Friday, September 21, 2018

How to Craft a Story

Story writing or creative writing isn't easy, but writing a story worth reading, that's where the real hard work comes in.

Have you ever wondered how the bestselling authors and literary greats were able to sit down and create mesmerising fiction?

In this blog post you'll discover ... storytelling tips that will have your readers wanting more.

Let this list be your inspiration and guide, make your own copy and stick it on your wall, office, refrigerator door or somewhere you'll notice it and where it can be a reminder of your story writing.


1. Do It  In One

If you're writing a short story, write your first draft in one sitting.  If you're writing a novel, set yourself a deadline of three months.

Your first draft is the exploration process of or outline of your story.  Think of your first draft like your digging up something important from the past.  You've unearthed a few pieces of pottery but you still don't know what the town is like that you're digging up.

2. Establish Your Central Character

Every good story has a lead character or principal who makes big and small decisions that can send them on wild chase or crisis that he needs to get out of.  Add other characters such as the joker, a sidekick or a villain to give your story real depth.

3. Build Drama and Suspense

Give your readers a what happens next scenario.  Is your heroine going to fall in love with her leading man or is she going to get a mysterious disease and die?

Show don't tell is another effective way of telling a story, you show your readers a scene then tell the rest.

A quick note:  Don't give your audience too much information, keep them in suspense.

4.  Give Your Characters Good Dialogue

You need lots of patience to write really good dialogue.  All of your characters have a unique voice, you need to find out what each of your character sounds like.

5.  Use Death in Your Storytelling

Every good novel has death somewhere lurking in the pages.  From Lord of the Rings to Silence of the Lambs its a universal theme that happens to us all at some point in time.

6. Use the Three Draft Rule

All professional writers do three drafts of their manuscript. The 'first draft' is the draft you don't want to share with anyone, and is commonly know as the 'vomit draft'.  With this draft you can get your teeth into what your piece of fiction is all about.

The second draft gives you a chance to help clarify your plot and characters. 

The third draft is to pull everything together, and polish your story.

7. All Great Writers Know How to Break the Rules

All good writers know how to break the rules and create new ones for their stories. 

8. "Just Write"

The best way to deal with writer's block is to "just write".  Don't expect perfection because it doesn't exist in writing. Just keep on writing, even when life is difficult.  You often find you write your best when life gets in the way.

Practice Makes Perfect

These writing pointers will help you write a better story.  So don't be afraid to write. The more you write the more successful you'll become at writing.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

What Sort of Writer Would You Like to Be?


If you're new to writing, and haven't quite found your forte yet.  Don't panic, there are plenty of career options to choose from when it comes to writing.  Writer's are present in many different scripted activities including: political speeches, daily news, and the production of books and newspapers.  Many writer's choose to do more than one type of writing, this has employed lots of people.  Here are some of those writing jobs:

Article Writers

Specific themes and topics, or news items are done by non-fiction writers.  These article writers can often be found as staff writers or freelance writers.  They're all able to write crisp, concise articles.These articles can be found on and off the internet, and many make a good living in the magazine industry.

Academic Writers

Scientific journals, university magazines are all written by academic writers.  Many are primarily article/book writers that don't write for money.  It's usually considered an honor to be published in many of these publications.  Most of these writers do it to further their academic career.

Business Writers

Business writers are usually found working for commercial business magazines of high end readers. The demands are more stringent, emphasising language and relevant business knowledge.  The writers reflect their cutting edge audience of professionals.  Business writing can be done by both freelance and staff writers, but definitely no amateurs.  Well paid both on and off line.


Columnists

Trends are their staple, rather than news.  Columnists can be found in newsletters, newspapers and magazines.  Syndicated columns can be found in hundreds of newspapers.  Writing articles weekly for the same column, staff journalists can be found in larger newspapers and magazines, usually with an established name to provide regular columns for their readers.

