Alan's short stories

Hi Alan

I just finished reading two of your short stories and enjoyed them thoroughly as usual. At the end of the story, a thought just struck me that I should ask you how you could afford to write so much and, of course, so well. Your stories seem to have been written in such a smooth and relaxed manner.The light touch in your stories attracts me the most. Alan, could you please tell us how your stories ( and even your posts for that matter) are brimful of beautiful phrases and idioms? Are all of them imprisoned in the depths of your memory or do you keep a “thesaurus of phrases” nearby? I wonder if there is one available in the market! Alan, do you draft the complete piece that you are going to type in your mind and then type it? I mean, how do you compose all this? Do you make a rough draft and then finalize it? In your phrasal verbs and idiom stories, how did you replace so many words with those short and beautiful phrases? Is it just practice? If,as a student, I asked you to give me one piece of advice about writing, what would that be??


PS Any corrections in my post would highly be appreciated!

Just two little corrections (since you’ve asked):

I’ve just finished reading…

Any corrections in my post would be highly appreciated!

Well, that first error is a bit borderline. Saying “I just finished reading…” would be pretty darn typical in AmE. :wink:

I’m also looking forward to hearing some of Alan’s secrets. :smiley:

Hi Tom,

Thank you for your comments and I’m glad you enjoyed reading the stories. If you have been interested in language and in my case English for as long as you can remember (and I have had a long and soothing love affair with English since I took my first tottering steps into this world) by the time you get to my age you’ve got a trunk full of linguistic goodies that you can call upon at the drop of a hat - assuming of course that the memory bank doesn’t crash. As for preparations I don’t really do drafts. When it’s a case of weaving a story round a group say of phrasal verbs or whatever, then I naturally draw up a list of these verbs. And then I leave my EFL Muse to do the rest. She’s a lovely girl. Too much preparation I think can kill the flow. It’s rather like reading a prepared speech in public. I prefer to have in mind some ideas and then I spout and see how the audience reacts. Laughter always encourages me but if I see signs of fidgeting or worse still eyelids drooping, then I bring the speech to a hasty conclusion. And I sense fidgetiness and eyelid droopiness rearing their collective ugly heads (note the word order Tung Quoc), so I’ll stop now.


I don’t think this will ever be the case, Alan, rather the contrary – not the faintest flicker or quiver of the eyelids. And even in the highly improbable event of getting the fidgets (never of boredom, mind you, but, say, out of envy), we can always resort to the ‘bed and coffee’ method (eh, Tom?).