Monday, May 31, 2021

London Book Fair

The London Book Fair 2021 will go ahead as a digital only event, creating opportunities for the publishing industry to meet online, following the impact of the global pandemic.
The in-person format will return next year to its usual Spring dates of April 5-7 2022.

The Online Book Fair will bookend the month of June, with conferences taking place the week of the 7th, and a further series of flagship digital events running at the end of June. The focus will be to shine a spotlight on key areas of the fair, creating the opportunity for a larger global audience than ever before to come together in a flexible way to do business, network, learn, and share ideas. More information on the digital event will be released in coming weeks, including options for exhibitors and visitors, as well as details around the content programme, which will address themes relevant to publishers, booksellers, authors, the rights community and more.


Murder Your Darlings

“Murder your darlings” was a phrase first coined by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (or Fitzgerald or Faulkner or Nabakov or even Stephen King, depending on who you believe).

They're all referring to what you might call your “best bits.” The “bits” you should edit out of your work.

As Elmore Leonard once said, “If I come across anything in my work that smacks of ‘good writing,’ I immediately strike it out.”

The theory is that writing you’re particularly proud of is probably self-indulgent and will stand out.

You might think this is good. Wrong.

You will most likely break the “fictive dream.”

(This is the state of consciousness reached by readers who are absorbed by a story.)

And breaking your reader out of this fictive dream is a heinous sin!

Editing out “the best bits” is the hardest thing a novice writer has to do – after all, isn’t it counterproductive to write good things down only to cut them out?

Look at it this way…

When you start out, every word you write is precious.

The words are torn from you.

You wrestle with them, forcing them to express what you’re trying to say.

When you’re done, you may have only a paragraph or a few pages – but to you the writing shines with inner radiance and significance.

That’s why criticism cuts to the core.

You can’t stand the idea of changing a single word in case the sense you’re trying to convey gets lost or distorted.

Worse still, you have moments of doubt when you think you’re a bad writer - criticism will do this every time.

Sometimes you might go for months, blocked and worrying over your words and your ability.

There is only one cure for this – to write more; to get words out of your head and on to the page.

When you do that, you’re ahead, no matter how bad you think you are.

After all, words are just the tools – a collection of words is not the end result, it is only the medium through which you work. In the same way that a builder uses bricks and wood to build a house – the end result is not about the materials, it’s about creating a place to live.

As you progress in your writing career, you become less touchy about your words.

You have to.

Editors hack them around without mercy.

Agents get you to rewrite great swathes of text they don’t like.

Publishers cut out whole sections from your books as irrelevant.

All this hurts – a lot.

But after a while, you realize you’re being helped.

That it’s not the words that matter so much as what you’re trying to communicate.

Once you accept that none of the words actually matter, and have the courage to “murder your darlings,” you have the makings of the correct professional attitude to ensure your writing career.

This is a tough lesson to learn.

But, as always, the trick is… to keep writing!

© Rob Parnell

Sunday, May 30, 2021

5 Common Causes of Writer's Block

Writer's block is a common occurrence for anyone who frequently writes any type of composition.

Whether you are trying to write an article or supply useful information in another format on a regular basis this nemesis will occasionally disrupt your progress. What is it that causes these disruptions to your creative thinking bringing the writing process to a screeching halt? Here are 5 common causes behind your 'temporary' inability to compose useful information for whatever need you may have.


Your mind is no different than your body in terms of the rest it needs. When you are tired your ability to tap into any creative juices can be severely challenged. Writing in a state of fatigue will likely not only frustrate you but lengthen the writing process as well leading to further discouragement. You will be at your best when you are well rested.


Being anxious about something is a double edge sword in terms of your writing abilities. Anxiety will tend to tire you out along with significantly disrupting your focus. The only solution here is to address the source of your anxieties first so that your mind can better focus.


As mentioned above your focus is a significant key in your ability to write an article or produce any other type of content in an efficient manner. Select your 'work' space so that outside distractions are minimized.


Whether it is an 'outside' deadline or self imposed time limitations, the mental state this creates tends to tense you and restrict your ability to think creatively. Now not all people react negatively to pressure however the majority do and you may be one of them.

Self - Doubt

Whether it is the popularity of the subject you are writing about, your knowledge of the material or your own writing abilities, self doubt can stop you in your tracks. Actually your own increasing doubts are the seeds to full blown anxieties of which we spoke of above. The only things that will help you overcome your own doubts are to do your homework and be confident in your own abilities.

Remember if you are continuously producing useful information for others to read, you are already in a minority. This alone should boost your confidence!

For anyone ever having the need to write 'creatively' about any subject it is likely that you too have been stricken with writer's block. This temporary state renders you almost useless disrupting the writing process and increasing your frustrations. It matters little whether you are trying to write an article or compose some other type of useful information. This 'paralysis' of your ability to think creatively strikes out of nowhere and can leave you just as fast. The 5 common causes for these disruptions are discussed above and serve as a reminder that to overcome this 'assault' on your creative thinking you must first address the source. Being familiar with what is likely causing any unexpected shutdown of the writing process now gives you the chance to diffuse the problem.

Source: Free Articles from

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

To learn more about overcoming writer’s block and to also receive a free instructional manual that teaches valuable niche research techniques simply visit:

Saturday, May 29, 2021

How to Create Writing Success

Here's a cute lie that most people believe:

Writing is more than a skill, a pastime or a way of making a living. It is a vocation - like being a nurse or missionary. In order to commit yourself, and impress those that would read your work, you have to want to do it for nothing.

Indeed this is how many of us become writers - it's something we feel compelled to do, whether asked to, required to or not!

Certainly I've noticed that when you first start dealing with publishers, your enthusiasm, commitment and talent are of primary concern. Any talk of money too early in the process will see you ostracized very quickly. You're supposed to want to write for yourself - for art's sake - first.

I guess it's about trust. The people that would help us get our work seen - in other words, published - need to be sure that our motives are sincere. That we write for some purpose other than just to make money.


I have discussed this aspect of the writer's dilemma many times - and I have a counter argument.

Writing is time consuming, hard work sometimes and almost impossible to sustain a good living at for most writers - 80% make less than $10,000 a year according to the last survey I read.

It's clear that if writers don't get paid, they can't continue writing - at least not without considering poverty as a career choice.

Given the vast millions that publishers make, I've always thought that they should pay new writers to submit work - but of course that's never going to happen! There's simply too many would be writers who are willing to chance it based on nothing more than a vague possibility of success.

But This is To Your Advantage

Because for every one hundred writers that try and fail - either through discouragement, the apathy of publishers, or the sheer force of having to pay the rent - there's one, like you, that ain't givin' up!

But how do you sustain the momentum - the will and the courage to continue?

Easy. Get obsessed. Dream about your writing success. Fantasize about it every moment of every day. Create a compulsion within yourself that cannot be undermined.

Be insane. Be illogical. Be unrealistic!


Over the years I've noticed something very telling. The writers with the most talent don't always rise to the top. But the writers who don't stop and won't take no for an answer, and just keep going regardless of criticism and bad experiences, are the ones that make it - every time.

Reflection Strengthens Determination

Actively thinking about your writing is not just about trying to improve or responding positively to feedback, it's about organizing your thoughts and reactions to to what people say about your writing. You can take criticism well or badly. It can fire you up or destroy you. It's your choice.

I used to think I wasn't good enough to be a professional writer - and my lack of success reinforced that view.

But I had it all wrong. What I failed to understand at the time was that, if you just keep going, respond to feedback and keep plugging away at new projects, you become good enough over time.

