Author Archives: nickybennison

Ooh! Top-drawer novelist to visit Story Cafe!

I’m pleased to announce that none other than the fabulous Graham Joyce will be coming to visit the Story Cafe on Tuesday September 30th.  This event is part of Leicester’s Everybody’s Reading festival, and will run from 10.00am to 12.00pm at Beaumont Leys Library.

You can’t beat learning at first hand about the craft of writing and the habits of the successful writer. Who better to impart these jewels of wisdom than local writer Graham? The prolific author of more than twenty novels has won many prizes and knows more than a thing or two about how to tell a good story and what it takes to succeed as a writer. The Story Café will throw open its doors to the public for this session, an unmissable opportunity for all would-be writers.


A different perspective

This article is interesting.  Whether or not you agree, it will get you thinking, and that’s usually a good thing.


Zadie Smith on storytelling

Thanks to the twitter sphere I came across this today. Inspiring stuff, I thought.  I like what Zadie says about writing as a way of clarifying; I can relate to that.  I like the idea that everyone is a world, too, and envy her ‘ease and fluidity’.  Maybe we all need to root out some children’s books and get reading!


5 Short Stories That Will Make You a Better Writer

Here are some sources of inspiration for those of us finding our voices as writers and/or honing short stories…

Don't be "a writer."

5 Short Stories That Will Make You a Better Writer I selected the five short stories below for their diversity in style and subject matter, but also because each one is a well-crafted story in its own right.

If you own any modern short story collections, some of these works are probably in there. Or, other works by these same authors will be.

Which, by the way, if you are a young writer and you don’t own any story collections yet, I highly recommend picking up one from your local bookstore, or finding a used copy online. Even if you’re a novelist, short stories provide great quick studies into the how to craft an effective story.

1. “Incarnations of Burned Children” by David Foster Wallace

What it’s about: There’s an accident, and a child gets hurt.

Why it’s awesome: It’s short and punchy. No, really, it will feel like someone punched you in the stomach.

What you should pay attention…

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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in General


A field trip

Yesterday morning the story cafe relocated to the coffee shop at the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery.  We had a lovely time!  It was great to find inspiration amongst the artworks and artefacts, and to gather round the table to talk about the ideas that had been generated, and how we might develop them. A knitted child’s sock from ancient Egypt, an old wooden chest and a painting of a woman with violently smeared lipstick were among the things that caught our attention. Take a look at the  V & A  website for a wealth of great ideas for developing poems and stories from art.

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Posted by on April 2, 2014 in General


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The current homework for the group is to write a short story inspired by a taboo.  I stole this idea shamelessly from Alison Macleod who suggests it in an essay in ‘Short Circuit’ – a great book for anyone interested in writing short stories.

It’s a commonly held belief that all good stories have some sort of conflict at their centre, and taboos have conflict built in. There are lots of ways you could go with this… taboos can be to do with people, feelings, places, actions; from something as mild as smoking behind the bicycle sheds through reading someone else’s diary to incest… murder… who knows?  The challenge will be to make sure the reader understands the allure of the taboo in question, and think hard about what the character has to lose.  I look forward to hearing the results!

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Posted by on March 24, 2014 in General


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Three the Hard Way

Exciting live poetry event in Leicester!

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Posted by on March 11, 2014 in General


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The red hat

An old man beneath dripping trees at dusk,

Good overcoat, a stick, and a red hat

A red fedora

Bright as a petal

Fallen on the wet pavement


And Alan comes unbidden to my mind

The master of the pelargonium

His flowers glowing

Crimson through rippled glass of winter porch

His pale presence coming slow to the door

(A red fedora would not be his style)

Hobbled by painful hips and knees and back

His hand measuring the wall for support

His lambent eyes

His tender touch.


I think about the

Wisdom in those still nimble mottled hands

Taking cuttings every year, potting on

Nursing delicate, luminous blossoms

His gift to the future,

A legacy.


The red hat

makes me smile as I drive by

and Alan’s light and gentle love endure.

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Posted by on March 4, 2014 in Exercises, poetry


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