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This month’s expert advice from tutor Lesley Cryer covers the all important concept of Show Don’t Tell, Ten Top Tips shows you how to quadruple your chances of being published and double your fees, plus there’s the usual mix of student successes, useful websites and inspiration.

E-zee Writer
Top Tips For Writers

E-zee Writer Top Tips for Writers Issue 109
October 2009

Hello and welcome to Autumn,

Nippy mornings and the nights drawing in – seem familiar?

Well, for those of you in the northern hemisphere anyway. I am in disbelief that Halloween is almost upon us again! But, instead of just talking about that, which would be the obvious thing to do, I thought I would have a nosey at what other events happen in October that get overshadowed by Halloween. The 21st hosts Apple Day in the UK, 24th is United Nations Day, 28th is Ochi Day in Greece to name just three, plus there are numerous month-long observances, especially in the USA, such as National Dental Hygiene, Downs Syndrome, Spina Bifida, Domestic Violence and Infertility months and it is World Blindness Awareness Month too – phew!

Expert Advice covers the age-old, but super important, concept of Show Don’t Tell, which many new writers struggle with. If that’s you, don’t despair – Lesley Cryer is here to help. By the end of this article you’ll have no trouble understanding what it means. Dave Cullen provides you with inspiration this month – thanks Dave for taking the time to send me your story, I’m sure it’ll inspire many of our readers.

Ten Top Tips covers the area of photography. Photographs can quadruple – yes, I did say quadruple – your chances of being published and give you the possibility of doubling your fees, so they are well worth including in your submission. And, if you really can’t take them yourself, or rope your friends into it, there’s a website in Useful Websites that should solve your problems.


Just harking back to Halloween for a moment, here are some eerie coincidences that might get your spine tingling. Did you know, for instance, that Mark Twain was born on the day Halley’s Comet appeared in the night sky? He then predicted his own death would occur 75 years later when the comet re-appeared, which it did – spooky. I was also shocked to hear that so many Richard Parkers have been cannibalised so, if you know any, don’t let them go on a sea voyage! Facts like this could make for some interesting articles. See Useful Websites for more information.


Also featured in Useful Websites is an unusual route to publication that could just prove to be a real gem for convincing publishers that there’ll be a market for your work.

Sue Wilkes, one of our tutors, has a new book due out on 30th October. It’s called ‘Regency Cheshire’ and focuses on the shenanigans of the great county families, often at the expense of the humble peasant folk. Another of our tutors, Jackie Cosh, also has just published her first book ‘Alzheimers: The Essential Guide’ which is pretty self-explanatory. It is on sale here.

I know that writing can be a lonesome occupation – hours sitting in front of a computer or scribbling down notes can seem tiresome even if writing is your passion. One of the best ways to freshen up is to get out and about so here are a few ideas for where you could go this month.

If you fancy some performance poetry you should show up early to the open-mic sessions on Monday evenings at The Long Valley, Winthrop Street, Cork. The next one on the 26th October is the O Bheal Jazz Poetry Night featuring BACRA MeN and Romanian poet Denisa Mirena Piscu. Entrance is free and the night begins at 9.00pm. More information here.

If you can commit to five Sunday afternoons and live near Muswell Hill in London you may want to book yourself a place on the final Creative Capital Creative Writing Workshop session of 2009. They begin on the 15th November and end on the 13th December. It’s £75.00 for the five afternoons, places are limited to 10 per workshop so there is a great deal of flexibility as to what can be covered and ‘yummy biscuits’ are provided! More information can be found here.


Our Writer of The Year Competition is now accepting entries. We’d like to know how being on one of our courses has changed your life – are you now a full-time writer? Do you make thousands of pounds from your historical novels? Or, are you happy to have had only one article published? Let us know and be in with a chance of winning yourself £250! If you don’t win you could be one of our runners-up and still bag a healthy £50.


Finally, our flash fiction winners are available to view here – congratulations to Terry Prince.


Cheerio for now,


Shelley x



“A characteristically imaginative Piscean, my ambition was always to be a writer. As a young man I broached many fields; crime fiction, humour, scriptwriting and, being a steam fanatic, even a fantasy technical work about steam locomotives, complete with my own designs. Can you imagine how I felt receiving rejection upon rejection? Not a glimmer of interest. Angry and dejected, I gave up.

“Years later, in 2007, I stumbled across The Writers Bureau page in a magazine, and with Piscean impulsiveness, enrolled immediately. I worked my way through the assignments, submitting my efforts to my tutor. His appraisals were very encouraging; emphasising my strengths while tactfully identifying my weaknesses, and it wasn't long before I realised my previous failings had been largely due to presentation. My writing had been mere words with no style; no natural 'flow'. Finally wise to this, I could do something about it.

