What does it take to be a writer?


Having an imagination that far exceeds most people’s comprehension, grasp and expectations, along with the ability to be overly critical of your own work is the answer.

Some, if not all of what I’m about to say, will infuriate many of the egomaniacs in this business. For that I make no apology…


To call yourself a writer after publishing one story, does not mean that you are one by any stretch of the imagination, no matter what you may have been told, or been lead to believe. Unfortunately since it has become possible for anyone to publish a book, the market has become saturated with one time only efforts, that would not make it past even the laziest literary agent, let alone the various editors in a publishing house.

Please note – regarding the latter I’m not talking about someone who advertises themselves as a professional editor, which by the way is a complete misnomer as there are no official qualifications for the job.

At best, all that is available for anyone wishing to be a full time editor are the various university degrees courses in literature and English which anyone with enough time and money can partake in. As for the so-called professional editors, trust me when I say that anyone who wants you to pay them to edit your work should be viewed with extreme suspicion!

Now then, as for you being a writer there is only one way for you to be taken seriously. Focus all of your time and energy on writing endless numbers of short stories, just like every successful published writer has done down the centuries, and their counterparts continue to do. For purposes of experimentation don’t just write in your favourite genre. Try them all on for size.

Like every other serious writer, over the decades I’ve written thousands of short stories and abandoned even more after four or five hundred words. And yet I have only ever published ten books. Why is that do you think? I’ll tell you – because only that many were worthy of expansion into novella or novel length stories in my opinion, despite what every one of my acid tongued critics have said about them over the years in their blatant attacks in the form of one, two and three star so-called reviews.

Above all, don’t be in a hurry to get published. Learn how to construct a story first. If you wish, you can attend writing workshops, seminars, etc. But there is no substitute for actually doing it yourself. Then work on it until it’s as perfect as you can make it. In other words edit it! Lastly let other people read it.

Know this – there are no easy answers, only years of hopefully enjoyable hard work and experimentation, together with countless sleepless nights ahead of you…

Happy writing.


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Short Story Writing


On its own is a short story important? Not necessarily. But as a proving ground to try out ideas with the view to expansion into larger works at a later date, short stories are an invaluable tool.

The trick is to always to keep it short – between five to fifteen hundred words. While you’re writing, if it’s any good your mind will automatically want to expand it to novelette, novella or even novel length.

Don’t give in to temptation. You’re writing a short story!

The main thing to remember once you’ve decided on its subject, is that it must always be brief and to the point. I know I’m repeating myself, but its a fact. How many short stories end up as novelettes when the author looses all sense of self-control?

If you believe your short story is truly worthy, hand it over to a few people to read, in other words employ beta-readers. If their verdict is favourable, the next thing to consider is whether or not to leave it as a single short story, or perhaps the first of a series or anthology, just like my Goblin Tales.

To create any story, especially a short one, you must keep you’re writing tight. Don’t get carried away with what I call flowery prose. In other words don’t feel the need to fill it with utterly pointless rambling.

Unfortunately many short stories I see these days were quite clearly not thought through before being published. To that I say be your own worst critic. If it looks and sounds like total rubbish when you read it out loud, chances are that’s exactly what it is. But don’t let that put you off. Learn from it. So get busy and write a short story.

Remember – mighty oaks from little acorns grow.