English psychiatrist Edward de Bono famously said: “Creative thinking – in terms of idea creativity – is not a mystical talent. It is a skill that can be practised and nurtured.” Creativity can change the world, and you don’t have to be an artist or a composer to display it. Just take a look at today’s tech billionaires, from Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Gates and the late, great Steve Jobs. They were born into the same world as everyone else, but they were able to harness their creativity to take the gem of an idea and to turn it into something revolutionary. Inspiration is particularly important for artists, musicians and creative types, but it’s not exclusively the domain of global superstars and artistic icons. We all need a little inspiration, whether we’re writing essays and reports for school or whether we’re shopping for birthday presents for our loved ones.’ Finding Inspiration Unfortunately, finding inspiration isn’t always easy, and it often abandons us when we’re most in need of it. This is most obvious in the case of writers’ block, the phenomenon in which a writer finds themselves unable to continue. There’s no equivalent for painters, sculptors or composers. Jeanie Herrmann of Aussiewritings.com describes writer’s block as “the biggest perceived threat” to would-be writers, adding that “it can be managed and defeated if you have the right techniques”. According to Herrmann, writer’s block is nothing more than a lack of inspiration, and she argues that if you’re running low on inspiration, you simply need to go out and find some. But finding inspiration isn’t always easy. Even global superstars and iconic authors struggle to find inspiration from time to time. Part of the reason for this is that many people find inspiration and motivation from positive experiences, events and impressions. That’s… read more →
What does it mean to be a writer? If you’re a writer yourself, then you’d know that there is more to being a writer than meets the eye. There’s more to being a writer than simply knowing how to write. Getting an A for your essay doesn’t make you a writer. It’s not even about having great writing skills. I’m not saying that you can make it out as a writer even if you have bad writing skills. What I’m saying is your writing is just one fourth of the whole equation. Being a writer has more to do with ideas. It is about having something to say. It’s about finding yourself having thoughts about important stuff. It doesn’t even have to be important stuff. Even the unimportant stuff will do. These ideas usually come when the clock strikes 10 in the evening, ideas that comes when you are all alone, giving you no choice but to write it down. Otherwise, you’ll lose all of your ideas the next morning. Being a writer is all about having the most absurd yet logical ideas. It’s about being a fountain of ideas. It’s no wonder that one of the trickiest parts about being a writer is to stay focused. I mean, distractions are everywhere. How can you ever hope to finish what you’re writing? Don’t forget that you also have other things to worry about: the noise. Your head is already noisy enough. Add that to environmental noise that you are surrounded by. I mean, they are just everywhere. Go with the tide If you try to resist the chaos, then there is no way you are going to finish that book. Instead of trying to combat the noise and distractions, why don’t you just let everything be? Now, I know what… read more →
Author websites are among the most accessible places for fans to celebrate an author’s work and for authors to captivate a reader’s ongoing interest. A website is a well-understood friend in some cases: familiar options for promoting a new book, for example, include sneak peeks to raise anticipation and a countdown to the big release day. How to fill the open stretches of road between projects is less obvious. Is reader interest simply elusive during the many miles of an author’s journey to a new work? Actually work you’ve already done can be key to avoiding a stagnant website. Bring your fans back for updates, giving you the best chance for their attention when you are ready to release a new work, by trying some of the following: 1. Include social media streams on your website Displaying the content of your social media updates, rather than just links to your streams, allows you to update your website with every new Instagram and Tweet. These small infusions of personality allow new visitors to connect beyond your publication information, and give existing followers the chance to catch something that was lost in their clogged feeds. A variety of plug-ins offer the ability to integrate your social media updates automatically into your website, so this means no extra work on a day-to-day basis. 2. Create discussion forums or dedicated fan space Remember all those notes and scenes that didn’t actually make it into your book? Use some of them to generate new fan discussions of your existing works on your website’s own fan forum page. Just offer topics, tidbits, or musings and let the fans respond in comments to you and to one another. Once you get it started, fans might take over and offer their own topics. Fan space will help readers… read more →
Writer’s block can happen to anyone but this doesn’t make it easier. There’s nothing pleasant in staring at the blank Word document and trying to think of what to write, especially when you need to write it as soon as possible. Moreover, it can affect all kinds of people: experienced writers working on a book at a slow pace, bloggers who have a certain writing schedule, and students who have a lot of essays to write. If you are a student, it’s not as scary as it seems. You can always ask for help with your research paper or an essay. However, if writing is your job, you need to overcome the block as soon as possible. While writer’s block is definitely an unpleasant thing, it can be overcome with time and effort. What’s important here is to be patient. Don’t punish yourself for not being able to write at the moment, encourage yourself to work on it instead, so you can overcome the block easily and happily. I wish you good luck with that!
