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Is Your Dialogue Letting You Down?

April 9th, 2015

comic-book-graphic-elements-vector_23-2147493621-blog First, thanks to Esther for stepping into the breach last Friday. As you can see, she’s another Writers Bureau tutor that started as a student and now thoroughly enjoys helping to develop new writing talent.

Last month Esther wrote an article on the ‘Dos and Don’ts of Dialogue’ for Freelance Market News. We got a great response to this, so I thought that you might also be interested in some tips. Many novels and short stories get rejected because they don’t include enough dialogue – or the speech their characters use sounds stilted and unrealistic. So here are some suggestions to help you make the most of what your characters say: Read the rest of this entry »




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Where There’s a Will …

March 30th, 2015

Knights-Vampire-BlogCarole Taylor’s a stubborn lass. Even back at school she told everyone that, one day, she was going to write a book. Now, granted, she did get a bit side-tracked raising a family (and with her daughter the deputy head of a London primary school, son a departmental leader in an international bank, I think we can assume she put a reasonable amount of effort into that.) More recently, there’s been a major health scare with her heart. And now, as well as working part time for a TV production company, her first grandchild’s appeared on the scene … Nonetheless, she never did give up on that book thing and, in the end, didn’t just write one, but five. They’re not only written either, she’s had them all published as ebooks by an American online publisher. So, if any of you out there were thinking it was too late to get started on a writing career – read on. 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 The Royal Society Of Literature has just announced its seventeenth V. S. Pritchett Memorial Prize for the best unpublished short story of the year.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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How to Write a Best Selling Novel

February 3rd, 2015

shock_fallWe’d all like to know how to do that, wouldn’t we? But Nathan Filer, author of Shock of the Fall seems to have got it just right and in this clip he gives you tips on how to go about it. He was winner of the Costa Book of the Year, 2013; the Betty Trask Prize, 2014 and Popular Fiction Book of the Year at the National Book Awards, 2014. Not to mention the fact that the book has now been translated into 27 languages. Not bad for a first novel! Read the rest of this entry »




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Editors Aren’t Always Perfect

January 30th, 2015

writer.com-blogFirst, thanks to Colin for last Friday’s blog. You often hear people who are ‘sniffy’ about genre fiction saying it’s plot driven, whereas literary fiction (usually their preferred reading/writing matter) is character driven. It’s OK for a book or story to be character driven but if those characters don’t provide some forward movement or development (a plot?!) then the reader loses interest pretty fast. Read the rest of this entry »




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