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Your September issue is packed with great advice, hints and tips, websites for writers and inspiration for your writing.

E-zee Writer
Top Tips For Writers

E-zee Writer Top Tips for Writers

Issue 95 
September 2008

Hello and welcome to a great September issue.

Thank you for the feedback on last month’s issue. It’s always nice to hear how you are and what you have been up to!

This month we have two very successful students telling us their stories – Gillian highlights why patience is such a virtue and Valmiki shows us what can be achieved after completing only a few assignments. We also have expert advice from Heather Cooke on how the length of your writing is essential if you want to be published. And Top Tips on how to recoup your holiday costs by writing travel articles.

I have chosen three websites that I think you will enjoy using. I found the exercises from the second website particularly stimulating! I chose to try and remember and write about my earliest childhood memory. It is strange that this memory is also one of the only ones I have where I view it through my eyes and not as an observer – that must say something about me!

Calling all poetry lovers! There’s going to be a day especially for you – 9th October 2008 is National Poetry Day. For those of you who do not know this will be a day dedicated to the pure enjoyment of poetry and hopes to bring poetry to the public eye. This year’s theme is work. There are events happening all over the country from now until the end of October, details available on their website Events include meeting poet Paul Farley, who is planning to turn up in various workplaces (tbc), chances to join others to read your favourite poems, lots of poetry readings from published poets for you to attend, plus open days at places such as the Artemis School of Speech and Drama in East Grinstead. So, check out the website, find something you fancy and join in!

And to encourage the budding poets out there we have decided to offer the 2008 edition of ‘The Poets Market’ at a special reduced price of 25% off. We only have a few left so once they’re gone, they’re gone!

Normally £16.99, you can now get it for the special price of £12.74 in the UK and £16.64 for postage overseas. In their words it offers ‘the complete resource for poets of all skills levels who want to publish and promote their work.’ To read more about this great resource visit and to order call us on 0161 228 2362 (for overseas take off the first 0 and replace it with 00 44) quoting E-zee Writer.

I have to admit I am not a big reader of poetry myself, so perhaps you could give me some inspiration by telling me your favourite poems and why. Whatever your reason this gives you the chance to introduce others to the poems you love and explain what makes them so special for you. Tell me in 300 words and I will print the best ones in next month’s edition.

As this is my fifth month as editor of E-Zee Writer, I would like your views on the past few issues. If there’s anything else you would like to see included or anything that infuriates you let me know and I will do my best to accommodate you – after all this e-zine is for you!

Read the end note for a sneak preview of what’s coming next month.

Have a great month!



"Enrolling in the Writers Bureau course was one of the best decisions I ever made. It taught me a lot about the fundamentals of writing, even after growing up in a family of writers and media publishers. My Grandfather is the owner of Trinidad’s oldest and longest running weekly newspaper and my father has been a political and religious columnist for the past twenty-five years. The Writers Bureau helped bridge the gap between the old school form of writing and the new.

"Even though I hadn’t completed my course, I felt confident that I had what it took to go about starting my own publication, ‘The Hindu’. It has been accepted among the Hindu community in Canada and Trinidad and is receiving great support.

"And with the great success of this publication I am now looking forward to expanding my publication to cover the U.S. as well as the Caribbean. I highly recommend the Writers Bureau to any aspiring writer of any age because they definitely practise what they preach."

Valmiki Maharaj, Canada

 The second success story is an update from one of our ‘Writer of the Year’ competition entrants:

"Plenty has happened for me since the ‘Writer of the Year’ competition. With the WB's non-fiction assignments completed, I am looking forward to knuckling down to the fiction section of the course – especially as I have a children's fiction series in mind, growing and nagging at me all the time. However, for the moment, my time is filled by non-fiction work.

"The History Press have agreed a contract for a book on the archaeology of Britain, ‘Visiting the Past’, which should be on the shelves next summer. It gives me such a great buzz to be able to say, hand on my heart now, that my job description is "freelance writer and author", and the writing itself is such fun and so rewarding (if incredibly time devouring and sometimes daunting!)

