Archive for April, 2008

How Free is Free Verse?

How ‘Free’ is Free Verse?

In my introduction to creative writing classes, I’m amazed at how many people believe that free verse has no structure; the result is a formless offering of words that often leaves the reader unfulfilled or with a sense that something is not quite right. And because there is no predetermined pattern to refer to (eg an abab rhyme scheme) it’s difficult to pinpoint what’s wrong with the poem.

Now while I agree that writers of free verse do not have to conform to the ‘rules’ of set form poetry (eg sonnets, ballads, limerics, haiku etc., each with its own rules of rhythm, rhyme and meter) there is definitely structure. The difference is each poem defines its own structure which emerges from within. If you don’t like the word ‘structure’, consider balance, pattern or cohesion. The tricky thing with establishing your own structure in a poem is that you have to ‘teach’ your reader how to read it, and, once established, you need to continue with it – or subvert it, but more of that later. Continue reading ‘How Free is Free Verse?’

Book Club back on track

For those of you who participated in our last book club discussion on The Grave Tattoo, you may have been disappointed at the end of March when the promised discussion of The Book Thief didn’t take place. I do apologise. I was ill for quite a few weeks and didn’t get it together. However, we’re back on track and will be discussing it at the end of this month. So dust it off and give it another once over.

Niche markets: Christian ‘chick lit’

Penny CullifordIn the latest in our series on so-called niche markets, we speak to Christian ‘chick lit’ author Penny Culliford. Penny first came to fame with the Theodora’s Diary series, which were described by one critic as ‘Bridget Jones Goes to Church’. After concluding the third in the series, Penny turned her hand to a reporter sleuth mystery, The Art of Standing Still, (Zondervan, 2007) about a community that revives a series of mediaeval mystery plays. She also writes poetry, plays and articles for magazines. Continue reading ‘Niche markets: Christian ‘chick lit’’

Crafty Tutors Writing Courses

We at the Crafty Writer are proud to have such talented and experienced writing tutors on our team. Apart from the services they offer on this site, they run a variety of courses in Newcastle upon Tyne and surrounds. So if you’re in the area, why not sign up for one of them? All courses are being held at Centre for Lifelong Learning; check out their website for costs and enrolment details.

‘Creative Writing’ with Kathleen Kenny
8 meetings starting Tuesday 29 April (9.45 – 12.15)

‘Reading and Writing Short Stories’ with Kathleen Kenny
10 meetings starting Tuesday 24 April (7pm – 9pm).

‘Reading and Writing Contemporary Poetry’ with Kathleen Kenny
8 meetings starting Wednesday 30 April (1pm – 3.30).

‘Non-fiction Writing with Fiona Veitch Smith
– 10 meetings starting Friday 2 May (10am – 12.00)

‘How to Write a Novel’ with Joan Johnston
– 10 meetings starting Wednesday 23 April (2pm – 4pm)

Tips from a ‘generalist’ freelance writer

Fellow freelance, Linda Jones, has asked me to guest on her excellent blog You may want to pop over there to read my tips as well as all the other useful advice that she provides on her site.

Some writers are specialists, others generalists. I’m the latter.This is partly a matter of personality and partly one of fear. Although I trained as a news reporter in the early 1990s, I soon realised that the rigours and confines of writing hard copy for news did not allow me the creative freedom I desired – so I became a freelance feature writer. Naturally, I pitched for work in areas that interested me. The problem was, lots of things interested me… Read more.

Due to other writing commitments, including the success of a non-fiction writing career, Linda is withdrawing from editing her blog. However, she’s looking for another successful freelance writer to take over the site. We wish her the best in her future plans.

Writing space

Anyone else’s desk look like mine (perhaps I need one of those hideaway computer desks)? Fortunately I don’t subscribe to the old “cleanliness is next to Godliness” cliche…

cartoon from
Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.
Continue reading ‘Writing space’