Call for Contributions

Thanet Creative Writers are looking for fresh voices to showcase. All contributors will be generously linked and promoted but we cannot offer payment at this time.

Call for Contributions

  • The benefits of finding the right writers’ group
  • The best places to write in Thanet
  • One of Thanet’s famous writers
  • Tips for writing lively dialogue
  • The benefits of blogging for writers

We welcome pitches about any other writing or locality related topic.

Formatting

  • Plain text (with or without HTML) or Open Office Document, please.
  • If sending an email please attach any image separately to your article.

How to get in touch

There are several ways to answer this call. Option one is best for those who plan to write more than one thing.

Option one: Use the application form to become a regular contributor. Once accepted you can present articles whenever you wish. Use the comments to remind someone to check the inbox.

Option two: Use the comments to tell us your idea.

Option three: Get in touch with us via Facebook

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Nathan McGrath: spam or fan?

Nathan McGrath is, by all accounts, an author. His site (to which I am not linking shows he has written 3 books. So why is he scraping out content?

I first noticed Nathan McGrath when I saw an unusual ping on another WordPress blog I write for. What was unusual was that the ping title and body were content I had written.

When I followed the link home, I discovered that Nathan McGrath (or whoever runs Nathan McGrath’s website) had taken articles from Thanet Creative Writers and reposted them on his blog. As he kept the links intact his blog pinged the links. Which is where we came into the story.

It did not take me long to realise that Nathan McGrath’s blog had a lot of our content. Some of it seemed to fit while other parts made no sense for him to have. I’ve worked with things like this before and every time it is the result of something called automated scraping. How that works is a script pulls the content and then posts it.

I’d be tempted to think Nathan McGrath was a fan of our charity had he bothered to link to the source of his article but that, of course, would ping the people he was stealing content from.

I’m really not sure what to do next. On the one hand Nathan McGrath’s books sound somewhat interesting but, on the other hand, I refuse, point blank, to support content theft.

What do you think?

Writers’ Writing Competition: Grand Winners

After much delay and some serious navel gazing, I am pleased to present the grand final tally of winners.

Editor’s picks

These are a series of winners picked out by me for special attention. With so many awesome entries it was not always possible to award a prize to all the posts that deserved it. This is my last opportunity to make up for that and dish up some more prizes.

Editor’s pick for a really good entry that didn’t win but should have done

This is a section that I have been thinking about since week one. There are so many entries that I wished I could award a prize but, for one reason or another, I did not. Of all the competition participants there was one who got the short end of the stick.

Of all the competition participants there was one who got the short end of the stick. As a member of our board of trustees, this entrant was often tied for the first place and to avoid any appearance of favouritism I let slip back to second place. She was the only writer to only win one prize. Even so, she never once made a fuss and was a good sport about it.

Thus I want to honour Laura with this special editor’s pick prize both of being a good sport and for writing a post that should have taken a prize.

Why do I write in my genre, by L. L.. Winder is a fantastic reflection on the drive to write and why we write what we write.

As I said in the “best post” section of the winner’s post for that week, every single post was a contender. Laura’s just happens to be the one I singled out for some overdue praise.

Editor’s pick for a post that made me laugh out loud

We asked “What stops you writing” and Artimis Blake wrote the following:

I’ll finish this later….

That made me actually laugh out loud. Imaginary high-five my friend, imaginary high-five.

My pick for a post that packed an emotional punch

There is one post that sticks in my memory, even now. It took the subject of time travel (one of my all-time favourite topics) and made it into one of the most emotionally memorable short stories I have read in a while.

Stories from the edge had this post: If I had a time machine. I swear you’d wish it as hard as the character does.

After the deadline: A post made after the deadline but before the grand finish.

This prize is for getting things finished even when the main thrust of the competition was already past. It is awarded to encourage that dedication to writing where better late than never is the rule of the day. A rule I live by.

This prize goes to L. L. Winder (BraidySpice) for her reflection on Plotting vs Pantsing.

Editor’s pick for most ambitious blog

Most folks were content to set up on a  free platform like WordPress or Blogger. But one entrant set up a custom WordPress on a custom domain name. Despite having never done anything like that before and after a few false starts, Ben J deserves some serious love and respect for not only sticking with it tot he end but doing so on a brand new and unfamiliar platform.

