Showing posts tagged Writing Tips.
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Fallen Heroes – Creating characters by looking at real people →

"Nobody falls harder than a hero. Think of all the heroes who have let us down. Tiger Woods, Oscar Pistorius, Hansie Cronje, OJ Simpson, Lance Armstrong - the list goes on and on. I am deliberately excluding politicians; a blog post only has so much space.

It made me think about the kind of people they are. Keeping in mind, I don’t know them and this is just my perception. They seem to have everything. Their lives seem perfect. They have all worked incredibly hard to reach their goals. They were dedicated. They were heroes. We looked up to them. Then in one fell swoop, their castles collapsed. At least we thought it was one thing, but when the evidence became public, we realised that it was only a matter of time. Tiger was a busy man, Oscar and OJ had a history of violence, Hansie was fixing matches for years and Lance was only the champion of the Tour de Pharmacy.

Focus Mia, this is a writing blog. So yes, to the writing. 

What do these people have to do with creating characters?”

Read the full post here

— 1 week ago with 67 notes
#Fallen Heroes – Creating characters by looking at real people  #Writers Write  #Mia Botha  #Writing Tips 
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
— 3 weeks ago with 2155 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 
Writing Tips - Write in scenes, but remember that not all scenes are 1500 words long. This is an average length. Scenes can be anything from 500-2000 words long.
Source for Image

Writing Tips - Write in scenes, but remember that not all scenes are 1500 words long. This is an average length. Scenes can be anything from 500-2000 words long.

Source for Image

— 1 month ago with 372 notes
#writing tips 
Commonly confused abbreviations: etc., i.e., e.g. →

The abbreviations: etc., i.e., e.g.

etc. means ‘continuing in the same way’
i.e. means ‘that is’
e.g. means ‘for example’ Writing Tip: Always punctuate these abbreviations within commas. 

  1. Buy carrots, oranges, apples, etc., at this shop. 
  2. We give all clients an early bird discount, i.e., 10%.
  3. The course includes writing basics, e.g., grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
Writing Tip: In good English, use ‘etc.’ as little as possible. It is better to be specific.

From our business writing course, The Plain Language Programme

— 1 month ago with 330 notes
#Commonly confused abbreviations: etc. i.e. e.g.  #grammar  #writing tips  #writers write 
Throwback Thursday – literary lessons from five kick-ass heroines of the 80s →

It’s hard not to get nostalgic about the glittering avaricious decade that was the 80s. In print, on TV and even in cartoons, we saw the rise of some fabulous, strong and unforgettable female protagonists.

1.   Tracy Whitney. When we first meet Sidney Sheldon’s beguiling anti-hero in If Tomorrow Comes, she is living a fairy-tale. However, when she is framed for a murder she didn’t commit, she takes swift revenge. She becomes a stylish cat burglar with Hitchcockian flair. 

The Lesson: You can reinvent yourself at any stage of the game. 

2.   Billy Ikehorn. The heroine of Judith Krantz’s Scruples owns the most desirable shop in Beverly Hills. She possesses a virile beauty, dresses superbly and surrounds herself with the most talented people in fashion. She didn’t start out this way. She was a plump penniless girl with only a Boston pedigree going for her. 
The Lesson: When it comes to revenge, women do it in ruthless style. 

3.    Teela. She is the cartoon warrior of the Master of the Universe series. Teela is the alter ego of Princess Adora and the twin sister of He-Man or Prince Adam. While her brother wields the Sword of Power (so typically male, eh?), Teela is granted the Sword of Protection, which allows her transformation. 
The Lesson : Every woman needs a secret identity and a really good costume.

4.    Alexis Carrington. She blasted on to our screens on the black-tie night-time soap, Dynasty. The overlooked former wife of a tycoon, she came back to town to ensnare the lime-light with her fuchsia talons. She was over 40 and ready for the fight. Alexis was pure bitch—and never apologised for it. If there was a glass ceiling, well, she would buy the building and break that ceiling out to make way for her helipad.
The Lesson: Forget shoulder-pads—Power is the ultimate fashion accessory.
5.    Lucky Santangelo. The daughter of a notorious Italian-American bootlegger, Lucky is the ultimate rebel. We meet her in Jackie Collin’s Chances, but the author has given her a string of books after this debut. She runs away from boarding school, marries a man twice her age, and takes her father on in his own racket. She launches two magnificent hotels in the bejewelled dust of Vegas but still Daddy Gino doesn’t see her as an equal. 
The Lesson : Daddy’s Girls can become Magnificent Women.

