When to stop and when to read on until the bitter end?

A few days ago, I began reading a book which didn't immediately grab my attention. Like all readers, I encounter novels which work for me and some which don't. Even among  novelists whose work I love, there are books which don't do it for me. Donna Tartt is a great example- I loved The Goldfinch and The …

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On identifying the darlings and then killing them

Stephen King famously said 'Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.' He followed William Faulkner in this idea: in order to become the greatest writer you can be, you must get rid of all your self- indulgent passages and your precious, unfeasible characters for …

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Up a hill in the middle of nowhere. What would you miss most?

So, here I am in the middle of rural Brittany, up a very vibey hill which has legends of elves and korrigans and spirits and all sorts. The wind is moaning and dark clouds hang. Someone has just taken a photo of someone else and they have come out twice on the picture, no gadgets …

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Why ‘The Bone Clocks’ took my breath away

David Mitchell's novel, The Bone Clocks, passed me by last year although several of my writer friends raved about it. But I am on a writer's quest to read even more widely than I used to. Everything is inspiration: popular novels, YA, book club novels, clever writing, predictable writing, and - above all - successful …

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