How Your ‘5 a Day’ Can Help a Blogger (They’re not all millionaires, despite the rumours!)

You know when you ‘Google’ (other search engines are available) to find a fact, or check an ailment, the responses you find are often written by a blogger.

The headlines about bloggers making millions with no effort are usually fake news, or a sales pitch by someone building their own online business.

Good luck to them, some bloggers do make a great living, they work hard so deserve it.

HOWEVER most bloggers don’t make enough to live on, and never will.

Many bloggers don’t do the work to earn a fortune, most genuinely want to serve, support and help you, their audience.

Blogs exist across the globe for every topic you can imagine.

Self-help, educational study and mutual support groups, hobby groups and that isn’t even mentioning the travel, health, beauty and fashion blogs that you may be familiar with.

You know when you ‘Google’ (other search engines are available) to find a fact, or check an ailment, the responses you find are often written by a blogger.

When you read something online that you find informative, helpful or of value why not support the person who delivered it to you.


Continue reading “How Your ‘5 a Day’ Can Help a Blogger (They’re not all millionaires, despite the rumours!)”

The Hero’s Journey Formula – How To Write A Successful Novel

Fiction writers, especially new ones, sometimes fight the idea of conforming to a genre or sticking with a formula. They think it may suppress their creativity, but this isn’t the case.

The Hero’s Journey Formula – How To Write A Successful Novel

You will be familiar with The Hero’s Journey, even if you haven’t heard of it by name.

Star Wars, Matrix and Jane Eyre are just a few of the classic stories that follow The Hero’s Journey formula.

One vital component of the correctly applied formula is that at the beginning of the story, the protagonist can not possibly imagine how much their life is to change. They’ll go on a journey, their ‘character arc.’ As the plot moves along, so does their transformation.

In Star Wars Luke Skywalker has his dreams but in the wildest of those dreams he couldn’t contemplate his vital role in the fight against Darth Vader (No spoilers here just in case you happen to be the one person on the planet who isn’t aware of the storyline.)

Jane Eyre travels through her life and against all odds survives and ends up in a life she too couldn’t possibly have dreamt of. (Again, I won’t spoil your enjoyment of my favourite book, please read it, it’s beautiful.)

Fiction writers, especially new ones, sometimes fight the idea of conforming to a genre or sticking with a formula. They think it may suppress their creativity, but this isn’t the case.

If I use this formula won’t my story be predictable?

By being formulaic it doesn’t mean it will be boring or predictable. It will however be written in a way that your fans know what to expect. Fiction book readers like a story they can expect to a certain extent. This is why publishers usually give you clues. In the blurb or reviews on a book cover it will often say things like ‘If you like Harry Potter…’ or ‘This writer is the new Baldacci…’ these pointers help your fans find your book in the mass market that is the modern day bookshelf, whether that be in a physical book store or a digital one.

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Joynell Schultz – FREE FICTION BOOK GIVEAWAY – Win two awesome paperback books!

WIN TWO PAPERBACK BOOKS – Add to your book collection with two books by the wonderful Joynell Schultz

WINNERS NOTIFIED! Not a winner? It’s a great book anyway – follow the links to buy it for the beach now!

Add to your book collection with two books by the wonderful Joynell Schultz

Yes, you can win two fantastic fiction books by my friend Joynell Schultz. Joynell shares my love of travel and of course writing and is working hard to build her growing portfolio.

I’m thrilled to support her in my own small way by offering not one but two of her paperback books in my FREE draw.

Continue reading “Joynell Schultz – FREE FICTION BOOK GIVEAWAY – Win two awesome paperback books!”

Book Review of Non-Fiction / Autobiographical Book – On Writing, A Memoir of The Craft, Stephen King

We may not all end up with a back list as long as your arm, but if you want to write it’s a great place to get advice from someone who knows. He truly does have the t-shirt.

Book Review of Non-Fiction / Autobiographical Book – On Writing, A Memoir of The Craft, Stephen King

Stephen King On Writing Book Cover

Book Review

Title: On Writing, A Memoir of The Craft

Author: Stephen King

Copyright: 2000 Stephen King

Ebook 

Blurb:

On Writing – Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in the vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 – and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery.

