Monday, May 20, 2024

Ernest Hemingway on Writing

Amazon: An assemblage of reflections on the nature of writing and the writer from one the greatest American writers of the twentieth century. 
Throughout Hemingway's career as a writer, he maintained that it was bad luck to talk about writing--that it takes off "whatever butterflies have on their wings and the arrangement of hawk's feathers if you show it or talk about it." 
Despite this belief, by the end of his life he had done just what he intended not to do. In his novels and stories, in letters to editors, friends, fellow artists, and critics, in interviews and in commissioned articles on the subject, Hemingway wrote often about writing. And he wrote as well and as incisively about the subject as any writer who ever lived...

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

On the Write Track by James Clements

On the Write Track: A Practical Guide to Teaching Writing in Primary Schools by James Clements 

Amazon: On the Write Track puts teachers’ autonomy and their knowledge of what is right for their pupils at the heart of teaching writing. It explores a set of research-based principles, before illustrating these with case studies and examples of classroom practice.

Writing is about communication. Learning to write gives children a voice that others will listen to – a voice they can use to share their ideas, articulate their feelings, amuse and delight their readers and argue for what they believe in.

While every child, every teacher and every classroom are different, approaches to teaching writing can sometimes feel prescriptive, whether they are based on a particular curriculum model, commercial scheme, assessment system or underlying philosophy.

This book provides freedom and choice by introducing a series of ‘tracks’ for writing teaching, including practical approaches to:

Building a community of writers in the classroom

Employing a process-led sequence for teaching writing

Encouraging children to write for pleasure and share their own interests

Exploring the use of rich and diverse texts as fuel for writing

Drawing on spoken language and oracy to develop written communication

Teaching grammar and punctuation to support writing

Utilising feedback to help children develop their writing voice

Using drama and play as starting points for writing

Through considering these different tracks and thinking about how to weave them together into a coherent whole, teachers can help every child to make the journey to being a confident, skilled, keen writer.

Monday, May 13, 2024

You Must Adapt to Change!

According to the latest figures, the sale of digital books is increasing by around 300% a year - while the sales of real books - hardbacks and paperbacks - is dropping by around 15% a year. You'll notice that I didn't call them e-books - mainly because I know many writers have a knee jerk reaction to the word and just close down - and say, that's not for me and dismiss the whole idea of being published in anything other than paper form. Fact is, the publishers you aspire to impress are beginning to feel the pinch because they too have had the same 'jerk' reaction to digital content.
Unless a movie star buys the rights to a book, like what happened with The Martian!
But generally, trad pubs really don't know what to do about the e-book...
Trouble is, the new players in publishing like Amazon and Apple - and the thousands of digital publishers already on line - know exactly what to do about it!
Do you remember about ten years ago people were saying that hand-held book readers would never catch on?
That the paper book was some sacred object that could never be replaced?
Well, that's still true.
But now iPads, Kindles and Tablets are here - and guess what? they're just new names for hand-held book readers.
I suspect the same will happen with e-books.
They will change their credibility factor by simply changing their name...
No idea what to at this stage.
Something more sexy sounding than e-books, to be sure.
One of the more interesting findings that a recent survey uncovered is that the average person already has around three times more digital books on their computer hard drives than they have real books on their bookshelves at home.
And who said e-books would never catch on?
Are you missing something here?
Here's an example of a writer who's not missing the boat on this one:
J A Konrath, a crime and horror writer tired of being rejected by NY publishers, even though he's been very successful offline, released his entire back catalog of books and short stories through Kindle - available only as digital downloads.
Last year he made nearly $48,000 in royalties on just those books - yes, forty eight thousand $US, even though his e-books sold for less than, on average, $2 each.
Konrath is the first to say he doesn't know if he's unique in this regard, only that he has no faith in traditional publishers to make the correct commercial decisions for his work anymore.
The big problem I am seeing everywhere is that authors - good authors, great writers - are being serially rejected by publishers.
Trouble is, they're taking this rejection to heart and thinking it's somehow their fault - when clearly it's not.
It's the fault of a traditional publishing industry that is losing its grip on how to sell books to readers.
Just look at the fiasco over American Dirt.
The entire publishing industry fighting over a book so badly put together it's embarrassing.
It's clear the industry doesn't read anymore.
They just try and screw each other over what sounds sexy.
And spend ridiculous amounts of money over books they often have to take down and pulp.
But they make sure the only person to lose out is the author.
It's all in the contract.
Why would you want a contract anyway?
Digital publishing is fast and cheap.
The big publishing houses take, on average, two years to get a book from submission to publication - mainly because their internal structures are massively inefficient and cumbersome to the point of silliness.
Plus, they lack confidence in the market for books... they must do.
They're currently reject 99.9999% of all new manuscripts arriving on their desks because they already have all the books they can handle and can't sell - plus leviathan lists of hopefuls lined up for years to come (that they probably can't sell either).
Now, publishing works on the principle that one bestselling book pays for another one hundred not so successful books on a publisher's list.
It's always been that way.
It's a business model.
But how can you know what the bestsellers are going to be?
Well, you can't - which is why releasing new books - and often - is so necessary to compete.
And releasing new books often is exactly what digital publishing is all about.
The money side is different for digital.
Gone are the big advances - unless you get a movie option.
But also gone is the long wait to get royalties.
Digital books might not make you as much money - but you get it sooner - which means you can 'keep writing' while the other would be authors have to work their day jobs in the faint hope of a real book contract.
The times are changing.
It's not a case of thinking that e-books won't catch on...
They already have!
Inventions like the iPad have made digital downloading and reading of books commonplace.
And only those trade publishers with blinkers on don't see that their days are numbered - unless they all want to become boutique niche suppliers to an ever dwindling marketplace.
I remember back in the 1980s someone sais something to me.
(Herman, his name was - I loved him dearly until he attacked me with an ax - long story),
"Rob," he said, "the future is digital."
I had no idea what he was talking about at the time.
But this was just before CDs took over from vinyl records.
And to think, most musicians in those days thought that CDs and barcodes marked the end of civilization - in much the same way that many modern writers still refuse to embrace digital books - the future in other words.
Have I convinced you yet?
Do you still have your head buried in the sand over this?
I hope not.
My darling wife and I are living proof you can get rich and successful as writers using a combination of book distribution networks - online digital and offline with real paper books - and not relying exclusively on any old-world publishers to help you.
Because, to be honest now, I really don't think most trade publishers know what they're doing anymore.
They're shrinking and floundering on a seashore they can't come to terms with - because they missed the boat while they were wondering what to do about the Internet...
Having said all the above, we're very excited this week because we've just acquired nationwide distribution for our own 'real' books in Australia and NZ, through our own new publishing company,
Well, you know what they say. If you can't join them, beat them!

