Katharine Osborne

Katharine Osborne

I'm a programmer currently working at a digital agency (advertising). I've previously worked in publishing, the film industry, and education, and at various tech startups in a variety of roles.

Location London, UK


  • Oh no, that sucks. I wish we could review these stories more opening (I too only have one review). I would definitely help out on stories that didn't get attention.

  • Katharine Osborne made a comment

    This was really good and I wanted to read more. It did take me a paragraph or so to understand the premise and get into it but I really liked the writing style (the story I'm writing has a similar tempo and tone but it's first person).

  • I mainly had to focus on expanding the story a bit to meet the minimum word count, and for tense (I kept switching from present to past and back again, and while this isn't out of place necessarily for first person narration, I know it really bugs a lot of people and I don't want to catch anyone's ire).

  • You have reminded me that I hate Catch 22, couldn't get past the first couple of chapters as I could not relate at all to the main character (he seemed really selfish, and not in a way you would feel would get resolved over redeemed). I agree that it suffered from too many tangents.

  • Pride and Prejudice is simply wonderful. I love how Austen wrote Lizzy and Darcy's dialogue to one another in such a way as it could always be interpreted in two different ways. Oh man, Austen knew what she was doing.

  • There's a movie of Orlando with Tilda Swinton playing the title character (the only and obvious choice). It's also really good!

  • My all time favourite book is Orlando by Virginia Woolf. Unfortunately I don't currently have a copy so I can't thumb through it right now, but from memory, I liked the main character and how at sea they (Orlando is first a man then an woman, so 'they' covers both) felt in the world, and I deeply identify with this unsettling feeling myself. Orlando deals with...

  • Louis de Bernières sounds like he might be a bit difficult to live with, what with the feet on the kitchen table and hogging the bathroom. I wish I could be as blissful a reader; I usually have trouble finding things that capture my attention (I have a lot of started books with bookmarks a few millimetres in on my shelves).

  • My finished story ended up being 450 words which is a lot shorter than I would have thought. Ah well. It feels complete so I don't really want to bulk it up in editing.

  • Well, I had a lot of difficulty with the previous exercises and so out of the blue I chose to write about a medieval chambermaid, and now I regret that choice (her driving force is to avoid people and not be treated badly).

  • This is interesting. I've found this exercise a bit difficult/tedious as I tend to create characters that are fish out of water; they are generally ordinary boring people thrust into absurd or surreal circumstances and their personality develops (like a photograph) as they respond to the situation they are in. I don't really know or care who they are ahead of...

  • Honestly it's a relief not to have the minutiae of physical details described (although that is probably personal preference). Physical details are not terribly important to this story, and in fact eliding them serves the story as Nancy is mistakes Donald for another Donald. I think a lot of aspiring writers (in the writing groups I've been in) have gotten...

  • I mean, who actually wants to call themselves Bougie? It's an insult now and probably was one then.

  • I got the impression that Nancy is effervescent and Donald is a little bit plodding (who mentions their dead wife so breezily?). The descriptions were vivid, and Nancy's voice was very clear in my head (from the speech patterns). I got a bit hung up on the mention of a sleigh ride and and a lake when the airport was in Pueblo (New Mexico?). Children kissing...

  • I usually stick with action, summary, or scene, but I should practice the others. I tend to try to give the minimal effort of describing a character is exposition, and let the character talk or act for themselves.

  • This was interesting but I found myself re-reading the Gromov description multiple times as I lost the thread (I did not clock that he was paranoid-schizophrenic). I find the action descriptions are much easier to read, and the Sally Bowles description was the most vivid of them all.

  • Well, I learned a new word today, patrimony (is this still a thing in the modern day?)

  • As a person I am neurotic, anxious, and introverted, and a lot of my characters, unless I put a lot of intention and effort into it, are the same. This is my blank canvas character (an observer or witness character), and I think I need to do more work to make sure that when I use such a character, it is entirely intentional.

  • Adriana struggled with the form, the letters danced all over the page and changed their orientations. She had always struggled to read, and none of her teachers were willing to help (to be fair, the classes were always overfull and rowdy with boys who didn't eat breakfast and couldn't concentrate). Now she was 16 and on her own except for the small child on...

  • Earlier I brought up the 'welfare queen' stereotype invented by Ronald Reagan as an excuse to gut public programs; this is easy to subvert as there has probably never been a welfare queen (or at least, not enough to be statistically relevant). The 'welfare queen' part would be a perception by another character looking at her from a limited exterior...

  • Sitting behind people who are on their phones while on the bus where you hear half a conversation is very fertile ground for character development.

