Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 29 – The Dentist (by Morgan)

In today’s episode I look at the first page of a listener’s story and suggest ways of making it better.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I get some tips for editing my novel?
– how can I write a great first line?
– how should I describe my characters?
– what makes good dialogue?
– how can I think about the flow of a sentence?

If you’d like to submit your work for a future show, you can do so via the ‘Contact Me’ link in the right-hand column. Details at the end of the show, or you can read the submission guidelines here. They’re from the old blog but they’re exactly the same for the podcast.

If you’d like to support me, please buy my novel, THE HONOURS. It’s temporarily unavailable on Wordery, so here’s a link to wonderful UK indie bookshop, Mr B’s Emporium, who ship worldwide: mrbsemporium.com/shop/books/the-honours/

Finally, you can support the running of the show directly via my Ko-fi page: ko-fi.com/B0B17913

Thanks very much for all your encouragement and help. Oh, and – before the more analytically-minded amongst you write in – I realise now that ‘against’ is a two-syllable word. Oops!

And here’s today’s extract:

THE DENTIST (by Morgan)

Joy wore a short, black, cotton dress, her hair tied back in a blond ponytail. Around her neck was a thin, golden chain with her star sign, a ram’s head. I had given it to her when we first met. I wore an open-necked, pale blue shirt under a dark-blue suit. It brought out the color of my eyes.

We were celebrating my first proper television role. The restaurant terrace shimmered gold, the candle flames restless in the breeze from the ocean. The crashing waves drowned out the piano tinkling through the speakers.

“I’m proud of you, honey,” said Joy. “A speaking role.”

“Let’s hope I don’t develop a stutter.”

“Aw, that would be adorable!” said Joy, pinching my cheek.

“Ow!”

“Oh, sorry, honey, is that the bad side?”

“It’s okay,” I said, “I’m just minding it, so it’ll go away sooner.”

“You know…” started Joy.

Our starters arrived, ending the conversation. I had curried oysters, Joy had asparagus salad. My mouth throbbed. I’d almost gotten used to it. I was pretty sure the tooth was rotten, that the cure would be worse than the disease. Lost in these thoughts I bit down on a mouthful and a sharp pain jolted my head.

There was a hard lump in my mouth. I held my cheek and went to the bathroom. At the mirror I picked a cracked and rotten piece of tooth from my mouth. It was laced with blood and the smell of seafood.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 28 – Chatting With Helen MacDonald

This episode I chat to multi-award-winning writer Helen MacDonald, author of H IS FOR HAWK, about finding the right words, finding your voice, and pushing through in the face of self-doubt.

We discuss her poetic influences, Top Gun, madness, painting and masculine crisis in interbellum England. We really dig down into how you might go about turning your experiences, traumas and big questions into meaningful writing that connects with others. And, as well as talking about how to deal with setbacks and doubt, we cover that so rarely discussed of topics: how to cope with success.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I find my voice as a writer?
– what sort of writing routine should I establish?
– how can writing poetry help with my prose?
– what’s it like when your book does really well?
– what are some techniques for overcoming low self-confidence?

If you enjoy this episode and you haven’t yet read H IS FOR HAWK, I suggest you click here to get it delivered (with free P&P) to your door. It really is as good as the reviews and awards say – I found it magnetically compelling.

Oh, and I did a novel! If you like me and want to do me a solid, chuck me a few pence by buying my book, THE HONOURS, please.

And you can support the podcast directly via my Ko-fi page.

Thank you so much for continuing to listen and share Death Of 1000 Cuts.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 27 – Chatting With James W Pennebaker

In this episode I chat with social psychologist James W Pennebaker about his research into expressive writing, and the tiny words we use each day but don’t notice.

We talk about a specific way of writing that can improve your mood, sleep, immune system function and even help your body heal faster. We discuss computer analyses of language, from old diaries to emails to poems, and how a particular category of words that accounts for less than one-tenth of 1 percent of your vocabulary makes up almost 60 percent of the words you use. And we find out how your output of these almost subliminal words can predict everything from status, age and gender to the likelihood the writer will take their own life.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– can writing make me feel better, and if so, how?
– what are some different categories of language?
– how is language processed in the brain?
– how can I make my characters’ dialogue more genuine, and representative of their backgrounds?
– what does my writing say about me?

