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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

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

— 8 hours ago with 91 notes
#How to make the most of the scenes you already have  #Mia Botha  #Writers Write  #Writing Advice 
Literary Birthday - 17 September
Happy Birthday, William Carlos Williams, born 17 September 1883, died 4 March 1963
Nine Quotes
My first poem was a bolt from the blue … it broke a spell of disillusion and suicidal despondence. … it filled me with soul satisfying joy.
In description words adhere to certain objects, and have the effect on the sense of oysters, or barnacles.
If they give you lined paper, write the other way.
One thing I am convinced more and more is true and that is this: the only way to be truly happy is to make others happy. When you realize that and take advantage of the fact, everything is made perfect.
The job of the poet is to use language effectively, his own language, the only language which is to him authentic.
I keep writing largely because I get a satisfaction from it which can’t be duplicated elsewhere. It fills the moments which otherwise are either terrifying or depressed. 
I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it.
But all art is sensual and poetry particularly so. It is directly, that is, of the senses, and since the senses do not exist without an object for their employment all art is necessarily objective. It doesn’t declaim or explain, it presents.
Poets are damned but they are not blind, they see with the eyes of angels.
Williams was an American poet closely associated with modernism and imagism. He was also a paediatrician. Williams, ‘worked harder at being a writer than he did at being a physician’, but excelled at both.
Source for Image
by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

Literary Birthday - 17 September

Happy Birthday, William Carlos Williams, born 17 September 1883, died 4 March 1963

Nine Quotes

  1. My first poem was a bolt from the blue … it broke a spell of disillusion and suicidal despondence. … it filled me with soul satisfying joy.
  2. In description words adhere to certain objects, and have the effect on the sense of oysters, or barnacles.
  3. If they give you lined paper, write the other way.
  4. One thing I am convinced more and more is true and that is this: the only way to be truly happy is to make others happy. When you realize that and take advantage of the fact, everything is made perfect.
  5. The job of the poet is to use language effectively, his own language, the only language which is to him authentic.
  6. I keep writing largely because I get a satisfaction from it which can’t be duplicated elsewhere. It fills the moments which otherwise are either terrifying or depressed. 
  7. I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it.
  8. But all art is sensual and poetry particularly so. It is directly, that is, of the senses, and since the senses do not exist without an object for their employment all art is necessarily objective. It doesn’t declaim or explain, it presents.
  9. Poets are damned but they are not blind, they see with the eyes of angels.

Williams was an American poet closely associated with modernism and imagism. He was also a paediatrician. Williams, ‘worked harder at being a writer than he did at being a physician’, but excelled at both.

Source for Image

by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

— 15 hours ago with 52 notes
#william carlos williams  #lit  #literary birthday  #amanda patterson  #writers write 
10 Short Story Competitions To Enter Before The End Of 2014 →

Do you like writing short stories? Last year we came up with a popular post, titled 10 brilliant reasons to write short stories. Now we’ve listed 10 Short Story Competitions that are still open for entries this year.

  1. Short Sharp Stories - Incredible Journey - Enter by 30 November 2014

  2. 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize - Enter by 15 November 2014

  3. TechSmart Gigabyte South African Sci-Fi Short Story Competition - Enter by 31 October 2014

  4. The Nova Short Story Competition - Enter by 30 September 2014

  5. Black Pear Press Short Story Competition! - Enter by 26 September 2014

  6. Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition - Enter by 17 November 2014

  7. Hackney Literary Award for Short Stories - Enter by 30 November 2014

  8. The Bloody Parchment Short Story Competition 2014 - Enter by 31 October 2014

  9. The Fish Short Story Prize - Enter by 30 November 2014

  10. InkTears International Short Story Competition 2014 - Enter by 30 November 2014

If you’re looking for inspiration, read our Top 20 Short Story Quotes

If you want to learn how to write a great short story, join Writers Write for Short Cuts on 5 October 2014 in Johannesburg.

— 1 day ago with 370 notes
#10 Short Story Competitions To Enter Before The End Of 2014  #Writers Write  #Short Stories  #Writing Competitions 
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 days ago with 77 notes
#Three simple ways to get your hero to make a stand  #Writing Advice  #Amanda Patterson  #Writers Write 
Happy Birthday, J. B. Priestley, born 13 September 1894, died 14 August 1984
10 Quotes
The way to write a book is the application of the seat of one’s pants to the seat of one’s chair.
I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.
Like its politicians and its wars, society has the teenagers it deserves.
We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish. Good night.
The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.
Living in an age of advertisement, we are perpetually disillusioned. The perfect life is spread before us every day, but it changes and withers at a touch.
Be yourself is about the worst advice you can give to some people.
If you are a genius, you’ll make your own rules, but if not - and the odds are against it - go to your desk no matter what your mood, face the icy challenge of the paper - write.
Perhaps it would be better not to be a writer, but if you must, then write.
Most writers enjoy two periods of happiness—when a glorious idea comes to mind, and when a last page has been written and you haven’t had time to know how much better it ought to be.
Priestley was an English novelist, playwright and broadcaster.
Source for Image
by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