There is a reason why Stephen King is one of the bestselling writers in the world, ever. Described in the Guardian as ‘the most remarkable storyteller in modern American literature’, Stephen King writes books that draw you in and are impossible to put down.

Subject:

This book was high on my list of recommended books as a resource. I’d been told it’s essential reading to anyone who writes, or wants to. I wish to improve, hone my skill, I’m committed to ongoing learning. As I queued up to buy it at least half a dozen other writers encouraged my purchase with promises that I’d chosen well.

As the blurb states, it is a book on how to write told through the experiences of Mr King. It isn’t just for his fans, he does explain how he came up with numerous ideas so it will appeal to them.

I’m always amazed how many so called ‘expert’ writers criticise popular writer’s for their lack of style or excellence. Whilst I admittedly have veered away from best sellers in the past, how can anyone doubt the skill of someone who has such a wide variety of successful books out there.

This book is a great read, that’s all I want from a book. It teaches in a positive way, without criticism of others. Mr K even adds a generous reading list at the end of books he liked. Good lad!

Continue reading “Book Review of Non-Fiction / Autobiographical Book – On Writing, A Memoir of The Craft, Stephen King”

Festival of Writing 2016 – Review of My First ‘Official’ Writer’s Event

A writer can learn a huge amount from events, books, online, mentors etc however at the end of the day you have to sit down and write, alot.

festival of writing-2016-paperwork

 

Festival of Writing 2016

Meet agents and publishers. Get advice from professional authors. Pitch your work direct to agents. And have fun!

Overview:

  • Workshops – this annual festival has a solid schedule packed with 50 workshops to choose from. You know the type of thing, you choose which workshop you wish to attend from a choice of 5 or 6, depending on your writing genre, knowledge gap, learning need and curiosity. They varied from hands on craft skills ‘Self-Editing Your Novel, with Debi Alper’ and ‘Why aren’t you writing in sequences?’ with Jeremy Sheldon  to how to get your work out to readers in ‘From pipe dream to publication: ten ways to increase your book’s chance of success?’ with Kerry Fisher and ‘Should You Self-Publish? A Beginners Guide’ from David Gaughran. There was a small workshop at additional cost on the Friday afternoon but sadly I didn’t have the cash to stretch to cover this one as well.
  • 1-2-1s – in with the price was the option to take part in two ten minute 1-2-1 sessions with your choice of mentor / author / agent / publisher. I applied and successfully signed up for everything I’d requested. I plumped for an agent and an author/mentor as I am not quite ready to pursue publication. I had never met a literary agent so it seemed an ideal opportunity to meet one and the mentor could advise me on my current projects. It’s a dilemma which lecture you choose to attend and the added issue here is the two 1-2-1 sessions you book are held alongside the lectures. You need to nip in and out and miss some great content and continuity of topic. Hopefully the presentations will be posted on the Word Cloud where attendees can download later. Most lectures were in lecture halls etc. so on the day you could change your mind, I spoke to a few writers who decided to attend different talks once they’d got the idea of what they involved. The organisers worked hard to counteract the effects of an unexpected train network problem too, well done to all concerned.
  • Competitions – I noticed various competitions integral to the event that required submissions of work. I entered them all, from 500 words to 3000 word pieces for the mentors to read. This was certainly not with any confidence or expectations as my work is still in edit mode. I just prefer deadlines and any practice on following submission instructions is a free lesson to a writer. I didn’t win anything, I didn’t expect to but I’m certainly glad I entered as it proved I can work to deadlines and made me more interested in the works that did win. The Friday Night Live event is one of the competitions. It is a reading of short pieces by selected writers to gain feedback and publicity. I was told in previous years up to eight agents attended on stage to give feedback. This year it was one agent, one publisher and one mentor. I listened to the initial selections and winning pieces with a real curiosity, I wanted to know what the ‘profession’ consider good writing and what did agents like? There was some excellent work, I’m sure a few of the writers will be approached to submit to agents. They deserve credit for just having the bottle to stand up. I didn’t choose the winner, I preferred a piece that wasn’t in the top two (chosen by audience participation) I caught up with the writer later to let them know their work is appreciated and to link up on social media. I’m sure they’ll go on to bigger and better things.
  • Networking – the event was partially sold on the offer of meeting with 30 agents, alongside editors and authors. It did amuse me however that once you got there you’re reminded not to hound the agents or publishers to tout or sell your book. A bit of contrariness really, after all people have paid to be there. The event’s been sold on the basis you can meet them, you are going to sell your self and your work. Also I’m assuming the agents attend to find new authors so they would surely welcome any approach.
  • Industry updates – it was fascinating to hear various publishers explain the industry is far from in trouble when the stats show otherwise. However I’m reassured that they believe Waterstones will survive, my book store of choice. They also had a small stall with books for sale, which along with the book signings was well attended. Yes of course I bought a book! I wonder if I could be cheeky and ask Waterstones to give me my loyalty points eh?

