December 9th, 2016
With Christmas just around the corner and many people considering new laptops, the additional price of purchasing and installing Microsoft Home office can be considerable (from about £99 upward). So I was interested to see a reply to a reader’s query in the December issue of Writing Magazine.
The reader asked if there was a reliable, free substitute for Microsoft. Obviously there’s a lot of free software out there but this varies considerably in compatibility and ease of use. The suggestion they gave was Apache OpenOffice. It’s certainly not a new kid on the block so it has a track record of being stable and reliable. It offers similar software to Microsoft: word processing, graphics, spreadsheets, presentation software. It also looks similar, which is helpful if you are already familiar with Microsoft,and the big plus is that it also allows you to open and save Word docs! Read the rest of this entry »
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November 28th, 2016
First, thanks to Colin for last week’s blog. As he points out, there really is nothing new under the sun and today we’re still following the same ‘rules’ as writers were centuries ago. And they’re still helping us to write successful and gripping stories.
Long after readers have forgotten many other features of your book or short story, it will be your characters who will live on in their minds. And the stronger, the more striking your characters are, the more memorable they’ll be.
So, here are some tips for ensuring that your characters are unforgettable:
- Aim to create individuals who leap off the page, exuding energy and creating dramatic impact. They must be more exciting, and more attention grabbing, than the people we meet in our normal workaday existence.
Read the rest of this entry »
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November 22nd, 2016
Little read today, Somerset Maugham was one of the most popular and bestselling authors of novels and short stories in the 20th century. He once challenged himself to write a short story about a totally good man. It is probably his least successful story.
There is a good reason for this. While most people are not villainous, neither are they perfect – or totally good. And characters in fiction are more interesting if they have weaknesses and, occasionally, are very bad. They don’t come much nastier than Hannibal Lector in Thomas Harrison’s The Silence of the Lambs, yet the character and the novel have been immensely popular. Regrettably, perhaps, goodness can be boring. Read the rest of this entry »
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November 11th, 2016
First, thanks to Phil for last week’s blog, it’s great to have him as one of the team working in the office.
And he’s absolutely right. One of the best things about working for the Writers Bureau (apart from the Friday cream cakes) is that we’re dealing with students from all over the world. I love reading through assignments, it’s like having a window on the world. Not the world you see in glossy travel brochures, but the world of real people, leading real lives.
Another interesting, but odd, experience is when you get a student writing about a place that you know well. A lady recently described a park very close to where I live and which I visit quite often. It’s just an ordinary, municipal park but I think it’s tranquil and relaxing and she obviously felt the same way. I got a little jolt of pleasure to think that someone else obviously sees it in the same way that I do. Read the rest of this entry »
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November 4th, 2016
It’s been a while since I wrote anything here. So, how y’all keeping? Everybody well?
Things have changed a bit for me. Most notably – our youngest has started high school (and, fingers crossed, he seems to be alright). So, with a view to keeping the wolf from the door, I’ve said farewell to my days as a house-husband and started work here at the Writers Bureau – in the office.
Now, I’ve never worked in an office before, and maybe in a couple of months the novelty will wear off. But for now, I’m enjoying it. They’re a nice crew, the Writers Bureau team. We all celebrate each others birthdays, everyone brings treats back from their holidays, and we have cream cakes on Fridays, so I’m having to watch my waist-line. Read the rest of this entry »
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