Competition thoughts

There should have been a new entry for this week. I know it is late. There should have been one (or is it two) sets of winners announced this week too.

I’m going to get to that in just a moment. Before I do, would you mind if I rambled on about what I have been so caught up in this last few weeks?

Brilliant, thank you.

A few weeks ago I started working on a new article. One of the big, well-researched ones that I have not written for a while. This one was about the author of the Martian. In the article, I focused on how Andy Wier used his platform to get a book and film deal (in the same week). One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial.

One of the things that Wier did was publish his work as a serial. Serial writing seemed like a lot of fun and something I wanted to try.

As a typical over-thinker, I started thinking not about the easiest way to do this but the best way. In no time at all, I had cooked up a whole batch of ideas. One of those ideas was a project I had been sitting on for years and years – Author Buzz. I had owned authorbuzz.co.uk for a long time and at some point I let it expire.

My chosen domain name was available again so I registered it. But not before I suggested to Thanet Creative Writers that we start a portal for all writers. Both the idea of serial writing and the portal received a positive response and so I went ahead.

chimpanzee_seated_at_typewriter

What I did was create an entire WordPress network (like wordpress.com but just for authors). I then had to start writing and fixing and integrating and coding and theming like a wizard. I am not a wizard. This is much, much harder than I thought it would be.

This is an actual photograph of how I felt while I was doing this.

As a result, I have not kept up with everything. For that, I apologise. It was not fair to keep you guys hanging.

If it is okay with everyone, what I will do is pause the competition for this week. Which adds an extra week for the deadline of our last theme. During the week I will announce our winners and on Monday I will announce the winners of last week (and this week, now). I will also set the next theme ready to publish. In case you want to get writing, here was the sneak peek of what the themes will be. I had planned all twelve before we even started.

We have two themes and the grand vote off to go and I want to give you wonderful writers my full attention while it takes place.

I also want to shout out to Jess Joy for reminding me just how far from the straight and narrow I have wandered lately. I also want to thank not just Jess but AUTHORity, Artimis Blake, Kentish Rambler, L. L. Winder, Neil, and Anstey for your wonderful contributions. Reading your work has been a pleasure and a joy. I truly hope that all of you continue to write after the competition has ended.

Once more, please forgive this interruption. We will get back on track next week. That’s a promise.

Advertisements

Wanted: Articles

When we first set up this blog it was with the intention that it be written by a range of different members. While I am fine with writing (it is something I love to do) I would love to see some other takes on topics.

That’s why we have a contact form sections encouraging you to become a contributor.

For those of you with a blog, a guest post (the odd post for another blog) can help gain you new readers and gives the blog you write for a bit of variety.

This is a list of topics that we would love to publish an article about. If you think you can do one of these justice, then we would love to hear from you.

  • How to choose first person or third
  • Writing with the present tense
  • Tactical use of offensive language
  • How to approach publishers
  • What is the three act structure and should I use it?
  • How to write compelling female characters
  • Using smell as an emotive part of description
  • How to get started with poetry
  • Chapter sizes – how long or short should chapter be?
  • Getting started with self-publishing
  • Techniques for writing dialogue
  • How to write lively dialogue
  • Does the monomyth really apply?
  • How to write for the young adult market
  • How to make a Time Travel fresh again
  • When and how to use gore in horror
  • Time and place – using real locations in fiction
  • An introduction to the editing process
  • What are serial rights and why do they matter?
  • Overcoming writer’s block

That’s not a hard and fast list of topics. If you have a good idea then please come forward with it.

As and when these topics are covered by me or by you, I will link them so you know that there is already at least one article on the subject. Even if there is already an article on the subject I would bet that you have something new to say on that subject.

We need you to write for us.

What mistake do I make most with writing?

Which mistakes do I make? Which mistakes don’t I make! Seriously, you could probably compile my mistakes into a definitive “A to Z of how not to write”.

Okay, maybe that is something of an exaggeration. But I have made more than my fair share of howlers in my time. More than a few stories have ended up like today’s picture – derailed and broken.

