Why I write in my genre

Here is this week’s theme for the writing competition that also builds your author platform. For full details please see week one’s post.

Week Four: Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 27th.

Why I write in my genre

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to. Bonus points (which don’t count towards anything other than enhanced bragging rights) if you can include both the original Greek classification system and the art history usage of Genre Paintings without it seemingly the least bit forced.

Ideas

This theme was designed to give you an opportunity to share your love of your preferred genre (or genres) with your readers. Talking about the general classification of your work can help you show up on the radar of the type of people that want to read that sort of work. However, feel free to argue that genres are a terrible idea, and show why your genre-busting novel is amazing without them. Or, you know, find some awesome way to spin a fiction around the theme. It’s your blog after all

However, feel free to argue that genres are a terrible idea, and show why your genre-busting novel is amazing without them. Or, you know, find some awesome way to spin a fiction around the theme. It’s your blog after all.

You can probably guess my favourite genre from the picture I chose this week. It was that or an image of zombies.

Don’t forget

Don’t forget to link to this week’s post so your entry is (much) easier to discover. You may find it easier to get more comments if you also share your post to your Facebook friends or on Twitter. There is now a guide to linking (and link sharing), if you need it.

Week Two Winners

Late but arriving as fast as I can format text, are the winners for the Week Two competition. The theme was time travel which reminds me, if I don’t hit publish soon I will need a time machine because guests are about to arrive for

The theme was time travel which reminds me, if I don’t hit publish soon I will need a time machine because guests are about to arrive for Tea and Chat. The irony of getting a post out late during Time Travel week is not lost on me.

As always, there were three winners to identify:

  1. Best Post
  2. Best Comment
  3. Most Commented upon

I am aware that one or two of you are still tinkering with WordPress or trying to figure out how to get started. I have also learned that things that I take for granted like adding a link to something specific is not at all clear for everyone (yet). I promise to write about linking specifically as soon as I can. I put together a WordPress FAQ for those that need it.

Things that particularly impressed me

The quality of the work this week was really astounding. What was I thinking, imagining that I could pick out just a few winners?

Congratulations to everyone who was using WordPress and dealt with the sudden change to the editor this week.

Unexpected plot twists. I saw a real handbrake turn of a plot twist this week. It was so good that I felt it was worth a mention.

Everything I look for in a time travel story was found in one perfect short story. Despite a snafu with the linking making the text a bit hard to read (all blue from links and my dyslexia, not so fun) it was nevertheless perfectly told.

A poem that almost sets up a story not told was the tease we had this week. I want to read the story of good intentions derailed by temptation.

A very honest reflection. Ine of the best ways to write is to be brutally honest. This is a post that typifies that honesty perfectly.

A perfect insight into a writer’s mind. What more can you say? This was a fantastic reflection on the engine of writing. Asking “what if” and filling in the blanks of unknowns. Loved it.

A novel approach to an old topic. This read like some old school sci-fi, a bit rough around the edges, but what a story!

Sci-fi and comedy delivered with a comfortable ease. I liked the way the author self-inserted their own writer persona as the main protagonist. Also, coffee powered time travel.

Poetry with a plot twist. I love the way, in so few lines, this poet plays with several tropes of time travel.

Some constructive criticism

This is aimed at no one in particular but are just some observations that I hope will help you. To be honest, there was so much to praise about this week’s batch of entries that I struggled to find anything to write in this section.

Don’t forget to post

First, and most obviously, don’t do what I just did – promise a post and then utterly fail to get it published. I feel like I should still apologise some more for that. Such a silly mistake.

Centre aligned paragraphs

I saw a lot more centre align text this week than last. It is a topic I address to businesses fairly frequently. This is probably because I have something of a unique perspective on odd text. I am dyslexic and centred text (and a few other unusual formattings) plays merry hell with my ability to read it. (Don’t worry, I am a geek and can get my browser to correct my view for me).

