Monster ideas from the Ministry of Stories

October 23, 2014

Last weekend I went to a workshop run by the Ministry of Stories, an organisation that helps children to develop skills and self-esteem through storytelling. In the workshop, we – a group of amateur and professional writers – had to collaborate to produce our own story, complete with cliffhanger, all in the space of 45 minutes. It’s what the kids at the Ministry do every week – how hard could it be for us?

We started out in a suitably surreal and promising place, with a badger called Daisy on the run from the government. Continue reading →

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Talking politics: UKIP and ‘common sense’

October 13, 2014

Language plays a crucial part in politics. For instance, a Spare Room Subsidy might not sound like much to get bothered about – but a Bedroom Tax certainly won’t make you any friends.

Lately, there’s been a curious phenomenon in political writing: politicians are keen to be perceived as simple and clear. David ‘let me be clear’ Cameron is practically the patron saint of this movement. Labour’s chairman has told Ed Miliband to use more ‘direct language’ to win voters (Hazel Blears was herself more direct and told Ed to use ‘normal human language’). However, the reality of politicians’ intentions doesn’t necessarily match the language they use to describe them.

That’s why I particularly like this post from UKIP Checker, a website that checks the often-bombastic claims of the UK’s most talked-about party…

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Learning from literature

October 5, 2014

There are loads of style guides out there, all designed to turn you into the next Pulitzer prizewinner. Some of the good ones – like Strunk and White’s much-loved Elements of Style –  offer some really useful advice about things like grammar. But, for me, there’s one piece of advice that all aspiring writers should heed above all others: Read.

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