This page lists all the articles on the blog. You can view a per-category index too, and there are various RSS feeds.

You might also want to read the collection of free mini-stories, or the secret tech blog.

Cover Design

How to meet the reader's expectations and give your book its best chance.

Aug 21st, 2023

Front and Back Matter

What to include before and after the story itself.

Aug 8th, 2023

Themes and Subtext

The arty parts of writing don't need to be engineered up-front.

Jul 31st, 2023


How to edit your manuscript, and why you'll need other pairs of eyes to help you.

Jul 24th, 2023

The First Draft

The best way to approach your first draft, and guarantee you'll finish it.

Jul 17th, 2023


How to outline your story before starting, to make the writing process easier.

Jun 19th, 2023


Stories should tell lies that are truer than real life allows.

Jun 5th, 2023


Details in fiction aren't about adding information, but rather creating the appearance of knowledge and truth.

May 29th, 2023


You should only start thinking about chapters after you've written the first draft of your book.

May 22nd, 2023

Prologues and Epilogues

There's no need to avoid prologues and epilogues, as long as you don't let them get in the way of the story.

May 15th, 2023

Plot and Structure

Stories have a common and intuitive structure, and it's a useful tool for writing a novel.

May 8th, 2023


Always use the right tools for each stage of the creative process.

May 1st, 2023

Feeds for this site

There are several new RSS feeds available for this site.

Apr 25th, 2023


The deep magic of writing consistently is to make the task very boring.

Apr 23rd, 2023

Plotting vs Pantsing

A full plan, or no plan at all, can each be appropriate for different authors or works.

Apr 19th, 2023

Finding the Idea

Noticing story ideas is a skill you can learn, as is finding the emotional centre of a tale.

Apr 16th, 2023


Inspiration is something that comes after you start work, not a prerequisite for it.

Apr 12th, 2023


Getting into a working mindset, and striving to be a writer every day.

Apr 11th, 2023

Trouble With Writing Podcast

I've started a podcast, called Matt Gemmell's Trouble With Writing.

Apr 11th, 2023

An Introduction and a Pep Talk

What the Trouble With Writing is about, and why you can absolutely write a novel.

Apr 10th, 2023


Faux-AI can do many things, but it cannot confer credit for creation.

Apr 3rd, 2023

How To Like Things

Sometimes you might want to like things you don't like. With some thought and effort, it can be done.

Mar 9th, 2023

Identifying as an Artist

The most liberating thing an artist can do is lay claim to that title.

Mar 2nd, 2023

Prose Echoes

Be vigilant for unintended echoes in your writing.

Feb 23rd, 2023

Series Bibles

If you're writing a series, make an investment in your productivity and sanity by creating a canonical reference right from the beginning.

Feb 16th, 2023


Some people just need to create things.

Feb 9th, 2023

Write Less

Give yourself permission to write less, and keep ownership of your words.

Feb 2nd, 2023

New Gods

Praise and emulate behaviours, but worship no-one.

Jan 26th, 2023

Learning How To Learn

The oldest pandemic is that of flawed thought, and an inability to rectify the problem.

Jan 12th, 2023

The Comma Dot Key

Wherein I propose combining two common punctuation symbols into a single key.

Jan 5th, 2023

The Problem With AI

All technologies bring opportunity and threat, but the scales are rarely balanced.

Dec 29th, 2022

Atomic Thoughts

The key to understanding is to make thoughts irreducible, then connect them into larger structures to produce insight.

Dec 22nd, 2022

Four Bars

Do just ten minutes of focused work, at a chosen time, and let the larger project handle itself.

Dec 15th, 2022


Modest but regular effort yields rewards far beyond the time invested.

Dec 8th, 2022

One Hundred Tales is out now!

The third compendium volume of 100 Once Upon A Time mini-stories is out now as an ebook.

Dec 5th, 2022

An evolved 34-key layout for iPadOS

The latest iteration of my iPadOS-focused layout for a 34-key ergonomic split keyboard.