Generally, people centre text when they want it to look balanced, appear to be different, or just want to make it stand out or look “nice”. It might look okay to you but if you raise the reading difficulty of the text by quite a bit.

WordPress users have the Block Quote option which looks like a pair of opening quote marks. That will definitely make the text appear to be different. Other options include italics, bold, a different colour, or full justify. Our WordPress FAQ has more details on how to use these features.

Links

Links are great. Links are how the Web works. Linking to something is like sharing love. It is a great way to build the community around you. I have promised to try and produce a guide to linking. I will be doing that soon.

If you can figure out linking then try to always link to what you are talking about. Some of you do – this is to your credit.

As a side note, links work best if they are added in after the text is written. Put them in at the end, is my advice. This can also help avoid situations where the editor tries to make everything one giant link.

Please note that I never knock off marks for not linking but you will not get as much out of the contest if you do not link out when it counts.

The Winners

Best Post: Ansteysp

OMG, you writers! I honestly had a good reason to give each and every last one of you the prize for “best” post. The batch of posts this week was amazing. Each one typified a great post in some way. It almost came down to my simply drawing names out of a hat – that’s how hard it was to pick a winner this week.

Best Comment: Kentish Rambler

There were several great comments to choose from this week. I spend ages go back and forth between them all trying to make up my mind. You have all really gotten into the whole constructive feedback groove this week. This was a hard call to make.

Post with most comments: Irving Benjamin

The runaway winner for most comments was Irving’s post. You all did a good job of picking up comments and commenting on each other’s work but this post just picked up a few more.

And Now: Week Three

Why not congratulate the winners (and other participants) by giving them some comment love.

Best of luck to everyone who takes part with this week’s theme. It’s not too late if you want to join in now – there are 10 themes left to go.

You can find out about the Week Three theme here.

Writers’ Writing Competition: If I invented my own religion

Here is the theme for the writing competition that also builds your author platform. For full details please see week one’s post.

But first, an apology

I admit I dropped the ball this week. I honestly thought I had everything set up and scheduled but I failed to realise where we were in the week. That is my fault and I apologise. Winners to be announced shortly too.

Week Three: Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 20th. However, if you need more time because of my mistake say so and I will delay judging by a day.

If I invented my own religion

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to.

Ideas

This theme was invented to allow you to show how your twisted mind works as a writer. Although the intention was that it be a biographical topic, feel free to write fiction, poetry, essay, you new cult manifesto, or something entirely crazy.

Don’t forget

Don’t forget to link to this week’s post so your entry is (much) easier to discover. You may find it easier to get more comments if you also share your post to your Facebook friends or on Twitter.

It is important to realise that unless you link to this post, then ou ping may not show up, and if it does, it will show up in the wrong place.

Week Two: posts for you to comment on

As you know, I have been watching with great interest as the Week Two Theme posts are going up.

This is a list of all the posts for this week’s theme that I have seen so far. I will update this post as more show up.

More to come as you publish them…

Opps, I missed one.

And there’s more:

Week One Winners

As I suspected, choosing the winners for this first week has been no easy task. I was assessing not only for writing style and content but the planning and execution of the very hard task of setting up a blog.

There were three winners to identify:

  1. Best Post
  2. Best Comment
  3. Most Commented upon

For best post, I decided to look at a number of criteria:

  • style
  • clarity
  • reading ease
  • inventiveness
  • novelty

As you all had to set up a blog I decided the only fair way to judge that aspect of the competition was to separate it out into an extra bonus section. This week only, there will be four winners. The fourth winner being:

  • Bonus #1: for making a great effort setting up a blog

Things that particularly impressed me

The thing that impressed me most was that you all managed to get set up somewhere to post your entries. For some of you, I know that this was not an easy first step. Just taking part demanded that you step up and get to grips with something new. You all deserve recognition for overcoming the barrier to entry in order to take part.

You have all created praise-worthy first-week entries and blogs. If I was to cover everything we would be here all day so I have focused on one or two things that most impressed me about each one. Forgive me for not linking to all the blogs again. There is a list of all participants here.

