The Kritikme Blog

And Behold.

Mar 22, 2018

You've got to love William Blake. 

'A Woman clothed with the sun, & the moon under her feet, and / upon her head a crown of twelve stars; and behold a great red dragon also.'

Blake has taken this from Revelations 12 but I love the way he cuts and splices the phrases and uses them as the springboard for his art which is so often fantastical and revelatory.

I want to something to you about MAGIC. I know for some of you, you're as wary of this as if it's maths. That somehow bad breath and costumes are involved.

When it comes to 'magic', there's a broad church, but what I mean by it in the Classic Course, applies also to those of you on the Ninety Day Novel; transformation.

All great books serve up transformation on a silver plate, nice and succulent. He was a bit of a dullard, now he's pure evil. She was a drip, now she's working for NASA. Transformation is what a novel is all about. It's the moment in which the hero's flaw is seized in the cosmic spinning wheel,...

Read on...

Plot Or Not, You Gotta Plan.

Mar 18, 2018

Plot or Not, You Gotta Plan.

'The writing of a novel is a long job, and if you get it wrong at the start you're going to be very unhappy later on.'

Iris Murdoch.

There are - we are told - two ways to write a book. Plot, or not.

Some writers, like Stephen King, are renowned for the bravura of pooh-poohing plotting. But it's not quite that simple.

'I won't try to convince you that I've never plotted any more than I'd try to convince you that I've never told a lie, but I do both as infrequently as possible. I distrust plot for two reasons: first, because our lives are largely plotless, even when you add in all our reasonable precautions and careful planning; and second, because I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren't compatible. A strong enough situation renders the whole question of plot moot. The most interesting situations can usually be expressed as a What-if question: What if vampires invaded a small New England village?'

(Stephen King referring to Salem's...

Read on...

I'm going to write a little book.

Mar 07, 2018

Time to press play. (Turn the volume up.)

When on occasion, my writers they struggle to find words, I advise them to try writing less. That seems to work. 

This week, working with one of my writers we laughed about using this motto - 'I'm just writing a little book' - rather than the heady rhetoric of empire-building to encourage yourself to the daily writing. When you work in a way that is small, humble and cosy, proceeding with patient affection from one paragraph to the next, it is like building a fire from kindling and breathing life into it as we saw with The Firestarter competition last week. (Rather than chucking a load of petrol over a barbecue and watching it go out leaving the sausages burnt and foul.)

So when I bill the new course that starts on Monday as 'How To Write A Classic' I hope you will not feel too awed. 

I've been ever so 'umble' in the last three months, quiet and cosy as a Hobbit in my hole, studying the all-time bestselling...

Read on...

The Winner is...

Mar 04, 2018

We're on fire.

We are a community of writers dedicated to pushing, cheering, dragging, cajoling, bribing each other over the finishing line of 'The End'.


The purpose of Kritikme is to make sure that each and every one of our member's manuscripts is 100% safe at submission. This means putting it through its paces and many, many rounds of checks and fine balances most crucially, in the final stages at the Members Lodge. 

Round after round of revision at the Members Lodge - based on the guidance given - means that manuscript will only be rejected because of an agent's personal peccadillo, and not because:

  1. It doesn't make sense
  2. The writing's bad
  3. The story sucks

None of these will apply to one of our manuscripts.

We are men and women who have become comrades in ink. We turn to each other. We salute each other, we cheer, and yes, we do whinge a bit when the mood takes us. We like it that way.

We are about to celebrate the first anniversary of Kritikme and The...

Read on...

Time : the Big Creep.

Feb 25, 2018

Oh Kronos, you creep.

Kronos (or Cronus) was the King of the Titans and the god of time for the Greeks, a destructive, all-devouring force. He ruled the cosmos during the Golden Age after castrating and deposing his father, Uranus (Sky). In fear of a prophecy that he would in turn be overthrown by his own son, Kronos swallowed each of his children as they were born. 

Time is the old grandfather clock who gets tick-tocked off in fantasy fiction, particularly children's classics. 

In last week's Sunday blog we looked at you and your phoney old sense of time and what to do about it. (And yes, I am still sinning with the number one sin of writers which I listed for you last week. See the 'busy bullshit.' Do read it if you haven't.)

This week we're looking beyond the often quite charming villain in the Classic, to find the real source of evil in Wonderland. As some of you will know, I've been delving into the works of C.S. Lewis, J.M. Barrie, Lewis Carroll,...

