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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

— 7 hours ago with 89 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

— 1 week 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
— 2 weeks ago with 253 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

— 2 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)
— 2 weeks ago with 98 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

— 3 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

— 3 weeks 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 49 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 3163 notes
#How to write an irresistible book blurb in five easy steps  #writing tips  #writing advice  #Amanda Patterson  #Writers Write 
What Makes a Great Horror Story? 
As a genre, horror has the incredible power to move people to extreme emotion. Why? Because it taps into our collective fear, shame and unconscious impulses. Our earliest mythic creations like Beowulf or even Red Riding Hood stem from horror. From Stephen King to Alfred Hitchcock, horror can be a great challenge for a writer.
Here are seven amazing ideas that will help you find your perfect horror story.

What Makes a Great Horror Story? 

As a genre, horror has the incredible power to move people to extreme emotion. Why? Because it taps into our collective fear, shame and unconscious impulses. Our earliest mythic creations like Beowulf or even Red Riding Hood stem from horror. From Stephen King to Alfred Hitchcock, horror can be a great challenge for a writer.

Here are seven amazing ideas that will help you find your perfect horror story.

— 1 month ago with 160 notes
#Seven Spine-Chilling Ways to Write an Unforgettable Horror Story  #Writing Advice  #Anthony Ehlers  #Writers Write 
52 Wednesdays - Mia Botha’s Top 15 Posts →

Mia Botha writes:

It’s my blogging birthday. This is officially the 52nd post on writing that I have written for you and Writers Write. I would like to thank you for reading every week and for your thoughtful comments and wonderful feedback. 

Here is a list of the 15 posts that you liked most. It seems that booze, murder and sex are still popular topics. Happy reading. 

  1. Six things alcohol has taught me about writing: Alcohol has taught me many things, the most unexpected lessons were about writing. 
  2. Confessions of a serial killer: Questions you should ask yourself before you decide to kill a character.
  3. How the senses make stories seem real: Learn how to engage your reader’s emotions by engaging their senses. 
  4. What are the rules of write club?: Learn the rules of fiction and then break them.
  5. Five things to do before NaNoWriMo starts: Writing 50 000 words in one month is no laughing matter. Make sure you are prepared.
  6. Read like a writer: The best way to learn about writing is to read. Here are a few questions that will get you thinking about the writing process while you read. 
  7. How to make your characters shockingly real: Sometimes a hero can be too perfect. 
  8. Six things to consider before you cross your genres: Crossing genres is very popular, but you should ask yourself a few questions before you cross over. 
  9. Sex scenes - Part 2: How does your hero react on a sexual level? These six archetypes will help you ask the right questions to figure it out. 
  10. Sex scenes - Part 1: What should you think about before writing a sex scene?
  11. Who is your literary family?: A family you get to choose. Who’s your daddy?
  12. One habit every writer must have: A day at the traffic department teaches me an expected writing lesson. 
  13. Writer’s block and the fine art of procrastination: Procrastination is still my greatest talent and a necessary part of the process for me. 
  14. Getting un-stuck: There are good days and then there are bad days and then there are blank page days. How to get going again. 
  15. Why do I write romance?: I get asked this question a lot. Call it my pet hate. 

My favourite post was The Worst Case Scenario Expert - mainly because I am one. Read it and see if you can relate.

— 1 month ago with 66 notes
#52 Wednesdays - Mia Botha’s Top 15 Posts  #Mia Botha  #Writing Advice 
15 Questions Authors Should Ask Characters →

How well do you know your character? 

We spend a lot of time creating characters. We think about names, where they live, who they love, whether or not they have a phobia or a personality disorder. We decide to place our characters in conflict with an antagonist in order to write a novel. We plan an inciting moment, and plot our scenes, but how much do we really know about the psychological motivations of our important characters?

Here are 15 questions you should be able to answer about these characters in your novel.

— 1 month ago with 211 notes
#15 Questions Authors Should Ask Characters  #Writing Advice  #Amanda Patterson  #Writers Write 
The Top 10 Writing Posts for June 2014 →

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

  1. How to make your characters shockingly real - Create characters, not caricatures
  2. Seven Extremely Good Reasons to Write the Ending First - Excellent advice
  3. 30 Famous Authors On Writing in Plain Language - Write to communicate
  4. What Your Handwriting Says About You - Does anyone still write by hand?
  5. The Most Annoying Writing Mistakes - Mistakes that make us cringe
  6. The Remarkable Writing Tools of Eight Famous Authors - How writers write
  7. Autopsies for Writers - What have your writing failures taught you?
  8. Literary Terminology - Excellent resource for writers
  9. Three reasons why you need a sidekick in your novel - A sidekick is not a friend
  10. Viewpoint Part One - Get Real: Viewpoint is your voice - Unravelling viewpoint

Previous Posts

— 1 month ago with 280 notes
#The Top 10 Writing Posts for June 2014  #Writers Write  #Writing Advice 
The Battle of the Backstory →

Backstory is anything and everything that happens before your short story or novel opens. Because we need to know our characters’ histories, we think the reader needs to know it too.

Here’s a secret—readers don’t care

They want action, they want forward movement. Decide how little backstory you can get away with. Make sure you include only important background information. Then see if you can thread it through the story using the following story-telling techniques.

Five simple ways to avoid the awful information dump

— 1 month ago with 119 notes
#The Battle of the Backstory  #Writing Advice  #Anthony Ehlers  #Writers Write