The Joy of Words hit the ground running and got their blog post out nice and quickly. This gave the post an enormous head start when it came to getting comments. From the names I saw here and nowhere else, I imagine that this post has been shared on the author’s Facebook timeline.

Braidy Spice mentioned a story she had written and then promised to share it one day soon. This is a great idea. It reassures readers that there is something to come back for and it gives you a game plan for what you are going to write next. I also have to say that her by-line made me chuckle – Writer Without a Clue: The Ramblings of Pantser.

Artimas Blake (Simon) knocked it out of the park with his easy-to-relate-to conversational style. There was a sparkling wit to the way he writes his entry which in many ways reminded me of the better sort of newspaper column. If he keeps up with that style of writing, Simon should have no trouble building a strong following for his Artimas Blake pen-name.

Irving Benjamin is clearly new to blogging software and yet powered through and adapted. Getting stuck in, making mistakes, and then learning from them is all part of the learning process. None of us would write anything if we let fear of spelling, grammar, or style mistakes stop us. Irving’s approach – of just getting in there and figuring it out – impressed me.

Kentish Rambler chose a no-frills blog theme. This can be a powerful choice when you want your content above all else to shine. She clearly has a good eye for what works. Despite a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to get set up, she has done an exceptional job. Kentish Rambler has attacked a difficult task with great success. I also have to stop and give praise to a poem which really summed up writing and why I write. I found her post very easy to relate to.

Neil W included inline links in his post. These links were appropriate to and enhanced the context. His links take the reader to somewhere they can read up on the topics he mentions which is a great way to add value to a post. Good links, such as these, provide readers with a good experience. Linking out is a great skill to develop and a solid way of establishing what the connections of your post in the wider world.

Ansteysp, who has a user name I am not sure how to pronounce, chose a theme which is focused on reading above all else. Like Kentish Ramblers minimalist theme, this one too is fantastic for reading. Ease of reading is a big deal and can make it much easier for a blog to really take off and find a solid reader base. I think the big theme and dominant image matched the mood and style of the narrative form used for this post.

The Winners

When I say this was a hard choice, I am not being nice. This was one of the hardest choices I have ever had to make. Even after grading all the posts on a scale of 1 to 5 for different areas, I still had several joint first places. I took a long time over this. In the end, the winner of “Best Post” was a photo finish.

Week One Best Post: Kentish Rambler

When it comes to poetry I am very hard to please. Not only was this post expressive of the theme (as so many were), and not only did it resonate with me, but it was a poem. This post picked up bonus points for being a novel approach to the theme and managed, by a nose, to win out against some very stiff competition.

Week One Best Comment: Neil W

There were several strong contenders for best comment but Neil’s comment was a stand out winner for me. There were a lot of good comments but this one, in particular, I felt really epitomised what giving good feedback is all about. Neil’s comment, along with several others, added a great deal of value to both the blog post as well as, I feel, being good feedback for the writer.

Week One Most commented Upon Post

Here, at least, was a contest point that required only that I be able to count. Jess Joy’s post gathered a lot more comments than any other. I am pleased that I am able to write that this post is a winner because it was a very strong contester for the Best Post slot and, like all the posts this week, it deserved some love.

Bonus Winner: for making a great effort setting up a blog

When I wrote that we would have a bonus prize for best effort, I foolishly thought it would be easy to judge. This was not the case. However, there was one contest participant who I could see was making a lot of effort (and indeed I praised that effort). Irving Benjamin, this one is for you.

And Now: Week Two

Why not congratulate the winners (and other participants) by giving them some comment love.

Best of luck to everyone who takes part with this week’s theme. It’s not too late if you want to join in now – there are 11 themes left to go.

You can find out about Week Two’s theme here.

Writers’ Writing Competition: Week Two

Here is the theme for the writing competition that also builds your author platform. For full details please see week one’s post.

