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This month learn how to use your senses to improve your writing, get Top Tips on approaching an editor, find out about contributing to our new student Ezine 'Chapter and Verse', see if our Useful Websites really are of any use to you and be inspired!

E-zee Writer

Top Tips For Writers

E-zee Writer Top Tips for Writers

Issue 102
March 2009

Hello again and welcome to the March issue.

We have lots of lovely literary goodies to keep you captivated this month, but I would like to start with a heartfelt thanks to all of you who took the time to send in your suggestions for a name for the new Ezine. We have decided on 'Chapter and Verse' and Rob, the new editor, is keen to have submissions from students for inclusion in the magazine. Here's a little introduction from the man himself:

'I was delighted to accept The Writers Bureau invitation to become the first editor of their new Ezine: Chapter and Verse. It is for students and will be written by students. This gives you a great opportunity to be published and begin your writing career.

My name is Rob Innis and I have been a WB student. I now enjoy working as a freelance writer being involved with the writing world, meeting lots of interesting people and seeing my name in print!

We are now ready to start taking student's submissions from all genres including articles, stories, or poems, which fit our first theme: The last hidden beauty in the world.

I am looking forward very much to receiving your work and I hope this theme invokes your talents either in a fictional or factual way, or maybe both. Please take time to research and consider the length of your work bearing in mind it is for an Ezine.

One of the things that I have learnt is to try to seize as many opportunities as possible as you never know where it may lead.'

Please send your submission to

If you would like to know more about Rob, here's his website

As well as launching the new Ezine we have also started tweeting on Twitter, the social networking site, and you can see what's going on here.

Also this month we have Ten Top Tips on approaching an editor and expert advice from Heather Cooke on putting your senses to good use in your writing in, 'You know it makes sense'. Success stories come from Lynne, a super successful ex-student with 17, yes 17, books already published and 4 more to come in 2009. And we also hear from Phares, an emerging journalist in Kenya.

Useful Websites features an opportunity for you to get work published, this time on a new news website aimed at women, but you guys can have a go too if you like. Could be a very useful springboard! There are also links to a website for crime and mystery writers and the very useful The Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society, a must for all writers!

Next we have a couple of competitions (highlighted by two of our students - thank you!) that you might like to take part in. The first is run by Poetic Republic and is organised to help raise funds for the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), a humanitarian organisation clearing landmines and the such like from areas affected by war. The nice touch with this competition is that it will be judged by you, the entrants. Entry is £6.00 and the closing date is 30th April. The more people who enter, the more the prize fund grows with first prize being 50% of the total prize fund collected. All profits will be donated to MAG. So, tell everyone you know and help a good cause in the process. More information can be found here.

The second is a poetry and short story competition, 'The 3rd Annual Ted Walters International Short Story and Poetry Competition 2009'. Again, you can help a good cause as each entry generates a £1.00 donation to Macmillan Cancer Support. It is £3.00 per entry and 1st prize is £200! Closing date is 31st May. The entry form is available to download as a PDF here.

If you want to expand your writing universe this month you could pop along to the London Book Fair held between 20th and 22nd April. It's 'the global market place for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels'. With over 25,000 members of the publishing industry attending there will be plenty of time for learning and business. Exhibitors from all over the world will be there with particular focus on Indian markets. There are over 100 seminars to attend covering all the usual suspects, author of the day events plus heaps more. The entrance fee if £40.00, but if you register through the website now you should receive a £15.00 discount. More information can be found here.

If you are out and about in Edinburgh on 24th April you could visit Blackwells bookshop at 53-62 Southbridge and meet up with specialist author Gill Arbuthnot and her publishers Barrington Stoke. They will be discussing their mission to 'create enjoyable, unpatronising books for dyslexic, struggling or simply reluctant readers.' Tickets are free and can be reserved by calling 0161 622 8222 or emailing

Lastly, 2nd April is International Children's Book Day (ICBD). Organised by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) it aims 'to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children's books.' Each year a different national section of the IBBY- this year it's Egypt - is invited to be the international sponsor of the day. The host country invites an author and illustrator to write a message to the children of the world and create a poster. This year's theme is 'I am the world' and the contributor is Hani D. El-Masri.

Have a happy month!


