New book: Filling the Blank Screen

Thanks to your recommendations, the one hundred best articles from The Blank Screen news site have been extended, updated, revised, given a polish – and are now the new book, Filling the Blank Screen.



I tell you, it is as if the book itself insisted on being written. There is going to be a series of Blank Screen books and I am deep into writing the first one at this very moment yet Filling the Blank Screen just demanded to be done. Maybe if I could work out a better way for you to find all the best articles on this site then the book would’ve shut up a bit. But I haven’t yet, so it went on and on at me about how it was time.

Behind the thousand articles and the quarter of a million words on this site there are hundreds of conversations with people online and at the now many Blank Screen workshops. New writers at literary festivals, very experienced ones at Writers’ Guild events, I love that this stuff helps them – and I love even more that every one of them has something useful for me to steal. I mean, use. I mean, um.


I want you to have Filling the Blank Screen and I’d like to suggest that you read it a chapter a day. That way you can tell people it took you one hundred days to read and I either sound like I write a lot or that I’m very heavy going. I’ll take that. Bit of quality, innit? Bit of heft.

The paperback version is scheduled to be published on 12 September and doubtlessly I’ll tell you all about that then. But today the ebook version is out and it’s at a special price of £2.99 on Amazon UK. It’s also at a special price of $4.99 on Amazon US.

One thing, though. If the next 11 months gets us another 1,000 articles and another 250,000 words, you’d hope that there will be enough material in there for a third Blank Screen boo. But what would I call it? Refilling the Blank Screen?

Paper not better than ebook for reading, except…

I love ’em both, paper and ebooks. But it has been said and I have wondered whether I retain more from things I read on paper than on screens. Maybe so, but if it’s true, it looks like that may be more down to me than to the technology – except in one key respect.


A new study which found that readers using a Kindle were “significantly” worse than paperback readers at recalling when events occurred in a mystery story is part of major new Europe-wide research looking at the impact of digitisation on the reading experience.

The study, presented in Italy at a conference last month and set to be published as a paper, gave 50 readers the same short story by Elizabeth George to read. Half read the 28-page story on a Kindle, and half in a paperback, with readers then tested on aspects of the story including objects, characters and settings.

Anne Mangen of Norway’s Stavanger University, a lead researcher on the study, thought academics might “find differences in the immersion facilitated by the device, in emotional responses” to the story. Her predictions were based on an earlier study comparing reading an upsetting short story on paper and on iPad. “In this study, we found that paper readers did report higher on measures having to do with empathy and transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than iPad readers,” said Mangen.

But instead, the performance was largely similar, except when it came to the timing of events in the story. “The Kindle readers performed significantly worse on the plot reconstruction measure, ie, when they were asked to place 14 events in the correct order.”

Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds – Alison Flood, The Guardian (19 August 2014)

‘Course, I only read the full piece on my iPad so maybe it really says something completely different.