Related to: 'Your Writing Coach'

Julie Sarkissian blogs about the problems facing the protagnist of her debut novel, DEAR LUCY

Something's Wrong With Lucy - But What?

Lucy is different – that much is clear. She speaks like a child, doesn’t recognize social boundaries, flies into rages, and treasures rotten food. Her cognition is impaired, her vocabulary is very limited and she cannot read or write. But what – precisely – is wrong with her is left up to the reader. Lucy is the protagonist of my novel, DEAR LUCY, and from the first sentence of the book I ever wrote it was obvious that Lucy was cognitively different. The way Lucy describes herself is as “missing too many words.” Her mother calls her “difficult.” Readers of early drafts of the book had a few theories as to Lucy’s condition; autism, Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome. But Lucy’s mother has kept her from going to school and Lucy has never seen a doctor. So in the fictional reality of the book there is no official diagnosis. But as the novel progressed I wondered – should I have one? I was torn. If Lucy was presenting enough symptoms to point to a real condition, was I ignoring the obvious not to fold that condition into my development of her character? Was it insensitive of me to allude to aspects of certain real, life-altering conditions but not assign a specific condition to Lucy? I worried about appropriating aspects of serious conditions without treating those conditions with proper respect and acknowledgement. And though any clinical diagnosis would probably not be explicit in the novel, I wondered if I would be ignoring an opportunity to bring attention to a real disorder when people asked me about Lucy’s condition, the way The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time did for autism. On the other hand, I had concerns that if I chose a diagnosis for Lucy, I would be ascribing to her qualities that she wouldn’t have otherwise presented. Lucy had her own will over my writing and over the novel. I didn’t want to yoke Lucy’s expression by keeping her behavior and abilities consistent with a clinical condition. Accuracy would also become a critical issue if Lucy’s condition was named. Ultimately I chose not to diagnose Lucy, though I worry the artistic freedom provided by that decision comes at the price of being judged for being too liberal with my treatment of cognitive disorders. Now that publication is a few months away, I am apprehensive of how my treatment of Lucy’s cognitive limitations will be judged. I have yet to talk to a reader who has a learning different child, or works with learning different people, and that conversation is one I will be honored, and not a bit anxious, to have.

Nicholas Brealey Publishing

Your Creative Writing Masterclass

Jurgen Wolff
Authors:
Jurgen Wolff

Adam Roberts

Adam Roberts is the author of 14 SF novels, most recently Jack Glass (which won the UK BSFA and the US John Campbell awards for best SF novel, 2013), as well as a number of critical works about science fiction, including Science Fiction (Routledge, 2000) and The Palgrave History of Science Fiction (Palgrave 2006). He regularly reviews the genre for The Guardian and is also a Professor of 19th-century Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London; where he also teaches Creative Writing to undergraduates, specialising in 3rd-year final projects in SF and Fantasy.

Ann Gawthorpe

Ann Gawthorpe is a prize-winning professional writer.

Barbara Samuel

Barbara Samuel is the bestselling author of more than 40 books. In 2012, she was inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall Of Fame, and she has won seven RITA awards (most recently in 2012) and her books have been published in more than a dozen countries. One of her recent women's fiction titles, The Lost Recipe for Happiness (written as Barbara O'Neal) was reprinted eight times, and her book How to Bake a Perfect Life was a Target Club pick in 2011.

Charles Harris

Charles Harris is an award-winning director, consultant, and tutor, who co-founded the first screenwriters' workshop in the world. He has worked with top names from James Stewart and Ricky Tomlinson to Spike Milligan and Alexei Sayle. As a film editor for BBC and C4, he moved on to direct TV and theatre, winning awards around the world. His first professional feature script was optioned for Hollywood production, and his first feature as director, Paradise Grove, won international awards and was nominated at the British Independent Film Awards.

Chris Sykes

Chris Sykes is a playwright, writer and poet who has written for the BBC and has had his plays performed in the West End. He also teaches creative writing at the University of Sussex and was Deputy Chair of The Writers Guild of Great Britain.

Chrissie Manby

Chrissie Manby is the author of twenty five romantic comedies including A PROPER FAMILY HOLIDAY, THE MATCHBREAKER and SEVEN SUNNY DAYS. She has had several Sunday Times bestsellers and her novel about behaving badly after a break-up, GETTING OVER MR RIGHT, was nominated for the 2011 Melissa Nathan Award. Chrissie was raised in Gloucester, in the west of England, and now lives in London. Contrary to the popular conception of chick-lit writers, she is such a bad home-baker that her own father threatened to put her last creation on www.cakewrecks.com. She is, however, partial to white wine and shoes she can't walk in. You can follow her on Twitter @chrissiemanby, or visit her website www.chrissiemanby.co.uk to find out more.

