Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Keith Gray's Pod Casts on Writing

I have just found five little gems. If you are interested in writing check this series of mini pod casts produced by Keith Gray and organised by the Scottish Book Trust (http://youtu.be/nLY_uXod8FQ). Keith Gray has written some truly awesome books including: MARLAKEY and OSTRICH BOYS. Below I will give a very brief summary but I would really recommend you take the time to listen to them.

1. Inspiration and ideas: Keith talks about how he works at his desk for several hours a day.  But before he sits at his desk he has to know what he is going to write. He looks for inspiration in books, people watch as he sits in a cafe, on walks or watching tv for example. He says his ideas can come from his real life experiences, from wishful thinking or real life events.

2. Characters: The main characters should have: a talent, an ambition, a deep dark secret, a best friend and a worst enemy. Keith also suggests you 'know what's in their pockets' which is something I was taught on my MA at Winchester so I use it frequently for all my characters. It helps you get right inside the character's heads. He also reminded me that actions can show what characters are like.

3. Plot: A story is about conflict, someone with a problem. As a writer you need to create the problem or the dilemma that should be followed by some confrontation as you try to solve it before you end the story with a resolution.

4. Setting:  Keith pointed out how people used to write reams of description which describe the setting. Now you tend to give bits of description. He also pointed out how setting can be the cause of conflict, it can also be the source of atmosphere. Setting can even add to a character's description -  sometimes when you think of someone you automatically put them in a certain place.

5. Redrafting; When redrafting he has suggested you look for clarity, colour and construction. On this basis I would also suggest reading your work out loud.

As I said just a brief synopsis of these excellent podcasts. I hope you enjoy the real thing.

For just one of those days when you wish you had walked away.


  1. Thanks for summing that up, Vanessa! I would love to listen to the podcasts but haven't got the time and this just hits the spot.

  2. Glad it was of use Candy and that you enjoyed it. I found it really useful to find out how much I did know about my plot/characters and where I was going! Just the redrafting now. Good luck with finishing the second book Candy!

  3. Excellent synopsis, Ness. Now I just need to find time to listen to the pod casts too. Many thanks

  4. Jeanette glad you enjoyed it too. Maybe when you will be able to listen to them whilst playing with Holly when she arrives

  5. Hi Vanessa - thanks for sharing this - it's great watching Keith Gray again now I know my characters and their story. The podcast on character was extremely useful. Thanks again! I'm off to check out the Scottish Booktrust website now