P.S. If the ICBD event inspires you to inspire children to read by writing books for them you should have a look at our Writing for Children course - you'll learn all you need from a published children's author on how to get your work into print. You can meet two of our children's writing tutors on their websites, Sandra and Stephanie, to see who you will be working with.


When I enrolled on The Writers Bureau course I had already been published in craft related magazines and had had a non-fiction craft related book published. However, I wanted to 'plug' the holes I knew my writing skills had and I wanted to fulfil a lifetime's ambition of being a published children's fiction author. The course not only allowed me to improve my writing skills but also how to set out my work correctly and how to approach publishers.

After completing the course I had my first picture book story published by Piccadilly Press, 'A Book for Bramble'. Then in September 2009 I had a second title published 'The Best Jumper', again by Piccadilly Press. This title has been chosen to be read on CBeebies and I have just received news it is going to be sold in Korea. I am now hopeful the follow-on title - The Best Rabbit - will be published as this has been provisionally accepted dependent upon sales of 'The Best Jumper'.

I am still writing non-fiction titles and have just finished a new book 'The Perfect Fit'. I also have a number of book ideas with other publishers and I hope by the end of 2009 to have had one of my children's novels taken by a publisher. I am also in the process of up-dating my website and I now plan to start visiting local schools to promote my work.

Lynne Garner, UK


The Writers Bureau has been much more than a school to me. Before I enrolled for the writing course I used to have problems transforming my vague ideas, thoughts and experiences into words. I always desired to get my name into print and join the glamorous world of writing. I wanted to be a journalist and publish my own newspaper.

I have been receiving tutelage under the masterful guidance of The Writers Bureau tutors for four years now and have already achieved some of my goals. My name is now in print, this year alone I've had articles published in papers and magazines such as 'Old Africa' magazine, 'The Daily Nation' and 'The Kenyan Monitor' and 'The Standard Newspaper' has asked me to write up an interview with a successful woman too!

Through the expert advice from the excellent tutors at The Writers Bureau I've made considerable progress in my writing. My tutor is wonderful, often sensing my needs, though we are thousands of kilometres apart, and giving me the right guidance.

I would recommend to those wishing to make their name in writing to join The Writers Bureau!

Phares M. Barine, Kenya

Thanks, as always, to Lynne and Phares for sharing their inspirational stories with us. If you would like a prospectus for the Writing for Children course please visit:
or the Freelance Journalism please visit :

Or, to share your success stories with others, just send an email to with 'Success Story' in the subject line.


FREELANCE MARKET NEWSFreelance Market News Magazine
an essential guide for freelance writers

For up-to-date market information, Freelance Market News is invaluable.

Issued 11 times a year it's packed with information on markets in Britain and around the globe, plus you get all the latest news and views on the publishing world.

Every subscription comes with FREE membership of The Association of Freelance Writers. Your membership also entitles you to discounts on books and competitions, a free appraisal worth over £30 and a Membership Card which confirms your status as a Freelance Writer.

FREE sample copies are available to view at the website, along with more details about the magazine and how you can subscribe.


Learn how to write for the ever so abundant craft magazines and fillers for TV magazines.

Save £25

on your Novel and Short Story Writing Course

up to 31st March 2009

(This offer is ONLY available to subscribers of
E-zee Writer)

Many people want to write short stories or have an ambition to write a novel. If this is the specific type of writing you want to do, then we will help you with this tailored course.

To succeed in this competitive field you need to cover the basics of writing before dealing with more specific techniques. The course therefore begins with key guidance on how to develop your writing style. You then learn about plotting, characterisation, dialogue, setting the scene, atmosphere etc.

Once you've written your novel, we show you how to revise and sell it. You are then introduced to a wide variety of specialist fiction and you conclude your course with short story writing.

or call

If you live in the UK:
0161 228 2362

If you live outside the UK:
+44 161 228 2362

(Please quote NSS/EZ to claim your discount)

Remember, this offer closes 31st March 2009


You Know It Makes Sense!


Heather Cooke


How do we find out about the world? Through our five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, taste. So if we want our readers to believe in the world we're creating, why not give them sensory detail to experience?

"Yes, I know that!" I can hear you cry. "But how?"

