52 Stories #6 – Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned by Wells Tower

It was a warren of a place off Coldharbour Lane with echoing stairwells and concrete floors. An oddly brutalist interior at odds with the Victorian fascia that shouldered up tight to the pavement. We climbed at least one flight of stairs and took several turnings before we reached the flat. J was waiting at her […]


Write This Now! – The Five Act Structure Questions

This exercise is adapted from John Yorke’s excellent book Into the Woods in which he discusses the five act structure and how it can be used manage a story’s tension and the development of its protagonist. It’s a great way of warding off the ‘saggy middle’ to which the more traditional three act structure can be prey. […]


52 Stories #4 – Sea Oak by George Saunders

This week, Sea Oak by George Saunders. You can find it in the collection Pastoralia or online at The Barcelona Review. They summoned me along with thirty or so other managers the day before the axe fell. At the head of the room stood a representative for the security department in a jolly primary coloured […]


52 Stories #3 – The Labrador Fiasco by Margaret Atwood

This week in 52 Stories: The Labrador Fiasco by Margaret Atwood. It is anthologised in Moral Disorder And Other Stories. It is also available online. S insisted she was there where it happened. It was a dinner party, S and a companion, a married couple and the hostess. The conversation had turned to disastrous trips […]


The Human Claim by Ali Smith

This week in 52 Stories: #1The Human Claim by Ali Smith.

Some years ago I worked for a large US company in Silicon Valley. Eventually, I moved away from the sun and from America, but I kept the job for a year while I put myself through some more school. Every six weeks or so, I stuffed some clothes and a laptop into a backpack and flew out to San Francisco to work at the office for a couple of weeks. […]

The Window, Chiswick 1929 Mary Potter 1900-1981 Purchased with funds provided by the Helena and Kenneth Levy Bequest 1990

The round up is back

If you’re reading this in the distant future and all is peaceful – check the dateline. It has been a tumultuous week here in early 2017 and my list of ‘writing/culture’ tweets from publishers, critics and writers has been unusually full of politics. Unsurprising really – since most of my favourite people are opinionated and […]