So, You Want to be a writer? Six tips to get you on your way.

So, you want to be a writer?

Here are six tips to help you on your way!

  1. Read. A lot!! I love reading so this isn’t a major issue for me. Reading will make you a better writer. You need to learn somewhere, right? So why not learn from those who came before you? It’s amazing what you can get from other writers. You’ll pick up writing techniques, grammar tips and vocabulary as you go. Learning by osmosis – what’s not to love? And, reading can mean comic books, newspapers, and online articles (like this one :)) so there’s no excuse!! Except, if you have no time, but everyone can make five minutes a day to read, can’t they?

    person holding book
    Photo by fotografierende on Pexels.com
  2. Get yourself a notebook and a pen, go somewhere quiet and write! You don’t need any expensive gadgets to start. Just time, inspiration, and a notebook and pen (there are some gorgeous notebooks out there. And, have you seen some of the beautiful pens you can buy? My personal faves are the coloured biros by Bic, especially the purple ones). It doesn’t even matter if you think it’s bad. Write anyway!

    pencil on spiral notebook
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  3. Practice. And Practice. And practice… Once you begin writing, keep going. The only way to get better at anything is practice. Maybe take a writing course to hone your skills. Writing courses come in many shapes and sizes. Some are free and some are run by fabulous, well-established writers (Neil Gaiman, I’m looking at you!).
  4. Get feedback. This gives you an outsider’s perspective of your writing. People can tell you where your weak points are, but also when you’re doing something right. You could join a local writing group for this. I did and it improved my writing considerably.

    “Remember, you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s okay!”

  5. Get a thick skin. You’re not always going to write fabulous prose. Sometimes your work will be utter crap. Don’t be afraid to face that fact. And even when your work is absolutely amazing and fabulous, people will tear it apart and make you feel like dirt. Unfortunately, this is something we, as writers, have to live with. Not everyone is going to love what you write and you need to learn to live with that. Write anyway! Remember, you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s okay!
  6. Write! Make sure you write, even if it’s just a few words every day. Don’t just talk about it. Write! Write your first draft even if it’s utter rubbish. Don’t worry, everyone’s first draft is crap (I mean, have you read my first draft of Death’s Apprentice, written here on my blog as I go? Try reading it, you’ll see what I mean :)). But as they say, you can’t edit a blank page! You can edit your writing though. And edit. And edit. Rewrites will make your writing shine!

    wood light creative space
    Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

As Charles Buckowski said:

“There is no losing in writing, it will make your toes laugh as you sleep, it will make you stride like a tiger, it will fire the eye and put you face to face with death. You will die a fighter, you will be honored in hell. The luck of the word. Go with it.”

 

Death’s Apprentice – Part 43

‘Mmmm, let me think,’ said Hel, her right hand stroking her chin.

‘It’s okay,’ said Joe, ‘I can wait.’ He almost added, I’m used to being hungry, but didn’t because what was the point? No one cared.

And, he was used to it if he was really honest. It was part of the package when you lived in the Bones’ household.

Not that they were dirt poor, not like his mate Limey. Limey’s parents were both chronically ill and on benefits and when they got put on to Universal Credit there were a few times that their benefit money was stopped. No benefits meant no money. No money meant no food and no heating. It sucked.

No, Joe’s mom worked and although they weren’t rolling in money, they weren’t on Limey’s scale either. Problem was, Joe’s shitdad prefered beer and weed and the bookies to feeding his stepkid. But hey, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

Right?

Wrong.

It had just given Joe a load of rather unhealthy coping skills.

Hades rubbed his head against Joe’s leg making him jump. His heart twanged again as he thought of Lola.

‘Good boy,’ he said, running his hands through the dog’s rough fur. The dog began to purr loudly and started to lean on Joe nearly making him fall over.

‘Careful Hades,’ said Hel and the dog shifted its position. ‘Okay, I’ve got it. There’s a witch that lives in these woods -‘

‘A witch?’ Even Joe could hear the scepticism in his own voice. ‘Really? Come on now. Stop pulling my leg!’

Hel stared at him, her face contorted with confusion. ‘I’m not touching your leg.’

‘I know. It’s just a saying…’ Nope, he could see from the look on her face that she wasn’t getting it. ‘It doesn’t matter. So, this witch…how far is it? Is she dead?’

‘No, she’s very much alive,’ said Hel.

So, you wanna be a writer? Short Writing Prompt.

Short Writing Prompt.

Character.

Look at the picture below. What an amazing face this man has. I’m fascinated by faces and the stories that are written in the very fabric of them.

man wearing blue hurley shirt
Photo by Thgusstavo Santana on Pexels.com

So, using this face as a story prompt, think about who this man is. What’s his name? How old is he? Where does he live? What does he want from life? What makes him sad? What makes him angry? What family does he have? What flaws does he have? How does he walk? How does he talk?

Really think about his character. Give him a biography. You could use this free printable Character Guide and fill in all of the boxes to give this man a background.

Now, once your character is fully formed in your head, write a 1000 word story in any genre you want.

Good luck!

What did you come up with? I would love to hear!

Death’s Apprentice – Part Thirty-Five

Cerberus cowered, his hackles raised on his thick neck, his snake-tail tucked firmly in between his muscular back legs.

‘What’s a matter, boy?’ asked Joe, taking in the dog’s troubled appearance.

Joe reached out and ran his hand through Cerberus’ warm rough fur. The dog was shaking.

‘Cerberus? There you are, you naughty boy. Where have you been?’ It was a girl’s voice which made the dog shake uncontrollably.