Happy Birthday, J. B. Priestley, born 13 September 1894, died 14 August 1984

10 Quotes

  1. The way to write a book is the application of the seat of one’s pants to the seat of one’s chair.
  2. I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning.
  3. Like its politicians and its wars, society has the teenagers it deserves.
  4. We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish. Good night.
  5. The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.
  6. Living in an age of advertisement, we are perpetually disillusioned. The perfect life is spread before us every day, but it changes and withers at a touch.
  7. Be yourself is about the worst advice you can give to some people.
  8. If you are a genius, you’ll make your own rules, but if not - and the odds are against it - go to your desk no matter what your mood, face the icy challenge of the paper - write.
  9. Perhaps it would be better not to be a writer, but if you must, then write.
  10. Most writers enjoy two periods of happiness—when a glorious idea comes to mind, and when a last page has been written and you haven’t had time to know how much better it ought to be.

Priestley was an English novelist, playwright and broadcaster.

Source for Image

by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

— 4 days ago with 41 notes
#J. B. Priestley  #Literary Birthday  #Writers Write 
Roald Dahl Day - Five quite interesting facts about the author →
13 September is known as Roald Dahl Day.
Roald Dahl was born 13 September 1916, and died 23 November 1990. He was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, fighter pilot and screenwriter. He became one of the world’s best-selling authors. Follow this link for 12 of our favourite Roald Dahl quotes.
Five quite interesting facts about Roald Dahl 
— 4 days ago with 49 notes
#Roald Dahl Day  #Roald Dahl  #Writers Write  #Amanda Patterson 
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

— 5 days ago with 67 notes
#Fallen Heroes – Creating characters by looking at real people  #Writers Write  #Mia Botha  #Writing Tips 
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.

— 6 days ago with 46 notes
#Five Lifelines for Writers with Deadlines  #Writing Advice  #Anthony Ehlers  #Writers Write 
Forbes - 17 Top-Earning Authors 2014 →

Forbes has announced the top-earning authors of 2014. 

John Green (The Fault in our Stars), Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) and Veronica Roth (Divergent) make their first appearances on the list. It is worth noting that authors of the fantasy and science fiction genre, with a strong young adult following, are also making inroads into a list that has been dominated by romance and crime.

James Patterson tops the list. He has sold more than 300 million books and writes, or co-writes, up to 14 books a year. He has had 76 New York Times hardback best-sellers and he has worked full-time as an author for 18 years. Read more about him in our article, Literary Superman, which includes a section titled ’James Patterson in Numbers' (as at March 2014)

The 17 Top-Earning Authors (See how they compare to the list of 2013)

  1. James Patterson - $90m
  2. Dan Brown - $28m
  3. Nora Roberts - $23 million
  4. Danielle Steel - $22m
  5. Janet Evanovich - $20m
  6. Jeff Kinney - $17m
  7. Veronica Roth - $17m
  8. John Grisham - $17m
  9. Stephen King - $17m
  10. Suzanne Collins - $16m
  11. J.K. Rowling - $14 million
  12. George R.R. Martin - $12 million
  13. David Baldacci - $11m
  14. Rick Riordan - $10 million
  15. E.L. James - $10 million
  16. Gillian Flynn - $9 million
  17. John Green $9 million

How was this list calculated? Natalie Robehmed from Forbes says, ”We look at print, ebook and audiobook sales from Nielsen BookScan figures, consider TV and movie earnings and talk to authors, agents, publishers and other experts. Earnings are tabulated from June 2013 to June 2014 and are pretax; other fees are not deducted.”

