On Writing

Writers, editors, agents, publishers and more share their thoughts, experiences and stories.

headshot of Lee Kofman

December for me has always been the month of retrospection, soul-searching, summaries. This year has been my first year of living the tricky life of a writer-mother.

headshot of Lee Kofman

Now that the year is coming to a close, I am at work on my writing plans for 2014. I always need lots of plans to produce a little something. Making plans is one of my favourite activities. Plans make me feel secure and happy for that long period that I am drawing them, before the actual writing begins.

headshot of Lee Kofman

For years I’ve been participating in, and facilitating, writing workshops. I’ve been doing this as a member of writers’ groups, a student and a teacher of writing. These experiences serve as the basis for this guide, which I hope will help you improve your ability to give unhelpful feedback. Mastering this skill is very useful in promoting your own career by impeding those of your fellow writers.

In this guide, I offer a variety of strategies illustrated with examples borrowed from experts in the field. Note that you’re likely to encounter here several types of feedback you’re...

A myriad of impulses start a biography on its journey.

In my case, it was reading an autobiography by renowned scientist Julian Huxley. In it he reminisces about his grandmother, Julia Sorell, who gained notoriety in the family for her actions on the day her husband converted to Catholicism.

Photo of Clare Allan-Kamil

With over 25 years’ experience in the industry, Clare has plenty of advice to help us break down the art of the dreaded synopsis.

In Part 1 of this interview, Clare gave us her top tips on how to get your synopsis right. For Part 2, she shares her thoughts on the sort of things you should try to avoid when writing your synopsis. What are the key mistakes authors make when writing a synopsis?

Photo of Clare Allan-Kamil

Writers Victoria sat down with Clare Allan-Kamil to get her take on the art of synopsis writing.

As the synopsis is the first example of your writing an agent, editor or publisher sees, it’s vital to get it right – if they don’t like your synopsis they might not bother to read your sample chapters. As daunting as it seems, there are tricks and tools you can use to make your synopsis stand out.

headshot of Lee Kofman

My husband, a doctor, jokes that whenever his patients say “Can I be honest with you?” he wonders what was the point of their visit in the first place if they didn’t intend to be honest. The same applies to writers, you’d think. What can be the point of writing without honesty?

headshot of Lee Kofman

“What is the most necessary thing for a writer?” I often ask in my writing classes. “A publishing contract,” an occasional smartass might reply. Mostly, though, I get sound answers: a voice, a good ear for dialogue, a compelling narrative. Yet this is not what I am after. I try another tact: “Painters have colours, dancers have their bodies. What are our basic tools?” But every time I am met with a silence that possibly reflects our cultural focus on the macro: goals and their accomplishment.

headshot of Sean McMullen

Writing is a solitary occupation, but professionals are not as isolated as beginners. They are kept company by emails from their agents and publishers, royalty cheques, advance payments, fan mail, reviews and awards. This gives them lots of encouragement, yet they were all once beginners with only rejection slips for company. Assuming that, like professionals, you love to write, what can you do to keep your morale up while still unknown?

headshot of Lee Kofman

All serious writers I know can name literary influences that have shaped their emotional landscapes, linguistic sensibilities, writing themes, literary tastes and perhaps even worldviews.