Copywriters

Some of the best paid writers in the business.  A good copywriter can make a lot of money writing text to sell a product.  A copywriter has the ability to evoke an interest and enthusiasm for a particular product.

Freelance Writers

Those writers who do not make their living in one particular job.  As the title suggests, it gives freedom to the writer and enables them to take on whatever work suits them.  Making their job diverse and allowing them to work when they want.  This has an obvious effect on their income, and that is why most writers prefer this route to staff writing.

Journalists

Most people read what a journalist has produced in a newspaper.  Normally a degree is required in journalism for this kind of writing.  You need to be on your toes for handling those deadlines.

Nonfiction Book Writers

This group of writers include technical, academic and those with even more fervour and devotion than writing skills.  Their common skill is the ability to read information and turn it into readable text that will satisfy the reader.

Online Writers

Many freelance writers write for websites and e-zines.  Usually with no previous writing background and have jobs during the day, these writers can be quite low paid.  The market online is diverse and bottomless leaving a lot of scope for creativity and diversity with their writing.

Ghostwriters

A large group of anonymous book writers not unlike speechwriters that have specialised in writing for other people as if they were someone else.  Their clients are usually high media profile people, or business leaders. This type of writing requires a lot of planning which is done with the help of the customer, along with interviews and research on the book's topic.  All of this information will help to educate the ghostwriter about the client's writing style.  Patience is required along with people skills and numerous rewrites are often necessary.  The anonymity of the writer is paramount, and depending upon the client the pay can be mediocre or be very well paid.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

How to Construct a Really Good Sentence

The key to writing really well is to right really great content.

Because 'content is King'.

But that's easier said than done.

Are you a perfectionist who thinks that their writing just isn't hitting the mark?  That one day you'll wake up and all of your writing ideas will disappear?

These are fears all writers have.  It doesn't matter what kind of writing you do, you still need to create great sentences to make great content.



Mastering the Art of Sentence Writing

You can't write a good book without writing a really good sentences, and this goes for any blog or other publication you may be producing.

Your words are the building blocks to the message you want to share with your readers.  Being able to write really great sentences comes from what you learned at school, and the experience you pick up on as you go along.  Some of the school stuff you may have forgotten about, but it's all just locked away in your memory banks ready to be drawn on.

Sentences: a Cohesive Bundle of Words that Make Sense

Good sentences should carry weight and keep the reader's curiosity, and also act as a link to the next one.

The Definition of a Sentence

Grammar, a grammatical unit of one or more words that expresses an independent statement, question, request, command, exclamation etc.

Usually sentences include the subject (person or thing being described) and a verb (action being done). This may also consist of a direct object (a secondary person or thing that the action is happening to).

To keep things simple we're going to describe a sentence as a group of words that have meaning.

Which means 'To be, or not to be: that is the question?' is a sentence and so is 'Huh?'.

A quick recap: Words that can be brought together and united to make sense, can tell a story or give useful information.

Don't get too tangled up in the grammar rules, think about what they do. 

How to Write Great Sentences:  6 Tips Every Writer Should Know

If you want to write really well, learn from the master,

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot - Stephen King

You need to start taking notes from the greats like Mark Twain, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, T.S. Eliot. 
 I think you get the picture.

Let's look at how you can get the attention of your readers and give them what they really want to read.

An interesting quote by C.S. Lewis:
You can make anything by writing.
So let's get started, here are 6 tips about sentences every writer should know:

1. Use Words That Carry Clout

Really good sentences will awaken your emotions and pack a real emotional punch with every word.

You do this by falling into your emotions and let them do the typing, it'll feel like lightning hitting the page.  Here are some sentences that really make you stop and think:
Tears are words that need to be written - Paulo Coelho

If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood - Peter Handke

The first sentence can't be written until the final sentence is written - Joyce Carol Oates

Let the world burn through you.  Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper - Ray Bradbury

The beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes - Andre Gide
If you can evoke a particular feeling in your reader then you can give them a real emotional jolt.

