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Engaging Learners Through Writing For Fun

October 19th, 2018

Most confident writers (I’m guessing the majority of people reading this) take these skills for granted. So it might surprise you that approximately one in five adults in the UK have less than functional literacy and struggle with tasks such as filling in forms, reading instructions or supplying correct information at the Doctors’.

Social Media often sees negative comments regarding spelling or misuse of English, with the implication that such mistakes suggest the writer is stupid and their opinions, therefore, of less value.  Poor spellers seem to be fair game. But in fact, the problem is seldom generated by stupidity but usually by interrupted schooling: elderly people removed from school to work or care for younger siblings, middle aged folk who were never identified as Dyslexic or had periods of absence due to illness, to teenagers who have dodged school or moved home frequently.  Of course, statistically speaking, there are strong links between other socio-economic factors and low literacy skills but affected people are not a ‘type’.  Sadly, more young people than ever are now leaving school with inadequate literacy skills. Read the rest of this entry »




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What’s YOUR Motivation?

May 18th, 2018

First, thanks to Vicki for last week’s post. I think she’s right when she says that nearly everyone who has had a burning desire to write probably remembers the motivation that first prompted them to pursue their dream.

But for some people, it’s maintaining that motivation when things don’t seem to be going right that’s a problem. Your cherished novel has been rejected…and rejected…and rejected. That fascinating article about your trip to the saffron fields of Morocco just doesn’t seem to be catching the eye of a travel editor. Your carefully crafted short story hasn’t been short-listed in yet another competition.  At some point, any writer can start to feel that perhaps they just haven’t got what it takes. Read the rest of this entry »




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Limerick Competition Open For Entries

April 20th, 2018

First, thanks to Claire for last week’s blog. For me, it demonstrates two things. First, that writing isn’t an easy option. You really have to work at it if you hope to succeed. And second, if you feel you’re working on something good, you should follow your own path and not just go with the flow.

We’ve been hearing for ages that novels should be a minimum of 70,000 words, or they are hard to market, and that novellas and collections of short stories don’t sell unless they are written by someone famous. But Claire’s experience disproves this – they will sell if you persevere and find the right way to get your message to the reading public.

While we’re on the subject of novellas, I’ve just read that ‘Nightflyers’, by George RR Martin is being turned into a ten-part TV series to debut on Syfy (and Netflix) later this year. I’m a great fan of Game of Thrones and can’t wait for the final series to be ready. But I have to admit that since production outran the actual writing of the novels episodes do seem more run-of-the-mill and less riveting. 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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Putting the Emphasis on Non-fiction

June 9th, 2017

First, thanks to Sarah for last week’s blog.  I found it fascinating and very useful because, as you know, it’s becoming increasingly rare for small publishers to offer writers an advance. And if you do get one, it is often small (unless you’re one of those famous/infamous celebrities that can command a six figure deal). If you’re self-publishing, then you simply have to fund the full process yourself and in these cash-strapped times it’s not always easy. This is where crowdfunding can come in useful – but before you embark on anything like this make sure you take on board Sarah’s advice. It’s not easy, and you might find yourself spending more time raising funds than actually writing. You have been warned!

In the Writers Bureau Comprehensive Course we have a section on writing readers’ letters and fillers. Writing letters is pretty obvious, but some students struggle with the idea of ‘fillers’. At one time magazines needed very short articles that they could use to fill blank spaces on a page. Hence the name – ‘fillers’. This is no longer necessary, with electronic setting, as articles and photos can be re-shaped and re-sized so that they fill the appropriate space without any difficulty. Read the rest of this entry »




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