Lifting the Lid: Re-Drafting (Video)

Welcome to my first ever video blog, in which I take you through my Google Docs setup and explain my thought processes behind re-drafting ‘The Singularity’. I don’t actually do any writing in this video — although I may upload a video later in which you can watch me struggling with a draft.

Apologies for the slightly stilted commentary — this was me trying something new, and I thought it would be fun just to let it flow. Let me know if you think it works, and if there’s anything else you’d like to see.

Some spoilers included, so if you want to be totally fresh as the story progresses then look away now. Bearing in mind, of course, that nothing you see is set in stone, and there is a whole lot of speculation involved in this process.


The Singularity: Part 9


Olivia strode back down the empty corridors of the school, having seen off the last of the children and their parents.

“Dad?” she called out again, peering into the darkened rooms as she passed. “I’m ready to go when you are!”

“This way, love!” Adam’s voice echoed faintly down the corridors. Olivia tutted and followed it, and found her father in a darkened room lined with filing cabinets. He was flicking through an open drawer, pulling out the odd sheaf of paper and scanning it before replacing it and going on to the next.

“What are you looking for?” she asked, crossing her arms in the doorway. “Couldn’t it wait until tomorrow?”

Continue reading “The Singularity: Part 9”

The Singularity Audiobook

Hi everyone. So I’m starting to experiment with creating video content on my new YouTube channel to reach out to new audiences. I’ve played around with doing a ‘Lifting the Lid’ vlog, which I’ll release in a day or two; I’ve also created this audiobook version of ‘The Singularity’. I’d be interested to know what people think.

This is just a preview for now — I’ll let you know when the full first part is up. I took inspiration from the TV serials of my youth on the BBC (‘Dark Season‘, ‘Century Falls‘, and ‘Elidor‘) as well as great radio serials like ‘The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy‘.


Catch of the Day 25/8/16

The Mystery of Storytelling (TED Talks), Julian Friedmann

An interesting talk from an agent, giving his view of storytelling theory (mostly applied to screenwriting, but I think a lot of the points can be applied to novels). The most interesting points (in my view):

  • The relationship between storytelling and the chemical response in the brain.
  • The relationship between an author, the characters, and the audience. How many writers forget the third aspect of this relationship?
  • The place of fear, and its importance in catharsis and the experience of the audience. Alongside that thought, the writer’s job to be an entertainer. Maybe this applies more to ‘genre’ fiction than ‘literary’ fiction, but there needs to be some aspect of entertainment in order to draw the reader in. Otherwise they would just read an academic paper on whatever it is you’re writing about. Our writing needs to elicit an emotional response — in order to do this, we need to engage with the audience, and we need to think carefully about how we actively seek to engage them.
  • Encouraging the audience to be active participants rather than passive observers. Not sure how this could relate to novel-writing. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

The Singularity: Part 8

pt6The morning passed in a whirl. Adam stood at the front of the class, scribbling diagrams and graphs on the twin whiteboards with furious energy while he enthused about the gravitational properties of black holes and the theory of time dilation. Alice was surprised by how much she understood, and how much made sense now she had read most of the book. She even knew the answers to a few of the questions he threw out to the class, though she was still too shy to put up her hand to answer one.

After an hour they broke into groups for activities. A big black boy called Dan took the younger ones over to a table where they laid out boxes of plasticine and began modelling the diagrams Adam had been drawing; another group, all around Alice’s age, clustered around Adam at the front with pens and pencils and began to discuss what they had learned that morning.

Alice started to move towards this group, but Olivia intercepted her with a smile and an outstretched hand.

Continue reading “The Singularity: Part 8”

The Singularity: Part 7

pt7The next morning found Alice standing outside the counselling room, building up the nerve to knock. Normally the room was a sanctuary, a break from the madness of school life, where no-one could get to her and where she could be herself. But today the door was a barrier, and on the other side was the one thing she did not want to face, the thing she had been running from since last summer, and the longer she waited the harder it became.

She considered just walking away and going back to her lesson. But that would not do any good, she knew. Sarah would just come and find her. Not because she was trying to be cruel, or because she wanted her to suffer, but just because she wanted to help — and somehow that was worse.

In the end she took a deep breath, swallowed down the fear, raised her fist, hesitated, and knocked.

Continue reading “The Singularity: Part 7”

The Singularity: Part 6

Far away from the black hole a particle can move in any direction. It is restricted only by the speed of light.

pt5On Monday Alice woke an hour before her alarm. She did not get up, but lay in the darkness, looking up at the ceiling. The dream she had woken from was still vivid in her memory: it was a recurring dream, one she had been having on and off for months now. In it, she was alone in the back of a car in an empty underground car park, waiting for someone to come and get her. She waited, and waited, and waited, and slowly the waiting became agony as the dream stretched out for hours on end, but no-one ever came. It was a dream she particularly hated — horrific in that grey, mundane way that only dreams could be, and she always woke in a cold sweat with her heart racing.

She was clammy now, but she waited for the hammering of her heart to slow before she got up gingerly and shuffled to the bathroom. She turned the shower up as hot as she could bear it, and stood for long minutes under the punishing stream until the bathroom filled with grey clouds of steam that rolled and boiled, and parted before her as she stepped out and wrapped herself in a towel.

She returned to the bedroom feeling marginally more alive, and sat in front of her dressing-table mirror to comb out her hair, teasing the tangled curls into some semblance of order. The activity was soothing — there was nothing to think about, only the slow, satisfying process of bringing order to chaos — and as she combed the cobwebs of the dream slowly fell away.

Continue reading “The Singularity: Part 6”