Don't go overboard with this particular sentence technique otherwise it'll look a little silly.  You need to season your writing lightly, by giving your post titles and subheadings a bit more flavour.

2. Use the Active Voice, and Give Your Sentences More Heart

Sentences should be written in the active voice, meaning the subject is doing something or has a relation to a direct or indirect object:

Example: Karen ate the dark chocolate.

Using the passive voice, the sentence feels really out of place because the passive voice twists everything around.

Example: The dark chocolate was eaten by Karen.

Technically the passive voice isn't wrong, it just doesn't do the job properly. 

There may times when the passive voice is called for, just remember to use it very sparingly.

3. Use Description to Inspire the Senses

You can use rich and colourful descriptions to really lighten up a sentence.  This builds a picture in your readers minds eye.

You can be as specific as you want when it comes to description.  When describing a terrifying scene tell the reader about how bad your character is feeling and what he is seeing as the evening unfolds.
You need to conjure up a picture and release it on your reader.

Example:

The terror, which would not end for another twenty-eight years - if it every did end - began, so far as I know or can tell, with a boat made from a sheet of newspaper floating down a gutter swollen in the rain.  - Stephen King's 'It'

4.  The 14 Word Maximum 

Keep your sentences to no longer than 14 words maximum, a bit shorter than that is better, it makes them easier to read.

5. Be Brusque

Keep to the point of what your saying and try not to stray too far away from your point.  Otherwise you'll bore your audience to tears.

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Friday, September 14, 2018

How Words Can Enrich Our Lives


Do you like reading?

Do you find yourself browsing through newspapers, magazines, novels and non-fiction books? 

If you appreciate the 'written word' you probably write really well, you've taken notice of how famous writer's put sentences together.   You've seen how words are spelled and discovered that there is a common pattern to writing.  You've observed the complexity and beauty of words whether it be spoken or communicated, you want to use those words to the best of your ability.


A Well Written Story

A well written story can take you on a journey, make you feel like one of the character's.  It whisks you off into a new world or point in time, creating an engrossing and unforgetable story that makes the world around stop.

A really good story will make you feel euphoric, lifting you high into the clouds.  You just can't stop reading and want more and more.  A natural high that you can only experience when you really dig into each page set before you.

Words Are Like Music

Words are similar to music, the more we learn and discover about them the more enjoyable they become.  Words and music are both forms of communcation, we need both forms in our lives to enrich us and build us up.

Back-to-Basics

It's good to get 'back-to-basics' and remind ourselves of how we express ourselves with words. Communication can be formal or informal depending upon it's setting.  Usually you can find formal writing in fields such as technical and business reports, scientific and scholarly papers, and legal briefs, the list goes on. The aforementioned cases use the current professionally accepted rules of writing.

Informal writing is more appropriate for poetry, scripts, novels, personal letters, notes, e-mail, messages etc.  In these more casual settings we might want to relax the rules a bit and write directly from our hearts and heads.  Things such as spelling and sentence structure still apply.  The way we write and communicate with one another shows us who we are.  The rules don't suddenly disappear with an email.  All emails should be well structured and composed, just like any letter that is written. It's okay to be messy in personal messages.

Tell me your thoughts about how you write.  I'd love to hear them.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

7 Tools to Create Images and Ebook Covers



Are you a first time self-publisher?  Do you have an eBook without a cover? Look no further, I'm going to show you 7 websites that will solve your problem.

If you're looking to earn some extra money or make selling eBooks part of your business then this blog post is for you.

There's no doubt self-publishing has exploded globally within the last five years.

People all over the world want to publish their own works on a free platforms (if they can) to keep their costs down.

Finding platforms that offer a product that is easy to use, enables you to create your own design and text and save it as an eBook cover can be pretty hard to find.

I've put together some of the platforms I've used as well as some that other bloggers have recommended.