Your technique may improve. You may begin to write more effectively or tell better stories. But none of that matters if you don't have the single minded drive to overcome the apparent obstacles to your success.

It's too easy to get discouraged. The system is designed for that to happen - to weed out those that are not determined.

Take heart, if you are fully committed, there are no obstacles that cannot be overcome, there are no barriers - real or imagined - that you cannot triumph over.

In the words of a very old cliche - and things become cliches, remember, usually because they're true:

"There is nothing you can't do once you set your mind to it."

So, go for it!

© Rob Parnell

Secret Attic Booklet #14 - Out Now!


Bonzo by Felicity Edwards

The Shortcut by Scott Wilson

The Boy in the Bed by Graham Crisp

Redemption by Jeff Jones

Falling on Deaf Ears by Sarah J Davies

Rising from the Ashes by Yvonne Clarke

Story from the Street by Clodagh Burrows

The Return of the Ugly American sans Eugene Burdick and William Lederer 

by Paul Garson

Inhabited by Steve Goodlad

Is This Seat Taken? By Kat Cade

The Night Bus by Vivienne Moles

Justifiable by Maisie Bishop

The Final Farewell by Elaine Peters

A Beer Garden Encounter by Graham Crisp

The Line-Up by Kat Cade

Walking The Line by Cindy Pereira

It’s Different Now by Elizabeth Breen

Little Angels by Vivienne Moles

The Way Things Are Done by Kat Cade

A Blast from the Past by Sheena Billett

Nature and Knives by Beverley Byrne

Trouble with Anthea by R.T Hardwick

My Daughter by Rani Jayakumar

Suzy’s Bombshell by Graham Crisp

Losing Mum by Cindy Pereira

Facing Facts by Beverley Byrne

Arrokoth by Rani Jayakumar

In a Mood by Andrew Ball

The Headache by Mike Rymarz

Jenny Greenteeth by Steve Goodlad

Friday, May 28, 2021

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

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Writing Effective Back Blurbs

After the cover, the next port of call for the potential buyer of your book is your book description.
And like an elevator pitch, your book blurb needs to be punchy, upbeat, a breeze to read and intriguing enough to make the reader want more.

Set aside an afternoon to write a 500 to 800-word book description.

First, you're NOT writing a synopsis of your story.

Imagine you're in a bar with a friend and you want to get them to read a book you've just finished.

You don't want to give away the ending - and you don't want to bore them with names and locations and character interactions that aren't immediately pertinent to their understanding of the overall story.

You want to give them the best hook you can think of first - and then only details if their interest in piqued.

This is where you need to start:

The hook. A less than 50-word sentence that describes what the story is about in general terms. It's perfectly acceptable to use nebulous yet emotive adjectives in blurbs that you might never use in your normal writing. For instance:

"Death's Door" is a brilliant fast-paced thriller set in the exotic Cayman Islands. Gregg Lestrade is a handsome rich kid with a burning ambition. He wants to marry the beautiful Marie Donohue, his high-school sweetheart, and daughter of a Sicilian mob boss. But she wants him dead - and soon.

You need to amplify the action into mythic status. You need to take your story and, like Hollywood, imply that it is a tale for the ages, unlike any other.

Use words that readers of your genre would expect to see on the back of a book like yours

If your blurb doesn't get your blood pumping, it's probably not going to make anyone want to buy it.

Only include information about the story if it is unusual or elaborate.

Leave out anything that sounds dull - even if it's important to the story inside the book.

As I say, your description is NOT a potted synopsis and should actually give away very little of the story beyond the first 20 pages.

In most stories, the characters are presented in their normal lives at the beginning and then they are tested.

Ideally, your blurb should take the reader up to the moment of the 'test' and no further…

Because, as with the three dots above, the rest is up to the imagination of your reader - which is their cue to want to know more - and buy the book.

Give away too much and you risk deflating any anticipation the reader might have had for the book.

A short blurb is often better than a long one. But if you want to fill up your allotted 800 words, fill them with the more intriguing aspects of your story.

Say it explores things like "the relationship between love lost and duty" - that kind of thing.

Largely unspecific but thought-provoking.

Keep editing your book description until it is filled with short sharp sentences that press emotional triggers.

Turning points, ethical conundrums, hard choices, all make for good fiction copy.

Put a call to action of sorts at the end.

Find out more - that sort of thing!

(c) Rob Parnell

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Briefly Write

From the website:

Briefly Zine is a literary journal seeking bold, succinct writing. We publish writers from the UK and around the world.

We read submissions all year round and publish quarterly. Upcoming issues will be released in March, June and September 2021.

We’re looking for:
POEMS – 16 lines or less
STORIES – 6 to 600 words
Writing that blurs genres (prose poems, poetic prose, etc.) is welcome.

Go to the Briefly Write website

Weekly Write



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.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Have You Completed A Character Questionnaire?

Complete a character questionnaire for each of your main characters or even secondary characters that play a vital role in your story. This way you will know your character(s) well before you start writing about them.

Fill in as much information about them as possible. Don’t only answer what you will need in your story. The objective here is to get to know your character till he becomes a ‘live’ person in your mind.

So let’s begin…

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

2. Character’s personal details

a) First name
b) Surname
c) Age

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

4. The role of the character in your story

a) What are character’s goals?

b) What are character’s motivations?

c) What is the character’s conflict?

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

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

f) What problems will crop up during the story?

g) How will those problems get worse?

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

i) How will he resolve the conflict?

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

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

5. Physical Descriptions

a) Height
b) Eye colour
c) Hair colour
d) Hairstyle
e) Hair length
f) Complexion
g) Shape of face
h) Body type
i) Weight

6. How does his expression change when…

a. He’s with a loved one
b. He’s with someone he dislikes
c. He’s with his boss
d. He’s with a colleague

7. Personality

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

b) Distinguishable traits?

c) Mental scars? (Complexes etc)

d) Ambitions?

e) Sense of humour?

f) Fears?

g) Anxieties?

h) Phobias?

i) Overall personality?

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

k) How does he act when he feels confident?

l) How does he act when he feels inadequate?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

u) His prejudices?

v) Dominant motives?

w) Values most?

x) Desires most?

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

z) Any vices or virtues?

8. Likes and dislikes

a) Favourite colour, food, etc

b) Favourite music?

c) Taste in clothing?

d) Does character like something in particular?

e) Does character dislike something in particular?

9. Lifestyle

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

b) Does character live in a house, apartment etc

c) Does character like where he lives?

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

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

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

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

10. Background

a) Parents names

b) Parents occupations

c) Describe relationship with parents

d) Any siblings?

e) Describe relationship with siblings

f) What kind of childhood did the character have?

g) What kind of adolescence did the character have?

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

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

j) Citizenship/Ethnic Origin?

k) In which country does he currently live?

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

11. Character’s current position

a) Any friends?
b) Any enemies?
c) Acquaintances?
d) Has character been married before?
e) Has the character been engaged before?
f) Any children?
g) Most meaningful experience?
h) Any disappointments?
i) What is the character’s goal in life?
j) Attitude towards the opposite sex?
k) Attitude towards life?

12. Employment

a) What kind of job does character currently have?
b) What kind of jobs has the character had previously?
c) Is character content in current employment?
d) If not, what would be their dream job?

13. What do you feel for this character?

a) Admire
b) Love
c) Hate
d) Dislike
e) Like
f) Pity
g) Envy

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

(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.
Source: Free Articles from

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Is The Theme Reinforced In The Ending?

