Creative Writing

One of the great difficulties for a writer is getting started. What am I going to write about? What can I write about? The first thing that you need is the kernel of an idea. Fine – but how do I get such a kernel?

The youtube interview here might help some:

A tragedy in this writing game is that many who aspire to be writers hit the wall around page 80. Why if should be around that time I cannot answer. But many find themselves incapable of getting beyond that point and give up. There must be hundreds of thousands of 80-page potential novels thrown into drawers by writers in despair.

All right so that is the way it was – THEN. But now is now. So how about opening those drawers again and hauling out your half-formed creations? With the passing of time and a sit down and a review of what you have written can give you new ideas on how to force the story beyond what had been blocking you in the past and you find yourself out into far clearer water.

I hope this piece of encouragement helps some to pick up their pens again.

Best Regards.  Patrick.

Writers and Writing


Some writers have difficulty in finding ideas that can be developed into full-blown novels. This short interview might help here.  At least I hope it does.

Type in on Google – Patrick McCusker interview on YouTube.

Best regards.





Each morning a zebra wakes up and while brushing his teeth says to himself: “Today I must run faster that the fastest lion if I am to survive.”

Each morning a gazelle wakes up and while putting on his boots says to himself: “Today I must run faster than the fastest lion if I am to survive.”

Each morning a lion wakes up and while shaving says to himself: “Today I must run faster that the slowest zebra or gazelle if I am to have breakfast.”

(Old African story: several variations. All of Charles Darwin’s wonderful work is encapsulated here.)


A Tiny Story to Make You Smile

In the business of your life, this story might produce a small

smile: at least I hope it does.


The air was particularly fragrant that morning. The scent of the lily pads across the entire pond was never finer. It was a good place to be a frog.

He sat on a half-submerged leaf with the sun full in his face, and reflected on the three lady frogs he had covered the night before. Many tadpoles would issue as a result of that profligate dalliance with those notable dainty strumpets.

His patch of sunlight suddenly darkened. A large princess, from the castle on the hill, notable for her extreme ugliness, lowered herself into a heap on the edge of the frog pond. It was clear to the frog that she intended to stay awhile, blocking his place in the sun.

He squelched around on his lily pad and said:

“If you kiss me I will turn you into a beautiful creature.”

Well, given her complete lack of graciousness, how could the princess resist such an offer? She got down on her broad knees and leaned out over the pond and kissed the frog – and was immediately turned into a beautiful butterfly.

The frog ate the butterfly and the sun shone down on the pond as before.



Is There Something Wrong With Me!

How is it that writers can sit down in front of a blank page and two years later find that they have a 300-400 page novel on their hands? I have talked to writers about this but no one can give a satisfactory answer how this comes about.

In writing FEAR the idea started by looking at a drop of water falling from an icicle. Ninety thousand words resulted. Damn if I know how it happened. Maybe I need help!

Lots of other writers must have similar experiences. It would be great to share. What is it that triggered the start of as novel for you?

Comments welcome.


Writing – Where Does It Come From?


On a number of occasions I have been interviewed on writing. Always the question arises – where does the writing come from?
Others have told me that they too have had the same question put to them. And, I suppose, it should be no surprise. It is the most fundamental questions for writers:how can someone sit down with a blank page and two years later have 400 pages of a story?

Some claim that they write nothing for months until the story is fully formed in their heads. At that point they go off to a solitary location and write with fury, producing the story in a matter of Amazon weeks. I suspect this way of approaching writing is rare. You may not agree.

Others claim that they rough-out a detailed structure and a description of all characters before they attempt to start on ‘the real thing’. This approach has never worked for me.

I suspect, for most of us, we simply sit down and start to write page after page of pure rubbish. But, out of this, ideas begin to form and finally harden into the possibility of a story. This act of ‘rubbish’ writing seems to be essential to get traction going under a story. At least, to writers that I have talked to, that appears to be the way for most of them.

In the writing of the thriller – Water Worms – half an idea formed for me while looking at a single drop of water dropping from the end of an icicle. Two years later I had a story of 280 pages. Maybe I need help!

So, don’t pass up the possibility of a ‘situation’ that might lead to a story. It might be a bag of money found on the side of a road or six people trapped by a snow storm in a house. Grab at it and write page after page of ‘rubbish’ until clarity, in what you are attempting, comes into clearer focus.

I hope that something here might help those who are now experiencing writer’s blockage. One or two of these ideas might help to clear away the log jam and get the pen moving again. At least I hope so.

Comments would be welcome.



Irish Writers and tax exemptions.


Revenue is recommending the abolition of tax exemptions for artists. One of the reasons that is stated for this is pressure from Europe because such tax considerations breached EU guidelines.

