Bailey’s Writing Tips podcast ‘red pen session’ no.9

** 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 yesterday, Wednesday 28th December, the ninth 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.

This episode’s was an extract, from London-based Danny Kemp’s second novel, entitled ‘The Desolate Garden’. I read a short synopsis, the extract, critiqued it and concluded with:

The way this piece is written it’s easy to connect with our protagonist and we can feel sorry for how he feels for his father, although given the insight into his father I can see why.

It’s a very well-written extract with a good mixture of long and short sentences, keeping the narrative drive and providing the action is subsequently forthcoming, I can see it fitting the murder mystery genre and it be of appeal to readers of that genre.

Stories, whether short stories or novels, should start with the action and Danny also sent me the beginning of Chapter which does have action and the story progresses quickly so the extract I read today certainly avoids the dreaded early ‘info dump’. The beginning of a story is called the ‘hook’ and needs to hook in the reader, and although this isn’t the beginning I certainly would want to read on, so a success in my opinion.”

Danny Kemp is a 62-year-old man, but just change the numbers around to find his real personality. He is quick witted with a devilish sense of humour, socially interacting well across all generations. His writing comes from years of diverse experiences encompassing the Metropolitan Police and the Licensed Taxi trade in the Capital. His interests now are divided between his work, his family, especially his three grandchildren, and his new-found ardor of writing.

His second novel, The Desolate Garden, followed on quickly from his first, Look Both Ways Then Look Behind and a third Mitzy Collins is almost complete. It is the first to be published in what he hopes to be the beginning of a new career. He is a member of The International Thrillers Writers.

He says he came into writing literally by accident, or, more correctly as a victim of one. He was stationary in his London Black Cab, one sunny November morning five years ago, when a van crashed into him, effectively putting him out of work for three years. He had time on his hands and his imagination filled the void left empty from his normal days. The enjoyment he derived from the first story he wrote spread into every crevice of his mind and filled those worrying days, so much so that he fell in love with it, and does not want it to end. Me neither, Danny. 🙂

You can find out more about Danny and his writing at

If you have any feedback on this episode or any other podcasts or aspects of my website or blog, I’d be delighted to hear from you – my email address is

And if you’re feeling brave enough to email me a short story (preferred) or novel extract (with a brief synopsis please) of no more than 1,000-word 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.44) and author audio interviews – see this blog’s podcast page for more information.

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