"And beyond that? I am delighted to report that Cambridge University Press is in the process of preparing a contract for the book on Latin that I have always wanted to write. After two years of discussions (the lesson here is don't give up), the book should be out in 2010: it has become very clear to me that one requirement you need as an author is a decent life expectancy!

"By the way, over the last 18 months I have earned over £1,800 for articles – it won't pay the mortgage, but it all helps and there are more ideas in the pipeline... And I couldn't have done it without the WB course holding my hand as I learned (from scratch) how to pitch ideas, write articles, and talk to editors. My thanks to WB and my tutor for being there and for starting me off with such fantastic support and advice and I look forward to the fiction section (when I can get to it).

"My website is (for reasons that become apparent when you take a look at it)."

Gillian Hovell, UK

If you would like a prospectus for the courses studied by Valmiki and Gillian email us here with your full name and postal address.

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.

How to write and be successful in international markets – everything you need to know for a seasoned professional.


Length Matters!


Heather Cooke

In some areas of life, size may indeed be insignificant. To a writer, certain matters of length really do matter. So, leaving aside the inevitable jokes, let’s look at some of those measurements that can help us sell our work. Stories or articles, fillers, even readers’ letters – they all stand a better chance of being accepted if we take size seriously!

Both as a writing tutor and as an editor, I’ve winced at comments like, “I think it’s about 1,000 words or so.” Even worse, “It’s longer than you asked for, but it isn’t possible to do justice to the subject in anything less…”

When editors ask for 1,000 words, that’s what they want. As writers, our job is to make sure that’s what they get! Some editors will allow you 10% either way, but aim to get as close to the actual figure as possible, after careful editing. Counting words isn’t exactly a chore these days, with word counts available at a couple of clicks (tools tab and word count option) so there’s no excuse for inaccuracy. And as to doing justice to a subject in the length allowed, that’s where tight writing comes in.

Successful writers hone and polish, removing any repetition or redundant phrases. Cutting down on the verb “to be” in favour of active writing can also help. An earlier article of mine in E-zee Writer gives more detail:

What Do They Want?

You’ll already know how important market research is to a writer. You’ll have studied several recent issues of your target, looked for clues to readers’ ages, gender, interests, income, education. You’ll have a good idea of the subjects covered. You’ve sent for the editor’s guidelines, or read them on the magazine’s website. But have you taken the next step?

Have you looked at the length of material actually used (not always what it says in the guidelines)? Have you identified regular slots and checked their length? Look at the length of sections within an article, and the use of headings or bullet points. Count the words in sentences and paragraphs.

The magic numbers to note are: 

- Maximum 
- Minimum 
- Average (mean) 
- Most popular

Run a Spelling & Grammar check (Tools menu in Word) over your own document to get a list of readability statistics, including the number of sentences and paragraphs, and the average number of words in each. To compare with published articles, copy and paste from an online version (or scan a printed one) into a Word document, then run the check. The closer the match, the better.

You’ll have heard about the Fog Index, but that’s not the only readability indicator. Find out more about these (and plenty of other good stuff) by following the links from:

If printed in narrow columns, even a fifty-word paragraph can look huge. In any case, during your research you’ll almost certainly discover that today’s readers, in all kinds of markets, prefer shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs. Try breaking long sentences into separate ones rather than using too many conjunctions (and, but, whereas) or relative pronouns (which, who, that). Use full stops or dashes instead of semi-colons and colons.

If all of this sounds like dumbing down, fear not – it needn’t be the case! For some valuable comments about that, read the Plain English Campaign’s useful guide, How to Write in Plain English, downloadable for private use only from:

As to titles, their length (and style) can sometimes get overlooked. You’ll find a huge variation, from descriptions of the content (My son arrested a Hollywood star) to one-word teasers (Gotcha!) and even if editors often change the working title, it helps if you can come up with one that imitates their usual length and style. It shows you’ve been doing your homework.

