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The Best Way to Make Your Writing Original

May 2nd, 2014

First, thanks to Simon for last Friday’s blog.  I’m no great photographer, but my daughter-in-law is, and looking at some of her photos has really inspired me to give it a go. I now find myself taking pictures of all kinds of weird and wonderful things –  a bench in an old greenhouse covered in onions drying off is just one example.  However odd the photo, it doesn’t cost anything on a digital camera and you never know when you might be able to use it to illustrate an article.

I’ve just read a piece by Caitlin Moran in The Times Plus magazine.  In it she tells an anecdote about the late Alan Coren.  Apparently he said that when looking for ideas for your writing, don’t write the first thing that comes into your head because that’s what everyone will think.  Don’t write the second thing that comes into your head because that’s what the clever people will think.  It’s the third thought you have that will hit the spot – that’s the original and unique one.  Sounds about right to me!

That brings me on to our 2014 Short Story Competition, which is now accepting entries. If you’re considering entering (and I hope you will) there are two things that you really need to think about before you send your story.  The first is that it must be original.  So, please avoid tales of downtrodden wives who turn the tables on their husband, murder them or are lucky enough to have them die in a car crash.  Also, avoid sad tales of old people being forced to leave their homes and move into care, the elderly being ill-treated in residential homes or being visited by their deceased husband/wife, taken by the hand and led to the great tea dance in the sky.  Think of Alan Coren’s advice before you put pen to paper.

The second point is that you should always proofread your work.  Before you submit your entry – whether by post or online – check to ensure that your work flows smoothly.  Reading it aloud often helps.  Check that everything is clear to the reader but that you haven’t insulted their intelligence by spelling things out too clearly.  And finally, make sure that your layout, grammar, spelling and punctuation are correct.  In a close field mistakes of this kind can make the difference between being a winner and a runner-up.

And if you’re looking for a bit of inspiration for naming the characters in your stories, why not have a look at one of the articles that was published in an early edition of E-zee Writer?  It’s called The Name Game and is by tutor, Simon Whaley.

My guest next week is Jennifer Harding who’ll be looking at how to avoid procrastination – something that writers tend to suffer from more than most!

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