This is a very different show to our usual style, but it’s truly fascinating. I really recommend you check out THE SECRET LIFE OF PRONOUNS, which our discussion only scrapes the surface of. There’s a huge wealth of knowledge in there for writers.

You might also like James W Pennebaker’s OPENING UP BY WRITING IT DOWN, a book about his research into the benefits of expressive writing, which includes exercises to try it out for yourself.

And of course if you haven’t treated yourself to it yet, there really is no better tonic for the troubled heart than my novel, THE HONOURS. Buy it here, with free shipping – it will come to your door, it looks beautiful, and you’ll be helping me out.

Finally, you can always support the podcast directly by dropping a few beans into the upturned guitar case that is my ko-fi page.

Thank you so much, and I hope you find this episode enlightening.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 26 – Chatting With Guy Gunaratne

In this episode I chat to novelist and film-maker Guy Gunaratne. We chat about how he got into telling stories, the movie that changed his life, and the challenge of listening to the voices of the five very different characters in his debut novel, IN OUR MAD AND FURIOUS CITY.

We also chat about saunas, road talk, finding the stories that obsess you, freestyle rap battles, and the performative nature of talking about being an author.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I find a character’s voice?
– what are the best techniques for writing in the first-person?
– what are some ways to keep going to the end of my novel?
– how can I discover the stories behind the issues I care about?
– how can I bring a theme or topic to life?

Please support the authors we have on the podcast. You’ll be helping them have careers and write more stories, and also you’ll find yourself reading great novels you didn’t expect to. I urge you to treat yourself to Guy Gunaratne’s brilliant IN OUR MAD AND FURIOUS CITY, available with free shipping here.

One way to support the podcast and me is to order my novel, THE HONOURS. You can get it here with free shipping.

And of course you can chuck me a few quid directly via my Ko-fi page.

Thank you very much for your continued enthusiasm and support. It means the world.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 24 – Chatting With Gareth L Powell

In this episode I chat to SF author Gareth L Powell about his pistol-toting flying ace monkey, ACK-ACK MACAQUE, writing sentient spaceships, winning awards and being nice on the internet. We get into his new novel, EMBERS OF WAR, and he shares his best writing tips for novice authors.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how much should I plan my story?
– how do I get to know my characters?
– how do I write from the perspective of unusual / non-human characters?
– what’s the difference between a story being absurd and funny?
– what’s it like winning a major award?
– how can I write compelling dialogue that flows well?

You can find Gareth’s website here.

Here’s his Patreon page where you can support him and get all sorts of goodies depending on your supporter level, including feedback on your work.

Here’s his Twitter.

What’s that? You want to read his excellent novels? Why not try big SF adventure EMBERS OF WAR?

Or if you like monkeys liberated from cyber-servitude, smoking cigars and shooting stuff up (and who doesn’t), try ACK-ACK MACAQUE.

And of course, if you fancy reading something by me, THE HONOURS is a cosy interbellum yarn with sawn-off shotguns and nameless terrors hidden in the walls of a Norfolk country house.

And yo, if you want to drop the podcast a few bucks to cover expenses and keep us on the air, you can do so in a couple of clicks, here.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 22 – Chatting With Claire North

In this episode I chat to novelist Claire North (aka Catherine Webb) about her amazing career spanning 20 (!) novels so far, starting when she was just 14. We chat about genre, growing up geeky, dystopias, craft, and changing the world – and her latest novel, 84K, set in a frighteningly familiar corporate near-future where everything – including murder – has a price and ad support.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– does genre matter?
– who decides what genre my book is?
– can stories change the world?
– what are some ways in to writing about big themes or social issues?
– how can I write consistently?

You can grab a copy of 84K by Claire North here.

Here’s THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST, which we chat about.