Try out some of these cover creators for size:
The New EBook Self-Publisher

If you're just starting out, you need to do a lot of experimenting to understand how to create an eBook cover.

I've tried a number of different options for my eBook covers, and having an easy to use dashboard is always helpful.  Both Fotor and PicMonkey provide this for any new starters.

Some necessary features to look out for:

  • Custom canvas
  • Save the file as a JPG or PNG
  • Add your own fonts or choose from a selection of fonts
  • Format your font 
  • Add stickers
  • Choose a background

I'd love to hear your comments about eBook cover websites you've used in the comments below.

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Monday, September 10, 2018

Acronyms, Contractions, Initialisms, and Shortenings: What You Need to Know About Abbreviations

Abbreviations, an area of uncertainty for many people, not knowing where to:
  • write abbreviations with capital letters
  • write full stops
  • to use apostrophes
There are different kinds of abbreviations, and the way the abbreviation is written relies on the category it belongs to.

Acronyms

Words that are formed from initial letters of other words and pronounced as they are spelled.  A few examples:

Aids
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome

NATO
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

UNESCO
United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation

SIM (Card)
Subscriber Identification Module

Note: Most acronyms can be written as capital letters or with an initial capital letter at the beginning of  the word.

Some are well-established within society, so much so,  that they've become 'normal' words.  More examples:

Laser
Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation

Radar
Radio detection and ranging

Quango
Quasi-autonomous  non-governmental organisation

Scuba
Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus

Contractions


A contraction is an abbreviation with letters removed from the middle of the word.  A few examples:

  • Dr - Doctor
  • St - Saint
  • Ltd - Limited
  • Revd - Reverend
Contractions can also appears as abbreviated forms of more than word. 

For example:
  • I'll - I will/I shall
  • We've - We have
  • Shouldn't - Should not
Initialisms

Initialisms are abbreviations consisting of initials (first letters) of words pronounced as separate letters when spoken.  For example:
  • BBC - British Broadcasting Association
  • MP - Member of Parliament
  • UN - United Nations
  • UK - United Kingdom
  • CD - Compact Disc
Note: Full stops aren't required after the letters in an initialism.

Apostrophes aren't required when forming the plural of an initialism.  Examples:

CDs - I bought some CDs last week.

MPs - MPs took a vote against the bill last night.

Shortenings

A shortening is an abbreviation where the end or beginning of a word has been dropped.  For example:
  • Cello - violincello
  • Flu - Influenza
  • Ad - Advertisement
  • Blog - Weblog
  • Telly - Television
  • Bike - Bicycle
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Friday, September 07, 2018

8 Bestselling Books on Writing You'll Ever Need



You want to be a good writer?

You need to read.

All good writers read.

Signs of this will be seen throughout any good writer's work, especially in the presentation of grammar and punctuation. The truth is that good writing comes from reading the best material out there.

Don't get me wrong that doesn't mean that all reading material is the same.  You need to spend your time reading the best books you can get your hands on, whether it be non-fiction  like a book on writing or fictitious book like a novella.

Try reading the genre that interests you the most, you'll soon discover the difference it will make to your writing.  You need to spend your time wisely by making time to read.  If  you find it difficult to sit for an hour or so reading try doing a quarter of an hour and build it up slowly.  If that's too difficult, try an eBook.

The Writer's Reading List

Yes grammar and punctuation are important, and practice is to, but how you communicate this to your audience is crucial.

These are some of  the books on Amazon's bestseller list for writing:
1. The Elements of Style By William Strunk Jr and E B White  



An American English Writing style guide, the most prescriptive treatment of English grammar and it's usage.



2. On Writing By Stephen King



Hugely enlightening for any aspiring writer, a million-copy bestseller, Stephen King shares his experiences, habits, and convictions that have helped shape him and make him the writer he is today.