Mistakes are the theme for this week’s competition as we enter week ten (or twelve).

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 8th.

What mistake do I make most with writing?

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.

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. You can vote on your choice of winner in a special Reddit created for the competition. I strongly encourage you to get in there and cast some votes. Those votes select not only the user’s choice for this week but they will count towards the grand winner in a few week’s time.

Just like the last few weeks, to get “best post” you need to have linked to this post (unless you write something which is unequivocally orders of magnitude better than all the rest combined).

I am in love with a woman who does not exist

Today’s writing prompt for Fiction Friday has love with a big twist.

I am in love with a woman
who does not exist

  • Who is this person?
  • How can they be in love with someone who does not exist?
  • What is happening here?
  • Why is it happening?
  • What happens next?

We would love to read your stories that you write based on this prompt. Please do drop us a link, if you write something. Wishing you many happy hours with The Muse.

My favourite book ever

If you ask me what my favourite book is I am likely to tell you that it is whatever amazing book I am reading at the moment. That said, I am quite likely to quote you such books as “Purple Cow” by Seth Godin. Our theme this week is favourite books.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 1st.

My favourite book ever

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.

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.

Just like last week, to get “best post” you need to have linked to this post (unless you write something which is unequivocally orders of magnitude better than all the rest combined).

Writing Love and Romance

I have a confession to make. I am not qualified to write this post. Love, romance, and intimate relationships in serious fiction are something that I struggle to get right.

Not being one to let my weaknesses hold me back, I’ve been looking into the whole topic of writing love and romance.

Blog posts about writing love and romance

Being a geek as well as a writer I have been looking at what other people have had to say about writing love and romance. Here is a cross section of the blog posts that I looked at.

Good Reasons to have love and romance in a story

There are some great reasons to include love and romance in a story. Here are three good reasons.

  1. Love and romance happen in real life so why not in fiction too?
  2. Love and romance are a central part of the story.
  3. Love and romance are the story (I think we all know what you are writing)

I am sure that you can think of more good reasons to include love and romance in your story. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment. However, this list exists to contrast with some very bad reasons to include love and romance.

Very bad reasons to include love or romance

Love and romance because I need a female character

Oh dear muse, no. Just don’t. Not ever…

This is just about the worst reason to include love and romance. If your female character cannot stand alone without the romance then she is an interloper. There are many good reasons to have strong female characters in a story. You don’t need romance for any of them.

Love and romance to fill up the word count

Just, no.

Apart from anything else, this would be as boring to your readers as it is likely to be to you as a writer. Stop worrying about your word count and tell the best story you can.

Love and romance to motivate the hero

If you ever – and I do mean that literally – if you ever need romance to give your hero motivation then you have not got a story but a cliche. I mean, honestly, stop that right now.

Come back tot he idea of love and romance in your story after you have sorted out the hero’s motivation.

3 things that make you better at writing love romance

After all that reading I have come up with three things that will make you or me better at writing love and romance. When you think about it, this is common sense for writers.

  1. Read good love and romance writing.
  2. Write more love and romance.
  3. If possible, get out there and experience life.

Swap out “love and romance” for any other aspect of life you want in your story and the same three rules apply.

What, you wanted some magic formula? Please. This is writing, not magic (the two are very similar sometimes).

Using “magic moments” for love and romance

Oh, very well then. Here is how to use a magic formula for writing love and romance. This magic formula is derived entirely from writing theory and is based on no direct experience whatsoever.

Rules for writing love and romance

  1. Feelings matter, keep them in focus
  2. Show far more than tell
  3. Avoid cliches
  4. Anticipation builds expectation
  5. Let the reader do some of the work for you

Let me briefly explain these rules. Love is an emotional topic, therefore you need to be comfortable talking about feelings. Furthermore, you need to be able to show what characters feel not just tell the reader. If you use cliches to do this, you will kill your story.

Do not be in a rush. Anticipation can be a powerful tool. Think about romance stories (I’m talking about the sort of story where all there you have in a romance) we don’t rush to the happy ever after but take our time getting there.