Best bits:york-university-designer-seating

  • Meeting an agent – who asked to see my work! I was told by two agents to finish and submit my work, who knows what could follow. HOWEVER, this is no guarantee of anything other than an incentive for me to finish my work. A agent’s interest is amazing but just that, just an interest. (Deep breaths everyone!) OK I’m lying it’s MASSIVE!!
  • ‘Networking’ – that dreaded word. I enjoyed meeting other writers. I’ve made lots of new friends, acquaintances and professional relationships.
  • Isolation – the weekend holed up with a group of creatives and artists and books focuses your mind. It reassures you that whilst sitting at the desk and computer screen or notepad at home or in an office or coffee shop numerous others are doing the same around the globe. You are not alone!
  • The food – it was a bit like going for school dinners whilst queuing with a tray but certainly not in the meal content. It was excellent. festival of writing 2016 mealThe big Saturday evening meal was served a bit slow but worth the wait and it was a big room so the staff did well.
  • Reading list – I absorbed various names and book titles for my ever growing reading list, once the winter hits I’ll be knee deep in reading. My 1-2-1 inspired my to read Hunger Games trilogy, so I’m already madly sticking in post its as I read and study at the same time.
  • Advice – it’s ideal to pick up tips
    • ’Don’t write with your hand brake on’ (I definitely have been guilty of that one.)
    • ‘Be willing to kill many of your darlings, but know when to stick to your guns if it’s important to you.’
    • ‘Read your chosen genre and analyse how they construct the work, how many acts does author employ (not chapters), where is the hook, why do you turn the pages, word count, study it throughly.’
    • ‘Formulas do not harm your writing, they worked for Shakespeare!’
    • ‘Word Cloud’ – I met various members of their online group and I will soon be signing up. I now realise like every industry, or maybe even more so, writing is almost definitely one in which ‘who you know’ is hugely influencial and a door opener. You need to network to learn from others, hone your skills and increase your profile. I’m a recluse by nature, many writers are, online forums aren’t my favourite haunt but it’s accessible, free and I’m told is occupied by people just like me. You can apparently safely place small pieces of work on the forum for evaluation. If you are a writer why not consider it. Please let me know how you get on, I’ll maybe meet you in there. If not don’t forget you can find me on Twitter or Facebook.
    • Intimate – it’s a small but a well attended event. It had a friendly feel, the organisers call it a family. You can meet numerous other writers and, if you are brave or up front enough, agents and publishers. There is a whole industry built around writers and aspirational writers. I guess it flows from the ‘everyone has a book in them.’ Since committing to my writing as my new career, I researched various global events, paid training courses and/or excursions writers can attend, some more credible and reputable than others. I’m glad I attended this one.
    • Speakers
      • Cally Taylor aka CL Taylor was the highlight for me. I didn’t know who she was, I do now. She was really informative, reassuring and realistic. It is nice to know you don’t have to stick to one genre to succeed. I wish her further success, her hard work should reap more rewards.
      • Jo Cannon was also inspiring and grounded. “Jo attended the 2014 Festival of Writing, where she won the Friday Night Live competition…she went on to sign with Sue Armstrong of Conville and Walsh…” jo cannon - festival of writing 2016Her book is now on my reading list, it was a shame more people did not stay to hear her.
      • Jeremy Sheldon was speaking at two of my chosen talks. He was approachable and a highly effective speaker.