When Do They Want It?

Don’t forget the other important aspect of length – length of time between submission and publication! Again, drawing on experience as tutor and editor, I’ve seen writers destroy their chances of placing an otherwise promising submission, simply because they’ve left it too late.

As a general rule of thumb, unsolicited copy for a monthly publication needs to be with the editor three months ahead of cover date, but time-sensitive material should be submitted even earlier. With weeklies, aim to get your copy in around six weeks ahead of cover date, again earlier still for time-related material. Christmas issues are often put to bed in the summer, so don’t try selling a yuletide piece in December.

If you’re querying first, leave time for an editor’s response (it can take months, even if you remember the all-important SAE!) and also allow time to offer the piece elsewhere if the first editor should refuse your brilliant idea.

It goes without saying that timing plays another part in one specific area of writing – for the broadcast media. Instead of word counts, the significant length of a radio story or TV play is the running time. Read your work aloud and time it, making sure it will fit the target slot.

A Sense of Proportion

As well as absolute length, it’s worth looking at some proportions. What’s the balance of factual and personal articles in a magazine, for example? Which approach would therefore stand a better chance of success?

Look at the proportion of dialogue to action and/or introspection in several stories, and follow the pattern in your next story for that market.

Vary the length of sentences and paragraphs within the limits you’ve established, so that copy looks less uniform (and potentially boring!) on the page. Where appropriate, include a little dialogue, one or two exclamations, the odd rhetorical question and some dynamic action.

And while we’re talking of getting things into proportion, don’t spend so much time counting other people’s words that you never get any of your own writing done. Writers write! Bottom line – successful writers write what editors want, when they want it. That’s the long and the short of it…

Heather Cooke has had hundreds of articles and short stories published, in markets ranging from Chat to the Church Times, as well as three novels, so she enjoys teaching both fiction and non-fiction as a Writers Bureau tutor. 


Ten Top Tips on Travel Writing

Many people aspire to be travel writers - they look on it as glamorous and glitzy. But we have to give a word of warning here. Until you're established, and have a track record, hotels and airlines aren't going to throw freebies at you. So, it's important that you make a name for yourself if you're going to create a career in travel writing. So, here are some tips to get you on the way:

1. It's not where you go, but what you uncover when you get there that's important. Try to find an unexpected angle: what a resort or tourist destination is like out of season; the opening of a new venture, such as a theme park or perhaps you could tie in your article with a new TV series or film. Never write about the routine - only the remarkable.

2. As with all writing, research the markets for your work properly. A piece on sun, sea and s... holidays or extreme sports might appeal to a number of ‘lads mags' but you wouldn't expect them to be interested in a coach tour of classical sites in Turkey.

3. Another golden rule that applies to travel writing is to get as many articles as possible out of each trip. Let's take Egypt. There could be an article on heritage sites and monuments; another on Middle Eastern food; a third on diving and perhaps another on how a disabled person could cope with a Nile cruise.

4. Do your research via the Internet and tourist boards before you leave home so that you don't waste time. Then, when you get there, be a sponge. Soak up knowledge and facts - pick up brochures, leaflets, timetables etc. Talk to locals and pick their brains and also talk to tourists to get their views and tips. You're not going to use all this information but it's the iceberg principle.

5. Make notes of everything and write them up as soon as possible - don't leave it until you get home.

6. Taking pictures is essential - very few magazines will accept your work if you can't illustrate it and you've no excuse now that digital cameras produce such good quality images. Also make sure you go for a variety of pictures. Some magazines like holiday pictures with people in them. Others prefer scenery and atmospheric sunsets. Make sure you can provide whatever they want.

7. You've got to capture the spirit of a country or destination. Use all five senses to describe the place to your readers. Make them feel like they have been there with you. Don't just give them a boring list of facts.