Keep Writing.
© Rob Parnell (2011)
Writing Academy

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

Amazon: Part memoir, part masterclass by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer's craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have.

King's advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 - and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.

Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer, this special edition of Stephen King's critically lauded, million-copy bestseller shares the experiences, habits, and convictions that have shaped him and his work.

Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it - fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

Outlining Vs Story Telling

MR James, the famous short story writer, used to be a teacher. During the long evenings before the invention of television, he would entertain his students with the ghost stories he planned to write. That is, until he realised one day that telling his stories was getting in the way of his writing them. He noticed that the act of relating story ideas somehow dissipated the desire, even the need, to write them down. He promptly stopped vocalising his ideas so that the impetus to write remained strong and fresh. This is a curious phenomenon, but one that is completely understandable. Sometimes when an idea for a story is at its most compelling – that is, when you’ve just thought of it – the best thing to do is to start writing immediately and get the inspiration down, along with the rough idea. Sometimes the energy associated with the new idea is just as important as the idea itself, especially in terms of the motivation the inspiration can engender.The same can be said for the temptation to overdevelop an outline for a story. I’ve seen many writers spend hours, days and weeks on their outline notes – using mainly exposition to flesh out their ideas, and usually all told in a largely passive tone of voice. The process may be cathartic and satisfying to a degree but I think it may – in the long term – harm the writing process.
When telling stories you should be in ‘active’ mode. That is, relating them with vigour, being in the moment and fully involved with characters, their actions and dialogue in real time. This is where your writing will be strong and lively. The time spent writing this way may be more taxing but it is the way you should be writing – rather than passively relating ‘notes to self.’
After all, your notes are not meant to be read by other people – which is perhaps why you may feel more comfortable writing them. You’ve removed some of the pressure!
But don’t make the mistake of thinking that writing detailed outlines is real writing. It’s not. It’s more akin to research, planning and other pre-writing activities. The sooner you get it over with, the better. You need to use your best energy on the real writing. A day spent on explaining complicated histories and back-stories to yourself is all valuable time you could have spent on work designed to please a reader. That is, work that will be read!
Because most of the story will change anyway – that’s the reality. Once you start telling a story for real, the characters often have a way of changing your outline – and most times for the better. When students come to me and say, well, I just need to work through these character motivations and plot holes in my notes before I start the story, I try to advise against doing that.
Why? Because most of these problems with character motivation and plot holes come through the writer thinking too much. And as I’ve said many times, thinking is not writing. Thinking is a logic based left brain activity – while writing stories is a right brain activity – at odds with the creative process. Do yourself a favour. Stop thinking about your stories. Just write them down – with the urgency and freshness they require.
If, after the first draft, you still have motivation issues and logic flaws, don’t stop to think and re-outline. No, start writing the prose again. You need to trust that your subconscious has the answers and will produce them during the creative writing process. Relying on your logical brain to sort through story problems is a long hard road – and one that will tie you up in intellectual knots. And the more you do it, the more you may begin to rely on it as a process, but the more harmful to your writing that process will become.
If you’re not writing actual story, you’re pretty much wasting time – putting off the inevitable. You need to commit to the story, for better or worse, rather than vacillate during some endless planning phase.
I’ve seen too many writers get stuck for years in the planning phase for it to be healthy. It may be a security blanket I suppose. The longer a writer spends not actually writing, the longer they can put off being judged for their work. It’s like the architect whose finest building never makes the drawing board. His vision may be strong, the inspiration for it sound, but he lacks the confidence to commit the idea to paper. Because then it will be real – and real problems may creep in, which the architect is trying to avoid.
So it is with writers. Many great ideas stay wonderful while they’re trapped in nebulous form. But the writer must at some point commit for the idea to take on solidity and mass.
Don’t get sidetracked into making long outlines – sketching in other words – when you should be using your valuable time telling your stories in the form they will need to be read.

Keep Writing!
© Rob Parnell
Writing Academy

Friday, May 10, 2024

To Write Or Not To Write

Ah, the age-old writer's debate--to outline or not to outline? Outlines have proven quite effective for a lot of writers, and many of the famous stories we know and love--such as Star Wars--were outlined before they were fleshed out into a living, breathing story. (Well, metaphorically living and breathing, anyway.)
But many of the stories that touched us most--like real-life experiences--simply happened, no outlining was needed. Some stories just come to you, while others need some refining before they're ready to be written. The question is, which one works best for you?
I have always been a 'seat-of-the-pants' writer--that is, I've just sat down and written most of what I want to write, without any outlining or prior planning.
However, on several occasions I have actually written detailed outlines and come up with very rewarding and satisfying pieces of writing for my efforts.
Some people swear that they can't write a single sentence until they know what the end is going to be. Other people--like me--are the opposite. They can't write the ending until they've written the beginning. They have no idea how the story will end when they type in that first sentence. Some people even write an outline for each scene, number them, put them in order and then write them in that order, without considering which to write first--ending, middle, or climax.
For me, outlining in too much detail takes all of the spontaneity out of writing. It makes me feel like I've already written the whole story before when I sit down at the keyboard to start typing. I know from experience that if I outline scene by scene, going through every hand motion and every eye motion and every tilt of the head that my characters are making--it won't be as new and exciting when I'm doing the actual writing. And I will get bored.
Not being one to outline by trade, I sort of made up my own outlining style, and it is actually more of a summary than an outline.
For example, I have a 36-page 'outline' for a novel I want to write. Every time I sat down to write on it--excited about finishing this story and getting it published--I would read the first few lines of the outline, try to start where I left off last time, and fail miserably.
The outline was just too detailed--I felt that it took away all of the freedom I have as a writer. So I thought it over, and decided that an outline was just a tool, and we all use tools differently. Now, if I have an outline at all, I consider it a "rough draft" of the story, and so I can change things around if I decide it's better that way.
But you're asking, "Do you mean that the answer to 'to outline or not to outline' is not to?"
Not at all!
Outlining works for some people and it doesn't for others. I believe that everyone should write in whatever style works best for them. If you find yourself at a dead-end in your creativity (sometimes known better as 'writer's block') you might want to examine what an outline means to you.
If you usually outline and now find yourself at a dead end, try spontaneously writing something--without an outline. Anything will do. Write random scenes and keep them all in a folder or journal to read later--who knows, one might even inspire a new story for you.
For those who usually write spontaneously and are at a dead end, perhaps you should experiment with outlining. I used to swear I would never outline. But when I gave in and tried it, I did get some good results. If the outline seems too rigid, you might try what works for me--which is to put less detail into the outline.
I have a very detailed writing style, so it's natural for me to want to note every little thing in the outline. But that was a mistake. I've learned to write the outline with just enough detail so that I will know what will happen, when and how, and then move on to the actual story-writing.
So the answer to 'to outline or not to outline?', at least as far as I'm concerned, is 'to outline--loosely, and only if it works well for you.?
In closing, here are some tips for writing a more flexible outline:
1) Keep it simple. You don't need to write the outline with perfect grammar and punctuation, or from your point of view character's perspective. Remember, this is just a generalized guide.
2) Try not to get too detailed about what happens in any one particular scene. Just figure out where they are in the beginning ('They're slogging along the roadside in the rain.') and where they are at the end ('They finally decide to stop and rest, so they make a tent out of the umbrella and blankets and go to sleep') and fill in the blanks when you actually write the scene.
3) Write it in present tense. That seems to make it easier to feel more in the immediate "now" of the story, and seems more natural to me. Even though I always write in past tense in my stories (present tense actually annoys me in stories, but that's just my preference I guess) I always write my outlines in present tense.
The outline seems more immediate and real when written in present tense, and helps me stick with it and develop the outline all the way to the end of the story. I suppose you could write your outlines in whatever tense you like, but this is just another way to distinguish the real writing of the story from the outline-writing.
4) Enjoy yourself. A writer's mood translates through in their word choice, so if you're writing humor but are actually feeling angry, the funny story may seem a little forced.
While not always true--I frequently write angst and sad stories even though I'm generally happy--the truth is that if you don't enjoy writing your stories, what was the point? And if your answer was 'money', perhaps you should try a different profession and just pursue fiction writing as a hobby.