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

So if we took a theme…

‘Persist and in the end you will succeed’

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

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

The theme is…

‘Persistence pays off’

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

In your story you will show his persistence with…

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

• How his every thought is consumed by his writing

• Showing him sending story after story to publishers

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

Simultaneously I will place him in win and lose situations - Losing when his stories are rejected -

Winning when he receives encouraging notes from publishers.

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

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

Is your theme reinforced in the end of your story?

(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.

Source: Free Articles

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Is The Theme Running Through Your Story?

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

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

Let me give you an example…

Scenario One

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

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

• What started the bullying

• What the main character felt, confronted with this problem

• What the main character did to overcome this problem

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

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

Scenario Two

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

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

Remember a short story is short.

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

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

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

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

How can I have this theme running throughout my story?

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

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

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

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


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

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

(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.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Does Each Element of Your Story Further The Theme?

Whichever theme you choose, all the elements, which make up your story, dialogue, conflict, scenes, etc should be written with the theme in mind.

Your theme should progress the story.

If you find that anything in your story doesn’t progress it, it should be cut when you are in the editing stage.

Before we see an example of elements written with a theme in mind, let’s think of a theme and a story….

The theme is…

Arrogance Leads To Humiliation

Very briefly, this story is about a character that believes he is better than his colleagues.

His goal is to get promoted to a managerial position. What will prevent him from reaching his goal, is the fact that management are aware of his arrogance and they don’t believe, with his attitude, he is the right person to manage the staff.

To meet his goal, the character will take on more work than he can handle. He will do this to prove to management, that he is the right man for the job. But in the end, he will make a grave error and his arrogance will lead him to humiliation.

Now let’s take a look at the elements of this story…


The character’s dialogue will show his arrogance, by the tone of his voice and the words he chooses to express himself.


I will show my character is arrogant by the way I describe him and from how other characters see him.


I will explain what makes him think he is better than everyone else.


I will state his goal and show how it arises from the fact that he believes himself better than everyone else.


The setting is going to be in an office environment. I can show his arrogance through the setting by perhaps describing the contents of his desk (trophies) and his desk area in general (diplomas on the walls.) etc.


The conflict will come from himself. He is the one that creates it by doing and saying things, which create dislike.


The climax is the highest point in my story where the conflict and his arrogance will come to their peak. Here we will see how he tries to overcome the conflict and reach his goal by taking on more work.


I will end my story with my character’s humiliation. He takes on more work and makes an error in judgement. Which not only prevents his promotion but also gets him fired.

My theme here would have run its course.

Does each element of your story further your theme?

(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.

Source: Free Articles from

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Mslexia - For Women Who Write

"There are over 20 ways of submitting to Mslexia.

Appearing in Mslexia is one of the best ways to get onto the publishing ladder. It’s a notch on your writer’s CV, something to mention in grant applications, and a way to be seen by agents and editors on the lookout for new talent. Many women writers have started their careers in the pages of the magazine.

There are over 20 ways to submit, from a four-line poem to a 3,000-word lead article, from a 300-word bedtime story to a 700-word memoir performance piece – so there’s bound to be something to suit your kind of writing. Including big-name commissions and as-yet-undiscovered newcomers, we publish over 60 women in every issue."

Can Your Theme Be Proved In Your Story?

Your theme has to be something you can prove in your story - It doesn’t have to be a universal truth. This means that your theme doesn’t have to be something that happens in real life all the time (providing our logic can accept it, in order for us to believe it).

Whatever story you choose to write, be it a contemporary or a story which requires elements of fantasy such as in horror, science fiction etc… the events of that story have to appear logical.

What is not logical and consequently not believable is…

A character that has no knowledge of computers and overnight becomes a computer whiz

A car that goes over a cliff, bursts into flames and the character manages to escape unscratched


These are not believable because they can’t and don’t happen in real life and our logic doesn’t accept them.

Your theme will be believed when you prove it (providing of course you can.) Let’s see how you can do that.

We’ll start with a theme…

“Hard work leads to success.’

Our story is about a character whose goal is to reach a managerial position within the company that he works. For the reader to see how the character will reach his goal I will show him…

 Working hard
 Working long hours
 Using his initiative
 Being responsible

And all those qualities, in the end, will secure him the promotion he has been aiming for.

So my theme here will be proved that ‘Hard work leads to success’ because my character succeeds in the end.

From the examples I have given so far, you may have noticed that my stories end on a happy note. Yours don’t have to. The ending will depend on the story you are writing and how you, the writer, prefers to end it.

I could have done the reverse with this theme. I could have said,

“Hard work doesn’t lead to success.”

My story will be the same but in the end I will have the character missing out on the promotion. Both themes will be proved because I have proved them in my story.

Any theme can work in a story providing you can prove it.

Have you proved your theme?

(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.
Source: Free Articles from

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Blood & Bourbon

From the website:

Blood & Bourbon is here to showcase all things hard, gritty, and raw. That time you got in a bar fight, that time you went to an S&M club, that time you had an opinion that sparked a heated argument over a family dinner. We’re actively seeking submissions in the following categories:

Short fiction or non-fiction, 5000 words or less.

Opinion pieces or essays on any subjects, 5000 words or less.

Poetry, up to three pieces per submission.

Black and white photography or art.

We accept simultaneous submissions. We provide author copies upon request with a small donation of $5.


Have You Tested Your Theme Against Your Plot?

How we usually begin the preparation stage in the writing process is…

 We think of an idea for a story

 We think of a suitable theme

 We plot

Once we come up with a theme and we begin plotting, we have to see how the theme and the plot match up. Sometimes as we plot we find that the theme we had initially chosen won’t do.

For example…

‘Winning The Lottery Makes Your Life Easier’

Plotting with this theme in mind, we have our characters pay off all their debts, go on endless shopping sprees, go on holidays, etc. We find though that this won’t make a very interesting story. So we spice it up, adding to the theme or coming up with a different one.

“Winning The Lottery Makes Your Life Easier But Everything Has Its Price.”

We can show the characters living the life of the rich for a while before they realize that being wealthy has its problems too...

• They now fear for their safety

• Their friends and relatives are constantly harping at their door asking for assistance

• Etc

This second scenario creates more problems for the characters, so it’s more interesting for us readers.


The preparation stage is there to prepare before you write. It’s our workbench where we figure everything out. We test our theme, we test our plot and once everything passes the test, then we begin writing.

You can change the theme as many times as you feel it needs changing, while you are in the preparation stage.

The main thing is to make your story interesting.

It’s not a good idea to keep changing the theme when writing the story because then you will have to keep changing the story. This means rewriting.

Figure everything out then write.

Have you tested your theme against your plot?

(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.

Source: Free Articles from

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Does Your Theme Contain Character, Conflict, Resolution?

For a theme to work and the story, which will revolve around the theme, it has to contain three things…

1. Character

2. Conflict

3. Resolution

What’s the reason for this?

If your theme doesn’t contain these three essential elements, then you won’t be writing a proper short story. It might turn out to be an essay instead.

Because without…

1) Characters

You can’t achieve emotional depth. Readers become engrossed in stories because of the characters in them. They either become the character (sympathize), or read about an interesting person (empathize).

Emotional depth is achieved when readers use their imagination and senses and/or experiences to live the story through the characters.

2) Conflict

Your story will be boring. Why? Without conflict, something to stir things up, nothing happens. And a story, in which nothing happens, is one not worth writing about.

Your characters don’t lead carefree lives. Well, not in the instance you are writing about them. In that part of their lives they are faced with a problem. They want something and can’t get it because of the conflict, which is preventing them to do so.

