Monday, 14 October 2019

Booker Prize 2019 Shared

Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo have been named the joint winners of the 2019 Booker Prize after the judges broke their rules by declaring a tie.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Friday, 4 October 2019

7 Writing Muse Kickers

Nothing is more daunting for any writer than having to stare at a blank sheet of paper.

When we stare at a blank sheet of paper, we often think, "What am I going to write?" A few minutes later, it becomes, "Oh my goodness, I can't think of anything to write!" And several minutes later, it turns into something like, "Write, dangnabit! Write! Write! WRITE!"

Some writers call this writer's block. But I call it the "Writing-Muse-Needs-A-Kick" syndrome.

And that's exactly what we're going to do with your writing muse gone truant.

We're going to kick her back into gear so you can fill up that blank page.

Here are 7 writing muse kickers for you to try right now:

1. First Line: Begin a story with "There was once a chance I didn't take..."

2. Cliche Starter: Weave a story or poem around the cliche, "keep your powder dry."

3. Power of Metaphor: What does "a string of laughter" make you think of?

4. Proverb Mix: "Beauty breaks the camel's back."

5. Story Words: Use the words "pianist, pencil, high-rise building, running shoes" in a story.

6. What If? Story: What if you're going to write a story about betrayal, with a young man as the main character and a locket as the key object? Set your story on a ranch.

7. Quick Prompt: Write about what you'd say to an uninvited guest.

(c) Shery Ma Belle Arrieta-Russ


Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Explore the Productivity of Creative Writing Workshops

... to Unlock Your Excellence to Writing

Contrasting to the general classrooms that you have had experienced from your childhood days, creative writing workshops are more interactive, vivacious, and productive to professionals. The most appealing facet of creative workshop is the gathering of scholarly individuals across the world and working together with a common goal under expert supervision.

Irrespective of you are a qualified writer, press reporter, blogger or even a burgeoning poet, no one can neglect the worth of receiving instant feedbacks, approval or new ideas that help enhance their proficiency to writing with creativeness. This is key cause why growing number of upcoming to professionals, activated to excel in the world of writing, now pursue creative writing workshops to nurture their innate talent, unbolt the door of creativity and come into the limelight with their best outcomes.

The Concept and Productivity of Creative Writing Workshops

Operated by top-notch learned professionals creative writing workshops are well designed and technically developed for people intended to write ingeniously and artistically. They follow an array of newest techniques, strategies, and mediums where you will be assigned to work on feature writing, soft stories, poem, memoir, script writing, reporting and more. For the first time you will experience how alluring and productive is involving in collaborative writing, free writing, writing based on guided visualizations and obviously open sessions of oral storytelling or colloquiums.

Creative Writing Workshops: Science ‘Behind the Scene’

Creativity is a reward that comes out of innate ability and flair; however, this needs regular nurturing not limiting to bookish thoughts and web ideas. Research findings have established that one’s creative ideas can be honed and explored to a great deal with proper nourishment. Similar to our body muscles and health, the core of your creative power can be stimulated and sharpened with necessary guidance, training and creative writing workshops.

This is the exact time that you should come out of the typical writer’s cage breaking the chains of self-absorption to supremacy to attach with the mainstream of likeminded professionals and experience the changes in your writing style that you’ d hardly ever thought of.

Ø  Rise above Writer’s Block

Even seasoned writers often find them helpless being incapable to give birth to new ideas. Doubting on your skillfulness tolls on your self-confidence profoundly while panic, anxiety, and stress typically block your potential to bring creativity in writing. With creative writing workshops, you come beyond the lone corner of your writing desk and share ideas with compatible brains, get expert guidance and participate in varieties of writing workshop that help you come out of the thinker’s block.

Ø  Recognize your innate Creativity

The opportunity of open workshop to sharing ideas with plenty of writers from new comers to experts stroke your creative prowess, which tend to be a great reward of joining creative writing workshops. The interactive workshop environment stimulates your mind’s eye subconsciously and unfastens the gateway of your creative ideas making you perform more resourcefully.

Ø  Boost Your Creative Ability

Now you can well understand that creativity that you have within can be further honed and learned. Thankfully, creative writing workshops are prepared with top-class faculty members, setups, techniques, and tools. They follow varieties of indoor, outdoor workshop sessions, range of writing concepts and strategic ways with the objective to boost your ability to creative writing.

Creativity Workshop providing creative classes and professional development courses for teachers, educators, artists, students, writers, psychologists, small businesses, and corporations, designed to both spark and sustain creativity. To know more, visit creativityworkshop/who-we-are.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Travel Writing - Could you do it well?

Many new pensmiths are drawn to writing about their travels, their holidays, and their observations about the world.
Many websites and “schools” these days offer (often expensive) courses on effective travel writing that promise a glamorous and fun-filled life as a writer for magazines or coffee-table books.

As with many fun-sounding opportunities, there’s a lot of competition out there for travel writing jobs.

However, with a little forethought and planning, the Freelance Writer can indulge in some of the perks and rewards of this healthy niche market.

First, we need to explode a couple of myths.

Simply because you did a lot on holiday or went to see a lot of things, this does not immediately qualify you to write about them.

Similarly, you might be an expert on the local history of a place.

However, this too does not automatically place you at the top of the submission pile.

The ideal travel writer combines a love of place, an eye for detail, and an objectivity that is rare and compelling.

Unlike normal reportage, the author can be in the travel writing - to a certain extent.

But, not as a holidaymaker.

More as a wily participant, an erudite observer, or a “less than journalistic” reporter.

Travel writing editors often complain that many article submissions sound like school essays relating: “What I did on holiday.”

This is not what is required.

Just like all article writing, it’s the angle that’s important.

Against logic, you need to think about what would make the article work without the travel references.

In short, you need to think like a freelancer and create half a dozen ideas - or angles - based on the same location that might appeal to different targeted magazines.

Over the years, I have sold dozens of travel articles to magazines like Time Out, Getaway and Atlantic Eye.

What I usually do is have magazines in mind before I go away.

I familiarize myself with the angles those magazines seem to like and then, while I’m abroad, I try to imagine how I can use the sensations I’m experiencing to craft an article those magazines might appreciate.

What I rarely do is collect tourist information in situ, most of which is available online.

You see, it’s not about the place and/or the things to do there.

It’s about your impression about a destination - and the things it makes you think about - that is interesting about a travel location, rather than any specific - and often generic - information.

And yes, I’m one of those irritating writers who puts a lot of himself in his own articles.

But that seems to work for me - and certain magazine editors.

It’s how I inject humor and humanity without detracting from the subject matter.

It’s a question of getting the right balance I’m sure.


