Seven Steps to Becoming a Writer
- Read everything regardless of whether it’s any good, even adverts on the tube and newspaper headlines when passing by.
- Read a whole lot more, try out all sorts; absorb everything, gradually it will become yours, your style I mean.
- Take a few great books and consider what it is that makes them so (for example, Pride and Prejudice for its humour, Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy, again for the humour written into an all-encompassing, so clever story. Then there’s George Orwell, Thomas Hardy, H.E Bates, Agatha Christie, Ken Follett, whatever you fancy).
- Throw out your fear and
- Write, write and write again. Don’t be frightened of rejection and ridicule, they’re no more than staging posts along the way.
- And remember, it’s a journey without end. Sure, there’s going to be remarkable achievements but a storyteller is all ears and eyes for listening, looking and learning. And that learning is lifelong.
- Enjoy your journey.
All to the Sword, book 5 in the Dorset Chronicles, is coming very soon. It’s been delayed by several other projects but is finally in last pre-publication stages and due out in late September. Reserve your copy now and, in the meantime, check into the rest of the Dorset Chronicles series, presenting the drama and excitement behind the forging of our modern nation.
Here are the opening words:
It was as if the dead crowded out the living, creating a world without balance; just a small world, for in the next glen there was no such feeling, no sense that life-gone was in the ascendancy, that what had happened could never be dispelled by either present or future, leaving nature and time as spent forces.
It was as if the dead would hang there forever, never moving on, never finding that better place.
Forty-eight hours earlier, when Bridget Davenport had first arrived, it had been different. Not alone at all buttravelling with a party of friends and relations, riding carelessly into Maryburg and staring at the mass of Ben Nevis rising above the little town, recently named for King William’s wife, Mary Stuart. They had left the Oldmoor estate of Percy Blades-Robson, just outside Alness, eighteen days earlier, making a leisurely transit along the Great Glen and arriving at the bottom of Loch Lochy on 11th February 1692. One hundred miles in eighteen days, plenty of time to stop and converse with people along the way. Bridget had led those conversations, explaining her purpose and opening a new page of her notebook each time.
All to the Sword, Book 5 of the Dorset Chronicles – the history and drama surrounding the emergence of our modern nation. Launch Date 25th May 2021. Preorder coming soon!
Thomas Davenport receives an invitation to design a magnificent new house. When his sister, the Countess of Sherborne, hears where it is to be, deep in the Highlands of Scotland, she extends it to include much of the wider Davenport family.
They depart in the summer of 1691, not realising that they will get engrossed in the Glen Coe massacre, one of the most horrific acts of a government against the people in British history. They find themselves fleeing for their lives and their liberty.
Meanwhile, back in Dorset, Parchman has free rein to loose his evil on the hated Davenports and their family, friends and possessions. Will the travellers return to ruin and desolation or be in the nick of time?
I was tempted to write this as a recipe, take a tablespoon of history and add a dash of fiction, heat while stirring, that sort of stuff.
But then I thought that might trivialise what is a wonderful thing and I’ve come to enjoy creating so much. I started writing other genres and still do – alternative history, thrillers, even a crime novel, albeit somewhat different in that the crime happened, conviction and all, some thirty years earlier (Life, the first in a new series, should be out later this year). Then I visited my cousin, the best-selling author, James Oswald (https://jamesoswald.co.uk) and he suggested writing a series and writing about a locality I knew well.
Brilliant advice! Thank you, James.
My choice was Dorset and the series became the Dorset Chronicles. Being historical fiction, I could also choose a period and I went for the tail end of the 17thCentury.
Why the end when so much happened in the middle? The killing of a king is about as momentous as it gets, isn’t it? Ask the French, although in truth we got there first.
The answer is, I believe the late 17thCentury is a totally underappreciated period. It’s when we set up a constitutional monarchy, it’s the last time we fought a battle in England (we have to wait for Culloden to say the same of the whole of Britain). It’s when we created the Bank of England, when the Royal Society really started flourishing, Isaac Newton was in his element and this period marginally predates the union that created, for better or worse, Great Britain.
It’s when we started looking outward rather than inward. It’s when our modern nation came about.
But I digress. The reason for this post was to rant about the beauty of historical fiction, whether written by me or some other bod. It’s the wonderful combination of fact and fiction that boosts a story, adding spice and adventure to the actual events. And because the actual events are often thrilling in themselves, you get a crescendo of action and suspense, while also staying (somewhat) true to history.
For more of my own brand of historical fiction, please go to https://chrisoswaldbooks.com/books/