Joe turned his head to where the sweet, little voice had come from. A small girl, probably no more than ten-years-old, stood before him dressed in a white shift dress. Her hair was the colour of the darkest night, her skin as pale as the moon. She took a tiny step forward. It was then Joe noticed the pack of hounds sitting behind her, dogs of varying shapes and sizes.

‘Who are you?’ he asked. Things were going from strange to stranger. Joe had already questioned his sanity many times since he’d entered Crow’s Funeral Home and now he was doing it again. What was a ten-year-old girl doing down here with a pack of dogs? And why was a three-headed dog so scared of her?

He gave himself a pinch. He knew, deep down, it wouldn’t work but he tried it anyway in the vain hope that he was just dreaming. Maybe his shitdad has drugged him? He certainly wouldn’t put it past him.

‘Ow!’ he screeched pinching himself again. No, he wasn’t dreaming it. This was actually happening.

The girl’s eyes narrowed and she shook her head in disbelief.

‘Why are you hurting yourself?’ asked the girl.

‘Because…’ he looked at the girl and then his arm, ‘oh, it doesn’t matter.’ He certainly wasn’t going to explain himself to a little girl.

 

 

So You Wanna Be a Writer? Four things you need to have in Act Three of your novel.

As I told you in my previous post, five reasons why the three-act structure is for you (see it here), Act Three corresponds with the end of your novel. This is where the story must come to a satisfactory conclusion. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a happy one but it must bring the reader satisfaction.

But what do you need in Act Three? Here are four things that are essential:

The protagonist rises up from her lowest point:

By the end of Act two, our hero is at her lowest point. In act three we must see her rise up again and prepare to meet the enemy one last time. This is pre-battle; a time to collect weapons, gain new knowledge and recover from the major event of act two. It’s usually a calmer time in the story and allows the audience to take stock of the story so far. It allows us to see how far the hero has come but also, how far she still has to travel.

Also, note that the villain is now at its strongest.

woman standing on road
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Climax:

This is where the battle reaches its dramatic conclusion. The climax is not the ordeal, the major plot point of act two which saw our hero at her lowest point. This is a new battle. A battle to the death. This is the point where the over-arching conflict gets resolved.

If there’s a villain, she dies here or, at least, is defeated.

Resolution:

All significant loose ends should be tied up, and the tension of the story should ease after the drama of the climax. If our hero’s goal isn’t completely fulfilled in the climax, it needs to be achieved here.

The reader needs to have a satisfying conclusion to the story and everything that was promised to them over the course of the story should now be fulfilled.

battle board game castle challenge
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Transformation of the main character:

The hero has to change in some way to make the story satisfying. The writer must show that the hero has learned the lessons presented to her during the course of the story. They have to be shown to have overcome the obstacles thrown at them. They have to have achieved most, if not all of their goals, and they need to show the reader they have acquired new knowledge.

There should be an opportunity for the hero to revisit her old life in some way so that this transformation can be seen.

In summary, act three needs to show that everything the hero has gone through has led to this point and a change in her character. This is achieved through the drama of the novel and illustrated through the pre-climax, climax and resolution of the novel.

What do you think? Is there anything else you would include?

 

Death’s Apprentice Writing Experiment – A Review of my work so far.

Now I’ve written a fair chunk of the beginning of Death’s Apprentice, I thought it would be a good opportunity to review what I’ve learnt so far.

I’ve written thirty parts of the story at this point and, I have to say, it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable, if a little scary, experience.

The Good Points:

I like how this whole experiment has opened me up to a new way of writing a novel. I have never pantsed a novel before. Pantsing doesn’t mean pulling down someone’s pants. In writing it’s used to describe a way of writing which isn’t plotted. A pantser writes by the seat of his or her pants, with no fixed outline. The story develops as you write it. This is also known as winging it and whilst I’ll admit to winging a lot in my life, I have never winged writing. Until now!

It’s not necessarily stretched my imagination because I had a very vivid imagination anyway, but, it’s made me think on my feet.

I’m not a rigid plotter but I do like having some sort of destination fixed in my head. I don’t write in chronological order but write the parts that appeal to me as I’m plotting. If I become stuck in the plot I go away and think about it, write another scene and let the problem tumble around in my head. With Death’s Apprentice, I haven’t been able to do that and it’s forced me to confront the plot issues as they happen. I’ve found this both challenging and rewarding.

The Bad Points:

I feel out of control of the writing. In a way this is liberating but also has taken me out of my comfort zone.

I feel that I don’t really know who Joe is yet, although he does keep surprising me with his actions.

Sometimes, it’s quite daunting sitting in front of a blank screen, knowing that I’ve got to write something because it’s Wednesday. I haven’t had writer’s block so far, so that is a good thing (thank heavens for that!). I’m sure there will be a stumbling block at some point, but I’ll deal with that if it happens.

I haven’t been reading all my work before I write the next section. I usually refresh my memory with a brief look at the week before’s post. Now I’ve done a review of the story so far, I can see I’ve somehow changed from the first-person viewpoint to third! That’s not too much of an issue though, as that can be sorted when I’m editing. Although, it does leave me with the question of which point of view I should use for the narrative.

It’s hard knowing that my mistakes are there for everyone to see. My writing isn’t polished and some of it is downright crap, lol!!

In Summary:

I like where the story is heading so far. It’s been a challenge, but one that I’m enjoying in a masochistic kind of way. I’m enjoying where it’s taking me, but I know that sometimes, my writing isn’t necessarily the most exciting because I am struggling to write some parts. It’s helping me to let go and write a little freer. It’s helping me to become less of a perfectionist.

What do you think of Death’s Apprentice, so far? What’s boring you? What do you think is good? More importantly, what’s bad? What’s grinding your gears? Where can I improve?

Let me know 🙂