Read on...


Feb 17, 2018

If I had to choose between time and money, I'd choose space.

Money wouldn't enter into it.

I yearn for time and space and since they appear to cover most of the immediately and unarguably available dimensions in which we live, I consider this common sense. Otherwise, one might as well hanker over kippers, or cutlery or cupcakes, since everything besides times and space is counting and we were made for a more divine mathematics. (Cupidity is not a vice writers or artists indulge.)

Let's deal with lifestyle first, then we'll come to literature (and science) in next week's Sunday blog.

Are you busy?

As in you have a great deal to do and don't have enough time?

Right-o. Yup. I haven't yet met anyone who isn't, have you? 

You have the same amount of time as everyone on a day to day basis. You have twenty-four hours. You can argue that they are not yours to use as you lie, but that's not entirely true. You can always walk out of your life and it's the fantasy...

Read on...

In your dreams, babe.

Feb 11, 2018

Where to find wonderland? In your dreams, babe.

A few weeks ago, I dreamt that my legs were covered in thick, lupine hair. A pelt of fur. Then I dreamt a few days later of being in a clinic on a table with a cold steel blade tracing the bones of my legs shaving them. A few nights later, in another dream, the hairs on my legs were long, thick and golden stalks of hair like wheat in a field, with the wind blowing through them.

On Saturday evening, last week, I was talking about the notion of our 'shadowlands' (the secondary world in speculative fiction) with a Kritikme fellow writer who had some very interesting mythological references to offer on the matter. That night I dreamt that I was reaching down to my nether regions pulling out single hairs that came out individually as black quills, like the spikes of a porcupine filled with black ink.

I woke and thought about the fur coats in the wardrobe in Narnia. Suddenly the single philosophical theme of my...

Read on...

Never Grow Up.

Feb 04, 2018

'Growing up' is not to be taken lightly. It's the source of horror in the horror story. 

The great Classics show younger readers how to maintain the wonder of childhood and the rest of us how to get back there in a hurry. The authors of the Classics - such as JM Barrie, CS Lewis and E.Nesbit -  were particularly able to tap the well of their childhood. 

I'd like to offer you a road home with some simple directions in this week's blog and next.

Yesterday I was leaving the supermarket fairly jacked off, as always, superficially aware that I am 'lucky' but also just jacked off; drizzle, duty etc. Just like you do too.

I drove past a man in a car who had a look on his face which matched my thoughts.

I thought - Jesus, once you were this:

Each and every one of us goes through transformations so gradually we don't notice them happening but the cumulative effect is one of devastation. We wear the cliffside we have fallen off.

This is the same...

Read on...

Back to School Gossip

Jan 28, 2018

'Off to a commendable start this term, but must try not to be distracted by classmates.'

 A flying start to 2018 with two of our members - Jo and Juliette - finishing their novels and the old hands getting back on the wagon to get ready to submit their manuscripts to agents. 

We have launched our boarding school experience with Writers Retreats and sold out ( bar one place) for our first retreat this autumn. A fully coached course will follow next February with one of our guest speakers will the legendary world-famous expert in fairy tales, magic and myth - Jack Zipes

But there's more....

... Tim Lott!

I'm delighted to announce that Tim Lott will be joining Kritikme to co-tutor The Full English course next year. 

After a career in journalism, Tim's first book, The Scent of Dried Roses, a memoir, was published in 1996 and won the PEN/JR Ackerley Prize for Autobiography. His first novel, White City Blue, (1999) a contemporary portrait of friendship...

Read on...


Jan 21, 2018


'It is wonder that infuses Narnia, the land where trees and animals talk and a mighty lion is always liable to irrupt when least expected.'

Colin Duriez and David Porter 'The Inklings'

The Inklings was a group of literary friends meeting in Oxford from 1933 to 1949 which included CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien who wrote the world-famous bestselling classics of literary fantasy. It was their belief that we win truth by metaphor, using highly imaginative models such as their worlds of Narnia and Middle-earth.

In the lessons of The Classic course, I will show you why the creation of a work of wonder, a classic, is far more important more than a matter of life and death.

Then, I'm going to show you how to create yours.

Wonder or the feeling of wonderment goes beyond the spectacle, or carnival, the pageant or festival, beyond feasting and fêting, beyond human celebrations and the things we enjoy thanks to the suspension of normal routine.

It goes FAR beyond those....

Read on...
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