Happy scribblin'!
© Mallory York
Source: Free Guest Posting Articles from

Women's Prize for Fiction - Shortlist

Shortlist 2024

The Wren The Wren by Anne Enright
Enter Ghost by Isabella Hammad
Brotherless Night by V.V. Ganeshananthan
Restless Dolly Maunder by Kate Genville
River East, River West by Aube Rey Lescure
Soldier Sailor by Claire Kilroy

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Have You Completed A Character Questionnaire?

Complete a character questionnaire for each of your main characters or even secondary characters that play a vital role in your story. This way you will know your character(s) well before you start writing about them. Fill in as much information about them as possible. Don’t only answer what you will need in your story. The objective here is to get to know your character till he becomes a ‘live’ person in your mind.

So let’s begin…

1. In a few sentences write down a summary of the plot

2. Character’s personal details

a) First name

b) Surname

c) Age

3. In a few sentences write down the character’s back story (a bit about his background)

4. The role of the character in your story

a) What are character’s goals?

b) What are character’s motivations?

c) What is the character’s conflict?

d) How will the conflict stop the character from reaching his goal?

e) What is he going to do to overcome the conflict?

f) What problems will crop up during the story?

g) How will those problems get worse?

h) What will the character do to overcome those problems?

i) How will he resolve the conflict?

j) How will your character’s background influence how he behaves in your story?

k) What is the relationship with other characters, if any, in your story?

5. Physical Descriptions

a) Height

b) Eye colour

c) Hair colour

d) Hairstyle

e) Hair length

f) Complexion

g) Shape of face

h) Body type

i) Weight

6. How does his expression change when…

a. He’s with a loved one

b. He’s with someone he dislikes

c. He’s with his boss

d. He’s with a colleague

7. Personality

a) Type? (shy, outgoing, insecure, dominant etc)

b) Distinguishable traits?

c) Mental scars? (Complexes etc)

d) Ambitions?

e) Sense of humour?

f) Fears?

g) Anxieties?

h) Phobias?

i) Overall personality?

j) How does his personality change when he’s experiencing different emotions?

k) How does he act when he feels confident?

l) How does he act when he feels inadequate?

m) What gestures does he use when he talks and thinks?

n) How does he walk? With confidence? Does he slouch or stride?

o) What mannerisms does he have? (Does he fold his arms? Does he flick his hair?)

p) How does he speak? (Clearly, mumble, confidently, drawl etc.)

q) His voice? (Rich, loud, soft, etc)

r) His vocabulary? (Casual, formal, illiterate etc)

s) What does he think when he’s alone?

t) Does he have any secrets he hasn’t disclosed to anyone?

u) His prejudices?

v) Dominant motives?

w) Values most?

x) Desires most?

y) How does he treat those around him? (children, superiors, etc)

z) Any vices or virtues?

8. Likes and dislikes

a) Favourite colour, food, etc

b) Favourite music?

c) Taste in clothing?

d) Does character like something in particular?

e) Does character dislike something in particular?

9. Lifestyle

a) Where does the character live (country, city)?

b) Does character live in a house, apartment etc

c) Does character like where he lives?

d) Does where he lives reflect what kind of person he is?

e) Does he have a favourite room? (Or a piece of furniture or other object etc)

f) Does he have a car? What type? Does the car reflect the person he is?

g) Any hobbies? Personal habits (neat, sloppy etc)

10. Background

a) Parents names

b) Parents occupations

c) Describe relationship with parents

d) Any siblings?

e) Describe relationship with siblings

f) What kind of childhood did the character have?

g) What kind of adolescence did the character have?

h) What kind of schooling did character undergo? (Private or public? Has this shaped who he is?)

i) What was the highest-level achieved in school?

j) Citizenship/Ethnic Origin?

k) In which country does he currently live?

l) If the country he lives in is not where he was born, why does he live there?

11. Character’s current position

a) Any friends?

b) Any enemies?

c) Acquaintances?

d) Has character been married before?

e) Has the character been engaged before?

f) Any children?

g) Most meaningful experience?

h) Any disappointments?

i) What is the character’s goal in life?

j) Attitude towards the opposite sex?

k) Attitude towards life?

12. Employment

a) What kind of job does character currently have?

b) What kind of jobs has the character had previously?

c) Is character content in current employment?

d) If not, what would be their dream job?