Few writers in Ireland make a living from their work. Removal of this tax consideration will make matters worse. The original idea in setting up this tax advantage was to give assistance to ‘creative’ artist: this was shamefully re-interpreted over the years to allow a ragbag of autobiographical works by many politicians and sports stars to avail of the tax break. What had been a wonderful and imaginative idea, at its inception, degenerated into farce. And now threatens the livelihood of genuine ‘creative’ artists.

So what might be done?

If the EU sees this artistic exemption to be out of line with European thinking then the Irish government will see to its removal. Yet, the government puts great emphasis on the creative talents of its people at every occasion when it speaks abroad. So, if this talent is to be encouraged what might be done when the tax exemption is no more? I can only offer a view for the benefit of writers in this. (Artists in other areas of work might wish to raise their voices in similar manner.)

One thing that the government might consider in the way of helping writers, when the tax arrangements are abolished,is to arrange through the Arts Council six NEW, and SUBSTANTIAL, creative writing competitions per year. Two of these might be for novels, one published and one unpublished, and two for short stories and the remaining two for poetry. In all of these cases the prizes should be considerable to focus the best efforts of writers, and to offer them a meaningful financial assistance for what they do.

This can be done – it simply needs government lateral thinking to make it happen. This process will get by the EU regulations on the tax issue and make again money available to genuine creative writers.

I offer this as a suggestion to all writers in Ireland to consider. I am not suggesting that this is a perfect solution, and will not help a large number of artists, but it will get by the EU concerns and get the government off the hook in that regard.

You might wish to make comment on this, whether you agree or disagree, or have a totally different idea on what approach we might take. Comments can be left on my blog or on my website –

We need, together,to reach a consensus on a suitable response to government on this. If we do nothing – we will have no cause to moan.


How do you decide on the price of your eBook?

I got some queries on a shorter blog on this subject, so the following might help to flesh out this problem on pricing.

You, as the author, must decide on the price. Clearly you want to maximize your income. The price you set looms large in this ambition. So, think carefully on this question of price. Set it too high and reader resistance becomes a factor. Set it too low and there will be a feeling that it can’t be any good at that price. That is your dilemma.

Then there is the emotional run of things that you, the writer, brings into your decision. ‘Spent three good years writing this novel and it’s a damn good read. Therefore I will demand a high price’. Wonderful. All very understandable, a reaction like that. But the problem is that the buyers out there are not at all exercised by the thought that you spent three years writing the thing. All right, so the world is unfair. Nobody understands you: and you steeped in genius! The buyer is largely focusing down on price. Yes, if you are a well known writer you can expect a high price for your latest creation. But, if you are unknown, as a writer, no matter how wonderful the writing or what extraordinary epic you have produced, you need to grub down into the reality on pricing – and set your price at a lower level than an established writer can demand. If, in time, you make it into the big sale numbers, at that stage you can increase your price.

EBooks, compared to their printed cousins, are cheap to produce. Readers expect such electronic books to be cheaper. Whether you agree with this or not it is a fact. So don’t try to compare prices: an eBook is a different product.

There is one enormous benefit to eBook authors in all of this. Other that those printed books sold through outlets like Amazon, printed books are limited in reaching potential buyers by the number of shops stocking the books, and indeed by the positioning of the books on the shelves. And the shelf life of a printed book can be very short. If it is not generating sales it can quickly be withdrawn and returned to the publisher. EBooks have the potential of reaching readers across the world and they do not suffer the threat of a short shelf space.

So, you finally make the decision to go the eBook route. Great. So, what about the price?

Amazon is interesting on this question of price. If you price your book somewhere between $2.99 and $9.99 you get to keep 70% of the price. This is far more than you would ever get for a printed work. So, a low price for an eBook offers the prospect of giving you a higher return than a higher priced printed book.

Above the price of $9.99, or indeed at a price lower than $2.99, your take drops to 35%. There is little reason to go into why this is so – it is just the case. So, for best returns, on balance, it seems good sense not to drift higher on price than $9.99. As an aside, non-fiction books can expect to get higher prices as they are not so price-sensitive.

As in many aspects of life things are never straight. In this matter of pricing, some writers claim that when they set their price low that they got few sales, but that when they raised their prices more books were sold. Anyone like to explain that?

American readers appear to be more sensitive to pricing. You should consider this if you intend to aim at the USA market.

At the end of your head-rattling in trying to come up with a suitable price it still seems best to settle somewhere between $2.99 and $9.99. Midway between these prices might be a place to look at. But something else you should be aware about in this matter of price – although you may set a price that seems reasonable, Amazon, Apple and others, may set the price higher or lower on their platforms. Welcome to the mysteries of business!

In the end it is your call on a decision on pricing and I wish you all success on your decision.