“I progressed with the course following my tutor’s recommendations. Before long he suggested I submit the best of my course work to the magazines I had written them for. I sent the work and waited; desperate for yet, with my previous track-record, dreading their responses.

“Then, in the space of one week, I received not one but two acceptance letters! One from Paranormal magazine, wanting to use my article on a scientific theory about hauntings and another from The Lady, accepting a chronicle-style article. I received a subscription to Paranormal and £80.00 from The Lady. But, more importantly, I was now a published writer – twice over. After my previous woes, the feeling was indescribable.

“Fired with enthusiasm, I submitted articles, letters, photos, advice items; everything I could produce, to selected magazines, including my wife's weeklies. Before long, payments had rendered the WB money-back guarantee obsolete.

“Early in 2008 I realised July 3rd would be the 70th anniversary of the steam locomotive named Mallard setting the 126 mph world speed record. Following the wisdom in “write about what you know” I set to work on "A Legend Called Mallard" aimed at the monthly publication Best of British. Not only was this accepted, with the locomotive adorning the front cover, it appeared in the July issue as their tribute to this historic achievement. So proud, I viewed the payment as merely an added bonus. The magazine continues to publish my work.

“My most consistent success, however, has been with the weekly publication That's Life! This has several sections offering cash payments, including "Rude Jokes of the Week" and "Aren't Men Daft"(AMD); paying £15 and £25 per item respectively. To date, they've used 30 jokes I've submitted and three AMDs which my wife e-mailed, seeing as this feature is intended for women to have a chuckle at their menfolk. Profitable? Please do the sums. I'm not so daft after all!

“I now write nearly every day and am further looking into publishing a book of my risqué jokes. My ultimate goal is to research and write a book on the Dark Age warrior behind the legend of King Arthur. Ambitious? Maybe; but far less so than my current achievements could ever have seemed three years ago.”

Dave Cullen, Leeds

Thanks, as always, to Dave for sharing his inspirational story with us. If you would like a prospectus for the Comprehensive Creative Writing Course or any of our other courses please 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.

This Month
How to write under the pseudonym of a woman, plus all your usual market and competition information.




by Lesley Cryer

When writing fiction, it’s vital to fully engage your readers’ attention so they keep turning the pages. One of the most effective methods of doing this is to show rather than tell. If you tell, you’re simply reporting what happens, which tends to distance the readers – they feel they’re learning about something second-hand, through a dull summary of the events. If you show through dialogue and action, it’s more immediate and has much greater impact. The readers feel as if they’re there, watching and listening, rather than getting a lacklustre, second-hand account. Consider the following example of telling.

Louise’s ex-husband, Jake, had arrived at her house angry because she’d told him he couldn’t see their children that weekend. He’d hammered on the door demanding to be let in. She’d told him to go home, but he’d continued to bang until he’d disturbed her next door neighbour, Bill, who’d asked him to stop making a noise and go away. Jake had turned on Bill, so Louise had warned him she was phoning the police.

This simply relates the facts, but it comes across as a watered down narrative. The readers barely make contact and there’s no real sense of tension created. Consider now the same scenario shown.

‘Open the door - I want to see me kids!’ yelled Jake, hammering on it so hard that Louise was terrified he’d break it down.
‘Ive already told you - they’re visiting my parents for the weekend,’ she called in a trembling voice.
Jake continued to bang on the door bellowing,
‘Let me in - I want to see them!’
‘Excuse me, but could you possibly stop making that racket,’ came a voice. ‘You’re disturbing the entire neighbourhood.’ To her relief Louise realised it was her next door neighbour, Bill.
‘Get lost you little runt. This is nothing to do with you,’ snapped Jake, turning round to tower threateningly over Bill, who blanched, but didn’t retreat.
‘If you don’t go immediately, I’m phoning the police!’ Louise shouted, knowing that Jake was more than capable of starting a fight.

Dialogue brings the scenario to life. For the readers this is the next best thing to being present at the altercation, virtually able to hear the fury in Jake’s voice, feel Louise’s fear and sense Bill’s determination not to be intimidated.

Speech can also subtly indicate other aspects of a situation. For example, Jake’s dialogue indicates that he’s rough, probably uneducated and is quite prepared to be verbally abusive. The more middle class Bill is polite, if a little pompous, even when annoyed.

In reality, most people’s speech isn’t usually crisp and concise – it’s vague, rambling and full of pauses. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that realistic dialogue should be an accurate reproduction of the way people actually speak.

In fiction, speech should distil the essence of what someone would say in real life, a précis which conveys the crucial information only.Don’t have characters exchanging greetings and enquiring after each other’s health, cat or elderly relative and avoid commonplace exchanges about the weather. Ask yourself if what they say moves the story along, and if it doesn’t, use the delete key.