13. What do you feel for this character?

a) Admire

b) Love

c) Hate

d) Dislike

e) Like

f) Pity

g) Envy

Whatever you feel for this character, your emotions must be strong. If they are not, either build on this further or begin building another character altogether.

© Nick Vernon

Source: Free Guest Posting Articles from

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Mark Twain's Set of Writing Rules

  • A tale shall accomplish something.
  • The episodes of a tale shall be necessary parts of the tale, and shall help to develop it.
  • The personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.
  • The personages of the tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit sufficient excuse for being there.
  • When the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighbourhood of the subject in hand, and be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say.
  • When the author describes the character of a personage in his tale, the conduct and conversation of that personage shall justify said description.
  • When a personage talks like an uneducated loser, he shall not act like an Oxford graduate.
  • Crass stupidities shall not be played upon the reader by either the author or the people in the tale.
  • The personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausibly set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable.
  • The author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and in their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people and hate the bad ones.
  • The characters in a tale should be so clearly defined that the reader can tell beforehand what each will do in a given emergency.
  • A tale can be interesting, the characters believable - but the reader won't read enough of it to find out if the language of the story is awkward or unclear. To prevent this, Twain's Rules require that the author shall: SAY what he is proposing to say, not merely come near. USE the right word, not its second cousin. Eschew surplus matters. NOT omit necessary details. AVOID slovenliness of form. USE good grammar. EMPLOY a simple, straightforward style.

How To Write Engaging Fiction

This is a question every writer or new writer has asked themselves from time to time. How to write fiction that people will not only want to read, but enjoy and remember a long time after they have finished the book.

This article although aimed at novels can easily be applied to short stories.

The first thing to appreciate when constructing engaging fiction is to start with a strong main character or protagonist. You want your main character to stand out and be able to carry your story right through to the end. This is even more important for longer fiction as you obviously have to engage the attention of your readers for longer.

What makes a memorable character can be many things. Unusual physical appearance can help such as for example, a very tall man who has a lot of tattoos and a bald head. However, it is the personality of your main character that will stay in the minds of your readers more. Readers want to be able to identify with your main protagonist or at least sympathize and root for them when they are presented with obstacles or opposition.

Your main character does not have to be perfect by any means, but they have to be likable, appealing and believable. They need to seem almost real. Even if your main character has many flaws, their good points should still outweigh them.

Another aspect to bear in mind when writing engaging fiction is your plot. Good fiction should contain conflict, that is, a hurdle or obstacle that your main character needs to overcome in order to achieve what they want. It would be very difficult to write engaging fiction without a strong plot. Regardless of the genre you are writing in, the same rule applies.

A good plot should aim to grab the reader's attention from the beginning of the book and should contain sufficient tension and cliff-hangers. This is especially true when writing thrillers or crime fiction. When writing engaging fiction the plot should not be predictable but should keep your readers intrigued until the end. However, even if you are writing romance fiction for instance, the plot should not be obvious. It could even include a credible twist.

Your style of narration is another way to write engaging fiction. Third person narrative is popular for good reason. It allows you to follow the thoughts and view the world of all your characters both major and minor. Third person narrative also assists with plot as you can better understand the actions and motivations of the antagonist, for example.

By contrast first person narrative although restricted to your main character has the added advantage of you seeing the story unfold closely through the eyes of your main protagonist. This intimate view of storytelling can add excitement and tension, thus making writing more thrilling.

Finally, the time span of your book or short story can make your work more compelling. Obviously, the shorter the time span, then the more tense your story is going to be, again very useful for thriller writing. However, a longer time span will allow you to include more details thus creating vivid memorable fiction.

© S P 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.

