Frozen Sea blog

Taking issue with Yeats, May 2017

There’s a quote by Yeats that I’ve thought about for a long time. It’s from when he was a young poet, and is about when he met up with a number of other young poets…Read here

Motivation, March 2017

I’ve recently started a new job that’s eating into my writing time in a serious way. It’s interesting and very worthwhile work, but it’s not writing… Read here

In defence of Kim Kardashian, sort of, February 2017

It’s a measure of the strange times we’re living in that Trump has made Kim Kardashian a kind of political hero. The celebrity known for being the poster girl of vacuous, crass consumerism, tweeted statistics highlighting the nonsensical nature of the president’s travel ban… Read here

What we mean by ‘subjective’,  January 2017

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the TS Eliot prize readings at the Royal Festival Hall. As with all readings, I liked some poems better than others. Often people will say that this is because poetry is ‘subjective’, which it clearly is, but it got me thinking that we use the term subjective in at least two ways and that the difference between the two is important… Read here

How to write and how you write, December 2016

A few years I attended a very good writing course called the Novel Studio at City University. It was well structured, with experienced and insightful tutors. However, the novel I tried to write on the course was terrible, not a single word I wrote was right… Read here

The curse of metaphors, November 2016

One of my bugbears about poetry is when poets construct a poem by finding a subject and throwing metaphors or similes at it. It’s as if poetry is just an excuse to string a long line of metaphors together, a bit like one of those terrible Christmas perfume ads that are a series of beautiful images that make no real sense… Read here

Writing emotion, October 2016

Writing about emotion, or rather, communicating the emotion that characters feel, is one of the most important and difficult things a writer has to do. Emotions are central to good stories, yet nothing puts off readers more quickly than badly described emotions… Read here

Why ‘You’re Beautiful’ doesn’t fucking suck, September 2016

@thenoahkinsey: On my bucket list, I want to sit James Blunt down and explain – line by line – why his song “You’re Beautiful” fucking sucks.

@JamesBlunt: And I’d like to sit you down and explain – dollar by dollar – why I don’t care.

James Blunt has become the king of the comeback on Twitter, as the example above from last year aptly demonstrates. But I would take issue both with @thenoahkinsey and @JamesBlunt, because You’re Beautiful isn’t successful just because it made a lot of money, it’s successful because it is a well written song… Read here

Dialogue and the inner beat of meaning, June 2016

All powerful writing has an undercurrent of meaning that drives the story forward and connects each part to the next. Sometimes this meaning is readily apparent but at other times it operates as subtext. One way of thinking about this underlying meaning is that its like the rhythm that holds a piece of music together… Read here

Grammatical telling vs dramatic telling, May 2015

It was Aristotle who started the whole ‘show don’t tell’ thing.  He argued that literature is better if its mode is dramatic rather than narrative, praising Homer by saying ‘he along among the poets is not ignorant of what he should do in his own person. The poet in person should say as little as possible… other poets perform in person throughout, and imitate little and seldom’… Read here

 In my beginning is my end, April 2016

The title of this blog is a quote from the nearly incomprehensible poem Four Quartets by TS Elliot, and one of the many meanings that you can attach to it is that the end of a story is determined by its beginning. What I understand by this is that a story’s inciting incident should determine the way its ends (ie its  resolution) and how the story is structured. A good example of how this principle works in The Big Bang Theory… Read here

Fiction as processed narrative, March 2016

It has often puzzled me that the things poets and fiction writers talk about seem to differ quite a bit. Poets spend a lot of time talking about images and metaphors while fiction writers focus on character and structure. Yet for me, fiction and poetry aren’t really that different, and it’s just as useful to to think about something like structure in poetry as it is important to think about images in stories… Read here

 The role of confidence in writing, February 2016

It’s relatively easy to see how confidence can be important in something like sport or a physical challenge. If you ask someone to jump over a ditch, they’ll have more chance of succeeding if the believe they can do it. They will fully commit to the jump, which means running as fast as they can and then putting as much effort as possible into the leap itself… Read here

The mysterious space between metaphor and reality, January 2016

Over the Christmas period I saw the show ‘Baddies: The Musical’, staged at the Unicorn Theatre in London. The plot involves five baddies from classic children’s literature who have been mysteriously taken from their stories and sent to jail, as it turns out by Peter Pan and Cinderella who want to remodel them for a generation that wants everyone in stories to be nice and not only endings, but beginnings and middles, to be happy… Read here

Watermelons – the anatomy of an image, December 2015

When I first started writing and thinking about writing I found the concept of an ‘image’ confusing. Firstly I was confused by what it was, because we call any passage of writing that describes a sense perception an ‘image’. So the ‘the christmas tree smelt of sap and wilderness’ is an ‘image’ even though the sense evoked is olfactory rather than visual…. Read here

How to lineate a poem, November 2015

The question ‘how do you lineate a poem’ is different from ‘what effect does the lineation of a poem have’, though the two are obviously linked. Analysis of lineation is common, and can lead to elegant description. However, in my experience the analysis rarely gives any indication how you can then go on a lineate a new poem. Much analysis of lineation is what I would call ‘ink blot’ analysis. That is, it is created in the mind of the analyst and bears no real relationship to the words on the page… Read here

Can linguistics help writers? October 2015

One of the things I sometimes wonder about is how little we writers take an interest in linguistics. The most we generally venture into its territory is by thinking about the etymology of a word and considering whether that deepens the meaning of a phrase or passage. The fact that words develop and change their meanings is of interest to linguists, but it merely scratches the surface of the extraordinary insight that the study of language can give…. Read here

On giving feedback, September 2015

I have been involved in many writing groups over the years, looking at both poetry and fiction, and I’ve had a mixed experience of them. It takes a special blend of honesty, trust and empathy for them to work well, so that as a writer you feel challenged but supported at the same time… Read here

Writing into the void, August, 2015

Having just set up this blog, and opened a twitter account, I have no readers and just a single follower. Therefore, it is unlikely anyone is going to read this, certainly in the near future. Does that matter? It is a question that faces most writers… Read here