Showing posts tagged Writing Advice.
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Six Fascinating Character Types →

Characters are the stars of a story, the heartbeat in a novel or screenplay. We sometimes hear that characters should be interesting but interesting is not always an adequate description. Characters should be fascinating.

So what makes a character fascinating?

Follow the link to read about the six fascinating character types you can use to drive your novel.

— 4 hours ago with 61 notes
#Six Fascinating Character Types  #Writing Advice  #Writers Write  #Anthony Ehlers 
Start here: Three things you need to do at the beginning of your novel →

Sometimes I wish a giant arrow would appear above my manuscript and pin-point the correct place to start. Alas, that does not happen.

An inciting moment is the moment of change for your character. It can be positive or negative, but it must be big enough that it forces him, or her, to act and to deal with the situation. This can be as big as a tank driving into the living room or as subtle as a discomforting sentence.

In your opening scene you should do three things:

  1. Orientate the reader: Get your reader orientated quickly. Tell us where we are and what is going on. You can be ambiguous, but do not confuse us. 
  2. Introduce the characters: Who is there? Introduce your protagonist as soon as possible. I want to know what is happening, but most of all I want to know to whom it is happening. 
  3. Show the relevance: Once I know where I am and what is going on you have to keep me interested. You have to make me ask questions. 

In The Language of Flowers, Vanessa Diffenbaugh starts off by setting her protagonist’s bed on fire. What do I learn?

  • Where are we? She is in a group home. 
  • Who is she? She has dreamt of fire for the last eight years. She has been in the foster-care system almost all her life. She is angry and violent. She knows about flowers. 
  • Moment of change: It is her 18th birthday so she must leave the home. 

In Night Film, by Marisha Pessl, our protagonist is running in Central Park at 2am when he sees a beautiful ghost-like woman in a red coat who seems to be following him. He is deeply unhappy and he blames Cordova. What do I learn?

  • Where are we? In Central Park, New York in the early hours of the morning. 
  • Who is he? He is a journalist whose life has fallen apart because of a film director named Cordova. Immediately I want to know who Cordova is. 
  • Moment of change: He is shocked out of his apathy and inertia by this chilling Cordova-like incident. 

Five things you should not include at the beginning

by Mia Botha for Writers Write

— 1 day ago with 174 notes
#Writing Advice  #Writers Write  #mia botha 
Why you need strong verbs when you write →
Strong verbs improve your writing in three ways. They help you:
  1. Reduce adverbs: Choosing strong verbs helps you to be specific. You should replace an adverb and a verb with a strong verb if you can. It will improve your writing. Don’t say: “She held on tightly to the rope.” Do say: “She gripped the rope.” Don’t say: “He looked carefully at the documents.” Do say: “He examined the documents.”

  2. Avoid the passive voice: Choose specific, active verbs whenever you can. Don’t say: ‘He was said to be lying by the teacher.’ Do say: ‘The teacher accused him of lying.’

  3. Eliminate wordiness: Strong verbs help you eliminate wordiness by replacing different forms of the verb ‘to be’. They allow you to stop overusing words like ‘is’, ‘was’, ‘are’, and ‘were’. Don’t say: ‘She was the owner of a chain of restaurants.’ Do say: ‘She owned a chain of restaurants.’

If you reduce wordiness, choose specific verbs, and use the active voice, readers will be able to understand you more easily. This is what you want because the reason we write is to communicate. 
Examples of Strong Verbs
— 2 days ago with 281 notes
#Why you need to use strong verbs when you write  #Writing Advice  #Writing Tips  #Writers Write  #Amanda Patterson  #Writing Courses in South Africa  #grammar 
What does it take to write a book? →

I am often asked what it takes to write a book. Can anyone write a book? What special qualifications do you need to write?

It’s a good thing to have talent. It’s great if you have an English degree. However, after teaching people how to write for more than 10 years, meeting and interviewing many authors, and writing weekly posts on writing, I think the people who succeed in finishing a book have a number of things in common.

The five qualities published authors share

— 6 days ago with 116 notes
#The five qualities published authors share  #What does it take to write a book?  #Amanda Patterson  #Writing Advice  #Writers Write 
Five Ways to Make Description Work in Your Novel →

Description is a way to engage the reader’s imagination. It is a tapestry created with words—it can summon vivid images of place and character, strong emotion and become a thread to move the story forward.

