Category Archives: Uncategorized

It’s All About Me

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When writing prose, once you’ve found your character, the next decision you’ll make regards narrative point-of-view.

Think of your favourite novels. Do you favour 1st person (“I”) or 3rd person (“he/she/it”) books? Chances are, you’ll write more comfortably using the type of narrative point-of-view you prefer to read.

If you chose the “I” narrative, or first person, your tale will be viewed through the eyes of one of your characters and events will be expressed in that character’s language and should reflect this character’s perceptions and opinions.

The first person can be very intimate and often allows access to the protagonist’s innermost thoughts, which is a helpful method of hooking the reader. On the negative side, all that “I, me, my” can be akin to listening to a monologue – and may bore the reader, if you’re not careful. Additionally, you are limited as to what you can tell the reader, as you can only “know” what your narrating character “knows”. Finally, littering the page with “I”s – neither looks nor “sounds” appealing. For the above reasons, the first person is often more suited to short stories rather than novels.

Having said that, there are wonderful first person novels out there and if you are determined to use a first person narrator, you really ought to read great examples of this narrative point-of-view to get a good handle on it: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemmingway.

Also, a first person narrator could be a minor character observing a major character, which may remedy some of the pitfalls outlined above. Examples of this type of narrative include Sherlock Holmes and Wuthering Heights.

The Unreliable First Person Narrator My personal favourite first person narrator is the unreliable variety. It has great comic/tragic potential. With an unreliable narrator, the story is told by a character that doesn’t really “get” what is going on. The reader guesses the true state of affairs, however, and the narrator becomes the butt of the joke. An unreliable narrator is often a child or a naïve or foolish person who does fully comprehend how the world works (think Forrest Gump). The resulting book/play/short story can be quite funny and/or very moving. See the following examples: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon or Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding.

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Theatre Weekend

If you happen to be in London, I have two separate theatre events on here this weekend.

SHORT PLAY: Sun., Oct. 15th – ‘Burning’ (15 mins., dir. Tommo Fowler) at the Arcola (5pm and 8pm) in The MINIATURISTS

STAGED READING: Mon., Oct. 16th ‘Imaginationship’ (75 mins., dir. Tricia Thorns) at the Finborough, 7.30pm in the VIBRANT Festival of new writing.

 

Do come along to either one.

 

 


Burning

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If you’re in the Hackney/Dalston neighbourhood next Sun. Oct. 15th, do come along to The Miniaturists. It’s a showcase of 15minute off-book plays by five invited emerging playwrights, at 5pm and repeating at 8pm. My piece, ‘Burning’ (dir. Tommo Fowler) is orientated around Brexit.

It’s a fun evening too. Do come along!


Imaginationship

My latest play, ‘Imaginationship’ receives a staged reading as part of the Finborough Theatre’s VIBRANT Festival of New Writing. If you’re in the London area, do come along!

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Sex addiction, obsession & murder on a Brexit landscape, that’s “Imaginationship” 


Strike a Pose with your Prose!

Learn to edit your literary work with Sue Healy.

HEY LONDONERS! If you or anyone you know has a book or short-story or similar that they wish to whip into shape before submitting to agents, editors, publishers and the like, sign up for my City Lit course. Every Friday, from Sept. 29th.

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Radio Plays Here

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All eight of my BAI funded Irish radio plays are now available on podcast (click on the links on the right hand side of this page).

With particular thanks to Jim Nolan the director and Eugene Sully, the genius editor.

We had enormous fun and joy making them, I hope you enjoy listening to them!

 


Writers’ Residencies

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A window at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre for Artists, Co. Monaghan, Ireland.

For most, finding time to write is one of the hardest aspects of writing. Unless independently wealthy, one normally has to juggle a day job and family responsibilities with writing time – not an easy feat. Thankfully a solution is out there, focused writing time is possible with a writers’ residency at a dedicated artists’ colony. I’ve benefitted from a few over the years and cannot stress how fruitful and inspiring my time in each has been. The most sought after are ‘residencies‘ which often offer free board and accommodation and sometimes a stipend, for blocks of creative time that can range from a week to year. Sometimes, there may be a fee involved but at a ‘residency’ it would be heavily subsidised to ensure a stay is affordable for the artist. All such prestigious residencies entail an application and selection and approval process. The more generous the offer, the more competition there will be to gain a place obviously, and they tend to cater for published writers/produced playwrights with a track record only. These residencies are very well regarded by industry and acceptance is an asset to your C.V.

