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Posts Tagged ‘techniques’


These three things are inextricably interlinked for me.  When I am reading a story I love, I feel most inspired to write.  And, I like to think I’m aware enough that I don’t fall into that trap of writing like what I’m currently reading, which I hear/read so often from writers – ‘I don’t read anything while I’m writing a novel in case it subconsciously influences me’.  Which is fair enough, but I do think that reading is the best way to learn about writing, closely followed by writing (see below for my justification of this!).  And if you want to get published, then it’s even more vital that you know what is already out there, what is selling and what the conventions are, whether you intend to follow them or not.

Now, to qualify that off-hand comment about the best way to learn to write … This is, of course, just one woman’s opinion, but I think that reading extensively provides you with the basis for any learning you might do through writing itself.  Before I ever attempted to write myself and before I ever had any formal teaching on writing, I read.  As a child I lived in imagined worlds more than I lived in the ‘real world’ (and if I had my own way, I probably would now, too).  This meant that when I came to write and to learn about story I had an instinctive understanding of structure, character, dialogue and so on.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was a basis.  It meant that I could think of examples of the kind of scene or plot I was trying to write or that someone else was trying to teach me about.  It meant that somewhere in the back of my mind a voice said that you needed tension and climaxes and resolutions long, long before I ever read about those things in ‘how to write’ books.

Reading was the underpinning for the rest of my learning about writing.  I cannot stress the importance of it enough.  (Plus, if you want to write and be published, then buying and borrowing books from the library is a great way to support your industry.)

If you want some more writing tips, here’s an interesting article from The Guardian – Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.  (And yes, I need for work on number 5 – me and my addiction to exclamation marks!)  I got the link via the often funny, ever enlightening Nathan Bransford.  He does a fantastic post on the week’s happenings in publishing – if you want to be published or work in the industry, you’d be well-advised to read it!  In fact, just subcribe to his blog and read it all – you’ll find something useful, I promise!

And if you were wondering where the start of this post was going – it was further praise for Robin Hobb.  I am loving Ship of Magic like a great big obsessive weirdo.  I know I am loving it that much, because I find myself thinking about it when I’m doing other things and I am constantly looking forward to the next time I get a chance to read it.  And as it’s lunchtime, that’s now. 

What I bought at the weekend!

(Though, before I go to eat and read – if you have any recommendations along the lines of ‘if you like Robin Hobb, you’ll love …’ I’d love to hear them.  Indeed, any fantasy recommendations with good female protagonists always go down well with me!)

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Because one day I really want to go to the Venice Carnival and wear this

Boucher - Madame de Pompadour

and because I’m a perfectionist so I can’t buy an ‘ok’ readymade version and because I can’t afford the hefty price tag for someone to make it for me, I need to learn to sew.

The current plan is to go for my 30th birthday, so I have about 4 years – phew!

Anyway, everyone has to start somewhere, so I’ve been on the lookout for a good how-to-sew-for-idiots book and I think I’ve found one that actually surpasses all my expectations!

Sew It Up by Ruth Singer

This is a little gem of a book, which I would recommend to anyone, whatever their level of sewing experience.  It caters for beginners with clear instructions of how to do the very basics (different types of seams, machine and hand stitches, hemming, etc), but also provides the more advanced sewer with ideas for gorgeous and fun projects that would make wonderful gifts for friends, family and yourself!  I can see this being a wonderful reference for people with mid-level skills, too, with it’s detailed how-tos on some funky and useable techniques, such as frills, ruffles, suffolk puffs, pleats, frog fastenings, beading, sequins, tassels, shirring (so pretty!), smocking, quilting, applique, patchwork, trapunto (seen loads on expensive cushions), embroidery, and loads more.  Here’s an idea of the other projects inside: curtains, cushions, bags, understanding and altering commercial dressmaking patterns, repairs, a circular skirt.

This book really does have it all and I’m so pleased I picked it up – I can’t wait to get going!  I am so going to make this cuff – I’m so in love with it.  It’s already helped me to understand different types of fabric and a lot of dressmaking terms I’d heard used elsewhere.

My only criticism is that some of the basic techniques are displayed on a patterned fabric, making them not as clear as they could have been, especially as the book relies on photographs and doesn’t have any diagrams.  A plain fabric with a lighter-coloured reverse and contrastic thread would have made the step-by-step instructions even clearer.  The addition of diagrams for some of the techniques would have helped, too.  But all in all, this is only a tiny negative in what is really a brilliant book.

Highly recommended.

Hmm… so this post has turned into a review of the book, nevermind – I’ll post more on-topic another time.

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