And it’s that conflict and the struggle the characters has to undergo that keeps us readers interested and in suspense. Will the character succeed or won’t he? And when is this all going to happen? And how is it all going to happen?


Something that starts has to finish, one way or another.

Once you have created great characters, which the reader will come to care about, and you have placed them in conflict, that conflict at the end of your story has to be resolved. The characters will achieve their goals or they won’t.

That doesn’t matter.

You can end your story as you please and as it suits your story – but you have to end it. Ending the story means resolving the conflict.

Does your theme contain character, conflict, resolution?

(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.

Source: Free Articles

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Does Your Story Have A Theme?

It should.

A theme is a one-line explanation of your story.. Every story should have one because our stories are about something.

When I say should, I mean that this isn’t always the case. Especially so for beginner writers, who may not know, that the theme carries the story. Or even those who’ve been writing for years may not be aware of the importance of a theme.

And a theme is important.

A theme is what will keep you on track as you write the story.

What happens if you write without a theme in mind? Two things…

1.You stray from the subject


2.You write more than one story

Let me give you an example of a story written with a theme in mind…

The theme to a story I once wrote was, ‘Vanity Leads To Destruction.

Very briefly, this story is about a female character that believed herself to be so beautiful, in the end she lost everything.

Writing this theme on a post-it note and sticking it on my computer, I was always reminded that my story had to revolve around this theme. Having a theme helped me stick to the story I had intended on writing and not stray from it – not even a little. It also helped me to focus only on what was essential to my story.

So according to my theme, ‘Vanity Leads To Destruction’…

• Every action my character performed was to show her vanity

• Her goals sprung from her vanity

• What motivated her was her vanity

• Her words (dialogue) showed her vanity

• How she handled situations showed her vanity

• The interaction with other characters showed her vanity

• The conflict was a result of her vanity

• The highest peak in my story, the climax, showed an intense moment of whether her goal would be met (whether her vanity would work for, or against her)

• And the ending? The ending showed how she was led to destruction because of her vanity

By following my theme, everything in my story was precise.

If I showed my character not being vain in any instance, then I would’ve strayed from my theme.

Does Your Story Have A Theme?

If you didn’t consciously write with a theme in mind, then your story won’t have one. Chances are, your story isn’t focused. But then again there is the other possibility… At times we fluke things.

Perhaps without consciously knowing, a theme is running through your story.

Check your story to see if this is the case. If it is, are you sticking to the theme?

If you find that some parts of your story are straying from the theme, those parts will need to be changed to accommodate the theme.

Now the other possibility…

You don’t have a theme and none is running through your story. That’s okay. We can still save it. Read through your story and see what it’s about. Then come up with the most appropriate theme to it - A theme that makes sense yet won’t mean too much work to change the story.

Rewrite those parts that don’t accommodate the theme.

It is easier if we come up with a theme while we are at the plotting stage. It saves all that rewriting but not to worry… You won’t make the same error again in your next story!

(c) Nick Vernon


Besides his passion for writing, Nick Vernon runs an online gift site where you will find gift information, articles and readers’ funny stories.

The Secret Lesson

There is no mistaking that Stephen King is a masterful writer. His prose is clean and extraordinarily well written. But there is another, very valuable lesson, he has to offer you as an aspiring author. To understand this lesson you have to take a look at his body of work.

If you look at the enormous body of work that Stephen King has produced over the last several decades what do you come up with? You come up with an incredibly diverse range of works that run the complete spectrum of writing. He has written multi-volume stories that span decades of his life, collections of short stories, single book stories, and well just about every length of story imaginable. He doesn’t limit himself to the format of a novel or of a short story. In terms of story length he has no limits.

This same observation on his writing holds true for his television and movie writing. He has written traditional length movies, multi-episode Television shows, and movies that are a compilation of shorter works all tied together with a theme.

But this freedom of expression that he has is not just limited to the length of the work. It is also clearly evident in the subject and genre of his work. He has written horror, science fiction, fantasy and more. And often times his books simply do not stay within any one category. You often find a mixture of all these genres in one book.

His work, in other words, is very diverse. He has no qualms about writing whatever he wants to write in any length, and in any genre. He allows his stories go wherever they need to go.

You might be thinking to yourself that he is, after all, "Stephen King" so he can write whatever he wants. I don’t think this is true. I think this is backwards and the reality here is that he became "Stephen King" because he followed his heart and wrote what he wanted to write. He had the courage to follow his internal voice.

So what is the rule for Stephen King, and the lesson for you? It is that he writes what he wants to write. He has the courage to listen to his internal voice and take the story wherever it needs to go. This is the lesson of courage in writing and you should follow the same process. Write what you want to write, listen to your internal voice, and follow the story wherever it leads you in whatever length or genre it takes you.

Source: Free Articles from

(c) Will Kalif is the author of two Epic Fantasy novels. For more insight into the craft of writing visit his site at: – Creativity with an Edge

Saturday, May 15, 2021

And What Do You Do?

It's the funniest thing. When someone asks me what I do for a living, I tell them, "I'm a writer." The standard response is, "No, really, what do you do?" Somehow, I always get lost in the conversation because I never expect that type of response. I end up floundering in hopes of someday finding a good response.

--- So, how do you know you're a real writer? ---

It has to be a certain look or smell that identifies you as a writer. Is it the turtleneck and mothball odour that give it away, or perhaps its the old blue jeans you wear for a week or two.

Generally, my rule of thumb is if you can sell your ideas and make money writing, you're "a writer!" If you sit and write all day long and never sell anything, then "you write." So, in summary: "you write until you become a writer!"

But, this is very true! To become a writer, you have to write every day. You should think of a dozen or so topics and write about them. This will help you learn your style and develop your skills.

If you write, but are not yet a writer, here's an objective! Write, until you sell something. Once you get the money, pay your gas bill. Now, you're a writer! But, don't stop with just one article, keep going!

--- Hey Ed! Say something funny. ---

It just doesn't happen like that. I'm not a funny guy. If I sit down and design something funny, I can be hilarious. But, I can't just say something funny.

On the other hand, ideas are things that just happen. But, developing and writing that idea takes work. The act of writing doesn't "just happen."

When writing about an idea, you have to research the idea to determine if it's feasible. If it looks good, then you have to research it again to become an expert---or at least knowledgeable on the topic.

The other point to writing is that, even as a Technical Writer, you have to feel the writing. This goes back to one of my previous articles, "Natural Writing." You have to learn your verbal style before you can become comfortable with your written style. Once you understand your own style of communicating, stick with it as it's the most comfortable place to start. Let it evolve, but stay with it to ensure that the writing feels good and flows.

--- And, have I read something you've written? ---

I don't even know if they can read much less if they've ever read something I've written. If the name rings a bell, probably so! The point is that most people won't know about you unless you write!

Become a prolific writer and write for the sake of writing. The more you write, the better you become, the more you publish, and the more people will read your work.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for a writer is "fear." Don't be afraid to send your work out. People will compliment you and criticize you. In all cases, take the feedback, positive or negative, graciously!

--- I write stuff, too. ---

When I was young, I wrote on the bathroom stalls in Catholic elementary school. I created some spectacular poetry! When Sister Butch, of the Order of the Most Vicious Blood, caught me, that was the end of my career, and nearly my life. Everybody can write, but not everybody can be a writer.

Being a writer is not just putting words on the paper. It involves research, organization, thought, creative wordplay, and the ability to sit still long enough to put it all together.

