Thursday, March 20, 2014


As expected, our second last session flowed creatively with dynamic fictional characters peopling room D101B in UCD's Carysfort Campus.

Two bits of good news:

Tricia Holbrook's  Penny for your Thoughts made the long list for Fish International Short Story Award, 2014. We had the privilege of hearing her read it and a privilege it was.

Carol Mullan's father's book With the Dublin Brigade, sub-titled Espionage & Assassination with Michael Collins's Intelligence Unit, first published in 1929 is reprinted by Mercier Press. He was Charles Dalton, 14 years of age when he joined up and by the time he was 20, he was a valued member of Collins' team.

Contratulations over, we analysed the power of the antagonist in fiction and discussed the various antagonists created within the group in action.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

WRITING FICTION (6) Characters with Secrets

Secrets can be integral to a plot, but usually the secrets belong exclusively to the characters - sometimes going as far as shaping a character's personality. There are big secrets, little secrets, important ones and silly ones. The best secrets are surprising.

10 Exercises
* A character harbours a secret that prevents hi fulfilling his true desire
* Two characters share a secret, but it's not what everyone thinks it is
* It's an old family secret and there's only one person alive who knows about it. Will she take it to her grave?
* A character has a secret and if found out it would destroy his life
* A character thinks she has a private secret, but most of the people close to her know about it
* A character knows a secret that would destroy one person's life, but save the life of another person

A word of warning, though, when writing about secrets - if you build a lot of tension, you'd better have a secret that delivers

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Another good session, number 5, with creativity filling the four corners of our room. And even better the read out of a splendid short story from one of the participants. And a joyous picture...

We discussed how good stories come in organic globs, not in strongly segmented or layered activities; not orderly, dry and technical. And how strong characters are at the heart of great literature - characters thrilling, troubling, seductive insistent. And how it's every writers' own enigmatic being that constitutes the focus of his research.

When writing fiction characters can emerge quickly or slowly. Shyly or Boisterously. The best way to learn how to present a character is to READ (I recommend that books that win or make long and/or short book awards are a good choice). By reading critically acknowledged authors writers learn how a character can be presented - through dialogue, action, physical attributes, interior monologue - a process that continues until it becomes reflex embedded in your understanding - making you access anything/anyone's potential for fiction.