Women's Prize for Fiction - Longlist

The Longlist

Western Lane by Chetna Maroo

8 Lives of a Century-Old Trickster by Mirinae Lee

And Then She Fell by Alicia Elliott

Hangman by Maya Binyam

In Defence of the Act by Effie Black

Restless Dolly Maunder by Kate Genville

River East, River West by Aube Rey Lescure

Soldier Sailor by Claire Kilroy

The Blue, Beautiful World by Karen Lord

The Maiden by Kate Foster

Enter Ghost by Isabella Hammad

Brotherless Night by V.V. Ganeshananthan

The Wren The Wren by Anne Enright

Ordinary Human Failings by Megan Nolan

A Trace of Sun by Pam Williams

Nightbloom by Peace Adzo Medie

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

What to Do With Your Inspiration

I knew a girl once who had lots of dreams. Lots of things she wanted to do. Lots of ideas for businesses, projects and strategies for becoming successful...But despite all the planning and sometimes the work, nothing happened. Nothing ever worked for her. She'd get to a certain point in a project and always, and I mean always, something would happen that stopped her.
Watching her go through this process a dozen or more times, I could easily see that it wasn't the projects that were at fault - though she would swear every time that's where the problems originated.
No, it was something inside her head that made her stop.
Fear? Anxiety? Lack of commitment? Insecurity?
Any and all of the above.
But it was more than that.
I believe that in some odd way, she needed to be stopped - because failure fulfilled her worldview of what's possible and what isn't.
Because - and it sounds obvious but is no less true - that you are only capable of what you think you're capable of doing.
In other words, success is a state of mind.
If you think your project will fail, it will - because your mind will look for signs of failure from the moment you doubt it.
In turn, the signs validate your suspicions and your project collapses from within.
During all the time I knew this girl I had only one project - to be a writer full time.
She would often belittle my aspirations and say that she was the doer, the champion, the "succeeder" - and I was just a hopeless dreamer.
Difference was, I knew I wasn't going to stop nor would I lack the commitment to seeing through my goal.
It didn't matter how many people - friends, family, loved ones - told me (lectured me!) that being a professional writer was a silly dream, a waste of time pursuing, etc., because in my heart, I simply didn't believe them.
There comes a time when you have to sacrifice everyone else's worldview for something you know in your heart to be true.
You have to believe that if you want something enough, you can get it.
Inspiration is wonderful. It captivates and possesses you.
But inspiration has no value unless you pursue its ramifications.
It could be you take the first tentative steps on a path and start to feel that perhaps you were mistaken.
Perhaps you didn't want to work on the project as much as you thought you did.
That the kind of person you think you might need to become to finish the project is not who you really are.
This happens with long term goals too.
Many people have second thoughts when they realize that their success might require them to become a different person - one outside their comfort zone.
We all know that planning and strategizing is fun and safe and exciting until we get real world feedback - and realize that the consequences of inspiration often put you in the firing line - on the battlefield, as it were, to continue the metaphor.
We all want to be the commander, directing the troops from a safe distance.
Getting down and dirty in the trenches isn't really part of the plan!
But if you want to succeed, you need to make a commitment - and stay the course whatever happens.
It's the only way to know whether your inspiration was valid to begin with.
If you have a habit of stopping when you should be pushing on through, you'll find that your faith in yourself, over time, will diminish.
Success likes reinforcement.
And there's nothing like seeing one project, to the exclusion of all others, right through to the end, to help get your mind in the right head space to take on anything.
The more projects you finish, the more faith you'll have in your abilities.
But finishing that first one is where it all starts.
Don't let yourself get side-tracked by the myriad of possibilities.
Pick one project and go for it.
Even if you're not sure it's The One.
It won't always mean that the rest of your life will be taken up with it.
But it might take a year or two of total commitment.
And it's that total commitment that will change you - for the better.
Once you succeed in one thing, you'll know that nothing is impossible - if you believe in yourself.
And you can't really believe in yourself properly until you've seen something through, right to the end - and been the person capable of doing that.
The girl I mentioned earlier still believes she's capable of anything and everything - but has yet to prove it to herself.
Actually to anyone.
She's bitter and angry these days.
She blames the world for not complying with her wishes.
She rages against the unfairness of "the system" - whatever that is - and how everyone is out to get her and scupper her plans.
As a result, she's often nasty, defensive and cruel.
Her own insular, self-protective worldview has become the enemy within.
She's still poor - emotionally and financially.
She hates me, of course and, as she calls them, "people like me," because we don't fall into the category she's created for us.
She hates me for getting what I wanted.
She still believes that to be successful you have to be greedy, vindictive and manipulative - which in my experience is definitely not the case at all!
The successful, wealthy people I know are happy, generous and just, well, nice.
And they get things done.
They let inspiration guide them, intuition counsel them and they have the courage and self-fulfilling confidence to stand by their actions, attitudes and beliefs, to see their dreams, goals and plans through right to the very end.
Just like you should.

Keep Writing.
© Rob Parnell
Writing Academy

Sol Stein's 10 Commandments

  1. Thou shalt not sprinkle characters into a preconceived plot, lest thou has got to know one’s characters. In the beginning IS the character, THEN the word, and from the characters words, ACTION is brought.
  2. Let thy characters speak for themselves. This is not your story, it is theirs.
  3. Thou shalt not mutter, whisper, blurt, scream, bellow, holler, gasp or exclaim, for it is the words and NOT the characterization of the words that must carry their own decibels.
  4. Thou shalt infect thy reader with anxiety, stress and tension for those conditions that he deplores in life, he relishes in fiction.
  5. Thy language shall be precise, clear and bear the wings of angels, for anything less is for women’s gossip magazines.
  6. Thou shalt never rest for thy characters shall live in thy mind and memory now and forever until the book is finished and bought by a publisher.
  7. Thou shalt imbue thy heroes with faults and thy villains with charm for it is the faults of the hero that bring the book to life, just as the charm of the villain is the honey with which he lures the innocent.
  8. Thy characters shall steal, kill, dishonour their parents or neighbours, covet their neighbours house, wife, friends, children because readers crave excitement and yawn when characters are meek, passive and nice.
  9. Thou shalt not forget that dialogue is as a foreign tongue, a semblance of speech and not a record of it, a language in which directness diminishes and obliqueness sings.
  10. Thou shalt not vent thy emotions onto the reader, for thy duty is to evoke the reader’s emotions by dazzling craftsmanship, and in that most of all, lays the art of the writer.

Enhance Your Creative Writing Abilities

​Creative writing is considered to be one of the most perplexing forms of articulating thoughts and ideas on paper. It turns out to be a hard nut to crack because it requires the ability to think freely, giving thoughts a modicum of leeway, and express ideas and experienced feelings sincerely and openly. That’s why putting wind in the sails with creative writing is not within every writer’s grasp. It means that a person, who succeeded in process writing approach that is all about planning, revising, re-arranging, and deleting text, re-reading, and producing multiple drafts before producing finished documents, will have the same good results in creative writing.

Surely, it doesn’t imply that creative writing process doesn’t need proper planning and preparation, it means that creative writing permits the author to deviate from the specific writing styles and not to be consistent with all the standards of this style. In a word, creative writing gives the author leeway in terms of presentation and development of a piece of writing.

Since creative writing is not simply a matter of sitting down, putting pen to paper, following smart instructions of emeritus pundits, commence at the beginning and write through to the end. Creative approach treats all writing as a creative act that requires time, positive feedback, and inspiration to be done well. People who engage in creative writing do not merely think freely; they view the world from free-thinking perspective.

Without a doubt, creative writing is not only about inspiration and gift of the writer, and it is far from coming easy to the writer, it also needs a lot of elbow grease in order to produce a piece of writing worth the attention of the readers.

The key to success in creative writing lies in the author’s ability to be frank with his readers and honest with himself. Don’t be afraid to step aside from the established standards of the particular writing style, and open the door of your brain to the new ideas that cross the threshold of your imagination and knock around your mind.

Remember that process and explorations are the keystones in creative writing, rather than the finished product. Let yourself release your inner genius and vent on paper the most bizarre ideas that amassed in your mind. The source of ideas for your creative writing can be various kinds of resources of creativity such as oral tradition, dreams, childhood memories, sense perceptions and intuition.

Katrina Crosbie, a tutor of creative writing in Edinburgh University's Open Studies programme, asserts that getting in touch with subconscious mind is the key to original and creative writing. She also claims that every writer can harness three simple techniques to enhance his creative writing abilities, they are mental focusing techniques, harnessing the power of your dreams and journal writing. Harnessing these techniques takes hard work; so, if you are ready, roll up your sleeves and follow these simple strategies.

I. Mental focusing techniques

Mental focusing techniques involve focusing on the positive outcome. It implies that you should concentrate and regulate your mental activity in order to enter a quiet state of your mind. The key point in mental focusing is to get rid of all the stray thoughts and replace it with one thought; this process should gradually induce a calm sensation. The procedure is very simple, you make yourself comfortable in a cozy armchair, and in all possible ways try to awake creativity inside of you.