You can follow Cat on Twitter: @ClaireNorth42

Please support me and the show by buying my cool book, THE HONOURS.

You can also drop me a couple of bucks directly to help with the show’s overheads, via my ko-fi page.

Thank you!

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 21 – Chatting With Peter Newman

This episode I chat to Peter Newman, author of Fantasy trilogy THE VAGRANT, THE MALICE and THE SEVEN, and – released in the UK *this week* (!) – his latest, THE DEATHLESS. I grill him for precious, precious info on how he builds worlds, his philosophy on creating characters, and what makes Fantasy so compelling. We end up chatting about everything from roleplaying on school buses, to why goats make the perfect jesters to critique humankind. Whatever genre you write in, there are bucketloads of down-to-earth advice from an experienced author on how to keep writing and find the good stuff.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– what makes a good protagonist?
– how do I write stories set in a dystopia?
– how do I make my readers care about my characters?
– what’s Grimdark Fantasy and should I write it?
– what are good ways to think about world-building?
– how can I convey my world while keeping the story going?
– what things do readers need to know, and when?

Peter Newman’s latest novel (out this week!) is THE DEATHLESS, and you can grab yourself a copy here.

But you should read all Pete’s novels! (I enjoyed them) A good place to start is THE VAGRANT, which we discuss on the podcast.

2nd in the trilogy is THE MALICE.

And it closes with THE SEVEN.

You can grab my novel, THE HONOURS, here.

You can also drop me a couple of bucks directly to help with the show’s overheads, via my ko-fi page.

Thank you!

Death Of 1000 Cuts – 100th Episode Special – Aing Your Qs

To mark the 100th episode of Death Of 1000 Cuts, my writing advice podcast, I thought I’d record a Q&A, answering listeners’ questions. Here are the questions I answer, in the order I answer them. Thanks very much to everyone who submitted questions!

– How do you know when you’re being original?
– When can you quit the day job? Should you quit the day job?
– How do you balance writing and family life?
– I’d love more tips about writing characters that are consistent and iconic but also growing and complex. ‘How do word people better?’
– What’s the last literary novel you read that you rated highly?
– Do you ever have trouble concentrating on your writing, and if so, what do you do to stay focused and productive?
– What inspired you to write The Honours?
– How do you decide when something is done? A piece of work might never reach the ideal image of it we have in our minds, so at what point then do we stop and send it off?
– How do you know when you should give up on a particular piece of work?
– What boardgame do you enthuse about to other people who love them and what boardgame do you enthuse about to other people who don’t?
– is “secret vampires” your favourite song by the pop group bis?
– Would you advise forcing yourself to finish what you start or trust you’re finishing the important ones?
– I’d love to know your views on research.. are you a thorough mini expert in your subject before you even start? Or do you start then realise you need to research?
– How much did you query before you found an agent?
– Any tips on getting through the big first revision after completing a novel first draft? I find it much harder to summon the enthusiasm to edit than I did to create
– Who is your favourite member of Steps and why?
– When I read books by other authors, what should I be looking for that can help me with my own writing?
– How do you finish stories? As in when do you stop iterating on them?
– Writing right now feels like a completely safe space. Is it harder to feel like that once you’ve been published? What can you do about that?

If you get value out of the show and you’d like to see us continue for another 100 episodes, the best way to show your support is to buy my novel, THE HONOURS.

You can also drop me a couple of bucks directly to help with the show’s overheads, via my ko-fi page.

Thank you!

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 20 – Untitled by M (1st Page Critique)

In this episode I take a look at a listener’s first page and suggest ways to make it better. That’s right, it’s an old school In The Barber’s Chair critique!

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I be a better self-editor?
– how can I make my world-building great?
– what sort of things should I think about when designing a planet?
– what are good ways to introduce a character in a novel?
– how can I improve the ‘flow’ of a sentence?

If you enjoy this episode then for gawd’s sake buy me book, THE HONOURS.

And help me keep the podcast going by laying a few hot pence down on me via this handy-dandy site.

