7 Simple Steps to Get the Best from Critiques.

I’ve been reading, writing, critiquing short fiction for the past few years, and reached the following steps by trial and error. This is what works best for me today.

  1. Write the story.
  2. Write several drafts until you think you can’t make it any better.
  3. Put the manuscript down for at least a month and work on other projects.
  4. When you pick it up again you’ll see the draft wasn’t so great. Edit until it’s a lot better.
  5. Don’t stop. Work on the story until you think it’s the tits, and importantly, you’ve pushed yourself to the limits of your ability.
  6. Ask your writing group to critique your masterpiece. Oh, and tell them to rip your work to pieces.
  7. Go back to step 2.

Another writer’s opinion could be a chisel or a sledgehammer. Either is a tool. Use it well.

Tired Writer


Staying with photographer Ines Adriaens in the inspirational city of Brussels, critiquing a variety of fine stories submitted to the Tales From the Graveside anthology to be published by the NBW.

Enjoy the photos below, which are my own and not those of my talented host. I think I’ll stick to writing!


Words and Ears

My first visit to the regular Words and Ears event held at The Swan in Bradford on Avon proved to be a treat on Thursday 28th December. Hosted by Dawn Gorman, there was an open-mic session along with three guest poets, Stephen Daniels, Hazel Hammond, and Dru Marland.

Stephen delighted audiences with his witty and sometimes poignant reflections on life from his new collection, Tell Mistakes I Love Them. Helen debated the mermaid dilemma that has perplexed men for centuries, as well as reading from her own collection, Needlepoint. Dru entertained us with readings from her first collection of poems on ornithological musings entitled, Drawn Chorus . Dru has promised to pen a verse on the musicality of a birdsong combined with the ting of a cooling motorcycle engine, which I look forward to hearing.

Poetry is not a form I have worked in often other than Kerbcrawler (the collection in progress on this blog), but I think the study of it is essential in aiding a writer of prose to become sharper, succinct, and a little more creative.

Words and Ears is held every last Thursday of the month.

How Important is Genre Fiction?

I read in The Guardian on Friday that print sales for literary fiction have remained low since they plummeted in 2010. This ‘crisis’, highlighted in a report commissioned by the Arts Council England (ACE), has the same Council considering to fund this publishing genre.

It would be a mistake, I think, to assume that other genres only reflect society rather than examine it, or do not have anything worthwhile to say, and therefore don’t merit support.

Should we not question ACE’s literature director’s reported comment, “… we are saying that there is something so unique and important and necessary and fundamental about literary fiction in particular, that we need to focus on it and support it.”?

Shouldn’t ACE concentrate on promoting literacy in schools, or reading in adulthood, with the aim to allow the reader, not ACE, to support the authors of literary fiction or any other genre?


We Are Gathered – audio version

I have just received a rough recording of my story, We Are Gathered.

It was recorded live in the Anglican chapel at Arnos Vale Cemetery on a stormy October evening, and is narrated by the poet and writer, B Anne Adriaens. Enjoy!

Many thanks to Rich Jeffery who will be putting together an audio book with a polished version of the above along with all the other stories that were read out at the North Bristol Writers’ event.

Flash Slam Virgin

I took part in my first prose Flash Slam at Stokes Croft, Bristol on Friday night and brought my family along for moral support. Seven writing groups battled it out for the honour of being Flash Slam Champions 2017. We all had to write a three hundred word piece and read it aloud … in to a microphone … in front of an audience.

Our team, We Thought It Was Speed Dating, came second, beaten by the mighty Stokes Croft lot.

There is a skill to reading out and someday I may learn it, meanwhile I’ll concentrate on getting the written word right!

Stokes Croft