Not only is this likely to become the most useful of all foundations for an author platform, it contains some really good writing. For example, with no bias at all, this post on what he loves most about Thanet Creative Writers. Like many of his posts, Ben has found the most interesting ways to subvert the prompt.

Editor’s pick for a blog that carried on after the competition

The Kentish Rambler carried right on blogging (as did some of you others). The Kentish rambler caught my eye for simply having the most amazing and pretty pictures.

Pretty pictures count for a lot.

Take a look at April Ramblings.

Reddit Grand Vote

The initial plan for the big finish was to use Reddit as a quick and easy source of both traffic and a voting booth. It turns out that Reddit is deeply unpopular which I was not expecting. Nevertheless, you guys rallied on anyway and so I am going to award prizes here anyway. Not the original prizes but good ones nevertheless.

The sticking with it regardless prize

This prize recognises the willingness of the writers who took part to jump through some strange hoops and do it all anyway.

It is shared Jointly by Neil and Jess who posted a lot of their stuff the Reddit vote. Because the Reddit vote turned out to be something akin to last week’s zoo leavings, and all votes were about the same, I have randomly picked two good posts to make the “winners”.

Take a bow you two hard working writers. You deserve it.

The Grand Winner

In the grand tradition of Time magazine, the winner of the competition is you.

We are all the richer for the great writing that has been put forward during this competition and everyone who took part is a step closer to building an author platform.

Well done, you.

Time youcover01.jpg
By Source, Fair use, Link

What are your picks?

Which posts would you pick as the winners? Tell us in the comments.

Platform building starter prompts

Earlier this year we had a little competition. Twelve weeks, twelve prompts. While we are still making a new plan regarding picking the final winners the topic of “what were the prompts?” has been asked in our Facebook group.

While we are still making a new plan regarding picking the final winners the topic of “what were the prompts?” has been asked in our Facebook group. That got me thinking that 12 prompts to kickstart your platform might be a good topic to post about.

So here they are.

12 prompts to kickstart your platform

What other prompts would you add?

A character I most regret killing off

As writers, we often form a close connection to our favourite characters. Sometimes though, these characters are destined by plot or by design to die.

As we said in the last prompt (Favourite line that you cut from a story) it is an often repeated truism that:

In writing, you must kill your darlings

That applies just as much to characters as it does to excessive prose.

For today’s platform prompt, tell us about a character you most regret killing off.

Why would I write about that?

I still hold that it is true that there is something wonderful about getting to see inside the editing process of a writer. Never more so than when talking about the characters you would have liked to have kept alive or that you regret killing off.

You never know what will hook a reader into buying a book but if you are willing to share some of your passion for your story, that passion can infect new readers.

We said of sharing favourite cut lines:

There is little or no downside to sharing much loved but ultimately cut moments from a work but plenty of potential upsides. If only because it gives you something to write about on your blog while you edit.

The same is true of sharing favourite characters that you finished off in some gruesome way.

Don’t make this one mistake

There is one mistake you can make when sharing your regret over the death of a character. One mistake you must never make.

That mistake is major plot spoilers. Do not post unmarked spoilers unless you want very unhappy fans.

Without any spoilers, which character do you wish you had not killed off?

The 8-Point Story Arc

Steps

So, you want to write an amazing story? This is how to write amazing stories using the 8-Point Story Arc.

I have to warn you if you read this article it may spoil a lot of “fun” movies for you because you will realise that the movie industry (especially in America) follows this pattern slavishly.

The 8 steps of the 8-Point Story Arc

Unsurprisingly the 8-Point Story Arc has 8 steps. Before we look at the steps in more detail, let’s list them.

Here they are:

  1. Stasis
  2. Trigger
  3. The quest
  4. Surprise
  5. Critical choice
  6. Climax
  7. Reversal
  8. Resolution

A quite guide to the 8-Point Story Arc

The chances are you already follow a similar pattern when writing short stories, or even planning chapters. If you are familiar with “The Hero’s Journey” or the three (or five) act structure yu will see instantly how the 8-Point Story Arc fits almost exactly with these ideas.

Stasis

This is the initial setup. The “how things are” of the world. By the end of the story, this may well have changed, been threatened, or have been disrupted and then restored. Exactly what happens to the initial world setup depends on the type of story you want to tell.

Trigger

In other story theory, this is called the “inciting incident”. Really it is just the thing that causes the story to happen.