Wearing my other hat as a Christian minister, I've led spiritual exercises that involve putting yourself in a Bible scene and letting your imagination play with it. Most associated with the founder of the Jesuits, St Ignatius Loyola, the technique is now used by Christians of many denominations. You can try a similar comtemplation technique in your garden or perhaps your local park. Sit quietly, empty your mind and absorb your surroundings. If you close your eyes you should find it helps you to concentrate on the smells, sounds, tastes and feelings you encounter.

Have these questions in mind and work through each one slowly.

  • What can you see: flowers, trees, insects, other people, cars, fences, walls, statues, animals?
  • What can you hear: birds singing, insects buzzing, dogs barking, cars passing, wind, washing machines spinning, conversation?

  • What can you smell: flowers, wood preserver, perfume from passers by, coffee, wet dog, next door's barbeque?

  • What can you feel: soft petals, rain drops, the warmth of the sun, rough wood, damp grass, gravel, warm roughness of brick walls, snow flakes, someone else (only advised if you know the other person of course)?

  • What can you taste: coffee/tea/wine in your hand, raspberry sauce from the cone.

probably be surprised at how many sense impressions you notice! And, as all writers should do anyway, keep a notebook close at hand and jot down any vivid detail. Both in fiction writing and in descriptive non-fiction, such as travel articles, vivid sensory details help our readers experience a scene for themselves, feel as if they're actually there.

The more you perform contemplation exercises, the more alert you'll be to the use of sensory detail in what you read, too. Here are some examples from two novels I've read recently. First, Vikram Seth's magnificent 'An Equal Music', hailed as the best novel about music ever written. Naturally, given both the subject matter and the storyline (which I won't spoil for you if you haven't read it yet!) it is exceptionally strong on the use of sounds:

"The world is mad with sound: forms rip, trams rumble past, vibrating underfoot; coffee cups clink, and over the murmur from the busy bar I can hear the peristaltic cranking of - is it a fax machine or a teleprinter?"

[in Venice] "the splashing of water against stone, the tweaking of a child's balloon, wheels bumping down the steps of a bridge, the flap of a pigeon's wing, high heels against the floor of the colonnade... the deep thrum of the engine of a vaporetto."

"Sweet birds sing, cocks crow distantly, an engine putters. Weeee-weeee-weeee-weeee-weeee-chuk-chuk-chuk-chuk."

The most obvious visual detail to use is colour, usually the more specific the better:

"...walls of terracotta and ochre, a red-roofed town.gardens of irises and pink roses. the grey-green water of the lagoon."

"The canal... is dishwater grey."

Sometimes, however, simple colours are best:

"A lit twig shines white against the sky. Beyond that, the night is black."

In Sue Monk Kidd's blockbuster about racism and the civil rights movement (and a lot else besides!) in 1960s America, 'The Secret Life of Bees', the use of smells is particularly vivid:

"The jail cells smelled with the breath of drunk people."

"I stepped into a deserted corridor clogged with too many smells. Carnations, old people, rubbing alcohol, bathroom deodorizer, red Jell-O."

"...and the smell of pork lathered in vinegar and pepper drew so much saliva from beneath my tongue that I actually drooled onto my blouse."

"I... caught the faint scent of honey coming from the wood.I could smell nothing then but the pomade on her hair, onions on her hands, vanilla on her breath."

She also uses striking visual detail:

"She was almond-buttery with sweat and sun, her face corrugated with a thousand caramel wrinkles."

Examples from the sense of touch include:

"I stuck my hands under my arms, and my sweat was ice-water cold."

She describes the taste of fear:

[I] "felt a metallic-dry taste rise from the back of my throat and slide over my tongue."

And some vivid sounds of the bees stayed with me:

"...bees swirled around our heads with a sound like sizzling bacon."

"A perfect hum, high-pitched and swollen, like someone had put the teakettle on and it had come to a boil."

It isn't just fiction where vivid sensory detail comes in useful. Listen to the sounds in Bill Bryson's 'A Walk In The Woods':

"...undergrowth being disturbed... a click of breaking branches, a weighty pushing through low foliage...and then a kind of large, vaguely irritable snuffling noise."