Nov 27th, 2022

Middleshade Road for Hallowe'en

A Hallowe'en-themed sale which frankly missed Hallowe'en by several weeks.

Nov 23rd, 2022

Dot Scot

On cultural identity, and the sharing of web links.

Nov 8th, 2022


Editing a draft of a novel is easier than you think, and shouldn't be something to fear.

Jul 14th, 2022

There's no perfect time

Use the time that you have, just to do a little bit of the thing you want to do. Don't wait for later.

Jun 30th, 2022

Write a crappy first draft

Your only job is to produce words. Any words.

Jun 23rd, 2022

Accent shame

I was embarrassed by my own accent when I was growing up, which is only one of the smaller casualties of unequal cultural representation.

Jun 16th, 2022

Prologues and Epilogues

Learn to use them properly, and you'll find that prologues and epilogues are a valuable part of your storytelling toolkit.

Jun 9th, 2022

Supernatural Objects

Conceiving of something beyond our understanding can be creatively instructive.

Jun 2nd, 2022


Authenticity in fiction comes more from economy of mundane details than from exhaustive research or accuracy.

May 26th, 2022

30 Keys

My continuing adventures in designing keyboard layouts, this time for a 30-key split keyboard.

May 23rd, 2022

Art as Study

You learn to make art by making art.

May 19th, 2022

Naming Characters

A few considerations to keep in mind when naming your characters.

May 12th, 2022

Faces and Places

A quick and easy tip for getting the details right when writing long-form fiction.

May 5th, 2022


To instil doubt in a person's perception of their own mental faculties is an abusive act.

May 4th, 2022

Getting Ideas for Stories

We tend to treat creative inspiration as a nebulous, spiritual thing, but it's just a skill that can be acquired and developed like any other.

Apr 28th, 2022

Non-Zero Every Day

Use Focus modes and Shortcut Automations on iOS to get started with your work.

Apr 21st, 2022

Use the Right Tools

You should use as many tools as necessary when generating and refining your ideas, because different modes of thinking require a different type of organisation.

Apr 14th, 2022

Content Creation

As a creator, you should call yourself what you are. Content is a trivialising and demeaning term for your work.

Apr 7th, 2022

Once More Upon A Time is out now!

The second compendium volume of 60 Once Upon A Time mini-stories is out now in ebook and paperback.

Apr 3rd, 2022

Mentioning the War

It's your own choice whether to deal with real-world events in your writing, or build a different world instead.

Mar 31st, 2022

Writing Dedications

Seeing your words in print is wonderful, but for me the best part of writing novels is the dedication.

Mar 24th, 2022

Levelling up as a writer

On the phenomenon of feeling that your writing improves only between books, rather than during them.

Mar 17th, 2022

Writing Techno-thrillers

Some tips and techniques for writing techno-thrillers and getting the details right.

Mar 10th, 2022

New ebook version of Once Upon A Time compendium

There's a new ebook version of the previously paperback-only first compendium of 60 Once Upon A Time mini-stories.

Mar 8th, 2022

Scenes Now, Chapters Later

A simple technique to create page-turners by deferring the decision about where the chapter breaks go.

Mar 3rd, 2022

Once Upon A Time Volume 6 is out

The sixth ebook volume of Once Upon A Time mini-stories is now available.

Mar 1st, 2022

Any Similarity

On the fluctuating line between creativity and catharsis in fiction.

Feb 24th, 2022

On Proofreading

I was interviewed for Reproof about how I proofread and edit my writing.

Feb 22nd, 2022

Welcome to the new

Introducing a fresh new design for this site, with a focus on books.

Feb 20th, 2022


MIDDLESHADE ROAD, the new horror / supernatural mystery novel by Matt Gemmell, is out now in paperback, on Kindle, and on Apple Books!

Feb 16th, 2022

A split 34-key layout for iPadOS

Designing a split, ergonomic, ortholinear keyboard layout in 34 keys (5x3 plus 2 thumb keys per hand) optimised for iPadOS.

