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I am a writer. I create innovative creative and business writing courses. I inspire others to tell their stories. My company's name is Writers Write. My email address is amanda@writerswrite.co.za

Three Ways to Make the Most of Major Life Events in a Story →

What is a wedding if not organised drama? All the elaborate dresses, gifts, food and music, not to mention the unseen family politics, just to witness two people swap two words! We do it because it works, it’s a great show. Where else can you get a hundred people to laugh, cry and celebrate in one afternoon?

Organising the drama

Sometimes as writers we want to bring a lot of characters together on the page for an important event like a wedding or a birthday party, a ball, a fight scene—in fact your story could hinge on these plot high points or set pieces. However, it does take a little planning. Using the example of the wedding, let’s see how it could play out.

Three ways to use major life events in your story

— 7 hours ago with 42 notes
#Three Ways to Make the Most of Major Life Events in a Story  #Writers  #Write  #Anthony Ehlers  #Writing Advice  #Weddings 
Do Not Underestimate NaNoWriMo - Five Life-Saving Tips for Writers →

I have underestimated three things in my life.

  • One: My driver’s licence test. Turns out you actually have to know how to drive. Let’s just say I did it more than once.
  • Two: Any diet I have ever been on. 
  • Three: NaNoWriMo. Seriously, this one kicked my butt all the way to Christmas and back. 

Last year around this time I wrote a very optimistic post about this annual occurrence. My suggestions were valid, but perhaps not as concrete as they could have been. I faded in week two, granted at the end, but fade I did. Anyone who has done NaNo before will warn you about the notorious week two. Anyhow, this year my preparation will be better. As I mentioned I cannot write without direction and research shows your chances of finishing increase with planning.

Before the first of November, I plan to have done these five things.

by Mia Botha

— 1 day ago with 84 notes
#Do Not Underestimate NaNoWriMo  #Mia Botha  #nanowrimo  #writing advice  #Writers Write 
Setting - Three ways to use it in your novel →

So often setting is overlooked by writers, when in fact it’s a wonderful colour to add to your storytelling palette. 

Environment shapes character, informs plot and adds mood to your story. From the moral and religious background of your characters, to changing morals and weather, all of these form a crucible to forge out your narrative.

Here are three ways to use setting in your novel.

— 6 days ago with 57 notes
#Setting - Three ways to use it in your novel  #Anthony Ehlers  #Writers Write  #writing advice 
How characters change physically and emotionally in a good story →

It is interesting how we immediately relate to change and uncertainty in our own lives, but we sometimes forget to do this with our characters. Character arcs are important. The person at the end of the book cannot be the same as the person in the beginning of the book. Your character has to change.

How can you show these changes? 

— 1 week ago with 105 notes
#How characters change physically and emotionally in a good story  #Writing Advice  #Mia Botha  #Writers Write 
Five golden rules for submitting your work to agents or publishers →

We are always asked about how writers submit their work to publishers and agents. We found this great post on the Scottish Book Trust website, and they have kindly allowed us to share their advice with you. You can also explore their other writing advice, competitions and opportunities for writers.

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Five golden rules for submitting your work to agents or publishers

Have you finished writing your novel? Is it in the best shape possible? If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then you’re ready to submit your manuscript. Don’t waste time by sending out vague ideas or a half-finished novel. Aside from anything else publishers and agents need to know that you have the commitment to complete the book before they take it on. Check your manuscript carefully for spelling and punctuation errors.

Make sure your submission meets the publisher’s requirements. Each publisher will have different preferences so don’t assume that one approach will fit all. Make them aware that you’ve paid attention to their requirements and backlist. Sending irrelevant work not only wastes your time but it may hamper your chances of success.

2. Do your research
Don’t rely on sending your manuscript out on a whim. Research prospective agents or publishers carefully and decide where your work will sit best. Research the backlist of titles or authors they’ve represented and demonstrate this in your cover letter. If you don’t know where to start, research the publication history of an author whose writing you would compare your own to. Find out who their agent is and continue your research from there.

3. Don’t turn up unannounced
Never be tempted to ‘drop in’ to see if a publisher or agent has read your manuscript yet. Not only is it invasive, but it’ll also make them far less likely to pick up your submission from the pile.