Another thing to bear in mind is that most people abbreviate when they speak – eg ‘I’m’ for ‘I am,’ ‘we’ll’ for ‘we will’ etc. Only have a character saying, ‘I do not believe we have been introduced,’ instead of, ‘I don’t believe we’ve been introduced,’ if you want to indicate that this person is formal, with a deliberate and rather pedantic way of speaking.

Some writers try too hard to avoid using the verb said and come up with every possible alternative, most of which jar the readers. Verbs like opined, inferred or expostulated serve only to slow the pace. It’s better to repeat Paul said or stick to simpler alternatives like replied, asked, or shouted. You don’t always need to state who’s speaking, because if you’ve laid your dialogue out correctly it’ll be obvious, as in this example.

‘Are you being forced to go to that boring concert like the rest of us?’ George asked.
‘I’m afraid so,’ replied Jess. ‘I’m dreading it.’
‘Me too. Would you like to go for a drink afterwards?’
‘That would be lovely.’

You don’t need to add George/he said to the penultimate sentence or Jess/she said to the last one, as it’s obvious who’s speaking. It’s important that you learn to lay out and punctuate dialogue correctly, not only because it makes your meaning clearer, but because editors find it irritating if you don’t. Most of them are busy people who don’t have time to correct erroneous layout – they’ll simply reject your work instead, however good it is. Luckily, the guidelines are fairly simple. You should begin a new indented line for each character each time they speak. The punctuation around speech goes inside the inverted commas.

‘That’s my chair,’ he told her.
‘No it isn’t - it’s mine,’ she said.

If you have a character making a long speech, you can continue the speech into a second paragraph. This is a device to be used sparingly because if one person talks for too long, another will interrupt. When doing this, you shouldn’t close the inverted commas at the end of the first paragraph, but you should open them at the beginning of the second. This makes it clear that it’s still the same character speaking.

‘Honestly, Liz, he talked about himself for the entire meal and managed four courses, all without apparently drawing breath.
‘By the time we reached coffee ... well, let me put it this way, I ordered espresso because otherwise I’d have been face down in the after dinner mints snoring gently.’

Showing rather than telling makes your work much more vital and alive. Well-written dialogue should not only carry the plot forward and add drama, it should also define the characters by what they say, how they say it and how other characters react. As you sweep the readers along in the world you’ve created, they’ll feel as if they’re actually there.

Lesley Cryer is a freelance writer and part-time university lecturer with a General Arts degree in English and American literature. The author of fourteen contemporary novels, four period novels and a humorous book, she has also written for children’s TV and the BBC. She has been a regular contributor of short stories and features to national publications and produced scripts on a wide variety of subjects for independent film and video production companies.


Ten Top Tips for profiting from photography

Writers can quadruple their chances of acceptance and double their fees by submitting photos with their words...and with digital images you don’t need to be an expert photographer to provide saleable photos with your work. So here are some tips on profiting from your photography:

1. Remember that a good picture is worth a thousand words. If you can provide photos you save a busy editor time sourcing pics to illustrate your article. This can be a huge factor in determining whether your work is accepted or rejected.

2. You don’t need an expensive camera but you do need to learn to use it properly. Know it so well that you never have to refer to the instruction booklet and can remember all the modes without thinking.

3. Always take more pictures that you expect to use – it doesn’t cost any more and you can delete the rubbish. But you may just get an unexpected bonus!

4. Make sure that you save your images securely and that you have two copies of each set – one as back up, and one to work on.

5. Few photos can be submitted without being enhanced in some way; so learn to manipulate your images. Buying a good manipulation package such as Adobe’s Photoshop Element or Adobe’s Photoshop (depending on how technical you want to get) is a good investment.

6. Learn to think visually. Do this by studying articles in magazines and the colour supplements to see how they are illustrated.

7. Beautiful sunsets and pastoral scenes are all very well, but editors usually want photos that involve people. And they prefer people who are doing something interesting that will involve the reader in the subject matter.

8. If you intend to send photos electronically, always find out the magazine’s preferred format and then use it.

9. If sending photos on a CD by post, enclose a covering letter together with a printout of your article and a printout of the caption sheet. A clear, descriptive caption for each photo is essential and each image on the CD should be numbered sequentially so that they can be identified easily on the caption sheet.

10. Make it very clear that you are giving permission for ‘single reproduction rights only’. By doing this, if an editor wants to re-use them he has to pay again! Alternatively you can use the pics again when you re-write your article for another publication! 