8. And talking of facts, don't let them swamp your article. They are necessary, but seriously consider putting things such as transport options, weather information, hotels etc in side bars or a fact file at the end of the article.

9. Don't try to cram everything about a place into one article. Sometimes it pays to concentrate on one aspect of a city or resort. A rather hackneyed (and not to be copied) example would be a piece about buildings linked to the architect Gaudi in Barcelona, instead of trying to do a piece about a variety of attractions in the city.

10. And finally, don't think your own country or region is beneath your notice. It may seem routine to you but would it interest people in other countries? With the Internet to research publications and email to contact their editors it's now easy to pitch ideas to overseas publications.

So, it might not be all glamour and glitz but you can still earn good money from travel writing if you approach it in the right frame of mind.

A useful site for those of you who want to try your hand at rhyming, but want a little help to start. It is very simple to use – you type your word and then hold down alt and click on the word with your cursor. This brings up a list of words that rhyme in a box on the right hand side of the page. Helpful when you’ve spent hours running through words in your head and you can’t find the right one!
This is a set of 15 interesting exercises for writers. In their words ‘Writing exercises are a great way to both increase your skill as a writer and to generate new ideas for future work. They can also give you a new perspective on your current project. One of the great benefits of private writing exercises is that you can free yourself of fear and perfectionism. To grow as a writer, it is important to sometimes write without the expectation of publication. Don’t be afraid to be imperfect. That is what practice is for. What you write for any of these exercises may not be your best work, but it is practice for when you will need to write your best work.’ Have fun!
This is an interesting site written by an American college professor and techie extraordinaire. He describes his site The Writer’s Technology Companion as ‘a guide through the world of technology as it directly impacts the life of a writer. From backing up your files and using your word processor to putting up a website and publishing electronically, The Writer’s Technology Companion covers it all.’

As well as containing lots of technical stuff to keep you going, it also contains links to 22 blogs, which have been vetted by the professor, written by freelance writers detailing their experiences, tips and tricks.


END NOTE and a little inspiration


Could you write an article about ...

2nd February 1987

Terry Waite is kidnapped in Beirut by an Islamic militia group.

3rd February 1959

A plane crash kills three young rock ‘n’ roll stars, including 22-year-old Buddy Holly.

6th February 1918

The Representation of the People Act is passed, following protests by the Suffragettes, allowing women over the age of 30 and men over 21 to vote.

8th February 1959

Charles De Gaulle takes office as the first elected president of the newly formed Fifth Republic of France.

10th February 1609

Sir John Suckling – the famous English poet of ‘ A Ballad upon a wedding’– is born.

12th February 1809

Charles Darwin – creator of the ‘Theory of Evolution’ – is born.

14th February 278 

St Valentine is beheaded – leading to the celebration of love on this day.

16th February 1923

The sealed door to the burial chamber of Tutankhamen is opened by Howard Carter and his team.

18th February 1930

Pluto – the dwarf planet – is discovered at the edge of the known solar system of the time.

21st February 1437

Sir Robert Graham murders James I of Scotland at Perth giving rise to a civil war.

23rd February 1885

John Lee, a convicted murderer, survives three attempts to hang him in Exeter prison. He left prison in 1917 and lived until 1933.

27th February 1900

The Labour Representation Committee is founded, later becoming the Labour Party.

29th February 1692

The trials of Sarah Good, Sarah Osbourne and Tituba begin in Salem, Massachusetts – they are accused of witchcraft.

Well folks, another issue comes to an end. I hope you enjoyed it!

Next month we have an article by Lorraine Mace entitled ‘Getting it Right’. This covers all the essential legal bits you need to know as a freelancer in a user friendly way – very useful for those of you who, like me, find the legal stuff a bit daunting!

Plus, we will have inspiration for you from our successful students and more websites for you to glean information and advice from.

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


P.S 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 content then please contact me at:


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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


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