Worst bits:

  • Insiders – it did sometimes feel like I’d arrived at a new school a week late and everyone else knew everyone and everything, and I didn’t. It felt a bit ‘cliquey’ and for those who were shy it could seem daunting.
  • Big Publishing House bias – every now and again there was a slight hint of anti self-publishing snobbery, which was odd as numerous people there were self published. Bookouture seem refreshing,  I’d not heard of them before but they are a digital publisher on the up.
  • Negativity – it was disappointing to hear from people who had a negative experience during 1-2-1s. I had two meetings, one was positive, one not so much. I took it badly at first, until I reassured myself that everyone has an opinion so it’s up to you whether you agree with it, or not. Sadly a few people said they came away in tears not wanting to attend another. They had not been given anything positive to take away. Whilst I wholeheartedly agree writers need to be tough to survive I do think every piece of feedback, whether literary or in life in general, should be given in a positive way to enable the mentee to learn something and understand how to move forward. I hope those apparently shot down in flames will not fall by the wayside but will come back stronger.

Conclusion:

  • I’d recommend it. Go early in your writing journey if you can afford it. It’s an eye opener and will help you focus on your future path. It has given me numerous ideas and shown me a path I hadn’t imagined.
  • I have little income (those who follow my blog know 37p UK is one of my recent monthly incomes) so I need to spend it well. I decided to invest in at least one annual event as part of my personal development. I’m unsure if I’d attend again, although some people have attended for over ten years. It isn’t cheap for me so next year my precious funds may be invested elsewhere. If money is no object for you, get it in your diary.
  • Whilst the lectures are a really good way to learn or remind yourself of the skills you need, you can get a lot of the information online or from books, some written by the speakers.
  • Immersing yourself in a creative environment is a nice treat we should all give to ourselves in return for our hard work.A writer can learn a huge amount from events, books, online, mentors etc however at the end of the day you have to sit down and write, alot.

A bit more info about venue etc:

  • When: 9th -11th Sept 2016
  • Where: York, UK
  • Location: York University – Easy accessibility to location, really easy to get a cheap bus from the rail station in York. The university complex is good for accessibility too.york-university-lake
  • Accommodation: Straight forward check in and key collection. Room clean and secure, comfy bed and coffee making, all you need for this type of event.
  • Price: From £185 – Online booking system worked well.
  • Source: This local festival came through to me as I subscribe to the Writer’s Workshop notifications. I’d recommend subscribing as they don’t swamp you with spam and it keeps you in the local loop.

Suggestions:

  • Have an ‘open mike’ event at Saturday’s dinner. festival of writing 2016 dinner-menuIt was a bit of a let down, with focus seemingly on ‘Friday Night Live,’ those who arrived on Saturday missed out.
  • It would have been helpful to have a picture wall, or stalls, showing us who everyone was. Well, not everyone, but the speakers / agents / publishers etc. You see the type of thing at corporate events when you can approach the desk and chat with someone or collect their business card with contact details.
  • The mentor feedback was written on hard copy which I like. For various accessibility or practical reasons you may prefer it online. I would have liked an online copy but no big deal. I’ve scanned mine in to keep. I wish they hadn’t told me to print out the schedule as when I arrived I was given a pre- printed brochure. Wasted paper and expensive printer ink, not very eco friendly.
  • Ask a stationers to attend with a stall of notepads and pens and booky things.
  • Sell bottled water.

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https://www.christieadamswriter.com/5-creative-writing-prompts-to-help-you-banish-the-blank-page-time-related/

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5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages” Mark Twain

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing

I am writing two novels alongside each other. Depending on my mood I can jump from a post apocalyptic world into one with a serial killer! I know, dark eh, I blame CSI and Terminator. I watched them way too much in my formative years.

In my first book, my plot is tight, my characters feel alive, to me at least. So now I’m knuckling down to the editing. I have recognised some silly mistakes I need to remove from my writing. They are easy mistakes anyone can make, so maybe you’ll need to think about them and do the same with your work. Start getting familiar with your delete key, your characters will thank you or at least your publisher will, here are my

5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing…

Continue reading “5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing”

Day 4 of the 7 day ProBlogger Challenge: A Story…

You put your hours in, your heart in, your soul and at the end it’s probably rubbish so you start editing, over and over again. Yes this is the bit they don’t tell you about at the beginning of all those courses that promise you a best seller in 6 weeks.

