Sunday, 22 February 2015

How Are You Plotting?

Creative Writing Tips

Writing is a creative process and how every writer chooses to create, is individual to them. Likewise, with plotting, every writer plots at a level they are comfortable with.

Some just plot the bare essentials. They have a firm idea of the story they want to write and have a good memory to be able to memorize everything.

Others go into more detail. These writers prefer to figure everything out before they write the story.

How you plot will also depend on your level of experience. For the beginner, it’s recommended to plot thoroughly.

Before writing, think of every possible situation. Plot events thoroughly, plot scenes to the last detail and generally leave no questions unasked or unanswered. This way you will always know where you’re going.

Are You Using The ‘What If’ Technique When Plotting?

Your short story of 500, 2.000, 10.000 words or whatever word length you choose to write, will spring from a single idea - Perhaps a one-sentence idea.

So when you are still in that one sentence stage, using the ‘What If,’ technique is a good way of generating ideas to build on that initial story idea.

While you are in the plotting stage, experiment. Your aim should be to write the best story you can. Experiment to see what bits and pieces you can put together to write the best story ever.

So using ‘What If,’ ask yourself questions then answer them…


What if the character was like this?
What if this happened to him?
What if I placed him in this situation? How would he react?
What if I took this away from him?
What if his worst fear came true?
What if he doesn’t get what he wants? What will he do?
What if I placed this obstacle in his path? What will he do?


You’ll be surprised what you come up with, if you take the time to experiment.

(c) Nick Vernon

Besides his passion for writing, Nick Vernon runs an online gift site where you will find gift information, articles and readers’ funny stories. Visit http://www.we-recommend.com

Monday, 19 January 2015

Factors to Consider in Creative Writing

Creative writing is more than providing people with information. It is the art of sharing one's thoughts and emotions. It is like giving your readers a part of yourself. Not everyone is given the talent to compose one. But if you are willing to learn, there are a lot of ways to consider. Here are some of them.

1. If you are not a college student yet, think about taking up Journalism, English literature or other related courses. This will equip you with the necessary knowledge. You may also consider enrolling in short courses specifically for this form of writing. It may be best to attend workshops as well. There are also online courses available.

2. Write and write and write. Every time you see something that amazes you, write. Each time you feel happy for a reason, jot it down. If possible, do this every day so you can finally find your momentum.

3. Identify when is the best time for you to write. This is to be able to manage your time perfectly. This is also to enable you to produce more inspiring pieces.

4. Read and read and read. If you want to learn about creative writing, you have to know how each creative writer expresses their ideas. Read their works. Study each of them. Discover why people love them.

5. You must also be sensitive to your environment. Study everything that is around you. Interact with people to know their thoughts. Read blogs online. In this way, you will know the plot or highlight of the stories that will interest most of them.

6. Prepare yourself to rejections. Take every rejected work as your chance to improve. Know if in which aspect of writing you still need to harness. Consider every comment or feedback as an inspiration. Remember, some famous writers have experienced rejections several times.

7. You have to be imaginative as well. See in your mind's eye the flow that you will like for your writing.

8. Know your niche. You cannot be a good creative writer if you will cover all the disciplines. You cannot possibly do that. Discover where you are good at and focus from there.

Creative writing is not confined to poetry, short stories, essays and others. It is not all about fiction. It can also be non-fiction. Today, personal blogs can be considered one form. Bloggers share their own tales, which is mostly about travels or other things they enjoy doing. They do this artistically.

If you write for a living, make it a point to track your work hours by using a time tracking tool. It helps analyze your time better.

(c) ​April Dee Barredo

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A Guide to Creative Writing That Sells

It's unbelievable that with all the creative writing courses out there, that no one teaches the necessity of researching your market before you set pen to paper.

Yes, we all want to be creative and let our imagination go. At the same time, wouldn't it be great to have some of your work published? Even better wouldn't it be awesome to know that you have upped your chances of getting published by around 80% by simply doing a tiny bit of browsing in a library or bookstore?

Here is a way to make sure that there is an interest in your type of story before you pick up a pen or pull out your laptop:

1) Go to the local bookstore and read the writing magazines. Editors actually tell these magazines what they are interested in, in a fairly timely manner. Most of the guess work is taken out for you. You know which editors are looking for what type of stories.
2) Look at the current Writer's Guide. It is filled with editors and publishers looking for fresh material. And guess what? They also tell you what each editor wants and what they are sick to death of.
3) Check out the bookshelves to see which children's books are featured. Is there a trend or pattern? For example the last few years Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl and Charlie Bone have all been hot. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that magical characters have taken kids and editors by storm.
4) Ask kids what their favorite books are. Ask them why they like one over the other. Ask if their friends are into the same books. Model these themes.

