to […]

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The wonky relationship between hard work and success

December 13, 2023

A little bit of housekeeping before we get cracking on this week’s post: I’m taking a break over Christmas, so my next newsletter will arrive in your inbox on 10 January.  If you find yourself at a loose end over Christmas, why not take a look at some of my fiction or essays over at […]

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Word Count 64: Katherine May on boundaries, Julian Simpson on how to write action sequences

December 5, 2023

Plus James Capel’s end of year round-up, Word Count’s book list, and Copurrnicus watching some dolphins. Hi there, Bit of a short email this week because technically I’m on holiday. My husband had a bit of time to use up before the year end, so I’m taking a week off to lounge about, sew, and […]

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Three books to kickstart your writing

November 29, 2023

Develop your craft faster with some good advice about structure, story and character. Years ago – nay, indeed, lifetimes ago – I worked in an admin role at a popular music school that taught guitar, bass guitar, drums, keyboards and vocals to predominantly young men (though there were more women taking the vocals courses). I […]

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