The ripple effect: connecting private lives and public dramas Reply

Lucy Tyler introduces her concept of ‘the ripple effect’ – the connections writers make between their characters’ private lives and bigger national and global issues.

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Concentrate on the quieter human eddy Reply

If you’re struggling to write the big dramatic moments – the battles and deaths and marriages – maybe you need to approach them from a distance and focus instead on the quieter moments. To borrow a phrase from Richard Ford, maybe you need to ‘concentrate on the quieter human eddy.’

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Beyond coffee: giving characters interesting & varied action 1

Sometimes writers think only of the function of a scene – for instance, if the plot demands that the protagonist argues with his wife then the writer writes the argument and, to break up the dialogue, has the characters doing something mundane such as drinking cups of coffee. This video discusses the value of getting your characters doing something interesting while they’re advancing the plot.


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‘Write what you know.’ Really? Reply

This week we’re looking at selecting material for writing fiction. Writers are often told to write what they know, but what does that advice mean? The video ends with a writing exercise to practice the skill of writing what we don’t know – or what we’ve only just learned about.

Zoe Heller on ‘Write what you know’
Nathan Englander on ‘Write what you know’

Writing exercise: Choose from the following list of places somewhere you’ve never been and write a detailed description of what a character experiences as she or he travels through this location.

The harbour of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Aabpara Market in Islamabad, Pakistan
The Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye, Scotland
The Riverfront in St Charles, Missouri, United States
Brick Lane in London, England
Namakunde, Angola
Dalton Post, Yukon, Canada
Keleti Railway Station, Budapest, Hungary

If you want to make it harder, change the date; for instance, try to describe the location as it would have been in 1982 or 1956.
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