Anticipation can let the reader do some of the work for you. If you can present the reader with the material to start shipping your characters for you, then they will do a lot of the heavy lifting too. A close cousin of the cliche is the pattern. The pattern of love and love stories contain a common language that signals to the reader that a love story is in progress. I’m going to talk about patterns another time. If you know how to use them do, if you are worried about cliches avoid them.

Now the magic

The magic formula is actually the magic for all story telling. The formula is in two parts:

  1. The Scene
  2. The Sequal

The love and romance scene

In the scene a character wants something. In this case, maybe to confess her feelings to her love interest. There are obstacles to overcome. Something defining happens. Often this is a disaster to be dealt with but as this is romance this could be a mid-story win for the hero.

A married man, alone at the bar, wants a drink. There are a lot of people at the bar and the barman is busy. Disaster strikes as some (hot) woman starts chatting to him and he misses his opportunity to be served.

A timid girl alone in the castle wants to go horse riding. Guests arrive and she must receive them. Disaster! Prince Charming is walking over to her.

The lovers, separated, long to be reunited. They must overcome the distance between them. Success, they finally find each other.

The sequel to the scene

In the sequel, there are four stages to be covered and they need to happen in strict order.

1. Emotional Reaction

This is vital to a love and romance moment. The emotional reaction is both the payoff and the motivator so do not skimp here. This is, I think, where I might be going wrong- time will tell on that one.

A married guy approached by a hot lady might feel flattered but shy.

A timid girl, approached by her prince charming, might feel flustered but overjoyed.

The lovers, reunited, are relieved to be back together. This is a big emotional payoff so we dwell on those feelings.

2. Reasoning

The more pure romance you are going for the smaller this section will be. If the hero is in denial about his feelings this is where he will try to reason them away. He might even think about what the right thing is to do here.

The married man might reason that he needs to end the conversation with the hot lady at the bar. He might conclude that this is the right thing to do.

The timid girl might reason that her prince charming is telling her the truth. She trusts him.

The loves reason that the conflict is over.

3. Anticipation

This is where the character considers what others might do and say. He anticipates what might come next. This is fairly internal but you need to show it nevertheless.

The married guy might anticipate that he can get away with a night of forbidden passion.

The timid girl might anticipate being hurt as she has before.

The lovers anticipate living their happy every after. They think about how they will spend the rest of their life together.

4. Reaction

This is where the character does something following from their anticipation and they set up the next scene where they want something and must overcome obstacles.

Our married guy might decide to cheat (or try to).

Our timid girl may run away from her prince charming. Thus setting up the prince for a chapter of him trying harder to win her heart.

The lovers, meanwhile, are sailing off into the sunset.

We are on to the next scene

Rinse and repeat, as they say.

That’s the structure of a scene, generally, but with the theory applied to love and romance. I’m going to be giving this a try soon.

Over to you

When it comes to love and romance in fiction, I am just a beginner. This is more theory than any practical experience here. Please use the comments to share your insights into writing love and romance.

Is my daughter immortal?

In this week’s Fiction Friday Writing Prompt someone has a daughter that they think might be immortal.

Wow. How did that happen?

Is my daughter immortal?

As always, here are some obvious questions to ask yourself.

  • Who is this person with an immortal daughter
  • What has caused them to ask that question?
  • Is the daughter immortal?
  • Who have they told?
  • What happens next?

Please have fun and we hope this prompted causes a visit from The Muse. If you write a story based on this prompt and post it online please consider linking out to us. Have fun with this and I hope I can read what you write.

Why does your copy contain so many grammatical errors?

I recently threw down the gauntlet and invited you to ask us the hardest questions you could think of. You can ask questions by using the “ask” link.

Nickie asks:

Why does your copy contain so many grammatical errors? Why do you not proof read before publishing? Even the first paragraph on this page for instance. ‘No really, ask us the about the’

That is a good question and it has a clear answer. The reason for many of the errors on this site is me. I am dyslexic and dyspraxic (and also easily distracted) which causes me to make spelling and typing mistakes despite my best efforts. I wrote about being a dyslexic writer on my personal blog, give it a read if that interests you.