  • Not casting real life people as stereotypes is a useful real world skill, not just for writing fiction. Ronald Reagan coined the term 'welfare queen' to cast women on welfare in the US as money grubbing, spendthrift, unwed baby machines (who were implied to be uneducated and black). This led to decades of trimming welfare without looking at the actual...

  • I too have a suicide (along with an infanticide), abuse, child labour, and an inhumane hunt among other things in one of my current stories. I wonder if it is necessary to have so many dire things (even though that can be fun and dramatic to write), or if it would be better to focus on one or two.

  • This is interesting. I'm writing a novel and got stuck 76K words in, partly because there is too much plot and I'm mired in it (side quests, in effect, to use gaming terminology), but also because the main character is well, a bit of a drip and a blank canvas. I need to give her a stronger personality and more of a conflict (she does have conflicts, but none...

  • A lot of my concerns are worries about the behaviour of people in a general sense, and though I haven't written stories about the specific concerns, I have written stories about the behaviour of people (one story, written several years ago, involved a disfiguring communicable disease, and the last few people fleeing from those who were trying to infect them in...

  • Such a great piece above.

    My current personal concerns overwhelmingly involve the pandemic, and I was recently diagnosed with OCD. I have a phobia of being around people, and I am not handling it well. I want to write as a distraction, although I do want to write eventually about this time in my life, but it is too raw and too near.

  • One of the Marvel films had Thor getting on the tube trying to get to Greenwich from I think Charing Cross, and he asked a passenger for directions and she said it was two stops, and in reality it's minimally 7 stops and that has now been permanently lodged in my brain.

  • A lot of what I write is speculative fiction, so I'm not necessarily trapped with historical research. I do write a lot of sci-fi, but I listen to a lot of science podcasts and watch a lot of science youtube videos (and I was also a science writer for about 2 years), so I've already absorbed a lot of the important stuff through osmosis; I have a good framework...

  • Katharine Osborne made a comment

    It's interesting that the authors had such differing approaches. I'd agree with Alex Garland that it is more important to let the imagination lead (yes things should be correct, unless there is a good reason for them to be wrong or off-kilter intentionally).

  • I like this list; it lays it out concretely and can be used as a sort of checklist for the dodgy bits of a story (though some things might be missing, such as whether a character's internal state is properly conveyed to the reader, something I'm currently struggling with in my novel).

  • It's interesting that so many people kept groaning when it was one of the first things cut (it is quite a fun word to say).

  • The main thing that I got from the original was that Hilary noticing the storm meant that there was a storm inside her as well, and I focused on trying to connect that (not sure if I succeeded):

    Hilary carried a loaded gun, stood still amongst the oblivious crowds in the street, and looked heavenward at the tempest.

  • My version:

    Hilary carried a loaded gun, stood still amongst the oblivious crowds in the street, and looked heavenward at the tempest.

  • I think what I wrote was more of a fragment, really just some scene setting. There's not really a beginning, middle, and end. The story:

    Anne Wittens was having a terrible day. The master of Warwick house had left for the country quite suddenly at the outbreak of war, perhaps hiding, perhaps pre-emptively mourning. There was no news of his son and heir...

  • Story from last week:

    Anne Wittens was having a terrible day. The master of Warwick house had left for the country quite suddenly at the outbreak of war, perhaps hiding, perhaps pre-emptively mourning. There was no news of his son and heir during the whole of the retreat to Dunkirk. There was no paper tape to be found in any of the nearby shops to secure...

  • I don't own a radio haha, so I tried this with iPlayer and BBC News, and the first thing mentioned was Trump questioning the election that hasn't happened yet...and just, no. Second attempt, flipping open the London Compendium:

    Anne Wittens was having a terrible day. The master of Warwick house had left for the country quite suddenly at the outbreak of war,...

  • I think my brain works a little differently--I don't always approach a story from within someone's head (which is really what is happening with both 'I remember' and 'Emma said'). Often I think of a scene or an object and go from there (usually not people focused). However, I think this is potentially a useful tool to get me out of my misanthropic comfort zone.

  • Maybe just focus on one aspect of what bothers you about a piece that you have written, and then try to write something new that addresses that issue. It's okay if it's not perfect; just consider it practice.

  • Often I rely on dialog that pops into my head to unspool a story, rather than visual images, or specific characters, although sometimes I'll just have a scene come into my head. I don't really find that characters flow from description. Maybe I am too much in my own head, and thinking of the characters from the inside out rather than the outside in.

  • I tend to just unspool. The act of writing is soothing, and I'm not much for planning (when I do my momentum tends to stop dead). That said I do sometimes use side documents to keep track of things, like future plot points I want to flesh out.

  • The sudden light stabbed at my eyes.

    "Get up," he said.

    I pulled the covers over my face and tried to melt into the mattress and forget my consciousness and the previous night.

  • @DominicMcDonald Oh I love this!