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The Top 10 Writing Posts for March 2014 →

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

  1. Your Writing Style - Which famous writer’s style is most like your own? 
  2. The Six Defining Characteristics of Strong Female Protagonists  - Strong women in fiction
  3. 39 Synonyms for Run - A resource for writers
  4. Writing Children’s Books - A Cheat Sheet
  5. Crime Writing for Beginners - An Infographic
  6. Reasons not to write a book - a comic for writers
  7. Commercial or Literary? What is the difference between a commercial and a literary plot? 
  8. Breaking the Blues – how to write even when you don’t feel like it 
  9. Writing Sex Scenes - Part One 
  10. Writing Sex Scenes - Part Two - Six Male Archetypes 
— 20 hours ago with 141 notes
#Writers Write  #Writing Advice  #The Top 10 Writing Posts for March 2014 
The Locked Room – A simple way to test your plot →

A trapped character comes alive on the page or screen because he has to fight his way out a corner. The character has to push back against the predicament placed there by the plot—giving us conflict, intensity, and barriers we can define. The locked room is a way to interrogate your plot. 

More about The Locked Room

— 1 day ago with 381 notes
#The Locked Room  #Writing Advice  #Anthony Ehlers  #Lit  #Plotting  #Writers Write 
Elections 2014: Seven Reasons to Communicate Clearly →

Are you as annoyed as I am when you listen to politicians? 

With the elections in South Africa on 7 May 2014, I thought candidates would at least try to communicate clearly. I don’t understand what most of them are saying, and I don’t care about their messages because of this. I am tired of jargon and ambiguity. I wish someone would just say what they mean.

When we communicate in plain language, misunderstandings disappear. Readers actually read our information and use it. Our audience listens and understands. We don’t spend precious time explaining what we meant.

Communicating in plain language

— 1 week ago with 7 notes
#South Africa  #Elections 2014  #Seven resaons to communicate clearly  #Writing Advice  #Business Writing 
Stamp out that cliché – How clichés and jargon can ruin your writing →

Today we’re going to start the weekly blog with a philately lesson. In traditional stamp making, a cliché was an individual unit consisting of the design of a single stamp, combined with others to make up a printing plate. Clichés as we have come to know them are the kiss of death for good writing.

Jargon, another word with French origin, derives from a phrase meaning the chattering of birds. Meaningless jargon is another cause of death for your writing. It is the kind of stuff politicians use or what we see in brochures.

We fall into these two hollow literary traps for three reasons.

1. Lack of passion or laziness. If we don’t feel connected to our writing or we’re in a hurry to meet a publishing deadline, we tend to go for the first phrase that pops into our head.
So we say: I envied Ilse. She lived in a luxurious penthouse in Hyde Park. Instead of: Ilse’s white tiles blinded me, as did her taste in fake Picassos and flokati rugs.

2. No first-hand knowledge. Sometimes when we don’t understand our material – either because we have no intimate knowledge of it or we have not researched it deeply enough – we stay with safe and acceptable description.
So we say: The average temperature in subtropical Phalaborwa is 35 degrees Celsius as the incoming troops were told in their orientation brochure. Instead of: Don’t expect shade in hell. That’s what the sersant was screaming at them. Benjamin was just a troepie – he didn’t know if he was going to throw up or pass out.

3. Caution or timidity. When we don’t wish to upset a group of people – sometimes known as polite society – or are too scared to be bold and fearless, we use innocuous and politically correct language that says nothing.
So we say: Deborah did not care for her son’s lifestyle, but made allowances for it as best she could. She was worried about the December holidays. Instead of: Deb’s son was buying his’n’his Chihuahuas with someone called Kyle. This was going to crap all over her Christmas seating plan.

When we use jargon or clichés, we create fuzziness around the image or emotion we’re trying to get across. Be as specific as you can be and authentic as you can be. Every word must have your blood in it – anger, irony, admiration, etc. Don’t make it look like everyone else’s.

by Anthony Ehlers for Writers Write

— 1 week ago with 697 notes
#How clichés and jargon can ruin your writing  #Writing Advice  #Writers Write  #Anthony Ehlers 
What watching Disney taught me about writing suspense →

It’s all in the timing

Sometimes you’ve got it all. Awesome characters, a cool plot, a great setting and the perfect amount of description, but it still lacks something. You need a bit more, but what is it? What does the story need? I’ve decided that suspense is often the unsung hero.  

My kids are 4 and 6. Frozen was really the only Oscar-nominated movie I got to see. And because kids like watching movies over and over I get to watch them over and over too. I have to admit that Pixar and Disney are among the best story tellers. A similarity I noticed with their plots is that there is almost always a time constraint. The role it plays varies, but it is always there. It adds suspense, it improves pacing, and it always adds to the conflict. 

