This week I am mainly eradicating tics . . .

No, not the annoying little bugs that dig deep into warm, moist areas and then infect you with a deadly disease, the other sort.

The sort that have you continually nodding or shaking your head, or raising an eyebrow (amusedly), or chewing your lower lip (distractedly), or tapping your fingers on whatever surface comes to hand, or twirling your silky hair, or slurping your coffee (even at two o’clock in the morning when a nice cup of hot milk would be a much more sensible choice of beverage, as our American cousins would say).

We all do it: we look at a plain, simply conversation and think, ‘That needs something more.’ And then you think, ‘What would I do?’ And the next thing you know, you have a piece of script that looks something like this:

CorrectionsNow, technically, there’s nothing much wrong with this (other than the eyebrow-raising: you try lifting one eyebrow, amusedly or otherwise!*): but you’ve wasted a great chunk of text with nothing but fiddling about; it doesn’t move the story on one little bit.And right now I’m editing four scripts (all at different stages of the process), and all with varying numbers of types of tics, which is why the subject has been on my mind. So what I’ve been trying to do is to show my Beloved Authors they don’t need to be afraid of the text equivalent of silence. Your characters don’t need to be continually fidgeting; let them expand to fill the space. I promise you, your prose will be the better for it – and so will their health, once they cut their caffeine levels substantially!

I did take time out last week to welcome Sebastien de Castell on a surprise – and very brief – visit to the UK; he interrupted his much-anticipated yoga retreat in Greece to spend a day  talking swordsmanship with my art director Patrick, Nicola, Andy and me, and to swing by Goldsboro, Forbidden Planet and Waterstones to sign copies of Traitor’s Blade while he was in town . . . so if you missed the pre-publication release, this is your last chance to make sure you’ve got the hardback sitting on your shelves.
Right, got to go: the team is starting to get excited about LonCon . . . we’re currently putting together our party list, and checking it twice . . .


Jo sig





*@LitAgentDrury can. Apparently Nicola can too (who knew? In three years I’ve never seen her do it!) . . . but most people can’t.


  1. I can raise one eyebrow. In fact I can raise both independently. In fact, I can raise them independently one after the other in a vaguely rhythmic fashion.

  2. Sebastien de Castell

    Every time you remove one of my characters’ shrugs, nods, or head shakes, an angel sheds a tear (while nodding sadly.)

Leave a Reply