Thank you!

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 19 – Chatting With Grant Howitt

In this episode I chat to tabletop game designer Grant Howitt about creating stories out of thin air. We talk about the magic of gathering together to make stories with friends, how characters flow out of the simplest backstories, and ways in which you can use the techniques of roleplaying and improv to get over your creative fears and be happy, prolific and daring in your writing. Grant also talks about his new book, SPIRE, co-written with Christopher Taylor, a roleplaying game and world where you play terrorists trying to overthrow the oppressive high elves of a gigantic and deeply weird city-tower.

This episode is great to listen to if you want to know:
– what makes a good character?
– what drives a brilliant plot?
– how can I use roleplaying techniques to write better and more?
– how can I learn to think like my character?
– what is a tabletop roleplaying game?
– how can I overcome perfectionism?
– can I use creative/roleplaying techniques to feel a bit better?

You can find some of Grant’s brilliant games (including free one-page rpgs you can play with friends in an afternoon) here.

SPIRE is available in hardback here.

Follow him on Twitter: @gshowitt

Here’s a great blog he wrote called 11 Ways To Be A Better Roleplayer that handily serves as a fantastic list of ways to write better and get your characters into more and more interesting flavours of trouble.

Like the show? Gorge yourself on period weirdness with my novel THE HONOURS.

Want to help me pay my exorbitant hosting bills & keep the lights on? A few bucks chucked my way would be deeply appreciated.

Thank you, and please don’t forget to share the show, subscribe on SoundCloud and iTunes, and pop me a little review if you like what I do.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 17 – Chatting With Jeannette Ng

In this episode I chat to author Jeannette Ng about her Gothic Fantasy novel UNDER THE PENDULUM SUN. We discuss how she came upon her tale of a gothic heroine travelling to the mysterious and threatening continent of Arcadia, in search of her missionary brother who has been trying to convert the Fair Folk. We chat about Chinese vampires, world-building, colonialism, the creative freedom of youth, borrowing from established story structures, dreaded second novel syndrome, and writing in the long shadow of the Brontës.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I create compelling Fantasy worlds?
– how can I breathe new life into familiar monsters?
– where can I look for inspiration?
– what does Fantasy allow me to do that other genres don’t?
– what strategies can I use to overcome excessive self-criticism?
– what are some pitfalls to avoid when creating Fantasy cultures?

(sorry for forgetting to post this on the site when it went up. Oops!)

If you got value out of this episode please support Jeannette Ng by ordering her novel, UNDER THE PENDULUM SUN.

Please support me and my work by buying my novel, THE HONOURS.

If you’d like to help me cover the costs of making the podcast, you can drop me a few bucks at my ko-fi page – thank you so much for all your support so far.

Mailing List

Hey dear ones, just a quick post to say that I’ve got rid of my mailing list. I was only sending mailouts sporadically, and it was an awkward mishmash of my poetry audiences and podcast listeners. Added to that, the open rate had dropped from around 60% to about 10% – so it was the cyber equivalent of yelling times and dates into a well. As much as digital marketers insist that the only reliable way to reach people is via a mailing list, in future I’m going to do via this blog, my Facebook author page and my Twitter @timclarepoet (click the link on the right to follow me). Of course companies like Facebook and Twitter may choose in future to make it harder to reach out to folks without paying, and some of you aren’t on either platform. But we will find a way to reach one another, I feel certain of it. Also, my podcast, Death Of 1000 Cuts, often acts as a kind of audio diary and I’ll chuck in any major news there.

That’s it. Take care. I’m really excited about sharing Monday’s podcast – it’s a bit of a new area for us, but I want to expose you to new ideas, new ways of working, to see if we can’t create interesting explosions in the laboratory of your brain. I really think you’re going to learn some cool stuff.

Death Of 1000 Cuts – Season 2 Episode 18 – Getting Unstuck & Defining Success (Writing Ramble)

In this episode I talk about creative ways of getting unstuck when you’re working on a project, and showcase John August’s Writer Emergency Pack – a deck of cards designed to help storymakers out of jams. I also review what I’ve learned from speaking to the various authors I’ve had as guests on the show so far, and talk about some key takeaways you can apply to your writing practice right now.