Week Two: Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 13th.

If I had a time machine…

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to.

Don’t forget

Don’t forget to link to this week’s post so your entry is (much) easier to discover. You may find it easier to get more comments if you also share your post to your Facebook friends or on Twitter.

Some posts for you to comment upon.

Each of these are posts related to our writing competition. I’ve gathered up all the posts I could find. If I have missed you out then make sure to shout loudly.

In this post, I shall refer tot he authors of these posts only by the name of their blog, or a by any handle they give. While I know who the people are behind most pen names, I feel it is up to each writer if they want to give their name.

Some of you forgot to put in a link which would have stopped WordPress (or whatever) from pinging us. However, the biggest challenge this week, for our writers, will have been just setting up a new blog in the first place. Everyone who managed to do this, especially those who did it for the first time, deserve a round of applause. This was not an easy first step.

Remind me to write a short tutorial on how to add links.

The posts

What Gets Me Writing? By Jess Joy holds the distinction of being the very first entry to successfully ping this blog by being published with a link on a platform with the ping feature enabled.

What gets me writing? by Kentish Rambler. This entry is interesting in that it is the first entry I have seen in poem form.

What Gets Me Writing. by braidyspice addresses what it is like to write as a pantser.

What Gets Me Writing by Ansteysp is also an entry that took the theme and spun a narrative around it. I think it was about the time I read this one that I realised judging the entries was going to be a tough job.

What Gets Me Writing by Irving Benjamin. Irving is one of a few writers who has chosen to use a narrative style to address this week’s theme. I am pretty sure I found the right link for the post but Irving seems to prefer a no comments format.

What gets me writing? by Artimis Blake tells us that Artimis’ art is powered by boredom and coffee. A potent combination.

What Gets Me Writing; Or, I Am Easily Distract… by Neil W is written on a blogspot blog. Those of you still getting to grips with WordPress should not find it too hard to figure out how to comment here.

What gets me writing? by Lord Matt (me) is not in the running because I wrote it. However, it is still a valid place to practice posting comments. This is not in any way a WordPress site either.

Remember folks, you still have until midnight tonight to enter the competition and you have until sometime tomorrow morning (when I start reading them all again) to post comments in order to win the best comment section.

Best of luck writers. You have all done a damn fine job.

Writers’ Writing Competition

As promised, here are the details of our just for fun writing competition that also builds your author platform.

The competition is design to be a little bit like one of our group meetings. We all share our work in a format that we are happy with (see getting set up for more on that) and then we give feedback to each other in the comments.

You win if you get the most comments from the most people, or if you write a really good comment, or if you write a great entry.

This competition is all about being social and working together (with great feedback) as well as showing off your writing skills.

Competition and Rules

Anyone can enter

This competition is open to anyone at all. As long as you have access to the Internet, you can enter this competition. If you have time, you can enter twice but you are probably not going to want to.

Competition

There will be 12 rounds, one each week. Each round will have a theme to which you may write as little or as much as you wish. The only requirement is that your entry must be posted online – I will show you exactly how to do that as this is the part that builds your platform.

At the end of the 12 weeks, there will be a big community vote to pick the all time favourite – as chosen by you.

How to enter

To enter you need to publish your entry online with a link back to that week’s competition page. Don’t worry this is really easy. There are lots of free ways to publish your entry in a way that builds up your platform. There is a section called “getting set up” which will show you how to create a free account to post your entries. If you get stuck, ask in the group.

Winning

There will be three winners each week:

  1. Best entry
  2. Best on-page feedback (to someone else’s entry)
  3. Entry with the most on-page comments by different people

The winner will be whoever it seems like, has best matched one of those criteria. If there are lots of good entries and your one is not picked all I ask is that you be a good sport about it. Just by writing well, you are winning yourself a good foundation towards your future writing career.

The prize for best feedback will be limited to people who have entered the competition, so make sure you are clear about who you are. Also, don’t forget to give the feedback on the article itself and not on Facebook otherwise I might miss it.