If you’re considering travel writing as a career choice, my advice is not to jump right in.

The best way to go is to build up experience in your own time.

Your first travel article, if it was anything like mine, will be terrible.

I had to unlearn a lot about what I thought was a good way to report on a holiday and begin to strip away all the information down to one basic idea or angle and then work upwards from there.

The next time you’re away, take notes, keep a journal, casually interview people.

Take some snaps too, on a good quality camera.

Then, later, sit down and think about having a strategy for, say, writing half a dozen articles with different angles about a place for half a dozen different markets.

Focus on the ANGLES - not necessarily on location and the things you can do there.

Make up a few dummy articles with your pictures interspersed amongst the text, to get a feel for the genre.

Then, when you’re ready, send in pitches to magazine editors you have studied and see if any of them bite. (You don’t need to write the article first – a pitch is fine.)

To recap.

Best way forward is to go on holiday,

1. Take notes,
2. Think of angles,
3. Try a few short articles,
4. Study your target magazines,
5. Submit to four or five markets to see if any editors are interested in your articles.

You’ll find more useful advice like this in Secrets of a Freelance Writer at the Academy!

Keep Writing.

(c) Rob Parnell

Monday, 30 September 2019

Fictionesse Competition - Open for Entries

Open for Entries... Now!

Click HERE for full details

Competition Number 1

Open for Entries: Now
Closing Date: 31st October 2019

Category: Short Story

Word Count: minimum 1000 - maximum 2500

Theme:  Exposed Secret(s)

First Prize: £25.00 + publication

Second & Third Places:  Publication

Send Entry via EMAIL
One entry, per email address

Stories must be typed in English, previously unpublished & original

Send in an attachment with no identifying marks in the manuscript

Type your name, title of the story and word count in the body of the email

Winners will be announced on the 5th November 2019

Prize money is paid via PayPal

Competitions Closing in January 2020

Exeter Novel Prize
Entry Fee £18

Breakwater Fiction Contest
Entry Fee $10

UK Film Festival Script Writing Competitions
Various Entry Fees

Magma Poetry Comp
Entry Fee £5

Tony Hillerman Mystery Comp
Free Entry

Mogford Prize for Food & Drink Writing
Entry Fee £10

Comedy Women in Print Prize
Free Entry for Published Writers
£10 for unpublished Writers

British Haiku Awards
Entry Fee £5

Suffolk Young Poets Comp
Free Entry

Roswell Award
Free Entry

Arundel Festival Theatre Trail Writers' Comp
Free Entry

Cassandra Jardine Memorial Prize
Free Entry

NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge
Entry Fee $45-$55

Colorado Prize for Poetry
Entry Fee $28

Bath Flash Fiction Novella 
Entry Fee £16

Ellen Meloy Fund Desert Award
Free Entry

James Knudsen Prize
Entry Fee $20

St Martin's Minotaur 1st Crime Novel Comp
Free Entry

On Teaching Poem Prize
Free Entry

Retreat West 1st Chapter Comp
Entry Fee £10

Prism Jacob Zilber Prize for Short Fiction
International Entries $45

Gemini Magazine Poetry Comp
Entry Fee $7

Terry J Cox Poetry Award
Entry Fee $25

Screw Turn Flash Fiction Comp
Entry Fee $10

Plough Poetry Prize
Entry Fee £5

Big Moose Unpublished 1st Novels
Entry Fee $25

Gulf Coast Writer's Association
Entry Fee $20

Plymouth Writers' Group Open Writing Comp
Entry Fee £5

Caine Prize for African Writing
Free Entry

Kent & Sussex Poetry Comp
Entry Fee £5

Lancashire Flash Fiction Comp
Entry Fee £2

Writing a Novel - Develop an Idea

by Melinda Dawika

Do you have an idea that you feel you could turn into a novel? I personally believe that each one of us has the ability to write a great story if we put our minds to it. We are all born with creativity and untapped talent that is waiting to burst forth. Most of us have to deal with similar situations in life, which ultimately gives us the inspiration that we need to write a great novel. The most important aspects of a novel are the plot, characters, location, genre and structure. The plot is more significant, and drives the story along.

Firstly, start with a summary or synopsis of the story. This will enable you to build your story step by step and give you a structure. Consider the beginning of your story as well as the middle and the end. Your story needs to flow and make sense as the plot develops.

Deciding early on whether your story will be written in the first or the third person will greatly influence your story. Writing in the third person as opposed to first person will give you more control over your story, as the viewpoint will be from many different characters and not just one character, as in the case of the first person.

The best way to decide which genre you want to write about is to evaluate the type of books that you normally like to read. You don't have to stick to this pattern, but it will be easier for you to get started writing your novel if you already have an interest in the subject matter. This will also help you to determine the types of characters you want to create in your story. If you are writing a Mills and Boon romance, for example, your hero and heroine might be a young care-free couple who are only concerned about their desires and their relationship with one another. The same couple would certainly not fit into a children's novel. The genre, characters and plot should go hand in hand. There are different types of genres to choose from: crime, romance, short stories, children's, women's, mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, and so on...

One of the keys to writing a novel successfully is understanding and knowing your main characters and how they fit into your plot. Writing down a little background information about each of them will enable you to figure out what drives each character and what prompts them to do the things they do throughout the novel. Writing down information such as: names, race, eye and hair colour, gender, where they live, their occupation, their age, their hobbies, their relationship towards each other, including dilemmas in their past and present, will help you shape the novel. Gathering information like this early on will help you to bring your story and characters to life. Sometimes authors find that their characters take on a life of their own completely changing the original plot!

When constructing your chapters, perhaps you could start out with an introduction to your main character and give some background information about any problems they may have that need to be solved. Make your first page exciting or else your readers will lose interest.

The location or setting of your story is very important to capture the imagination. Try and visit the place you are writing about, if that is not possible then do some research on the area. Also take into account as to whether your novel is based on the past, the present or the future.

When coming to the end of your story, make sure that all the loose ends are tied up and that you have left yourself and the reader with a satisfying ending.

Writing a novel takes time, effort and patience. The best thing to do before you start is to read as many of your favourite novels as you can. This will help you to analyse the novels and break them down into sections, so that you can get a proper understanding of how novels are structured. Choose your favourite novel and scrutinize each chapter. Look for the climax in the story. Create your own climax in your own novel and see how it works.

There will be days when you get writer's block, and you just don't feel like writing anything - keep pushing yourself. Even if you can't think of anything to write and find yourself just staring blankly at your computer - have a rest and start again later. If you are persistent, you'll get there. Be realistic, and don't set your goals too high. If you have made a commitment to write five pages a day, then try your best to stick to that. But remember writing should be fun and not a burden. Keep going and you'll have your novel finished in no time.