NOT ONLY THAT but I drill down into the idea of ‘success’ and ‘failure’ as an author, and what they might actually look like for different people. My position is that the most common standard of writing success is responsible for a great deal of suffering and neither conducive to happiness nor creativity.

Finally I announce the big Death Of 1000 Cuts listener survey. Please please please let me know your thoughts! What do you like about the show? What would you like to hear more of? What could you do with less of? Tell me! Gimme feedback!

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– what are a range of strategies writers use to break through blocks?
– is there just one way of writing successfully?
– how can I avoid burnout as a writer?
– how can I motivate myself?
– are setbacks normal?

Please support the podcast and me by buying my novel, THE HONOURS.

If you’d like to help me out with the hosting costs of the podcast, you can drop me a buck or two here.

Here’s the link to the LISTENER SURVEY – please fill it in! It only takes 5 minutes and I want to know what you think.

Thank you very much. I appreciate your support.

Death Of 1000 Cuts LISTENER SURVEY

Create your own user feedback survey

Hey friend. I really want to get to know you. If you listen to Death Of 1000 Cuts, you would be making a big and valuable contribution by filling in this 5 minute (literally 5 minutes – it’s 10 questions) survey about what things you’d like me to do to make the podcast as useful and entertaining and as awesome for you as possible. Let me know your thoughts! I care about what you think, and a foundational principle of this whole silly enterprise is embracing and benefiting from constructive feedback. But I can’t get a feel for what you want unless you make your voice heard.

There are no prizes for filling in the survey, except a better podcast that more meets your needs, for free. If you’ve listened to at least one episode of Death Of 1000 Cuts or the Couch to 80k Writing Boot Camp then you are exactly the person I need to hear from. Thank you in advance.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Season 2 Episode 16 – Chatting With Hayley Webster

I chat to Hayley Webster, author of JAR BABY and MEET THE TWITCHES. We talk about the origins of her love of reading, the ways a story engages your senses, and her approach to writing across genres, from mystery to literary fiction to memoir to children’s adventures.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how do I write a book for children?
– what’s it like working with an illustrator?
– is it okay to work on multiple projects?
– do I need to stick to one genre?
– how can I make my writing vivid?
– how can I develop my confidence as a writer?
– what’s it like working with an agent?
– what are different ways I can get a book deal?

Here are links to a couple of Hayley’s books she mentions. Please support her career and this podcast by clicking the links below and treating yourself to some of her work.

JAR BABY.

MEET THE TWITCHES (TEACUP HOUSE #1).

I’m a professional author. If people buy my books I can keep working and feed my family. Also my books are dead good. Please consider purchasing for yourself or as a surprise present for a loved one: THE HONOURS.

If you’d like to help me out with the hosting costs of the podcast, you can drop me a buck or two here.

Thank you very much. I appreciate your support.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Season 2 Episode 15 – Chatting With Emma Healey

In this episode I chat to author Emma Healey, about her bestselling Costa-winning debut ELIZABETH IS MISSING, and her new novel WHISTLE IN THE DARK. We have a wide-ranging, frank and occasionally funny chat about finding the voice of your protagonist, transmuting research into living characters and stories, and how to start again from scratch when you begin your second book.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how do I know which idea is the right one to write about?
– where can I find ideas in the first place?
– what sort of characters am I allowed to write about?
– how can I research my book?
– how can I use my life experiences in my fiction?

I really enjoyed recording this one and I hope you get a lot out of it. Hey, you should buy Emma’s books because they are great, and also because I am grateful for authors taking the time to come on the show so you’d be doing me a big favour if you show them some love.

WHISTLE IN THE DARK.

ELIZABETH IS MISSING.

And of course I’m an author. It’s how I feed my family. So please treat yourself to a copy of my novel, THE HONOURS, and help me continue making stories.

