HELLO and WELCOME to my website!
I’m a writer, these days mainly of fiction, based in Paris, also spending time in my hometown of Edinburgh and long summers off grid in a cabin in the Norway.
My debut novel The Confession of Stella Moon, Saraband 2016, WON the Andrea Badenoch Prize and was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize. My short story collection –what are you like-, RedSquirrelPress 2019, WON the EdgeHill ShortStory Prize 2020. Go here to get your copy of what are you like! Buy direct from publisher £8.99, P&P FREE, or you can order from any indie bookstore.
‘…absolutely packed with quietly brilliant writing and with humanity. And which, in its variety, is almost like a showcase of all of the things that short fiction can be. It expands the idea of what a short story can be, and of what a collection of short stories can be, and in a very exciting and fascinating way. It’s a wonderful book.’ —David Szalay, award-winning novelist and judge of the Edge Hill University Short Story Prize
Find out about all my other books on my Amazon author page !
Read a recently published short story – click here
Book writing for beginners: How to write a novella.
I use the Agnès Grey method.
Phase One: write the book. this is the first creative phase. begin with one single phrase that grabs you or won’t leave you alone. when the character emerges from the soup, dry her off and follow. she’s carrying the plot in her coat pocket. you just have to get close enough to get your hand in the pocket.
Ideally you should finish up with a draft of about 10k words or less at this stage.
This phase takes six months all told if you keep revising and refining and honing as you are going, make the writing as good as you can, almost be a poet with your precision. This thing could stand alone if you wanted it to by the time you’re done wit it.
Phase two: Rewrite the whole lot. Triple its size to 30k. Go wider, yes, but deeper is more important. Feel your way in and through, make it bigger and keep it true. Keep revising as you go along. Start keeping track of who and what and when, annotated in margins as they come to you. Make notes of bits for development.
Phase three: same again. This time revise revise, refine, hone it tighter, but double its size. 60k max.
Phase four: Edit One: Is structural edit. Print out MS on single sheets with section/chapter breaks. Try out different structures by moving the pages around. If you move anything, you will need to tweak, before and after.
Phase five: check out your character arcs. They are more important than the overall story arc i think, but that is controversial. Perfect your character arcs. Each character. Then their interactions. Perfect them and smooth off any jagged bits, unless your book is about jagged bits.
Phase Six.: Refine edit. Hone edit. Tighten tighten. Be a poet again with rhythm and gaps and music. Control your punctuation to help you achieve what you want. Make sure your characters are true via their voices. Aim to lose five thousand words at least.
Phase seven. Edit some more. And some more. Read it aloud. Make it sound beautiful.
Phase Eight. Do the bigger snaggings. Refine correct and perfect the whole. it’s an entity now. With integrity. A self of its own.
Phase Nine. Do the smaller fixings and leave to rest and do something else including noting down any tweaks that occur to you.
Phase Ten: Do your final tweaks, final read through, final edit, send it off.