The average person uses no more than about 1,500 words. An extraordinary low number when laid beside the millions of words that are available to express oneself in the English language. 1,500 words  – come on!

But those who aspire to write MUST increase their choice of words far beyond that. Why? Because choosing the precise word for a particular situation is all important.

‘Incandescent rage’ carries a more weighty punch than ‘intense anger’. A preacher up on his clack-loft has a more interesting ring to it than a preacher up on his pulpit. An undertaker at his trade does not have the same grab of attention as the death hunter at his trade. 

There are strange words that, on first appearance, seem of little potential usage to a writer. One of these might be poonac. This is the material left after oil is crushed from coco-nut pulp. Great – but how could a writer use such a word in ‘normal’ writing?  Well, we might use it as follows – After his powerful argument we were left with nothing more but the damp poonac of our own ideas. I’m sure many of  you can come up with far better usage of that word to carry a meaning that is an alternative to many tired and well-worn expressions. The point I am trying to make here is that ALL words have the potential to express ideas in refreshing ways. And the writer must suck up many of these if he/she is to become easy in the job of a wordsmith.

So how does one increase one’s bag of words? One thing that works for me is that I keep a notebook and write down unfamiliar words I come across. When you find a word unfamiliar to you go to the dictionary and find the meaning. But something else too – write down a sentence with the word included.

Have an ambition to write down, each week, no more than say five words with their meaning. That does not sound too much – and it isn’t. But during that week learn those words – AND USE THEM IN YOUR DAY-TO-DAY CONVERSATIONS. Speaking them out like that will help you to lock them into your daily usage and, more importantly, make them available to you when you sit down to write.

A blacksmith has dozens of tools he can pick from to create what he intends. A writer MUST have thousands of words to hand if he/she is to pick the one that is most suitable to convey a particular meaning.  This holds through whether you write in Italian or Portuguese, American-English or Japanese.

I hope that this might help a little those thinking of taking up writing.

Best regards.  Patrick.





Writing can be very odd. You are having a cup of coffee or are half asleep in the sun – and an idea floats into your head: an idea that two years later is a finished novel. Where such ideas come from is a mystery. Mystery or not grab onto them with both hands.

One example that might make the point here.

I was driving on a winter’s night when both the heater and the radio mysteriously stopped working at the same time. With little to distract me my mind started to wander. What if the true Crown-of-Thorns was discovered? And what if a tiny piece of mummified skin was found on one of the thorns? These two thoughts stayed with me for many miles. Then a third thought – what if scientists attempted to clone from this piece of skin? On the basis of these three ideas the novel – The Extraordinary Temptation – came into existence.

Note, I had no ideas what characters might be involved or indeed where the location/locations for the story might be. I just had a fragment of an idea – and in time the rest would follow by writing and rewriting.

So, in one of your relaxed moods an idea can rise up and slap you on the face. If it does grab at it – AND WRITE IT DOWN BEFORE IT FRAGMENTS AND FALLS AWAY.

Hope that this helps some writers.

Regards. Patrick.

Writing Thrillers


There is a dilemma here that is particularly so in writing thrillers. Thriller writing needs to move quickly yet allow the development of both characters and location.

Most beginner writers make the mistake of running at the story too quickly  and exhausting all their ideas too quickly. Remember you are not writing a short story. You are in for the long haul of 300-400 pages. It is a good idea to open the story with an ‘incident’ that catches the reader and establishes the flavour of the book.

In The Extra Temptation the opening scene is the discovery of a marble cube in a medieval monastic settlement. That sets the mood for the story. What could this cube be? What might it contain? So from the first chapter the reader (I hope) is caught up in the story.

In the medical thriller – FEAR – a different approach was needed. On a river in northern China a military boat rounds a bend and discovers a shabby boat adrift with seven dead bodies on board. Not only are they dead but every drop of water is missing from the bodies. That second detail sets up the mystery – what killed these people? Whatever this thing is it surfaces in Boston, USA, and overruns an entire hospital, then poAmazonAmazonurs into the Charles River that runs through the city.

In this second example you will note you need not confine your thinking to one country in particular. You may be a writer in Brazil or in America or Japan – fine, but that does not confine you to writing only about your own country. Indeed in thriller writing several countries are commonly involved. This adds to the exotic nature of your writing. It also contributes to ‘pace’.

I hope that this might help some people in their writing.





The last blog tried to offer suggestions on how to come up with ideas  that could be expanded  into a 300-400 page novel. Now we might look at – characters.

A novel might be seen as a fine boat cutting through water towards a distant destination. But it needs a crew to guide it. The crew members are the characters. You need to come up with characters that come ‘alive’ for the reader. Let readers love them, hate them, despise them: that is fine but never let your characters be dull.

There is a bit of debate about POV (Point of View). The argument runs that the story should be told from the position of one character, normally the main character. I, in general, subscribe to this but not to the point that we should stick rigidly to this as though it an unbreakable rule. Occasionally the POV can be transmitted through others. But what should not happen, and this is a common fault among beginner writers – The POV should not flit from character to character in a needless way. To do this would throw your novel into confusion and diminish the forward movement of the boat.

The main character will take responsibility to drive the story forward. You need to get a clear focus on who this person is. Always give them a back history so we know where they are coming from. This need not be in the first chapter. It might be chapter three or four when you offer an understanding of the character and how his/her circumstance was before the story opens. I did this by chapter two with my main character, Pearl Fujiaka, in the novel FEAR.

You must like, or try to like, your main character. All right, so he’s a murderer, but see a reason why he came like that. Indeed by the end of the novel the murder might well have been justified and the character is revealed as a hero. Sometimes minor character just will not work. They remain wooden. In that case write them out of the story.  I heard of a writer that had written 600 pages before he realized that one of his characters was simply not helping to drive the story onward. Rather than go back through the 600 pages and remove him this writer just sent him into a room and closed the door, and he was never mentioned again. Don’t do this This cheats you potential readers. They have a right to expect more from you.

For beginner writers developing characters can be difficult. Often they end up as no more that cardboard cutouts and a long way from what you had hoped for them. My advice here is learn how it’s done from good writers. You might consider reading Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck. Within the first few pages we are rooting for the two main characters. How does he do that? I suggest that new writers take the first few pages of this story and write these pages out with a pen. By doing this you will note stuff that you will not see by a casual read. Bits of conversation and bits of action between the two men will become more clear to you. Yes, it sounds a pain having to do this but I did it years ago and I got a lot from it.

I hope that these few thoughts, sincerely offered, might help a few writers





THE EXTRAORDINARY TEMPTATION by PATRICK McCUSKER a religious thriller. In part the writing is eerie but in part it gives hope too to millions of Christians. It is now #4 in Kindle store.

What if scientists discover the true Crown-of-Thorns in a medieval monastic settlement? And what if they find a tiny piece of mummified skin on one of the thorns? After months of soul-searching it is decided to attempt to clone from this piece of skin. Would that not be an eerie story?

But there is a cascade of hope too for millions of Christians who crave certainty.



Writers and writing:  How does a writer come up with an idea big enough to carry through to 300 pages of a novel.?

It is a common question that is often discussed among writers. People talk of the creative act. But I don’t think that that is it. It is the original idea, fragmented though it may be, that is the important catalyst to start the journey. The writer may have little idea where the idea may bring him or her – but that’s not important. That will come in time and that is where the creative bit comes in.

And two years later the work is finished and you ask yourself – how did I do that – and it closes again and remains a mystery.

This youtube interview may help in some of this. At least I hope it does. Patrick.

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.