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Motivational Muses #19


Open your mind to new experiences, particularly to the study of other ­people. Nothing that happens to a writer – however happy, however tragic – is ever wasted.

P.D. James

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Books on the Art of Writing #4


The Five Minute Writer by Margaret Geraghty

 

What the book offers

Some writing prompts I’ve seen around the internet can just be way too wacky, but these prompts get you to think outside the box, and take your skills to a new level of creativity. The best thing with these exercises is that you can try them again and again and have a completely different outcome each time. This book will last you a life time, and show how you grow over the years as a writer!

Before it each exercise, it offers a short introduction that explains the exercise in context to writing; its significance and how to tackle it best.

Read more…

Becoming an Effective Writer


It’s evident to say writer’s write. But the difference between writing and being a writer is that writer’s produce. They produce finished stories, finished articles, finished poems and so on. They produce and they deliver.

Sometimes it’s hard to get to grips and just focus on a project. So follow these few simple guidelines and see how far you get:

  • Allocate time proportionally…and stick to it – this means spending a fifth of your time doing research, two fifths of your time planning and two fifths of your time writing – not necessarily in those proportions, but what I mean to say is don’t spend more time than you need. It’s easy to get carried away with the fun stuff or with the details, but see the fine line between have to and think you have to
  • Don’t overwhelm yourself – oh my god, look at that list of things you have to do – you still have to find your character’s surname and give their house an address, you need to find a brilliant turning point, you need to do cover art for your book, write a blurb, find a nicer way to describe the weather…calm down. Your first aim is to write a story. Sometimes I write an entire story by calling my character John or Jane Doe. Focus big, then work your way closer and closer to the details – in that order!
  • Goals and aims – this one ties with the previous point. When you set yourself goals and aims, be realistic and don’t give yourself too much pressure. Give yourself one goal a week or one goal a month if that’s what keeps you going. To write chapters 4 and 5 might be your goal for this week. And that will give you space to breath.

Change is for the Best


It can be very hard to see something in one way, love it and nurture, and then to have to tear bits away and fit in new pieces, but when it comes to writing, it really is crucial.

Writing is a largely based around experimentation. There are simply infinite paths to choose and that’s why no two books are the same. There may come a time whilst you write that you’re finding it hard to see where your story goes, or when you read it, you just aren’t getting the flow. There may have been a time that when you started your story, you based it on a blind girl and you imagined her hair, her family life, her friends. But maybe to make the story work, you need to change the protagonist to a male.

Other things you may change to make the story work:

  • genre – this is a big one, but perhaps you had a romantic sub-plot but that’s detracting from the dark tone you want to make
  • point of view – maybe limiting your story to third person limited won’t be as effective as third person omniscient for a little dramatic irony and filling in some gaps
  • age
  • antagonist
  • structure
  • setting

This will give your story a new direction, and perhaps even a better one. Remember that the aim isn’t always to scrap and start all over again, sometimes simply re-writing and changing only elements is what will perfect your scene.

What’s a Book Without Conflict?


As much as you may want to wish better for human nature, your reader will have no interest for your story if it doesn’t have conflict. We need some spice, some gossip, some friction – we need your character to be going down a pretty steep hill.

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Question for Writers #6


Motivational Muses #18


Kim Lee: On the Art of Creating Characters


Click here to visit Kim Lee’s blog ‘Writers for Life’

I lean back in my chair and close my eyes. The clock ticks endlessly, but that’s fine. It helps my concentration. Something like a giant screen unfolds in the darkness. Smiling, I paint the scene. Everything is in place; the flora and the fauna, the sticks and stones. Bricks and mortar, fire or ice. Whatever I need to be there, is there. But there is something missing. Whether I’ve created a small town, or a space flight, a bedroom or a garden, the missing element remains the same. The scene is missing people. Characters. Those beings that will bring the whole thing to life.

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Titles That Could Lead to the Next Best Thing #4


  • There and Back Again
  • Wish Me Luck
  • Someone, Somewhere
  • Being Wrong
  • Second Place

Books on the Art of Writing #3


Schaum’s Quick Guide to Writing Great Short Stories by Margaret Lucke

What the book offers

Exactly what it says on the tin…I mean, cover. This is one of the most easiest books I’ve read on writing, and it’s so quick to coming on the point, without all the fancy details on the side. It covers every aspect from major ones such as conflict and character, but also more subtle one such as setting and narrative voice (which is a brilliant, brilliant chapter). It will help to make your writing more developed and fulfilling, and with exercises at the end of every chapter, you know what to do, with the aid of some very helpful tipsheets.

