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Choose Your Weapons

October 5th, 2015

Method-of-writing-pie-chartA funny thing’s been happening here at the Writers Bureau. As many of you know, students on our courses send in assignments either as typed manuscripts by post, or as RTF files attached to emails. Over the past few months though a number of people have asked to submit hand-written pieces instead.

Now, the main aim of all WB work is to GET YOU PUBLISHED, so we positively discourage the submission of hand-written script. No publisher, agent or writing competition would accept it, which means it’s vital to learn the presentation techniques our industry sees as ‘standard.’ Nonetheless, it’s been intriguing to get not just one, but several requests for hand-written work. Read the rest of this entry »




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Media Kits

July 20th, 2015

mojo261-200Right, now, don’t get cross or anything. But despite all I’ve said about writing for magazines, I still haven’t started an article. I know, I know … it looks terrible – people will think I’m all talk. But I’ve got a good excuse – it’s my album launch party this Sunday (26 July) in Manchester, and getting ready for it has been a HUGE job of work, like dragging a bag of boulders up to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.

It’ll all be worth it though – it’s going to be a great show. And once it’s done I’ll be getting straight back to the editorial calendar I wrote about a few weeks back, and my big idea. Read the rest of this entry »




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Questions Of Perspective

April 20th, 2015

perspective-BlogLooking through some old issues of E-Zee Writer last week, I came across an article by Heather Cooke called Points Of View. It’s about the different voices we use telling stories – a fine little piece. In it, Heather very succinctly describes universal, multiple and single viewpoints, as well as exploring the differing qualities of single and third person narration. Now, that stuff may all seem fairly obvious to you, but reading her article took me back to the early days of my (still unfinished) fantasy trilogy, and a particular problem … Read the rest of this entry »




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Competition Time

March 16th, 2015

Win-blogRight, get your typing fingers ready. The Royal Society Of Literature has just announced its seventeenth V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize for the best unpublished short story of the year. This is a competition open to residents of all Commonwealth countries, it’s for stories of 2,000 – 4,000 words, there’s a £5.00 entrance fee and, as well as publication in Prospect online and the RSL Review, the winner gets a very tasty £1,000. The deadline is 22 June, and with all the talent I know is out there, I’m sure one of you folks must be in with a chance.

I’d have a go myself but, as some of you may remember, I had a bad experience with a short story last year and it’s quite taken the wind out of my sails. I tried working something up for a Writing Magazine ‘adult fairy story’ competition, but ended up missing the deadline with a story that was far too long and which, even now, isn’t in any fit state to show an editor.

So where did I go wrong? Well, right at the start, I didn’t think – just launched into an idea without any proper planning. If I’d taken a couple of days to mull things over, it all could have been very different. In fact, I really should have back-pedaled further than that. Even before thinking things through, what I should have done is gone and found some advice on how to write for competitions. “Do-oh!” How thick can you be, ‘ey? Here’s me blogging for the Writers Bureau, and it didn’t even enter my head to see what our own tutors have to say about it.

Ah well … I’ve had a look now. And do you know what I found? A cracking article by Simon Whaley called Writing Competitions – A Judge Reveals All. It’s been sitting there in the back copies of E-Zee Writer since April 2009 and, honestly, it’s like a little potted masterclass. As well as loads of great tips on how to approach competitions, it explains how to timetable your work over three months to be sure you’re ready and properly edited in good time. If only I’d read it last year … I could be counting my winnings now.

So look, if you fancy having a go at the Royal Society’s short story prize, there’s loads of time to get something together. But don’t make the same mistakes I did. Do yourself a favour and read Simon’s article first, it’ll give you a great head start.

Keep on writing!phil-blog-sig




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Painting With Words

February 16th, 2015

white.house-blogImagine you’re working on  story which opens with the view of a white farmhouse beside the sea. In the foreground there’s a beach, and mountains in the distance. How would you present that scene? Before getting in to any kind of narrative, how do you go about painting the picture? Clearly, there’s lots of decisions to make, and lots you need to know. What season are we in? What time of day is it? What’s the weather like? etc. Read the rest of this entry »




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