Well, this of course will depend on the kind of writing the author wants to do. But let us suppose that the author has not yet decided:
- For structure approaching perfection, you could do no better than an early Jeffrey Archer. For example, ‘Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less’. The sheer talent of story-telling is there too, as well as pace and full denouement satisfaction.
2. Now let’s turn to artistry. Margaret Attwood would be my choice here. She’s simply the best. As a sentence maker, she can’t be beaten IMHO.
3. Dialogue? You could do worse than turning the clock back a few decades and leafing your way through an E M Forster. ‘A Room with a View’ is a dialogue delight. And Forster is very funny. They say, don’t they, that humour can be a problem. I can tell you that this great author never felt that.
4. Now, what about a writer who ticks all the boxes, with all the bells and whistles and any other metaphor I can chuck in there. David Mitchell. The man can go to any location, with any characters, in any era, and write with genius.
5. And finally, I’d like to include a Russian. Writing is a serious business and the Russians do serious extremely well. As do the French of course. I could choose Kafka or Dostoevsky. But instead I plump for Solzhenitsyn and his reality. His ‘Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich’ had such a profound effect on me and I’m sure, in consequence, my writing. So I conclude with that.
Jenny Morton Potts was born in a smart, dull suburb of Glasgow where the only regular excitement was burglary. Attended a smart, dull school where the only regular excitement was the strap. Worked in smart, dull sales and marketing jobs until realising she was living someone else’s life.
Escaped to Gascony to make gîtes. Knee deep in cement and pregnant, Jenny was happy. Then autism and a distracted spine surgeon who wanted to talk about The Da Vinci Code, wiped out the order. Returned to wonderful England – and unlikely ever to leave again – Jenny, with assistance from loyal hound, walked and swam her way back to manageable health.
Jenny would like to see the Northern Lights but worries that’s the best bit and should be saved till last. Very happily, and gratefully, partnered for 28 years, she ought to mention, and living with inspirational child in Thaxted, Essex.
You can grab a copy of her book, Hiding here: