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Ulysses – a day out with Leopold Bloom

June 10th, 2011

First, thanks to Sally for last week’s tips on how to achieve success with your short fiction. The first point she makes about keeping the number of characters to a minimum and telling your story from the point of view of the main protagonist is particularly useful. As I go through the Writers Bureau Short Story Competition entries I’m amazed at the number of people who try to get a cast of millions (well, perhaps that’s a slight exaggeration) into 2000 words. It just doesn’t work – it only confuses the reader. Read the rest of this entry »




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Win a Writers Bureau Proofreading and Copy Editing course!

March 12th, 2010

Well, what can I say about Cirque du Soleil except that they were fantastic!  They really lived up to expectations and if you get the opportunity, go and see them.  My hands were sore from clapping by the time we left.

Last week I recommended our monthly newsletter, E-Zee Writer but I’ve just discovered another good read – the Inkwell Newsletter.  It’s chatty, informative and provides information on writing-related events, competitions and markets for your work.

In the latest issue they linked through to a great article that appeared in the Guardian where a selection of famous authors each suggested their ten rules for writing fiction.  There were tips from the likes of Elmore Leonard, Margaret Atwood, Helen Dunmore, Esther Freud, P D James, and my favourite Roddy Doyle.  Who, as you would expect, is humorous and doesn’t take himself too seriously.

It’s well worth a read even if you’ve no intention of writing a novel yourself because it gives an insight into how the professionals work.

If you fancy a spring break, why not try the Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival which runs 20th to 28th March.  As usual, there are plenty of famous names, but I sometimes think that some of them spend more time doing the rounds of literary festivals than actually writing.  Perhaps that’s inevitable in a world where writers increasingly have to market themselves if they want to keep the royalty cheques rolling in.

Next week, Simon Maginn, another Writers Bureau tutor, is going to be my guest blogger.  I suspect he’ll tell you about his new novella, Rattus, and believe me, it’ll make you think twice before you raise the toilet lid in future!

But before I go, don’t forget our latest 21st Birthday competition which gives you the chance to win a  Proofreading and Copy Editing course.




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New Proofreading and Copy Editing Course

September 18th, 2009

Two or three weeks ago I mentioned the correct use of the apostrophe and nailed my colours to the mast as a keen supporter of the ‘tadpole’. But I could just imagine some of you sitting at home thinking: Hold on a minute, that’s a bit rich coming from someone who works for an organisation called The Writers Bureau. Surely it should be The Writers’ Bureau.

You’re absolutely right but according to Lynn Truss in her humorous book on punctuation ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves’, companies and organisations have discretion over whether to use an apostrophe or not. When WB was set up in 1989 it was decided that in advertising headlines the name looked better without an apostrophe – and the rest, as they say, is history!

And that brings us on to the exclamation mark. Don’t you just hate it when writers pepper their work with them? F Scott Fitzgerald is quoted as saying: “Cut out all those exclamation marks. An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.” But I must admit that I always have to go through my writing slashing stray exclamations marks, as they do tend to worm their way in.

The other thing I have to keep a close eye on is typos. Because we’re the writing experts, people are always keen to point out when we get something wrong in our course material or on our website. And I can guarantee that even if you read something time and time and time again – as soon as you upload or print it you’ll spot a missing word or spelling mistake.

That’s why we’ve introduced a new Proofreading and Copy Editing course. It’s useful not just for writers but for anyone who has to check the printed word in their daily work. And by the time you’ve finished it you’ll be an expert on apostrophes, exclamation marks and lots of far more important and interesting things! (Oops – time to get out the red pen.)

Until next week…




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