Then you have ‘retreats‘. These are usually privately owned affairs run as a business, often by people passionate about the arts. Or they may, like Arvon, involve creative writing courses that are highly respected, delivered by leading industry professionals.  Normally with these retreats, the writer/artist self-funds (though there are occasionally one or two grants available if you check the website).  As a rule, they cost the same as a stay in a regular hotel or B&B in the same area, but you have the added bonus of being in an environment dedicated to creativity and your fellow guests are also keen creatives. As you’re self funding, there is not normally a application process involved (at least not anything rigorous) – usually just a straightforward booking process, so retreats are the best solution for writers who have yet to publish or have their work produced. Retreats do not have the same prestige as the aforementioned residencies however, though some may straddle both definitions due to occasional grants or fellowships they may offer.

Ireland

Residencies:
Heinrich Böll cottage
Cill Rialaig
Dublin Writer in Residence

Tyrone Guthrie Centre

Retreats:

Anam cara

Molly Keane Writers Retreat

France

Residencies:

Chateau la Napoule

Centre Culture lrlandais

Aerogramme Studio Brown’s

Retreats:

La Muse Inn

UK

Residencies:

Gladstone’s Library

Hawkwood College

Hawthornden Castle

Cove Park

Retreats

Arvon Foundation

Urban Writers’

Germany

Schwarndorf

Switzerland

Jan Michalski

Italy

Ginestrelle

USA

Residencies:

Albee Foundation (New York State)

Anderson Centre (Minnesota)

Art Croft (Kentucky)

Atlantic Centre (Florida)

Caldera Arts (Oregon)

Djerassi (California)

Dorland (California)

Exeter (New Hampshire)

Hambidge (Georgia)

Headlands (California)

Hedge brook (Washington State)

Jentle (Wyoming)

KFW (Kentucky)

Kerouac (Florida)

Kimmel (Nebraska)

Norman Mailer Centre (NY, Wyoming, California)

Montalvo Arts (California)

Macdowell (New Hampshire)

Millay (New York State)

OMI (New York)

Kulcher (Minnesota)

Lynchburg (Virginia)

Radcliffe (Massachusetts)

Red Cinder (Hawaii)

Rocky Mountain (Colorado)

Poetry Centre (Arizona)

Provincetown (Massachusetts)

Spring creek (Oregon)

Saltonstall (New York State)

Stanford (Connecticut)

Studio in the Woods (New Orleans)

Virginia Centre (Virginia)

Ucross (Wyoming)

Vermont Studio (Vermont)

Wild Acres (North Carolina)

Woodstock (New York)

Wurlitzer (New Mexico)

Yaddo (New York state)

 

Retreats (some also offer a limited grants/fellowships)

Nantucket (Massachusetts)

Ragdale (Illinois)

Dairy Hollow (Arkansas)

 

Canada

Banff

Saskatchewan

Australia

Varuna

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you know of more, please let me know. If possible specify if it’s a residency (free or subsidised) or a retreat (self funded).


Look Ma, It’s Spidergram!

Spider grams – a source of ideas…

Write a word in the centre of the page then think of a word that you associate with the first word.

You might start with “coal” and you might associate “fire” with “coal”. Then think of what you associate with “fire”, perhaps “passion”. Link these three words with a line. Return to the original word and think of another association and make a second branch. “Coal” could prompt “miners’ strike” and then maybe “Margaret Thatcher”. Again, link these words. Repeat this action. Perhaps coming up with “coal”, “canary”, “dead singer” and so on and so on.

Now study all the associations you’ve come up with, you’ll probably be quite surprised at the diverse words on the page. Spidergrams allow you to make creative and often intriguing associations.

Occasionally, you’ll find that you’ve mapped out an entire story by doing a spidergram. Often, writers will do a spidergram and then take the words and freewrite a story with them. Spidergrams can be a rich source of ideas.

Do your own spidergram using one of the following words as a nucleus:

1)       Family

2)       Friendship

3)       Fame

4)       Rivalry

5)       Getting older

6)       Conflict


Creative Writing Classes!

I was lucky enough to do my Creative Writing MA (2009) at the University of East Anglia – Europe’s leading MA in this subject. A number of my class-mates have gone on to literary acclaim and have risen in the field of Creative Writing education.

Priscilla Morris progressed to do a PhD in Creative Writing at UEA and has since taught acclaimed classes at Kingston University. She’s now launching her own course at Lauderdale House in North London. Priscilla’s one of the best tutors in her field and if you’re London based and considering furthering your creative writing skills – this is where you need to be.

Priscilla’s Website

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The Cat in the Box

My off-the-wall play The Cat in the Box is now available on podcast. Enjoy!

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A transvestite pub-owner, his emo daughter, 15 missing cats, an asthmatic punk and an earnest young vlogger, all collide in this surreal comedy, set in a fictional Kilkenny pub. In eight short (5 min.) episodes.

With Michael Quinlan, Ema Lemon, Niamh McCann, Michael Power and directed by Jim Nolan. Edited by Eugene Sully.