After the end of all the talk about writing, there is also a very helpful chapter on what to do once you’ve finished your story and are ready for publishing, including how to format your manuscript.

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Motivational Muses #18


ALYSHA SPEER

I choose to write because it’s perfect for me.

It’s an escape, a place I can go to hide.

It’s a friend, when I feel out casted from everyone else.

It’s a journal, when the only story I can tell is my own.

It’s a book, when I need to be somewhere else.

It’s control, when I feel so out of control.

It’s healing, when everything seems pretty messed up.

And it’s fun, when life is just flat-out boring.

Flash Fiction: What I Thought I Knew


Introductory Note: Sometimes I just have a scene in my head, no more. Just a situation that goes beyond thought and reason. There is a lot of ambiguity about what has happened and what will happen between these two people, which is what I like. I hope it makes the reader interpret into a context that fits them. There are hundreds of possibilites. It could be any one of them. Who knows?

I turned my head to look at the person who sat next to me.

I had to get up. Now.

He looked back at me. Maybe it was because of this sudden frenzy that I couldn’t distinguish his eyes between imploring and threatening. I didn’t dwell on the thought for long because a thousand other questions were grabbing my attention.

“So you’re just going to walk away,” he said. I brushed past him, knowing I should be running, but my legs weren’t responding to reason.

“Why?” his voice echoed in the half empty carriage. His voice.

All the memories and moments bound to his voice rushed through my mind … and through my heart. Avoiding his gaze along with the other staring faces, I continued to walk away. “Just tell me why you did it.”

I whirled around, astounded. “You think I wanted this?”

The whistle blew outside and I managed to make my way to the doors before they shut. I watched the train leave the platform with an unwelcome knowledge that I had seen him nod a yes.

Do you have what it takes?


James Scott Bell, author of The Art of War for Writers outlines 10 things you need to be a writer.

  1. Desire – It’s got to be a hunger inside you. You’re going to have to sacrifice time and money and endure frustrations galore. If you don’t have the desire, you won’t last out there on the battlefield.
  2. Discipline – It’s all about production. A quote of words, six days a week.
  3. Commitment to craft – You can’t just dash off a book. Leonard Bishop wrote, ‘Dramatic characters, inventive plotlines, exciting and intense situations are not achieved through accident or ‘good luck.’ The writers of great books zealously learn the craft of their profession so they can release the power and depth of their imagination and experience.’
  4. Patience – It takes time. But you can cut down the time if you have 1, 2 and 3.
  5. Honesty – Be willing to confront your weaknesses as a writer.
  6. Willingness to learn – No chip on your shoulder. Check your ego at the door, or wherever else is convenient.
  7. Business-like attitude – develop business savvy and professionalism
  8. Rhino skin – learn from every rejection and never let any rejection hold you back.
  9. Long-term view – Don’t think “Do I have a book inside me?” Think: “Do I have a writer inside me?” And answer: “Yes!”
  10. Talent – The least important. Everyone has some talent. It’s what you do with it that counts.

Okay now, be honest, how many of these do you possess? I firmly believe that identifying your strengths and weaknesses is one step closer to improving a skill, because you now know what to concentrate on.

Number 2 and 4 are things I’m working on, my biggest weaknesses, but keeping a track of the number of word I’ve done, and keeping realistic targets help.

~ JLT

Opening with a Whopper #1


“I’ll see you tomorrow, Harvey,” she said to me.

She never did.

* * *

How to get going

  • A good story beginning needs to introduce character, conflict, story world and set a tone, let these opening lines help you develop such a start
  • Why did she never see Harvey?
  • Who was this woman to Harvey?

Share your work

  • For a challenge, reply your response in the comment box in 250 words
To download the complete set of prompts and ideas so far, click here: Prompts and Ideas (it’s safe!)

From the Experts: Writer’s Tips #7: What are short stories?


A wonderful definition and valid point that all short story writers and aspirers should be aware of from Schaum’s Quick Guide to Writing Short Stories

We will concentrate on the traditional story—the kind that derives its power from characters, actions, and plot; that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Not all short stories are like this. An advantage of the short story form is that its brevity allows variations and experiments that would be difficult to sustain throughout the much longer course of a novel.

A short story writer can focus on sketching a character, presenting a slice of life, playing with language, or evoking a mood. Many excellent stories written and published today achieve their impact from the way the author assembles a mosaic of images or jagged fragments of experience, instead of telling an old-fashioned tale. But the traditional story provides the best vantage point for examining the craft of short story writing.

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