Tuesday 2 August 2016

Blog Tour: What We Didn't Say by Rory Dunlop

A darkly funny story of a marriage in crisis, perfect for readers who loved Us by David Nicholls and The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

'A touching, even-handed and thoroughly engaging tale of love, jealousy and fatherhood'
Jim Crace, multi-award-winning author of Harvest

Jack and Laura have separated. Jack thinks it's all Laura's fault.

Laura disagrees.

Jack writes to Laura, desperate to put across his side of the story.

Laura interrupts.

Wryly sarcastic and intensely well-observed, What We Didn't Say is about that gap between words and feelings where relationships live - and die.

Rory Dunlop's top five writing tips for aspiring writers 

1) Don’t give up. There were many times I thought of giving up. I thought it was self-indulgent to take so much time off, when I should be working and earning money to support my family. I was down-hearted when agents said I needed to re-draft what I’d written and I wondered whether there was any point. But I didn’t give up, thanks to the encouragement of friends. I’ll always remember Jim Crace telling me I mustn’t give up - that I owed it to myself to carry on trying. That kept me going. And now, meeting other novelists, I realise my experiences were common. There’s very few novelists that were successful straightaway. If there’s one thing that links most first-time novelists, it’s a bloody-mindedness to persevere with their dream of being a writer come what may.

2) Get help. When I first started writing, I thought I had to do it all by myself, that creative writing was not something that could be taught, that I would be, in some way, cheating if I had external help. All that’s nonsense. Writing fiction is a skill, like any other, that can be improved with practice and expert tuition. Go on an Arvon course. Or apply to www.gold-dust.org.uk to be tutored by a novelist like Jill Dawson. Or do an MA in creative writing. In 30 minutes with Jim Crace on an Arvon course, I learned more about the art of writing prose than in a lifetime of reading novels. It’s also exciting and rewarding to meet like-minded souls who dream of being novelists.

3) Don’t send your work out too early. The more you re-read something you’ve written, the more difficult it is to see its flaws. The temptation is to say ‘fuck it’ and send it out when it’s not really ready, simply because you can’t bear to go over it again. That’s a mistake. If you’ve sent a draft to an agent and they don’t like it, they’re unlikely to read a later draft. Even if they do, their reaction will be coloured by the earlier draft. It’s much better to get someone else to look at it first – a friend or, if you can afford it, a professional from companies like www.writersworkshop.co.uk. They may have an idea for how to improve it, or make it more ‘sellable’ that may make all the difference.

4) Come up with a one-sentence pitch. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been asked what my novel was ‘about’. There was a tortuous period where I didn’t really know how to answer that question and would ramble on while I could see, from the look in their eyes, that they were making up their mind never to read it. A one-sentence pitch will help with publishers too. As I understand the publishing industry, there’s always someone somewhere down the line who hasn’t read your book and has to pitch it in one sentence to someone else who hasn’t read it. It will help them if you have a good sentence.

5) Manage your expectations. Like climbing up a mountain, you can’t think all the time of the summit, only of the next 100 yards. Otherwise, you’d get dispirited too easily. Your first goal should be to write a scene, or a chapter. Then aim to write a first draft. Your ultimate goal should be to write something you like and are proud of. If you achieve that you won’t feel too disappointed even if others don’t like it enough to publish it. If one other person likes it, that should feel like a success, whether or not it gets published or sells many copies

Author Biography
Rory Dunlop studied Classics at Oxford and worked as a teacher and journalist before being called to the Bar. He spent a year in Strasbourg, writing judgments for the European Court of Human Rights, failing to learn French and falling in love with Lika. They now have two daughters and live in London. He's written a text book on immigration law and several book reviews for the Spectator and, very occasionally, people read his tweets.

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