Melinda is an author and blogger from England who is passionate about fiction and internet marketing, specializing in womens health.

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Fictionesse Competition #1

We will be opening the first competition for entries tomorrow morning around 10am!

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!

(c) Rob Parnell

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Competitions Closing in December

Peter Porter Poetry Prize

Ruth Rendell Short Story Comp

Phyllis Smart-Young Poetry Prize

Chris O'Malley Fiction Prize

Overton Poetry Prize

Orwell Prize 2019

Jeff Marks Poetry Prize

Cafe Writers' Open Poetry Prize

Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize

Competitions Closing in November

Commonwealth Short Story Prize
Free Entry

Edwin Markham Prize for Poetry
Entry Fee $20

VanderMey Nonfiction Prize
Entry Fee $20

The Queen's Knickers Award
Free Entry

Scribble Annual Short Story Comp
Entry Fee £4

Cinnamon Press Literature Award
Entry Fee £16

New Media Writing Prize
Free Entry

Somerset Maugham Awards
Free Entry

Writers Bureau Flash Fiction Competition
Entry Fee £5, £10 for 3

How to Write Short Stories for Small Children

Are you unsure how to write short stories for children? If so this article outlines the most important parts when writing short stories, in fact, stories in general share the same rule regardless of the age group.

Every person during his/her childhood has heard a lot of stories and fairy tales. Most of them are fictional barring a few that are based on actual events. It is not at all difficult to write short stories, all that you need is a good command over the language and a bit of creativity. Apart from these there are certain things that need to be taken care of like the beginning of the story, the ending etc.

If you want to try writing short stories for small children then here are few tips that will make your story the best.

An appealing and an interesting beginning will arouse the curiosity of the reader which will keep them glued to the story till the end. But before you start writing the first paragraph, you must decide on several story elements. Consider choosing the following before you write the first paragraph:

1. Setting (This is where the story takes place.)

2. Time (Commonly most short stories cover a day or up to a week. If your short story covers a month, you will probably need a shorter time period.)

3. Major conflict (that is the main problem that the characters will solve.)

4. Characters (it is advisable to have 2-4 characters in your story. The plot tends to get complicated if you have more than 4 characters)

5. Ending (There should be a resolution and all of the loose ends should be tied up.)

Once you have decided on the basic story elements, the next thing is to decide on the major element of the story i.e. the target audience. In the case of short stories it is the children whom we target.

After choosing the major story element you can start writing your story. If there are any conversations between the characters which are referred to as dialogues then just keep in mind that each time a different character talks, you need to indent and start a new paragraph. To come up with better dialogues it is suggested to put yourself in the shoes of the characters you are creating as this will help you come up with realistic dialogues.

Read the stories of other writers to get an idea of how to go about writing short stories. Consider reading some folklore stories, which are available on the internet.

Although you read stories of other authors it is really important to have your own style of writing. The story you write should be different from the ones you have read, in other words the story should be unique. This way you can attract more child readers and at the same time make a good name as a popular author in a short span of time.

(c) Scott Thomas

Friday, 27 September 2019

Writing Ideas And Why Plagiarism Sucks

Coming up with creative writing ideas is necessary for anyone using content when working online but it can be a challenge! As a result many forgo any attempt at being creative themselves and choose instead to 'copy' the work of another! On several levels this is a bad idea but for the sake of this discussion we're going to focus on 3 reasons why you should avoid plagiarism when working online!


Simply stated passing the work of others off as your own is underhanded, deceitful and just damn lazy! For anybody who is using content for marketing purposes, it is vitally important that you avoid plagiarism! Building relationships and trust is both time consuming and necessary to succeed online however getting caught plagiarizing brands you as a cheater, liar and thief! This is NOT a good reputation to have and certainly not one that will help increase your marketing effectiveness! It is simply unethical no matter how you look at it!

Time Consuming

Ever notice how it can take more time researching and copying content somebody has already composed as opposed to recording your own thoughts? In the vast majority of cases, your mind has the ability to 'process' thoughts and ideas faster than it takes for you to find them! Being creative is NOT hard work but merely requires for you to allow your own mind to do what it's capable of doing!

Limits Your Creativity

There is a saying that goes 'use it or lose it' and this applies to being creative as well! Atrophy is what occurs to our own body when it is not being used, it tends to deteriorate! Muscles become weaker and than they actually begin to shrink and/or wither from lack of use! The same occurs when we rely upon the creativity of others in terms of using content they wrote instead of writing it ourselves! The creative genius within you will simply lay dormant making it that much harder to use when you do call upon it! Simply stated the more lazy you tend to be, the lazier you will become, make sense?

It is common for many to use the work of others when they find it difficult to develop their own creative writing ideas! Using content that others composed is acceptable only when the 'real' author is credited but when this is NOT the case, that is when the potential for trouble can arise! In particular for people working on the internet this 'temptation' is both frequent and common! The discussion above points out 3 reasons why you should avoid plagiarism and why being creative when composing content is the best route to take! The plain and simple fact is that developing your own ideas when using content may be even easier and more time efficient than copying the work of another! Now you're not only developing your writing skills but your credibility as well!

(c) TJ Philpott is an author and Internet entrepreneur based out of North Carolina.

Thursday, 26 September 2019

Take Baby Steps In Your Writing To Yield A Book

The thought of writing a book is usually daunting for many writers. After all, how and where do you begin writing a book that's anywhere from 25,000 to 100,000 words?

Big numbers can be pretty intimidating. But there's a way to get around this. And it's by taking baby steps -- writing one chapter or even 300-500 words at a time.

This is how I wrote my book, WEEKLY WRITES: 52 Weeks of Writing Bliss!** Every week for one whole year, I wrote one chapter or module. Each module was only 250 to 500 words. It helped too that as I wrote each module, writers were "testing" it. They did the activities in the module I sent out to them every week.

When I started, I began with an outline for Weekly Writes. This was just so I could see what I was supposed to do every week. An outline doesn't have to be set in stone. Think of an outline as a frame, a guide. It can be modified as you go along. So by the time I'd written chapter/module 52, I realized I had a book ready to show to a publisher or one that I could self-publish and sell the next day.

I didn't intend for Weekly Writes to be a book. I created it as an e-mail course. But when week 52 came around, I knew Weekly Writes could be a book too. I sent a proposal to a publisher and a week later received a note that she wished to review the manuscript. A couple of weeks later, I was offered a contract and given a deadline for submitting the final draft.