You may have heard the terms “Planner” and “Pantser” in relation to how you write. A planner is fairly obvious; you plan the story out before you write it. A pantser simply flies by the seat of their pants; they have no idea what’s going to happen, and they’re making it up as they go along! The two types of writer tend to be fairly opposite, and frankly, it’s quite hard to understand the other type if you fall firmly into one category. I’m a Pantser and for me, planning sucks all the joy out of writing – why would you want to know what happens? How can you keep so much in your head? Doesn’t it get boring? But to Planners, I’m a nightmare – how can you write a book if you don’t know where it’s going? How do you keep a plot on track? Surely it just ends up as an unfinished mess? Well – both methods are valid ways of writing! It’s whatever works for you. How to be a Planner The outline So, to start, you need a beginning, middle, and end: the basic outline of your plot. Where do your characters start from, what happens, and what’s the ending (of this book)? Chapters Next, what are the major events of each of those sections? This is the point you lay out chapters (or large sections), and if you’re using something like Scriviner, use the corkboard. You need a one-sentence description of that chunk: “The chapter where he fights the Big Baddie and discovers who his father is”. Scenes Then drill down further. What scenes would that section or chapter contain? What are the plot points, and how would you get from A to B? Who’s involved? The detail at this point means you can… read more →
When you format a piece of fiction writing, you’re trying to make it as easy as possible for the reader to read. The conventions on formatting are there as shortcuts to allow the reader to see things like the first line of a paragraph, where someone’s speaking, where the action moves or something new happens. The reader wants to focus on the words and the writing, not squinting because the font’s small, or trying to work out who’s speaking when. So, while you can write however you like, the basic formatting guidelines below should be followed before you send it off to anyone else to read. If you don’t follow the conventions, you’ll get an immediate black mark from a submissions reader and while your writing might be amazing, it means it’s much harder for that to shine through. A proofreader may charge more as it will take them much longer to correct everything, and they’d much rather be looking for the bits you won’t necessarily spot (like odd spellings or mixed up names) than fixing basic formatting. And if you publish without following the basic structure, it makes it far harder for the reader to follow the words and focus on your writing. Formatting is a pain to do, but it really is necessary. That said, have a tip: if you train yourself to do these basics as you write then it saves you a lot of time. Trust me, I’ve spent far too much time fixing commas in my work… Lines, font and margins Use a simple and readable font such as Times New Roman, preferably size 11 or 12. While you might prefer to write in single-spaced lines, submissions usually request 1.5 spaced or double spaced – if in doubt go for 1.5 spaced as this makes… read more →
Character agency is basically about giving your characters choices. It’s also tied in to the idea of making relatable, rounded characters – so characters with aims and flaws, who make good and bad decisions. Character agency is the decision-making bit of that; it’s letting the characters drive the events in your stories. Character agency is about how the characters accomplish the plot Ok, so you’ve got your basic plot. Hero rescues Princess from Dragon. Simple, right? But if you pick three different characters, they’ll go about that in three different ways, and you’d end up with three different outcomes. The Dark Lord. Turns up on his own Fearsome Dragon and has them fight while he leans on the wall and has a quick smoke. Hang on…his dragon lost?! Well, depending on your Dark Lord, he can either haul out the Sword Of Doom for a quick bout of hand-to-hand, or produce the cannon he so thoughtfully hauled along…either way, you’re likely to end up with a dead dragon and a suitably rescued princess, who might be rather charmed by a thin moustache and fashionable black armour. The Thoughtful Farm Boy. He brings along a cow, strolls past the dragon while it’s otherwise occupied with that snack, and then talks both Princess and Dragon into leaving with him, because who wants to be stuck in a crumbling old castle? They then all decide that any King who shuts his daughter up in a tower and kills off her suitors probably isn’t a very good King, and go off to rescue the Kingdom as well. Adventure time! The Cynical Assassin. She doesn’t bother fighting the dragon – she scales the back wall, sneaks into the tower and…love at first sight, with a passionate kiss to go with it? Well, why not? What… read more →
An ISBN is an International Book Standard Number. It identifies the book, and it’s usually printed with the barcode on the back and on the book’s title page. If an ISBN was assigned before 2007, it’ll be 10 digits long. If it’s after that, it’ll be 13 digits long. The ISBN records the book’s metadata – so the publisher, the title and the country that it was published in – and is unique to that book. This means it can be easily identified by any bookseller or library.