So don’t just put your entry up, go and read other people’s because you might just win for an insightful or helpful comment.

This competition is as much about the comments you give as the entry itself. Read how to give great feedback.

Build your Author Platform

The aim of this competition is to have fun and while having fun you will also be enhancing your author platform without realising it.  An author platform is an engine by which you are able to generate sales as an author. It is made up of the presence and following that you have created prior to publication.

So in other words, you will have fun while also laying a foundation for future writing success. We will be having fun but you will also be building up your author presence – something which can take a long time to mature.

Week One: Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 6th. Before you get writing, you should read the getting set up section, if you need help setting up a free space where you can publish things (Facebook just is not going to cut it this time).

What gets me writing?

You can write anything you want that fits that theme. As little or as much as you feel you need to.

My Platform: Getting set up

Placeholder Image

This is the only bit that is ever so slightly fiddly and may take as long as three whole minutes. Longer, if you want to customise things a lot.

It is also the most exciting part of the whole process. You will be claiming a space for your authorial voice to be heard. It is really easy and super fun. It is also very helpful later on when it comes time to get published.

To build your platform, you need somewhere you can publish your own content. This s where you are going to post your competition entries. If you already own a blog, then you can use that, if you want.

I recommend WordPress but I will show you haw to set up on a few different free sites so you can find one that you are comfortable using.

You don’t have to use these platforms but you will get the best benefit from using a proper blog. Also, blogs are fun. Trust me.

WordPress

If you have signed up to contribute to this site, or you have blogged at WordPress before then you already have an account but if you need one they take no time at all to set up. then just pick a format and you are ready to go.

WordPress will ping us when you publish your entry so I will know that you have entered. This is because you are going to link to that week’s competition page.

Quora

If you don’t like WordPress you can use Quora which has a free blogging option. It will look something like this. Just sign up and choose the blog option from your profile menu.

You may need to share your entry in the group, which is fine because I think you might like to do that anyway.

TumblR

Another choice is TumblR. We have a TumblR blog here. To play fair, you will have to make sure that your entry has comments enabled.

Medium

If you just want to enter the competition and don’t much care that you could be building a platform at the same time them Medium might be the choice for you. Again, grab a free account and post away.

Linking

With all these platforms to make a link, you just highlight the text to make into a link and then press the link icon. This will give you a box where you can paste the link which is found in your address bar at the top of the page.

It starts thanetcreativewriters.wordpress.com but you knew that right.

Try to use some text such as:

This is my Thanet Creative Writers Competition entry.

That way, it makes it easy for me to know that you want to be part of the competition.

Good Luck

Best of luck and remember you can write anything that fits this theme and use any title that you wish. Just link to this page and share your article on our Facebook group so I know that you are entering.

There’s no wrong answer and you can win not only by writing but by leaving a great comment on someone else’s work. If you need help, leave a comment on this blog post or post in our Facebook group.

I can’t wait to read what you write.

Why Thanet Creative Writers exists

I am a contradiction – my grammar is poor, my spelling is horrendous, and my grasp of the English language is rudimentary at best. But I love writing.

I love talking about writing with other writers. I love seeing writers succeed – seeing good writers walk the path that takes them to being great writers.

More than that, I love seeing people who never thought they could write go on to realise that they are writers.

That last point, seeing writers realise they can, was an eye opener for me. I never realised how much I would love seeing that happen until the day I first saw it happen.

One day I might tell that story but all that love is not why we formed Thanet Creative Writers but it is a large part of why we keeping doing what we do.

So why did we start?

Back in 2010, I started saying to people “do you want to start something for writers?” I did that one very simple reason – I love writing but being a writer alone is hard.

Skip forward to 2013 and four people, all of whom had toyed with writing, got together. We did that not because anyone was making us but, like me, those other writers did not want to be writers alone.

Being a writer alone means that when you get stuck with a plot point there is no one to ask for advice.