Source for list of authors: Forbes

by Amanda Patterson

— 1 week ago with 82 notes
#Forbes - 17 Top-Earning Authors 2014  #Amanda Patterson  #Writers Write 


Happy Birthday, Michelle Paver, born 7 September 1960
Five Quotes
I wrote my first story when I was five: a rip-roaring adventure about an escaped Tyrannosaurus rex and a rabbit called Hamish. I don’t remember what made me start writing stories: it was just something I knew I wanted to do, as soon as I could read. 
[A writer’s life is] marginalized, solitary and not in the slightest bit grown-up. I spend my entire time day-dreaming, and getting paid for it. That’s why I love it.
I used to get up very early in the morning in order to put in a couple of hours before going to the office, and sometimes I’d sit at my desk listening to the dawn chorus starting up outside, and ask myself if I was completely crazy, wasting my time like this? But the thought of chucking it in – of not writing – was just too bleak to contemplate. So I’d make another mug of coffee and shuffle back to my desk, and get on with it. 
Fear is the loneliest feeling. You can be in a throng of people, but if you’re afraid, you’re on your own.
Evil exists in us all. Some fight it. Some feed it. That’s how it’s always been.
Visit Michelle Paver’s Website
Paver is a British novelist and children’s writer, probably best known for the fantasy series Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. She won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 2009, a once-in-a-lifetime book award judged by a panel of British children’s writers.
Source for Image
by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

Happy Birthday, Michelle Paver, born 7 September 1960

Five Quotes

  1. I wrote my first story when I was five: a rip-roaring adventure about an escaped Tyrannosaurus rex and a rabbit called Hamish. I don’t remember what made me start writing stories: it was just something I knew I wanted to do, as soon as I could read. 
  2. [A writer’s life is] marginalized, solitary and not in the slightest bit grown-up. I spend my entire time day-dreaming, and getting paid for it. That’s why I love it.
  3. I used to get up very early in the morning in order to put in a couple of hours before going to the office, and sometimes I’d sit at my desk listening to the dawn chorus starting up outside, and ask myself if I was completely crazy, wasting my time like this? But the thought of chucking it in – of not writing – was just too bleak to contemplate. So I’d make another mug of coffee and shuffle back to my desk, and get on with it. 
  4. Fear is the loneliest feeling. You can be in a throng of people, but if you’re afraid, you’re on your own.
  5. Evil exists in us all. Some fight it. Some feed it. That’s how it’s always been.

Visit Michelle Paver’s Website

Paver is a British novelist and children’s writer, probably best known for the fantasy series Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. She won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 2009, a once-in-a-lifetime book award judged by a panel of British children’s writers.

Source for Image

by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write

— 1 week ago with 32 notes
#Michelle Paver  #Lit  #Literary Birthday  #Amanda Patterson  #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
— 1 week ago with 138 notes
#The Top 10 Writing Posts for August 2014  #Writers Write  #Writing Advice 
Charged and Booked—Responding to Criminal Possession →

My reading obsession

I might as well admit to it before I’m shown the charge sheet. I’m in possession of more books than should be legally allowed. I’m not even counting my shelves of favourites or those already read. At the moment, I have so many unread books I’d have to take two years off to read them all.

This is not an unusual pattern. As a child, I didn’t love reading as much as I loved books. What I mean is that I loved collecting books—to possess them, line them up on shelves, and to know they were mine. At first, the pictures fascinated me—of Pink Panthers, pirates and pyramids. And later a love of words followed.

National Book Week gives me a chance (OK, an excuse) to share my love of books—owning books, possessing books, consuming the contents from cover to cover. When I was about ten or eleven, I spent the whole summer cataloguing my books—Enid Blyton featured heavily—in preparation for opening my private library to the neighbourhood kids.  Let’s just say that idea didn’t last long. I couldn’t bear to let the books out of my sight and when books were returned overdue, or with scratch and scribble marks, it ruined many a friendship.

Round about the same age, my mother took me to the library for the first time. It was love at first sight. There was an atrium garden where you could sit and read on beanbags, hopscotch squares marked out on the floor and, most importantly, more books than I could ever hope to own in my bedroom library.

Having access to the public library, sadly, didn’t cure my addiction for books. At one time, my mom had to bribe me with the latest best-seller to get me to study for final exams.

Today I can’t resist a bookstore. I’m a serial book buyer. If my self-control is strong, I’ll leave with just a few notebooks to scribble in or a magazine. If I’m weak, I’ll leave with a weeping credit card and a bag of shiny new books to add to my collection.

The truth is books opened the door to new worlds. Before I’d started school, I’d already learned about the Seven Wonders of the World. When I was bored on a Sunday, I could hang out with Nancy Drew or The Famous Five.

And I’ve never been the same since. So the literary police can charge and book me. I don’t mind. When I’m out, I’ll just buy another book for my private library. 

by Anthony Ehlers

(If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy “Based on the Book By” – The relationship between books and movies)
— 1 week ago with 32 notes
#Books  #Charged and Booked  #Writers Write  #Anthony Ehlers  #National Book Week 
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.

— 2 weeks ago with 111 notes
#Six Fascinating Character Types  #Writing Advice  #Writers Write  #Anthony Ehlers