And if you’d like to help me with my hosting expenses for the podcast and my website you can drop me a few bucks via my Ko-fi page. Any help is much appreciated.

As promised, here are a couple of links with perspectives on cultural appropriation, cultural exchange and representation:

How to Explain Cultural Appropriation to Anyone Who Just Doesn’t Get It.

We Need To Talk About Cultural Appropriation.

Wikipedia link.

The Good Immigrant (book link).

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Season 2 Episode 14 – Chatting With V C Lancaster

In this episode I chat to author V C Lancaster about her work and the world of self-publishing. If you’ve ever considered publishing your own work, or you’re interested in how it all works, this is the episode for you.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– how can I get started as a self-published author?
– how does Kindle work for self-published authors?
– how much do I have to do myself?
– what do I need to know about cover design?
– how can I write an effective blurb?
– how do I get reviews?
– what are readers looking for?
– what should I put in my sample?
– how long should my book be?
– what should I price my book?
– do special offers and sales work?
– what’s the lifespan of a book?
– how much can I expect to earn?

Fancy reading some of her work? https://www.amazon.com/V.C.-Lancaster/e/B0121K0OXY/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1524147411&sr=8-1“>Here’s V C Lancaster’s Amazon page.
vclancasterblog.wordpress.com/“>Her website.
www.facebook.com/VCLancaster/“>Facebook.
twitter.com/VC_Lancaster“>Twitter.
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14158778.V_C_Lancaster“>Goodreads.

Oh, and you can always https://wordery.com/the-honours-tim-clare-9781782114765#oid=1908_1“>get yourself a copy of my novel, THE HONOURS.

Please support the podcast and the authors who appear on it, and get yourself some exciting new reads at the same time.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Season 2 Episode 13 – Your First Draft Survival Kit

Writing a novel? Finding it too easy? This episode isn’t for you.

In this episode, author Tim Clare (that’s me) packs your 10-piece first draft survival kit. It has everything you need to get you through the first draft of your novel – the tools, the mindset, and proven strategies.

The 10 Tools in your First Draft Survival Kit are:

1. You’re Allowed To Give Up.
2. Challenges, Not Obligations
3. Short-Term Goals, Not Long-Term Visions
4. Aim Low
5. Start
6. Be Curious
7. Keep Notes
8. Go Public
9. Time Travel
10. Let Go Of The Past

If you want to find out what they are and how to apply them now, take a listen!

This is a great episode to listen to if:
– you’re working on a novel
– you find yourself losing heart when you start writing
– you struggle with procrastination
– you want to finish a first draft

Support my writing career and the podcast by clicking here and buying my novel, THE HONOURS.

Please consider casting your vote for DEATH OF 1000 CUTS in the British Podcast Awards.

You can also support the podcast via my Ko-fi page.

Thank you!

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Season 2 Episode 12 – Chatting To Nikesh Shukla

In this episode, I had a chat with author Nikesh Shukla. You may have heard him in Season 1 where the two of us looked at a listener’s first page. If you’re not familiar with his work he’s written three novels so far: Coconut Unlimited which was nominated for the Costa, Meatspace and his latest, The One Who Wrote Destiny. He’s got a fourth, a YA title, called Run, Riot coming out in June of this year. He also edited a collection of essays called The Good Immigrant which, after a successful Unbound funding campaign, went on to huge critical acclaim, sold a bunch of copies and won a Readers’ Choice Award.

As Nikesh mentions at the beginning, we’re both sleep-deprived dads so, it takes us a little while to get to the punch but I think you’re going to get a lot out of this talk. He’s modest and self-deprecating but we talk about craft and finding what a story’s really about and the story of his latest book is a journey that’s taken nearly 20 years. Really inspiring.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know:
– what are different ways I can approach a character’s ‘voice’?
– how can I decide what to write about?
– what’s the best way to approach a writing routine?
– who should I be writing for?