This short article is a reasonable example. It started out in my head as "Why write?" and evolved based on some thought. Writing is the evolution of ideas into something between fact and fiction. It's the evolution of presentation into something coherent to the largest audience. It's a fantasy that turns into a reality once you figure out what it is that you're trying to say!

--- And, what made you write? ---

It wasn't some miracle or premonition. Honestly. Someone made me madder than a hornet. To make a long story short, I designed and developed an idea for a product that would save a previous employer a lot money. I did all of the financial work, software engineering, implementation, and testing to prove the idea.

During my presentation, the senior engineers scoffed at the idea. So I took my notes, wrote a manuscript, and submitted it to various publishers. A month later, a publisher picked up the manuscript and we signed a contract to publish it. It all took off from there! That's it!

There are a million reasons to write, but I found later that you don't need a reason if you love it. It takes just one situation to get you started into the addictive world of writing! But, all you really have to do is ...

--- Just write! ---

I don't write on bathroom walls anymore because it's too hard for our housekeeper to keep up with the work. But, I do carry around a palmtop just in case I get an idea! For now ... just write everything you can as often as possible. Once you get the hang of it, writing becomes an addiction.

Write because you can take an idea and tell it to the rest of the world.

Write because your wife has another headache. Write because you can make money. Write so that the next time someone asks what you do, you can say, "I'm a writer!"

Source: Free Articles from

(c) Edward B. Toupin is a freelance consultant, writer, and published author living in Las Vegas with his singer/actress wife. He currently handles technical writing tasks for various companies in New York, Chicago, and Denver as well as imagineers and markets feature-length screenplays.

Don't Think - Write

Ever have those days when you’re muzzy and unmotivated?

You know how it is.

Sometimes you're aware you should write, but you don't feel like it.

And even if you did, you're plagued by not knowing what to write about.

Or maybe you have an important scene or an article to write and you can't find the necessary impetus to get you started.

Worse, you just can't be bothered to write at all - it's too hard to even contemplate.

What do you do when this happens to you?

If you write for a living, this can be especially troubling.

After all, if you're not writing, you're not working.

So, you feel bad because you know that not writing equals no money coming in, now or in the future...

What's the solution?

First of all you need to get your head around what I call 'The Big Secret.'

And the big secret is that career writers don't need a reason to write.

They don't need inspiration or a good idea.

They don't even need to be in the right mood.

Fact is that thinking - as in trying to come up with ideas - doesn't work as a way to make you write.

When you write all the time, as a habit, it's like breathing.

You just sit yourself in front of the computer and the words simply pour out.

This is because the brain doesn't use its logical side to write.

It uses the creative side, which is hard-wired to the subconscious.

And, as I often point out to new writers, it's your subconscious that writes for you.

Best thing is that this wellspring of ideas never runs out.

As long as you keep tapping out words, the ideas will keep coming.

Stopping and thinking for a moment disrupts this process because you're disengaging the subconscious to consider something with your logical brain.

So next time you're struggling, don't think, just write.

I met one of the writers of Shrek once and he said he would sit down and sometimes write: Can't think of anything to write today. But I need an idea. Come on brain, give me something to write about. I need you to... and so on, until something came.

Great idea, right?

My partner is a full time fiction author and she writes every day without fail - she gets up in the morning, makes tea then sits down to write for three or four hours. I ask her, "What do you do when you don't feel like writing?"

"Fake it," she says. "Pretend you want to write and sure enough, the muse kicks in after about ten minutes and then everything's fine. I just keep going after that."

My problem is that I always have too much to do.

I end up writing even when I don't feel like it because, well, I have to.

Nothing would happen unless I wrote.

From little things like business strategies, to marketing blurbs, to lessons I'm writing for students.

All these things I give deadlines.

And the way I make myself write more fiction is to apply a deadline to that too.

Otherwise I probably wouldn't do it...

Actually that's not true.

I feel the urge to write pretty much all the time.

It's what I write - and for how long - that's my greatest issue.

Take this article for instance.

I started out thinking last night about how social sites have taken over the Net.

I thought maybe I could write an article about that.

As the night wore on I realized that I could probably write a book about social marketing - the arena is so complex and fascinating.

I decided I'd put off that article and write about something else.

But I couldn't think of anything.

So I sat down this morning, knowing I had to write something for the newsletter, and just started typing.

An hour later and this is the result.

I look back and have no idea where all the above words came from - and I'm amazed at how much I had to say about nothing much at all.

Now surely if I can do that...

... you can too!

Especially if you heed the advice in the title!

Keep Writing!

(c) Rob Parnell
The Writing Academy

Friday, May 14, 2021

Say Goodbye to Writer's Block

What is writer's block? When your creativity hits a block wall! You’re fresh out of words! Your mind’s a blank. The page is a blank. There’s not one more thing you can say. Some small business owners who want to write about their business—whether in an article, brochure, or website—get stuck writing about themselves and so they hit a writer’s block. They just can’t put into words what they want to say about their business to promote it to their prospects.

Or sometimes they may think they know EXACTLY what they want to write, but as soon as that screen stares at them, their mind goes completely blank. Especially if there’s a deadline. The printer is waiting for the copy. There’s a trade show coming up and they need brochures. The website must be launched in time for the promotional launch.

So often the tighter the deadline, the worse the anguish of writer's block. What might possibly be causing this horrible plunge into speechlessness? One answer is obvious: FEAR! Small business owners are terrified they have absolutely nothing of value to say. They are afraid they can’t boast about their business—it’s just too self-promoting.

Writer's block can strike anyone at any time. Based in fear, it raises doubts about one’s self-worth and ability to express oneself. What else besides fear may be at the core of writer’s block?

Perfectionism. You feel you must produce a masterpiece in the first draft. Otherwise, you qualify as a complete failure.

Editing instead of composing. Your judging mind is lurking in the background waiting to pounce on any incorrect word, spelling, grammar errors, etc.

Self-consciousness. You find it hard to write about your business because it’s not right to brag. And anyway, you’re not a writer! Who do you think you’re kidding?

Stuck at the start. It's always the first sentence that's the hardest and everyone knows how important the first sentence is. Or the headline on the brochure or website. Or the title of the article. It must be brilliant! It must be unique! It must hook the reader from the start! You simply can’t get into writing the piece until you get past this challenging beginning.

Shattered concentration. You have to send out bills. Answer e-mails. The computer’s acting up. Your assistant called in sick. You shouldn’t be wasting your time writing copy. You have a business to run.

 How can you possibly concentrate with all this distraction?

Procrastination. It's your favorite hobby. It's your constant companion. Your favorite excuse. There’s always manana. But if there’s always tomorrow, you never write today!

Can this paralysis of the verbal chords be conquered? YES! YES! And YES! You can do it! Do you really want to get that piece written? Then read on…

Here are some successful methods of overcoming writer's block:

Be prepared
Spend some time mulling over your project before you sit down to write. It gets your brain in gear and you’ll be ready to roll when you sit down to write.
Give up perfectionism
No one ever writes a masterpiece in the first draft. Don't put any expectations on your writing at all! Give yourself permission to write whatever comes out—you can fix it later or hire an editor.
Compose don’t edit
Don’t compose with your judge in tow. Let the words, ideas, music flow out of you without critiquing every darn word. Sit at your computer, take a deep breath, and let go all your thoughts. Then let your finger hover over your keyboard and let what comes through you emerge unscathed.
Forget the first sentence
You can go back to that all-important opener when you've finished your piece. Go for the middle or even the end. Start wherever you can. Chances are, when you read it over, the first line will be blinking its neon lights right at you from the depths of your composition.
Concentrate in short spurts
Life happens, stuff happens, there will always be distractions. Treat your writing time as a little vacation from all those annoying worries. Create a space, perhaps even a physical one, where nothing exists except what you are working on. Focus in short spurts, and take breaks when you feel yourself losing focus.
Stop procrastinating
Write an outline. Get some samples of what you want to create. Use someone else's writing to get going. Make an accountability agreement with someone. Set up a reward for yourself. Create an inflexible timeline. Imagine how good it will feel when it’s done. Then just do it!