Consider these:

  1. Frozen: The town is literally frozen. People are going to die. Anna has to find Elsa to thaw it.
  2. Up: Carl wants to get his house to Paradise Falls. He uses helium balloons to fly the house there, but the helium will only last a certain amount of time.  
  3. Toy Story 1: Andy’s family is moving. Buzz and Woody have to get back before the moving van leaves or they won’t know where the new house is.   
  4. Tangled: Rapunzel has been locked in a tower her entire life. Once a year, on her birthday, the sky is filled with lanterns. She will do anything to see them. She blackmails Eugene to take her to the town where the lanterns are launched. 
  5. Epic: The Leaf People can only pick their new queen on the one night when the solstice and the full moon coincide. This only happens every 100 years. The queen chose a new pod, but she has died. The pod must open in the light of the full moon for the new queen to be crowned. 
  6. Beauty and the Beast: Belle must fall in love with The Beast before the rose dies.  
  7. Little Mermaid: Eric must kiss Ariel before the sun sets on the third day. 
  8. Monsters Inc.: The city of Monstropolis runs on scream-energy that is collected by scaring children. The city is running out of power. The monsters need to up their game to get more screams. 
  9. Finding Nemo: Darla (a fish killer) is coming in a few days. Nemo is her gift.
  10. Cars: McQueen has to get to L.A. before the other racers to start practising for the final race.

And for people, who actually get to watch real movies, think of stories like The Life of David Gale. The journalist races to find the evidence before the execution date. In the series 24, Jack Bauer has a time limit to thwart terrorists. 

Use wedding dates, bombs with timers, board meetings, deadlines, solar eclipses, or anything that ups the odds for your characters. 

by Mia Botha for Writers Write

— 1 week ago with 127 notes
#Mia Botha  #writing advice  #What watching Disney taught me about writing suspense  #Writers Write  #Writing Suspense 
The Author’s Promise - two things every writer should do →

'The first duty of the novelist is to entertain. It is a moral duty. People who read your books are sick, sad, travelling, in the hospital waiting room while someone is dying. Books are written by the alone for the alone.' ~Donna Tartt

I have read thousands of books and reviewed a lot them - 800 according to my Goodreads profile. Sometimes, I finish a book, and I think, ‘Wow! I loved that. I wonder what else the author’s written.’ Sometimes, I finish a book, and toss it aside with great force, and sometimes, I discard it without a second thought. 

I have spent hours thinking about what makes me turn the page, pushing sleep away, determined to finish the story. I have spent just as much time thinking about what makes me want to throw the book away so that nobody else has to go through the literary torture I endured.

Read more here: The Author’s Promise

— 1 week ago with 83 notes
#two things every writer should do  #The Author’s Promise  #Writers Write  #Writing Advice  #Amanda Patterson 
The Power of a Series →

The other day, I suggested a new writer develop a fiction series around a character he’d created. The poor guy almost blanched—perhaps because he had dismissed a series as too low-brow or didn’t relish the idea of spending the next 20 years writing about the same character. The truth is that series can consistently build your reputation and your royalties.

Read more here - including three types of series and four tips for writing a series.

— 2 weeks ago with 68 notes
#The Power of a Series  #Writing Tips  #Writing Advice  #Anthony Ehlers  #Writers Write 
Writing Sex Scenes - Part Three - Six Female Archetypes →

Let’s talk about sex, baby - Part Three

In Part One, I introduced the concept of writing a sex scene. In Part Two, I dealt with male archetypes and patterns of sexual behaviour. This week, I am writing about the female of the species.

Over the last two weeks there have been many comments about these posts, the most frequent being “my characters are nothing like this”. Well, that is a good thing. These are extreme archetypes. Your characters will be stereotypical if they are like this. As I mentioned before, your characters will have a combination of these traits, and many more. No one is alike.

Also, remember that damaged people create conflict and offer great opportunities for growth. Sex is base and primal. The way a character acts on this level will sometimes tell us more about who, or what, they are, than at any other time. They are, if you will pardon the pun, laid bare. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) 

Create a similar profile for your character, even if you do not plan to have a sex scene in your book. What was their first time like? What were the circumstances? How did it influence her attitude towards sex? As I said how they react on this primal level will tell you a great deal. Have fun with your sex scenes, whether it is between sheets or between the pages. Hehe.

(Remember: This is a cheat sheet for behavioural patterns. Feel free to disagree. There is no scientific basis for these definitions. They are a fun result of observation.)

Read more here

by Mia Botha for Writers Write

— 2 weeks ago with 113 notes
#Writing Sex Scenes  #Mia Botha  #Writers Write  #Writing Advice 
How the seasons add elemental vigour to your writing →

Come rain or shine. At this time of year, we start to notice the seasons changing. Have you ever noticed how your moods often change with the seasons? The way we eat, dress, socialise – a lot of this is dependent on the weather. Use this in your writing.

Recently, I read a detective story set in a cold New York December. The writer used the elements in a way that added to his story in a dramatic way. The bloody body found in the snow, a grey sky, the detective’s black coat and red hair all formed a frame to set the mood.
In another romance novel, a family retreats to their island home for the holidays—but while the children run around in costumes and tan on the beach, the mother feels hot and frumpy in her dress. She yearns to be able to swim but she is self-conscious about her body. 

For most us, we only think about the weather as a backdrop to the story. If we look at more closely, we soon see it adds a new vitality to the story—to colour emotions, to infuse the plot, to bring a character to life.