It took about 6 weeks to edit and rewrite some chapters. And to make the book even more useful to readers, I invited writers who had taken the e-mail course version to contribute creative pieces they've written as a direct result of doing the writing activities in the course modules.

The result? A *writer-tested* book.

On top of that, I had fun writing it because when I wrote a chapter, I simply wrote. I stuck to writing 250-500 words once a week. One baby step at a time. It was certainly easier to write when I worked with smaller goals (word quota every week).

Perhaps you can try it too. You may have a book 52 weeks from now, even sooner!

(c) 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

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Creative Writing Ideas - How To Have Them

How do you come up with new creative writing ideas? You can start by using a few basic techniques. Here are three simple ones.

Are you waiting and hoping for creative writing ideas? Why not use some simple techniques to produce as many ideas as you will need? Here are a few to get you started.

Combine Stories For Creative Writing Ideas

There is a technique called "concept combination" which is to create new products to sell. Use it to create new stories, and it is usually good for a few laughs and a few ideas as well. All you have to do is imaginatively combine old stories into new ones. For the most creative ideas, use stories which are unrelated in their theme.

Suppose you start with the biblical story of Adam and Eve, and combine it with the movie, "Star Wars." Perhaps in the new story a man and a woman are placed alone on a new planet, as an experiment to see what will happen over the centuries. Would they or their future offspring develop our same ideas about God and morality?

Get crazy if you want. "King Kong," and "Romeo and Juliette" could become a story about when apes learn to speak, and the first human-ape romantic relationship develops. The couple is of course rejected by ape and human society. How about "Frankenstein" and "Gone With The Wind?" Start dreaming up those new creative writing ideas.

More Ways To Have Creative Writing Ideas

Make a list of what is most important to you. Take anything from that list, and find a story in it. For example, if honesty is important to you, create a story populated with characters that are defined by how honest or dishonest they are, and show the consequences of this trait. If there is some political principle that is important to you, imagine new stories which show what happens when this principle is followed - or when it isn't.

Make a list of the stories most like. Start with any story you really like, and think about how you would have told it, or how it could be told. The start writing to see if the idea "grabs" you. Romeo and Juliet has been successfully retold a hundred ways in books and movies, under many titles. Why not find a formula you like, which has been proven to work, and write your own updated version?

Watch the evening news and make a list of the stories. This source is mined by television shows all the time. Try to add a twist that will get the story read. For example, take a real life issue that is in the news and approach it from a different perspective. Perhaps it could be a story of a businessman who profiteers after a hurricane, but you find a way find a way to make him the good guy.

One of the best ways to get ideas is to write anything right now. The English writer Graham Green attributes his success to a simple habit: He forced himself to write at least 500 words daily, whether he felt like it or not. Creative inspiration can strike at any time, but it strikes more often when there is work instead of waiting. Just start writing and you'll have more creative writing ideas.

(c) Steve Gillman has been studying brainpower and related topics for years. For more Creative Writing Ideas visit:

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

How Writing Radio Can Help You Become a Better Writer

Knowing how to write, and write well, is a skill that will come in handy in all sorts of situations. And if you combine good writing skills with the persuasive selling tactics found in, say, copywriting, you'll be that much more ahead of your competition.

Of all the different types of writing I've done in my life (and believe me, I've tried practically all of them), writing radio has made one of the bigger impacts on my writing style.

Below are three ways writing radio can help strengthen your writing style. (Oh, and these tips will also help you write better radio copy too.)

1. Follow the rules. Sometimes rules are good, especially rules that force you to write a certain way. (Think poetry -- mastering those rules can have an amazing effect on your writing style.) Rules require you to slow down and think, to analyze your word, sentence, grammar, punctuation, etc., choices. And that can be very beneficial to your development as a writer.

Radio is short. You have to write something that fits into a 30- or 60-second slot. Not a lot of time or a lot of words. In that 30 or 60 seconds, you need to capture the listener's attention, explain why they should be interested in buying what you're selling, then let them know what you'd like their next step to be. Oh, and did I mention you need to have the business name in there at least twice and probably a tag line as well? And don't forget about music. Or sound effects.

Now the beauty of this is once you've mastered radio rules, you can apply it to all sorts of things. A 30-second pitch for your business you can tell people at networking events. A 15-second introduction before a speech. A quick product spiel for your voice mail. A 15-second pitch for your novel to spit out at agents and editors at writers' conferences. The possibilities are endless.

2. Forces you to write tight. Remember, radio is short. Yet, there's still a lot you have to shove into it. So what's the solution? Absolutely no extra words allowed.

Be brutal. Cut out anything you don't need. In fact, radio is where I first learned to start cutting "that" out. Most "thats" you don't need, and nothing shows you this like radio.

Here's how I write radio. I start with a first draft. I read it over. I think it's pretty good -- I have all the salient points in there. I read it out loud.

Now the fun begins.

Usually it's too long. You see, I time myself reading. So I have to start chopping words.

When you have to make a script fit into a certain time frame, it's amazing how many words you suddenly discover can be deleted. Or replaced with simpler, shorter words. Or how many sentences can be trimmed. Or phrases made more concise.

As you can imagine, writing radio has really honed my editing skills.

3. Writing for the ear. Writing for the ear is different than writing for the eye. The eye is far more forgiving. Oh that sentence is a bit too long, but it's okay. Hmm, yes I do see that awkward phrase, but I'm fine with it.

Not the ear. The ear is brutal. It's like one of those headmasters from a Dickens' novel, standing in front of the classroom with a stick and banging it every time a student stutters on an answer.

The ear catches everything -- sentences that are too long and don't allow you to take a breath; sentences that don't flow properly; long, complicated five-dollar words that twist the tongue in a knot and much, much more.

Focus on writing shorter sentences. Simpler sentences. Vary your sentences. Use simple words.

And that's just plain good old writing advice no matter what you happen to be writing.

Creativity Exercises -- Write a Radio Ad

Now it's your turn. Time to sit down and write a radio ad.

First, choose something you want the ad to be about. Maybe one of your products or services. But choose only one. More than one and you're just asking for trouble. (Rule of thumb -- one message per ad. No more. Otherwise you run the risk of losing your target market. Pick one message and make it very simple and very clear.)

Now do what I do. Write the ad. Start by keeping it under a general word count -- 100 words for a 30-second ad and 190 words for a 60-second spot.

Finished your first draft? Great. Now read it. And time yourself. (Those clocks on the computer desktop are great for this.)

What, you went over your limit? Better start cutting. See how many words you can take out and sentences you can tighten. Or replace words and phrases with something shorter.

Now read it again. Still too long? Or maybe now it's too awkward. See previous paragraph. Keep repeating until you end up with something that sounds smooth and fits in the allotted time.

