Ian McEwan’s ‘Psychopolis’: Imagery, subject, theme (tip 80) Reply

In this video, D.D. Johnston discusses how imagery is often the connecting point between subject and theme (for a reminder about subject and theme, see writing tip 71). He looks at Ian McEwan’s short story ‘Psychopolis’ and presents a weird theory about Magpies. Psychopolis is available here, starting on page 52.

read video transcript

Free Writing Critique: Mountain of Souls by R.J. Champion 6

Many thanks to RJ Champion who has sent us an excerpt from his novel in progress, Mountain of Souls. (If you missed the feedback on our last free critique post, it’s now available here). Please share your constructive comments below and then consider sharing your own work for critique (see here for all the necessary information).

RJ championR.J. Champion is currently working on his first novel, provisionally entitled Mountain of Souls. RJ Champion has taught and travelled around the world. including Peru (the inspiration for his first novel), Jordan, Tanzania and the Czech Republic. Rob has also lectured in History Education at the University of Exeter. R J Champion is currently completing a MA in English at the University of Hull. You can find him online at www.rjchampion.com and he tweets at @r_j_champion.

Mountain of Souls will be an 80,000 word political and historical suspense thriller aimed at an adult readership.

(Please note that in the extract that follows, the swear words have been partially obscured by us, only to stop the post being blocked by corporate profanity filters and over-zealous parental controls – sorry!)


1. The Philosopher

Maximum Security Prison, El Callao Naval Base, San Juan de Lurigancho, Callao, Peru.

The clouds were grey overhead and so thick they moulded into one covering the sky from horizon to horizon. The man walked into his private exercise cage. From afar he had an aspect that would pass for an ascetic medieval friar. Kept separate from the other inmates this was as close to society as he could get. The guards, ever watchful, ever suspicious, waited just inside. He sat on the plastic chair. His body ached. He was old. The wind blew straight off the cold sea of the Pacific Ocean right into the central area where his cage was located. read full extract and feedback comments

Free writing critique: ‘Watching Bees’ by MD Commerford 6

Many thanks to MD Commerford who has sent us an excerpt from his story, ‘Watching Bees’. We’ll leave this post live for a week, during which time we’ll welcome any constructive comments. At the end of the week, the author will receive a free critique from one of our writing tutors. (If you’d like to share your work for critique, please see here for all the necessary information.)

MD commerfordMD Commerford is a mature student who has spent the last six years studying for an English Literature degree with the Open University. Having caught the creative writing bug, he’s just started an MA in English with a focus on creative writing at the University of Hull. He has written several short stories under the name MD Wilder, contributed to various blogs, and entered several poetry and fiction competitions. He enjoys the craft of writing and is constantly looking for feedback that can help him improve. You can find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wilderwrites and he tweets at @thewilderwrites

Watching Bees is a 3000-word piece of fictionalised life writing aimed at adults. Here’s an extract – feedback welcome!

Watching Bees

I am over my mother’s knee. So close I can smell her Opium even though my nose is clogged with snot. Tears are blurring the floral print of her summer dress. I am wailing my unintelligible apologies over and over into fabric. She is using a hard soled Scholl shoe. It is her favourite instrument to beat me with. Each clap exploding on each word as she repeated that: Children. Should. Honour. Their. Father. And. Mother
read full extract and feedback comments

Free writing critique service launching this September! 3

Want a free manuscript critique worth a market value of approximately $100? Here’s how it works!

online writing tips logoAt OnlineWritingTips, we’re following the writers’ workshop model that was developed at the University of Iowa in the 1930s, and which is used at universities and writers’ groups around the world. We’ll post an extract of your work publicly and encourage responses from our users (we’ll block anything that isn’t constructive). Then, at the end of the week, you’ll receive feedback from an experienced writing teacher and published novelist. Your work can appear anonymously, or with your name, writer’s bio, and links to your social media. And it’s all completely free!

If you’re interested, you can find out more here. We look forward to reading your work!