Last night saw the first episode of the BBC’s Secret Agent Selection: WW2 being screened on BBC2. I watched with a degree of trepidation as today’s new recruits were put through their paces, wondering whether this type of handling would work, as apposed to a documentary approach (it could so easily end up as a bit of a game show). Some of the SOE training methods have been known about for many years, basically since the end of WW2 when the RAF film unit released their film ‘Now it can be told’ (copies available from the Imperial War Museum). Other aspects of the training syllabus have proven hard to pin down until now. Episode one was a pretty good approximation, so hopefully the series will continue in a similar fashion. And I hope we get to hear more about some of the real agents – they really were extraordinary people living in extraordinary times.
Having had some requests ahead of the new school year for display materials, two posters promoting my Special Operations series have been added to this site under the ‘Events’ page – they are pdf documents and can be opened/downloaded by double clicking on the titles (and then saved if wished):
One is of me reading ‘Dogfight’ in its brilliant original cover and the other shows me with students at an event where the drama department was raided for disguises so that we could all be ‘secret agents’ for the day (my thanks to PGS for the photo).
Over the years I’ve read quite a range of manuscripts (from both published and unpublished writers) across genres from comedy farce to crime, from historical to literary, and so on… most aimed at the adult market – hopefully my in-depth reports are helpful to the authors in taking their work to the next stage. There are certainly terrific ideas out there, and common problems too, although every single manuscript has its own strengths and weaknesses – and that’s what makes it so interesting. My approach to each is generally the same, however, beginning with a quick read through, jotting down notes, then a slower, methodical read through adding comments to the manuscript, and researching any aspect I feel is necessary (esp. e.g. historical fiction). Then I draft my report, anything up to 16 pages, covering the key aspects (strengths and weaknesses) with examples and suggestions for possible edits or revisions. If the author has raised a specific question e.g. why initial agent/publisher interest didn’t lead to success, I do my best to point to reasons why this may have been. I also then do a ‘check through read’ to review all my comments – so, usually, I read a manuscript at least three times! If you’re looking an independent expert view on your writing – then get in touch. You can reach me via Cornerstones Literacy Consultancy (see my Home Page for details)