Ian Rankin reacts to hilarious no-nonsense writing advice from Muriel Spark

A video clip showing late author Muriel Spark explaining her uncomplicated writing process has gone viral on social media.

Thursday, 26th November 2020, 11:45 am

Bruntsfield-born Spark shot to fame in 1957 with the publication of her first novel, The Comforters, but is best-known for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), set in Edinburgh.

In the video, Ms Spark sits at her writing desk and tells an off-screen interviewer: “I begin at the beginning. I write the title then I write my name.

“Then I turn over and I write the title of the book, I write ‘Chapter One’ and then I write on.”

Ms Spark, who died in 2006 in Florence, Tuscany, continued: “I leave a space so I can make alterations as I go along but I don’t revise it afterwards.

“Then it goes to the typist and she types it and I revise that.

“And that’s the book. That’s finished.”

The clip has garnered more than 10,000 views on Twitter alone.

Bruntsfield-born Spark shot to fame in 1957 with the publication of her first novel, The Comforters, but is best-known for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), set in Edinburgh. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Ian Rankin, who has cited Ms Sparks as his literary heroine, was asked by one social media user whether he took inspiration from her no-nonsense writing process.

The Fife-born Rebus author, who lives in Edinburgh, replied: “I do a few more drafts than Muriel though!”

Dean Atta, Scottish author of The Black Flamingo (2019) joked: “Why do I need an editor and a copyeditor if it’s this easy? Who knew, all I needed was a typist!”

Writer and journalist Esther Webber described the clip as: “the Bake-Off technical challenge equivalent of writing advice.”

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