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The Janus Effect

December 22nd, 2017

We’re now at that time when people start looking back over the year that’s just gone and looking forward to the future. So, I thought I’d share some of the advice that I’ve been given over the years and found helpful. I hope it will give you some ideas for how you intend to approach your writing over the next 12 months

1. Sit down and think about what you wish to achieve – but don’t be over-ambitious. Rather than saying ‘I’m going to write my novel…’ when you haven’t even started the first draft, try ‘I’m going to have the first six chapters completed by the end of March.’ Or ‘I’m going to send off two short stories/articles to X Magazine by the end of January’. Breaking things into smaller chunks makes them more attainable.

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Show Don’t Tell

December 15th, 2017

I’m back to a bit of mix-and-match this week. First, I’d like to mention a competition I saw recently. Creative Writing for All is currently accepting entries for its 2018 Poetry and Short Story Competition. The theme is Cats and/or Dogs. The entry fee is £5 for the first entry and then £3 for any subsequent entries and the prizes in each category  are 1st: £60, 2nd: £30, 3rd: £15. All profits go to a good cause – The RSPCA at The Holdings, Kempsey. The closing date is 30th April; so you have plenty of time to start thinking up those animal-inspired plots and poems.

Next, I’d like to suggest you have a look at Popshot Magazine.  It’s an illustrated literary magazine – you can subscribe to the online version or the physical edition, and it’s a long time since I’ve seen such a beautifully produced publication. Even if you don’t feel you want to subscribe, there is plenty of content on their website that you can access free, to get a feel for their ethos. And it might just tempt you… Read the rest of this entry »




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Picking The Right Name For Your Character

December 8th, 2017

Last week I mentioned the Debut Dagger Competition. I’ve just been on the Crime Writers’ Association website again and discovered that they have a page of excellent crime writing advice by well-known authors plus tips for entrants to the competition. So if you are considering having a go, it’s definitely worth taking a look.

This week I’ve had another great contribution from Writers Bureau tutor, David Kinchin – about naming your characters. So, rather than looking at bits and pieces, I’m going to provide some general advice, followed by what he has to say on the subject.

Choosing the right names for your characters is crucial. You can suggest a great deal about a person’s age and background by the name you give. All names have popular connotations and associations which the reader subconsciously tunes into – they create instant mental pictures. For example, Nikki is a young art student with a way-out dress sense, while Cynthia is a rather staid housewife in her mid-60s with an immaculately clean house in the leafy suburbs. Read the rest of this entry »




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The Rising Price of Competition Entries

December 1st, 2017

As you know, our Flash Fiction Competition closed for entries yesterday, so I was going to suggest some alternative competitions that you might like to enter until we get our next one going. I found a few that I thought might interest you, but was then astounded by the entry fees that were being charged.

Fish Publishing  are currently running a series of competitions (with closing dates ranging from 31st January to 31st March). These include a Short Memoir Prize (4000 words), a Flash Fiction Prize (300 words) and a Poetry Prize (300 words) but the fees range from 14 Euros to 16 Euros per entry  – more if you enter online. The prizes are great but it’s still a lot of money! Read the rest of this entry »




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