Just look at the wealth of detail packed into this single (if long!) sentence from 'Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town', by Paul Theroux:

"...the Africa I knew was sunlit and lovely, a soft green emptiness of low, flat-topped trees and dense bush, bird squawks, giggling kids, red roads, cracked and crusty brown cliffs that looked newly baked, blue remembered hills, striped and spotted animals and ones with yellow fur and fangs, and every hue of human being, from pink-faced planters in knee socks and shorts to brown Indians to Africans with black gleaming faces, and some people so dark they were purple."

Whatever sensory detail you use in your writing, be as specific as possible. If you see someone walking, do they stride, saunter, shuffle? If something is red, is it scarlet or crimson? And if you can see candy floss or coffee, what do they smell like? Weave this into active writing, and your readers will be transported wherever you want to take them. You know it makes sense!

Heather Cooke is a Writers Bureau tutor, teaching both fiction and non-fiction. She has had hundreds of articles and stories published in markets ranging from Chat to the Church Times, as well as three novels. She is also a priest in the Church of England.



Ten Top Tips for approaching an editor

1. Take the trouble to find out the editor's name so that you can address them personally.

2. Make sure your presentation is as perfect as possible, whether sending by post or electronically. Check for - and correct - typing errors. Avoid fancy fonts - settle for something plain, like Times New Roman, and always include a word count.

3. If you are submitting by post, attach a cover sheet, as it enhances the presentation and gives the editor all the necessary details at a glance. If you are submitting by email put something sensible in the subject line e.g. 'Proposed article on fly fishing', otherwise it will probably be deleted as spam.

4. A covering letter is not strictly necessary with an unsolicited manuscript, but enclosing one will do no harm.

5. If you have had previous contact with an editor and he/she has asked to see an article or outline, then a covering letter is essential. Otherwise, your manuscript could be read by someone else in a busy office who doesn't know that the editor has expressed an interest and they may reject it.

6. If it says that unsolicited articles are not accepted then you can get round this by sending an outline and a query letter.

7. Make sure your query letter exudes a quiet authority. Don't tell the editor your life story - but make it clear why you think your piece is ideal for the magazine's readers and why you are qualified to write it. The rule of thumb is: if it makes you look good, put it in. If it makes you look inexperienced, leave it out.

8. A good outline is essential. It should be a skeleton of the finished product, showing the main topic areas to be covered and in what order. Don't make it too long, or so short that it is disjointed and difficult to follow.

9. Don't overwhelm an editor - so only send one idea at a time when first approaching them. This may change if they start accepting your work, but build up a relationship first.

10. Don't send the same article to two editors at the same time. If they both accept and then publish it will lead to embarrassment for them and it is most unlikely that they would ever accept work from you again. So don't double deal!

This is a brand new news-based website run by Alison Clarke, a freelance journalist. The site has an angle on women's views on world news, although the owner does not exclude submissions from men. Here's what Alison says...'the site will provide up to date news on all the major national and international stories of the day, in much the same way as any newspaper or online news service, but from the perspective of women. Stories will not just reflect issues of traditional interest to women such as health, education, crime and domestic violence, but will also include all the so-called macho subjects like defence, war, economics and politics. It will also include feature articles and opinion pieces, but the focus will always be news. Anyone can post a story about any news or current event anywhere in the world onto the site, as long as they abide by two basic rule; that it is written about women, that it does not contain any sexist, racist or fascist material'. It is a non-profit venture so there won't be any payment for your submissions, however, it is a superb way to get your writing out there where others can read it and get to know your name - could open up many doors.
The Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) is a writer-run website representing 'the interests of all UK writers and aims to ensure writers are fairly compensated for any works that are copied, broadcast or recorded. Writers' primary rights are protected by contract, but it is the life of the work over the following decades that needs to be monitored and fairly rewarded'. This is an internationally recognised organisation, considered to be an authority on copyright and the protection of author's rights. It really is something all writers should consider joining and the £25.00 one-off lifetime fee is a bargain!
This is the place to be if you want to write about crime and mystery. The site is a portal to all kinds of crime, law and law enforcement related sites. There's a section on Reference and Research covering sites that explain latent print examination (fingerprints to you and me!) and writer's guides to criminal law, evidence and procedure. An Organized Crime section covers gang land news and there is a site detailing information on every kind of criminal gang you can think of. Plus, it houses links to organisations such as the FBI, DEA and a site that details police slang and code. Should be an invaluable resource for all those wanting to make their work feel authentic.