4. Don’t rely on one submission
If you pin all your hopes on a single submission, you will be disappointed. Instead, research the market carefully and submit your work to as many relevant places as possible. Keep track of your submissions to avoid confusion or repeat submissions.

5. Be patient
Publishers are very busy and receive so many manuscripts each week that it will take time to respond to your submission, if at all. Some publishers may give you an idea of how long it will take to respond, while others may specify that they only reply to the submissions they want to follow up on.

Source: Scottish Book Trust

— 1 week ago with 105 notes
#Five golden rules for submitting your work to agents or publishers  #Publishers  #Writing Advice 
Dire Consequences - How to get your characters into trouble →

‘In nature, there are neither rewards nor punishments–there are consequences.’ ~Robert G. Ingersoll

Does the punishment fit the crime? 

One of the reasons there’s such outrage and controversy over Oscar Pistorius’s verdict of culpable homicide is that people are dissatisfied with the less than spectacular outcome of one of the decade’s most sensational trails. There should be massive consequences for a bad deed, shouldn’t there?

Unlike real life, writers can make fictional characters face consequences. You can do this by exaggerating or amplifying the results of your character’s actions, or by exposing something that has been hidden.

Three ways to get your character into trouble

— 2 weeks ago with 54 notes
#Dire Consequences - How to get your characters into trouble  #Writing Advice  #Writers Write  #Anthony Ehlers 
How to make the most of the scenes you already have →

Jeffrey Archer spends three years plotting. Stephen King says he doesn’t plot. John Grisham uses a master plot formula. Whichever way works for you, you still have to get from scene one to scene 60. The question is how? The easy answer is by writing. No sh*t, right? Is that all?

I have mentioned before that I like to plan, but I don’t do much more than an outline. In this post, Why Writers Should Always Make a Scene, I explained why I list my scenes and how I keep track. My first outline has around 20 scenes. 

Sometimes I stare at the list all day and think I have exhausted all the avenues. I think this story is dead and I suck. I am convinced there is not one single scenario I can add, or worse, I start improvising 40 extra scenes because I have to and that becomes forced. When I start adding scenes simply to make up numbers I am going to write myself into trouble.

What can I do? Once the tears have dried and the Xanax has kicked in, I’ll go back and think about what I want to do. 

First, I will confirm my story goal. 
Second, I check that every scene I already have has a goal. The scene goal should be either to move my protagonist closer or further from the story goal. The scenes that are forced will fall away.
Third, I will have fewer scenes. Bad, right? Not really. Try this. I will make sure I am utilising my existing scenes. I have to make the most of them. 

The Cell Phone Reaction

Let’s say my protagonist is having a lovely afternoon. She has just solved a difficult work problem. She left early to celebrate and is on her way home when her phone dies. The battery is flat.

Think of three reactions she could have: 

  1. She can ignore it. Nothing is urgent. She is happy to have a tech-free afternoon. Who is desperate to get hold of her?
  2. She can stop and buy a charger for her car. 
  3. She can stop at her best friend’s house for a chat and use her charger. 

Now think of three scenarios that can happen if:

She ignores it: 
a) Her boss is calling to say her plan failed. He can’t get hold of her so her pushy colleague takes over. 
b) Her husband was in an accident, he called to say goodbye and she missed his final words.
c) Her mother freaks out when she can’t get hold of her and she arrives home to find her house inundated by cops and her hysterical mother directing the search for her mangled body. 

She buys a charger: 
a) She runs into an ex-boyfriend at the store. They go for a drink.
b) She sees her husband walking in with another woman. They are very cosy. 
c) The store she is in is robbed and she is taken hostage. 

She visits her BFF’s house:
a) She arrives at her friend’s house to find her husband’s car in her friend’s drive way. Why is he here?
b) Her friend is drunk at 3pm. 
c) Her friend isn’t there, but she finds her friend’s neighbour snooping around the back of the house.

Not all of scenarios are going to work for your story, but one or two should add to your plot. Now improvise three more scenarios for the ones you chose. Look at how far a dead cell phone can go.