Another recommended website for your perusal. This is an “online community which links writers and their books to a network of readers, print-on-demand printers and publishers... all for free! Writers can use the publishing and promotional tools on to get feedback, reviews and sales of their books.” Once you have some feedback on your work the idea is that you use this to convince publishers or agents that your writing has a ready-made market just waiting for it to be published – could work! I have also been given the following code 'CN_WRITERS_01' which allows you to access free expert assistance with manuscript conversion when you sign up.
If you are like me, you’re going to enjoy these websites – they are fun, full of interesting stories, including the aforementioned co-incidences, and bizarre facts from all over the world. You’ll have to decide which you think are true and which are pure fiction, like the story of the Russian Sleep Experiments (a horrendous incident if true) or the article detailing the 12 most ridiculous lawsuits. But, it’s an amusing source of inspiration. Some made me laugh out loud and others had me gasping in disbelief. However, be warned, if you are easily offended by bad language these sites may not be for you.
This is a free stock photo site. You are only required to register and acknowledge them if you use any of their images. There’s a tutorial to help you get the best out of the site, plus design tips and you can also give back to the site by uploading your own photos. This is just one example of a website like this, but searching with the term ‘free stock photos’ in Google brought up hundreds of others you could explore.

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 April 1826

Samuel Morey patents the internal combustion engine. 

2nd April

World Autism Awareness Day 

3rd April 1973

New York is the venue for the first portable cell phone call.     

4th April 1581 

Sir Francis Drake is knighted by Elizabeth 1st after completing his circumnavigation of the globe. 


5th April 1955

Akira Toriyama, a Japanese manga artist, is born in Japan. 

6th April 1947

The Tonys – awarded for theatrical achievement – are presented for the

first time. 

7th April 

World Health Day 

8th April  

Buddha’s Birthday 

9th April 2005 

HRH Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker-Bowles are married. 

10th April 1710 

Copyright is regulated by law for the first time in Great Britain. 

11th April 1992 

American poet, director and playwright Eve Merriam – probably best known for her controversial book ‘Inner City Mother Goose’ – dies in Manhattan.

See end note for a great little poem by Eve.  

12th April 1933

Spanish soprano opera singer Montserrat Caballe is born in Barcelona. 

13th April 1997 

The Masters Golf Tournament is won by the youngest ever player – Tiger


14th April 1986 

Gopalganj, Bangladesh is hit by 1kg hailstones, the largest ever recorded. 

15th April 1452 

Leonardo da Vinci – the Italian Renaissance polymath, painter, anatomist and inventor, amongst other things – is born illegitimately in Florence, Italy. 

16th April 1853 

The first passenger rail from Bori Bunder, Bombay to Thane opens up in India. 

17th April  

World Haemophilia Day  

18th April 1506 

The cornerstone of Italy’s famous Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano – better known as St Peter’s Basilica – is laid.  

19th April 1909 

The beatification of Joan of Arc takes place. 

20th April 1968 

The infamous ‘Rivers of Blood Speech’ is given by English politician Enoch Powell.  

21st April 1944 

French women receive the right to vote.  

22nd April 

Earth Day 

23rd April  

St George’s Day, UK  

24th April 1704 

The Boston News-Letter is published for the first time making it the first regular newspaper in the USA.  

25th April  

ANZAC day 

26th April 1964 

Tanzania is formed by the joining of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. 

27th April 1981

The first computer mouse is introduced by Xerox PARC. 

28th April 2001

The first space tourist – millionaire Dennis Tito – blasts off on his very expensive holiday. 

29th April

International Dance Day

30th April 1938 

The first televised FA Cup final took place between Preston North End and Huddersfield Town. 

So, to finish off this month here’s a link that takes you to ‘Weather’ a short, sweet poem by Eve Merriam based on onomatopoeia – hope you like it as much as I do.

This month’s game is a fun physics-based game that entails you having to build a Fantastic Contraption – loved the name too – to reach your goal whilst using as little energy as possible – had me playing for hours.

And finally, 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

P.S. Don’t forget our Writer of the Year Competition!

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

Lou Carter"After completing the course I began writing as much as I could and in 2014 I was finally signed by my agent and within two months I had a contract with Bloomsbury.

To date I have nine picture book contracts all at various stages of publication. There Is No Dragon In This Story (Bloomsbury) and Pirate Stew (Orchard) both published last summer and Oscar The Hungry Unicorn (Orchard) is due to be released on Sept 20th 2018. "

Lou Carter

Sarah Leavesly"Since starting The Art of Writing Poetry course, I have been published many times under my pen name Sarah James, won competitions and made money."

Sarah Leavesley


Noel Gama"I was so excited about the immense potential of the Internet that I enrolled for yet another Writers Bureau course, ‘Writing for the Internet'."

Noel Gama


Gilian Atack

"The course has helped me write a story that evokes strong emotions; the constructive but motivational feedback I received from The Writers Bureau has helped me knock down the barriers to self-doubt. Recently, I held my first book launch where I talked about how and why I wrote my story."

Gillian Atack

Read Gillian's Story

Cathal Coyle

"My short-term intention is to continue combining writing for newspapers and magazines with my current job. I'm enjoying my writing 'sideline' but I may find as time goes on that I want to make the transition to full-time writer."

Cathal Coyle


Institute of Training and Occupational Learning

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