3. Writing Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers By Jennifer Serravallo



Jen Serravallo has collected 300 of the most effective strategies to share with writer's everywhere, and grouped them together into 10 crucial goals.


4. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life By Anne Lamott



Advice about writing and on life from acclaimed bestselling author Anne Lamont.

5. The Author Startup: A Radical Approach To Rapidly Writing and Self-Publishing Your Book On Amazon By Ray Brehm 



The Author Startup will show you how to create a viable product and publish your book, build momentum and market your book.


6. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction By William Zinsser



Highly praised for its sound advice, On Writing shows with the clarity of its style and warmth the fundamental principles as well as insights from a distinguished writer and teacher William Zinsser.


7. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide To Character Expression By Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi



Highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each, all in an easy-to-use format.


8. The Writing Life By Anne Dillard 


A short collection of essays written by Annie Dillard, illuminating the dedication, absurdity, and daring that characterize the existence of a writer.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Action and Linking Verbs: What Part Do They Play in a Sentence?

Verbs can be used to express time as well as context within a sentence.  This becomes more apparent when you want to add more information to clarify an action or details of what might be occurring.   To  help in sentence construction you need to know about Action Verbs, Transitive Verbs, Intransitive Verbs, and Linking Verbs.  They all hold up the subject of a sentence.

By expanding your knowledge of verbs you will enhance your writing and be able to express what you mean more freely.  Many writer's end up using just simple action verbs which can often leave a sentence feeling clumsy and strained.  Give your writing a new lease of life and start experimenting with verbs.  Study your favourite writers and get a flavour of how they make use of verbs.

Try: Basic English Grammar: Understanding Verbs & Verb Tenses

Action Verbs

Action Verbs also known as dynamic verbs articulate whether an action is physical or mental, clarifying what the subject of the sentence has done or is doing.

Example: Kevin watched his favourite cartoon.

Words like watched, ate and baked are verbs that people do.

If you're unsure about action verbs, take a closer look at all of the words used in the sentence. Say to yourself "Can a person, animal, place, thing or idea actually do this?" If the answer is yes then that is an action verb.

You can use Action Verbs with or without a direct object.  These are called Transitive and Intransitive Verbs.

Transitive Verbs

Transitive Verbs can be placed with an object, noun, phrase or pronoun and refer to the person or thing that receive the action of the verb.

Example: The heating engineer will fix the broken boiler soon.  

The direct object is the broken boiler.


Intransitive Verbs

Intransitive words don't need a direct object to state their meaning.  They are achieved by an infinitive, adverb, adjective, preposition or gerund.  Contrary to transitive verbs they don't require a receiver of the action of that verb.

Example: The President waved to the crowds.

Linking Verbs

Also known as copulas or copular verbs they link two parts of a speech, which usually involves two nouns (one subject and one complement).  Accepted forms of "to be" are usually used: Am, is, is being, are, are being, was, was being, were, has, has been, have been, will have been and had been.

Example: I was a tap dancer when I was younger.

The Active and Passive Voice

Where the subject performs the action stated by the verb that is the Active Voice.  When the subject is acted upon by the verb, that is the passive voice.

Active Voice

When the active verb is used the subject performs the action that is signified.

Example: Katy mailed the letter.

Passive Voice

When the passive voice is used the subject is being acted upon.

Example: Six hamburgers must have been eaten by that man.

With more changes and words added, the passive voice can be harder for the reader to decipher.  A richer more conversational voice comes through when the active voice is used.  In everyday language the active voice is used more routinely, and is also preferred by many writer's.  The passive voice can be used to draw attention to the action of the sentence instead of the person doing the action.

Sentences become more exciting when the passive voice is used.  Even though it's grammatically sound and correct it can be too formal and dated.  Mostly carried out in academic writing, literary prose and poetry where the writer wants to be detached or distanced from the work at hand.  Try and recognise the genre and audience your writing for when selecting your writing voice.

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