Curate, summarise, review

I have been challenged to write a blog  which curates, summarises and review someone else’s writing

This is a hard topic because I really don’t feel in a position to complete this challenging blog suggestion in the way I think it was intended. I just don’t know enough about any other writer’s writing to curate it; there are writers whose total work i have read, for example Damien Boyd’s Nick Dixon series, but it would take longer than a blog post to attempt to curate it, let alone summarise or review. But, hang on, maybe I have not caught up with the verb ‘curate’ in its modern sense?

    • My understanding of curate – to select and organise a collection of something, to arrange it and order it in order to present it in a particular way; this often is thought of as a museum or art exhibition, but it could be writing or poetry
    •  What other people topically understand by curating –

This is what Jonathan Green writes:

  1. How does this story serve me as a writer?
  2. Why am I about to publish this story?
  3. What feelings caused me to write this story?
  4. How will I feel about this story tomorrow?
  5. Is this a story that I need to publish?

To me this is analysing a story for a particular audience.

Another site suggests it’s about organising what you’re writing about, ‘content curation’  – it just seems an ‘in’ word for deciding on all the usual things, subject matter, order, referencing, and again offers points to best curate your work:

  1. Collect content
  2. Share the best
  3. Audit your content
  4. Schedule your shares

This seems to be using a business model with the idea of promoting or selling something. Well, yes, all writers want to promote and sell our work, but do we want to be governed by market forces? I guess some writers do, and some writers look towards what is current or popular and write to that rather write what they actually want to write.

Curating in this modern, business model sense sounds very dull; curating someone’s writing – unless you’re a biographer also seems f=dull – so maybe somewhere I am missing the point!

Back to Damien Boyd:

Nick Dixon series, a curation:

  1. As The Crow Flies -2013
  2. Head In The Sand – 2013
  3. Kickback – 2014
  4. Swansong – 2015
  5. Dead Level – 2016
  6. Death Sentence – 2016
  7. Heads or Tails – 2017
  8. Dead Lock – 2018
  9. Beyond the Point – 2019
  10. Down Among the Dead – 2020

Summary: From Damien’s site –

    • Damien Boyd is a former solicitor turned crime fiction writer. Drawing on extensive experience of criminal law as well as a spell in the Crown Prosecution Service, Damien writes fast paced crime thrillers featuring Detective Inspector Nick Dixon.
    •  “I have no pre-conceived notions about Nick. I can tell you what he is not, though. He is not damaged, by which I mean he is not an alcoholic, doesn’t take drugs nor does he visit prostitutes. That may make him a less interesting character perhaps but his personal battles are not the focus of the stories and certainly should not distract the reader from the plot. There will be no ‘padding’ of these stories with introspection on the part of the investigating officer! Other than that, I have very few ground rules for him and the reader will watch him develop over the course of the series. He is in the Avon and Somerset Police attached to Bridgwater CID.”
    • There are recurring characters in the novels, including the officers who serve with Nick, one of whom becomes his fiancée and his dog Monty
    • The geography of the local area in Somerset is as much a character as the humans
    • The plots have current aspects to them for example, the building of Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, the Somerset floods of 2014, political cover-ups and corruption
    • the plots also examine the past, for example the west country canal network, the Falklands War,the Battle of Sedgemoor 1685


Damien Boyd’s Nick Dixon series follows the case of the eponymous Detective Inspector and most recently Detective Chief Inspector Dixon; he is an ordinary, professional officer, with no damning or irritating quirks, although he does sometimes go his own way ignoring commands from above – however this independence is believable and he is no super hero. The other recurring characters, mostly other police officers, come across as realistic individuals, some of whom have quite mundane tasks, some have grudges against Dixon, some are ambivalent, and some are loyal and committed members of his team. During the series, these characters change, just as Nick does, and his relationship with them changes too, especially that of his girl-friend, later fiancée and her half-sister. perhaps the most endearing character is Monty his dog. Nick is not a perfect hero, he makes mistakes, and sometimes he puts his own life at risk – partly because he is a type 1 diabetic.

The stories are intriguing, believable (above all believable!) and are set in a perfectly described area of Somerset, mostly around Bridgwater and Burnham – I know how accurate and well-described the stores are because I live in the same area! In a way, the countryside, the beaches, the estuaries and sea become an extra character, and quite often the plot involves aspects of this varied county which are essential to the plot.

The plots are exciting, but believable – there is often a huge amount of detail woven through, historical or commercial, industrial, political – even the horse racing industry, but this detail does not clog the pace or the narrative. The mysteries are intriguing, and there is often a twist or unexpected outcome – but not such a twist or so unexpected that it’s illogical or defies what could really happen.

The only slight problem is that the novels are so gripping it is hard to stop reading, even for meals or bedtime! I’m sure there is another book in the pipeline, I shall be watching out for news for 2021!

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