  • Play with extremes. Make it the hottest day of the year and your heroine’s car breaks down. The hero has to strip off his shirt to stay cool under the hood. What mood will this create? It’s been raining for days and the rain has washed the blood and prints from a crime scene? How will this affect a police inspector’s mood and his case?
  • A colourful palette. Each season gives a paint box to add tone and description to our stories. A bride in an ivory gown getting married on the family farm – her father has picked sunflowers from the fields; a page boy wears a gold bow tie. These touches of gold and yellow add to a theme or set piece. Think like an artist when writing. 
  • Think tradition. For many of us, we mark the seasons with traditions both big and small. It’s winter so a grandmother starts her annual blanket-for-harity collection - but slips on the ice and is forced to spend time with her estranged granddaughter. A family goes on their annual summer camping in the woods – when one of the children disappears. How has the weather added tension or helped the plot along?

by Anthony Ehlers for Writers Write

— 3 weeks ago with 213 notes
#Writing Advice  #The seasons  #Anthony Ehlers  #Writers Write 
Writing Sex Scenes - Part 2 - Six Male Archetypes →

Let’s talk about sex, baby - Part Two

Last week, I introduced the concept of writing a sex scene. This week, I am dealing with male archetypes and patterns of sexual behaviour. 

There is a table with six different kinds of characters below. They are sort-of based on the Alpha, Beta, Gamma archetypes we use in genre-romance writing. The descriptions varied so greatly that I improvised and came up with six archetypes of my own. Few well-rounded characters will be 100% like any one of the descriptions. Most likely, your character will be a combination of two or even more of these. Do not shy away from the negative archetypes. They create conflict, and opportunities for growth and change in our characters. 

This is a cheat sheet for their behavioural patterns. Feel free to disagree. There is no scientific basis for these definitions. They are a fun result of observation. 

by Mia Botha for Writers Write

— 3 weeks ago with 133 notes
#Writing Sex Scenes  #Writing Advice  #Writers Write  #Mia Botha 
The Six Defining Characteristics of Strong Female Protagonists →

There seem to be a lot of posts about strong female characters on writing blogs. I’m not sure what this means, but it made me think about how I would define this character.

I believe there is a tendency to confuse strength with acting like a man. I don’t want to read about women who act like men, or men who act like women. I think a character’s strength can be measured by his or her ability to get my attention, make me empathise with, and care for, that character, and then to drive the story to its conclusion.

Here are my ideas.

The Six Defining Characteristics of Strong Female Protagonists

— 3 weeks ago with 318 notes
#The Six Defining Characteristics of Strong Female Protagonists  #Writing Advice  #Writing Tips  #Writers Write  #Amanda Patterson 
Breaking the Blues - “ how to write even when you don'€™t feel like it →

Some days you feel like you can’t write another word. You feel as flat and useless as road kill. Your writing is as dull as toothache and just as painful to endure. No amount of coffee and staring out the window is helping to summon the muse. You consider becoming a religious recluse or marrying for money. This is not a good state of mind, especially if you have a looming deadline.

Now I’m not going to go all self-help/Dr Phil in this blog, because you’d probably want to bludgeon me to death. I’m just going to say what has worked for me in the past. Sometimes, it is a cure to those mean writing blues. Sometimes, the muse will show up, even if she is wearing her tracksuit and hasn’t combed her hair.

  1. Tidy up your working space. Take a few minutes to sharpen pencils, sort out your files, or spray some lemon furniture polish around. If you’re not too suicidal or broke, spring for some flowers and a vase.
  2. Read the newspaper. Try to get away from your computer or TV and read a printed newspaper. See if you can find a story that grabs your imagination, cut it out and keep it. It doesn’t have to be related to what you’re writing, just something that stands out as compelling, funny or sad.
  3. Pets are a great way to cheer you up. Taking a walk or playing fetch with the dog will get you out the house and into the fresh air.
  4. Take care of the basics. Make sure you’re eating decently, having enough water and resting well. When your creativity has the flu, you need to pamper it the way you would a sick child.
  5. Just put words on a page. This may sound counter-intuitive, but just start writing even if the worst junk in the world, just to feel dis-empowered. You can throw the page away afterwards if you like.

Writing is not adding up numbers or hanging curtains or programming your PVR. There is a certain mystery to the creative process. We can sometimes find a way to short hand the process or trick ourselves into writing—but we must also not be too hard on ourselves if it doesn’t work. Just trust that it will come back to you.

 by Anthony Ehlers for Writers Write

— 4 weeks ago with 681 notes
#Anthony Ehlers  #Writing Advice  #Writers Write  #Writer's Block  #Writing Tips 
Writing Sex Scenes →

As writers, we should know more about our characters than we know about ourselves. We should know instinctively how they will react and what they will do. We need to know what they do when they see someone beating up a homeless man. Do they call the cops and keep their distance? Do they rush in fist swinging to save him? Do they walk past and pretend they don’t see it or do they make a video to post to YouTube?

We also need to know how they act and react on a sexual level. 

— 1 month ago with 112 notes
#Writing Sex Scenes  #Writers Write  #Writing Advice  #Mia Botha