Everyone knows to “use” social trying to cover all the bases. So where do you begin as an author or small publisher looking to make your mark in a clustered book world? Know what they’re good for. Each platform serves a useful and largely individual purpose in terms of promotion and engaging people with what you do. Here’s a brief, basic run through of some: Twitter: Bitesize updates, good for socialising and interacting directly with people. Facebook: Good for slightly longer statuses and more concentrated discussion. Instagram: Visual. Got a book? Post it in well-crafted pictures. Got a dog? Definitely post pictures of them. Youtube: For videos. Regularity can work well here: weekly, fornightly, monthly updates. With vloggers, you need to make sure these are of a fairly high quality to compete. Blog: WordPress, Blogspot or your website are all great places to write longform pieces about topics that are relevant to or interest you, if you’re going for straight up blogging. Or… Tumblr: Can be used for blogging but also a GIF-kingdom. Full of fandoms, and offers a little more freedom than other blogging platforms, and a readymade community. Pinterest: Where you ‘pin’ images, links and more that you like in collections for people to view and pin again. Perfect for moodboards. Linkedin: CV. It’s good for professional networking and snooping people who work for companies that you’re looking to perhaps get in touch with. Snapchat: Temporary photos and videos sent to followers’ phones. Create stories. Periscope: Live streaming, can be integrated into other platforms like Twitter easily. Reddit: A massive community that covers anything and everything. You share things and comment, upvote and downvote. You need to get to grips with subreddits, though we’d assume you’re looking for /r/write. Emails: It’s often forgotten, but setting up a mailing… read more →
Writing’s often a very lonely and very solitary thing; you’re stuck in your own head, dealing with your own problems…and it can sometimes be very hard to explain what the issue is to someone who doesn’t live in imaginary worlds! While readers and editors can help, it also helps to have a support group of other writers around you who understand the problems. Well, you’re in luck. There are a lot of different writing groups out there, and here’s some suggestions for how to find them. NaNoWriMo National Novel Writing Month takes place in November, and the aim is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. The idea is to encourage writing without editing, worrying or plotting issues – just write, write, write! There are individual regional forums for many areas of the world; they have online boards, and many areas also do real-world meetups during November. You can buddy up with other NaNo writers, and offer support and encouragement – or word count competitions, if pressure is what makes you write. There’s also a number of general forums for writing support during November, and plenty of support including pep talks. Online Forums Reddit’s r/writing. You can ask any writing questions you have, and can get pointers to other support. Genre forums. For fantasy, SFF World and FantasyFaction have good forums; the sites are primarily for lovers of the genres, but have a fair scattering of writers as well as readers! Goodreads is a book-lovers site, there are lots of book-loving groups and you’ll often find many authors. World Literary Cafe – this is good for self-publishing support. Facebook groups: there are plenty of local and general groups, so it’s worth searching for your specific needs – or see what groups your friends (and favourite authors) are part of. Conventions… read more →