As writers we introduce and add as we go along. Sometimes we should stop and look at what we have and consider what we can use again. A dead cell phone can go from an annoying inconvenience to a sub-plot.

by Mia Botha for Writers Write

— 2 weeks ago with 527 notes
#How to make the most of the scenes you already have  #Mia Botha  #Writers Write  #Writing Advice 
Three simple ways to get your hero to make a stand →

‘The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there…and still on your feet.’ Stephen King

Readers do not want to read books about eternal cowards, characters who avoid problems, and people who never learn to fight back. 

As a reader, I am not looking for superman in every character, but I do want characters to find that extraordinary something they never knew they had, or to admit that they will never have it. I want them to make a stand. If they don’t, I feel as if I am watching a tacky reality television show where nothing changes. But how do novelists get characters to make this stand? 

If you are struggling to get your character to show his true colours, here are three ways to force your hero to act:

— 2 weeks ago with 85 notes
#Three simple ways to get your hero to make a stand  #Writing Advice  #Amanda Patterson  #Writers Write 
Five Lifelines for Writers with Deadlines →

Just last week, I had a deadline for a script and felt the grip of familiar panic. Another writer friend of mine said she had to have a deadline or she would not finish anything—and I’m pretty much the same. ‘A deadline should be motivating but not overwhelming,’ I said. ‘Otherwise you tend to crack and not produce anything.’

This time round, with a sense of calm and a loose but firm strategy, I made it to the deadline (OK, four days after the deadline—but I made it to the finish line).

If you’re on deadline, here are five tips that may help you.

— 3 weeks ago with 46 notes
#Five Lifelines for Writers with Deadlines  #Writing Advice  #Anthony Ehlers  #Writers Write 
The Top 10 Writing Posts for August 2014 →

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

  1. Eight Commonly Misused Words - Common mistakes made by writers
  2. Punctuation Personality Types - Which one are you?
  3. Why you need strong verbs when you write - Three ways strong verbs improve your writing
  4. 20 Literary Quotes About Cats - Writers have always been fascinated by cats
  5. What does it take to write a book? The five qualities published authors share
  6. Start here: Three things you need to do at the beginning of your novel
  7. Six Fascinating Character Types - Characters should be fascinating
  8. The Plot Maker - Create a rom com storyline in five easy steps
  9. Tolkien’s 10 Tips For Writers
  10. Five Ways to Make Description Work in Your Novel - Description is a way to engage the reader’s imagination.
Previous Posts
— 3 weeks ago with 1250 notes
#The Top 10 Writing Posts for August 2014  #Writers Write  #Writing Advice 
"Write every day. Even if only for ten or fifteen minutes. Give it half an hour; who knows what can happen. If we don’t write every day (or at least five days a week), we lose touch with our writing muscles, our imagination goes a little brittle, words hide out.
The worst part about not writing, especially when we intend to write but somehow just don’t get to it, we feel bad about ourselves; maybe a little guilty, maybe embarrassed or ashamed to admit to ourselves or others. When we feel bad about ourselves it’s more difficult to get the pen moving. So we may miss another day, and then the next. The more we don’t do it, the worse we feel and the harder it is to “just do it.”
But, by simply putting pen to page every day, or fingers to keyboard, even if what we write is what Natalie Goldberg calls “the worst junk in America,” we keep the creative muscles limber and the self-esteem healthy. The more we write, the better we feel about ourselves not just as writers, but in other areas of our lives, and so the more we write and so it goes. Daily practice. No judgement."
— 3 weeks ago with 328 notes
#Judy Reeves  #Writing Advice 
Throwback Thursdays Mean Business →

By Mia Botha:

'Thursdays are interesting. Not only because they give hope that the end of the week is in sight, but because I get to stare at people who willingly posts pics of themselves with big hairspray hair and leg warmers. Yes,Throwback Thursday is a highly anticipated event. 

But how can I embrace this trend for my business? 

Posting a pic of your CEO with the aforementioned leg warmers might not get the response that you are looking for, although it might help to remind us that the powerful boardroom samurai is a person too. (Which we can argue is the point of building relationships on social media.) But, I digress…

Think about what your business has to offer. It has been around for years. You have a ton of experience between yourself and your employees. You have hundreds of magazine articles and lots of data. Social Media is about sharing that knowledge.
— 4 weeks ago with 5 notes
#Throwback Thursdays Mean Business  #Mia Botha  #Social Media  #Business Writing  #Writing Advice