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First Impressions Count!

July 23rd, 2014

Whether it’s a short story or a novel you’re working on, your opening paragraph is what will set you apart from other writers. If you’re sending work to an editor, agent or a competition then it could well be the only part of your story they actually read!

A strong opening is the key to getting your reader interested enough to finish off the story; so don’t rush it. You’ll reap the benefits later on if you spend a little time and care crafting the perfect opening paragraph.

To really grab your reader’s attention, you might want to consider starting your story ‘in medias res’ or in the middle of the action. You don’t always have to set the scene before something exciting happens, and starting off in the middle of an action-packed scene will immediately make your reader ask questions. As far as action goes, the bigger the event the more likely it is to hook your readers’ attention – so don’t be afraid to go for something shocking!

Once your action scene is over, you can allow your main character to reflect on the events leading up to that scene, slowly telling the story and answering those questions. There’s nothing wrong with starting a story with a little mystery – just make sure you solve it at the end!

If your talents lie more in descriptive writing than action-heavy scenes then you might want to use your skills to draw your reader in right at the start. When setting the scene for your story, make sure to use all of your senses and try to come up with something a little out of the ordinary. We all know that you’ll be able to see trees in the middle of a forest, but what about the smells and sounds? Extra details like this will create a lasting image for your readers, and you can use your words to create a multi-sensory picture to grab their attention.

Finally, as we’ve mentioned before, a short story or a novel is nothing without a memorable main character, so opening with a thought or some dialogue can be a great way to introduce them. Doing this places your character as the most important thing about the story, and it’s also a handy way to sneak in a short physical description without having to dedicate a new paragraph to it. If you decide to do this, then choose your words carefully. Think about the kind of language your character would use, if they might use any slang words or if they have any kind of accent or dialect. Try, as much as possible, to give information about your character through their speech without having to explicitly state it – remember “show” don’t “tell”. In a short story especially, this will save you precious words to use on advancing the plot.

A good opening can take hours of time and effort to create, so try different things and keep making changes until you’re happy with it. Trust us, you’ll be glad you spent the time on it when you get your first acceptance letter!




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Ten Top Tips for Beating Writers’ Block

May 12th, 2014

When people talk about writers’ block, I’m always reminded of one of my favourite quotes from author Philip Pullman:

“All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?”

And he’s right! If writing is your career then writers’ block just isn’t an option. If you’re feeling stuck and struggling to put pen to paper, take a look at our ten top tips for beating the block. Read the rest of this entry »




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Making your Calendar Work for You

May 7th, 2014

We make no secret of the fact that writing non-fiction is the easiest way to get published and start making money. The market is bigger and less saturated, and there are far more publications willing to pay for a good article rather than a short story.

But how do you get started with non-fiction when all you’ve ever thought about is writing stories or novels? It can be a little bit intimidating to start with, but you’ll be surprised how much you can think of if you put your mind to it. Read the rest of this entry »




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Proofreading – The Importance of Being Accurate

April 30th, 2014

Most writers would agree that proofreading is the least exciting part of writing, whether it’s a novel, short story, article or poem. The problem is that all written work needs to be proofread before it can be sent off to a publisher. Even if you think your English is perfect and you have a real eye for the small details, it’s vital that you always remember to give your work a read through before sending it anywhere – that missing apostrophe could be the difference between a sale and a rejection! Read the rest of this entry »




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Finished writing your novel? Then it’s time to get competitive!

April 23rd, 2014

So, you’ve done the hard part. You’ve finally finished writing your novel and you have a finished manuscript that you can be proud of. You’ve drafted, redrafted, edited and polished until you’re positive it’s the best it can possibly be.

Firstly – well done! You’ve already achieved more than most people do, but why stop there? Read the rest of this entry »




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