Here are five examples of description at work in a story.

— 1 week ago with 164 notes
#Five Ways to Make Description Work in Your Novel  #Writers Write  #Anthony Ehlers  #Writing Advice 
The Character Biography – Writing more to write less →

Charles Dickens could get away with starting a story with the birth of his protagonist. J.D. Salinger chose not to start there and called it ‘all that David Copperfield kind of crap’. Now before I am lynched, let me say that I am a huge fan of Charles Dickens, but David Copperfield was published in 1850. Catcher in the Rye, although very advanced for its time, was published in 1945. Today we don’t write like either of these two authors.

This is 2014. What do we do?

  1. In The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins tells us simply that it is the day of the reaping. She doesn’t explain it or tell us what it means. 
  2. In The Fault in Our Stars, John Green jumps in by telling us seventeen-year-old Hazel is depressed because she has cancer. She is in a support group almost before we hit page two. 
  3. In Room by Emma Donoghue, Jack wakes up on his fifth birthday. He is in Bed and switches on Lamp and has an interesting conversation with Ma. We know something is up and weird, but Emma strings us along. She tells us nothing. 
  4. In The Good Luck of Right Now, Matthew Quick writes about Bartholomew Neil who is clearing out his deceased mother’s underwear drawer and finds a form letter from Richard Gere. The death of his mother and his one-sided correspondence with Mr Gere takes us on a journey that is at once sad, sweet and enchanting.

Now, this is not a post about inciting moments although each one is a brilliant example of a moment of action and change. This is in fact a post about character biographies.

Imagine if I started my post with: To begin my post with the beginning of my post, I record that I wrote (as I have been informed and believe) on a Sunday night at eight o’clock while everyone else was watching the Sunday night movie. (I ain’t no Dickens, that’s for sure.) 

How do great modern authors create characters so complete that I am interested in them even though I only met them a page ago? 

Read more here

— 1 week ago with 109 notes
#The Character Biography – Writing more to write less  #Writing Advice  #Lit  #Mia Botha  #Writers Write 
Why Writers Should Always Make a Scene →

Making a scene will not make you very popular and you should save that for when you are famous, but making scenes when you write will help you get to the famous part. 

Scenes are the building blocks of a novel. They are the stepping stones that get you from the beginning of your book to the end. On average a novel has around 60 scenes. This, of course, depends on the writer and the genre, but I find it helps to have a number to work with. An action scene is, on average, 1200 - 1500 words. A sequel, or re-action scene, is around 500-800 words.

Often we are told to ‘just write’. This is great advice, but it gives the impression that your novel is a continuous stream of words. Words that form a solid block instead of words that tell a story with highs and lows, a story that enchants, teases or terrifies us. Scenes allow us to build tension, create intrigue, and increase pace, block by block. You should start by listing your scenes. 

Here are seven excellent reasons to list every scene

by Mia Botha for Writers Write

— 2 weeks ago with 92 notes
#Why Writers Should Always Make a Scene  #Writers Write  #Mia Botha  #Writing Courses in South Africa  #Writing Advice 
The Top 10 Writing Posts for July 2014 →

These were the Writers Write posts you enjoyed most in July 2014.

  1. The 15 Questions Authors Should Ask Characters - How well do you know your character?
  2. Book Blurbs - How to write an irresistible book blurb in five easy steps
  3. 350 Character Traits - A Fabulous Resource for Writers
  4. The Backstory Battle - Five simple ways to avoid the awful information dump
  5. The Best-Selling Books of 2014 (So Far)
  6. The Science of Storytelling - Why we prefer stories to facts
  7. Seven Spine-Chilling Ways to Write an Unforgettable Horror Story - What Makes a Great Horror Story? 
  8. Making Time to Write: Four Tips From a Writing Superstar
  9. The Four Reasons To Use Dramatic Irony In Your Story - What is it and when should I use it?
  10. Confessions of a book club host - Seven Things I’ve Learnt From Meeting Memorable Writers 
Previous Posts
— 3 weeks ago with 255 notes
#The Top 10 Writing Posts for July 2014  #Writing Advice  #Writers Write 
Crowdfunding And How It Can Work For Authors →

Even when a book has been written and edited to perfection, the publication process remains. With the advent of the Internet as a literary marketplace, authors have more opportunities than ever before. Self-publishing is on the rise, and crowdfunding has emerged as a worthwhile resource for authors seeking an engaging way to market their books.