In my story, Legend, the trigger happens a few paragraphs in when Malial’s family are kidnapped. You should go read Legend, I think you would like it.

The quest

This is the thing the hero or protagonist needs to go and do to solve whatever the trigger caused to happen. In a romance, this is to win the affection of a love interest. In a classic fantasy, it might be to go and drop the magic doodah in the special fire, or something. You get the picture.

The quest embodies the thing that the characters int he story want or need to do. It is the both the goal and the journey towards that goal. Without a quest, the characters would just be sitting around drinking tea and saying mean things about each other. I actually wrote a story like that once and a quest still popped up anyway.

Surprise

Sometimes called “the twist”, the surprise is something that the character or characters of the story did not see coming. In a good story, the audience should be supprised too.

The surprise is, perhaps, the hardest bit to get right. Too unexpected and it just seems like a “hand of god” moment. Too well telegraphed and it is not at all surprising.

The website changingminds.org has a guide to the 8-Point Story Arc. It says this about the surprise:

To work within the story, it should be plausible and make sense to the reader, at least in retrospect. Surprises should add to the story, increasing the involvement and ultimate pleasure of the reader. A poor surprise makes them feel disappointed and disillusioned.

Critical choice

This often, but not always grows out of the surprise. The critical choice may be an opportunity to give up on the quest or some other profound decision that will forever change the landscape of the story.

The critical choice should lead, logically (in retrospect), to the next surprise. In this way, the story can move between surprise and choice as often as make sense to you, the writer.

Climax

The climax is where those critical choices are building. In a romantic

In a romantic comedy, this is often a sudden and quite expected argument between the lead character and their opposite number. In a buddy movie, this is where the characters finally, and quite formulaically fall out. As I said before, this pattern is slavishly followed by western movie makers.

This should, if nothing else, be the moment of high drama. Unlike movie land, this climax should have been building for a while and be a logical extension of the choices. It should not be an artificial argument between brothers for the purpose of setting up a reversal.

For a different take on what the climax is for, check out the dailywritingtips.com 8-point arc article.

Reversal

In badly written TV and movies, this is where the rather forced argument is resolved by the big gesture.

This is where everything the hero has learned is put to use. The hero integrates the changes that have been building up and undergoes their final transformation into the person they were becoming.

The bullied child stands up for themselves. The coward finally does something brave. The evil uncle embraces the power of good and does the right thing.

The reversal sets up…

Resolution

This is where the story ends. The new stasis is created, the hero can go home. The prince marries the princess. they live happily ever after, or whatever.

The tensions of the story are resolved and the quest is laid to rest.

You get to write “the end” and as a reader, you feel satisfied (assuming the writer did a good job).

How to write a great story

For those of you that like to watch videos, here is a video presentation of the 8-Point Story Arc.

Over to you

Did you find that useful? Had you heard of the 8-Point Story Arc before? Do you, perhaps, use it in your writing or do you disagree with it entirely?

Let us know your thoughts int he comments section or come and chat with me over at the Author Buzz forums.

Week 11: Winners

Eleven down, one to go. The second to last batch of winners is about to be announced.

Quite indulgently we asked you to write about what you loved most about Thanet Creative Writers. If I am honest, the thought “how can I ask people to blog about us” was how I ended up with “wouldn’t it be cool if we had a 12-week writing competition”. And the rest, as they say, was history.

Honourable mentions

Before we carry on, I’d like to give an honourable mention to Author Buzz. While not part of the competition there is a good post on that site all about us at Thanet Creative Writers. I know because I wrote it. Now on to the important folks – you wonderful writers.

Likewise, I’d like to shout out to L. L. Winder. Who might like to add Wedding anniversaries to the list of things that stop her writing. Congratulations guys. I wish you many more years of happiness together.

Top Three Posts.

In no particular order of sexiness, here are the three front runners for this week. Of course, that could be because there only were three entries that I found but even so…

I hope each and every one of those posts finds their way to /r/ThanetWinners2017 for the big vote off at the end of next week. (Hint, go and post them there you amazing writers)

Talking about the big vote off, if you still want to write for a theme that has passed you have one last chance to win by entering it into the big vote off. Just saying…

Winner of the best post

Here we are once again. Three great posts and I have to pick just one. Honestly, this is so hard. This section of the post has been blank for an hour now.

In the end, I had to pick one and it was the one I realised that I had liked so much that I had left a comment saying how easy it was to read.