Remember, if you run a website that you think may be of use to our readers, let me know. If I like it, I'll publish a link to it giving you a free plug. What could be better than that?

END NOTE and a little inspiration


Could you write an article about ...

1st Sept. 1159 

The only English pope, Nicholas Breakspear (known as Adrian IV), dies near Rome. 

3rd Sept. 2004

320 people, most of them children, are killed during a siege in a school in Beslan, North Osettia.

4th Sept. 1908

American author and civil rights activist Richard Wright, most famous for Native Son, is born in Natchez, Mississippi.

5th Sept. 1972

Black September, a Palestinian terrorist group, takes 11 Israeli Olympic delegates hostage at the summer games in Munich with fatal consequences.

7th Sept. 1986

Desmond Tutu is named Archbishop of Cape Town making him the first black leader of South Africa's Anglican Church.

8th Sept. 1841

Composer Antonin Dvorak, whose best known works include The Ninth Symphony (from the New World), is born in Nelahozeves near Prague.

9th Sept, 1976

The leader of the People's Republic of China, Mao Zedong, dies at the age of 82.

11th Sept. 2001

Terrorist hijackers crash airplanes into the twin towers at the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon killing 3000 people.

13th Sept. 1916

Roald Dahl, famous for James and the Giant Peach, The Witches and Matilda, is born in Llandaff, Wales.

15th Sept. 1958

A mould, later developed into the powerful antibiotic Penicillin, is discovered growing in his laboratory by Sir Alexander Fleming.

18th Sept. 1851

The first edition of what is now known as the New York Times (known then as the New York Daily Times) appears on newsstands.

19th Sept. 1893

New Zealand becomes the first country in the world to allow women to vote.

21st Sept. 1937

J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, detailing the lives of the creatures of Middle Earth, is published.

22nd Sept. 1989

Russian born American songwriter Irvine Berlin dies at the age of 101 after writing over 1500 songs.

23rd Sept. 63 BC

Emperor Augustus is born in Rome.

24th Sept. 1994

Theodore Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr Seuss, dies in La Jolla, California aged 87.

26th Sept. 1907

New Zealand changes its status from being a colony to a dominion within the British Commonwealth of Nations.

27th Sept. 1540

Pope Paul III officially confirms the Society of Jesus (also known as the Jesuits) founded by Ignatius Loyola.

28th Sept. 1864

Karl Marx attends the first gathering of The First International, a revolutionary workers group, in London.

29th Sept. 1943

Lech Walesa, president of Poland, Nobel Prize laureate and trade union activist is born in Popowa, Poland.

30th Sept. 1791

The premiere of 'The Magic Flute' is conducted by its composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart two months before his death.

Here for your amusement is Stevie Smith's famous poem, Not Waving but Drowning:


Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

That's it for now. As always, I hope you've gleaned at least one piece of information from this month's edition that will help you on your way.

Next month we have expert advice from Simon Whaley who will spill the beans on what judges are looking for in competition entries, Ten Top Tips on creating a better writing environment and the same mix of useful sites and inspiration.

And finally, here's a little game to provide you with some welcome distraction for five or, with 50 levels possible, a million minutes!

If you found something of use to you in this issue please pass the word on to all your writer friends - and even those who don't! You never know, you might inspire them to take it up. They can sign up here

See you next month.

Shelley x

If there are any of our overseas readers who would like me to promote literary events in their country, please let me know and I will do my best to mention them.

As usual, if you've any suggestions or would like to comment on anything you have read then please contact me at:









Annemarie Munro Writers Bureau's Student of the Year 2022

"I have seen my writing journey as an adventure: What can I write? What am I best at? What new aspects of writing can I discover and contribute towards? I have welcomed the wide range of modules covering different types of writing, challenging me to try new aspects in style and content, pushing me gently outside my comfort zone with encouragement.

"I signed up for the course in December 2020 as a Christmas present to myself and I started the first module in January 2021. I have had eight pieces published: three paid earning £1080 and a star letter where I won a £250 hotel voucher."

Annemarie Munro - Writers Bureau Student of the Year 2022

Read Annemarie's full story


Institute of Training and Occupational Learning

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