Jan 16th, 2022

The Corne Keyboard

Creating a layout for a 42-key ortholinear ergonomic split keyboard.

Jan 3rd, 2022

Compressing Your Keyboard

Moving to a smaller keyboard without losing functionality.

Aug 23rd, 2021

40% Keyboard Layout for Writing

Some useful keyboard layout customisations for writers using a 40% keyboard, particularly with the QMK firmware.

Aug 6th, 2021

The Planck Keyboard

Using a 40% ortholinear mechanical keyboard, and how I've customised my layout.

Aug 2nd, 2021

Not Yet

On the birth of my son.

Jan 21st, 2021

Free weekly short stories via email

My new free weekly short story newsletter.

Jan 7th, 2021

Once Upon A Time autographed copies

Just in time for Christmas, I'm offering autographed copies of my new print anthology of flash fiction, Once Upon A Time.

Nov 17th, 2020

Publishing paperback novels with an iPad

Creating and publishing paperback (and ebook) novels using only an iPad from start to finish.

Oct 11th, 2020

Beautiful paperback novels with Ulysses

My iPad-only workflow for creating paperback novels.

Sep 24th, 2020

Once Upon A Time Volume 3

Once Upon A Time — An anthology of flash fiction in genres like science fiction, horror, and more.

Sep 22nd, 2020

Tools versus work

On reminding myself that the tools are less important than what you do with them.

Jul 16th, 2020

Custom Prompts for Drafts

Two open source custom prompts/dialogs for Drafts on iPadOS, iOS, and macOS.

Jun 17th, 2020

Using Drafts as a local Wiki

Keeping an offline knowledge repository in Drafts for iPad, iPhone, and Mac.

Jun 9th, 2020

Keyboard-Driven Cross-Linking in Drafts

An action I wrote to make the Drafts app's cross-linking feature usable entirely from the keyboard.

May 27th, 2020

Pointer Control

On the ability to use a traditional pointing device with the iPad.

May 11th, 2020

In Theory

On having children.

May 5th, 2020

Once Upon A Time Volume 2

Once Upon A Time — An anthology of flash fiction in genres like science fiction, horror, and more.

Apr 1st, 2020

Once Upon A Time Volume 1

Once Upon A Time — An anthology of flash fiction in genres like science fiction, horror, and more.

Mar 26th, 2020

An incredible gift

The story of one of the most thoughtful and moving gifts I've ever received.

Sep 8th, 2019

Cover reveal: KESTREL Book Three

The title, cover artwork, and some tantalising details about the third book in the KESTREL technothrillers series.

Sep 7th, 2019

My new office

Creating a home office for myself in our new house.

Sep 6th, 2019


I’ve been alive for forty years.

Jun 4th, 2019

The Second Book

What I learned while writing my second novel.

Feb 4th, 2019

TOLL reviews are in

TOLL has been well-received, and what I've learned from the reviews so far.

Jan 18th, 2019

Mechanical Keyboards

On the joy and percussiveness of typing on a noisy mechanical keyboard.

Dec 6th, 2018

TOLL is out now!

TOLL, the second novel in the KESTREL technothriller series, is now available!

Dec 5th, 2018

Beautiful ebook novels with Ulysses

My iPad-only workflow for creating ebook novels.

Nov 30th, 2018

Using the iPad for: autographed ebooks

My iPad-only workflow for making autographed ebooks, customised for each reader.

Nov 23rd, 2018

Autographed ebooks

With the help of iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, I can now offer autographed ebooks.

Nov 21st, 2018

The Big iPad

I upgraded to the 2018 model 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Nov 13th, 2018

Points of View in Ulysses

Using coloured keywords to track points of view in a novel in Ulysses.

May 28th, 2018


On climate-change novels, and KESTREL book two.

Apr 22nd, 2018

A Big Phone

The iPad is a larger version of everyone's main computer.

Apr 17th, 2018

Breath of the Wild

My thoughts on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Dec 21st, 2017

Locations: The Cuypers Library

Behind-the-scenes notes on a location from CHANGER: The Cuypers Library within the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

Aug 21st, 2017

Project Structure for a Novel

The project structure I use to organise a novel, and its related materials.