(c) Michele PW (Michele Pariza Wacek) is your Ka-Ching! marketing strategist and owns Creative Concepts and Copywriting LLC, a copywriting and marketing agency. She helps entrepreneurs become more successful at attracting more clients, selling more products and services and boosting their business. Tofind out how she can help you take your business to the next level, visit her site at http://www.MichelePW.com . Copyright 2008 Michele Pariza Wacek

Monday, 23 September 2019

Creative Writing: Finding Your Inspiration

Every writer needs to find inspiration in order to produce inspired writing - whether it is in the form of a novel, short story, poetry, song or even a simple blog post or journal entry. You don’t have to live an extraordinary life to find sources of inspiration for creative writing. They are all around you. Below are some of the most common sources of inspiration that can be used to produce a masterpiece.

For an author, inspiration is not just a desirable thing; it’s an integral part of the creative writing process. No matter how much you are passionate about writing, there will always be days when you need inspiration from one muse or another, and sometimes, it can come from the unlikeliest sources. Every writer needs to find inspiration in order to produce inspired writing - whether it is in the form of a novel, short story, poetry, song or even a simple blog post or journal entry. Below are some of the most common sources of inspiration that can be used to produce a masterpiece.


You cannot be a good at creative writing if you’re not a voracious reader. Read something new, an old favorite or a piece from an author you haven’t heard of. Read something that sparks your emotions - something that inspires you and makes you laugh or cry. There’s nothing wrong with finding inspiration in the work of others. Reading what other people have written may be enough to spark a few ideas you wouldn’t have otherwise had. Just from looking at the way an author writes, you can come up with twists on their work and gradually transition into an entirely new creation.

Nature and the Outdoors

Creative writing can also be inspired by leaving your current surroundings and trekking the outdoors. Take a walk in the park or go camping. Ride your bike or play with your kids in your backyard. Appreciate the rolling landscapes and sceneries you are surrounded with. Watch the insects crawling along plants and listen to the birds. Take a look at the simple things in life that adds to your creative processes. The sights, sounds, and smells of nature are all very powerful sources of inspiration. Try to see ordinary things from a new perspective, and you just might find inspiration for a new story.

Something New

If you engage in the same activities every day, your creativity will come to a dead end. But trying something new will give you a different experience that may feed your inspiration. Spend some time creating something in with a medium other than words. It doesn’t have to be an extreme sport or death-defying trick – even simple things like painting, cooking or gardening can help you come up with new ideas for creative writing. You’d be surprised how one creative activity often leads to another.


Dreams are a fantastic and frequently untapped resource for inspiring creative writing. Just like the outdoors, to get inspiration out of your dreams, you need to engage with them. Dreams are considered a narrative composed of a cluster of unconnected thoughts, themes and impulses that concern and preoccupy you. Thus, they have the potential to fuel inspiring insights that belong to you and you alone.  The only challenge with gathering inspiration from dreams is the inability to remember them soon after awakening from sleep.  So it’s a good idea to keep a journal next to your bed.  This way you can capture the events right after you wake you, while they are still fresh in your mind.

You don’t have to live an extraordinary life to find sources of inspiration for creative writing. They are all around you.  Like any resource worth having, the inspiration you need won’t arrive on its own.  Keep your eyes and ear open – always searching for inspirational sources. You’ll be surprised at how profound it can affect your ability to create a masterpiece.

(c) Tanisha Williams is the author of two non-profit e-books “501c3 In 12-Steps” and “Simple Internal Controls That Protect Your Assets”.  Her desire for more interaction with readers was the key inspiration behind the development of her latest business venture ChatEbooks. ChatEbooks, launched in October 2014, harnesses the strengths of social media in order to help authors and their readers engage and connect within the context of the selling/reading experience.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

On Character Creation

Many new writers get themselves into a pickle with character creation. They seem to regard it as some mysterious black art that might be beyond them.

Either that or they fall in love with the process of creating three dimensional characters - to the detriment of their writing time.

There are three ways to approach character creation, all equally valid, as long as you don't obsess over them - or get so bogged down in the processes you forget the bigger picture.

Characters are a means to an end. The story is what matters. Yes, you want characters that your reader will love or at least identify with - but without a story, a character is just an idea, an empty vessel that can do nothing outside of context.

No amount of description of a character - whether they're 'deep' or 'rounded' or 'sympathetic' - means anything much until you can see them in action, as it were.

Approach One:

You start with a simple outline of an imaginary person, with certain characteristics:

1. Gender /Age

2. Profession / Calling

3. Location / Environment

4. Agenda (what they truly want)

5. Finally, a name.

That's it. This can be a good starting place for any story. You don't have to go into too much more detail, unless you really want to, which I know many writers do. Perhaps because they just get off on it!

But remember that the more you flesh out a character before you start writing, the fewer plot turns you will have access to. This is because stories are essentially character driven. Therefore, if you have a strong three dimensional character set in stone, there are only so many convincing plot options you can apply to your character's personality.

In effect, it's harder to make a overly developed character 'fit' into your plot if they always react in a specific pre-determined way - that is, determined by you - too early on in the writing process.

Approach Two:

Many writers start with a sketchy idea of a hero then brainstorm the possible plot permutations a story might take depending on the personality of the character. This is good.

You might find after the brainstorming process the character, her motivations, foibles and agenda can be enhanced to better reflect - that is, make more believable - the twists and turns of the story.

This is a common process in screenwriting. Once you have the entire story down, you go back and tweak the character to make them entirely consistent in their actions, reactions and general 'raison d'etre.'

It's an important process in movie making because an expensive actor will be the first one to say, "I'm sorry, I wouldn't do that." Not something the average Hollywood director wants to have to deal with when shooting a film costing $1000 a second!

But character consistency is just as important in your novels and short stories because you never want you reader to feel that your hero does something 'out of character' and is therefore unbelievable.

Approach Three:

You start with nothing much decided.

You start writing and let the character and his / her personality, agendas and even his/her name and appearance come to you over time.

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with this approach - many writers do it, including the likes of Stephen King - so it can't be at all bad.

The main problem with this approach is that it can lead to a lot of editing and reworking of a story - especially a novel - after you've written it. And if you've ever had to 'fix' a hero in a novel, you'll know that rewriting this kind of character can take way longer than you spent on writing the novel in the first place!

So you need to be careful you don't make your writing life too hard!

Clearly, a sensible combination of the above approaches is what is required, depending on the project and the needs of a particular story.

I know that some writing instructors like to perpetuate the myth that character creation is complicated and laborious. They might suggest pages of notes or an 'interview' with your hero that takes days to complete.