Day 4 of the 7 day ProBlogger Challenge: A Story…

Christie Adams Logo - hands writing a cardI’ve just looked through my blog archive and found my very first post from 1st May 2011!

It was short and to the point but at the time I recall feeling highly creative and a star in the making. I am still hoping for someone to accept my work and publish me, however I also accept that to do that they need to see my work in the first place. [Note to self, finish something and submit it!]

In the early years of my writing I was extremely naive, or was it arrogant, enough to think that I could just sit down, scribble down a few words and hey presto I’m on the shelves next to Dylan Thomas or Joanne Harris. Well surprise! You have to work harder at writing than anything else you’ve ever done. You put your hours in, your heart in, your soul and at the end it’s probably rubbish so you start editing, over and over again. Yes this is the bit they don’t tell you about at the beginning of all those courses that promise you a best seller in 6 weeks.

As I’m now blogging, I am inundated with emails and social media hashtags and the rest telling me I can get 10 000 followers and make £1M in 3 months, if only I buy this list, or software or etc etc you get the drift. It always makes me smile, after all, if it worked so well, why aren’t these people sat on a beach somewhere with a glass in hand looking out over their private beach with helicopter landing pad. OK, I guess some are.

If I ever reach those dizzying heights (yes I am still an optimist) I’d like to think I would be doing something more fulfilling than trying to sell yet more followers to a poor newbie blogger. A friend laughs at someone who constantly tells them they can give him 5000 followers TODAY but only has about 350 themselves, hmmm, a smell a rat.

I knew blogging would be hard work, I did my research, I do my research daily, probably too much, damn Facebook and Twitter, but I also write, alot. I draft, I edit, I blog, I post and I love it all.

I will be successful, whatever that is. I hope to see you in print too, if that is your aspiration.

Do what you believe is right, write about your passions and hopefully someone else will get passionate about your work too.

For a bit of fun, without any keywords or images (who knew what they were!) here’s my very first blog…

First Poetry Submission

Or if you prefer the text here…

Hello! It’s a beautiful day, and after a walk in the sun, a coffee at a local cafe and a glance at the footie from yesterday I’m now in writing mode!

I am submitting my first poetry to Writer’s Forum, and a short play to the beeb. Fingers crossed for success.
My main aim is to get more confident with submissions, hope for success and learn as I go along.

My job in the sun on the balcony will be to compile a calendar for the year of competitions I wish to enter, and to continue to edit my final university assignment. It’s been in the PC for a week now so will be ripe for editing.

Thanks for joining me, enjoy your day and write something, anything, just write!

 

FAQ: What is a Blogger? Not a logger, a BLOGGER!

The blogger can then relax in the knowledge that tomorrow they will be writing again but they will not be alone.

FAQ- What is a Blogger- Not a logger, BLOGGER!FAQ: What is a Blogger? Not a logger, a BLOGGER!

Almost everytime I slighty self-consciously tell people I’m a writer and a blogger, my voice sort of tales off. It’s hard to acquire a confidence about a career that I adore, without sounding pretentious. However I’m always surprised by the reaction. Usually it goes along two lines, either

“Oh wow, I want to do that, brilliant, what do you blog about? Are you earning loads of money?”

OR

“Oh, I’ve heard of that but I’ve no idea what it is”

First of all, I explain I’m writing two novels, as the writer part of my job title seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Then I humbly apologise and say no I’m not earning a fortune, but maybe one day if my lotto numbers come up.

Darren Rowse of Problogger set us bloggers a challenge to post an answer to a FAQ (Frequently Asked Question) so to those who don’t know what this new phenomena is, I will explain, sort of.

FAQ: What is a Blogger?

Dictionary Definition

Blogger: someone who writes a blog

So that’s the shortest post I’ve written in a while.

“WAIT!” I hear you cry. “What’s a blog?”

Blog: a regular record of your thoughts, opinions or experiences that you put on the internet for people to read

How easy is that? If only! I love the blogging world, but that doesn’t quite cover it.