Crowdfunding is the process of funding a project by raising many small amounts of money from a large group of people. This is typically done through online crowdfunding platforms and as the industry grows, more platforms are becoming available that cater to specific industries and audiences.

By conducting a crowdfunding campaign, creators can raise funds for their upcoming project with support from their network, as well as estimate the demand for their work and get insight into the demographics of their audience. 

Read more here

— 3 weeks ago with 48 notes
#Crowdfunding And How It Can Work For Authors  #Publishing  #Writers Write  #Writing Advice 
Five Ways A Creative Course Helps Writers Find Their Inner Novelist →

This week we’re looking forward to starting another Writers Write Creative Course. Before a new group of writers come in, I always spend a few minutes looking around the table at the shiny new delegate boxes and neat place settings. Who will we meet? What kind of stories will be shared? What friendships will develop over the next four weeks?

While each group produces its own personalities and stories, there are a few things that stay with me—how the writers are surprised by what they find they can do. Here are just five of them.

  1. Finding the courage to be creative again. One of the fun exercises we do is to dismiss the Internal Critic. This can be anyone from an imaginary demon or a nasty high school teacher.
  2. Finding out just how much you can write in 10 minutes. We believe writers write. They don’t daydream about it, or talk about it. They write about it. When we give an exercise that has a time lock, delegates are amazed at how much they can produce in a short period.
  3. Finding and sharing a love of reading. Some writers are drawn to classic tales, others are inspired by life-changing memoirs and many share their current reading list. Many go on to contribute to our Writers Write Reviews as they learn to study fiction more deeply.
  4. Finding the seed of a story to grow. We explore the idea of the Inciting Moment in a novel, which starts the plot engine and engages the characters in their journey.
  5. Finding the five senses can instantly lift your writing. Whether you are exploring memory or lifting a scene so that it comes alive in the imagination, the five senses are the lifeblood of strong writing.

Curiosity comes alive

The best part of Writers Write is watching writers—whether they are just starting out, or reconnecting with the craft—discover their creativity. Creativity is about exploring your curiosity, seeing the world with new eyes and finding possibilities all around you. And then, most importantly, writing it down.

We can’t wait to get started.

by Anthony Ehlers

(If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy The Cure for Predictable Plots and Other Clichés and Two Simple Ways to Connect with your Characters)
— 4 weeks ago with 99 notes
#Five Ways A Creative Course Helps Writers Find Their Inner Novelist  #Writers Write  #Writing Advice  #Writing Courses in South Africa  #Anthony Ehlers 
Making Time to Write: Four Tips From a Writing Superstar →

It is the act of writing that makes you a writer. Talking about writing, reading about writing, and blogging about writing doesn’t do it. Those are all good extras, but only by putting words on paper, by creating something out of nothing, do you become a writer.

In her book, How I writeJanet Evanovich has great advice regarding time and discipline. Evanovich has sold more than 75 million books. She was the third richest author in the world, after James Patterson and Stephen King, in 2012 (Forbes Richest Authors) She is the best-selling author of the Stephanie Plum series, 12 romance novels, as well as the Alexandra Barnaby series. She is hysterically funny and seriously successful.

Say says: Write something every day, even if it means getting just a few sentences on the screen.

Here are four ways to accomplish this

by Mia Botha

— 4 weeks ago with 111 notes
#Mia Botha  #Writing Advice  #Making Time to Write: Four Tips From a Writing Superstar 
The Four Reasons To Use Dramatic Irony In Your Story →

When we teach our Writers Write course, we find that people are often unsure about using dramatic irony.

Dramatic Irony - What is it?

Dramatic irony is a story-telling device. It is when you give your reader plot information that the main character doesn’t have until later on in the story. Sometimes you want to keep all the characters in the dark about a major plot point that will only be revealed in the climax.