There is no need to make over the wheel or hire a psychic to figure out what publishers, editors and your audience - kids, are looking for. Gather this information and apply it to your writing.

Watch the number of your submissions rise, while your rejection letters become few and far between.

(c) Caterina Christakos is the author of How to Write a Children's Book in 30 Days or Less and countless articles both on and off the net. For easy tips on how to write a children's book go to: http://www.howtowriteachildrensbook.com

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Writing Narrative vs Writing Dialogue

One of the nice things about being an author is that we can break any rule we want. (I just did.) It’s part of our job description. Language changes through usage -- definitions, spelling, grammar -- and authors can help it do this. But on the other hand, we have to have some sort of agreement on the language or we won’t be able to talk to each other.

When we as authors break a rule or two, it’s not because we’re ignorant. It’s because we have reasons to break them. That’s one of the joys of writing.

Having said that, now I’m going to explain some rules. There are two types of writing in your novel. There is your narrative and there is your dialogue. The rules for the two are not the same.

For example, comma use. In dialogue, it’s not so difficult. Put in a comma wherever your speaker pauses in his/her speaking. In narrative, you have to consult the style guides and hope that you and your editor, working as a team, can sort it all out.

NARRATIVE

A cop thriller like my Vigilante Justice has a simple set of rules for the narrative portion. Third-person, straightforward writing, light on adjectives and adverbs, easy to read and grammatically correct. Sentence fragments are acceptable if communication is achieved, and you’ll note that I use them often in this article. Why? Simply because it’s more effective that way.

To a degree the genre will help you identify what’s appropriate. For a cop drama, write in the dry style of a journalist. For horror, a bit of hyperbole may be acceptable in the most dramatic sections. For romance (not my genre), you can probably use lots more adjectives (swollen, heaving, throbbing, etc.) than you’d normally dare.

When I wrote Rising From The Ashes, the true story of Mom raising my brother and I alone, I tried to adopt a “childlike voice” early in the narrative. As the character of Michael the storyteller grew older, I abandoned that childlike quality. (An entire book of that would get old fast anyway.)

When I wrote An American Redneck In Hong Kong, the humorous sequel, I once again used first person narrative. But the narrative of Rising is first person only in that it uses “I” instead of “Michael.” It still follows all the rules of “conventional” narrative. In Redneck, I threw most of the rules out the window.

I used what one author referred to my as “conversational” tone to maximum effect in Redneck. This fellow author felt like he wasn’t so much reading my book as just listening to me tell some stories over a few beers. That’s exactly what I wanted.

In Rising, while I was the “first person” character, I wasn’t really the book’s focus. In Redneck, I am. Center stage, in the spotlight. Using more of a “dialogue” style in what should have been “narrative” allowed me to focus the reader’s attention on the first person to a greater degree than simply describing him ever could. You may love me or you may hate me, but you’ll know me and you’ll laugh at me.

If you want to see such a technique used to maximum effect, I recommend A Monk Swimming by Malachy McCourt. (I read it after writing Redneck, by the way.) It’s about an actor who gets drunk and does very bad things to himself and his family, and it’s amazing just how much I laughed out loud reading about it. Doesn’t sound like a funny subject, does it? It’s not, and yet it is, thanks to his unconventional narrative style.

To tell you the truth, I don’t even think McCourt “wrote” that book. I think he just said it all into a tape recorder and transcribed it later. It reads that much like “a guy at the pub telling a tale.” If he used the grammar checking function in MSWord, I bet it underlined every sentence. And, bright fellow that he is, he ignored them all and didn’t change a word.

If you’re going to use a more conversational tone in your narrative, don’t think that means you just write something down and don’t have to edit it. You still have to organize your thoughts, and that means rewriting. While your style may be unconventional, you have to make the ideas easy for the reader to follow.

(I’m not entirely serious when I say McCourt just spoke into a tape recorder, and even if he did that doesn’t mean the rest of us can get away with it.)