If you’d like to read some of Nikesh’s work and support me and the podcast then I would be churlish indeed to decry your clicking one of these links and buying some:
THE ONE WHO WROTE DESTINY.
MEATSPACE.
COCONUT UNLIMITED.
THE GOOD IMMIGRANT.
THE ART OF THE NOVEL.

And of course you can get my novel, THE HONOURS.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Season 2 Episode 11 – Raising The Stakes

In today’s episode I answer a listener’s question about character motivation and stakes. How do you know whether the stakes in your story are enough to carry a whole novel? How do you stress test your protagonist’s motivation before writing the entire book? Why do some character goals seem to matter more than others?

This is a great episode to listen to if:
– you’re at the planning stage of your novel
– you have a big idea but you’re not sure if it has legs
– you’ve got a short way into a novel but it seems to have run out of steam
– you’re editing your novel and looking for ways to make it more compelling

As I always I would love your thoughts on this. Please do drop me a line via the ‘Contact Me’ link on the right and send me any comments, questions for future episodes, or just say hello.

Please like and subscribe to this podcast on Soundcloud and iTunes, and if you have the time please rate Death Of 1000 Cuts on iTunes and leave a review for other writers. It’s really handy for helping people find it.

If you want to support the podcast you can click this link to drop a few bucks to my Ko-fi page.

My novel is called THE HONOURS and if you click here you can buy it with free delivery while supporting the podcast.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Season 2 Episode 10 – Who’s Story Is It Anyway?

In this episode, author Tim Clare (that’s me) talks about what’s been going on in fiction writing this week. I discuss the dangers of writers’ semi-jokey fixation on productivity and ‘laziness’, and why I think it makes us sad while creating the very problem it claims to tackle. Then I dive into a topic I’ve been avoiding for a while – who has the right to tell what stories? After reading an interview with author Lionel Shriver this week, where she said that she fears the novel is doomed unless authors are allowed to cause offence, and that white authors are filled with anxiety about writing about cultures that aren’t their own, I decided to have a go at broaching this subject. If you would like to hear a white middle class cis male author give his opinions, then finally you have the chance, if you can hear me over all the hand-wringing.

This is a good episode to listen to if you’re wondering: what stories am I allowed to write? What questions should I be asking myself about diversity, cultural appropriation, and representation? How can I write more?

It’s very much the beginning of a conversation and there’s a lot more to say. In the meantime, I suggest you read up on the topic, by reading a range of pieces by authors from marginalised groups, to get their opinions.

If you want to support the podcast you can click this link to drop a few bucks to my Ko-fi page.

My novel is called THE HONOURS and if you click here you can buy it with free delivery while supporting the podcast.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Season 2 Episode 9 – Slaying The 3 Dragons Of Structure

 

How should you plot your novel? What shape should your story have? How can you grip the reader from page one? How can you keep the tension and surprise up through the middle? And how can you make your ending as satisfying as possible? Death Of 1000 Cuts, the writing podcast with author Tim Clare (that’s me), reveals all.

This episode teaches you everything you need to know about plot and structuring your novel. No need to fear formula! Learn to tame it and bend it to your will. Following on from our episode on the 7 Pillars of Line-Editing Your Novel, this time we look at how to sculpt your novel into a pleasing shape, how to think about where to start and where to end, and how to make sure you make promises that you payoff on.

This is a great episode to listen to if you want to know: how should I structure my novel? How does plot work? When should I work on an outline? How does structure work in literary fiction? How do I make my story compelling? How can I make the middle of my story gripping?

If you’d like to support me as I make the podcast, please buy my book or one of the books I mention via the links below:

THE HONOURS by Tim Clare.

STORY by Robert McKee.

THE 7 BASIC PLOTS by Christopher Brooker.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Season 2 Episode 8 – The Dawn Trials (by Jack)

In this episode author Tim Clare (that’s me) looks at another listener’s first page and gives a detailed critique of the opening to their story. I talk about how you can use vocabulary to build mood and imply things. I talk about how to write great similes and when to dial them back. I talk about how to handle time in your story. I have a strange revelation about bundles of sticks.

If you want to support the podcast you can click this link to drop a few bucks to my Ko-fi page.