This is also the exact same reason why our Writers’ competition posts are not always up on time. As I said in my blog post.

I also struggle with planning and organisation. I screw up, frequently. It does not take much for appointments, deadlines, and commitments to pile up into each other and chaos to ensue.

This is why we have reporting forms. There is one specifically for reporting errors (and typing mistakes and all that) because I know they are going to happen no matter what I do.

chimpanzee_seated_at_typewriter

The photo of a monkey at a typewriter that you sometimes see around the site is actually a photograph of me on a bad hair day.

You can help me out by reporting mistakes when you find them so I can fix them. I appreciate every correction that gets reported to me because I know that I will make mistakes and those reports help me to catch them and make them right.

Thanks to Nickie, a silly mistake has been corrected. There will, I have no doubt, be more. Feel free to report them to me so I can fix my errors.

The other way to reduce the number of errors here is to become one of our writers. Thanet Creative Writers has always been a group project and while I seem to do most of the blogging, I am happy to have others do that instead. If becoming one of the Thanet Creative Bloggers appeals, we have a form for that.

I refuse to give up and stop doing the things that I love just because my brain is not optimally wired for doing them. If a dyslexic, dyspraxic, arthritic, geeky weirdo like me can write, I am pretty sure anyone can. I hope my faults and failing give you hope.

Ask us hard questions on anything you have wondered about and we will try to answer your question.

Click here to ask a question

The one piece of advice I feel qualified to give

The advice I feel qualified to give today is this: Don’t run a competition. Actually, that’s not entirely true – competitions are fun but they are also taxing and this week’s theme is up late.

Competition Theme

This is the theme for this week. Closing date to have posted it online is midnight on Monday the 24th.

The one piece of advice that
I feel qualified to give

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.

Details

There will still be a “best post” and “best comment” but there will not be a winner for the most comments. Instead, there will be a “most votes on Reddit” section. This week, the Reddit section will be Writers of Thanet. Entries that take part in this new section will be given preference in the event of a tie (and let’s be honest, you are all very good). You will need a Reddit account for the grand finish so if you have not yet joined, it might be time to push yourself again.

Just like last week, to get “best post” you need to have linked to this post (unless you write something which is unequivocally orders of magnitude better than all the rest combined. If you need help with links see this post and if you need general WordPress help see this post.

The Wings of Winners

Last week we challenged you to take flight. The Theme was If I had wings and could fly.

All week I have been going back and forth in my mind trying to pick a winner. Picking a winner, is, without a doubt, the hardest thing I have to do each week. However, after much deliberation, I have finally chosen.

Now, obviously, there are three winners. One for “best” post. One for “best” comment and one for the most comments.

So without any further ado let’s get to that.

The best post award goes to…

Jess Joy for Anchored. A story that was flawlessly captivating and brought us a topic that I am very fond of – dreams. If you have not read this story yet, you jolly well should. It is great.

I don’t want to say too much for fear of giving away the thread of the story. I feel that you should go and get lost in the tale yourself. If you’ve not done so, leave Jess Joy a great comment to let her know you’ve read her story.

The most comments award goes to…

Benjdeal’s blog post, Wings. This was not a simple comment count like it has been in past entries. As we get more popular spam comments become a problem. If you read a comment, sometimes you can see that the comment has nothing to do with the post and is just there for the “free link” that leaving a comment brings.

Even taking into account spam comments, Benjdeal got more legitimate comments. I would suggest Akismet, or JetPack, or something, to keep those under control.

Of course, this week we are not judging by most comments but most votes. So it is entirely up to you.

The best comment award goes to…

Kentish Rambler for her comment on Jess Joy’s post. There were many great comments posted on most of the entries this week. But this one I felt really typified what I think of as a good comment.

For me, a good comment is one that repays the writer by showing not only that you enjoyed the post but that you read it and engaged with it. You are all very, very good at posting great comments.

Over to you

Which comment would you have picked as a winner? Have you ever had comment spam? What would you do if you had wings and could fly?

Got a comment or thought – why not share it with us in the comments below.