I originally wrote Redneck in chronological order. It worked for Rising, and it works for memoirs and novels in general, right? Well, in the case of Redneck, it was a disaster. Way too much “remember what I said before about…” and so forth. So while it was accurate, and while it was conversational, it stunk. I changed everything to more of a “theme-based” approach and that did the trick. Still conversational and accurate, but organized. The ideas are as easy to follow as the writing style, and that’s always the goal. Ease of reading.

In the case of narrative, you have the choice. If you want to spotlight the storyteller to maximum effect, you can go with first person and let the storyteller’s narrative and his dialogue read the same. If you’d prefer to “move the camera” back a bit, make the narrative conventional in contrast to the dialogue. As a rule, this reader likes contrast, because he gets bored reading the same thing over and over again unless the style is really special. Or perhaps you can find a point somewhere between the two.

Every story has a way that it should be told for maximum effect. Maximum effect in the author’s eyes, of course, as it’s a subjective thing. Keep it in mind as you write. Make the call, stick to it, change it if it’s not working. It might even be okay to be inconsistent, but only if you do so deliberately. Just keep stuff like “ease of reading” and “maximum effect” in mind and go be creative.

DIALOGUE

Have you ever read a book where the narrative and the dialogue read the same? I hope you haven’t. But as an editor I’ve seen such things, and they’re very ugly.

Do you know why they’re so ugly? Because they remind the reader of the one thing an author does not want to remind the reader of. Namely, that every character on the page is a puppet under the author’s control.

As readers, we put that thought aside so we can enjoy reading. “Willing suspension of disbelief,” to quote the phrase an English teacher used when describing the performance of Shakespeare’s plays. If the author ensures that the reader can’t suspend disbelief, the book will not be read. Stilted dialogue is one of the quickest ways to make that happen.

I’ve decided that writing dialogue is the hardest thing we do. It’s certainly not the something we can go look up in a style manual like Strunk or Turabian.

What are the rules? “Make it sound real.” But with the corollary, “not too real because people always say um and er and crap like that.” Oh yeah. That explains everything! End of my article, right?

Nope. I’m still writing it.

Ideally, the greatest of the great creators of dialogue will have every character “speaking” in a voice so distinctive that he/she need never identify the speaker. Okay, that’s enough fiction. Back to reality. None of us are writing dialogue that well, are we?

People use a lot more contractions in speech than in writing. They’re faster. More sentence fragments, too. People very often use the wrong version of lie/lay or “who” instead of “whom” in speaking. (Personally, I never use “whom” in speaking or writing because I want to see that distinction scrapped, but that’s another story.)

The dialogue portion of Vigilante Justice isn’t difficult to describe. The hero is a self-destructive cop named Gary Drake. He is based on a real-life cop, my little brother. So his dialogue was easy because, in my mind, I always heard Gary speaking in Barry’s voice.

For my other characters, I had to find some other voice. For example, the voice of Doctor Garrett Allison is, to me, that of Michael Jordan.

That’s right, people. When I write, I literally hear voices in my head.

As a beginning writer, and not a very good one, I read some advice somewhere saying you might want to cut photos out of magazines and use them when writing your physical description, in case you can’t get a mental picture together of your characters. I’ve used this technique, and with some modification I’ve extended it to voices.

As an author, you should always play to your greatest strengths while working to improve your weaknesses. I know many authors who think visually, and I envy them that. I’ve read some stuff that can make you feel you’re skiing down a snow-covered mountain when it’s actually 85 degrees in your flat and you’ve never skied in your life.

One author told me that when he writes, he literally sees movies in his head, then just has to type them really fast because that’s how they’re playing. Lucky him! My novels first come to me in snippets of dialogue. Every character has the same voice at that stage. (My voice, of course.)

Tight dialogue is one thing I enjoy when I read. Here are the characters at some sort of verbal showdown. I know them, I know their motives, I can read between the lines and know what’s being left unsaid. I can just feel the tension in the air. I’m not so much mentally picturing bulging veins and angry glares as I am just feeling the spoken words.

I also have an excellent memory of voices. I always have. Like a dog remembers scents or an artist colors, it seems, I can remember voices. If I hear an unfamiliar song on the radio but I’ve ever heard that singer before, I can tell you who it is. I can tell you that the guy doing the voice of Gomez Addams in the original “Addams Family” cartoon is now doing one of the voices in the Tazmanian Devil’s cartoon series. I can spot an actor like Andreas Katsulas no matter what species of rubberized alien he’s playing, because I recognize his voice, although really that’s no great challenge in his case.