Aug 16th, 2017

Cover reveal: TOLL — KESTREL Book Two

The cover for TOLL — KESTREL Book Two.

Jul 24th, 2017


Why I drink decaf coffee.

Jul 6th, 2017

Laptop Replacement

On the preoccupation with laptop-tablet equivalence.

Jun 27th, 2017

One Year On

It's been a year since CHANGER was released. Here's a new edition, and a teaser…

Jun 22nd, 2017

Using the iPad for: Taking notes and planning

My iPad-only workflow for taking notes, planning, and replacing a paper notebook.

Feb 23rd, 2017

Designing for iPad Power Users

Thoughts for iOS app developers who want to cater to iPad power users.

Jan 27th, 2017

Thoughts on Ulysses and Scrivener

My reflections on the two premier writing studios on the Apple platforms.

Dec 8th, 2016

Using the iPad for: Writing Novels

My iPad-only workflow for writing long-form fiction.

Nov 12th, 2016

Using the iPad for: Web Development

My iPad-only workflow for web development.

Nov 9th, 2016

Lifting the Mouse

Reflections on the role of the iPad, and why it holds such an attraction for a jaded user of computers.

Nov 8th, 2016

Using the iPad for: Blogging with Jekyll

My iPad-only workflow for blogging with the Jekyll static site generator.

Nov 7th, 2016

Rediscovering the iPad

After several years without a tablet, I'm going iPad-only.

Nov 1st, 2016

CHANGER bonus chapter: Saying Goodbye

A bonus chapter for my novel, CHANGER. Contains spoilers!

Oct 13th, 2016


On people-watching, and seeing someone else instead.

Sep 5th, 2016


A recollection from childhood.

Aug 26th, 2016


On the cover of my first novel, twenty-five years ago.

Jul 13th, 2016

CHANGER paperbacks are now available!

My novel CHANGER is now available as a paperback.

Jul 11th, 2016

Reviews are in for CHANGER

My new action-adventure novel, CHANGER, is getting some great reviews.

Jun 30th, 2016

Stranger than fiction

That feeling when you release a pro-Europe action novel two days before the UK votes to leave the EU.

Jun 28th, 2016

CHANGER is out now!

My novel CHANGER is now available.

Jun 21st, 2016

Announcing CHANGER

My novel CHANGER will be available this month.

Jun 5th, 2016

Shelf 7

On the place I'm always drawn to in bookshops.

Apr 28th, 2016

Writing in Markdown

My new mini-ebook, Writing in Markdown.

Apr 5th, 2016


On the power that names hold.

Mar 29th, 2016


On growing up surrounded by belief in the supernatural.

Jan 2nd, 2016


On the one morning each year when our living room door led to another place.

Dec 21st, 2015


Sometimes, I can almost remember how.

Oct 28th, 2015


There's nothing shameful about feeling.

Oct 21st, 2015

Sharing your words

On the natural fear we feel when allowing others to read what we're written.

Oct 18th, 2015


On the season that heralds change, and reminds us of the work we've yet to do.

Sep 20th, 2015


On the spark of fresh inspiration, as both the ally and nemesis of creative output.

Aug 7th, 2015


If you have praise to give, don't wait until it's too late.

Jul 21st, 2015

Voice Two

The other voices inside us, and the one I turn to in times of trouble.

Jun 21st, 2015


On science fiction, and how it embodies hope.

Jun 2nd, 2015

Points of View in Scrivener

Labelling scenes with points of view in Scrivener.

May 29th, 2015


My shifting relationship with money, during the major changes in my life.

May 20th, 2015


On the points in life when we make decisions that define our future.

Apr 27th, 2015


We show versions of ourselves to others, to help us hide.

Apr 24th, 2015


There's no finer substance than single malt whisky.

Apr 17th, 2015

On blogs

Thoughts on what blogs are, and how our words for them are trivialising.

