Forum Discussions (12)

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Weekend writing workshop – taking inspiration from your surroundings

Writers! Fancy writing in a house on a hill? Looking to learn more about how writers draw inspiration from their surroundings? Like to fin…

Started by John Dean

0 Feb 4

Libraries Champions

John is one of the new Libraries Champions based in England, Scotland and Wales, appointed by The Crime Writers’ Association in Summer 2018…

Started by John Dean

0 Sep 12, 2018

Blizzard series

I have read a number of the Blizzard series on Kindle—Strange Littke Girl,The Railway Man, The Secrets Man and The Long Dead. Got The Latch…

Started by Deborah Kaback

1 Aug 8, 2018
Reply by John Dean

Creating something special

For me, there are plenty of examples of stories which are well written - well-crafted and technically competent. Often, they are very, very…

Started by John Dean

0 Mar 16, 2018

Creating intrigue

Good short stories and novels are often written by writers that have a keen understanding of the need to intrigue the reader by creating te…

Started by John Dean

0 Mar 16, 2018

Getting it right from the beginning

One of my students came up with a cracking first line the other day and it got me thinking about one of my favourite topics. A busy and har…

Started by John Dean

0 Mar 16, 2018

How to create characters

A lot of my teaching focuses on characters (they are at the heart of my classes, they are, after all, our major tools as writers). So how d…

Started by John Dean

0 Mar 16, 2018

What makes good writing?

What makes good writing? I think good writing is good writing because it triggers responses in its readers. Readers say ‘I have been in tha…

Started by John Dean

0 Mar 16, 2018

Where do ideas come from?

I’ve been doing a lot of teaching, and giving talks, on the idea of ideas lately and came across these excellent quotes. ·         People a…

Started by John Dean

0 Mar 16, 2018

The unreliable narrator

I recently taught a course part of which focused on the unreliable narrator, a character who tells a story that the reader cannot take at f…

Started by John Dean

0 Mar 16, 2018

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John Dean posted a blog post

Go on, keep moving

One thing (among many) that I have learned over the years, and continue to learn, from reading fiction and observing the changes proposed by my editors, is the importance of pace.Learning how to write a narrative with the right pace is one of the most crucial skills an author can acquire.Get it wrong and you are jeopardising your chances of success. Get it right and you are onto something because it keeps the reader turning the pages.I take a lot of time over editing to ensure that the pace is…See More
Wednesday
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New DCI John Blizzard title is published

The latest DCI John Blizzard is out, the seventh in the series published by The Book Folks.In A Flicker in the Night, a spate of murderous arson attacks evokes bitter memories for stalwart detective John Blizzard…It was a defining moment in DCI John Blizzard’s early career when he caught a notorious arsonist on a killing spree.Yet despite the culprit, Reginald Morris,…See More
Tuesday
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John Dean posted a blog post

When you cannot trust what you are being told

I am currently teaching a creative writing course, part of which focuses on the unreliable narrator, a character who tells a story that the reader cannot take at face value.The course preparation work reminded me that it can be a good technique to use and one I employed when writing The Vixen’s Scream, one of the DCI Jack Harris crime novels, in which the reader is privy…See More
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Aug 12
John Dean posted a blog post

Detail, detail, detail...

What turns a story from good to very good? For me, it is that extra something. That attention to detail on the part of the author.Whether it be the description of a place that makes you shiver because you feel the chill air coming off the hills, or a portrayal of a character so real they could easily walk in through the door and you would not be surprised, these are the things that give a story something extra.It might be a new idea, or a twist on an old idea, that starts you thinking, or a…See More
Aug 12
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Aug 6
John Dean posted a blog post

Stay with me, dear reader, this is going to be good!

One of the key things that I tell my creative writing students is that the opening lines of their stories are crucial.Why? Because harassed publishers, overworked agents and readers with a mass of choice all need grabbing within moments of picking up the book/short story/manuscript.It is like the writer reaching out of the page, clutching the reader by the lapel and saying ‘don’t you dare go away, this is going to be good!’So, here are some of my thoughts on starting short stories by creating…See More
Aug 6
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