(For the record, if you’ve read The Chronicles Of A Madman, Ahriman looks and sounds like Andreas Katsulas. Clyde Windham is Dennis Franz. Wendy Himes is some girl who sold me some horse feed about ten years ago.)

But just “hearing” the voices (if you’re able) isn’t enough. The words themselves will be different depending on who’s speaking them, even if they’re relaying the same information.

To get back to Vigilante Justice, Gary Drake doesn’t use a lot of words. He almost never describes his own feelings, and if he does he always feels guilty about it. He speaks with a Southern drawl. He tends to use a single swear word, and that word is “fuck.”

Marjorie Brooks, on the other hand, mentions feelings and uses whichever swear word is the most accurate, except that she never says “fuck.” Doctor Allison doesn’t use as many contractions as the rest of us do. These are things I kept in mind as I wrote their dialogue.

Who remembers Mr. Spock? His speech sounds like written language, very grammatical and correct, and that’s deliberate. He’s a scientist, he’s logical, and for him language is only one more tool to be used with as much precision as possible. That isn’t just a different style of dialogue; it helps define his character.

In my The Chronicles Of A Madman, Ahriman used fewer contractions than the rest of us and he avoided sentence fragments. He probably even knew the difference between who and whom or lie and lay. That’s because he’s intelligent, you see. It kinds of goes with the territory when one is evil incarnate.

During an edit I did of a sci-fi book, I saw where the author wasn’t using enough contractions. I made many suggestions that he change the dialogue of the humans to use those contractions, except when military officers were giving orders, because order-giving officers tend to be more “serious” and “thoughtful” than folks just being regular folks.

I also suggested to this author that he change nothing about the “stilted” speech patterns of his aliens. English isn’t their native language, you see, and one thing I’ve noticed from living in China is that the locals don’t use nearly as many contractions as I do. So I thought that added realism. Plus, the contrast should help keep the readers keep everybody straight even if they aren’t consciously aware of why.

I remember in one edit where I read some character saying, “I am an historian.” Oh, I hate that phrase. I hate anyone ever putting “an” in front of a word that begins with the consonant “h.” Correct or not -- and that’s debatable -- it’s terribly pretentious and I don’t like it. As I kept reading the book, I quickly learned that the character in question is terribly pretentious. Nobody else in the book was throwing “an” in front of “h” words. It was a deliberate contrast on the author’s part, and it worked quite nicely.

CONCLUSION

I suppose the point of all this is, remember the difference between narrative and dialogue.

In the case of narrative, you’re simply trying to describe what happens. There is a famous quote of some sort that says, “Great writing is like a window pane.” Stick to that maxim unless you feel you have a good reason not to. If you’ve got what it takes to make your writing style superior to the conventional, and if your story allows it, let that style be an asset of your writing. Otherwise, just stick to the rules until you master them.

In the case of dialogue, you’re trying to write something that sounds like what the characters would actually say, but a bit more organized because “real” speech can be boring. Give every character his/her/its own voice.

Am I joking when I say “its?” Not entirely. The Chronicles Of A Madman contains a short story, written in first person from my dog’s viewpoint. But then again, I would never call Daisy an “it.”

There’s a stylistic decision you can make in narrative, by the way. I always refer to animals as “he” or “she.” Some authors always use “it.”

In dialogue, you can let some characters always say he or she, and let others always say it, to contrast the feeling with the unfeeling. (My heroes never call an animal “it.”)

In the end, the goal is always the same. Make your writing as easy to read as you can. Keep that in mind, and always keep learning, and you won’t go wrong.

Copyright 2001, Michael LaRocca
Michael is an American living in Hong Kong. He has been working as a full-time author for over two years and as an editor for over a year. He has 4 novels scheduled for publication. He’s proud of the fact that he rarely writes in the same genre twice. One of his novels is an EPPIE 2002 in the Thriller category.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

From Idea to Short Story or Novel

For many writers getting ideas is actually the easier part of the creative writing process. From overhearing a conversation on the train or bus, reading something in a magazine or newspaper, to your own life. However, taking that idea and forming a short story or a novel requires a lot more work.

There are integral aspects that must be followed if you want your short story or novel to stand a chance of being published.

So you have got an idea. It could be anything, for example a woman wanting to flee from an abusive marriage to an idea about a haunted house. The first thing you need to create is a main character that is strong enough to carry your plot/story right through to the end. This is vitally important when writing novels as it is obviously a longer piece of work than say a short story, therefore you need to keep your readers turning the pages.

