The Bone Clocks is an exceptional book, in more ways than one. Not only is it an inspirational magnum opus for aspiring writers, it’s full of writing tips too.
During the day, my colleague Emily Cunningham and I have been working hard on our online writing courses, developing exercises and motivational content for those who have a desire to write, but don’t know where to begin. During the evening, I’ve been glued to The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell’s page-turner that is an exhilarating romp through the lives of his protagonists who are all linked in unexpected ways. It’s a gem of a book especially for those who aspire to write (although it’s sheer breadth and eloquence may be a bit daunting) because it is a master-class in characterisation; how he creates the backstories of his characters, interweaves their lives and builds the tension is fascinating. But for those involved in all things literary, it’s even more pertinent: his wry look at the life of the writer Crispin Hershey – and the consequences of a bad review of his book – may even put some budding authors off writing for good, but Mitchell has generously strewn his book with great tips and advice for those on the literary path as well as dazzling examples: on developing psychological complexity, the killer line to end a scene, villains blotched with virtue, heroic characters speckled with villainy, foreshadow and flashback, artful misdirection. He admonishes writers not to be too adverb rich, saying “Adverbs are cholesterol in the veins of prose. Halve your adverbs and your prose pumps twice as well. Oh, and beware of the verb ‘seem’: it is a textual mumble.” What pearls of wisdom for all us aspiring writers. Note to self: add The Bone Clocks to the reading list for our online writing courses. It really is a masterpiece of its genre.