Larger than life

What we can learn from all these fictional women is never be afraid to create larger than life characters. The best novels of this era were the ones that featured a compelling female hero—who took on men at their own game and won, who reinvented the idea of feminine power and revelled in that power, women who were brave, beautiful, sexy and strong.

Maybe we need more of these women in contemporary fiction.

P.S. I wrote this blog in honour of Women’s Day in South Africa. Women’s Day is celebrated on 9 August every year.

by Anthony Ehlers

— 1 month ago with 40 notes
#Anthony Ehlers  #Writers Write  #Writing Tips  #literary lessons from five kick-ass heroines of the 80s  #Throwback Thursday 
A Fabulous Resource for Writers - 350 Character Traits →

Even if you adore your protagonist and loathe your antagonist, it is important to remember that nobody is perfectly good, or perfectly evil. Every character will have positive and negative personality traits. Make sure you have created real people rather than caricatures by giving your cast a selection of both.

I have compiled these lists to help you select the traits you need. Have fun, and happy writing.
A bumper list of character traits for writers.
— 2 months ago with 442 notes
#350 Character Traits  #Writing Tips  #Amanda Patterson  #Writers Write 
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

— 2 months ago with 3444 notes
#How to write an irresistible book blurb in five easy steps  #writing tips  #writing advice  #Amanda Patterson  #Writers Write 
Seven Extremely Good Reasons to Write the Ending First →

If you are writing for fun, and if you don’t want any help, please write any way that works for you. I am not trying to convert you to writing with a plan. It truly does not matter to me how you write. However, if you are struggling to finish a book that makes sense, I would love you to carry on reading.

Why should you do it?

When I used to teach Writers Write regularly, one of the first things I asked students was: How does your story end? I did this for two reasons. Firstly, as much as some people love the idea of working with meandering storylines, it has been my experience that those writers seldom finish writing a coherent book. Secondly, most people who go to workshops or sign up for courses are truly looking for help, and I’ve learned that the best way to succeed in anything in life is to have a plan. Successful people will tell you that you need to know where you’re going before you begin.

Smell the roses

This does not mean that you can’t take time to smell the roses, or explore hidden paths along the way. It simply means that you always have a lifeline and when you get lost, it will be easier for you to find your way back again. Remember that readers like destinations. They love beginnings, middles, and endings. Why do you think fans are terrified that George R.R. Martin will die before he finishes A Song of Fire and Ice? They want to know how the story ends. 

Here are seven reasons why I suggest you write your ending first.

  1. If you know who the characters are at the end of the story, you will know how much you should reveal about them at the beginning. 
  2. You will be forced out of the ‘backstory hell’ that beginner writers inhabit and into the story the reader wants to read.
  3. Hindsight is an amazing thing. We all know how different life seems when we’re looking back. We can often tell where a problem began. We think about the ‘what ifs’ with the gift of hindsight. You can use this to your advantage in fiction writing.
  4. You will have something to work towards. Instead of aimlessly writing and hoping for the muse to show you the way, you will be able to pull the characters’ strings and write the words they need to get them from the beginning through the middle to the end.
  5. Plotting from the ending backwards saves you so much time because you will leave out stuff that isn’t meant to be there. You will not have to muddle through an overwritten first draft.
  6. Writing the end forces most of us out of our comfort zones. We have to confront the reality of what we are doing. It might not be as romantic as flailing around like a helpless maiden, but if you want writing to be your profession, it’s good to make the outcome visible. This is a way to show yourself that you are serious. The end gives you a goal to work towards.
  7. The ending is as important as the beginning. Good beginnings get people to read your first book. Great endings get readers to buy your second book.

There are a handful of famous authors, like Stephen King and George R.R. Martin, who say they don’t plot. I think they just don’t realise they are those rare authors – natural born storytellers, and that plotting is instinctive for them. I have interviewed many successfully published authors and I can reveal that the majority of them do believe in plotting. They outline, in varying degrees, before they begin. And yes, most of them know what their ending will be. Why don’t you try it? What have you got to lose?

I truly hope this helps you write, and finish, your book.

by Amanda Patterson

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy 10 (Amazingly Simple) Tips to Get You Back on The Writing Track and The Author’s Promise- two things every writer should do. You could also read The Top 10 Tips for Plotting and Finishing a Book.

— 2 months ago with 6574 notes
#Seven Extremely Good Reasons to Write the Ending First  #Amanda Patterson  #Writing Advice  #Plotting  #Writing Tips