So, here is my own very short definition of what a blogger is…

A writer, entrepreneur, marketer, social media guru, promoter, gossip, expert, novice, photographer, designer, chatterbox, social animal, hermit, computer geek, nerd, keyboard addict, keyboard phobic, passionate advocate of chosen causes, teacher, student, lecturer, reader, historian, trend setter, opinionated egotist, copyrighter, sun-starved, typist, coffee addict, tea drinker, snacker, editor, proof reader, critic, product tester, technician, accountant, quick learner, adaptable, optimistic, pessimistic, paranoid, approachable, socially skilled, unsociable, political, apolitical, highly developed awareness of software updates and issues arising, font expert, spell check guru, bullet pointer, philanthropist, organiser, scheduler, diarist, theorist, deadline meeting, follower, hashtagger, liker, un-liker, procrastinator, experienced, inexperienced, website designer, sharer, content producer, socialite, friend, call to actioner, archivist, credit sharing, selfish, engaging, interviewer, interviewee, guest speaker, guest writer, podcaster, collaborator, consultant, webinar fan, enthusiast who posts their work on the internet in the desperate hope that it will help someone who may, just may, come back to see their work again.

In my best David Attenborough voice…the blogger does its work each day, or night, in the hope that they will attract a ‘reader’ who chooses to chat on social media and press the ever desired @ or # in the right places. The blogger works this hard so the ‘reader’ or ‘follower’ will subscribe. If successful, they will be given the reader’s tag, link and their highly treasured email address. They will know they have found a mate, in the blogging world these mates are known as ‘subscribers’ The blogger can then relax in the knowledge that tomorrow they will be writing again but they will not be alone.

I’m bound to have missed a vital aspect to the job so please tell me your individual skill acquired whilst blogging, clean answers only please…the internet is scary enough.

5 Creative Writing Prompts To Help You Banish The Blank Page – People Related

Speak to other writers, ask friends, watch people. Please always be professional, don’t stereotype, do your research

5 Creative Writing Prompts To Help You Banish The Blank Page- People Related

I really hope these creative writing prompts will help you get some words onto that huge white space, once you start the words will flow, I promise.

Change the sex of character

What! I can’t do that, my character is fundamental to the plot. I love them as they are! If so, great, go with it. However if for some reason your character is not sounding honest, if they don’t quite fit in as well as you’d hoped, try switching their sex. If this is your main character it could involve some serious editing, but you are reading this because you are stuck aren’t you? It’s worth a try then. If you can’t face killing your darling [William Faulkner] or at least tweaking them a bit, then try with another minor character who isn’t so dear to you. How about the murder victim, the street urchin, even the narrator. A male friend has recently written as a female narrator, the change in perspective this gave him was inspiring.

Add 20 years onto the character’s age

The memories and history of the character will be opened up by the alteration. If you find ageing your character doesn’t work for you, then try deducting years. A lack of life experience or naivety may be just what you need to explain why the character was so easily drawn into a particular action. I have a calendar spreadsheet, I add in to it key events e.g. Vietnam war, death of dictators, major political or sporting events. I then use this as a resource when building the back story for my characters.

Include an illicit relationship, it doesn’t have to be sexual

The ‘other woman’ has been so many times it’s difficult to get a new angle on it. An illicit connection can be much less obvious, the hints at the unseen connections are often the fun part for a writer. Barriers exist everywhere, between gangs, cultures and religions, old family grudges, the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ or even different planets so investigate some options. Think of someone you know, slightly, the barista, the bank teller, the nurse at the ER who treated your injury, a distant family in-law. Then imagine that you knew them already but from another place or time, you receive a text from them, why? If you enjoy people watching, I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t, imagine the people in the queue at the coffee shop know each other, they meet in the rest room, why? Be imaginative, outrageously so if you like, have fun, then build your ideas into your story.

Your characters have a fight

Fist fight or verbal sparring, a good argument shakes things up. Fights hurt, noses get broken, they get bloody. They hurt emotionally. Watch people out in shopping malls, arguments are often quiet, spoken in hushed tones, watch the body language. Be honest about how you deal with aggression, do you diffuse it or rise to it? Do you easily make up again or bear a lifelong grudge? What would your character do, and why?

Think about a fight you had, with your partner, family, friend or colleague, dig deep and recall your feelings. Those feelings can be raw, personal, it can be difficult to write down but that is exactly why you should record them honestly. By using real memories it will enable your reader’s to empathise, to feel your character’s pain, it will draw them in. It can be what gives your story depth.