It is worth spending a large proportion of your time creating the main character including as much detail as possible. Treat it as if you are constructing a real-life person, that includes personality traits, looks, family background, career, relationships, everything you can think of. The more you know about your main character then the easier it will be for you to write convincingly about them.

Once you have developed your main character then you need to create minor characters to support or oppose your main character and thus move your plot along. Although minor characters do not need to be as thoroughly constructed as your major character it will still pay off well the better you know them.

When writing a novel or short story you will need a clearly defined plot. This what your story is essentially about so it is vitally important to devise your plot before you actually start writing. More experienced writers for example Stephen King, write without detailed planning. However, for the novice writer a plan will help with the structure of your novel and will tell you before you start any major work whether this particular idea can be made into longer fiction. If you find that your idea is not strong enough to sustain a full-length novel it can be turned into a shorter piece of fiction such as a novella or a short story.

When writing fiction it may be useful if you see your main character as wanting to achieve something, but something else, usually the antagonist, prevents them from achieving this. Conflict is a vital element of all good fiction and is the reason why your readers will want to read to the end. If we use the above example of a woman wanting to flee an abusive marriage. The woman’s desire is to leave, whilst her husband wants to prevent her from doing this. What happens in between and the eventual resolution is your story and if written well, should produce an engaging piece of fiction.

(c) Sharon Wilson

Sharon Wilson is an aspiring writer who is serious and passionate about the art and craft of creative writing. She has undertaken several courses in this field and has gained extensive knowledge of writing novels and short stories. Sharon has a keen interest in poetry and is an avid reader. Her blog is dedicated to all writers, especially the new writer: https://sharonswriterstidbits.wordpress.com/

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Is The Theme Running Throughout The Story?

Creative Writing Tips 

It’s no use coming up with a theme and not using it. Short stories are about a character or characters and about one situation or happening in those characters’ lives.

By concentrating on that one thing, our stories are focused. You will need to focus to maintain a level of intensity and sticking to the theme enables us to do that.

Let me give you an example…

Scenario One

Let’s say your story is about a young man (main character) who is being harassed (one situation) by the school bully (secondary character.) Let’s place the setting in grade school.

Now if we focus on that single happening and in our story say….

•What started the bullying

•What the main character felt, confronted with this problem

•What the main character did to overcome this problem

•If the main character won or lost against the bully…

Then we’ll be focusing only on that incident which is what our story is about.


Scenario Two

Now if we took that situation further and in our story said that this character grew up and was bullied in high school and then later by a colleague…

That will be listing three incidences, which will weaken our story because we are not focusing.



Remember a short story is short.

We don’t have too much leeway to develop too many things so we have to be selective with what we choose to concentrate on. Short stories work best when they span over a short period of time.

Like in scenario one, this incident might span over a couple of days or a week, where in the second scenario, it spans over a number of years. The shorter the time span the more intense the story.



Your theme should begin at the beginning, run through the middle and conclude in the end. So let’s put a theme to the first scenario…

‘Strength Comes From Within And In The End Prevails.’

How can I have this theme running throughout my story?

Initially I will portray my main character as a weak individual. But I will excuse his weakness, by saying perhaps that…

“He comes from a closely knit, loving family and initially doesn’t know how to deal with such a conflict.”

As my story progresses, I will gradually show his inner strength and I will do this through incidences, which will show his maturity, like…

•He helps out by caring for his younger siblings and contributes with the housework.

And

•I can show him cutting the neighbours’ lawns or delivering newspapers before school to show that he contributes economically too.

If I do this, my ending (when he wins against the bully) will be believable because I have developed his inner strength. My theme would have run its course.


(c) Nick Vernon
Besides his passion for writing, Nick Vernon runs an online gift site where you will find gift information, articles and readers’ funny stories. Visit http://www.we-recommend.com

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Does the Title Reflect the Story?

Short Story Writing Tips

We all have different tastes in what we like to read. Some have a particular taste for horror, while others prefer romance or fantasy or crime stories, etc. My favourite genre in short stories is horror, so once the title grabs my attention, I will enthusiastically read the story.

You may want to leave your readers in no doubt of the type of story you have written. That’s fine. You want to grab all the fans out there and/or recruit new readers into the genre you are so fond of writing.

So, how do you select a title that reflects your story?