I've seen writers show me ridiculously complex bubble graphs of inter-relating characteristics and infinite permutations of possibilities based on the (largely false) premise that the 'deeper' and more 'human' the fictional personality, the more credible he/she becomes.

The fact is, your fictional characters will never be 'real' in the sense of 'human'. That's not their purpose.

Real people are such a mess of conflicting emotions, agendas and often diametrically opposed points of view that they cannot possibly make good models for fictional characters.

Over development of fictional characters can often become a largely self indulgent exercise that serves little beneficial purpose. Better to focus on the needs of your readers - who prefer clearly definable heroes and supporting characters that propel the plot rather than bog it down with unnecessary - and often confusing - detail.

Start simple.

And keep it simple.

Develop where necessary - to uncover the 'truth' about a character for instance.

But don't over complicate things, my friend. Not just for the sake of it, anyway.

You need your precious writing time to be productive!

Keep writing!

(c) Rob Parnell

Saturday, 21 September 2019

A Competitive and Cutthroat Look at Writing

Let me start by saying, humor that is hurtful or at the expense of other writers has no place in the writing industry. Board fights and flame wars do not belong in the writing community. This should be about writing. Online writing communities have become a cutthroat, often uncaring part of cyber world.

In order to succeed in writing, I've always believed that we must come together and help each other. I do not understand the attitude many writers have adopted of stabbing their fellow writer in the back.

I've always looked at the other writing communities and other writers out there as a part of my community, rather than competitors. I don't pretend to know everything and though I run a writing community; I'm still learning like many of you. It is sad though that many writers don't share the same opinions as me. They would rather compete than bridge together. Am I the only voice saying," As a writers it is time we bridge together as one?" “It is time that we helped one another."

Some may be looking at our community of writers and thinking," I'm not going to join Today's Woman because it's too cutthroat and it won't be a community." “It will be like the rest that I have joined.” Well you are wrong because we are a community. The more I look at the bickering and flame wars on some of the other writing communities, I have found Today’s Woman writing community to be very supportive. We're like a big happy family as opposed to some of the other communities, which are cutthroat and competitive or filled with trolls and writers insulting their fellow writers.

Don't ever let anyone tell you that we don't have some exceptionally warm, caring, and professional people who choose to submit their content to Todays-Woman.net. Most importantly don't let anyone tell you that you can not write. I've enjoyed working with and getting to know the members within my community , as well as so many others in the writing industry. Over the past two months I have met more authors and writers with simply no values or no morals. I have seen writing communities that were suppose to be there to help writers become infested with bickering, name calling and flame wars.

Don't let your career go down in flames. The reason is that your reputation speaks for you and you never have to badmouth anyone in order to make yourself look better. The way you carry yourself speaks volumes. Don't put your reputation on the line by getting into flame wars. I have learned that in writing your credibility is everything. I also want to thank my husband who gave me an important bit of advice he said, “They are critiquing you not because there was anything wrong with your writing but it was because you wrote it." As a writer we should never second guess our writing because of what someone said. Professional writers will help you improve your writing not make fun of your writing.

Also don't ever belittle another writer to save your own behind. Recently I had the members of a well known writing community email another website, regarding one of my articles . They sent 43 complaints so that the editor of the website would remove it. One of the letters stated," The article contained many typos, and I didn't feel the author communicated her ideas very clearly." When I received wind of this I contacted the editor of the website and she replied, “But I did receive no less than forty-three (43) emails complaining about the spelling errors and the grammatical problems. That's much higher than we are used to dealing with." "We generally don't receive complaint emails." “The members in the forum you pointed me to are now criticizing me and the quality of my sites." That should have been her first clue that this was nothing more than a witch hunt to get my article removed. Therefore she fed me to the witches instead of supporting me as a writer.

One of my own members recently submitted an article to me that had a few spelling and grammar errors. He and I worked together to improve the errors in his article. The article was very well written I might add. However that is what we do as writers, we help one another. Would it not of been better for that editor to point out that I had errors in my article and they would need to be fixed before she could publish it on her website?

To be a successful writer you need three things: Belief in yourself, a strong backbone and a good reputation. You can be the greatest writer ever but if you are in the market for backstabbing and getting into flame wars on message boards, then you might as well put up your notebook and pen and join a chat room. There you can let your fingers run aimlessly over the keyboard as much as you like.

I have gotten into enough flame wars on message boards defending my website reputation and my writing. I shouldn't need to defend my writing to anyone and neither should you. I realize that spelling and grammar may not be one of my best qualities however that is why we have editors. I appreciate nothing more than someone coming to me and pointing out in a polite manner that I have a spelling or grammar mistake. This way I may improve on the quality of my next article.

This is a cutthroat world and there are going to be those that tell you that you can't write and that your publishing company is a joke and they will take your most compassionate poem and make it resembles something they would wipe their butt with. I have learned you need one tough back bone in this cutthroat industry. I also have learned that the ones doing the insulting have no more of a reputation than you in this industry. They have gone with pod publishers or have never been published outside of the web or made some bad career choices regarding who they published with.

In closing some advice, you need to tell yourself "I am a writer first and foremost and I'll be damned if I ever let anyone tell me different." To the 43 writers who felt it necessary to poke fun at some serious articles that I wrote all I can say is poke away. Some of those articles were on some serious issues, like keeping your child safe on the internet. While you are only questioning my grammar, spelling and the structure of my sentences; someone is reading my article and taking my important advice to heart. That same advice might just save their child's life. Belittle away if it makes you feel better. I write because I love to write and I have something to say. If you don't like what I have to say, don't read it.

(c) Rose DesRochers
Rose is a published author and web columnist.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Baring Your Soul

Many new writers are afraid of opening up and letting people know what they're like inside. They're nervous of allowing readers access to what they think and believe. They don't want people to see inside of them because they're afraid of criticism and ridicule.

How do you defeat this debilitating condition? Because, really,that's what it is.

In reality nobody important is going to attack you or your writing.

Even if they do, what does it matter? Critics display much more about their own failings when they attack others.

You need to get over any insecurities about the way you express yourself and find the strength to be honest, at least in your writing.

The fact is your writing will never truly soar unless you have the courage to let it all out and 'expose yourself' to the world.


Seriously, you will only ever be seen as 'original' if you learn to be open and honest in your writing. Your own slant on the world is what makes you interesting. It's your individual sense of logic that makes your writing unique.

It's too easy to fall back on conventional wisdom and have viewpoints that you already know are accepted and lauded. But if you're simply trotting out standard thinking on issues, you're not adding anything of value to the world.

