Writing with Computers Too Easy

Last week we looked at antiques: quill pens, fountain pens, and typewriters. And so we come to word processors and computers. The word processor brings obvious advantages to writers. The ease with which you can write and revise, having typing and spelling mistakes corrected as you go, leads to…carelessness. I’m not simply referring to over-reliance … Read more

Gentlemen, Choose Your Weapons

Writing tools can affect your style. In the days of quill and dip pens, the length of sentences (or at least, phrases) was apparently determined by the amount of ink held by the pen, and prose rhythm was dictated by this simple physical constraint. Fountain pens extended the scope of the writer. No longer did … Read more

Retracing your steps

It’s probably fair to say that no one enjoys editing and rewriting their own work. The first flush of creation is fun – especially with fiction. Characters start to fill out and find their own voices. Neat little phrases that you’ve been saving up for some time pop out and appear in their appointed places, … Read more

Three Alternatives?

Recently my mother (British, somewhat pedantic) visited us, and I mentioned “three alternatives” in conversation. She immediately jumped down my throat and told me that “alternative” was one of two choices – and that “three alternatives” was a contradiction in terms. So, rushing to my own defense, I pulled down the New Oxford American Dictionary, … Read more

The Art of Speaking

The art of reporting speech in writing, that is. There are a few writers whom I really admire for their skill in dialog: John le Carré and Elmore Leonard. Two very different writers, but their work contains a common element; the ability to place a character in social context with just a few words. Le … Read more

Writing – Art or Craft?

I have lived in Japan for the past 21 years, coming from the UK, where I had worked in the IT industry in support and technical writing. Originally, I came over to write manuals for musical instruments and audio equipment, working for a Japanese subcontractor specializing in documentation. For the past 12 years or so … Read more