Should the title always reflect the story?

Not always. But your title must have some sort of connection with your story.

Is There A Connection Between Your Title And Your Story?

If you choose not to have the title reflect the story that’s fine too. But there should be some relevance between them.

If, for instance, your story is about a man walking on the moon, then it wouldn’t make sense to title it, ‘Walking on Mars.’

If your story is an uplifting tale about two characters finding love, then your title isn’t going to mention death, unless of course one of the characters’ die.

At first your title may not give away the nature of your story. But once having read the story, the reader will understand the connection. Let me give you a few examples…

‘The Fire In The Sky’

This can be the title of a story in which an airplane explodes in midair or a story about a meteorite on its way to earth, etc.

‘An Angel Amongst Us’

Can be the title of a story about a person with extraordinary kindness or about an angel that leaves the heavenly realm to reside on earth, etc.

~~~~~~~~~~

You can be ambiguous in your title if you wish. Your title doesn’t always have to reflect your story. Having more than one possible meaning intrigues the reader but remember…

There has to be a connection between your title and your story.

(c) Nick Vernon
Besides his passion for writing, Nick Vernon runs an online gift site where you will find gift information, articles and readers’ funny stories. Visit http://www.we-recommend.com

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

F. Scott Fitzgerald - Quote

"The reason one writes isn't the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say."

Friday, 8 August 2014

Kick Start your Short Fiction Stories

Is writing a novel something you’ve always wanted to do? Do you not have the faith in yourself to finish it? It’s very common amongst budding writers but is easily cured. A good way to start is by writing a short story rather than going straight into a full length novel.

​When you start writing your short story you may find that it ends up being more of a full length novel but it’s a good place to start. Short stories are also a good way to get your profile started – short fiction is often published in magazines. Short stories is definitely the way to start your writing career and it will probably give you the confidence to tackle a full length novel before you know it!

Short fiction is based purely on the word count of your story and is therefore structured quite differently. For a full length novel or story you have plenty of time to reach the crux of your story but when writing short fiction you need to get to your climax as soon as possible and then work in the background around it. Readers are nearly always hooked straight away and you can then bring all the parts of your story together as the rest of your story is written. This is a way of writing used by many short fiction writers and is certainly a great place for you to start.

Once you have written what you want to say put it away for a day or two. Go back to it with a hammer and smash out every word not needed. Start taking out the word "that" and carry on from there. You have to be ruthless. You cannot afford to fall in love with every word or sentence. You will end up with a crisper story.

There is another form of short story writing which is a brand of storytelling using 6 word sentences. Writers who write this form of story telling take their work very seriously and strive to make their work exactly ‘short’! It is a form of storytelling not suited to most people and is not really a good place to start. You should however make sure that you keep your short fiction just that...short! Don’t waffle on and on and end up with something in the middle of a short fiction story and a novel! The number one priority for you is to keep your readers interested.

When you have made a start it may be difficult to keep your work to a short or moderate size. If you find you are able to write so much additional information and have so much detail to add it may be that you just carry on and write that novel after all!

(c) Barry Sheppard

Publishing pro and author/filmmaker Barry Sheppard has written and published many books with hundreds of reviews in newspapers, TV and radio. He is now concentrating on eBook writing/publishing and starting his own television station.

Monday, 7 July 2014

On Being A Modern Writer

Nobody will ever miss something you didn't write.

People don't wish they could find a genius they are unaware of, hanker after a writer to inspire them, or wish they could find the book that hasn't been written.

It's the harshest reality a writer must face.

Nobody cares whether you finish your magnum opus - or gives a toss whether you work on it at all.

A book is nothing until it's published - and even then, given the way things are, it's unlikely to sell more than a few copies.

Funny, I write for a living. Have done for the last 20 years. You can get a lot of eyes on things if you include the words: “money, fast and easy” in your marketing but write about anything else and your stuff pretty much disappears.

It’s never stopped me though, because I’m a writer, and writers write, no matter what happens… can you say that?

Writers must find their own reasons to write - and be self-motivated enough to continue without anything but selfish reasons to finish what they start. As Dorothea Brande said in"Becoming a Writer", writers create their own emergencies. They have to, because nobody else really gives a damn.

Recently I was rereading Stephen King's "On Writing" and I noticed something I'd previously missed.