Once you conquer writer’s block once, remember what works and do it the next time it strikes. And when you have your finished piece—article, brochure, website, or even book or eBook or other information product—the feelings of satisfaction will stay with you the next time writer’s block sneaks in to your life.

Source: Free Articles from

Andrea Glass and Debra Simpson bring together 40 years combined experience—Andrea as a professional ghostwriter and copyeditor and Debra as a digital marketing professional.

The Book Inside of You

Do you ever have those days when you don't know what to write about?

And worse, do those days turn into weeks and months, even years?

You're not alone.

I know this for a fact because people email me about it all the time.

According to most surveys, 80% of people feel they have a writer inside, someone who could - and thinks they should - write a book at some point in their lives.

80% is a huge statistic.

So huge that it's the kind of percentage that would have marketers foaming at the mouth!
But real life shows that only around 5% actually get around to any kind of serious writing in their lifetimes - and only around 1% of that 5% end up getting paid to do it.

That's why, in marketing terms, writing remains a niche - one of those nebulous terms that means 'so specialized' as to be largely irrelevant to modern demographics.

Clearly that doesn't quash the urge to write for you and me.
(And yes, “me” is grammatically correct here.)
But this issue of "I want to write but I can't think what to write about" remains for many a point of frustration for much of their lives.

The feeling is usually caused by having too high expectations of ourselves.

We tend to think that our words and sentences should be good and wonderful the moment we put them down on paper.

The beginner can feel immense distress after writing a paragraph and then realizing it's either awful, or nothing like the thoughts they wanted to transfer.

We should take comfort in the fact that this phenomenon is as true for seasoned writers as it is for the beginner!

Removing the barrier between our thoughts and their expression is something a writer may take a lifetime to learn – and, even then, never quite thoroughly master.

I think it was Evelyn Waugh who said that he found writing in his old age much harder than in his youth because the more he tried to get down precisely what he meant, the more laborious the process seemed to become.

A few throw away lines that may have sufficed as a younger man became pages of exposition that delved further and deeper into delicate nuances that seemed almost impossible for him to capture.

Churchill expressed the same concerns as he aged - and his later works became longer and denser.

One of my intentions with The Writing Academy is to short circuit this dilemma.

Because I believe that our subconscious minds have a much better grasp on writing, story, theme, structure and style than our conscious, rational minds.

This is one of the reasons why thinking too much doesn't seem to help us write.

Thinking is thinking.

But writing is writing.

And the only way to solve a writing problem - a block or a lack of ideas - is to write.

I've noticed this over and again.

That if you switch off your inner critic somehow - ignore it, or deliberately suppress it - and just write the first thing that comes into your head, then the subconscious somehow kicks in and takes over.

I've also noticed that if you write every day, the subconscious can actually guide you through an entire novel.

I used to wonder how I could hold an entire 150,000 word opus in my mind - until I realized it can't, and doesn't.

It's the subconscious that does this job. It holds the novel in a hidden databank. And if you're true to yourself - and have an objective moral compass - then your storylines will surface naturally.

Writing professors will often tell you about their favorite novelists. Those who've managed to weave profound themes into their work - and still created superb prose to house them.

But this is to misunderstand the process a writer uses.

I've yet to see a writer interviewed who will say they had all their themes - even subject matter - worked out before they started writing.

This is not how it works.

Themes, indeed stories, characters, and plots are subconscious manifestations of the writer's mindset and attitudes that come through the work, rather than being deliberately planned and executed to any formula.

Writing is not a mysterious process that defies explanation.

It just happens if we trust the process, and don’t overthink it.

This is good.

It means that all of us can do it - if we let go of preconceptions or expectations of our abilities.

Let go, and write.

Don't think, write.

That is, to me, what my Writing Academy is all about.

Thanks for reading.
Keep Writing!

(c) Rob Parnell

The Writing Academy

10 Ways to Become a Successful Writer

Anyone can call themselves a writer. All you have to do is write – a story, an article, a journal, a novel, a poem.

But that is rather like being called a plumber because you sort out the central heating and replace washers. Or a dressmaker because you make your own clothes. Or a bricklayer because you built your own garage.

These are hobbies you enjoy. They aren’t your main source of income.

The difference between writers and the other examples is that people who write are usually passionate about what they do.

If you are one of these why not become a real writer who gets paid for their work? It gives great pleasure to answer “I’m a writer,” to the question “What do you do?”

It gives even greater pleasure to add “For a living.”

So what must you do to become a full time writer?

1. Get paid for your work.

I’m afraid that there are many people who are so anxious to see their work in print that they will write for nothing. There is only one acceptable reason for doing this and that is to build a portfolio of published material.

Unfortunately editors know which publications use such material and sadly some of these publications will print material which would not be of a standard to be paid for. If your work is good enough you will get published.

I operate with two guidelines. I only offer material for which payment will be made if it is accepted – even if it’s only a letter to a ‘Reader’s Letters’ page.

2. Never dispose of anything you write even if it’s been rejected.

It can be re-worked and represented to another publication or at another time. Maybe it can be incorporated into another piece. While you decide what to do it can safely sit on file in your computer ready to be summoned when you’ve got writer’s block or a spare moment. Sometimes just re-reading it will set you off on a more productive line of thought.

3. Write every day.

Set an achievable target for doing this. Even if it’s only an hour a day at first you must stick to it no matter what else happens. Choose your time of day. Get up earlier if necessary. Make it a habit so that you feel uncomfortable if you don’t do it.

4. Don’t give in to writer’s block.

There will be days when you sit down at your desk and your mind goes blank. Don’t sit there doing nothing or, even worse, decide to end the session and do something else. Just write anything. Even if it’s gibberish. Write about the fact that you can’t think of anything and how cross that makes you, etc.

Before you know it your writer’s block will have disappeared.

5. Start small.

A good place to start submitting work for publication is the letter page of magazines and newspapers who pay for the items they publish.

Warning! Don’t be tempted to present something you dashed off on the spur of the moment.

Prepare the items you submit to editors with as much care as you would if it was a short story or article. It is good practice for working on longer items and will sharpen your skills.

6. Study your market before you submit anything at all whether it is a letter, an article, a short story or a novel.

Show professionalism by choosing a suitable subject and style.

7. Edit, revise, rework and edit again until you are sure you’ve got it right.

Some writers study the market before they decide what to write about. When I’m writing short pieces, unless I’m working on a commissioned article or story, I prefer to write whatever is in my mind at the time.

Then I work on it so that it is suitable for whichever market I have chosen.

One piece of writing can often be adapted and edited to suit several different publications. But beware of the next point.

8. Never send the same article to more than one publication at a time.

You will end up in any editor’s black book if after publishing your piece of work it is then printed in a rival publication. Wait until your ms has been rejected before submitting it elsewhere. Before re-submitting it, re-read it. Especially take note of any comments the editor might have made. (They do sometimes do this.)

9. Do not alienate editors.

To most people that would seem to be pretty obvious but there are still tales of hopeful writers sending angry letters or making abusive phone calls when their submissions are rejected.

