Tag Archives: Language

Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus

I’ve been reading a lot of crime fiction lately. For me, one author stands out: Ian Rankin. His Inspector Rebus novels, set in Edinburgh, are taut and atmospheric. His writing style has often been emulated but rarely matched. Why?

I’d like to explore Rankin’s style with examples from his second Rebus novel, Hide and Seek, published in 1991. I won’t talk about the plot here, but mainly writing technique and style. Continue reading

Lycanthropic

I haven’t been blogging so much recently and that’s because I’ve been busy writing a novel. That novel is now almost ready for publishing, so I can tell you a little more about it. Continue reading

British English vs American English in fiction

English. What a wonderful language, but how irritating that it comes in two flavours (flavors.) How should an author handle this problem?

If you’re a British author writing for a British audience, you can simply use British spellings. Colour. Organisation. Defence. Similarly for American writers – use American spellings. Color. Organization. Defense.

But what if you want to make your book as accessible as possible? Tricky. Continue reading

George RR Martin, the master

I started reading George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire reluctantly. My expectations were low. The book didn’t start well, with a confusing jumble of voices, and an omniscient point of view that added to the sense of dislocation. But by the end of the first chapter, Martin’s hook had caught me. It wasn’t the action that drew me in, although the first chapter does contain a dramatic sword fight. It wasn’t the characters, who were not particularly well drawn, nor long lived. It was the prose. The words were magical, delicate, full of mystery and power. They conveyed much more than the literal flow of events.

Continue reading

Looking over your shoulder

morning by zoetnet Creative Common licence (CC BY 2.0)

morning by zoetnet Creative Commons licence (CC BY 2.0)

In days gone by, we used to peer over other people’s shoulders on trains and in public spaces to read their newspapers. Flitting headlines would parade before us, grabbing our attention, as history unfolded before our eyes: Continue reading

Adios Air Miles, Hola Avios!

airmilesWe’ve just booked flights to Budapest so we can attend the wedding of an old university friend. The flights cost us nothing, because we paid for them using Avios. What are Avios, you may wonder? They’re a loyalty points system operated by British Airways, and they used to be called Air Miles. Continue reading

Infographics are like philosophical dialogues, but shorter

dialoguesNon-Believer: I have no idea what you mean. Infographics are nothing like dialogues.

Believer: Do you even know what a dialogue is?

Non-Believer: Duh. It’s what we’re doing right now.

Believer: Sure, but do you know what dialogues are for?

Non-Believer: Stop treating me like an idiot! Continue reading