Monday, March 14, 2011

A Talk by William Ryan

I had the pleasure of attending a talk by William Ryan on Saturday at the Limerick Writers Centre.
William Ryan is an Irish writer, living in London. Before turning his hand to writing full-time, William was a lawyer in the city for a number of years. His novel, ‘The Holy Thief’ is the first in a series about a detective Alexei Korolev, who works for the Moscow Criminal Division in 1930s Russia.
It was a cold morning, but William, and Dominic of the writer’s centre made us welcome. Thank you for the coffee Dominic. It was the first time I had attended a talk like this and was unsure of how it would go.
William started with a brief introduction of himself and his work to date. I found it very informative, he touched on such subjects as planning and characters right through to editing, and finding an agent.
William gave a few good tips that I will be putting into practice from now on. The first is to create a ‘Cuttings File’, so when you are editing and you find anything that is not relevant to the story, cut and paste it to your file. I think this is a great idea, because you are not losing the cut piece forever, you tend to be a bit more ruthless with what you can cut out.
‘Know your facts and be accurate’, another great point William raised. Know what you are writing about, as an example: writing about a certain species of bird in your novel, when due to the seasonal time of year it is on the other side of the world, is a definite no.
‘Make your research invisible’, we all need to research, but the reader does not want to see this in the story that you are telling, that is what they have the Internet for.
Most importantly, write what you enjoy reading. The reader will feel this in the words that you use. Remember by the time your novel is ready to be sent off to an agent; you may well have read the whole thing fifteen times, so you will want to enjoy it.
I really enjoyed the talk, and I would recommend attending a similar talk in your area. Join a writers group; get a feel for what and how others write, but most of all enjoy it.

I would once again like to thank William Ryan, and Dominic of the Limerick Writer’s Centre.


  1. That's funny what he said about the cutting file. I'd created one just this weekend and it's true, you do cut more when you know it's not totally lost. The only thing I'll probably ever go back for is scenery description.

  2. What a coincidence, that is it exactly; nothing is lost forever, you have the oppertunity to retrieve it if you really believe it is relevant to your story.