Category Archives: writing

The first step to creativity in business or anything else: preparation!

What has preparation got to do with creativity?

Preparation is the first of the (click here) seven steps I have recently written about concerning creativity in business. Although you might not think it involves your creative side, preparation is an essential part of the process. If you are looking for a solution or planning a new initiative, you need to understand the question before rushing to an answer. You want to know what research other people have already done on the subject, if you don’t want to reinvent the wheel.

What preparation do I do as a writer?

I research the background. I want to be as authentic as possible. Of course, in fiction you can alter some of the facts to make the story work better, but do it intentionally. I recently took a trip to Cardiff to remind myself of some of the locations I am using in Accounting for Murder, Book II, Old Money. In particular, I visited Castell Coch, where I have set much of the action. I am glad I did so. I will change a few things to make it more realistic but overall I am more certain than ever that I have chosen the right location for the story.

When do I do more preparation?

For historical novels, which I write under a pseudonym, I always need to do more research, so as to be true to the period and to incorporate as many historical facts as I can. They give a framework for the fiction.

Preparation for me includes reading other fiction and other kinds of reading. Studying modern grammar comes into it too. I am amazed how much has changed since I was at school, especially capitalisation.

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The things I have learnt about writing, including preparation, are helpful in my business too.
What if you have begun working on an idea without preparation?
Risk Dice
What if you have omitted preparation?

Do not despair. Preparation obviously ought to come before anything else, but your situation, although not ideal, is not necessarily beyond repair. Go back and do it now. Be ready to rethink some of your ideas. It’s only too late once you have gone live. Doing things in the right order usually saves time in the long run, but we live in the real world. Even fiction writers!

Coming soon: the lightbulb moment, aka Inspiration!

 

Can Too Many Words Spoil Communication?

“No adjectives!” cried John, the author, “No effing adjectives?  Who says?”

“It’s company policy.” replied Harvey, the executive from his publishers as he handed back the annotated manuscript.

“Well, what stupid, blinkered, unimaginative, idiotic, moronic old fool came up with that one?”

“You’ve just used six adjectives, most of which were unnecessary.  They were synonyms, or nearly.  There was no need for the expletive in your previous remark, either.  You see how wasteful you are with words?”

“So is this an efficiency drive?”

“I suppose that’s one way of looking at it.  To answer your question, the policy came down from the top.  The senior partner, Mr. Roget, has recently stated the policy unequivocally and categorically.  By the way he’s not old.  He’s only in his forties, although they say his mental age has always been greater than his chronological age.”

“You’ve just used two adjectives.  You said ‘mental’ and ‘chronological’ .   What about adverbs?”

“They’re banned too.  Most of them are unnecessary.”

“You use them.  You just said ‘unequivocally’ and ‘categorically’ which are near-synonyms.  And ‘unnecessary’ is an adverb too.  You’re as bad as I am!  Anyway, repetition is often used for emphasis.  We all do it in speech.  Why not in print?  I’ll bet a lot of famous writers would never get published if your Mr. Roget had his way.  What about titles?  Do you allow adjectives and adverbs in them?”

“I don’t know.  I don’t think we encourage them.” Said Harvey as he looked nervously at the list of new titles he was holding.

“I suppose you would have published the Curiosity Shop!

“If you’re going to be like that, I suppose it ought to be just the Shop.”

“Like the Girl with the Earring, or is that the Girl with the Ring?”

“Now you’re being silly and pedantic.”

“That’s good, coming from you!  What about the Sleep by Raymond Chandler, and Hardy’s Far from the Crowd?  Would you have told Louisa May Alcott to call her books Women and Men, not to be confused with the Man by H.G. Wells?  Or Dashiel Hammett to call his book the Falcon?  Don’t you see that adjectives make a difference, sometimes an important one?”

“They’re all great writers who know when to use a word and when to leave it out.  You seem to think the more words the better!”

“Isn’t that a subjective opinion?  Some readers probably like it plain and simple, whilst others prefer a bit more colour.  If people like you and your Mr. Roget had their way in the art world, paintings would be reduced to diagrams.”

Harvey looked at the cover of a book on his desk.  There was a picture of matchstick men on a minimalist background.  He said, “I can think of some modern artists who do just that, quite successfully!”

“Yes, but not everyone wants that kind of thing.  Surely we want to give the readers some variety and a choice?”

“Go through your manuscript and take out all the adjectives and adverbs that don’t add anything to the narrative or even to the descriptions.  Then I’ll see if I can persuade the firm to give it another look.”