Please buy my novel, THE HONOURS, to support the podcast and my writing career.

Here’s the extract I discuss in this episode, for you to read through yourself:

THE DAWN TRIALS

Bundled branches and stacked logs loomed through the morning fog as Jim and I reached the clifftop. A hungry fear dropped and hung in my stomach like a noose. I’d prayed to a God I barely believed in all night, hoping that Jim wouldn’t understand what was happening. The poor boy. The decisions I made in the days after I watched Ma die have stalked me ever since.

We’d left at sunrise, wrapped up against the chill with the rest of the Freshwater folk. Dark figures emerged from the fog with muffled whispers. I remembered when I was barely Jim’s age – on top of the cliff with everyone, holding onto Father’s hand and hiding behind him. But I still heard the last words. The begging. The trapdoor thud and crunch as bone snapped. Then the stench of shit that followed – God’s cruel joke.

“Where’s Ma, Anna?” Jim clutched onto my skirts and looked up at me. I placed my hand on his shoulder, crouched down and lied, “She’s gone away for awhile, she-”

“Why isn’t she here?! I don’t want to watch”

“You don’t have to watch, lad. I don’t want you to.” I showed him how to scrunch up his eyes and put his fingers in his ears. He sucked his thumb, his mouth somehow already dirty. I wanted to pick him up and run, but I knew we had to be there. To flee would have been to admit our own guilt.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Season 2 Episode 8 – The 7 Pillars Of Line-Editing Your Novel Like A Motherfucking Laser Surgeon

On the latest episode of the creative writing advice podcast, author Tim Clare (that’s me) responds to listener requests to an episode dedicated to editing your work.

What are the best rules for editing your fiction? What are some simple techniques you can apply right now to your work to make it immediately better? How can you make your novel more readable? How can you make your stories more pacy? How can you make your writing more vivid and engaging?

How can a writer get the most out of adverbs? What are some tips for finding killer similes and metaphors? How can you make your prose lean and punchy?

I answer all these (made-up) questions and more with my 7 Pillars Of Line-Editing Your Novel Like A Motherf*cking Laser Surgeon.

If you want to support the podcast you can click this link to drop a few bucks to my Ko-fi page: ko-fi.com/timclare

Otherwise, buying one or more of the books I discuss via the links below will help out while getting you some reading material that will help you grow as an author. Please buy my novel, The Honours, and support my writing career:

THE HONOURS by Tim Clare.

ON WRITING WELL by William Zinsser.

THE COMPLETE ACCOMPLICE by Steve Aylett.

Death Of 1000 Cuts: Season 2 Episode 7 – The Gap (Writing Ramble)

In this episode I give advice about changing your relationship with your writing, and the perils of seeing making art as a war, or viewing your novel as the enemy, or listening to your self-doubt as if it were your boss. I talk about Steven Pressfield’s non-fiction book The War of Art, and David Bayles’ & Ted Orland’s book Art & Fear, both of which tackle this subject in detail, while coming to different conclusions.

This is a good episode to listen to if you find yourself asking: how can make my novel better? Am I good enough to be a writer? How should I start my novel? How do I write a first-person narrator?

In a Death Of 1000 Cuts first I look at the first few sentences of my current work-in-progress, and explain why I think they’re bad. Then I talk about why that doesn’t worry me, and how you can negotiate a better relationship to your work so you’re not too hung up on the gap between what you meant to say, and what appeared on the page.

If you want to support the podcast you can click this link to drop a few bucks to my Ko-fi page.

Otherwise, buying one or more of the books I discuss via the links below will help out while getting you some reading material that will help you grow as an author. Please buy my novel, The Honours, and support my writing career:

THE HONOURS by Tim Clare.

ART & FEAR: OBSERVATIONS ON THE PERILS (AND REWARDS) OF ART MAKING by David Bayles & Ted Orland.

THE WAR OF ART: BREAK THROUGH THE BLOCKS AND WIN YOUR INNER CREATIVE BATTLES by Steven Pressfield.