This week’s winner, by a nose, is: It’s in the small print by Jess Joy.

Winner of the best comment

For sheer novelty value, I am going to award Benj the best comment award.

On the Night of the Hats post, his comment was not only interesting but in verse. That’s gotta count for something, right. Anyway, I liked it and so I am awarding the prize to Benj.

Winner of the most votes

As this week, the Reddit vote was a dead heat between our best post winner (Jess) and Niel, I think it is fair to award the people’s choice award to Night of the Hats, Thanet Love.

Closing thoughts

This week coming up is the last of the 12 themes. I challenge you all to write your best ever entry. Consider the gauntlet thrown down.

Over to you…

Plotting or Pantsing: What is best for me?

And so we come to the last theme of our competition. One last hurrah and then the big vote off. Back when I was thinking up this idea I thought that ending on a reflection about if planning or discovery writing was best was a great idea for platform building. You guys have taken things in an interesting direction and I have no idea what you will do with this one.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 29th.

Plotting or Pantsing:
What is best for me?

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

Pantsing, for those that don’t know, is where you make up the story as you go and “fly by the seat of your pants”. The opposite is plotting, where you plan the plot out in advance. I used to be a pantser but I am more of a plotter these days.

How to win

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but as you might have realised by now, we no longer have a “most comments”. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, and going forward for the last few weeks, the Reddit section will be a special one created for the competition. This is also where the grand, overall, winner will be chosen by you.

Sometime after this post goes live I will be picking out winners. I hope you guys have written something great for me to read (I’ve seen some of them so I know that you have).

How Author Buzz UK is helping writers

This post is all about a new project called Author Buzz UK it can be found at authorbuzz.co.uk and is designed to help writers, bookshops, authors, publishers, and agents connect with readers.

Author Buzz UK was designed to help authors create a solid platform without any more technical skill than is required to sign up for a free account. A fully customised Author Buzz account should definitely become part of your growing author platform.

All of this goodness is offered for free to anyone and all you need to get started is an easy to set up profile. Once you are set up with your profile you will have access to the following resources. If you have a wordpress.com account then you can log right in with that and start enjoying your profile right away.

Talking about running your own blogs, I already have a writer blog set up. The Matthew D. Brown (author) blog is where I post my stories as a serial. You should get over there and give them a read. If you subscribe to the blog you can get an update when I publish new story entries.

Later, as the admin team continue to expand the site’s capability, there will be even more great features open to you. These features are planned but are still being tested and improved.

  • Agents will be able to maintain a profile for their authors
  • Authors will be able to maintain a list of their books which readers can review and, quite importantly, purchase from major retailers.
  • Readers will be able to connect their account to GoodReads and show off the books they have read.
  • Read more about the vision for Author Buzz UK.

It has to be said that, as of writing this article, things are still being set up at Author Buzz. So there will be ongoing changes and improvements. Crucially, this is the stage of development where your input could radically alter the finished product. If your company or your needs as a writer are not being met anywhere else, then your input could help shape Author Buzz UK into exactly what you need.

I would highly recommend that anyone who writes, publishes, or promotes those that do, sign up for a free account and become a beta tester while your opinion has the power to shape the site.

The admin and development staff at Author Buzz are dedicated to the principles of transparency and open creativity. As such they have a dedicated development blog where they talk about both the success and failures that they encounter as they work towards bringing this dream to life. I know this because I am the lead developer in the team.

Thanet Creative Writers already have our own group on Author Buzz. Connect with us there if Facebook is not your thing.

Get on over to Author Buzz UK and create a free account.

The thing I love most about Thanet Creative Writers

This is, if I am honest, the one I have been looking forward to the most. Finding out what about Thanet creative writers (the blog, the group, or the charity) that resonates best with you guys.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 22nd.

The thing I love most about
Thanet Creative Writers

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. If you are new to this and joining us late welcome, thank you for joining us, please see week one’s post and the FAQ if you need more information.

I am particularly interested to see if the fiction writers can turn this into a fiction prompt or if you will write a more tranditional blog post. This posts image was actully taken during a Tea and Chat meeting. You can use it for your post if you want.

How to win

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but as you might have realised by now, we no longer have a “most comments”. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, and going forward for the last few weeks, the Reddit section will be a special one created for the competition. This is also where the grand, overall, winner will be chosen by you.