You should say something like “I’m getting in touch with my creativity source”, and imagine physically how the stream of creativity comes into your mind. Remember the sensation of clear, cool water on your face, or a stream of fresh breeze, which is blowing in your face. Then imagine yourself sitting at your word processor, typing fluently, and writing avidly. After several minutes open your eyes and commence writing.

II. Harness the power of your dreams

Dreams have tremendous power. The subconscious memory can be the direct cause of the certain dreams. “When the mind is centered on certain things, the sleeper goes over his life again and again in phantom fashion. He lives over the experiences of his daily life.”

Overall, your daydreams can be important, just write them down after waking up in the morning. Perhaps, later on, re-reading the notes of your dreams will prompt you some interesting ideas for your creative works. ”These can be triggers for an especially imaginative piece of work. American writer Joyce Carol Oates has said that her novel Bellefleur was inspired by a dream of a walled garden which haunted her for years 'till she felt she had to write about it.”

III. Keep the writing journal

This technique of enhancing your creativity is very simple and at the same time highly productive. Buy yourself a notebook, so that you can always have it at hand and write some brief narratives in it on a daily basis.

Don’t focus on the style, mistakes, and, in general, in the way you write. Just write down the first things that occur in your mind, even if you think that this is junk. The main idea is to keep your hand moving and to feel a growing sense of inspiration and confidence. In the course of time, you will become a practiced hand in writing. Surely, you’ll find your journal notes a rich source of inspiration and ideas.

If you really want to enhance you creative writing abilities, give a try to these simple techniques, and bring your craft as a writer into play!

© Linda Kate Correli

Source: Free Guest Posting Articles from

Monday, May 6, 2024

Consider This...


Watched Me and Orson Welles last night - brilliant movie if you haven't see it - and they used this Yowzah word in it (the film is set in 1937): I didn't realize the word had such old roots!

Anyway, talking of literary trivia, I see there's a kerfuffle brewing over the "Oxford Comma".

You may be wondering what all the fuss is about...

It's that little comma that goes before the 'and' in a list, as in:

The protagonist was cold, wet, and tired.

Purists like the Chicago Manual of Style, Strunk and White and even The Oxford University have argued that it's not strictly necessary - except where the sense demands it.

Oxford Uni has apparently changed its mind and advises students to use its eponymous comma liberally (at least in their internal correspondence.)

This - believe it or not - has caused a bit of a storm, at least in Twitterdom.

My experience has taught me that Americans favor its use whereas UK and Ozlanders tend to leave it out.

It seems such a little thing but...

Personally I prefer its omission if possible, if only to prevent a potential 'hiccup' in the flow of a sentence. But I understand, strictly speaking, it delineates a list more emphatically - and can remove potential confusion.

What to do in your MS submissions? Use common sense, I'd say, and know that leaving the Oxford comma in place probably isn't going to alarm an editor!

Paulo Coelho has a clause in his publishing contract with Harper Collins that allows him to give away some of his books free on the Internet.

After a fan published an online translation of one of his novels, sales of his books offline jumped from a mere 3000 copies to over one million in just three years. His penchant for offering his books free online has apparently made him the most Googled author in history.

Writers get funny about the idea of giving away their writing for free, especially if it's fiction. I guess they feel they should be compensated for all that hard work!

I'm not sure I agree. I mean, if you really want to be a successful fiction author, what do actually need in the long term?

Readers, clearly, fans, followers, a mailing list of potential customers.

What better way to acquire followers than by enabling the maximum amount of readers to actually see your work, enjoy it, send you their reviews and, hopefully, recommend it to others?

It's common knowledge - in the advertising milieu - that word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool in the world.

Even Hollywood relies on it. Good WOM in an opening weekend for a movie can turn an obscure flick into a blockbuster - without a penny spent on advertising. It happens all the time.

Okay, so the film, or your book, has to be good. That's a given. But why focus on just the money? Selling books is hard - any publisher will tell you that. Printing books and selling them yourself is also hard - and an expensive option if you're going to just give them away.

But with the Internet you have the opportunity to get your work out there for next to no expense - especially if you already have a website or blog.

I mention all this because I plan to follow in Mr Coehlo's footsteps.

Next week I'll be giving away my latest novel: PSI-KIDS: Willow.

It's about a young foster girl on the trail of a murderer, in which she garners the support of a psychic friend and a ghost to help her.

The subject matter, as far as I can tell, is a little ahead of its time, because it assumes the story's characters have no real issue with psychic phenomena. Though there are some skeptics in the book, the lead characters 'know' that some kind of 'other', some might say 'spirit' world is part of their - and by implication, our - reality.

Publishers I've sent it to have remarked on this aspect and don't believe that modern audiences will yet buy into this scenario.

I disagree. And I intend to prove them wrong by allowing you, my dear subscriber, to download the book for free - so you can read it and, if you like, let me know what you think.

Of course the main criticism leveled at the idea of giving away things is that people tend to regard anything free as essentially without value.

I understand this argument but also know that 'free' also triggers a natural response in the majority of humans which says: must have!

It's a swings and roundabouts thing. And for the sake of getting my latest novel out there, and read, I'm willing to take the risk.

After all, I didn't become a writer for the money. Writing chose me - a long, long time ago!

Why would I want to restrict the number of readers I can reach by placing a barrier - the price tag - in their way?

Basically, whether you, as writer, want to follow this path is a personal issue.

Many writers don't feel validated without a price tag on their work.

But by sticking to the principle that your writing must have a monetary value, you run the risk of alienating the very people you want to reach.

How many of us won't try a new author unless we're given a second hand book - or perhaps by finding an unfamiliar writer at the library first - before we'll invest in paying full price for a novel?

It's human nature to be cautious with our money. Writers are not alone in this. The buying public is the same.

And if you believe in your book, wouldn't you want to get it out there?

I'm not saying this idea is for everyone. Just that you might consider it as a strategy - the old loss leader approach to self publicity.

It's worth a shot, surely.

If you're not convinced yet, I invite you to follow my journey as of next week. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

In the mean time, look out for your own FREE copy of PSI-KIDS: Willow - the first in a series of hopefully bestselling books - coming to an in-box near you!

Keep writing!

