Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast ‘red pen session’ no.6

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

This week’s podcast was released today, Monday 24th October, the sixth of my episodes dedicated to reading a short story or self-contained novel extract (with synopsis) and then talking about it afterwards.

I run a fortnightly critique group as well as critiquing other authors’ writing which I really enjoy so I thought I’d create podcast episodes doing this. Please remember that it’s 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 also type the critique as I’m reading the story for the first time so by listening to the episode you will have had the advantage of hearing the story in full before hearing my feedback.

Regardless of what genre 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.

Today’s story was a novel extract emailed to me by Kathryn Wild, a teacher who has spent the last three years in Thailand and Switzerland, working in their education systems, after four years in England. She is currently in the process of relocating again, most likely to Spain, having left the English Education system to allow herself time to travel and more importantly to write. In the space of the last two years, she has written two young adult novels (book one is almost ready to go out, book two needs editing but it is sitting in the ‘bottom draw’ so, she says, she can see it fresh when she come back to it). She is currently 20,000 words into the first draft of book three

I read the story, critiqued it and concluded with: “Kathryn has achieved what should be done in a novel’s first chapter; she’s introduced us to our protagonist, given a little description of her so we can form a picture, mentioned a small number of other characters, and given us their conflicts or dilemmas without giving too much away. It’s always very tempting to give as much information about the characters and setting at the beginning – known as an ‘info dump’ but we don’t have that here, and it makes us want to read on. Also as a non-reader of fantasy I don’t feel overwhelmed by the information we’ve been given. It’s a very relatable story and I suspect from Kathryn’s clear writing style it’ll continue like that.”

Kathryn’s website is and you can follow her on Twitter (where there’s currently a photograph of Kathryn and a beautiful tiger).

If you have any feedback on today’s episode or any other podcasts or aspects of my website or blog, I’m always delighted to hear from you – my email address is

And if you’re feeling brave enough to email me a (ideally normally) 1,000-word short story or novel extract (with a brief synopsis please) for these red pen sessions then feel free. I suggest you listen to at least one of the red pen episodes to get an idea of what happens.

Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast is available via iTunes, Google’s Feedburner, Podbean (when it catches up), Podcasters (which takes even longer) or Podcast Alley (which doesn’t list the episodes but will let you subscribe). Episodes include hints & tips (currently episode no.41) and author audio interviews – see this blog’s podcast page for more information.

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