CategoryWriting Tips

How To Name Your Character (With Sense)


Names are important, even in fictional tales; perhaps especially in fictional tales. Names trigger our prejudices. Hearing or seeing a person’s name sets off stereotypes in our heads, without us even realizing. Whether or not these stereotypes are wrong, when you come across the name Fatima, you may find yourself picturing a dark skinned female with kinky hair, or an olive skinned woman with...

How To Tell The Difference Between Chick Lit and Romance


I use the phrases ‘Romance’ and ‘Chick lit’ interchangeably; not because I’m not aware there is a difference but because the difference is so subtle that I usually can’t be bothered to be anal about it. Today I feel like being a little anal; so here are a couple differences that I have drawn up:   Chick Lit tends to have a happy ending. The girl will end up with the right man, no matter what...

I Won’t Consider You A Writer Unless…


The thing is, when someone comes up to you and tells you they are a singer, you typically expect them to be able to carry a tune. If someone walks up to you with a violin, you have already imagined that the music will be played expertly. But for some reason, some odd reason, anyone and everyone can carry a pen and declare themselves a writer. I may sound like a right witch, but I won’t...

The Best Locations For Writing


Many of us have been tricked into believing that writers need rolling hills and picturesque cottages, a bubbling brook and a clear blue sky or a rainy day in order to tap into our reserves of creativity. Though being in this setting may indeed bring out the Shakespeare in you, it is much more likely that you are surrounded by car fumes, tall grey buildings and noise pollution. So I’ve compiled a...

To Plot Or Not To Plot


There are basically two ways of going about writing and plotting a story. I like to describe them as: The Path of Least Resistance The Path of Most Resistance   You belong to the path of least resistance if: You have very little idea of where the story is going when you start. Characters crop up wily nily in your story. You write the first sentence and then think up your second. A...

How To Improve The First Line Of Your Poem


The first line of a poem is always the hardest for me. It’s the line most in danger of sounding corny, awkward, stilted, flamboyant or simply wrong. So assuming I’m not the only one who often hates the first line of their poem, I have a couple ideas of how to switch your poem up and make your first line strong. Note these suggestions are most effective if you are not working with a strict poetic...

NEVER throw away (delete) your writing – Five Reasons Why


1) It may seem horrible noooooooow, but in a week or a month or a year, you may just realize it was a great piece of writing. 2) Even if it really is a terrible example of your abilities, there will be something in it that can be developed. 3) That’s why they call it a first draft, edit it. 4) You can strip lines from different pieces of your work and form a found poem (more about found...

Ten Things You Need To Know About Speech in Fiction


I felt I needed a refresher course on the writing of dialogue, so I gathered all my books on grammar and punctuation, threw myself on my bed and dug in! The following ‘ten things you need to know about dialogue’ are as a result of studying and interpreting: Penguin Writer’s Manual, Grammar for Grown Ups, Can You Eat, Shoot & Leave? and Butcher’s Copy-Editing. Also looked at a couple published...

The Different Points of View in Storytelling


I want to do a post, at some point in the future, on how to choose which point of view to write in when you are planning/plotting your story. So I thought a brief reminder on the different points of view might be a good precursor to the post; especially if there are people out there in the world, who, like me, often forget what they were taught in primary school!   1st Person – This is...

Can You Be Taught To Write?


My degree was in Creative Writing and Law; and as a student of Creative Writing, a question that often popped up was – can writing be taught? Achebe didn’t place much weight on Creative Writing as a course: ‘Many writers can’t make a living. So to be able to teach how to write is valuable to them. But I don’t really know about its value to the student. I don’t mean it’s useless. But I...

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