Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast ‘red pen session’ no.3

** Please note that I no longer run red pen episodes but do offer critique (first 1,000 words free) via** 

I’m delighted to announce that this week’s podcast released today, Monday 5th September, was the third of my episodes dedicated to reading a short story or self-contained novel extract (with synopsis) and then talking about it afterwards.

Regardless of what genre or format you write I hope that this helps you think about the way your stories are constructed and that you have enjoyed hearing another author’s work, the copyright of which remains with them. Please remember that my critique is only one person’s (my) opinion and you, and the author concerned, are welcome to disagree with my interpretation – I will never be mean for the sake of it, but hope that I’m firm but fair. I create my comments as I read the story for the first time, as a reader would, so listeners will have had the advantage of hearing the excerpt in its entirety but hopefully what I have to say will make sense.

This piece was emailed to me by crime author Lae Monie who featured as my second Author Spotlight on 17th August.

Lae is a 30-something author and citizen of the world (she’s travelled a lot – I’ve only moved 60 miles, six locations, in my 44 years). She says “I have been a writer for … well, it feels like forever and I can’t think of anything else I would like to do. My stories reflect the terse, lurid, violent tales about crime and desperation from the point of view of the criminal. They seek to discover the heart of criminality to create compelling reading for those who enjoy crime and are interested in the humanity of even the most unlikely characters.”

This episode’s item was 1188-word novel extract so she’s sent me the synopsis from her forthcoming novel ‘More Hungry Boys’ which I read first. I then read the extract and critiqued it (including highlighting some ‘show not tell’, repetitions etc), with the conclusion:

“This extract has everything that a novel opening should have; a great beginning location (the swamp), two characters with opposing traits and moods, some wonderful dialogue and it has ‘pace’. Although I’m not normally a fan of description (unlike one of my poets who loves it, I tend to glaze over if too long a passage of description – which this extract isn’t guilty of), I would have liked a little more description of the farm and their journey going from the swamp to it. The dialogue was superb. There is a sense of dialect without an overdose of dialogue that we can’t understand, and Lae has, on several occasions, picked unusual alternatives to words where a bland one would have done. I’m especially intrigued by Itchy. He’s not mentioned in the synopsis but is clearly the lead character at the beginning and I’m guessing a strong character going forward so it’ll be interesting to see how he fits into the scheme of the novel. Although I’d normally go for more contemporary stories, if this ever becomes an audiobook then it may well end up in my ‘to be listened to’ pile.”

You can find more about Lae and her work via her blog, Facebook and Twitter. Thank you again for subscribing, downloading or clicking on this episode and I look forward to bringing you the next episode next Monday, likely the usual hints & tips format. You can read the details of my other podcast episodes at where you will also find the links to accessing the podcast (iTunes, GoogleFeedburner etc).

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