Faber Session 19 – Guest Tutor Ewan Morrison

I like Mondays πŸ™‚ Have I said that before? Lol

Today, The Hubster came up to London with me and we ended up having lunch in the gorgeous restaurant in The Wallace Collection The beautiful Hertford House is a museum open to the public with a large art collection. Yes, my lunch involved cake…..a Pistachio Fondant served with Mango Sorbet. DELICIOUS! Although, I must admit, not very pretty πŸ˜‰

A mooch round the museum, admiring the Rembrandt’s, Canaletto’s and Gainsborough’s and then it was off to the book shop where I couldn’t resist these two.

Appropriate, as Rachel Joyce is a Faber graduate.

Tonight’s class was with Ewan Morrison, which I was really looking forward to having read about him and his work. At the moment I’m reading Close Your Eyes which looks promising. He’s the only guest we’ve had so far who I’ve asked to sign a book for me πŸ™‚

Mr Morrison is known for his experimentation with structure. He likes to push boundaries and explore different ways of reinventing the novel.

Some of my notes:

Break free from the narrative novel. Stop thinking about the novel, think about the writing. If a subject interests you, take it to the limit.

He will put in a factual list as opposed to trying to weave in backstory. Do we even need backstory?

He’s a huge fan of writing in 2nd person POV. He feels it gives his writing a sense of panic.

He enjoys a challenge and that is why his novels don’t have a standard structure.

Don’t worry about the publishing industry…write the book that you want to write.

Study the hell out of a book you love. Write a sentence for every chapter. He taught himself how to write by studying Revolutionary Road.

He’s cynical of the idea that a protagonist shapes their own life, because in the real world outside forces that are out of our control are actually what shapes people.

Every book he writes he comes up with a new way of working. The book he’s writing now is being written in cheap exercise books in longhand.

He recommends long hand for all first drafts so that when you type it up, that becomes your 2nd draft and gives you the opportunity to change things.

At this point I’d just like to say I LOVE THIS GUY!

Mr Morrison believes that the standard narrative novel’s time is nearly up. And that in today’s society, where we are bombarded with information from all angles, people are turning more to eBooks because they’re easy to dip in and out of and often, readers only read the first 10 pages of a book anyway. He asked…..How many people who actually bought or downloaded 50 Shades actually read it all the way to the end? What do you think? Is the traditional 300 page chronological structured narrative novel old fashioned?

31 thoughts on “Faber Session 19 – Guest Tutor Ewan Morrison

  1. The write it long hand, retype electronically is a decent idea. I don’t do longhand for stories much anymore. I’d probably print it out and retype it. That may work just as well.


  2. Pistachio Fondant served with Mango Sorbet – YUM! I found it hard to concentrate after reading this, but then saw how clever Mr Morrison really is. I love this guy too, now and I’m heading wherever that link to his name takes me πŸ˜‰


  3. I think I like this guys tips the best also. I always think learning structure and so on are good, especially when learning to write, but it isn’t so much rules are there to be broken, but more, write what you want, and enjoy (learn from) the challenge.


    • He was great Elliot, I could have sat and listened to his ideas for hours!

      Totally! He’s a big believer in playing with structure and I have to say, I find myself drawn to unusual books. Like Jeff Rymans 253 (which is similar to The Mall by Ewan Morrison). I’ve got nothing against the traditional way, but, I do like the more unusual, it adds interest IMO πŸ™‚



  4. There will always be room for the traditional, well-structured narrative 300 page novel, but I also like to see more experimentation. I think there is far less of that nowadays than there was in the 1920s and 1930s, for instance.


    • I’d probably agree with you Marina. There will ALWAYS be people who prefer to read their “traditional” novels πŸ™‚

      Wow, yes, that’s very true….have we got a bit stuck in our ways do you think? With publishers too scared to take on work that is stepping away from the norm?



  5. I don’t think the long novel is out dated personally, but I’m a voracious reader. Sometimes I actually get disappointed when I get into a story, then it seems it’s gone too quickly. Also, you were right, the dessert didn’t look very good. I was glad to find out it was pistachio and tasted good. When I first saw the picture, it looked like yucky pea soup.


    • That’s fair enough honey πŸ˜‰ I think there will ALWAYS be readers who the ‘normal’ novel…it’s a bit like this whole idea that no one will read paper books isn’t it πŸ˜‰

      Ha ha ha, yeah, not the prettiest cake, but very delicious πŸ™‚



  6. Found this guy’s perspective fresh and interesting – the long hand idea appeals and I agree woth one of your other commentators that there does seem to be less experimentation now than in decades gone by. Cake looks fab too and I see Mount Toobie is just getting bigger!! ;0)
    See you soon at Bluewater x


    • Hi Anita πŸ™‚

      Yes, he was, remind me to show you my notes from the lesson!

      It was a very good point that Marina made, but, perhaps there is just as much experimentation, just that it’s labelled “modernism” and not many people read it?

      Ha ha ha, oh yes, Mount Toobie is getting out if control, it really is πŸ˜‰



    • Lol, I tend to agree Patsy, but then he read a section from one of his books where he used it (he mixes his POV’s, tenses etc in the same book) and as it was about a couple, the women going into labour, it worked really well πŸ™‚



    • Thanks Jo πŸ™‚

      Well, we’ve been told the Faber course is the equivalent to a condensed MA πŸ˜‰

      2nd person is when you say “you” rather than “he/she” (for 3rd) or “I” (for 1st)…..trying to be simplistic there lol πŸ˜‰

      I think it would be hard going to write a full novel in it, but I think it can work well for short stories or part of a novel, which is how Morrison has used it.


  7. This is such good advice. I’ve just started writing longhand — for the most part. And yeah, it is like a second draft because I find myself weeding out things that didn’t belong when I wrote it down. Not to mention, I’ve been using my mini iPad — the Goodnotes app — and it allows me to write and then I can type that to my laptop. Love it!! Thanks for the insightful post…as usual.


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