Remember that there are hundreds (at least) of hopeful authors sending in material. Don’t pester any editor for a decision for at least a couple of months, and then a polite enquiry by ‘phone, letter, or email is acceptable.

10. Never give up.

There are very few writers who were successful from the start. Keep a list of how many rejections the best authors had. Read it every time the heavy sound of a rejection landing on the mat depresses you.

Before long it won’t be that heavy thump, it will be an acceptance or a cheque. At last you’ll be on your way to being a real published writer.

(c) Theodora Cochrane

Source: Free Articles from

Theodora Cochrane has been a published author for many years. She writes using different pen names to maintain her privacy.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The League Table

The League Table has been updated...


Women's Prize for Fiction - Shortlist

 The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett 

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke 

Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller 

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones 

No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood

Winner to be announced on the 7th July 2021

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Weekly Write - Week #30




WW Week 29 - Result

 Week 29


Inhabited by Steve Goodlad


The Return of the Ugly American by Paul Garson

IS This Seat Taken? by Kat Cade

The Night Bus by Vivienne Moles


Thursday, May 6, 2021

10 Quick Tips for Writers

These top tips will help you maintain enthusiasm for your chosen craft and make sure you have the mindset to improve and succeed.

All writers are readers first. Writing is how we give back the pleasure we’ve experienced. Good writers don’t read less as their career progresses, they read more, because seeing what everyone else is doing is an important part of staying informed – and relevant – not to mention being entertained and often inspired.

Seems obvious I know but you’d be surprised how many would be writers don’t write daily – the simplest component to assured success. Writing every day is a discipline you must adopt to ensure your work maintains consistency, depth and vision. You need to get used to transferring all of your thoughts into words. Over time, this habit enables you to overcome all kinds of writers’ blocks and guarantee quality output.

Research and Study

You can never hear good advice too often or be so jaded you don’t have something more to learn. Read and listen to what other writers say about writing. There’s always a new perspective. But don’t be feverish about it. Don’t expect every successful writer to know all the secrets to success – there aren’t any in particular. Except perhaps dedication to the craft – that’s all you really need. Once you’re truly committed, the rest will follow.

Try New Forms
Don’t limit yourself. All forms of writing enhance your chosen genre. Learning how to write copy or good poetry can teach you much about the nature of words and their effect. Writing outside of your preferred genre can teach you a lot about structure, characterisation, mood and texture. Trying different styles will help solidify your own. Experimenting with any kind of writing will improve your overall technique.

Nurture Your Creativity
Respect your craft as though it were a physical object, worthy of your love and devotion. Be kind to yourself and your body – the engine of your mind. Eat well, shun excess and harmful influences; seek out happiness and adventure. Don’t dwell on the crass or morbid. Do everything positive within your power to ignite and fan the fire of creativity.

Never forget that the purpose of writing is for it to be read. Writing is communication – of ideas, of information and of entertainment. Having good writing that is unread is wasteful. Get your best stuff out there – and on the desks of editors, publishers and producers. Post your writing to the web – and direct people to it. Share your gift and strive constantly for publication and your reader’s feedback. It’s the only way for a writer to live. Literally.

Seek Guidance
Don’t be afraid of criticism but remember that you need to measure other people’s advice. Criticism says more about the giver than the receiver. Other writers often want to diminish your success and make you give up, to quash the competition. But creativity cannot survive in a vacuum. It needs guidance and nurturing to blossom fully. Take on board suggestions that will improve your work – and file away the rest.

Love What You Write
You cannot fully engross yourself in an activity you do not cherish. Learn to be passionate about your creativity. Savour the life you bring to your characters and the stories they have to tell. Glorify the edifice your writing manifests. Pay regular homage to the spark inside of you that makes you want to write – it’s a precious thing, not to be taken for granted.

Let Go
Learn to be objective and circumspect about your creativity. No words are set in stone. Not all ideas are beyond potential for further development. Let others take what they like from your work – even if they see things you didn’t deliberately plan. Don’t be afraid to rework ideas. On request, edit, change and improve your work without angst or resentment. Don’t fret that your vision will somehow be lost. It won’t be. When asked to rewrite, don’t feel you must compromise your work, simply make it better.

Have Fun
Enthusiasm is infectious. Passion is a powerful influencer. Take the love you have for your work and direct it outwards – into the public arena along with your masterpieces. Writers need support, encouragement and (let's face it) financial sponsorship to survive. People want to experience your belief in yourself and your projects firsthand when they meet you. They want to be inspired too. Relate your honest and sincere commitment to your work and the people who can help will more readily feel inclined to support you.

I hope these points aid your writing. If you need extra motivation to write, my advice is to print out this article and tape it somewhere in your writing space, or perhaps on your fridge door.

And read it once a day.

Keep Writing!

(c) Rob Parnell

International Booker Prize - Longlist

The full 2021 International Booker longlist is:

At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop

The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enríquez

When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut

The Employees by Olga Ravn

In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova

The War of the Poor by Éric Vuillard

Winner to be announced on the 2nd June 2021

Start as a 5-minute Writer

5 minutes. That's all you need to begin writing. You don't have to set aside a morning, a day or even a weekend to write.

If you do, it will only put pressure on you; writing then becomes a chore, an appointment in your already busy schedule.

And like your other appointments, you'll be tempted to move your writing schedule some other time.

So rather than put yourself in a position where you "have" to write because "it's in my schedule," start by finding 5 minutes in your day and then use those minutes to write.

How long does it take for your e-mails to finish downloading? There's your 5-minute writing time.

Your casserole takes how many minutes to simmer? There's your 5-minute writing time.

How long do you have to wait for the bus (or train) at the terminal? There's your 5-minute writing time.

Stuck in a long check-out line at the supermarket? There's your 5-minute writing time.

How long before it's your turn to do your morning ritual in the bathroom/toilet? There's your 5-minute writing time.

I'm certain you can think of other situations in your life where you can snatch those 5 minutes.

In 5 minutes, write how you're feeling at that moment; describe where you are; do a one-paragraph character sketch of the tired-looking cashier; make a list of things you want to do or don't want to do at the present.

Snatch those 5 minutes of writing time every day. That's not a lot to ask for when there are 1,440 minutes in a day.

Start as a 5-minute writer. Give yourself time to be comfortable and used to this new habit. Allow those 5 minutes of writing time to blend in with your every day life. Soon you'll be writing beyond your 5-minute writing time, and you won't even notice your 5 minutes are up!

Copyright 2003 Shery Ma Belle Arrieta

Shery is the creator of WriteSparks! - a software that generates over 1,000,000 Story Sparkers for Writers.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Cash Management for Writers

I'd be lying if I told you that being a full-time writer is all wine and roses and endless days of blissful creativity - especially at the start.

It's rarely that for most. If you look at the lives of the great writers throughout history, they invariably grew familiar with the pain of rejection, the fear of failure, and often the gnawing ache of poverty.

These days poverty is a relative term. If you have a computer and an Internet connection, you're by no means poor, no matter how you may feel.

Recently I spent some time in Luxor, Egypt. There I met many people who thought regularly going without food for a few days was normal; people who thought you were unimaginably rich if you could afford to catch a plane; people who dreamed of one day owning a mobile phone.

These people were by no means peasants, they were town dwellers with jobs and apartments who, despite living without electricity, managed to be smart, clean, multi-lingual and law-abiding.