He said he used to believe that writing was a craft and that it could be taught; a skill that, with enough training and guidance, anyone could master. Note, he said he used to think that.

Later in his career, after he'd written around twenty novels, he changed his mind. He realized that the urge to write consistently must be something you're born with.

Think about it - writing for no good reason (except a personal compulsion) is an urge that is so specific - even a little bizarre - that, without it being somehow hard-wired into a writer's DNA, most people, no matter how keen to learn, simply wouldn't bother.

It's not like it's easy, after all.

Some people say that if you find writing easy, you're probably not doing it right. I know from experience that authors who tell me they found writing their novel a breeze, signals that there’s usually a need for some serious editing!

Don't get me wrong. I do think that writing the first draft of a story or a book should be quick, painless, or at the very least, an exhilarating experience. That's usually how your best work feels. When you're 'in the zone' and being productive and inspired, you're a writer, just like any other Dan Brown, Emily Bronte, or Tolstoy.

But that's not all there is to it.

There's endless editing and polishing too. And having something important to say. And having the ability to hold an entire book in your mind - and get it all down on paper. And, of course, the toughest call: being able to arrange your life to find the time and inclination to write every day.

Not everyone thinks writing is glamorous. Even many professional writers have no great regard for the process, only the conviction that, to create something of value and importance, you have no choice but to do it.

You and only you.

Of course, 'value' and 'importance' are relative terms. That's the point. Only Tolstoy thought it was vitally important to write War and Peace. It had no value to his wife, most likely, and none of us would have missed it - or him - if he'd become an alcoholic and never got around to writing more than a few hundred words and threw them away, like many would be authors do.

The next time you're tempted to write a book, think it through.

Is it important you get it all down?

And are you willing to spend 80% of the process on making it perfect?

Because, like Mr King, I used to think that writing half a page of scribbled lines gave you the right to call yourself a writer.

But now, after I've written a couple million or so words, I'm beginning to think that being a writer is more involved.

It's somehow innate in a writer's makeup.

Perhaps practice is all it takes - consistent action and dedication to the art.

But more likely you need to discover the writer within - that guy or gal inside who was never going to be satisfied until you gave them free rein to take over your life.

But if the muse isn’t there, except as a vague yearning, maybe the best thing is to quit while you're ahead!

Because being a full-time writer is still one of the hardest ways to live. Ask any author. Even when you're successful, the motivation to write, stay focused, inspired and clear for long periods can be tough.

Sure, it's rewarding - and often fun.

That’s if readers find you – and like what you do…

But be clear on this: commitment to writing books is not for the faint hearted. And it’s certainly not for those who might be looking to make money fast and easily.

You need patience, and to be a little bit crazy.

Take one step at a time – walk slowly and surefootedly - but be sure you have good sturdy shoes before you start.

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell

The Writing Academy

Sunday, 22 June 2014

3 Tips to Achieve your Writing Goals

1. Make your goals achievable.

By achievable, we mean realistic and attainable. You might unconsciously have set a goal even others will have a hard time achieving, even if they had the means and the time to do so.

Here's what you can do: break down your goals into small, realistic goals set against reasonable time frames. Oftentimes, you'll achieve your bigger goals if you work on achieving the smaller goals leading to those. The important thing is making your goals as realistic and as achievable as you can.

2. Devise a feasible plan.

You know what you want, but do you know how to get what you want? Do you need technical or artistic training to achieve your goals? Or perhaps further studies? Do you have a set plan of action that will lead to the achievement of your goals? What things, both tangible and intangible, do you need to aid you in reaching your goals?

Take a moment to sit down and list the things you need and make your action plan. This is a good time to break them down into small, realistic goals and then tackle them one day at a time!

3. Resist spreading yourself too thinly.

Sometimes, it's better to work on one goal at a time, rather than doing and shooting for so many all at the same time. Work on so many goals at one given time and you'll find out you're nowhere near achieving even one goal. You won't be able to focus your full energy on one goal.

Prioritize your goals and start with either your top priority or your most realistic goal. You'll discover you're able to do more and achieve more using this approach.

© 2004 Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ
Shery is the creator of WriteSparks! - a software that generates over 10 *million* Story Sparkers for Writers. Download WriteSparks! Lite for free - http://writesparks.com

Monday, 5 May 2014

Steven Brust

"One nice thing about putting the thing away for a couple of months before looking at it is that you start appreciate your own wit. Of course, this can be carried too far. But it's kind of cool when you crack up a piece of writing, and then realize you wrote it. I recommend this feeling."