© Rob Parnell (2011)

Writing Academy

Quotes on Writing

"Writing is its own reward." Henry Miller
"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." Benjamin Franklin
"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader." Robert Frost
"Writing is so difficult that I feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment hereafter." Jessamyn West
"Editing should be, especially in the case of old writers, a counselling rather than a collaborating task. The tendency of the writer-editor to collaborate is natural, but he should say to himself, 'How can I help this writer to say it better in his own style?' and avoid 'How can I show him how I would write it, if it were my piece?'" James Thurber
"Read, read, read. Read everything -- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write. If it's good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out of the window." William Faulkner
"The main thing I try to do is write as clearly as I can. I rewrite a good deal to make it clear." E.B. White
"As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand." Ernest Hemingway
"A good writer possesses not only his own spirit but also the spirit of his friends." Friedrich Nietzsche
"You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children." Madeleine L'Engle
"When you make music or write or create, it's really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condomless sex with whatever idea it is you're writing about at the time. " Lady Gaga
"If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that." Stephen King
"I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within." Gustave Flaubert
"Almost anyone can be an author; the business is to collect money and fame from this state of being." A. A. Milne
"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." Anaïs Nin
"If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can't allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative." Elmore Leonard
"Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good." William Faulkner
"Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be." Mark Twain
"Half my life is an act of revision." John Irving
"Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish." Hermann Hesse
"If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." Toni Morrison
"I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Douglas Adams
"One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple." Jack Kerouac
"The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do." Thomas Jefferson
"I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged." Erica Jong
"A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God." Sidney Sheldon
"You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write." Saul Bellow
"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme." Herman Melville
"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." Ray Bradbury
"Writers live twice." Natalie Goldberg
"Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing." Norman Mailer
"Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write." Rainer Maria Rilke
"A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called "leaves") imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time--proof that humans can work magic." Carl Sagan
"The most essential gift of a good writer is a built-in shockproof shit detector," Hemingway
"Plot is a Verb," Ansen Dibble
"If the summary of your own story turns out to be one you haven't already seen fifty times, so much the better. If not, don't worry: all the love stories haven't yet been written, nor anything close," Ansen Dibble
"Beginning a character's dialogue by letting him name the other person is the obvious way of telling the reader to whom he is speaking," Jean Saunders
"Rather, very, little, pretty - these are the leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words...we should all be very watchful of this rule, for it is rather an important one and we are pretty sure to violate it now and again," William Strunk & EB White
"A good too many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a SAE big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor," Ring Lardner
"Get that first draft down on paper. If you are stuck in some section just put a page with 'here so-and-so finds out where the key was hidden,' or 'here there's a scene where they fall in love,' or ' I don't know exactly what happens here,' then plunge on. Get it all down. Finish the book." Dominick Dunne
"I have had a sign on my typewriter for 20 years, that says - 'don't think, do it!'," Ray Bradbury
"I'm a frustrated actress. I act all these characters. If I don't cry about them, if I don't laugh at their jokes, if I don't lose my temper and if I don't swear, it doesn't seem that I am writing them; someone else is. I act all these characters, I live these characters. And I never use four-letter words either, just all the 'damns' and 'blasts', and nor will I go into the dockyard atrocities of sex. I imply it and let the reader take it from there," Catherine Cookson
"Make 'em laugh; make 'em cry; make 'em wait," Charles Reade
"Stay with what it is and it will give you everything that isn't. From this wooden table I am learning on, I can build a whole world of fiction," Natalie Goldberg
"Get on with it. There are people who 'talk book', and there are people who 'write book': talking writers, and writing writers," Arthur Hailey
"Asking a writer what he thinks about critics, is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs," Christopher Hampton
"The title of the novel is part of the text, the first part of it, in fact, that we encounter - and therefore has considerable power to attract and condition the reader's attention," David Lodge
"I have never written for more than half an hour in my life. Writing to me only occupies a teeny wee bit of my life. And to be truthful, I hate writing. I wouldn't like the idea of writing all day at all," James Herriot
"If a writer knows something, even if he doesn't write it, it is present in his work," Hemingway
"If you have a skeleton in your cupboard, take it out and dance with it." Carolyn Mackenzie
"If a publisher declines your manuscript, remember it is merely the decision of one fallible human being, try another." Stanley Unwin
"If you really want to achieve greatness, you have to keep challenging yourself. You have to keep going back into yourself," James Elroy
"What all of us must do is get an idea that excites US and then write the hell out of it. Write it as well as you know how. And if you hit a nerve, and it's true, then you have a chance," Sidney Sheldon
"As a writer, you're rejected so often that you have to develop a resilience. So when I'm down it rarely lasts...I search around until I find something to get excited about," Alex Hailey
"Do they keep throwing the book at Jeffrey Archer as an act of revenge for his lousy novels?" Keith Waterhouse
"You wrote too fast. You're scared. Slow down. You shouldn't write a short story in less than two months." Cecil Dawkins
"The beginning is the 'want', the middle the 'conflict' and the end is the 'resolution'." Danny Simon
"I don't have much time for a playwright that can't write a book, because I don't think they can. A play is a piece of cake to write, it you can write dialogue, and you can plot. They get much lauded, everyone from Tennesse Williams to Pinter and Stoppard. I'd like to see them write a novel. They couldn't in my opinion." Roald Dahl
"I've never had a short story published. So, in a way, I didn't really achieve my ambition. In that sense I'm still a failure." Joseph Wambaugh
"When in doubt, cut." Ford Maddox Ford
"Too much polishing weakens rather than improves a work." Pliny the Younger
"An even battle is more fun to watch." Ansen Dibell
"The first person you should think of pleasing, in writing a book, is yourself." Patricia Highsmith
"Most authors would consider it undesirable to approach a publisher in a dirty incoherent condition. But that is, in effect, what they do when they submit a dirty and dilapidated manuscript." Stanley Unwin
"First, find out what the hero wants and then just follow him/her." Raymond Bradbury
"What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure." Samuel Johnson
"No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft." H G Wells
"It took me 15 years to discover I had no talent for writing. But I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous." Robert Benchley
"There will come a day, if you persist, when your pen will move nimbly and you will feel elated, and exclaim to yourself: Now I know that I can write," Arnold Bennett
"Jilly Cooper has been described as 'insecure and ludicrously sensitive': characteristics of any successful writer." Michael Joseph
"Writing is a dog's life, but the only one worth living," Gustave Flaubert
"If you write from the heart, you are writing at the very best of your ability," Bernie Ross
"I can't write a sex scene. In my first book there was one four-letter word, and my mother saw it and told me off about it. I wrote a sex scene and when Doubleday (publishers) saw it they just laughed at me. They said, 'You don't need it. You are a story-teller.'" Jeffrey Archer
"When I was ten, my dad bought me a second-hand typewriter and I typed out these little tales and stitched them in a folder with a hand-painted title. When I was twelve I submitted one - about a little horse, I think - to something called The Children's Mag and it was actually published. I have never stopped writing since." Barbara Taylor Bradford
"Write hard and clear about what hurts." Ernest Hemingway
"All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath." F. Scott Fitzgerald
"Don't allow yourself to get fussed over how to begin. Don't sit staring at a blank screen." Donna Levin
"Raising questions and then supplying plausible, yet unexpected answers, this is the job of the storyteller." David Gerrold
"Fiction fatigue - expect it, and don't let it ruin your story," Ansen Dibell
"I would never write about someone who is not at the end of his rope." Stanley Elkin
"Give the readers a book with people they care about and they will queue up to shake the author's hand." Norman Cousins
"An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke." F. Scott Fitzgerald
"Always remember your reader, or else you are talking to yourself." Nigel Watts

