Learning from the best




As a writer-in-training one of my current hobbies is absorbing others language and the creative ways they use it, in an attempt to learn the craft from those that have already made it. As a kindle addict this is a bit more difficult than a post-it on a page so I recently began using the highlight tool on kindle (press & hold on the first word until the grey highlight appears and then drag over the sentence/passage you wish to highlight), you can then add a note to help you trace why you highlighted it.

To then retrieve your highlights – log-on to https://kindle.amazon.com/your_highlights

See an example below from one of my favourite authors, these are two extracts I had highlighted showing descriptive technique.

The Bone Garden: The Wesley Peterson Series: Book 5 by Kate Ellis

You have 2 highlighted passages
You have 2 notes
Last annotated on June 27, 2014

Monday morning brought rain – or drizzle to be more precise. It fell in gossamer sheets over the hilly landscape, turning the greens and golds of the September fields to shades of grey.

Note: Weather description

Heffernan was making a great effort to sound professional, detached – but he wasn’t making a very good job of it. The expression on his face betrayed every emotion, every fear and doubt.

Note: description hidden emotion

Anyway, I thought this might be a useful tool for other aspiring writers’.


Another Writing News Flash –

I am thoroughly enjoying the homages made to great writers which are appearing on the news and in the media at the moment. Last week I published a post on how  Google marked the 200th birthday of Irish gothic tales writer Sheridan Le Fanu has rekindled my passion for good “classic” horror stories.

conan doyle prophecy

Then on Friday an article on Arthur Conan Doyle’s eerie vision of the future of war was published on BBC news. The article focusses on a short story written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about the threat of starvation in Britain – caused by enemy submarines – and the need for a Channel Tunnel. During the War this story almost became true when Germany began attacking merchant ships headed for Britain. The need for a tunnel was then realised.

In fact, a few weeks after the story’s publication, the House of Commons was set to debate the idea of a tunnel. But the day before it was due to take place Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated in Sarajevo. The debate never took place.  It wasn’t until 1994 – 80 years after Conan Doyle’s story – that today’s Channel Tunnel finally opened.

But it really brings to life the Byron quote (found in his 1823 poem Don Juan) is “Truth is always strange, Stranger than Fiction.”

This brought to mind the great Fahrenheit 451, a dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury published in 1953. The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any that are found. Over the course of several decades, people had embraced new media, sports, and a quickening pace of life. Books were ruthlessly abridged or degraded to accommodate a short attention span while minority groups protested over the controversial, outdated content perceived to be found in books.

Could Ray’s eerie vision of the future be closer than we think? I suspect not as although paperback reading itself may not be as popular as it once was, the quest for knowledge continually grows. With the introduction of the kindle and similar devices sales of books have increased. This article from 2012 quotes the following sales figures – overall growth of 89.1 per cent in digital sales went from £77m to £145m, while physical book sales fell from £985m to £982m – and 3.8 per cent by volume from £260m to £251m.
book & kindle

I wonder how many other books that have seemed far-fetched have come closer to the truth than we first realised…