Mar 18th, 2015


On death, and its true face.

Mar 14th, 2015


The power that smoke has to evoke my memories.

Mar 3rd, 2015


Why you should get rid of the cruft from your site's URLs.

Feb 24th, 2015


When you're doing what you're meant to do, it doesn't seem like work.

Jan 22nd, 2015


If we don't support the artistic output we enjoy, it will inevitably vanish.

Jan 19th, 2015

Heroes and Miracles

We need stories.

Jan 5th, 2015


On the interplay of imagination and fiction.

Dec 11th, 2014


Chasing the Northern Lights, and finding wonder in our world.

Dec 7th, 2014


Some thoughts on incorporating themes, symbolism and motifs into writing.

Nov 25th, 2014


I wasn't always called Matt Gemmell.

Nov 20th, 2014

In Winter

My dark dreams as the year draws to a close.

Nov 6th, 2014


A writer's job is find the lie that's truer than real life.

Sep 23rd, 2014


Sultans of Swing has accompanied me through my life.

Sep 17th, 2014

Fan Fiction

On the importance of fan fiction as literary output.

Sep 16th, 2014

Anthologies in Scrivener

Using Scrivener to create ebook anthologies of essays, short stories, poems, etc.

Sep 2nd, 2014

Raw Materials: Collected Essays

An anthology of my personal essays, on the Kindle Store.

Aug 21st, 2014

Writing a novel: resolving plot issues e-book

The new e-book version of my technique for resolving plot issues in fiction, and tackling the second draft.

Aug 17th, 2014

Writing a novel: resolving plot issues

My technique for resolving plot issues in fiction, and tackling the second draft.

Aug 13th, 2014

Genre shame

Coming to terms with writing in a pulp genre.

Aug 7th, 2014

Writing a novel: first draft

My experiences writing the first draft of a novel.

Jul 31st, 2014


Lessons I've learned about pain.

Jun 17th, 2014

Letting go

Finding focus by opting out of distractions and negative experiences.

Jun 3rd, 2014

Staying creative

Maintaining creativity over long periods.

May 29th, 2014

Thinking slowly

Analogue tools apply a drag force that helps us think before creating.

May 13th, 2014

Working from home

The challenges of working from home full-time, and some tips on how to do so effectively.

May 6th, 2014

Taking credit

Taking credit can also mean taking responsibility.

Apr 24th, 2014


I am one possible version of myself.

Apr 4th, 2014


In defence of the judicious use of profanity in writing.

Mar 26th, 2014

Own your words

Publish your words on your own site, not someone else's.

Mar 24th, 2014


Everything is about other people's reactions.

Mar 20th, 2014

Raw materials

Writing about what you know isn't always easy.

Feb 16th, 2014

Making changes

I'm making a big change to my career.

Jan 20th, 2014

Structuring Your Novel

A chart of the advice in K. M. Weiland's book on Structuring Your Novel.

Dec 6th, 2013


It's easy to disdain wishes until you have something to wish for.

Nov 9th, 2013


My experience with anxiety and panic attacks.

Oct 27th, 2013


Our nostalgia traps us.

Sep 20th, 2013

Fiction Style Guide

A brief summary of my preferred style guide for formatting fiction.

Sep 1st, 2013

Content as Medium

Whether digital or print, publications are most appealing when they respect the content and reader, not the medium.

Aug 29th, 2013

Writing tips

Some tips on writing fiction.

Aug 27th, 2013


My compulsion to leave something behind, and be remembered.

Jun 6th, 2013

How I Write

Notes on my own writing process, including planning, editing, and dealing with block.

May 31st, 2013

Staying Afraid

Reading (and writing) horror fiction controls the fears we already have.

Jan 22nd, 2013

My Stories

Rediscovering the short stories I wrote as a teenager.

Dec 31st, 2012

Writing Fiction Online

Tips for formatting your fiction.

Feb 16th, 2010

The Unconsoled

Thoughts on Kazuo Ishiguro's novel, The Unconsoled.

Jan 19th, 2009