Clémentine Beauvais

Clementine Beauvais writes children's books and has a PhD in children's literature from Cambridge. She is the author of the acclaimed Sesame Seade Mysteries series and her academic work on children's literature has won numerous awards. She also has a very active social media presence online.

E M Forster

Edward Morgan Forster was born in London in 1879, attended Tonbridge School and went on to King's College, Cambridge in 1897, where he retained a lifelong connection and was elected to an Honorary Fellowship in 1946.He died in June 1970.

Emma Darwin

Emma Darwin is the author of the historical novels The Mathematics of Love and A Secret Alchemy, and her short fiction has been published and broadcast. She has appeared at literary festivals from Hay on Wye to New Zealand, she has taught creative writing for many institutions including the Open University, and she blogs at This Itch of Writing. She is the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin.

Jacq Burns

Jacq Burns commissioned books at Random House and Harper Collins prior to setting up as a literary agent and co- director of London Writers' Club. In non-fiction her focus is broadly on personal development and business topics and in fiction she helps develop writing across most genres. She has ghosted a wide range of subjects and also written a series of humorous books under a pseudonym.

Jodie Daber

Jodie Daber has a Masters in Creative Writing, is the author of several published short stories and has just completed her first novel.

Judith Watts

Judith Watts is a Senior Lecturer in Publishing at Kingston University and has also worked in traditional publishing houses. She's an editor and a published poet, performing erotic verse for a range of unsuspecting audiences.

Jurgen Wolff

Jurgen Wolff is a writer, teacher, NLP practitioner and the author of many books, including Your Writing Coach, Successful Scriptwriting (60,000 copies sold) Creativity Now!, Focus: the power of targeted thinking, Do Something Different as well as a dozen plays. A consistently successful screenwriter, Wolff has sat on the writing team on the hit TV series LOST and many other successful HBO projects. He has consulted to TV companies around the world (BBC, SKY, Columbia/Tri-Star)and written for newspapers including The Times. He holds creativity workshops around the world for organizations such as the Academy for Chief Executives, the University of Barcelona, the Pilots Programme, the Bertelsmann Foundation, film schools in Cologne, Berlin, and Munich, and many others. Born and educated in the US, Wolff now divides his time between London and California.

Katharine Grubb

Katharine Grubb lives in Massachusetts: she homeschools her children, bakes bread, does a ridiculous amount of laundry and sets her timer to write stories in ten minute increments. Her favourite type of books to read and write are quirky, imaginative tales of romance, faith and humour. She blogs at www.10minutewriter.com and is on Twitter @10MinuteWriter. She has just published her first book.

Kerstin Rodgers

Kerstin Rodgers aka MsMarmitelover launched the underground restaurant movement in the UK with her eponymous supper club The Underground Restaurant. She is part of a new generation of writers and chefs who use social media to promote food via blogging, facebook and twitter; she has appeared on TV numerous times and is regularly interviewed in broadsheets, tabloids and magazines.

Lesley Bown

Lesley Bown is an accomplished writer who has published in almost every format - from books to articles, screenplays, scripts, television shows, sitcom pilots and sketches. She is also a journalist, and she wrote a popular comedy blog from the perspective of Bridget Jones' mother - Pamela Jones' Diary - http://pamelajonesdiary.blogspot.com/

Lisa Bullard

Lisa Bullard is a Minneaopolis-based children's book writer with over 60 published books, ranging from picture books to chapter books to nonfiction titles. Her work has won numerous awards, including those from Teacher's Choice and the Children's Book Council. She is also a well-known and popular creative writing teacher and mentor, running courses at The Loft, one of America's most prestigious and successful creative writing centres.

Mirren Baxter

Mirren Baxter has taught creative writing for years and works with small groups of writers to develop their manuscripts towards publication.

Rosemary Rowe

Rosemary Rowe is extremely active in the crime-writing community, and is a very involved member of the Crime Writers' Association. She has written a series of popular crime novels set in second-century Roman Britain, featuring the Celtic sleuth and mosaic-maker, Libertus,and regularly gives talks and runs crime writing courses, the latest being a Summer School Crime Writing Course.