Give your character a ‘barrier’ to overcome

This ‘barrier’ technique is often used in drama at the end of any chase scene, a high wire fence to stop a keen detective or a set of roadworks or large truck to thwart a car chase. You can be more subtle, it doesn’t need to be a major plot line, just a way of adding another dimension if you like, a deeper characterisation. There could be a woman needs to get into a ‘men only’ private club. I recently visited a church in Greece where only women can enter which made a refreshing change from the norm. How about Ironside, a TV detective who used a wheelchair? Language is a common barrier, it can cause misunderstanding with humourous or tragic consequences. I always laugh at the bar scene in Star Wars with aliens of all descriptions shouting at each other. Phobias are another good way of introducing a barrier, it also adds a weakness to a strong character, another dimension, allows the reader to empathise with them, remember Mr T and his fear of flying?

Read books in your genre to see if they use any of these ideas to enhance their work. Watch films or TV, if they use one of these ideas did it work or was it too predictable or cliche?

Speak to other writers, ask friends, watch people. Please always be professional, don’t stereotype, do your research. I look forward to reading your work…

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5 Creative Writing Prompts To Banish The Blank Page – Geographical

All of these creative writing prompts are just quick ideas to kickstart your imagination. I want to persuade you to explore ideas, you could even commit to spending ten minutes developing each one as your daily writing exercises.

5 Creative Writing Prompts to Banish The Blank Page - Geographical5 Creative Writing Prompts To Banish The Blank Page – Geographical

Introduce a character with an accent

You may have started out with a guy from Manchester UK, however you’ve hit a wall with how far you can take him. How about giving him an accent. Asian? Is he from India or Thailand or maybe Vietnam? You can then build on the ‘hints’ by mentioning e.g. hair colour or clothing styles. You can be vague, or specific by bringing in photographs of relatives or mention key events the character may have seen. The main important aspect is be accurate, do your research, don’t stereotype and try to speak to people from the place itself. It is easy to offend people or look amateur by getting small details wrong, however it can really open up the scope of your novel. Also, it isn’t always necessary to type your dialogue in the accent, it can hinder the flow of the narrative. Credit the reader with the intellect to be able to work that out for themselves.

Change temperature, tropics v ice cold

Is your scene fairly boring, hard to add an element of excitement? Why not add in a massive snow fall or flood or heatwave. This can be used to bring unexpected characters in to the plot e.g. with parks filled with sunbathers, or if it’s deep winter a lack of people to witness an event. It also gives you scope to change physical descriptions. In cold weather the baddy has a hood up so is hard to identify. If it’s hot the man driving a ice truck can easily blend in. You could move the whole story to another season or place, or have a freak weather event, your choice.

A map is important – why?

The police find a map on the table. OK so this has become a little bit overdone so avoid that one. How about a mobile phone in the hand of a dead body, it has a map ‘app’ open with a bookstore marked with a flag? OK, so that’s my phone, not the dead body just the map ‘app’ but you get the idea. The map could be a huge artwork in a store, with special significance to the owner. You could just add a chair with a map fabric cover to hint at the character’s love of travel.

Someone gets lost – what is the result

This can be really effective. It can be alien invaders landing on the wrong planet, through to a fairy prince coming across a tower in the woods with a princess locked in. OK the second one may have been done already but you get the idea. Think about when you got lost, did you panic, embrace the experience or just cry? How did you get back on track, was it an adventure or did it scare you? Put those emotions down on paper, they will convince the reader of the event’s significance.

Been here before, but when and why?

If your character has a photographic memory you’ll have incuded this one already. However for the rest of us, scribble down some ideas around when you felt you’d been somewhere but couldn’t recall why. It could be as simple as walking into a shop and knowing where to find an unusual item. Describe how the character reacts and how they recall things. How do you do that? How do you store memories? Do you put them in a memory room or do you easily forget? Talk to your buddies, ask if they’ve had deja vu, did they doubt their sanity or laugh about it?

All of these creative writing prompts are just quick ideas to kickstart your imagination. I want to persuade you to explore ideas. You could commit to spending ten minutes developing each one as part of your daily writing exercises. I’d love to hear if you use any of these and if so how you developed the thread. Now get that pen and paper and start scribbling.

Please feedback to me in the comments or via Twitter or Facebook how you got on, my online community is there to support you too.

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