Secondary Characters

​If the Viewpoint Character is a Secondary Character, have you established who he is?

I have said above that if a secondary character tells the story of the main character, then the spotlight should be kept on the main character.

This shouldn’t be taken to the extreme though.

In other words, you don’t just write the story of the main character without telling your readers a bit about your secondary character.

Unless the reader understands the reason a secondary character is telling the story, it will seem peculiar that the main character isn’t telling it himself. It is, after all, the main character’s story.

So, the following have to be answered…

• Who is this secondary character?

• Why is he telling the story instead of the main character?

• What is his connection with the main character?

Weave in some information about the secondary character so we can gain a better understanding of his role in the story.

© Nick Vernon


Friday, May 3, 2024

Is The Theme Reinforced In The Ending?

By now you should have an idea that your theme has to reach its conclusion just as your story does. But our theme has to do more than reach its conclusion – it has to be reinforced in the end and by doing this, it will strengthen all that we have said in our story.

So if we took a theme…

‘Persist and in the end you will succeed’

And I showed my character working hard to achieve his goals, persisting, even if at times those goals seemed unreachable, then I would’ve showed that all his hard work did pay off in the end. By having him succeed, it would reinforce the theme that had been running throughout the story.

Let me further illustrate this point by giving you a more detailed example.

The theme is…

‘Persistence pays off’

The story is about a writer, who has been writing short stories for years, but has not succeeded in getting published yet.

In your story you will show his persistence with…

• How he makes time to write, even when his day is already full by his full time job and other responsibilities

• How his every thought is consumed by his writing

• Showing him sending story after story to publishers

• How he doesn’t let the fact that his family believe he’s wasting his time, distract him from his purpose

Simultaneously I will place him in win and lose situations - Losing when his stories are rejected - Winning when he receives encouraging notes from publishers.

And in those instances where he is winning, I will show gradually that resistance is starting to pay off, till I reach the end of my story where I will have one of his stories accepted for publication and thus bring my theme of ‘Persistence pays off’ to its conclusion.

By showing the reader how persistence is paying off, I would have reinforced the theme in my ending.

Is your theme reinforced in the end of your story?

© Nick Vernon


Booker Prize 2024

The Judges for the Booker Prize 2024 

  • Edmund de Waal
  • Yiyun Li
  • Nitin Sawhney
  • Sara Collins
  • Justine Jordan

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Is The Theme Running Throughout The Story?

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.
• 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.
Is your theme running throughout the story?

© Nick Vernon
Source: Free Guest Posting Articles from

Booker Prize - Winners


2023 Prophet Song by Paul Lynch

2022 The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida Book by Shehan Karunatilaka

2021 The Promise by Damon Galgut

2020 Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

2019 Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo + The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

2018 Milkman by Anna Burns

2017 Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

2016 The Sellout by Paul Beatty

2015 A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James

2014 The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

2013 The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

2012 Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel

2011 The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

2010 The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson

2009 Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

2008 The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

2007 The Gathering by Anne Enright

2006 The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

2005 The Sea by John Banville

2004 The Line of Beauty by Allan Hollinghurst

2003 Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre

2002 Life of Pi by Yann Martel

2001 True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey

2000 The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

1999 Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee

1998 Amsterdam by Ian McEwan

1997 The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

1996 Last Orders by Graham Swift

1995 The Ghost Road by Pat Barker

1994 How Late It Was, How Late by James Kelman

1993 Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle

1992 The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje + Sacred Hunger by Barry Unsworth

1991 The Famished Road by Ben Okri

1990 Possession by A. S. Byatt

1989 The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

1988 Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey

1987 Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively

1986 The Old Devils by Kingsley Amis

1985 The Bone People by Keri Hulme

1984 Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner

1983 Life & Times of Michael K by J. M. Coetzee

1982 Schindler’s Ark by Thomas Keneally

1981 Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

1980 Rites of Passage by William Golding

1979 Offshore by Penelope Fitzgerald

1978 The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch

1977 Staying On by Paul Scott

1976 Saville by David Storey

1975 Heat and Dust by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

1974 Holiday by Stanley Middleton + The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer

1973 The Siege of Krishnapur by J.G. Farrell

1972 G. by John Berger

1971  In a Free State (short story) by V. S. Naipaul

1970 The Elected Member by Bernice Rubens + Troubles by J. G. Farrell

1969 Something to Answer For by P. H. Newby

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Tadpole Press

100-Word Writing Contest

Submissions for the November 2024 contest are open...

Have You Plotted Your Story Before Writing It?

The writer, who doesn’t have the time to plot, always finds the time to rewrite.

Sound familiar?

I’ve been guilty of this too, back in the early days of my writing apprenticeship. I was so eager to get stuck into writing my story that I wouldn’t bother with plotting.

Plotting gives you a sense of direction. It’s your map, which will lead you to write your story. Leaping into the unknown rarely works. Without a plot several things can happen….

  • Our stories aren’t focused
  • We lose our way
  • Our characters don’t come to life because we don’t take the time to develop them
  • We get stuck
  • The story strays from us

And all this happens when we haven’t figured everything out first.

Your plot is the foundation of your story. It’s the skeleton, which will hold your story together. Your plot is there to work everything out first – to see if it can be worked out, and then flesh out that skeleton with other elements that make a story.

Plotting is the difference between writing a story for yourself and writing one for an audience. Writing for ourselves doesn’t require too much strain because we only have ourselves to please. It’s when we have to please our readers that the hard work begins.

If you are aiming to sell your stories, plotting is a must.

Have you plotted your story before writing it?

© Nick Vernon