Being a writer alone means that if you don’t quite get how to write strong dialogue, there is no one to nudge you in the right direction.

Being writer alone means having no peers to give you feedback or to learn from.

Being a writer alone means that you never, ever, get a chance to see inside the creative process of another writer. You get to see finished books on shelves and are left wondering – “how do I get there?”

Being a writer alone means that you have no way to know if what you are writing is any good or how to make it good. More importantly, you have very few options to get help figuring out how to keep improving.

I knew full well that writers groups existed in Thanet. My dad used to take me to poetry circles when I was young. The chances were that there were more somewhere.

I had no idea how to find these groups. It was hard work to find even a clue of other groups and, at the time, what I did find online was so old I could not be sure that the group still existed. None of those few groups had Facebook, Twitter, or even email. That suggested to me that the people in those were probably a lot older than I was.

When I was a child, all the writers seemed to have been doing the same thing for a long time and they all seemed to know what they were doing. Whereas I, quite clearly, had no idea.

So I did what anyone else could have done. I called on my Facebook friends and three people answered the call. Then a few more. Then a few more. That was how Thanet Creative Writers was founded.

What we do is enable people to come together and share their love of writing. What we have is a vibrant community of people not only closer to my own age, but all ages. That gives us all the benefit of youth and aged wisdom at the same time.

That same vibrancy is present in our in-person events, in our social media “forums”, and in our wider writer’s community.

Whatever we do, it comes back to the same thing – we love writing and we want to be with other people who love writing.

If you love writing then come and join us.

Whatever you do, don’t be a writer alone.

Telling Stories at GEEK 2017

This weekend I went to GEEK (Game Expo East Kent) which took place in Dreamland, Margate. While I was there I encountered three forms of storytelling – two that work well and one that does not.

The Story of GEEK

The first form of storytelling was the story of GEEK and Dreamland. On day two I met the storyteller in residence. His job was to record and tell the story of GEEK.

One of the ways he did that was to ask people to place stickers on boards. One board (shown), gave an impression of where people had come from. People, it turns out, have come from all parts of the country and other countries too, just to visit the game expo in Thanet. There were four stickers from people who had come from Romania to visit Thanet for GEEK.

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While every one of the many thousands of people that came to GEEK has their story to tell, GEEK itself has a story. When it comes to writing that is something worth remembering – no matter who you are telling the story for, the place the story is set has it’s own march larger story. Or, to put it another way, individual characters have a story that is just a part of a richer tapestry of story.

I am glad that GEEK are tapping into the wider story and I am looking forward to reading the story of GEEK.

The story form that does not work

I got to talk to a whole bunch of games developers at GEEK. With some of them, I spoke, at length, about story.

One of the interesting topics to come out of those discussions was how games get pitched. More and more often there are games pitches which start and stop on the story the game will tell. More than one developer has wondered if these people are frustrated film producers.

Games are fundamentally things you play with. They can have story or not. A good story can lift a good game to new heights but a great story can do nothing for a poor game.

Between us, we listed several games where we would pay good money to see a film based on the plot but the game itself was not the least bit fun to play.

At the end of the day, games are a medium with priorities that do not always include storytelling. Yet, with the right foundations of play and mechanics, a good story adds a dimension to a game that can be created no other way.

It was, we agreed, best to start with the game first and follow up with the story.

Then we found an exception that proved us wrong.

The exception

Late in the day on Saturday, I got talking to John William Evelyn, an artist, who had stripped back the mechanics of gameplay to the bare minimum in order to convert the medium of game into a medium for story telling.

I sat and played an utterly compelling demo of The Collage Atlas which is an exceptionally beautiful and novel “game”.

You know me, I love story telling. It should not be a surprise to anyone that I was somewhat captivated by this relaxing game. I anticipate that The Collage Atlas will be a must have game for me when it comes out.

The lesson for us as writers here is this: Whatever form you tell your story in, make sure the story is allowed to shine.