Beautiful People

Jan 1986 - CopyOne of the joys of being a creative writer is forming a person from imagination. It can be a short, spectacle wearing, ginger-haired Londoner who depends on the support of a walking stick.

It could be a 21-year-old girl, with blue eyes, long dark lashes, and auburn hair that almost reaches her waist. Her favourite outfit might be T-shirt, Daisy Dukes, and training shoes.


Whatever the age, background, profession or appearance, it’s up to the writer to portray what is required for the character in question.

I like to create good-looking characters, although I’ve found it necessary to give birth (metaphorically speaking), to big, bald, muscular men who have a livid scar near the left eye, and a serious issue with people defying them.

On occasion I’ve created a quiet little woman who slips from scene to scene practically unnoticed. March 1985 2


Why have I decided to write about this aspect of writing?

I had a review not long back which suggested that my characters were all too good-looking. Well, I’m sorry for populating a story with such characters, but sometimes that’s just the way it goes.

Forgive me dear reviewer, whoever you are. I didn’t have a picture of you to use as a character description!


Have you ever been reprimanded in a review for creating people who are too attractive?


Have you ever been asked why a certain character has a certain idiosyncrasy?


While I’m here today, I thought I’d bend to demand and prove that I can draw the male form as well as the female.

If you don’t like the look of the people in the drawings that accompany this post, I’m really sorry.

One of the sketches is a self-portrait … not!


As always, I thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings and rhetoric, and for leaving any feedback.


Writing Apprenticeship – Part 2 of 2

A handful of the reference books I keep close to hand
A handful of the reference books I keep close to hand

There will be many who take offence at my suggestion that there are some writers out there who are not really concerned with creating a worthwhile product. That in itself is unfortunate, because a short time after posting Part 1 of this very article, I found a FREE promotion by a fellow Indie author which incensed me.

I don’t want to dedicate this piece to that one author, so I’ll leave out a lengthy explanation about the many issues I discovered – and I only read the samples of all three books.

If you missed Part 1 of this article, the gist of it is my concern that we have a large number of people purporting to be ‘writers’, who are turning out badly presented, badly edited, over-priced ‘books’. If we expect to sell our work it should at least be worthy of the price. Even if we are giving the product away, it should be presented to a marketable standard.

You don’t have to agree with me, but I have my own unofficial set of requirements for the ‘average’ Indie author. I believe we should all have the following at the very least:
imagination – ideas – integrity – diligence – knowledge (of subject) – a good story – a decent vocabulary – thick skin (for negative feedback) – stamina – determination – life experience – time – an open mind – acceptance of constructive criticism – a basic knowledge of creative writing conventions.

Yes, the list could go on, I know.

When we produce our book we must have some idea of how to ‘present’ the product. I paid an ‘experienced’ editor to assist on my first book and still found issues after I’d published. At that point I decided to learn more and go it alone with most of the work. Since my first book, I’ve had the assistance of a proof-reader who has stood by me in everything I’ve published.

I develop my story and make minor edits with each draft. By the third draft I use my proof-reader. Invariably this is followed by another draft. At this stage I use a grammar/punctuation programme. I print my manuscript more than once during my process to allow me to edit as I revise the individual chapters. There is no set number of drafts, but I try hard to recognise when ‘enough is enough’.

Prior to being uploaded to Amazon I will have a printed version of my manuscript in front of me in a room where there is no TV, radio, or other people. I perform one final line edit, which is a tedious, laborious, time-consuming, but necessary obligation to the end-user; the reader.
Now having said all of the above, I’m proud to be a member of the Indie Author Review Exchange. We have every level of talent, from the novice with one title, to the experienced author with a considerable portfolio.

Why should I feel a pride in such a group?
– We have an unwritten mutual pledge to help each other which is strong and can be seen by the support offered every day and it’s an International community.
– We have writers whose first language is not English, but they’ve produced remarkable work which they have had successfully translated, which is something that seriously impresses me.
– We have novice writers who are not afraid to ask for help or advice.

Is there a negative or downside?
Yes, unfortunately we have a couple of writers who believe that they’ve done enough work, and they are not prepared to heed a friendly word of advice. Unfortunate, but that is their choice.

Why is that negative?
It is negative because it affects credibility. In the first instance it damages the credibility of the individual author’s brand. Apart from that relatively minor issue, a badly produced piece of work by an Indie writer is a slur on all of us.

Is there anything positive?
There are many traditionally published authors who are unhappy about our emergence and success. They would be happy to see our entire movement curtailed, so the best thing we can do is to prove the doubters wrong – and show them that we are all achieving a high standard in every way.

I realise that like me, there are vast numbers of Indie writers who have a ‘day job’ to pay the bills, or a family to raise, so it is a credit to our movement that we have been so successful both as individuals, and as a growing section of the publishing industry.

Thank you as always for reading my thoughts, and I welcome comments or discussion.