Until fairly recently, the idea of writing for a living was out of the question for most. Until the advent of mass communications, the only way to write full time was to either have a rich benefactor, have tenure at a university, or to be a monk! The idea that a full-time income could be made from writing is really only something that's become common since the 1950s - actually since the proliferation of TV, movies, newsprint, radio and now, of course, the Internet.

These days your success as a writer is inevitable if you stick with it.

No matter how bad things seem, your situation will get better with persistence.

Knowing how to deal with little money, at least at first, is important.

First of all, stop worrying about the bills. Easier said than done I know. But the fact is there's no such thing as debtor's prison anymore - and you're not going to be put behind bars for credit card debt, bank overdrafts, or even unpaid utility bills.

Punishment these days is meted out through lack of credit which, if you're poor, seems unfair but is actually the best thing for you. When you owe lots of money, the last thing you want is to have to pay back even more.

Here's how I made it through some lean times at the beginning of my creative career.

Twenty years ago I accepted that I was hopelessly in debt and I was going to have to take responsibility for the fact I was crap with money. I bought all the wrong things, spent way too much on hedonistic activities and never seemed to earn enough to pay back what I owed.

But I realized too that I was not unique. Most people live with permanent debt - and the financial institutions want you to live this way because that's how they make a profit. If everyone was rich and had enough money to buy things outright and never get into debt, the whole of Western civilization would collapse - as it almost did during the recent global economic crisis because too much debt was going unpaid.

When I was poor I deliberately changed the way I thought about bills by making a slight shift in my word use. I picked the word "creditors" to describe those I owed money. It's a nice-sounding word: it sounds positive, not one that fills you with foreboding.

Then I made a list of all the outstanding bills, debts, credit card balances, mortgage repayments, etc. I was stunned and sickened when I added it all up.

Then I listed the debts in order of importance. This is something you have to decide for yourself. The most demanding creditor is not always the most urgent. Utility bills are normally the most pressing - to keep power flowing into the house.

Cell charges not so crucial because you don't really need a phone and getting cut off will probably help you in the long run. Lawyers, doctors and other freelance professionals can charge obscenely large fees but courts are not always sympathetic to their pleas for payment. And often, by the time things get into collection, the urgency is usually over. You just get black marks against your credit – which you should see as a good thing because it will stop you from borrowing even more.

When I'd written up my list, I decided which bill I was going to pay next, when I had some money. If it was a large bill, I would part pay it: sometimes half, sometimes a tenth. It's hard for someone to sue you - or pass the debt on to collection - if you're making small part payments.

A judge will throw a case out of court if you're paying a creditor even the tiniest amount per week. In most jurisdictions the same is true of rent and mortgages. If you pay a little - and inform the creditor in writing of your intentions, there's really not much they can do in the short term. You're trying - and that's all a court could enforce anyway.

This tactic is not for the impatient. Though I barely had enough to eat and drink for about a month at one point, paying a bit back all the time felt enormously liberating.

Two years later all the debts were gone and I had learned one thing very well: if you don't spend more than you earn, you'll always be better off!

I could write a book about debt management and financial prosperity. Perhaps I will, even though many have been written already! I recommend you read some if you're not very good with money, or if you believe you don't have enough to live on.

It's often the case that simply taking the time to properly manage your finances - like a business - will make you feel more prosperous.

After all, most businesses operate utilizing far more debt than many of us can comprehend. There's apparently no shame in a corporation using billions of dollars of borrowed money to increase its profits so, when you go a little too far into the red, just think of yourself as doing the same.

But remember to keep working and taking writing jobs to bring more money in.

Keep Writing!

© Rob Parnell

The Writing Academy

Those Who Can, Do... Those Who Can't... Criticise

Recently, one of my esteemed students wrote me a letter - yes, an actual piece of paper with handwriting on it - gasp!

She thanked me for one of my courses that she was working through at home. She said she liked my 'metaphysical' approach to writing because it helped her move out of a block she'd been having.

I've never really thought about my instruction being 'metaphysical' to be honest. It's not meant to be. A better term might be 'holistic', in that I see writing and the writer as equally in need of guidance and advice.

The writer, to me, is inseparable from the writing. You can't be a good, honest and effective writer if you don't aspire to be a good, honest and effective person. If that's metaphysical, then so be it!

But you don't have to be perfect.

In the same way as your writing doesn't have to be perfect. What's perfection anyway but an intellectual tool we use as a benchmark?

Perfection is relative.

The newbie may feel sheer joy at a piece of average writing - infused with that rush we all feel at times at our accomplishments.

But a writer with years of experience may still cringe at something she's written when others see nothing but genius.

It's all relative.

We each must aspire to our own concept of perfection - but learn to be satisfied when 'enough is enough'.

I've never know a decent writer who didn't think that something in their work couldn't be improved.

Famously, Fitzgerald once broke into his publisher's office at three in the morning and crawled inside the printing galleys, pulling out letters, rearranging the text of his novel - the day the book was going to press!

Okay, he was probably drunk. Fitzgerald often was. But most writers can relate to this kind of obsessive need to 'fix' their own writing until it shines.

Talking of obsession and the need for perfection, Steve Jobs is sorely missed - not least at Apple. His kind of focus is rare - more especially because it was justified. A lot of people - artists especially - may be precious and difficult to work with - but not all of them are so right!

But maybe they are - in their own way.

May be we don't give enough credit to those 'control freaks' who strive for perfection and, like Steve Jobs apparently, make life hard for those around them.

I guess that's the great thing about being a writer. You are in control - most of the time. Your world is exactly as it should be, within the confines of your pages.

It's one of the reasons I've never really understood the need for criticism. It's too easy for others to find the flaws in other's work. It's destructive - not only creatively but personally too.

A critic can crush a writer's spirit irreparably but... to what end?

Also, I've never known a writer to improve dramatically as a result of criticism. Quite the opposite.

It's encouragement that helps improve a writer. Because when writers feels good about what they do, they seem to become more aware of the flaws themselves - and seek to better their work independently.

Criticism closes a writer down more often than not, forcing them to consider giving up the whole thing - as was probably the critic's intention.

No, we should always strive to 'lift up' an artist - to help them feel 'enlightened'. Inspiration comes from a feeling of transcendence. Criticism can only drag us down to earth and make us feel inferior, misguided and misunderstood.

How would God have felt - if there's any such thing as a deity - if some critic was looking over her shoulder, pointing out all her mistakes as she created the universe?

Maybe she would have scrapped the whole idea of creation - and taken up some other activity like playing atom solitaire or cosmic cloud busting.

Where would she be then?

I'm not being as flippant as you might assume.

I really do think that artists, writers, filmmakers and musicians - even inventors, engineers and entrepreneurs - should be encouraged without question. Because true creators know the flaws in their designs better than anyone. They really don't need others to point them out!

But I guess it's the way of the world.

The ninety ten rule. Ten percent of us want to change things, create new possibilities and understand the true meaning of our existence.

The other ninety percent just want to sit back and bag.

To be realistic, they say.

Well, if being realistic means that nothing should ever change or that none of us should aspire to perfection or dedicate ourselves to the attainment of truth or beauty or enlightenment, then I'd rather be called anything but realistic!

So I don't really mind being thought of as metaphysical - as long as it doesn't marginalize what I do.

I try to speak to everyone, not just to those who will listen.

But isn't that the point of art, of good writing, of transcendent music, film and whatever?

To create something that speaks to us all?

I hope so.

Have a great holiday this year - and give some thought to how you might improve the world - especially if there were no such things as critics, naysayers and other members of your friends and family!

Seriously, have fun - and be good, at whatever you do.

(c) Rob Parnell