The Ironic Statement

When using dramatic irony, it should tie in with your theme. The characters must make a statement in the story, through dialogue or action, which throws the absurdity, danger, or emotion of the scene into relief. The dialogue will usually have a changed or opposite meaning. Similarly, the action will be misconstrued in some way, or cause a complication.

Here are the four reasons why you would use dramatic irony in a story, together with four examples, and their ironic statements. 

by Anthony Ehlers for Writers Write

— 1 month ago with 130 notes
#The Four Reasons To Use Dramatic Irony In Your Story  #Writing Advice  #Lit  #Anthony Ehlers  #Writers Write 
The Inconsolable Writer - From Distraction to Inspiration in Four Easy Steps →

As creative people, we seek out perfection—a story we want to tell, a sculpture we want to fashion, a photograph we want to take. Tennessee Williams called it inconsolability. That’s a word I like. 

We are restless, itchy, even a bit frustrated at times. It’s the stone in a shoe. The grain of sand that makes a pearl. This is often how a good story, film, or piece of music is formed. 

How can getting distracted help you?

— 1 month ago with 46 notes
#The Inconsolable Writer - From Distraction to Inspiration in Four Easy Steps  #Anthony Ehlers  #Writing Advice  #Lit  #Writers Write 
Is it important to have an author platform? →

Any author needs to have an author platform. It generates sales, it creates awareness, and it builds relationships for future sales. It also gives you credibility and establishes you as a serious writer. 

It is not only for authors who wish to self-publish. Authors who publish traditionally are also required to have an online presence. Social media interaction and blogging are large parts of the publicity strategy for the publisher. eBooks and eReaders have played a huge role in this. 

For any aspiring author it is something you need to establish as soon as possible. Your online presence is where you will direct publishers in your query letters and how you will reach readers if you wish to self-publish. Basically you want to build your following before you publish.

How do you start?

— 1 month ago with 48 notes
#Is it important to have an author platform?  #Mia Botha  #Writers Write  #Writing Advice 
How to write an irresistible book blurb in five easy steps →

Your blurb will be an important part of your marketing. It is vital to get a reader’s attention. To write a good blurb, you have to make it short. Cut out sub-plots. Add tension to make it dramatic. Try not to mention more than two character’s names, and promise your audience a read they won’t forget.

I’ve come up with this easy acronym to help you create a blurb. I call it SCOPE. Follow these five steps and see if it works for you.

Possible Solution
Emotional Promise

  1. Setting: All stories involve characters who are in a certain setting at a certain time. 
  2. Conflict: A good story places these characters in a situation where they have to act or react. A good way to start this part of your blurb is with the words: But, However, Until
  3. Objective: What do your characters need to do?
  4. Possible Solution: Offer the reader hope here. Show them how the protagonist can overcome. Give them a reason to pick up the book. Use the word ‘If’ here.
  5. Emotional Promise: Tell them how the book will make them feel. This sets the mood for your reader.

I saw The Edge of Tomorrow today, and I decided to write a blurb using this formula.


  1. London. The near future. Aliens have invaded Earth and colonised Europe. Major William Cage is a PR expert for the US Army, which is working with the British to prevent the invaders from crossing the English Channel. Battle after battle is lost until an unexpected victory gives humanity hope.
  2. But the enemy is invincible. A planned push into Europe fails and Cage finds himself in a war he has no way to fight, and he is killed. However, he wakes up, rebooted back a day every time he dies.
  3. He lives through hellish day after day, until he finds another soldier, Sergeant Rita Vrataski, who understands what he can do to fight the enemy. Cage and Vrataski have to take the fight to the aliens, learning more after each repeated encounter.
  4. If they succeed, they will destroy the enemy, and save Earth.
  5. This thrilling action-packed science fiction war story will show you how heroes are made and wars can be won. Against the odds.

SCOPE will work for any blurb. Why don’t you try it?

by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

© Amanda Patterson

If you enjoyed this article, you may enjoy How to write a query letter in 12 easy steps and How to write a one-page synopsis

— 1 month ago with 3322 notes
#How to write an irresistible book blurb in five easy steps  #writing tips  #writing advice  #Amanda Patterson  #Writers Write