Everyone's a Critic

February 11, 2019
Inspiration doesn't always appear when you want it to. When you're short of ideas there are several recommended ways to get your creativity flowing. You could try an exercise like describing the room you're in, or writing a letter to a friend (real or imaginary), or simply writing down the first things that pop into your head without attempting to edit them. These are all good, so take your pick.
One of my favourite ways to get my writing brain working is to write a review. There are benefits to this that you don't get with the other methods. First of these is that you have the pleasure of reading or watching something at least once in order to review it. Do this with your reader/viewer's head on i.e. for entertainment, so your initial reactions will be natural, and you won't be looking particularly for faults. Jot them down at the end, then read/watch the book/film/TV show/ whatever again with a few headings in mind, such as characters, plot, language, pace, or sets, costumes, acting etc.. This will help to highlight what worked, what didn't and why–all things that are helpful for your own writing.
Next, you need to structure your review, which will be determined in part by whether you are writing purely as an exercise or whether you intend getting the finished review published; a magazine is likely to want a different style from an online store such as Amazon or Smashwords. If you can come up with a great hook to start, and draw your thoughts to a conclusion at the end, so much the better. Be aware of potential spoilers, and if you can't avoid them, warn the reader/viewer about them.
The idea is to help readers/viewers decide whether they're likely to enjoy the piece. Don't be dishonest. Being non-committal is almost as bad. What point is there in the review without an opinion? You should avoid being brutal. Sarcasm may look clever, but it's unhelpful to the author/actors etc.. Ask yourself how you would feel if someone made those comments about your work, and be constructive.
By the time you've finished, you'll have gained practice in analysis and writing, hopefully kick-started your own work, and produced something which could be very helpful to the author, cast or crew. Authors always need reviews, so even if you only write a sentence or two and given them a star rating, you'll have produced something useful. Knowing that you've done that is sometimes all you need to relax and unlock your creativity.
 

Fancy Meeting You Here!

February 4, 2019
A few weeks ago, I met someone who had been one of my closest friends as a teenager, but whom I'd not seen for decades. We'd lived in the same town for most of those years, and could easily have bumped into each other shopping, but we didn't. That's probably more remarkable than the fact that when we did meet, in ludicrous circumstances, we still recognised each other.
It was a real coincidence, and if I write a memoir I might put it in, but if I ever tried to base a short story around it, it...
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It's History, but Not as We Know It

January 22, 2019
When I first saw trailers for The Favourite, I was delighted. I've been interested in Queen Anne's reign since someone gave me G. M. Trevelyn's England under Queen Anne when I was a teenager. It's a period that gets little attention compared with the Tudors or the Napoleonic era, yet it was pivotal in many ways. Not that I expected the film to be a history lesson. After all, it's a drama, not a documentary, so I wasn't disappointed that the film concentrated on the relationships between Queen...
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Word Pictures

January 13, 2019
I watched too much television over Christmas. I don't suppose I'm alone in that, but I probably watched more bits of things than most people because I didn't buy a TV guide in the mistaken belief that I wouldn't be tempted to watch as much that way. Consequently, what I saw had an element of pot luck.
One of the things I almost missed was Going Postal, the television adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel. I love Terry Pratchett's books, and I've wanted to love previous television ad...
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Resolving to Think Lateral

December 31, 2018
Where did this tradition of making resolutions at the new year come from? Frankly, I haven't a clue, other than the link with new beginnings, but it's very hard to escape it. Perhaps the reason so many resolutions are broken before the end of January is because they are half-hearted to begin with, made for form's sake rather than a true desire for change.
I'm not going to suggest what promises anyone should make themselves, and if you're heartily sick of being asked what your New Year's resol...
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Merry Christmas to One and All

December 24, 2018
If you get a moment after the last-minute shopping for the festivities, and find yourself without a plate or glass in your hand, you might take stock of what's happened and what you've done in 2018. You won't be alone. Most of us do it at this time of year: another 12 months gone, and what happened to all the things you thought you'd achieve?
I know there are plenty of things on my list that I haven't been able to put a tick next to yet. Some things are no longer a priority, others have progr...
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Quick Thinking

December 16, 2018
When someone finds out I'm a published writer, I can guarantee I'll be asked one of two questions: 'Does it pay well?" and/or "In anything I've heard of?" Whether it pays well depends on whether you're used to champagne and flying on private jets, or dine regularly in your bedsit on beans on toast. Some people think that unless your earnings are in the J. K. Rowling bracket you aren't a proper writer. Maybe a list of my credits would impress them more.
I've had hundreds of pieces published or...
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Gentle Persuasion

December 4, 2018
One of the great things about the internet is that it's easier than ever to have your say about things. Put up posts on social media, blogs or reviews and potentially your views will be seen by a worldwide audience.
    However, being persuasive means doing more than firing off Tweets as the impulse takes you. Look at the derision President Trump's brought on  himself, and the ammunition he's handed to his detractors by not checking for typos. It always pays to spend a little time shaping wha...
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No Need to Speculate

November 19, 2018
When I was a member of a science fiction writers' group there was always one topic that would liven up the conversation: what is science fiction? If Third Flatiron Anthologies' latest offering,Terra! Tara! Terror! had been around then we would have had plenty to wrangle over. There are SF stories with elements of fantasy or horror, fantasy with twists of SF, folktales, and myths brought up to date. In fact, there's the full range of speculative fiction in all its wonderful mutations.
    There...
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A Week in the Life

November 9, 2018
A writer's life consists of sitting in front of a computer, tapping at a keyboard and pressing 'send', doesn't it? Not quite. Even when real life such as shopping, doing the laundry and walking the dogs doesn't intervene, things are rarely so straightforward. This is how my week went from Friday 2nd to Thursday 8th November.
    As usual, I started the day on Friday by checking my emails, Facebook and Twitter pages. Even if I don't post a tweet, I like to respond to any likes and retweets, and...
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About Me


My writing career began as a freelance feature writer for the local press, businesses and organisations. Now a prize-winning playwright and short story writer, my work has appeared in numerous publications on both sides of the Atlantic. I write as K. S. Dearsley because it saves having to keep repeating my forename, and specialise in fantasy and other speculative genres.

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