You need to trust your own instincts - and write from the heart, whatever the consequences, most of which are imaginary anyway.

Here are a few tips on how to get used to being truly honest in your writing:

1. Write about the worst thing that's happened to you

Get it all out, every feeling, however low, every nuance of how it went down, who was to blame and how much you hate the people or events that caused it to happen.

2. Write about the most horrible thing you've ever done

It's easy for us to write about nice things and the good in ourselves but we hide from our other, darker side. No more - write down the most nasty vicious things you've ever thought or done. Don't be afraid, you don't have to show them to anyone - but you do need to purge those demons and get them out on paper.

3. List your crimes / sins in detail

All of us are a mess of good and bad. The facade we present to the world is an amalgam of what we want others to see. We all have bad thoughts and evil moments - it's how we deal with them that makes us who we are. Get it all out in the open.

4. Name your enemies and describe them

Really try to get inside the people you don't like - describe their physical appearance but also try to imagine how their minds work -and what they think about - especially about you.

5. Write about your embarrassing habits

Leave no stone unturned. No matter how bad, write about the things you wouldn't mention to a soul. Write down exactly what it is you enjoy - or hate - about those private little things you do when nobody's looking.

6. Write about your secret prejudices

We all have them - thoughts and notions that we know are not quite politically correct or acceptable, even to ourselves sometimes. But get them down on paper, explore your logic behind them and how they shape your more conventional notions.

Why Do This?

This process of getting everything out on paper is cathartic. You'll feel lighter inside after you've done some of the above exercises. You'll realize that you've been carrying around a lot of your dark side as baggage.

And that simply letting go on paper can really help you center yourself and free your mind.

Plus, you'll have taught yourself that 'exposing' yourself on paper is not quite as hard as you'd imagined. There may even be some great pieces of writing there, important pieces that you can later rework.

But most of all, you'll have gotten used to being objective about your thoughts and emotions. This new perspective will enable you to approach your writing with renewed energy and conviction.

And a determination to be more honest and forthright.

And become a better writer.

Keep Writing!

(c) Rob Parnell


The Roadblock by N.T. Franklin

The sun was rising as Eddie crested the hill and saw the long line of traffic stopped ahead. “Wake up, Cindy. We gotta act casual.”

She rubbed her eyes and stretched. “Crap, Eddie, you said this way was safe. No cops. There are tons of blue lights flashing up there.”

Eddie turned to her and smiled. “It’ll be fine, like always. One look at your angelic face and no cop would ever think you could do anything wrong.”

Cindy fiddled with her hair, twisting the long strands until she flipped them over her shoulder. “Oh, Eddie, stop it.”

He rolled the window down and the warm Texas air blew into the car.

“It’s hot, Eddie, roll up the window.”

“No, honey, you need to roll your window down, too. We want to look like locals without the air conditioning on.”

Cindy frowned and rolled her window down. “You’ll have to buy a nice breakfast for me. The air is blowing my hair around. Where are we anyway?”

Eddie took a deep breath and let it out slowly, but didn’t answer.


He had planned the liquor store holdup for weeks. Friday meant payday and that meant more cash in the till. Everything was perfect. Fifteen minutes before closing, he pulled up in a stolen car and Cindy slid over to the driver’s seat. His car was fifteen blocks away on the third floor of the parking garage.

Eddie leaned through the window. “Anything goes south, drive away slowly. Got it?”

Cindy popped her gum.

Eddie frowned. “GOT IT?”

“Yes, I got it. Drive away slowly. Jeesh.”

Eddie walked into the empty store and smiled at the clerk. “Evening.”

Eddie shook his head. What a loser. Greasy black hair and a button-down shirt with a pocket protector—who uses those?

“Good evening. We close in less than fifteen minutes.”

Eddie knew that and that a police patrol would drive by shortly after 9 pm.  Local Tennessee liquor laws mandate a 9 pm closing for retail stores.

Eddie grabbed a fifth of Southern Comfort and moseyed up to the till.

The clerk rang up the purchase and the cash drawer opened. He looked up to see a snub-nose .38 pointed at him.

“Don’t shoot.” He raised his hands. “The store is insured. Take anything you want.”

“Get another brown liquor bag and put the cash in it. Got it?”

“Y...yes. Can I put my hands down?”

“Sure, just don’t hit any alarm button.”

The clerk lowered his hands. “We don’t have an alarm.”

Eddie took a step back and stared at the clerk. “That’s too bad for you. Now put the money into the bag.”

“Yes, sir.”

The clerk filled the bag to the point of bursting and handed it to Eddie. “That’s the cash from today.”

“Lift the tray,” Eddie ordered.

The clerk lifted the tray to reveal another bag.

Eddie pointed his gun at the revealed bag. “That one, too.”

“You don’t want that bag,” the clerk said.

“Put it on the counter and step back,” said Eddie.

Eddie gathered up both bags and motioned with the gun to the walk-in beer cooler. “Get inside and count to one hundred and hope I’m not here when you come out.”

With his hands raised, the clerk walked to the beer cooler. “That’s the protection money for the month. You don’t want that.”

Eddie looked in the bag and saw tens of dozens of one-hundred-dollar bills. “Lotta good it did you, paying off the cops.”

“It’s not for the cops. It’s for the mob.”

“I’ll take my chances. Into the cooler.”

By the time the clerk shut the cooler door, Eddie was halfway out the store door. He causally walked to the idling car, got in, and Cindy drove away. Slowly.

Cindy parked in the parking garage near their car. They drove away with Eddie at the wheel.

The two bulging bags were too much for Cindy’s curiosity. She peeked inside them. “Holy shit! Goldmine. I’ll count it.”

“Just keep the bags separate. One isn’t the day’s sales at the store.”

“Um, okay.”

Cindy sorted the bills by denomination on her lap and whistled. “Now onto the other bag. Wow, nothing but hundreds in here.”

“Keep them separate in case something goes wrong.”

“Oh, like a his and hers bag?” Cindy asked.

“Yeah, that’s it. Yours is the bag with the hundreds. We’ll be on back roads heading out of Tennessee. Get some shut eye, honey.”

An hour later, Cindy was nodding off.


The car inched along with the line of traffic. “What are they doing?” Cindy asked.

“I dunno. They seem to be talking to the driver in the cars. Let me do the talking, okay?”

Cindy sighed and rolled her eyes.

“Six more cars. Just act casual.”

Eddie rolled up to a stop where two officers stood. “Good morning. US Border Patrol Agents. Routine check of immigration status. What country do you hold citizenship?”

“I’m a US citizen,” answered Eddie.

“We’re not at a border, you can’t stop us,” Cindy said.

