It's Sean!

UK freelance journalist, author
and writer Sean McManus

Printed from www.sean.co.uk. © Sean McManus.
You are here: Home > Blog Home > Sean McManus's Writing blog: November 2008

Sean's Tech and Writing Blog

A case study in interview technique

25 November 2008


I often write case studies. This involves interviewing people to get them to tell me how great a particular product or service is, and then writing that up on behalf of the supplier so it can be used for marketing purposes.

I have two killer questions I always end the call with. First, what would you say to others thinking about using [the product]? That usually results in a direct endorsement which can otherwise be hard to stitch together from the interview. Secondly, I ask what the best thing is about the product or supplier. Even in a long interview where the interviewee is now repeating the same answer to distinctly different questions, that tends to throw up something new and interesting.

Yesterday I was researching a story about a giant IT transformation project, of the kind that only true industry leaders can attempt. I asked the project manager "what would you say is the best thing about [supplier]?" There was a long pause, so I knew he was going to come up with something well considered, something that would bring a new light to the dry technology story we had so far.

"The best thing about them?" he said. "Their name. I just like the way it sounds when you say it."

Labels:


Bookmark and Share
Permanent link for this post.

0 comments

Truth is stranger than fiction

14 November 2008


I've hung around in a few writing forums over the last two years, and one of the things that newcomers often say is that they really want to write a book but they can't think of anything to write about. That seems the wrong way around to me. The best writing is driven by a story the author really wants to tell, rather than being a bunch of words looking for an idea.

Still, everyone needs inspiration. My top tip is to read the 'And finally...' stories in newspapers. The stuff that actually happens in real life is far stranger than what you could possibly dream up, and just gathering ideas from these short reports is bound to make something spark. One of my favourite cuttings from the last two years was about a Chinese man who hired a woman to pretend to be his girlfriend so that his wife could beat her up, believing it really was the girlfriend. The cutting was only about 40 words, but there's three different characters hinted at there - such great potential for a piece of short fiction.

Here's another gem from today's news. According to the BBC, a German prisoner who was working in a stationery workshop mailed himself out of the prison. He climbed into a cardboard box, slapped a stamp on the top and then got freighted out. Once he was safely outside the jail, he cut his way out of the box and the lorry and ran away. If somebody had written that in a book, it would have seemed perhaps a little far-fetched. It goes to show that truth really can be stranger than fiction.

Labels: ,


Bookmark and Share
Permanent link for this post.

0 comments

Pumpkins in Cambridge


Here's a load of pumpkins I photographed in Cambridge the other week (er, around Halloween time, funnily enough). I'm a bit behind on posting photos, but I've got a selection I'm keen to share, so I'll try posting them over the next few weeks. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I can say with some confidence I won't have time to write a thousand words any time soon.

a pile of carved pumpkins with a bicycle

Labels:


Bookmark and Share
Permanent link for this post.

0 comments

Cheesy marketing tip

11 November 2008


If you want to promote cheese as fresh, and present it with juicy tomatoes and grapes, it might prove counterproductive to adopt a maggot as your mascot. Putting a mortar board on him does not make this a clever move.

advert for cheese portions cut from supermarket flyer

Labels:


Bookmark and Share
Permanent link for this post.

0 comments

University of Death: news in brief

02 November 2008


I've just published the second edition of University of Death. I took the opportunity to revise a few minor errors and I made a couple of short cuts (about 20 words) to fix descriptions that readers said were confusing. Thank you to those who provided feedback. This version includes magazine reviews on the back cover and squeezes an extra deleted scene into the Extras at the back. If anyone with a copy of the first edition would like to read that extra scene, let me know. It includes spoilers so I'd rather not publish it online.

Three copies of the first edition were offered as a competition prize in a recent issue of Record Collector magazine. The first edition is now officially out of print.

The book has been reviewed in Music Tech magazine this month (read the review here). There was also a story about the online signing tool in this month's Writers' News magazine. There are a few more reviews that are due, but the main PR campaign for the book is drawing to a close now.

If you'd like to order a copy of 'University of Death' for a friend for Christmas (thank you!), Lulu has published its ordering deadlines. Because books are printed as they are ordered, you are advised to allow as much time as possible. The standard shipping deadline in the UK is 28 November, although Lulu recommends Express shipping (which has a delivery guarantee) for which the deadline is 12 December 2008.

For a limited period, the price has been cut to £8.99.

Labels:


Bookmark and Share
Permanent link for this post.

1 comments

Dip into the blog archive

June 2005 | July 2005 | August 2005 | September 2005 | October 2005 | November 2005 | December 2005 | January 2006 | February 2006 | March 2006 | April 2006 | May 2006 | June 2006 | July 2006 | August 2006 | September 2006 | October 2006 | November 2006 | December 2006 | January 2007 | February 2007 | March 2007 | April 2007 | May 2007 | June 2007 | July 2007 | August 2007 | September 2007 | October 2007 | November 2007 | December 2007 | January 2008 | February 2008 | March 2008 | April 2008 | May 2008 | June 2008 | July 2008 | August 2008 | September 2008 | October 2008 | November 2008 | December 2008 | January 2009 | February 2009 | March 2009 | April 2009 | May 2009 | June 2009 | July 2009 | August 2009 | September 2009 | October 2009 | November 2009 | December 2009 | January 2010 | February 2010 | March 2010 | April 2010 | May 2010 | June 2010 | August 2010 | September 2010 | October 2010 | November 2010 | December 2010 | March 2011 | April 2011 | May 2011 | June 2011 | July 2011 | August 2011 | September 2011 | October 2011 | November 2011 | December 2011 | January 2012 | February 2012 | March 2012 | June 2012 | July 2012 | August 2012 | September 2012 | October 2012 | December 2012 | January 2013 | February 2013 | March 2013 | April 2013 | June 2013 | July 2013 | August 2013 | September 2013 | October 2013 | November 2013 | December 2013 | January 2014 | February 2014 | March 2014 | April 2014 | May 2014 | June 2014 | July 2014 | August 2014 | September 2014 | October 2014 | November 2014 | December 2014 | January 2015 | February 2015 | March 2015 | April 2015 | May 2015 | June 2015 | September 2015 | October 2015 | December 2015 | January 2016 | February 2016 | March 2016 | May 2016 | July 2016 | August 2016 | September 2016 | October 2016 | November 2016 | December 2016 | January 2017 | April 2017 | July 2017 | August 2017 | October 2017 | November 2017 | Top of this page | RSS

Books by Sean McManus

Scratch Programming in 

Easy Steps

Scratch Programming in Easy Steps

Raspberry Pi For Dummies

Raspberry Pi For Dummies

Learn to program with the Scratch programming language, widely used in schools and colleges.

Set up your Pi, master Linux, learn Scratch and Python, and create your own electronics projects.

Coder Academy

Coder Academy

Cool Scratch Projects in Easy Steps

Cool Scratch Projects in Easy Steps

Learn to make games and other programs in Scratch 2.0, and make a web page in HTML, with this highly interactive book for 7-10 year olds.

Discover how to make 3D games, create mazes, build a drum machine, make a game with cartoon animals and more!

More books

©Sean McManus. www.sean.co.uk.