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Posted by Andrea Wagner

December 2nd 2013

Not a question, just a heartfelt "Thank you". Yesterday I happened to watch "The Tale of the Scribes" (Bonus Disc on the Gladiator-Anniersary edition about the screenwriting) again, and I just have to tell you THANK YOU for your contribution (there were so many things you said that stick in mind, the most notable for me being that the audience wants to watch a man who loves, rather, than one who kills. - Exactly my feelings!)

William Nicholson responded:

The funny thing is I've never seen this bonus disc myself, but what you cite does sound like me. I'm glad I seem to have talked some sense.

Posted by Jem Whiteley

November 27th 2013

I just wanted to express my support and thanks for your article in the Guardian on writing about sex. I thought was spot-on: a critique of that daft award was long overdue. Your article was written from the point of view of the writer - the only thing that I would add is that I think that readers, too, understand the importance of sex in novels and appreciate good literary descriptions of it. So please do keep up the good work.

William Nicholson responded:

Of course you're right. I'm as much a reader as a writer, and I too turn to novels to learn more about the complexity of human relationships, which happens to include sex. I get told, 'Most people don't want sex in novels.' I have no way of knowing what 'most people's' attitude to this is, without people adding their voices, as you have done. So thanks for your support.

Posted by Matt Phillips

November 27th 2013

Hello William. I'm not sure if you can help me but I thought it is worth a shot. I recently discovered you after doing some research on the films "Unbroken" and "Gladiator". I am about to undertake a creative project proposal for my Film Production course at university. My concept is to write a feature film script about a 15 year old boy who travels to a foreign land with his father. Six months after arriving he becomes an orphan due to the passing of his father. His only means of survival is what was left to him, but even that is about to be taken from him. It is set in the mid 1800's. My genre is inspirational thriller, drama and romance. As a professional and experienced writer, what would be a 10 point plan that one could follow to achieve that epic story and emotional connection with the audience? Thank you in advance.

William Nicholson responded:

Sounds like a great project, but I'm afraid I don't have a ten-point plan. I can only advise you to find a way to harness your own strongest emotions to your story - if you care passionately what happens to your characters, then we'll care.

Posted by Anna Hannon

November 26th 2013

I have read 3 or 4 of your novels including Motherland which I finished a few days ago. In my view you are one of the few novelists who write well about sex. I thought the scenes with Nell and Larry were particularly good. This morning I read your 'Take sex seriously' article and was very surprised that you'd been nominated for the 'Bad Sex in Fiction' award. I'd definitely nominate you for the Good Sex Award. Don't be put off and keep up the good work of writing sensitively and sensuously about this much misunderstood matter.

William Nicholson responded:

I too have been surprised by this strange nomination, but I can't say what you so generously say, because it comes across as special pleading. All I can repeat is that - as is clear from my Guardian article - I take the matter seriously. Not all novels need to contain sex scenes, but I do want some to do so. It's one of the few ways we can communicate this hidden aspect of our lives. Isn't it strange that something that is so thrust in our faces by commercial interests, in ways that are false and damaging, should be considered unsuitable fare for the novelist? Of course the objection made by the Literary Review is not to sex writing per se, but to bad, lazy, and redundant sex scenes; I do get that. But the effect is to put writers off the subject, and that's a shame. I think we can all live with poorly written sex scenes in the hope of stumbling on something truthful. So I mean to keep on trying, and to stand up in public and speak on the issue if asked. Thank you so much for your supportive words.

Posted by Duana Menefee

November 23rd 2013

Hello Mr. Nicholson, My name is Duana; I am a graduate student at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. In January we are going to be producing "Shadowlands" and I have been tasked with the honour of portraying Joy for my thesis. As the playwright, what insight can you give me as I begin to prepare for rehearsals? What are some of the challenges you see for the actor who plays Joy? In your opinion, what is the most vital thing for me to remember as I explore and build this character? Any pointers, wisdom, or discernment you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much! Duana Menefee

William Nicholson responded:

I don't really like to dictate how an actor should play any role I write, because I find so often actors bring their own riches to the work. Obviously in the case of Joy the challenge is to present her upfront character as not too brash - brash enough to shock the stuffy Brits but filled with a high-spirited and highly attractive vitality. I would suggest don't be in a hurry to come in with your next line after Jack has made some of his odder remarks - show by the slight pause that you're listening, you're processing what he says, before you come out with something that throws him off-guard in his turn. Particularly in Act One, it's about two people finding each other, quite slowly. The other thing to say is to do with the cancer and the suffering. My preference is for as little as possible in the line of groaning. Underplay the pain. It's there in the situation. Don't ask the audience for pity. But hey, do it your way, believe what you're saying, and it'll be great.

Posted by Paul Sheppard

November 23rd 2013

Had to write this after just reading your Guardian article. I hope none these oh-so-clever critics succeed in ridiculing your writing! Bad Sex Award has its own roots in shame, and shying from talking seriously about sex. Hence the practice as you point out of presenting sex as "jokey". You are the courageous one for admitting your professional hurt at this "playground" nomination. Presenting yourself with your response, knowing you'll be a target for those who, of course, thoroughly understand the sexual impulse (I don't think) is to your credit. "Mockery is a powerful weapon". Leave "shame" and "anger" to those with small dicks (sorry). Good luck William.

William Nicholson responded:

Thanks. Much appreciated.