The older of the two officers leaned down and stared through the driver’s window at Cindy. “But we are in the border zone. We have legal authority to check for citizenship within 100 miles of the US border. We are within that distance. Please answer the question,”

“US citizen. Tennessee. What are you looking for anyway? Bank robbers?” Cindy asked.

“Thank you, ma’am. As I said, we’re conducting a routine immigration check. Please move along.”

Eddie nodded and drove away. Once clear of the stop, he turned to Cindy, “What the hell were you thinking back there? You drew unnecessary attention to us.”

“With this angelic face? Ha!”

Eddie sighed. “We need to put some more miles behind us before we stop.”

Meanwhile the older officer asked his partner, “Did you get the tag number of that squirrelly couple?”

“Yup,” was the reply.

“Call it in. Have dispatch check with the Tennessee State Police.

(c) N.T. Franklin

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.

Is The Theme Running Through Your 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.


•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.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

How To Write Engaging Fiction

This article will outline the various ways in which your writing can become more engaging. It will look at character, plot, style of narrative and timeline, to show you how you can make your writing more appealing.

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.

(c) 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: click HERE

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

On Patience & The Writer

As a writer, time can be your greatest ally or your most dreaded enemy, depending on how you look at it .

The publishing industry works at a snail's pace. As author and screenwriter Richard Curtis once said, 'Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write cheques.' Oh, how true.

I get a lot of emails from writers who have urgent problems they want fixing NOW. I myself have to sometimes drop everything to do some research, to find answers to technical issues or just to get some advice.

But publishers don't work this way. Ask them a direct question and they behave like my ex.

Either they don't answer at all, give you the brush off or make you feel small and grubby for daring to bother them with your pathetic request.

It can be very frustrating to have to wait for a reply that may never come - but such is the life of a career writer.

Life as Bottom Feeder

As a writer, you're the lowest in the foodchain. The most abhored, the most misunderstood, the most avoided and yet, ironically, the most necessary component of the publishing industry. How else do publishers get to be huge conglomerate monsters, slavering over cash and fighting over each other's riches?

Simple, by publishing the outpourings of all us, 'Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beasties', - to quote the great Scottish poet, Robbie Burns.

On the upside, you do get some kudos for being a good writer sometimes from agents or other people who want to cash in on something you've written.

But even then, writers often complain they feel like gatecrashers at their own parties. The film and publishing industry love to congratulate themselves on picking winners and bestsellers but seem to find it hard to even acknowledge the creators who get them so excited (and rich) in the process.

"You think writing is hard," they like to remind us. "You should try production and marketing - now that's hard!"

I guess it is. But how many glittering award ceremonies are there for writers? One or two? And how many of them are televised? Um...

Time is its Own Reward

Personally I like the way writing industry professionals take their time getting back to me. It gives me more time to write. I think that's the trick - and the answer to the problem.

You can't afford to write and then contact people. Contacting people is part of the ongoing process. Waiting is a futile and frustrating way of spending your time - especially if you're doing nothing but biting your nails and fretting.

Use your time wisely.

Keep writing.

If there's any delay in someone getting back to you, don't think you have keep bugging them until they answer. That won't work. It will only make them more resentful of you. Send out your query and then get back to work.

And keep writing.

In the process of getting published, you will face many delays - it's all part of process of editing, formatting, proofing, printing, marketing and promotion - all of these things involve people, which means it takes time. And the one thing all of these people hate is an impatient writer. The answer?

You must keep writing.

And if you think getting published takes forever, try waiting for royalty checks to come - now that takes forever!

So now you know what to do. Altogether now,

Keep Writing!

(c) Rob Parnell

Narrative v Dialogue

Do your readers lose consciousness ploughing through pages of narrative description? Or are they perplexed and bewildered because your snappy dialogue leaves them wondering just who is talking to who? It's time to get your narrative/dialogue balance right. Here's how.

Most stories have two basic elements: Dialogue and Narrative. Narrative also has two main purposes: to inform the reader and to describe a person, place or thing. Getting the right balance between Dialogue and Narrative will lift your story, giving it bounce and adding interest.

Modern readers in general prefer a story that moves along with a fair degree of alacrity. If not, they soon get bored, and when that happens your novel is history. That's today's book reader for you; spoon fed on fast action films and TV with perhaps little time to read anyway. But maybe the readers you are aiming at are more relaxed and cerebral and are quite at home with a slower paced tale. But which is right for you and your readers?

Take a careful look at published books or stories of the type you are writing yourself and gauge what proportion of the text is dialogue and what is narrative. Compare what you see with your own writing and note the difference. It is vital that you get this right or you may fall between two stools.

And this is where dialogue comes in. Too much and the reader can get lost and disoriented. Too little and the reader can get bogged down and toss your tome aside.


If your story has too much dialogue it is not unknown for readers to loose track of which character is speaking. And you need to avoid too many 'he said', 'she said' or 'said Mark', 'said Hermione'.

An excess of dialogue can be wearing and you may need to intersperse the conversation with snippets of movement or description. As for example:

'Maria looked up from her work. "So that's what you think of Grimble, is it?'

Carla nodded. 'He's passed his sell-by date if you ask me'.

Introducing that small movement 'Maria looked up from her work.' activates the reader's imagination and gives them a picture to lock onto.

Imagine two characters having a heated argument. To break this up you could say something like:

'A removal lorry shuddered to a halt in the street outside followed by the blare of a horn from an angry motorist. Ronald fumed over to the window and shut it with a crash.'

This gives us movement and description, not only of the character Ronald, but of the traffic outside, which, incidentally, also echoes the turmoil going on inside.


If you find you are filling up page after page with too much narrative you may need to ask yourself these questions:

Does this piece of narrative add to the storyline or is it superfluous?

Would the story or plot suffer if I left it out altogether?

You may love to describe the start of a new day with three paragraphs of purple prose but these could be saved by simply saying:

'Gail drew back the curtains and sighed dispiritedly as she took in the grey clouds and pouring rain.'

You can also use a character's dialogue to add a descriptive element. In some instances you could cut out a wordy flashback with something like:

'I often think about those hazy summer days when you, me and Dave used to wander over the downs picking the buttercups and daisies. Then we'd lie down by the pond in that little grove of trees. Remember? Lovely. I wonder what ever happened to Dave...'

But often you simply have to be cruel to be kind and axe those sections of narrative that add nothing to the story so that your narrative/dialogue balance is right.

And when you do get it right, believe me, your readers will warm to you and want more.

(c) Mervyn Love writes on several topics including creative writing. His website Writers Reign has a mind-boggling array of resources, articles and links to keep any writer happy for hours.