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Looking out to the world, and in to your truths

The exercise to go with this tip is very simple. Choose one of your passions and write about an incident that crystallised it for you.

So I would do ornithology, and the incident would be seeing red-billed choughs for the first time.

The setting, a headland in west Wales, would be my way in. I would try to bring the smell of the cliffs, the lance of the light, the particular sounds of the different bays and cliffs alive.

The characters, my family, would animate the scene: the ways we walked, straggling over the heather; how we reacted to the place and the day.

The structure would follow the arc of our walk to the end of the land, where we saw them, and back.

And the drama would come from a small boy’s internal world; how I felt about choughs before I saw them, where my longings and enthusiasms came from (books!) and how they were realised.

Taking this model, apply it to your own story.

The strongest non-fiction is simply told, looking outward at the world and inward at the writer’s truths and feelings at the same time.

I have just been re-reading Orwell’s Shooting an Elephant. It is as perfect a model for this idea as one could wish for: you might like to read it before you do your exercise.

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Live your subject

Non-fiction writers live their books before they write them. From biography to travel to books about music, art…

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Let the place do the talking

It is tremendously difficult to write about a place you know as if you are a travel writer….

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Tips for Travel Writing

First, you need to find a subject that lights you up. If beach resorts are not your thing,…

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Find the shape of your story

Pick up one of the books you really like – it doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction….

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What is a scene?

Novelists are always told to show, not tell. They are also told to ‘write in scenes’ which means…

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Developing a scene

If you are already writing a memoir, look through the work you have done to date and see…

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Write The Blurb For Your Novel

Write the blurb for your novel – the summary that appears on the back jacket of a book…

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Uncharted Seas

Writing a novel is like setting out to sail across a vast, uncharted sea, without any resources such…

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Don’t let them talk you out of it

Spend a little time identifying who the people are who might tell you not to write your memoir….

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Controlling your fear

Thomas Keneally says that, ‘Writing is an exercise in controlling your fear. Above all the fear that you…

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Creating ‘Child Eye’s View’ when writing for young people

Young people don’t just come under the heading of one audience. There are so many different ages and…

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