Sep
15

Overcoming Writer’s Block

Writer's Block GroupAs a freelance journalist and writer the dreaded blank ‘Word’ document is a sight that greets me every day.  Although writing an article for publication via one of the many media outlets lends itself to a different method to writing fiction, writer’s block still hangs over some of us like the proverbial ‘black dog’. The only difference is that if an article or an interview has been commissioned there is, at least, a brief of some sort in place that can trigger the writing process. There will also usually be a deadline that has been set, something that for those of us who write up- to-the-wire is a helpful friend.

Waiting for inspiration to strike can be tortuous. The best tip and the one that works for me is to start writing… anything! Novelist Margaret Atwood summed the procedure up perfectly: “It I waited for perfection I would never write a word.” This technique of ‘write, write, write’ applies to any of the disciplines, whether penning your first masterpiece or composing copy for a blog post. [Read more…]

Oct
11

How to Take Criticism

criticism 1You’re a writer and you’ve written a first draft. You’ve nurtured your baby, protected it, loved it but now you are ready to reveal it to others.

It doesn’t matter how or where you produce your baby; you may give a glimpse of it to a friend, read a passage to a tutor, or submit a whole chapter for an online critique. Of course you will be nervous. Of course you want your work to be received well… but are you ready to take the criticism in the manner in which it is meant to be given?

Nobody wants to hear that something which has taken so much agonising over is not perfect. Workshops or writing groups are places where criticism is made in the public domain, so not only do you have to contest with criticism that you may feel unjust, but your emotions are laid bare for all to witness. Writing groups should offer a support network where writers are encouraged and nurtured. Just being around people with the same passion for writing as you have can be stimulating and motivating. [Read more…]

Oct
09

Narrative Point of View

Point of viewWhen you actually start writing the novel that has been fighting to get itself out of your brain and into some form of hard copy, one of the most important questions you must ask yourself is from which point of view will you be telling your story?

There are several different narrative points of view you can choose from:

First person narrative

This is where the narrator uses pronouns such as ‘I’ or ‘we’ rather than ‘he’, ‘she’ or ‘they’. The narrator could be the protagonist, a participant or merely an observer. [Read more…]

Oct
02

Beer and Naked Women

groupDid I grab your attention? Was the title compelling enough to make you want to read on?

As any good copywriter will know, your headline is your shop window to the rest of your writing and the first impression that you will make on any prospective reader. If you want to entice your audience, a compelling headline is critical but then, of course, you have to make sure that your following content is of high enough quality to convert your browser into a reader.

Keep any headline short, clear and direct. If you can do it in 5 words, so much the better! Make any headline relevant to the content that follows and convey your message with confidence.  Add persuasive adjectives or powerful words such as ‘fast’, ‘easy’, ‘new’ or even ‘free’. [Read more…]

Sep
27

Lizard Brain or Writer’s Block?

lizard 3Lizard Brain:

‘That part of the brain that senses danger, where instincts and gut feelings originate; primal thoughts; subconscious or involuntary processes; the amygdala’ (the amygdala is an almond shaped mass of nuclei located deep within the temporal lobe of the brain).

Do you, like me, find that you start a writing project and then become unmotivated somewhere along the line? This is exactly what happens when I excitedly begin a novel only to find that I develop something akin to boredom. The passion that was there at the beginning has gone and the motivation to progress to the end dwindles. So what do I do? Start another of course and then the same process begins again!

This is my lizard brain kicking in, or in other words – writer’s block. What is it that keeps me from progressing to the end of a plot that was all I could think about for weeks on end? My lizard brain stops me from taking risks, reins me back and urges me to play safe.
[Read more…]

Sep
25

Self-Publishing

self pubSo you’ve written a book! What do you do next?

If you want to go down the self-publishing route there are a few things you should consider.

Do you want your book to be available as an eBook online or do you want to have a hard copy print as well? EBooks are free to produce as opposed to hard copies for which you would pay for a print run or, depending on where you go to get your books printed, as a percentage of each sale.

Before you commit to anything, are you sure that your book is in its final version? Do you need to get it proofread professionally? What about your cover design? Do you need to purchase an ISBN or not? An ISBN is an International Standard Book Number that will identify that edition of your book throughout the world.  It’s not needed for eBooks but it will link your title in to the Book Data database and can make it easier for retailers to find you.

Decide on which company you’re going to use to put your book out there. EBooks tend to be put up via Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon’s electronic publishing arm) or Smashwords.   [Read more…]

Sep
16

Writing Groups – to Join or Not?

SWAre you a budding novelist, or perhaps you have already written a draft of your potential best seller and want to know what to do next?  Maybe you haven’t written anything other than the shopping list before now but you have an idea for a plot and would like to get it down in some form before you forget.

Writing groups are an ideal place for you to meet other writers, learn the craft of writing (because it is something that can be learnt) and gain inspiration from like-minded people. There should definitely be a writing group somewhere near where you live. Have a look at The National Association of Writers’ Groups, an association with an impressive list of patrons: Sir Alan Ayckbourn, CBE, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, CBE, Rt. Hon. Lord Radice, Gervase Phinn, Lord Bragg of Wigton, Lord Fellowes, Tony Warren, MBE, Jilly Cooper, OBE, Prof. David Lodge CBE, Rt. Hon. Lord Healey, CH, MBE. There is a regional directory listing groups that are situated around the UK as well as news of festivals and competitions held throughout the year. [Read more…]

Sep
04

Novel Writing: Character Creation and Cliché Characters

Picture1There are people who will argue that by avoiding clichés the characters you create will be bland and uninteresting. There may well be a good reason to allow your character to be a cliché, but it is very important to always be careful when you do. We all remember a clichéd character that we can identify with from a blockbusting movie or a top selling novel, but readers will soon lose interest if there is nothing new about your character. So yes, you want to create characters that are memorable, but you don’t want them to be a cliché.

The easiest way to keep a character from being a cliché is to make them personal. The closer you are to a character, the more real they are and the less they will be a cardboard cut-out of someone else’s vision. One of the keys to this is creating flaws. Flaws are especially useful when avoiding cliché characters because it is rare that someone will pick out a flaw as the reason a character is similar to others. Giving your character internal conflict is a good way to capture your reader’s imagination. [Read more…]

Aug
23

The Art of Writing

I don’t profess to be an accomplished writer, but I am an aspiring author with several novels in the process of completion. Yes, that’s right… not one complete one but several that need to be finished! My problem is that I love writing, I love the process of writing, yet I fall out of love with what I am writing and move on to the new idea for a plot that forms in my head and which I cannot ignore.

The art of writing is, for some, a natural gift but for others it is a craft that can be learnt but for all of us it is something that can be honed and perfected. The most important part of writing is, although this may sound inane, to write. How many of us think about writing but fail to commit to the discipline of writing on a regular basis? As novelist Kingsley Amis once said,

“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of one’s trousers to the seat of one’s chair.” [Read more…]